Totally Depressed -- Definitely Controlling

Hi. I don't really know where to start with this. I never thought before that I was controlling. I always thought I had another complex instead. Some sort of Nightingale syndrome. I'm not a nurse, but I seem to date people that have "problems" that I can help them with. I'm always trying to fix people and thinking that I'm doing a great thing at improving their lives. Maybe sometimes I have... I don't know... but I also know that I definitely cause them an incredible amount of stress.

Right now, I'm dating a really wonderful person. I love him so much. When I first met him, I thought he was perfect. He was super sweet, so romantic, adventurous, spontaneous and fun. He wrote me the most beautiful love letters, promising me a future full of romance and passion, and I fell in love with him incredibly fast. I am a person that needs a lot of excitement and novelty in my life. I like unplanned trips (even just day trips) and unexpected surprises. They don't need to be big, but I do need them to exist. At first, my boyfriend seemed like someone that would always surprise me with little things. He would call me and wake me up with morning songs, and he would send me emails at random times of the day and agree to go do unplanned events, like go camping in the middle of a forest in the Midwest in October so we could keep each other warm in the outdoors. It was fun... exciting... wonderful. He was my world and I was his.

Things started getting complicated because we were having a long distance relationship and I wasn't dealing well with it anymore. I missed him too much and I couldn't even make friends where I was living because I was always on the phone with him or on Skype or chatting or traveling to see him. He stopped writing me as often and then he stopped entirely. We still talked on the phone but things were much less romantic between us. I would get nervous and upset that the passion had already worn out... It was too soon and the whole thing had been long distance. He began being more himself and less trying to impress me and I began wanting him to be more like he used to be again. Everything was still alive though and we were convinced we were in love. He wanted to be together too, but he didn't want to move to where I was. In his mind, that was too complicated. I couldn't bare being apart any longer so a few months later, I moved to where was instead. I had to quit my job and my school work in order to do this. I thought it was unfair because he was unemployed at the time and had already graduated from college, so in my mind it would have been easier for him to have made the move instead of me. But I did it anyway.

What followed is a series of events that led to me having less and less of a life and feeling more and more like he had screwed me with his lies about who he was and false promises about what we were going to have together. He's a good person. A very good person. He's a person that when we first met, he was excited and wanted to do all these exciting things with me but then he mellowed and wanted a more "easy going" relationship. The problem for me was that I clung onto my ideas of who he was and sacrificed so much of my life because I believed that he would change and go back to who he was at first. He didn't change. He just showed me who he really was. He is a very sweet person, but he is not adventurous, he's very safe, and he's not super romantic, he's very mellow, and he likes to rest instead of go out, and he likes to spend a lot of time exercising and with his family instead of with me, and he has routines that he is used to and a way that he lives his life that is very methodical and planned out. He is the opposite of what I wanted and believed him to be. And I have spent the last six months trying to change him so that I don't feel like I have moved here for nothing. This is when I began my reign of control and I am just now realizing that I have a big, big problem.

