Paranoid Boyfriend Ignores My Boundaries
Dear Annie: I recently reconnected with a man I was engaged to as a young girl. We broke up because of a misunderstanding. Now, decades later, we have reunited.
He is loving and kind most of the time. However, when he feels I have slighted him, he will tell me that he's breaking up with me because of some supposed slight that I have committed against him. Usually, it's something small, like being unavailable on a specific day or saying I have to go someplace and cannot message him for a while. He then accuses me of infidelity and/or not loving him "enough."
I have spoken to him many times about personal boundaries, and the life that I am enjoying living and have enjoyed for many years without him. I would very much like to incorporate him into my life, but he sometimes demands much more of me than what I can give.
When he threatens a breakup, I am crushed. I have abandonment issues to begin with, and this exacerbates those feelings.
I truly love him and want him in my life. What can I say to make him stop throwing these temper tantrums when he feels he's been slighted, when those perceived slights are unintentional? -- Confused Lady
Dear Confused Lady: Threatening to leave you after the slightest disagreement is a form of verbal abuse. It sounds like he's trying to gaslight you into spending all your time with him -- and such controlling behavior is certainly a red flag.
That said, constantly reminding him of the life you "enjoyed for many years without him" probably only fuels his insecurities.
I would seek the guidance of a couples therapist to help set appropriate boundaries in your new relationship.
Dear Annie: I have been in this relationship for 12 years now, and I love my boyfriend very much. Where I am lost is, a few years into our relationship, I caught him signing up for dating sites.
At first, his excuse was that "it was old stuff from before we got together." Well, at one point, he had a profile on 172 dating sites. Every time I would confront him, it was a different lie, and then it got to where he would turn it around and make it my fault as to why he was on them. (Because I was "being a b----" is why he went on them.) He tells me it's nothing and that he never talks to anyone on them.
He had cancer in 2014, and from chemo and all the treatment, his physical performance is not at its best, so we don't even have sex anymore, which I have come to understand that if I want to be with him, is something I have to deal with. I'm OK with that, but I'm not OK that I'm doing without while he checks out other women on dating sites. I am seriously considering leaving him because I feel very disrespected and belittled by his actions. Please help. -- Lost but in Love
Dear Lost: Similar to "Confused Lady," in the first part of today's column, it sounds like your boyfriend, too, is a gaslighter. Turning his infidelity, curiosity or boredom into your fault is clear manipulation.
"Disrespected" and "belittled" are never ways you should feel in a relationship, especially one as long term as this. Without loyalty and trust in one another, you'll never have a fulfilling relationship. Put this one to bed. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.