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I Can't Deal With My Boyfriend's Creepy Son 

Dear Athena,

I moved out of my boyfriend's house because of his 19-year-old son's behavior problems. I could not get my boyfriend to stand up for me. He claimed he had talks with his son, but it never changed anything. In fact, his son's behavior got creepier. He threatened to kill us in our sleep when we had an argument and even shaved my pet's hair when I told him he couldn't. I decided to move out, and hopefully it will be a wake-up call for my boyfriend to deal with his son. I'm not sure where to go from here and if I should give him another chance. We are still dating. I even put a lot of money into his house so they wouldn't foreclose and we could fix it up and sell it. My new goal is to let him continue to fix the house up, sell it and move out while making the son live somewhere else.

Signed,

Want My Boyfriend Back

Dear Boyfriend Back,

Relationships come with so many messy bits. If you want love to last, tolerance and kindness go a long way. For some, that means biting your tongue each time your boyfriend insists on wearing his hockey jersey on date nights. For others, it's more serious — like the situation you've described. Falling in love is largely about chemistry, and that chemistry doesn't always extend to family. Almost anyone will admit that practicing tolerance with a partner's family can be tricky.

A parent's bond with his or her child is like no other. No matter what you think of your boyfriend's son — no matter how uncomfortable, concerned or frightened you may be — you can't expect your guy to choose you over his kid. He may never be there for you in the way that you want him to be. His obligation is with his son first. And can you blame him?

You've put so much into this relationship, and you obviously care for your partner's life and well-being, but you can't change him. It sounds like his son needs counseling, but you must accept that neither you nor your boyfriend can force him to get that help. Even if he does, it would be only natural — and in the boy's best interest — for your boyfriend to continue supporting his son in an active way. That, too, could mean less time and attention for you.

Perhaps you can encourage your partner to seek professional help first — to consult a doctor or a support group. He needs an objective perspective to guide him through this and help him be assertive.

If you can date him and also take a step back from this sensitive process, then by all means proceed. But love does not guarantee change — it can only nurture the seed of change to grow. There is hope in that, and I'm hopeful for you.

Yours,

Athena

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