jealous boyfriend

Dear Suzie,
My boyfriend and I have been going out for 4 years and love each other deeply. I am 25 and he is 30. Everyone says we are very well matched. My problem is that he is very suspicious of me all the time. I’m a chef and work in a very male environment. If I’m late home from work by even half an hour he starts interrogating me.

He goes through my mobile to see who I’ve rung or who’s rung me and flips out when I talk to other guys or about the people I work with. I live abroad and because of my job and his job (construction) 80% of the people we know are men, which makes life pretty awkward. I have never been unfaithful to him and have no intention of being so. He hasn’t cheated on me but was often unfaithful to his ex-girlfriend.

His accusations are incredibly hurtful and are stopping our relationship from progressing. He wants to marry and so do I but I feel I’d be stupid to do so when he can’t seem to stop himself from thinking horrible things about me. We’re best friends but argue over this often.

Can he change? Why does he think these things? He says it’s a problem with self esteem so can I help him get over it? I tell him everyday that I love him and we’re always affectionate (to the point of nauseating other people!). What more can I do? It’s like he doesn’t know me at all sometimes. And I can’t understand this. Please help, Suzie, as I don’t want to lose him over things that aren’t even going on but I find his accusations so hurtful that I won’t put up with it much longer.

You’re not the one with the problem; he is. Which is why, to be brutally honest, you can’t do anything about this, except refuse to play and insist he does something about it. Yes, it’s almost certainly about lack of self esteem. Some people are unfaithful because they simply don’t believe that anyone would stay true to them so they get their licks in first, believing that will make it hurt less. Or they can’t stay true because losses in their past make them believe everyone they love eventfully leaves, so again they ‘leave’ first to minimize the pain. But this is an explanation, not an excuse. If you want this relationship to work he is the one who needs to face up to his behaviour, both past and present, to explore the reasons for it and understand how they affect him, and make changes. This sort of behaviour isn’t a show of love, it’s bullying, and it’s the death of trust and love and closeness. You could make an appointment with a counsellor through Relate or your own doctor and tell him you’re going and he should accompany you – no request; it’s a given. If he won’t, that’s his choice and you can’t do anything about it. But if you try to fit in with what he demands or make efforts yourself to change or change him, it’s doomed to fail.

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