Help Me, Harlan!

Dear Harlan,

My ex-boyfriend — who wants to get back together — moved to California. He is admittedly very mean to me when I make him mad. He knows how much his words hurt, but it is like he can’t stop. He has started seeing a counselor who thinks he is depressed. My ex says that if I’m not there for him, he will resent me forever, but the only way he will accept my help is for us to date because he says he loves me. This guy has a wonderful heart and always means well, but when he get angry he takes on another personality and it’s very scary. He says that when I was going through a lot of family problems he was there for me. He is mad because I can’t be there for him now. I know it’s not a healthy relationship but I do want to be there for him and I do want to help. I am not sure I can though because I am scared. Please if you have any advice on how I can be there for him and deal with this situation.


Dear M,

Help yourself and stay away from him.

Wash your hands of this relationship and shower yourself with some of your compassion. You’ve tried but he’s made it impossible. You need to help yourself and stay away. DO NOT feel guilty for even a second. He’s in no place to nurture your friendship or date you (or anyone). He’s not even a friend. Friends don’t place conditions on friendship. Friends don’t do things because they ‘owe’ each other. Friends don’t guilt each other into friendship. He’s a long way from being even close to a friend. He needs professional help that you can’t offer him. You don’t owe him anything. You only owe yourself a healthy relationship absent of abuse.

Hi Harlan,

This is in response to the 14-year-old who likes the 15-year-old that does drugs and has sex. I’m 22, and I know all about the attraction of ‘bad boys,’ but this girl needs to know what she’s getting into. Guys who make their first priorities doing drugs and having sex tend to be fun on the outside, but shallow on the inside. They care only about themselves, and their own needs, and any consideration they show you in the beginning is a means to an end- a way to get something they want. Guys like that don’t understand anything besides self-gratification.

In the end, you’ll end up frustrated and confused- wondering why he treats you the way he does and where it all went wrong. If you can’t resist him – fine, but you should know how it will end before you start. If you think about it, he isn’t worth all the time you’ll waste and the problems he’ll create. If you don’t understand this now, you will eventually. I promise!

Been There

Dear Been There,

It’s one thing for me to say it but I’ve never been a 14-year-old girl aching to date a drug-dealing, sex-seeking ‘bad boy.’ It helps to hear it from someone who knows the dark inner-core and selfish motives behind a drugged-out boyfriend. Thanks for the note.