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Dear Stavroula

Dear Stavroula: My Boyfriend Is Trying to Control Me

February 4, 2023

Dear Stavroula,

I am 33 years old and very much in love with a man my age. We have been together for eight months but our relationship from the beginning was very strong and that’s why lately we sleep over every night at each other’s house.

We usually have a great time together because we have many common interests and a very intense love life. My problem is that my boyfriend has started doing some troubling things. For example, while before he had no problem with me going out with my girlfriends or with friends from work, suddenly he gets upset every time I’m about to go out without him and he tries to convince me that it is not right, since we are in a serious and exclusive relationship, to go out with my male friends because my intentions may be misunderstood. I feel like he is trying to cut me off from my friends and that he would love to control me even though he doesn’t show it clearly and that scares me a lot because I have been in some relationships in the past with people who were very jealous and very possessive.

What should I do so that this does not spoil our relationship? I don’t want to lose him, but I also don’t want to accept not seeing my friends because he has a problem.

Katerina

Dear Katerina,

It seems that the way that everyone chooses their partner has to do with different models that they have inside them which act as prototypes and determine to a large extent the person they will fall in love with, and which partner they will choose.

This is why one often chooses partners who behave similarly. For example, one may choose partners who are distant, or who do not seem willing to commit to an exclusive romantic relationship. Others may reject partners who seem giving and easy-going on the grounds that they find them boring.

This is probably because most people are taught about love and relationships in childhood, as they grow up with people who become the prototypes of love for them. From those early caregivers they are taught what it means to love and be loved.

If someone has grown up equating love with control and possessiveness, they are likely to function later in their relationships as adults in a similar way.

Something similar may be happening to your partner. However, as decisive as the emotional bond with our primary caregiver is, it does not mean that it cannot change if there is an awareness and willingness to work on oneself after having recognized that some things in one’s relationships are dysfunctional.

So the first thing you might need to do is talk honestly with your boyfriend and explain calmly and non-judgmentally how you feel when you have to deal with his coldness, or why it’s important for you to see your friends. Try to understand what worries him, what his fears are, and help him understand that he can trust you and how important that is to you. Calmly set your boundaries and do not allow them to be violated even if you have to face the consequences. The man who won’t respect what you love may not be the one you want to have by your side.

In a second phase, consider your own patterns in choosing partners. Perhaps the answers to the following questions will help you understand yourself better:

What are the reasons you often commit to men who are jealous? What do they have in common with each other or perhaps with one of your parents? How does their behavior make you feel, and how would you feel if a man wasn’t jealous at all?

It is important to be able to discern patterns of behavior when one is choosing a partner. It is perhaps the first step towards finding healthier and happier relationships.

Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.

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