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Is My Boyfriend Mentally Abusing Me?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From Burma: I have a hard time asking for what I want and expressing how I truly feel. I told my boyfriend:

When I’m sad, I will ask you to be there for me. But some days, I just can’t/don’t want to reach out. On those days, can you say “you seem sad, can I be there for you”. He said that me asking him to do that is trying to change who he is because if he is sad, he will always ask someone to be there and not let someone ask him like I do.

I think that is the most messed up/saddest excuse I have ever heard.

Also, when we talk, I feel like he isn’t listening to me. So I asked him “can you please make eye-contact and nod so I know you are engaged with me and what I have to say? And he told me that I am assuming he isn’t listening when he is actually listening. Because I am asking him to show he is engaged in the conversation when he is actually listening, that is also me trying to change who he is.

Does this guy even love me? I feel like he is just trying to mentally abuse me and play with my mind.

From my point of view, you are making reasonable requests of someone you love.

Relationships are always about making compromises and, yes, sometimes changing how we do things. Your boyfriend seems so worried about losing control that he is being controlling. From what you said, I can’t tell if he is doing it on purpose. He may not be aware that by insisting you just accept him how he is in all things, he isn’t helping build the give and take that is required if you are to be long term. He doesn’t seem to be aware that by insisting on doing things his way, he is asking you to be the one to change who you are.

It’s worth talking to him some more. If he isn’t willing to make any compromises on such small things as making eye contact or checking in with you about feelings, I do have to wonder how he will act when some bigger problem comes along.

I suggest you slow down with this relationship until you figure out if this guy is capable of giving as well as receiving.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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