How to handle a jealous partner?
August 25, 2015 4:12 AM   Subscribe

Need help in reassuring/dealing with a rather jealous boyfriend. Snowflakes inside.

I have been dating a guy for a few weeks now and it was going quite well until he started showing signs of jealousy that seem to be a bit extreme and I need help in dealing with this.

This guy, who I will call Luke for the purposes of this question, started noticing that I have a habit of staring at men. I have always been generally interested in people and tried to tell him that's the case. But according to Luke, it has happened several times and I tend to stare at good looking men. This blew out of proportion when I was apparently staring at a man who was part of a couple and this guy's girlfriend noticed it and started to stare at me. I don't remember any of this happening and no previous partner has ever pointed that supposed habit to me.

Another occasion happened at a club, when a guy approached me at the bar while I was getting drinks. According to Luke, I entertained and encouraged the conversation for a long time (I remember being friendly for a matter of seconds, but not exactly encouraging this random guy to chat me up) for several minutes and I only stopped talking to this guy because I could notice that he could see what was going on. According to Luke, "I have no boundaries" and allow people to get closer to me rather than simply walking off, which is, according to him, what I should do. He also got jealous when I, for example, greeted a man at a hotel breakfast and later when a female joined him, I didn't greet her too.

All these situations got Luke into thinking that he is being the subject of aggression, that I am disrespecting him and his trust in me has weakened. I should also mention that we live a good 3h drive apart, so this gives him even more material to think that I might be fooling around and chatting guys up while he is not around - all of that being due to these situations where I apparently did something to make him believe I am not one to be trusted. At the same time, he says that because he likes me so much, he has tried to work around "something that I might be unable to control" but that his patience has been tested.

To summarize I don't know if I am gaslighting myself into thinking that I actually have a problem and I have been behaving inappropriately, or if I actually have a problem and am naturally flirtatious (there is a possibility that might be the case ---- and of course I would be uncomfortable/jealous/upset if that is *really* the case and if I was in Luke's shoes) or if Luke is just bat sh*t crazy jealous and I have to run and get out of this as fast as I can.

However, he is a nice guy, I like him and I want to give him/myself the benefit of the doubt and try and reassure him and regain his trust. How can I do this? How can I generally deal with someone who is clearly jealous and hurt about my interactions with men? Any insight - especially from those who have been in the receiving end of jealousy - would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by heartofglass to Human Relations (79 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Even if you are a super flirty person (which it is not clear from your description if you are are or are not), it is on him as a supposedly confident grownup to trust that you have good boundaries. If you are charming and attractive, that should be a good thing, not something to be controlled and suppressed.

There's no way for any of us to know what is happening for sure in your case, but it is really common for abusive and inappropriate people to deliberately destabilize their partners with strange accusations, with the goal of gaining more control. Your description certainly has that sound and I worry about the health of this relationship, and I especially worry that your response to his weird accusations is to change yourself first.

What if he starts trying to control how you dress or who you talk to? What would it be like to be in a serious relationship where every interaction with a man gets this kind of scrutiny?
posted by Dip Flash at 4:25 AM on August 25, 2015 [14 favorites]

He wants to change you after a couple weeks?
posted by parki at 4:34 AM on August 25, 2015 [61 favorites]

Two separate problems here:

1) Your staring at/flirting with men. This may or may not be a problem, depending on you and your partner. I personally would find it a problem if I were your partner, but that's just me. Then again, from your account I have no idea whether you were actually staring down these guys or whether your partner told you that you were, which is kinda suspect to me.

2) Your partner's jealousy and lack of trust in you. This seems unequivocal and in my opinion 100% a dealbreaker.

Even if the problem really is #1, were I your partner I would address it without gaslight-y phrases like "you made me feel" and "patience has been tested". Yuck.

Dump with great prejudice and find someone who doesn't care about flirtiness.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:47 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

This seems to me like the perfect situation to say, 'This is who I am (friendly, people watcher, flirt - it doesn't matter). I'm not changing.'

I have some lovely friends who are a bit flirty and they only found happiness in relationships when they found partners who weren't overly jealous. It's also possible that you aren't flirty and he is paranoid, in which case you are well rid of him.

Provided you aren't consciously trying to get in other guys' pants (which definitely doesn't seem to be the case), he's the one who needs to change. Not you.
posted by brambory at 4:49 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

Dating for a few weeks?

"I'm sorry, Guy, but this just isn't working out. I had fun with you, and I hope you have fun with the next person you date, too."
posted by ocherdraco at 4:49 AM on August 25, 2015 [62 favorites]

Yikes. Run.