I have asked him to do things that are uncomfortable for him, like spending the nights at my house instead of his. He doesn't like sleeping somewhere else, but I don't think it is a very big deal and I pressure him to come over even when he doesn't want to. He never does, which enfuriates me and drives me to say things that are painful and insulting to make him reconsider. I cry and lose my patience because he won't do anything I ask him to do. I accused him of being a control freak because he doesn't ever give in and has to do everything his way, but I didn't realize that he is only in control of his own life, not mine. He never stops me from doing what I want to do. He just never wants to do things with me that I want him to do. His favorite word is 'no' and I push him and insist and seem to not understand that no means no. He chooses to spend time with his mom a lot. In my opinion, he spends too much time with his mother. I interrogate him about his time with her and get incredibly jealous that he seems to want to spend more time with her than with me. He says he spends time with her because she's lonely and he doesn't want her to not like me if I take him away for too long, but I insist that it's unhealthy and try to keep him away from home for longer than he wants to be every time that we are out. I feel that what I'm doing is to help him break ties from his gripping, suffocating family, but I'm actually imposing my beliefs on him and pushing him to change his life at a pace that he is not comfortable with. When I cry, I am manipulating him (subconsciously), and I guilt trip him and manipulate him some more by reminding him of all I lost and sacrificed for us to be together. I feel that what I want from him is not unreasonable, but he clearly disagrees and I don't give him the space or time that he needs because I get impatient and I feel that it has already been too long. In six months, he never slept over at my house, and to me that is absurd. He is still super attached to his mom and he won't ever choose to spend time with me over spending time with her if we both want to hang out at the same time. When he is tired or too sick to hang out I get impatient and annoyed that he prefers to stay at home than come here. I don't understand what is so different about his mom taking care of him versus me. In the end though, no matter how I see this, he isn't doing things that he is uncomfortable with, and I am pushing him and pressuring him to change, insulting him, handling things terribly, just because I feel like I know best what he should do with his life. I have turned into a person that I hate and don't want to be. It started out from wanting him to spend the night at my house because I wanted to be with him and now I just want him to make a change and I've turned it into a battle that I want to win on principle. To know that he can do something for me. I don't know what to do anymore. I cause him an incredible amount of stress and he really is a sweet person. He doesn't deserve me giving him so much **** for being so uncomfortable with what I consider to be "normal" behavior for his age. Now I feel like I am just another big problem in his life, and maybe I should just leave him alone. But I love him, and I never meant to hurt him and make him feel this awful. I don't know what to do.
Buggie28 Buggie28
1 Response Jul 5, 2010

Buggie28, I completely understand where you're coming from. I just very recently have come to realize that I'm a total control freak. I've been with a great guy for a year and a half, and even though he treated me very well and was incredibly supportive and doting, I criticized him ALL the time. I can't think of a single conversation he and I had (after the honeymoon period was over) where I haven't said something critical, condescending, or just plain mean. I don't like the person I've become, I felt like his mother...always telling him what to do, and then telling him he did it the wrong way. I've been controlling, argumentative, and unappreciative of all the wonderful things he's done. And now I've lost him, because yesterday he dumped me on my a**. I'm heartbroken and blaming myself...he was no angel (he's argumentative as well, though not controlling, and he can sometimes be very immature and irresponsible) and maybe he and I just weren't compatible. But I can't help feeling that the ways in which we were incompatible could have somehow been worked out if I hadn't been on him all the time to change every little thing, especially things that didn't matter.<br />
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People say "don't sweat the small stuff"...this annoys me. When you're a control freak, even the SMALL things seem big. It's hard to differentiate between things that are actual issues, and things that are ridiculous to get upset about. It all seems important at the time. My (now ex) boyfriend didn't deserve most of the crap that I said to him. I criticized his clothes, his hair, his manner of speech, his apartment, even sometimes the ex<x>pression he would have on his face. Yes, I literally would say "don't make that face, it makes you look weird". I've spent the last year and a half being unsure about my feelings for the guy, because even though he was sweet and loving and cute and adored me, I still wasn't happy. What I'm coming to realize is that I can NEVER be happy with someone else until I'm happy with myself. How to actually become happy is something I haven't quite figured out yet, though. Ha!<br />
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I think, in both our cases, we have to do the one thing that seems most impossible: not do anything. Let it go. Freaking hard, isn't it? I don't know if I can do it. But the most important thing to remember is this: you cannot control anyone's behavior but your own. You are responsible for your own decisions, and your own happiness. I know this guy seems to be very different now than he was in the beginning. That's why there's the oh-so-cynical ex<x>pression "When you first start dating someone, you're not meeting them. You're meeting their representative." It take so long to actually figure out who a person really is that by the time you actually know them, you've already invested so much and can't let it go. And you want the guy, you know? But you want him to be who YOU want him to be, which is different than who he really is. You want your dream version of him, not the real dude. And it's so hard to let go of that version in your head, especially when in the beginning they seemed to fit it. I wish I had advice for you. I don't know what to do, either. But my not knowing is tinged (okay, saturated) with hysteria, because now he's left me and isn't coming back. So I will tell you this: if you continue to control and try to change him, you will drive him away. But you have to ask you love him, who he actually is? Or do you just love who you THOUGHT he was?