Abuse by phone

My boyfriend of four months is everything I ever wanted. He really understands me, but sometimes I feel like he is watching my every move. If I go out with my girlfriends, he text-messages me or calls me five or six times. He says he misses me, but I feel like he is checking up on me and that he doesn’t trust me. One time, when I didn’t respond, he actually showed up at the club we were at. I tried to talk to him about this, but he got super quiet and then just exploded. He said he just really loves me and wants to be with me.

This week, he started calling me at school. I have a two-hour break between classes, and I use it to do homework and study. The first time he called, I was in the library, so I didn’t call him back. He freaked. I love him, but I feel weird about this. What can I say to help him understand that I am his? I think he’s insecure because his last girlfriend cheated on him.

Oh, honey! Please don’t excuse your boyfriend’s behavior by imagining that it is caused by a past betrayal. He is emotionally abusing you. It is frightening enough that he calls you obsessively when you’re apart. But he ups the insanity a notch by slathering on guilt (“I miss you”) when you don’t respond according to his expectations. Your deepest self recognizes that his behavior is unwarranted. That’s why you feel “weird.” Let that feeling empower you to set—and demand respect for—boundaries to protect your free time. Insist that he seek counseling. If he refuses, leave the relationship. Women Escaping a Violent Environment can help.

You recently wrote about the importance of tithing. I have been doing it for years, but I wonder why you suggested people should tithe to organizations operating outside of the United States. We should help our own.

We are all one family under God. Isn’t it time we acknowledged it? Consider this: U.S. News & World Report recently reported that the United States uses 20.5 million barrels of oil per day. The next-largest consumer of oil is China, which consumes 6.3 million barrels of oil per day. Does that clarify my suggestion? The United States wastes so much of the world’s resources that, in addition to using less, we must restructure our lives to give back in greater percentages. Tithing is an excellent way to begin.

My fiancée left me last year, claiming that she did not get enough attention—sexually and otherwise. I could not sleep, eat or function properly at work. I lost my job. When we first met, she had just divorced an abusive man. I felt like I treated her like a goddess compared to him. She left me for an abusive man and would call me, crying. She refused to leave him. She said she had nowhere to go and would not live with me because I live in a motel. I just want to know if I am capable of loving again.

My Magic 8 Ball says, “Of course!” The real question to ask yourself, though, is: Was it love? You were emotionally involved with a woman who was not emotionally available. That inspires feelings of longing, melancholy and neediness—all of which fuel infatuation, lust and drama. This passes for love in the virtual world of Hollywood movies and music, but it’s just an illusion. Genuine love is steady, not saturated with drama. Grieve the end of the relationship and the death of the illusion that it was true love. Then get the support necessary to be emotionally sober, so you can be available for the real thing.

Meditation of the Week

I watched <i>The NewsHour</i>’s coverage of President Bush’s inauguration with interest. As I digested the spectacle and its price tag, I began thinking about the activities of the Department of Homeland Security. “We are being transformed from a nation of citizens into a nation of subjects,” I thought. How can you maintain your citizenship?