Obviously it's impossible to say for sure that he is being unreasonably jealous and controlling, but I would come down strongly on that side anyway, for the following reasons:

1) If you really did have a 'habit' of being unreasonably flirty/inappropriate/boundary-crossing with other men, it seems very unlikely that nobody else, former partners included, has noticed it until Luke.

2) It is also seriously unlikely that YOU wouldn't have noticed it. Ok, maybe you're just a really flirty person by nature, that could be true I suppose - but even if you were, it seems seriously unlikely that you wouldn't even notice 'staring' at these men, or that you would mistake a long flirty conversation at the bar for a brief exchange lasting a few seconds. Luke interpreting innocuous glances and hellos as flirting right in front of him, on the other hand? That is straight out of the Controlling Jealous Partner textbook.

3) Even if you were just a flirty person, a reasonable way for him to express discomfort about that would be to tell you it bothered him and hash things out together. This, on the other hand?

All these situations got Luke into thinking that he is being the subject of aggression, that I am disrespecting him and his trust in me has weakened.

No. Serious alarm bells there. Step
back for a second and look at this on its own: he thinks he is being the subject of aggression here, that you are disrespecting him. He does not think this is a difference of comfort levels between you or whatever - he thinks you are doing this to him. Aggressively.

4) He now apparently is worried that you're cheating on him when you aren't around, because you... looked at a good-looking man. Whether you did or not, that is batshit insane and you want nothing to do with it.

You will never, ever be able to reassure him to a level where he isn't 'worried'. Trying to do that will end up with you chipping away at more and more of yourself to placate him. It is not a road that goes anywhere good.
posted by Catseye at 4:51 AM on August 25, 2015 [71 favorites]

He may or may not be trying to control you. But it sounds like he wants you to not look at other men and never speak to them. Is that how you want to live?
posted by tuesdayschild at 4:51 AM on August 25, 2015 [13 favorites]

He sounds really insecure. That combined with his willingness to police your behavior after only a few weeks of dating is a giant red flag.
posted by chaoticgood at 5:00 AM on August 25, 2015 [44 favorites]

This is a clear-cut case of DTMFA! If he's already acting like this after a few weeks it will likely get much worse if you stick with him. It's a good thing he lives three hours away, you won't be running into him.
posted by mareli at 5:02 AM on August 25, 2015 [15 favorites]

The worst person I ever dated had a big chip on his shoulder about being "disrespected" and frequently criticized my behavior, and had a nasty temper to boot. I felt like I was walking on eggshells and couldn't be myself. What you describe sounds similar - my advice is to DTMFA, and fast.
posted by emd3737 at 5:05 AM on August 25, 2015 [21 favorites]

These are some big red flags coming from a relationship that's a few weeks (!!!) old. If he's got you doing mental gymnastics now, this early, when you're just being you...well, I think if you stay, you won't be you anymore, you'll eventually be a shell of your former self. It sounds cheesy, but don't let anyone try to snuff out your light. That's what this dude's mission is. Insecure, angry dudes are extremely dangerous.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 5:10 AM on August 25, 2015 [24 favorites]

In the thankfully distant past, I dated a Luke. Twice. The same guy. Memail me if you want the full story.

This will not get better. You will never be able to reassure him that you are not interested in other men. Going out will be increasingly fraught with misery, as you find yourself doing mental and physical gymnastics to prove that you are trustworthy, only to spend the drive home and several hours afterwards listening to him harangue you about your "wandering eyes".

And it will escalate.

Walk away. Today.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [25 favorites]

However, he is a nice guy

If he genuinely was, there's no chance you'd be asking this question.

All these sorts of jerks have "nice guy" behaviours, so they can start grooming you for further abuse, because they're "nice guys, except for..."

...if Luke is just bat sh*t crazy jealous and I have to run and get out of this as fast as I can.

Yes. Short clear message; thank you for your time, I am not interested in seeing you again. Then block him from your phone/e-mail/social media.
posted by kmennie at 5:32 AM on August 25, 2015 [17 favorites]

Well, to be fair, it can be true that perspectives can differ. I mean, for instance, what to my best friend seems like an innocuous conversation with a guy looks like heavy flirting to me.

That said, Luke sounds like a creep. These things seem particularly alarming:
- According to Luke, "I have no boundaries" and allow people to get closer to me rather than simply walking off, which is, according to him, what I should do.
- All these situations got Luke into thinking that he is being the subject of aggression, that I am disrespecting him and his trust in me has weakened.
- At the same time, he says that because he likes me so much, he has tried to work around "something that I might be unable to control" but that his patience has been tested.

He doesn't get to tell you what you should do or be. Seriously, save your sanity while you can.

