Dear Margo: The Bloodier the Better. Uh, No

How can I help a friend who won’t help herself? Margo Howard’s advice

The Bloodier the Better. Uh, No.

Dear Margo: I have a friend who’s been in an abusive relationship since her marriage seven years ago. My friend claims she can’t leave her husband because she’s in love with him and because she believes marriage is forever. Her husband has caused the police to intervene, and he’s put her in the hospital more than once. I fear for my friend’s safety. When she’s with him, she is a completely different person from who she is when it is just the two of us. What can I do to help her if she doesn’t want to help herself? — Concerned Friend

Dear Con: Not much. Extricating oneself from an abusive relationship is a do-it-yourself project … not unlike deciding it’s time to get sober. Sad but true, some people have a misguided idea of what love is and how much a partner is supposed to tolerate. Your friend’s notion that “marriage is forever,” given what’s going on in hers, is rationalization and extremely masochistic, at that.

After seven years, I’m sure she is totally brainwashed and feeling quite worthless. This terrible man, in her mind, is the last train out of the station. Such ideas often depend on how the person was raised and what they saw, filtered through their own sense of self. I would give it one last try. Sit her down and say she needn’t be this man’s pinata and emotional slave. Tell her marriage is not forever — any more than a broken arm is — that there is help, and that you hope she exits the relationship before he kills her. Then you will know you played your trump card, but do understand, in the end, you cannot control the situation. — Margo, forlornly

Sorry, Wrong Number

Dear Margo: I have been in an intimate relationship with a man for a year. We are plus and minus 60 years of age. He enjoys my company, as I do his. The issue is that he refuses to share his cell number with me. He has given me his home number. I have explained how having the cell number would be a convenience for me in communicating with him. He has my cell number, but doesn’t call me using his cellphone. He said it was a work phone, but later admitted that prior girlfriends, family and other friends have this number. He isn’t married, and I have been to his home many times.

I feel slighted and hurt that I am not included in the group of people to whom he gives this number. I have wondered whether I should end the relationship on this one matter. I am not looking for this to be a permanent relationship, but am just wondering about this one issue at the present time. I have tried dropping this matter several times, but it is bothering me again. Your opinion? — Hurting

Dear Hurt: As a rule, it is the cellphone number that is offered and the home number that is withheld — usually because there’s a wife at the other end. You established that he is not married, so it’s kind of quirky that he let you know other girlfriends (plus family and friends) have the number — but not you. It sounds like some version of nyah-nyah, I-know-something-you-don’t-know.

If he’s trying to annoy you — or even if he isn’t — ask for an explanation. If none is forthcoming, tell him it’s been swell, but his reticence about such a matter is a deal-breaker for you. It is especially convenient that you don’t have designs on him as a permanent partner. — Margo, openly

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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51 comments so far.

  1. avatar Paula says:

    This right here was a red flag for me in letter #2: He said it was a work phone, but later admitted that prior girlfriends, family and other friends have this number.

    The guy LIED to her initially!!!! I’d have been out of there as soon as I learned he was a liar!