After dating for five months, my partner and I started living together last Valentine’s Day. So romantic!
A month later, came the order for self-quarantining, ending all that had been our “normal” before COVID-19.
Working from home in a small apartment, with no possibility of meeting friends somewhere, and anxious about our parents (his live in another virus-infected country; I have a health-compromised mother)…we both became tense and distracted.
I also learned that he has a tendency toward control.
He’ll ask me a question about something, and then keep asking it if he doesn’t get the answer he wants. When we’re online with friends, he’ll “correct” my description of a program we watched on Netflix. Or disagree with my account of Covid information that I’ve read or heard.
This behaviour makes me very uncomfortable.
We’re late-30s; we’ve both had previous long relationships. There weren’t any serious red flags before moving in together.
Are we just not suited for going through tough times together? Should I call it quits?
One theory about “controllers” is that insecurity moves someone to boost their own self-esteem by controlling others.
Another, is that it’s a reaction to fearing the relationship’s not going well and the partner might end it.
Or, those who fear the unpredictable use controls excessively.
Well, newly sharing a small space and trying for harmony as a couple, while there’s a raging virus in the environment, certainly qualifies as “unpredictable.”
Your previous decision to cohabit was obviously early but hopeful after just five months’ dating. A rush to break up now doesn’t seem any wiser… unless you can’t take his new behaviour any longer (or you fear harsher “control” moves).
Start a conversation about how each of you is affected by these unusual times. Steer it towards agreement that you’d both benefit from talking separately and together to a therapist online.
A few sessions will reveal whether control is his go-to reaction to tough situations, and whether he can change this pattern.
Reader’s Commentary on Abuse “My Mother was narcissistic, she complained bitterly that she regretted having children, and used to regularly tell all four of us to leave… tough to do when you’re a little kid.
“She pitted my siblings against one another, always clear who were her favourites. I wasn’t one.
“Dad was a kind man who put up with her constant emotional abuse. They finally split after 38 years.
I thought my home was “normal.” My Mother told me the only reason I’m alive is because my father raped her. He assured me it wasn’t true.
“When I got married, I thought, “I’m happy now but in five years we’ll hate each other.” I’m happy to say this is our 45th anniversary, and that my husband’s a kind, compassionate, caring man who’s shown me and our sons nothing but love.
“He saved me from sinking. I’m sad for my childhood and that of my siblings, but am happy for my adult life.
Both parents have passed away. I feel sadness when I think of my Dad, but nothing when I think of my Mother.
My siblings and I all have great relationships with our families as we do with one another.
“During this COVID pandemic we’ve had weekly Zoom meetings that we all look forward to immensely, it’s very important for us all to connect.
“Life is way too short not to be happy living it.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the couple who loved baseball but had little in common once the pandemic delayed the baseball season and ended fans’ ability to attend games (May 27):
Reader – “Their first, most important issue is his drinking three beers several times a day.
“Likely he’s an alcoholic. She needs to get very educated as to what the disease of alcoholism is and how it affects him and their relationship.
“It won't get better as long as he keeps drinking.”
Ellie – Correct. Likely, the other aspects of his personality that she learned about once they became a couple – his lack of ambition, plus his laziness regarding house chores even though she’s working – stem from his alcoholism.
Yes, she should learn about his alcohol disease, and understand what he has to go through to surmount it, if he decides to do so.
Otherwise, they’ll never find common ground again, not even baseball.
Tip of the day:
If a live-in partner becomes controlling, try both separate and joint counselling help, unless you have reason to fear staying together.