Dr. Wallace: I’m 17 and dating a guy from another high school who is 18. He is quite good-looking and a very good athlete.

I like this guy, and we have much in common, but he does have one flaw that bothers me. When I do something he disapproves, he gets angry and says mean things to me. Last weekend I was chewing gum and I made it “pop” by accident. This made him angry and he said, “That’s really rude to pop your gum; do it again and I’ll pop your rear with my foot.” He threatens something violent when he doesn’t like what I’m doing. I’ve heard him say, “Next time, I’ll punch your lights out.” “You need your tail kicked.” “Do it again and I’ll bash your brains out.”

He has never hit me, and I don’t think he ever would, but I don’t know for sure. I’ve asked him to be gentler with his words, but all he said was, “Don’t tell me how to talk.”

There are times when he is extremely nice and that’s when I really enjoy being with him. What do you recommend?

Nameless, Seattle, Wash.

Nameless: I’m sure there are times when this guy is civil, but his big mouth overpowers the times when he acts like a nice guy. He is verbally over the edge. Threatening violence is a signal that, when his patience runs out, he will make good on those threats. Don’t wait for this to happen. Indeed, don’t waste any more time on him. He’s not a keeper.

Write to Dr. Wallace
at rwallace@galesburg.net