Tell Me About It: My boyfriend is trying to control me

He checks my Facebook and texts, and tries to keep me from my friends

Illustration: Getty Images

Illustration: Getty Images

Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 01:00

Q I have been going out with my boyfriend for six months. It’s been great. I feel he really loves me and wants to take care of me, and we are about to move in together. But I’ve seen a side of him I’m not sure about. I feel like I have to choose between him and my friends. He doesn’t get along with them. He says he doesn’t want us to have any secrets, and I agree. I trust him and want him to trust me, so I don’t want to hide anything from him, but I think it might be a bit much for him to be checking my Facebook and texts – I don’t do that to him.

When one of my best friends called last week he picked up my phone and yelled at her to stop bothering us. I don’t know how to apologise or explain it to my friend, and he just huffed afterwards so I didn’t get any apology or explanation from him.

Last weekend I went out with the girls and he said he didn’t want to come and was going to stay in but I’m sure I saw him in town. When I asked him about it he said I must have seen a look-alike because it wasn’t him.

My boyfriend is creating an atmosphere through his insecurity. I don’t want to make him feel bad, but I don’t want to have to give up my friends or my privacy to be with him.

A Your Facebook and phone should be password-protected and no one else should have access to them. This isn’t about keeping secrets from one another, it’s about maintaining the integrity of your personal identity and spelling out what’s his business and what isn’t. He shouldn’t be trying to part you from your friends and flying into a jealous rage when one of them interrupts your time with him.

It sounds like you are extremely uncomfortable with what is going on. Consider how you feel about this, not how he feels. You say you trust him, and “want him” to trust you. How do you feel about not being trusted? His inability to trust is his issue, not yours. People who cannot trust may try to control you so that they feel safe. This never works, and it could lead to escalating means of controlling you, where you feel increasingly unsafe.

You say you want to “make things okay”, but things may never be okay from his point of view until he has total control over you. Part of this is alienating you socially, so it is important for you to tell at least one trusted friend what is going on.

Possessive people can be seductive at first, but when you say he wants to “take care” of you, does this mean he wants you 100 per cent in his control?

You could seek relationship counselling, or go on your own if you are determined to stay in this dicey relationship. But do not move in with him without first getting expert help. You see the warning signs. Perhaps you need them confirmed.

“Unfortunately we know from callers to our helpline that control, manipulation, and isolation are features of relationships for young women, even when the relationships aren’t ‘domestic’,” says Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid. “It can be difficult to identify subtler forms of emotional abuse, like using jealousy to control or isolate, or guilting a woman into sharing her online passwords, and these are often excused as insecurities, so it’s really important to keep an open dialogue on what is acceptable behaviour in relationships.”

Women’s Aid has a Relationship Health Check at 2in2u.ie that you can use to further explore what is happening. Call the Women’s Aid national freephone helpline, 1800-341900, open 10am-10pm every day.


Email questions to tellmeaboutit@irishtimes.com or contact Kate on Twitter, @kateholmquist. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into

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