Have to tell him everything?
Vail, CO, Colorado
Dear Neil: I have been in an off-and-on again relationship for four years. Time and again my boyfriend complains that I don’t tell him the whole story. I can be on the phone while shopping in a store for a bracelet but I might say to him that I’m shopping for a necklace.
Recently my sister visited from out of town, and on a Sunday morning she and I went driving. I called him about 11 o’clock and said that we were window shopping. In reality, no shops were open. Two weeks later we were looking at some photos and he asked where they were taken. When I told him, he became very angry because I did not give him all the details about the Sunday ride out. He gets mad at me all the time in a similar way for very small things. If I say I am doing ABC, and instead do ACB, he will become upset and say to me, yelling, “That is not what you said!” Or he wants to call the relationship off because he says that I lied. No, I did not lie. I just did not say, “We are driving and I’m not sure where we will end up.” He wants to know every move I make. Am I discounting his feelings?
” Very Puzzled in North Carolina
Dear North Carolina: You are not discounting his feelings. This is essentially a trust-control issue, and you’re resisting telling him every detail of what you are doing.
The bigger question here is whether two people need tell each other all the details of their day to day lives. The rule of thumb about this: Don’t mislead or lie about anything of import or about anything that could cause mistrust between the two of you, but there should be enough trust in the relationship that you shouldn’t have to tell everywhere you go and everything you do.
Your boyfriend is very insecure, is very controlling and needs massive amounts of reassurance. Perhaps you could give him that reassurance. But a conversation needs to happen between the two of you, and firm boundaries set and adhered to so that you don’t continuously feel answerable to him about all the details of your life that are immaterial to the relationship and that are none of his business.
If you think things are bad between the two of you now, can you imagine being married to him this way?
Dear Neil: I am a 47-year-old woman who has been in a relationship for the past seven years. For the last six years, I have become a foster mother to a child who is disabled and wheelchair bound. My significant other just announced to me that although he wants me in his life, he cannot handle the burden of a disabled child. While I am devastated by this and wondering why he chose to keep this bottled up inside for so many years, I do not want to make the same mistake in my next relationship. Am I destined to be single because of my disabled child?
” Rejected in Miami, Florida
Dear Miami: No. But be very upfront with a new man about your life circumstances. Make sure he meets your child and knows the reality of your life, and watch for signs about whether he fights or accepts the child’s presence. This is not a choice everyone would make, so be willing to have a very open and honest ongoing discussion about it.
P.S.: Look for single men who have a disabled child.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder. He can be reached at (303) 758-8777 or e-mail at his Web site http://www.heartrelationships.com