My boyfriend and I are constantly fighting. It’s not just stupid fights over nothing, although that’s how it always starts out. It always starts over light-hearted bickering, or a joke we take the wrong way and get emotional over. There is usually crying and sometimes yelling, and it really makes us both feel horrible, but we always make up fast realizing how stupid it is. But even though we know how dumb it is, we still let it happen! It’s hard to take back the things we say in the heat of the moment. I usually call him a jealous control freak, and he’ll tell me I’m a slut. This was going on for months before my friends started getting mad at me, not calling me and accusing me of not being there for them. I didn’t realize I was distancing myself. But when I spend a lot of time away from my boyfriend, that usually causes the biggest fights because he keeps checking in on me and I get so caught up in the fun I’m having that I forget to call him. The night usually ends with me crying over his wild accusations. He has never raised a hand to me (it would be over in a second if he did) but sometimes he just looks so angry it scares me. No one gets why I stay with him and sometimes neither do I. He’s not my first boyfriend, and I’m not afraid I can’t meet someone else, but I’ve never felt this strongly about someone before and we’ve been together forever. I love him regardless of what people think. But I would like to try and work on our relationship before it breaks apart from all the melodrama.
Dear Desperate Wifey,
I am very concerned! What you casually term “melodrama” are in fact extremely unhealthy patterns of behavior. Melodrama is arguing with your best friend about a crush, or gossiping about people behind their backs, or your mom telling you not to wear that leopard miniskirt to the mall.
That’s melodrama – not vicious name calling, constant arguing and purposeful isolation coming from the supposed love of your life. That’s what we call a dangerous relationship, sweetie.
You say these brawls usually spawn from little spats. I’d like to know what these incidents are about. Judging by the tone and content of the rest of your question, I’d venture to guess they involve your boyfriend’s nit-picking of you. Your assault of choice – calling him a “jealous control freak” – says a lot. I know it’s said in the heat of the moment, but sometimes it takes a heated moment for you to finally get fed up enough to express how you feel.
Is he unreasonably jealous? It’s one thing to get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when your girlfriend is talking to an ex in a bar, but it’s quite another to take that feeling and let it get so intense that you call her a slut! I’m appalled.
Even if his suspicions were valid and you were being less than faithful, verbally abusing you is only going to push you further away. He says he loves you, and he probably does. But because of his own issues, he’s letting his unstable emotions manifest in abusive behavior. Whether he has been cheated on in the past or has trust issues for another reason, he’s giving that unfounded jealousy too much power.
By calling you a slut he’s taking attention away from his jealousy and is putting the blame on you. He’s making it seem as if you’re the one doing something wrong.
It also concerns me that you always “make up fast.” Something tells me you don’t actually work out the underlying problems behind your fights, because if you did they wouldn’t keep happening so often. If you just forgive each other and pretend nothing happened, resentment will continue to fester until you have your next blowup.
I know people say that every couple fights, but not every couple ends most days in yelling, crying or abandoning their friends to attend to a needy partner. When you start dating someone, your circle of friends should get bigger, not smaller and hostile. Nobody said you have to be best friends with your partner’s friends, but you should be spending time in groups and not just in isolation.
Of course friends can get annoyed if you’re not around as much as you used to be, but most are pretty understanding. Your situation is different. This is your friends being genuinely concerned for your well-being! You should listen to them instead of writing them off, but at the same time they should be approaching the situation with more understanding.
One of the earliest signs of abuse is isolation. Even if your boyfriend isn’t literally prohibiting you from going out by locking you up, he’s making you feel so guilty that you’d rather not upset him. You know that if you spend too much time without him, he’ll get suspicious and start with his “wild accusations.”
There is a big difference between “checking in” and “checking up.” Checking in is seeing what you’re up to, asking how your class was, if you’re busy and want to get lunch, or if you’re having fun with your friends. Checking up is seeing if you’re where you said you would be, finding out if you’re with people he doesn’t want you to be with and constantly calling you to make sure you’re doing what you said you’d be doing.
What he’s doing is checking up, and it’s an unhealthy way to control someone when they’re not even in your presence. His desire to control you and how successful he’s been at it thus far is alarming, and your friends are right to be worried. Three early warning signs of abuse are checking up, acting possessive and isolation – and I hope this is a wake-up call for you.
I know you say you feel more strongly about him than anyone, but are you mistaking passion and drama for love? Either way, is that worth ruining your friendships, stressing you out and risking further abuse? Although leaving him might be difficult, the sooner you commit to change the better.
Physical or other types of severe abuse very rarely start in the early stages of a relationship. I’m sure you keep thinking it’ll get better, but if you don’t voice your concerns without screaming or crying, nothing will ever change.
There are places to get help, and people to talk to. Visit womanspace.org or another reputable Web site to learn more and locate hotlines. The office of Anti-Violence Initiatives in Eickhoff Hall also addresses the issues of stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault. You’ve already reached out once, and I hope you continue to do so, with professionals who can help.
No matter how much you love someone, you should love yourself more. That doesn’t mean being selfish and apathetic, but at the end of the day, you’ll always be there for yourself, and he may not be.