Should this end or am I just being paranoid?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been with my boyfriend now for a little over three years. He really is a great guy. Very loving, supportive, helpful, attentive, and giving. But then we moved out of state to start a new life for ourselves, and had plans on marriage. I moved away from my entire family and moved in with his parents (BIG mistake). My boyfriend turned into a different person. He was selfish, somewhat domineering with a “my way or the highway” mentality. His family didn’t like me, and were rather nasty to me. My boyfriend had bought an engagement ring that we’d picked out, but then he returned it without telling me. I begged him to move out of his parents house with me (I couldn’t afford it on my own) but he said no, as his father told him it would be a waste of money since we were living with the parents rent free.

Finally, I decided to end the relationship. I hadn’t told him yet, but I think he knew it was coming, because the day I’d made up my mind to do it, he told me that we wanted to move back to our home state and away from his crazy parents, but that he needed to finish school first. He apologized for trying to be the “middleman”, the “go-between” for me and his family. He told me that in the process of being the monkey in the middle, he was losing the best thing he had in his life (me). I said that was fine but I was moving back immediately, but that I’d wait for him and if he actually moved back after school, things would go back to normal.

Finally, about 10 months after I moved back to our home state, my boyfriend moved back after he finished school. That was four months ago. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like things are back to normal. I don’t really think they ever will be. He talks about marriage again, saying he wants to propose as soon as I am ready. I have made it clear to him that I am absolutely NOT ready to be married or even engaged for that matter and until he hears otherwise he should not assume. We live about an hour and a half away from each other, but do see each other on the weekends. I feel that if I saw him more often than that, it would be too much. Mind you, this is a stark contrast to the way it was in the beginning. I lived with him and we got along splendidly. We seem to communicate excellently, and I absolutely trust him 100% to not cheat on me.

But I have some sort of feeling that something isn’t right. I can’t even put my finger on what it is but I feel like it’s not going to work out. One thing more of significance… A few weeks ago, we were out at a popular bar and grill enjoying drinks. It was quite crowded and we were having a great time. The conversation turned to extreme sports (which he doesn’t do and never expressed any interest in doing them), and I mentioned that I was glad he didn’t do them because I would be worried about his safety. Well, in short, he lost it. Completely. Made a fool out of himself in public, saying that I am constantly telling him what to do, that he doesn’t get to live his life the way he wants to, etc etc. Long story short, it culminated when he picked up my martini glass and slammed it on the table top to accentuate his point, and the glass shattered into a million pieces, cutting his hand.

The next day, he apologized profusely for what he’d done, said that he has no idea what he was going on about, that I do not in any way try to control his life, and that he had no idea what he was saying. I personally believe that he was releasing the feelings that he has about his father, and I just happened to be the unsuspecting victim. Point is, he’d never done anything like that before for as long as I’ve known him. But, as I found out from one of his friends whose known him longer than I have that this sort of thing has happened before. VERY rarely, but it has. With everything that’s happened in the last year and a half, and now this, my feelings of unease have hardly subsided. Otherwise, he’s still very caring, attentive, and we have a great time when we’re together.

A: I don’t know if you’re “paranoid” but I do know that you are wise to put off engagement and marriage until you feel more settled. Your boyfriend does seem to have some unresolved issues around feelings of being controlled. In addition, although people can and do marry in spite of parental disapproval, it does make things harder. Are his parents really “crazy” or is it possible that he is involved in some kind of tug of war with them that got taken out on you? This family let you live with them but you make no mention of what kind of relationship you forged with his mother and father. If they are potentially your in-laws, it’s important that you get to know them as individuals and come to some understanding of why they didn’t support your relationship. There may be things you can do to improve that situation.

It sounds like you have taken a step back. That’s probably smart. Be friends. Enjoy each other. Give him space to figure himself out. Get to know his folks in a new way. Then see how you feel in a few months. As he carves out an adult life for himself while living apart from his parents, you’ll get the information you need to make a good decision.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jul 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Should this end or am I just being paranoid?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/07/11/should-this-end-or-am-i-just-being-paranoid/