Dear Dr. Romance:

I have a problem. My mother has introduced me to a male co-worker at her work. We have been friends for a month. My problem is that I am afraid that this relationship may become serious. The gentleman that she introduced me to is real nice, but my stepfather was the same way when he and my mother were seeing each other and now my stepfather is very mean and argues with my mother about anything and everything. I am afraid to take this relationship any further, because I think of all the bad thing that has happened with my family and I just don't want to go through them again. What should I do?

Dear Reader:

Your letter concerns me.  It sounds like you have a serious anxiety problem left over from a difficult past, so I hope you are getting counseling.   You need to know how to handle intimate relationships. I strongly suggest you join ACA (even if there was no alcohol in your family, there was rage and dysfunction) you'll get lots of support and good information there.

You are right not to trust this man too fast, but it's OK to continue dating him, if you like him, and see how things develop. Remember, it's up to you to learn how to set limits, and to say no when someone puts you down or mistreats you. If he tries to control you, or can't take no for an answer, those are warning. signs.  "How to Keep Yourself Out of a Violent Relationship"  will help you understand how to keep yourself safe.

Observe his behavior and the people around him.  How are the other relationships in his life? Do you know some of his friends and family? How well do they all get along? Does anyone else seem scared around him? There are ways to tell what kind of guy he is, if you know the signs. Get some help and some information. If you learn how to trust that you'll take care of yourself, you won't have to be this scared.  It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction  can be used as an adjunct to therapy or on your own to repair damage done by your stepfather.  Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today  has the information you need to make sure your relationship is developing in a healthy way.


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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.