Dear Bunmi,

My boyfriend is in his late 30s, never been married but a single father.  We’ve been together for over four years. 

Towards the end of last year, we separated for four months because of his excessive drinking. More than once, he has pinned me down and put his hand around my throat. He didn’t actually hurt me, but I was really frightened. I asked him to leave my flat but he apologised and we ended up together again. 

He continued his excessive drinking but we got along better.

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Recently, after a heated argument, I again walked him out of my flat, but he came back later, roaring drunk.

 He forced his way in and grabbed my throat with such a force that I almost blacked out. He suddenly let go and started crying that nobody loved him.  Well, I do love him but I can’t live with his problems. He’s not frequent at my flat as before, but I’m worried that he’ll soon bounce back and the same thing would happen – and I might choke to death!  I want to feel happy and safe with him – or get him out of my life and meet someone better. I am 29.

Ngozi, by e-mail.

Dear Ngozi,

Asking your boyfriend to leave your flat when you’re dissatisfied with him is a display of power that seems every bit as threatening to him as his display of drunken anger seems to you. 

It looks as if neither of you can tolerate the other’s behaviour and the acute insecurity it breeds within you. It is tragic that where there was once a strong attraction in this relationship, there is now mutual fear that will be hard to get rid of.

Each of you has to acknowledge your weakness by doing some serious thinking or seeing the counsel of more experienced people. Your boyfriend’s wounded pride might prevent him from agreeing to serious discussion, as this might mean he will have to admit to his chronic abuse of alcohol. If that’s the case, I’m afraid he will remain a chronic alcoholic and, as you suspect, you can have no future together. Be ready to distance yourself and move on.

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