I have been seeing “Dennis” for a few months. I love him very much and I know he loves me. We are already talking about marriage. But we have a serious problem that I think might ruin our relationship: whenever I want to spend time with my friends he sulks and throws a fit. He says that if I love him I would not want to spend a lot of time with anyone but him. My father was very controlling of my mother this way and I promised myself I would not follow in her footsteps. My best friend’s older sister has invited me, her sister, and some other single girls to spend a weekend with her at her new house in another City. I would really like to go but “Dennis” says if I go, that’s the end of our future together. What should I do?
Tony’s Take: Abby, quite honestly, this guy is currently UNmarriageable. If he is under 27 he is simply immature. If he is above 27 he is a sociopath. Either way, there’s a lot of work to be done. A male who tries to isolate a female is attempting total psychological dominance at the most basic level. He needs to isolate her in order to convince her that she is worthless and useless so that he may abuse her at will. If he is young and stupid he is just very jealous and that would need to be worked on. Whereas if he is older that jealously will have morphed into a form of rage.
In a healthy relationship the two participants encourage each other to have their own friends and own activities. You can’t share what you have not experienced and sharing experiences is one of the wonderful ways that couples entertain each other and stay together. A healthy relationship is the celebration of each of the two individuals in the relationship, not the abuse, degradation and humiliation of one of them.
One must be careful with this type of male because they can turn into stalkers. They feel that since you have thwarted them, you are now their enemy and will harass you in any way they can think of. You must understand this person’s game plan. They will compliment you. They will court you. They will treat you like a princess. But it is all an attempt to ensnare you and isolate you, then dominate, the humiliate, then abuse you.
Alison’s Take: It’s rare to find a man that wants to be with a woman 24/7. It’s rare, weird and creepy. I’d assume that any man who is so afraid to let you go out with friends is so insecure and afraid of losing you that he’s grabbing hold for dear life or he really is mentally ill. In any case, clutchy, grabby, controlling relationships are not healthy ones. If you stay with him and you can’t find a way to correct his behavior, you will literally be a prisoner of his “love.” In fact, a man who controls you to this degree is not someone who loves you.
As Tony suggests, your boyfriend is either immature, or a sociopath. And someone doesn’t have to be “young” to fit into the category of immature or insecure. I knew of one couple who were in their 40’s when they married. But, upon returning from their honeymoon, his wife decided to do a little retail therapy with her besties. Her new husband literally pitched a fit, insisting that if she loved him she wouldnt leave him alone at home. He wanted to go with them…shopping for shoes! She told her friends to go on ahead. She sat him down and told him in no uncertain terms that this kind of behavior was completely unacceptable. She told him right then and there that either he would need to give her the freedom to have time to herself, and time with friends without any type of resistance, questioning or issue, of their marriage was going to be over that day. He never protested, again.
But Abby, if your boyfriend doesn’t listen to reason, the only thing you can do is realize that he is not the right man for you, or for anyone. Go with your friends and enjoy your weekend. Leave Dennis behind. He will survive. He will get the message (as did the newlywed husbamd) that this type of control is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated, and if he persists, your relationship is over. Leave, and if he makes a fuss and threatens you with the end of your relationship, heave a sigh of relief and move on.