At this point in the relationship, he is just acting kind of controlling and insecure. But what with these perceptions of being "disrespected" and pretending that he is trying to "help" you and it's your fault that something is wrong, he might well turn outright abusive later on. This third thing is actually a huge red flag to me.

The worst person I ever dated had a big chip on his shoulder about being "disrespected" and frequently criticized my behavior, and had a nasty temper to boot. I felt like I was walking on eggshells and couldn't be myself.
This happened to me, too. And the scary thing is that you really want to be nice to the other person and nothing really works because, somehow, you end up "disrespecting" them no matter what you do. And it escalates very gradually and subtly to the point when you really are walking on eggshells - and it's hell.
posted by Guelder at 5:34 AM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

A few weeks into the relationship and he's being this controlling?! I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt too, even people I've never met, but drop this mother like a hot potato.
posted by thetortoise at 5:42 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

He's definitely gaslighting you.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:45 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

He's a jealous nutcase. Even if you were actually deliberately flirting with guys in front of him, which you aren't, his way of addressing it is batshit and scary. You need a really low threshold for this sort of shit because it always escalates, always.

If he's like this at three weeks he'll be phoning your work and threatening your male boss by three months, and dictating which of your friends you can talk to because he doesn't trust their husbands.

Dump him today, by text (because he'll react insanely badly to being dumped as well).
posted by tinkletown at 5:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [16 favorites]

Another frequent AskMe commenter -- forgive me, I think it's Etrigan, but I'm not sure -- has a rule of thumb that the last question one asks in the OP is the real question. So: How can I generally deal with someone who is clearly jealous and hurt about my interactions with men?

...and my immediate response, after reading your post, is "what 'interactions'"? Let's go to the videotape:
  • He thinks you stare at men excessively
  • You spoke to a dude at a club bar when you were picking up drinks
  • You greeted a fellow at breakfast
There are barely "interactions," if they can be said to be at all. And he's so jealous and controlling, after a scant few weeks? The only boundary issue I see if being far more tolerant of his jerkish behavior than he deserves.

I'm a flirty person myself, and if you are too, that's great! The problem here is not your behavior, it's that at the very least Luke is amazingly insecure, and worse, his response to those feelings are not to try to fix himself but to change and control you.

Nuh-uh. There's nothing wrong with you. He's unreasonably jealous over nothing at all, which at the very least is a total drag, and at worse is a warning sign of worse to come, as others have predicted. You can do better; dump this loser.

(Full disclosure: I'm a flirty guy; i'm aware of it, and while it's on me never to act disrespectfully to my significant other, the wonderful woman I married likes me for my flirtatiousness.)
posted by Gelatin at 5:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [31 favorites]

try talking to him. he's clearly insecure, but if you think it's worth the effort then explain that you are who you are and that he needs to accept that. you don't have to change to please him - if he doesn't like it, he can leave. but sit down and explain that to him. tell him you're sorry that it worried him, but that really it's the kind of person you are, and there are lots of different kinds of people in the world.

hey, luke, look, i want to have a serious talk. i can see that the things i do worry you. and i am sorry about that because i want us to be happy. but i think i am ok. i may not be perfect, but i like how i am, and i don't think i am so bad that i need to change. more than that, to be honest, the fact that you are complaining so much feels like you're not feeling secure in this relationship. i don't think i can change. more than that, i don't think i should change. in fact, i think it's you that needs to change - you need to trust me a little more. if you like me, like as i am. if not, well...

it may be that no-one has ever told him that. maybe he'll leave anyway, but maybe, also, you've sowed the seeds that help him work through this and make it work with someone else.
posted by andrewcooke at 6:01 AM on August 25, 2015

A relationship with a future abuser starts with him finding a correctable fault in you that you didn't realize was there but is serious enough that you begin to question yourself. Run. Run so freakin fast.
posted by myselfasme at 6:06 AM on August 25, 2015 [92 favorites]

On further thought, the issue might not be being a flirtatious person at all. In addition to being one myself, I'm also an extrovert, which means I usually enjoy chatting with random people. For extroverts, social contact is invigorating. I saw nothing overtly flirtatious about the behavior you described, but I suspect it is the hallmark of an extrovert.

If that's the case, you aren't going to change. If one is in a relationship with a more introverted person, it's well to be aware of it and negotiate boundaries -- they need you to check back with them after half an hour of mingling, and might want to leave a party earlier than you do.

But he wants everything his way and is blaming you for what seems to be a part of your personality. That's nowhere.
posted by Gelatin at 6:12 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you ARE going to have a "this is who I am" conversation with him (and personally I wouldn't waste your breath), FFS don't do it in person.

