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Dear Debbie: My Boyfriend tries to control me

Sometimes a gift isn’t so sweet.  Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com

Sometimes a gift isn’t so sweet. Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com

Rachel Goodman, Opinion Editor

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Dear Debbie: Don’t get me wrong, I love my boyfriend. He’s so sweet to me. He buys me my favorite candy (white chocolate) and texts me good morning every morning and goodnight every day. He’s doing everything right. I’ve never dated someone so attentive before. But something feels wrong.

Last night he brought over my favorite flowers and wanted to watch a movie with me, and suddenly I felt like I couldn’t breathe. When I told him we had already spent every night together this week and I needed to work on homework, he got upset. He told me I am so lucky for all the things that he does for me and that no other guy would treat me as well as he did.

I immediately felt guilty and allowed him to stay but I felt uncomfortable the whole time. I’ve noticed that many of my close friendships faded since I began dating him. My boyfriend gets very jealous anytime he sees that I am in contact with other men, even if it is in a completely platonic way. He says that this opens the door to cheating and that he doesn’t talk to other girls, so I shouldn’t talk to other guys.

He thinks I should appreciate how protective he is because it means he cares. His words makes sense, but something feels wrong. Is my relationship unhealthy? I don’t want to overthink this and ruin a good thing. 

– Stuck-In-Love

 

Dear Stuck-In-Love: The line between what is healthy and what is not healthy in a relationship is very easy to blur when you care about someone so much. That being said, I think that your instincts that something is off are correct. What you have described does not sound like a healthy or happy partnership. No amount of chocolates or flowers gives someone the right to control and manipulate you. If someone gives you a gift, they should do it without expecting anything in return. If they do expect something, which he obviously does, then it becomes manipulation rather than a kind gesture. 

A bit of jealousy will naturally develop in any relationship but the situation that you have described is not normal.  My advice is to get out now. Cut all contact with him and see if you can breathe easier. He will try to guilt you into staying with him, but you will never be happy if you do. Block his number if you need to, but get out. 

If you don’t believe me, ask your distant friends what they think of your relationship. I can almost promise you they will say the same thing.

When, and if, you end this relationship (you totally should) make sure that someone else is in the vicinity to hear if you call for help. I know it is hard to imagine someone you care about harming you but this controlling personality is consistent with someone who is physically abusive to their partner. 

He is already controlling you in more ways than you realize and using guilt to make you do as he wishes, like when he brought you flowers and guilted you into letting him stay. 

He knows how to play on your emotions and you need to establish that firm distance to see him for what he really is. 

Reach out to your friends. I am sure they miss you. If you feel lonely, stay with them and talk to them about your feelings. I promise if you end the relationship, you will look back months from now and see what a bullet you dodged. 

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Dear Debbie: My Boyfriend tries to control me