I’ve been reading your column for quite some time now, and it surprises me that I’m actually writing to you. I’m usually the one who others come to for advice.
I’ve been seeing this guy since March. Ups and downs like any relationship I suppose. He has very low self-esteem, and he was previously in counseling for this. Since we’ve been together I’ve really changed my life to suit him. I quit smoking (not at his request) and hindered my social life. He’s not distrustful of me, but rather he’s distrustful of the people I associate with. I will admit that my friends have their downfalls and some do have skeletons in their closets. I divide my time between them, and very much keep them away from each other.
We’ve recently started seeing his therapist as a couple, and I have mixed feelings about this. I feel that his therapist is somewhat biased as he was previously my boyfriend’s therapist prior to being our therapist. I try to encourage my boyfriend to talk to me about his feelings and reassure him that I am here to support him and listen to him without being judgmental. We just had a conversation tonight that bothers me. Earlier this morning he went into my phone and found an email I had written to an old friend a while back. While the email itself was harmless, he mistook it as me wanting to be with this friend sexually. I explained to him that there was never a sexual relationship between us. Since we are good friends, I felt it OK to end my email with “Love As Always.” My boyfriend disagrees. He has since asked that I stop speaking with my friend because he worries that there is a possibility of sex.
Obviously, this is a headache for me. I do care for him, but at the same time I find myself wondering if I do love him as much as I believe I do, or if I’m with him for the sake of being with someone. Maybe I am just comfortable with a body in the bed next to me (we moved in together two months ago).
He said to me earlier tonight that “things need to change” and he’s “not sure that he is the person I want him to be or if I’m the person he wants me to be.” Is he looking for a way out? Should I let him go? Is it his self-esteem that I’m hearing or is it him?
— Lovingly Confused
Totally gregarious dandies like yourself can fall into an emotionally controlling and potentially abusive relationship just as easily as anyone else.
Do things need to change if you’re going to have a successful relatioship together? Yes. He will need to meet and learn to socialize with and even like your friends. Not all of them, but some of them. Everyone has skeletons in their closets, and that is one way you can identify your friends: You know about their skeletons, and they know about (at least some of) yours.
If you are uncomfortable with the therapist, you won’t get very far. Even if it is imagined, the bias exists for you, so change it. He is running you and the relationship and has you believing he is the victim. He might even believe he is the victim, but it seems he is only the victim of himself. Guys can and do get pissed off about old emails they find on their boyfriend’s cell phone because they went looking for them, but boyfriends shouldn’t ask you to never talk to someone again because they distrust you.
I honestly don’t get the warm-body thing, but I am excessively independent and have the relationship track record to prove it. Get a body pillow. You’re friendly; you’ll find a new bed buddy with potential in no time.
I am leaving you with something to seriously consider: He has taken the first two steps to building a successful emotionally abusive relationship. He has isolated you from your friends, and he has convinced you that you are not good enough for the relationship. I know you are in love, but do you like the new you?
Much love and a new start in the New Year,
Your Uncle Mat
P.S. Congrats on quitting smoking.
Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at
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