Issues of control, trust and fighting
Here’s my story... I have been with my boyfriend for almost 2 1/2 years now. Before we started dating, I was seeing one of his friends, and he was trying desperately to get me to see him instead. Finally, I realized that I did want to be with him and I left his friend for him.
The first year of our relationship was perfect... everything seemed to be working great for both of us. I never suspected that he was ever lying to me, he was very supportive, reassuring, and I trusted him with all my heart.
We never fought... until after the first year of our relationship. He began getting VERY "annoyed" and acted hostile towards me (but still said that he loved me more than anything). We would fight about the most RIDICULOUS things- and he started being very controlling.
I wasn’t even able to go shopping with a female friend without him accusing me of being with other guys and lying to him, when clearly I wasn’t doing ANYTHING wrong. Issues like this happened every time I even left my house with someone else. However, I never spent time with any other guy besides him. How could he think I was seriously lying/cheating when there is never any proof?
But despite the fact that he didn’t want me hanging out with my friends, he continued to go out with his almost every night. He never wanted to invite me, and when I would call him he almost never answered and would call me back about 20 minutes later. He seemed very sketchy at times and seemed like he was hiding something. He also went to parties without me knowing, and was drinking with other girls. Should I be suspicious? Also, does this seem wrong; he can go out and do whatever he wants, but I can’t even leave my house without being yelled at?
Another issue is smoking and drugs/alcohol. I have had my share of problems with these things, and have permanently quit because of it. He was on probation for a year and just got off 6 months ago. Since then, he has gone back to smoking weed and drinking. I don’t like this, but he won’t stop for me. He says he loves me and will do anything for me, but why is this so important to him? I can’t stand it.
Lately he has been saying he might not be able to stay with me because he can’t trust me. I have never given him any reason not to trust me... how can I do anything behind his back if I never leave my house unless it’s with him?? Problems/fights over this come up probably about 3-5 times a week.
The two of us are of course happy the rest of the time... and are very affectionate and intimate/emotional with each other.
But is it worth being together if we are angry more then we are happy? We have sat down and had MANY "talks" about all of these problems... we will talk, supposedly work things out, but then its the same cycle over and over again and absolutely nothing changes.
He is the first person I’ve been with that I actually have real feelings for and care about… I feel really attached to him and every time I try to break it off with him I can’t do it. I look at him and literally melt/breakdown and just can’t dump him and move on.
Is this relationship worth saving?
The first year of any romantic relationship is never an indicator of how things will turn out. The start of a relationship tends to be novel, exciting and fun. People are on their best behavior and couples fill in the missing gaps they have about each other with what they want to believe (see self deception).
Over time, however, people begin to act in more self-serving ways. And the illusions people create about their partners often become challenged by reality. If you had a dollar for every relationship that was perfect during the first year, but ended in misery, you’d be wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.
Unfortunately, most couples form a deep attachment to each other at the start of a relationship—when things are easy and fun (see romantic attachments). But, as time goes on and relationships begin to take a turn for the worse, attachments can still remain strong. Because emotional attachments remain strong, despite whether people are happy or not, it can be extremely painful to leave a bad relationship—doing so is filled with loss, anxiety, and uncertainty. With this in mind, it is always important to be very careful about who you form an attachment to because they are not easily undone.
Furthermore, once negativity and conflict get their foothold in a relationship, they can be difficult to contain. And getting into fights about “ridiculous” issues often indicates that the real issue is not being addressed—that your relationship has become fight over who is in control (see relationship dynamics).
If this is the case, it is best to talk directly about the issue of control, rather than pick fights in an attempt to show who is in charge. Control issues do not get resolved unless they are directly addressed, and even that may not resolve the problem.
And the use of double standards also suggests that there is a struggle for control. Relationships work best when they are based on respect and equality (see healthy relationships). Double standards are a means by which people take advantage of someone else—they are exploitative and they demonstrate a lack of respect.
It is also essential that couples share important goals and priorities. So, if you have given up drugs and alcohol and your boyfriend has not, this issue will be constant source of irritation and frustration, for both of you.
Your boyfriend’s lack of trust is also problematic. It is impossible to have a close, healthy relationship without trust (see rebuilding trust). And if you have not done anything to raise doubts, your boyfriend’s lack trust could be part of his personality (see attachment styles) or it could stem from his own behavior. People, who betray their partner’s trust, often have a difficult time trusting their partners. Distrusting individuals often assume that their partner’s behavior must be similar to their own.
Taking everything together—control issues, double standards, important differences, a lack of trust—it is no wonder that your relationship is marked by constant fighting and negativity. And although you mention that there are good times in your relationship, for a relationship to work, the good times must far outweigh the bad times. Research shows that there has to be a 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions for a relationship to succeed (see Gottman). In other words, for every negative incident, there must be 5 equally positive events, otherwise, couples end up being miserable.
You say that you and your boyfriend talk about problems, but they keep reoccurring. Generally, this indicates that 1) the real issues are not being addressed, 2) that there is no real commitment to change, 3) that you are not effectively dealing with the problems you have, 4) or that it just wasn’t meant to be.
Is your relationship worth saving? Only you can answer that question, but we have provided some issues to consider as you work through that decision (see relationship worth saving).
Finally, some people are willing to stay in a bad relationship because they are so afraid of being alone (see anxious attachment). If that describes you, then we suggest talking to a counselor (see emotional support). Fear of being alone often leads to people being repeatedly exploited and used when it comes to love. If you suspect that may be part of the problem, addressing that issue now will help you in the long run.
Hope this helps.
I have my own question to ask
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