Dear Dr. Romance:

I am having issues with my boyfriend. I was searching something on WebMD and found an article that spoke of your book How to Be a Couple and Still be Free. I started doing some research on you and your other books (It Ends With You, How To Be A Couple and Still Be Free, The Real Thirteenth Step all struck my personal interest). I am from the US but at the moment I live in South America. My boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic who has 2 1/2 years clean and sober. He attends AA meetings at least 3 times a week but I feel as if its not enough.

He has turned into a verbally abusive person who avoids confronting issues, lies, and caused many issues with me and my family. At one point I started yelling back and became violent with him. I turned into a part of the problem instead of being a part of the solution. The relationship has become dependent, resulting in him spending large amounts of time at my house and the feeling that I almost need his permission to go out with friends. I, in result, have become a jealous girlfriend, a trait I know single-handedly murders a relationship. He resents and mocks me when I say, "we have to learn 'to be a couple and still be free'", thinking that I have an ulterior motive. He is just now looking for a job.

With all of this said, our relationship of 2 years has not been all bad. In fact, he has helped me with a great deal with my own issues (a sort of second hand NA, using the same principles applied to my life). The times when he doesn't bear a striking resemblance to Mr. Hyde, he is a genuinely good person. My relationship with him is one of the most cherished things I have in my life. But I often joke that I am dating two people, Him and his Ego. This is the last opportunity I can give, because beyond this I am just abusing myself.

I have 3 questions for you:

1. How can I go about mentioning these books to him without a fight? I don't know how to reach him so we can have a rational conversation, instead of using avoidance and making empty threats.

2. By any chance can these books be found in Spanish?(he speaks English but his native language is Spanish)

3. Do you know if any of these books can be found in South America?

I hope this email wasn't too long, I am sure you are a very busy woman.

Thank you in advance for the benefits I will receive from these books.

Dear Reader:

I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble with your boyfriend.  I don't know if your boyfriend is or was addicted to drugs, but you say he's now clean and sober for 2 1/2 years, which is great. People who get sober often are left with problems like rage, because they stunted their emotional growth with drinking and/or drugs. AA meetings, even three times a week, are not enough. He could benefit from reading The REAL 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self- Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve-Step Programs.

The Real 13th Step_ebook

He probably won't be able to control his anger until he gets some help -- anger management classes or therapy. I am not familiar with the customs in your country, but in many Hispanic areas, it is considered "macho" for men to be angry, it's seen as OK, and that makes it even harder for a man to get the help he needs.

You are right that getting angry yourself is becoming part of the problem instead of the solution. You need to stay out of fights, and get away from your boyfriend when he is angry. Don't stoop to his level.  You don't live together, so if he misbehaves, don't see him for at least a week. He needs training, like a child who throws temper tantrums. You're also right to use the Dr. Jekyll /Mr. Hyde analogy, because it fits people with anger problems very well. The Mr. Hyde part of the brain is hidden until triggered, so the man appears to be wonderful until he suddenly becomes enraged. It's important to tell him (make sure you are safe -- do it by e-mail or by phone and don't be alone with him) that you will leave him if he doesn't learn to control his anger. You can tell him I said being angry like that is very childish, and not manly at all.

Here are the answers to your questions.

1. How can I go about mentioning these books to him without a fight? I don't know how to reach him so we can have a rational conversation, instead of using avoidance and making empty threats.

You won't be able to tell him these things if he doesn't want to hear it. If he has a sponsor in NA, you might want to get the sponsor to be present and to back you up. Or, have people around who are safe for you. Mr. Hyde never goes away -- he can come out at any moment, so protect yourself.

2. By any chance can these books be found in Spanish? (he speaks English but his native language is Spanish)

I'm afraid the only book of mine that is published in Spanish (that I know about) is Las 10 Decisiones Que Toda Mujer Debe Tomar Antes De Los 40 which doesn't really apply.  Maybe you could read The Real 13th Step together in English.

3. Do you know if any of these books can be found in South America?

I know you can order them from, and if there are bookstores that carry English books, you may be able to find them there. You can also order them from my website.

It's not a good idea to waste much time on an angry man. You could find a loving man instead, one who gets along with your family, and is loving toward you. Finding one who is healthy to begin with is easier and safer than trying to fix this one.

For low-cost counseling, email me at

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.