Long Distance Relationships & Tantrums Are Ruining Their Relationship

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

DEAR CAT: My girlfriend of two years has a daughter, age 4, who throws the most insane tantrums I’ve ever seen. She raves, screams, cries until she vomits. Other kids eventually calm down, but not this one. Not surprisingly, we have arguments over this, and our relationship is going south quickly. “Jenny” insists her daughter will outgrow the misbehavior, that it’s just a phase. I point out that two years isn’t a phase, and we adults should not walk on eggshells for fear of tripping her daughter’s temper. I also think Jenny is afraid of her own daughter. My suggestion of medical evaluation has been dismissed. This is not my child, although she will likely never meet her biological father. I hate to throw two years out the window, but I really am at my wit’s end. Your call? — WIT’S END

DEAR WIT: I am not a child psychologist or mental health professional of any kind. That said, tantrums of that magnitude are psychologically unhealthy, physically dangerous and should not be a habit for any child. And you’re certainly right that no household should be run by children. Yes, she should see a doctor, perhaps more than one. And assuming she attends preschool or day care, Jenny should also talk to the teachers or caretakers. The poor child screams and cries until she vomits; that’s hardly a benign (or cute) phase like asking “why” 20 times a day. After two years together, your relationship with Jenny will only truly move forward if she allows you to tackle this with her. If not…Cat’s Call: You will likely become one more father figure her child never gets to know.

DEAR CAT: I’m in a long-distance relationship. I’m 38, she is 34. I live in New York and she’s in Atlanta. We met when she was here on a work trip six months ago, and we’ve seen each other a handful of times since then. Our visits are never more than 48 hours, but we talk on the phone about once a week, and we also e-mail and send texts. It doesn’t sound like much contact, but I feel extremely close to her; I don’t even date anyone else at this point. I think about her all the time, and I want things to move forward, but I know she doesn’t rush into relationships, and I respect her for that. I’m not sure how long I should wait before asking for more. I really don’t want to scare her off because I think I’m in love with her. What is the best course of action here? — NEXT STEP?

DEAR NEXT: When you’re over the moon for someone, patience can feel like torture. But patience and perseverance are your best friends right now. Sounds like even if you took the “long-distance” out of the relationship, she’d still want to take things slow. So keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing, just add a few elements: A second (or third) weekly phone call. A visit that lasts more than 48 hours. A handwritten letter. Seeing each other over the holidays. Each element is special on its own…Cat’s Call: Combine them over time, and one of you will be packing for more than a weekend.

  1. Cat, we exchanged emails regarding your answer on long distance relationships. As I recall, your advice to your reader was on the mark. I just wanted to let you know that my wedding is on track for January 2009 in Australia. I am cleaning out my apartment and taking care of loose ends here in the States before I make the leap of faith halfway around the world for my beloved. Long distance relationships can work…but they take work and commitment from both sides. All the best to you.

    — J. (Virginia)    12/19/2008    Reply

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