Man or woman, it’s a rare reader who hasn’t had a bad relationship. Different degrees of bad exist, of course, from disappointing first dates that never go anywhere to cracks in years-long commitments. The more we have to lose, the harder it is to make a clean break. So we stay and we try to make it work, all the while flirting with those troublesome what ifs.

When I first started dating, I often swallowed my pride if I felt talked over or pushed around. It was both polite and easy not to rock the boat. But forbearance is one of those virtues that should come with caveats. It sets a dangerous precedent. Before I knew it, I found myself invested in a relationship with someone who didn’t hear me and had no desire to meet me halfway.

Bad relationships teach us our limits, but they also leave scars. In the more extreme cases, they create victims.

In Grounds for Divorce, Kayla’s liaison with her boss sits right on the cusp between unfulfilling and damaging. Sent to make up for his debts to the local biker gang, her relationship tips firmly into the latter. It’s fortuitous that club pres. Booker refuses to sleep with Kayla unless she is willing, but the sense of betrayal is no less poisonous for that stroke of luck.

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