Dear Miss Emily,

I recently broke up with my boyfriend.  I've been a miserable wreck ever since.  Now I'm wondering if I made a mistake. We've been dating for almost a year now, and we've talked seriously about marriage.  I love him with all my heart but I've recognized some major problems.  For one thing, he is a gambling addict.  He has gotten help but it seems to always come up.  He also has issues controlling his emotions.  He always apologizes but he blows up over little things.
I feel like because of these things, I should break up with him and move on.  But I still love him so much.  I know he loves me and would never try to hurt me.  I love talking to him and being with him. I'm 20 and he's 28.  I love him but that commitment scares me.  He was my first real boyfriend, my first love, and my first everything.  So I wonder if I'm staying just because I don't know what else it out there and I'm scared to let go of all he's done for me. My problem is, I'm trying to decide if I don't want to leave him because I am truly in love, or if I'm just afraid I won't find anyone else that makes me happier.  It's been a week of hell for me.  I don't want to let go of him.  I love him.  But should I?  Or am I losing the love of my life?

---------------Miss Emily's advice--------------

No, you have not made a mistake by breaking up with him and, no, you have not lost the love of your life -- unless you have a crystal ball and can see into your future!  And even then, that would be a sad future, indeed. You are smart, because you have recognized what has become an enabling situation -- no matter your love for this guy.  But I can see why he'd want to hang on to you.  A guy with a gambling problem, and anger issues would be hard-pressed to find someone quite as understanding as you have been.  No matter what age you are, his problems would become your problems in a way that could become catastrophic.  Consider this:  You were to marry, and his gambling debts are now your debts. Anything you would have bought together would be the subject of repossession, or lead to bankruptcy, or worse. The older he gets, and the more his problems become insurmountable, you would be dragged into the emotional quagmire and, possibly be the object of his anger and abuse.  This type of person, no matter what he (or she) says to the contrary will, ultimately, start blaming others for his (or her) problems.  It becomes a form of denial, or projection that can turn a relationship into a twisted, very unhealthy co-dependence that can be hard to break.  Sad as it is, you have been with him almost a year and have developed deep feelings of love.  I think there is little you can do to help him -- addictions are hard to control.  If you have a deep-seated need to help people with problems, go work at a homeless shelter or a center for abused women.  That way, you will see how life can turn out for some people when they end up totally out-of-control of their lives. You can view it from a distance, rather than becoming part of the a tragedy in the making.  Get on with your life and meet a new guy who doesn't carry the baggage this one packed.  If you don't, you become a willing pawn in a destructive, no-win relationship. Your call, but if you have any true respect for yourself, you will protect the one person you should care most about - - - and that's, here it goes, YOU !