My partner is controlling. I feel like I am losing my individuality

beautiful sad woman

Dear Mallika,

I am in a relationship with a 40-year-old man who is divorced. I am 27 years old and love him a lot. I feel for him because he has gone through a lot. But he is a complete control freak. He wants to control everything I do, including my reactions. He is extremely dominating and at times acts like a bully. He laughs at my problems and calls them superficial. He judges me on each of my feelings and thoughts. He wants me to react in a certain manner to every situation and I am losing my individuality with him.

His wife left him because of his controlling nature and now he compares me to her all the time. He tries to find congruence in my behaviour and hers and says that I am her replica and would end up damaging all my relationships like her. He takes me for a kid and always has his own angle of looking at things which he wants me to follow too. He pushes his opinions down my throat and wants me to take and follow all his opinions and when I won’t, he does not talk to me. I have no way to explain to him how I feel about it but I am sick of it. I really want him to hear out my problems but I don’t want him to opine so harshly that I get scared of telling him things. He is very loving and I don’t want to break up with him, but he is pushing me away by these acts. I want to mend things with him and repair my relationship. How do I do it? Please help.

Mallika Pathak says:

Dear Lady,

Sounds like you’re in a controlling relationship, and that’s not a healthy place to be in.

In every relationship, our partner has to be a person who encourages us to be better versions of ourselves. But this is NOT that. Controlling someone’s responses is not what a healthy relationship comprises of. I understand that he has some past trauma which must have been the origin of this behaviour, but there is no justifying it now. Forcing their opinions on you and making you behave in a certain way is not love, it is control. In a relationship, you’re both equals and you have a right to have your opinions.

About the age gap between the two of you, I understand that it could be a reason why he tries to minimise your concerns and makes your problems seem superficial. He’s crossed that age and the difference in age may be a reason for some kind of a generation gap, with him feeling that your problems are not real. Again, that being said, there is no justification for this behaviour as well. You have to make him understand that your problems, however they may seem to him, are still issues that make you uncomfortable and that it’s important that he acknowledges that and helps you cope with them.

As recommendations, I’d like to say three things:

1. Re-evaluate this relationship: What are you getting from it versus what are the trade-offs. If needed, make lists, write things down. It helps to have a better perspective. If the trade-offs are more on the positive side, then you can think of ways in which you can communicate with him and make him understand that the relationship needs to be equal and that’s how it will grow and improve.
2. Confide in a close friend or confidant: Sometimes, what men in our lives fail to understand, our girlfriends do understand immediately! Spend time with your friends, talk and share. Having a sounding board for your problems will make you feel relieved.
3. Understand if you and your partner are on the same page: You’re 27 now and might have started planning for a future together. Since you said that you don’t want this relationship to end, it may be a good time to understand where it’s progressing.

Do not hesitate to get back in touch if there is anything else that I can help with!


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