Question: Dear Luise: I am 18 years old & I am in a relationship with a 20 year old. I have been with my boyfriend for a year and a half now. We have known each other a lot longer & seem to have the same type of background, so we were immediately comfortable around each other. We have both had extremely hard childhoods, which is why I sometimes excuse his behavior as maybe something he learned from his parents & I should just let him know that isn’t ok. We have arguments all the time & I don’t know how to fix it. I love him to death so I don’t want to end this, (which is everyone’s advice so far) I feel he is a controlling boyfriend & he feels I’m a crybaby & a bitch. He does not allow me to hang out, talk on the phone, or talk on the internet with any of my friends.(I know he doesn’t have the right to say I CAN’T do this, but he won’t give up!) & he can hang out with whomever he pleases. That isn’t fair! He doesn’t want me to get a job, & he yells when things don’t go his way, even when I have no control over the situation or am not involved. If my opinion is any different from his I get lectured/yelled at. His temper is so unpredictable. He sometimes tells me I’m pathetic, or worthless. (I would guess because I don’t have a job) When I say something about responsibilities we have or finances he really blows up. When an argument gets heated he will break things & get really close in my face, trying to intimidate me. He has never hit me, although sometimes he will ball up his fist & draw back like he is going to. He also takes a lot of anger out on our dog, which really kills me. I’m not the most religious person, but I do enjoy church. He even tells me I can’t go to church! Even when I do address the problem he will say he is going to TRY to stop doing it, & sometimes he will, but a few days later it’s back to the way it was before. I have to bite my tongue and guard my thoughts all the time because depending on his mood he could take everything the wrong way & I will be the one to suffer. So instead of creating arguments sometimes I will just sympathize with him & tell him I’m sorry. It’s just easier sometimes, although I know that is encouraging his behavior. I have told him I’m scared that this is an abusive relationship & I wish we could just work things out & communicate our problems without the yelling & insulting. I have told him time & time again how lousy I feel because of this. So I know that he is aware of how he makes me feel. Any time I say I am not happy he just says, “Then maybe we shouldn’t be together.” & I always reply, “but I really love you, I just wish I could be myself & you could be content with that.” I know he loves me, & it isn’t so bad all the time, but it can be. I, of course, stick up for myself most of the time, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Everyone says I should just leave him, but I love him & there must be another alternative. I would be so grateful if you could give me some techniques on how to deal with a controlling boyfriend & how to maybe even help him deal with his anger issues. B.
Answer: Dear B.: You don’t have the raw material to work with to make a better life for yourself with him. That’s the simple truth. You are in an abusive relationship. We can love people that we can’t live with and there’s no way we can do anything about other peoples issues.
No one can get you to see that until you are ready to see it and it doesn’t sound to me like you are ready. No one can defend your honor or respect your rights except you. As long as you don’t matter to you, there will be no change and you will stay in the victim role and call it relationship.
You don’t want it to be the way it is and you are trying to find a way to have it be different. I know you don’t want me to tell you that…but no one with half a brain is going to tell you anything else. It’s your life…(or the lack thereof)…and I find it terribly sad that you want to throw it away. Blessings, Luise.