I have had these conversations with jealous boyfriends, and they went south VERY quickly. If he thinks that you looking at a guy is aggressive and disrespectful, he will not like you "thinking you can defy him" either (which is how one guy described my refusal to drop all my friends after he met them, after two weeks of dating).
posted by tinkletown at 6:18 AM on August 25, 2015 [12 favorites]

I strongly suggest against trying to talk to him about it. It's not your job to provide a teachable moment to a guy you've only known for a few weeks who is at best manipulative and insecure, and at worst, potentially dangerous.
posted by emd3737 at 6:19 AM on August 25, 2015 [27 favorites]

Nope. This is not how grown-ass adults treat other grown-ass adults. That "disrespecting him" thing is a huge red flag. What else will he decide is disrespectful of him? And the "aggression" thing - if he's casting himself as somehow being the victim of your supposed "aggressive" actions, how long before he decides he's in the right to be aggressive towards you?

This guy sounds very fragile, and happy to blame the woman in his life for his own damn insecurity. He is not going to make your life better.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:26 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

He says you don't have good boundaries? Well it's time to get them, starting with him. Run. Don't look back, just run.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 6:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [12 favorites]

Accusing a partner of flirting with other people is a CLASSIC sign of an abuser and a huge waving red flag (ask me how I know). It doesn't matter whether you were actually flirting with these people or not - flirting is normal and healthy and a boyfriend of a few weeks doesn't get to police your behavior - but to me what you describe sounds like a few very normal non-flirty interactions. If this guy is going apeshit over the fact that you even looked at a guy the wrong way (really?!?!) it's all kinds of bad news and there is much worse to come.

There is only one thing you should do here, and it's dump this guy so fast his head spins.
posted by RubyScarlet at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2015 [13 favorites]

Super extrovert over here! I talk to lots of people on a daily basis, both male and female. I often enter into friendly conversations with random strangers, waiters, cashiers at grocery stores, etc. My behavior could probably be interpreted as flirty at times. I love talking to people and making a connection with others. Gelatin's comment above of "For extroverts, social contact is invigorating" suits me perfectly.

What does my partner of nine years have to say about all of this? Absolutely nothing. It has never come up. He has never tried to place restrictions on who I speak to or force boundaries on me. I have never given him a reason to distrust me and as a result, he has never questioned my behavior. Not once.

OP, you're in for a world of heartache with Luke, I'm afraid. I have had friends who have dated guys like this and it NEVER ends well. The jealous partner never turns it around and starts behaving like a rational adult. Maybe it's possible but I have never seen it in real life. There will be no "regaining his trust," there will only be an escalation of his jealousy and paranoia.

Be glad he showed you this side of himself before you invested years of your life in the relationship. Run away from this one, and fast.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:41 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

Another thought: we're all telling you that this guy is (in one way or another) a bad person, controlling, a potential abuser, etc. I do believe this to be the case, but I wonder if our black-and-white comments are making it harder for you to take us seriously - you know him and we don't, you've seen his "nice" side that we're not considering, maybe he doesn't match your image of a controlling, abusive asshole ... and that's fine.

I would suggest that even if you want to mentally frame this as a 'no fault' thing, you still would do well to break up with him. Some people interact more with their external environment, and some people do not, and some of those people feel very uncomfortable when they're with someone who isn't like them. So be it.

This is still a walk away situation. Chalk it up to a basic incompatibility, and a lesson learned - you deserve to be with someone who is more comfortable with you as you are.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:42 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

Dude, a guy chatting you up at a bar for several minutes only means one thing in like 99% of cases. That is a clear and unambiguous come-on and to be honest, I mght be little miffed too if a gal chatted up my boyfriend at the bar "for several minutes" and he was "just being friendly."

The rest of the stuff is crazy. Staring? Bullshit. But the bar thing, I feel him on, and that makes me wonder if maybe you have trouble interpreting signs of interest from men.
posted by quincunx at 6:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Can you picture him hitting you for disrespecting him, then yelling at you for an hour because of what YOU made him do?

Cause I kinda can.
posted by Jacen at 6:55 AM on August 25, 2015 [19 favorites]

No no no no no no no. This is a guy that has a problem with something this so fundamental to who you are that you hadn't even noticed it. If it were... I don't know... the volume of your speech or... the way you say "arugula" those would be equal deal breakers. It's a basic incompatibility. If you being you is unpalatable to him at week three or four it's never going to get better. And there's no way you can make a happy life with someone who doesn't like who you are.

(Also, what everyone else says about complaining about this particular thing being a waving red flag for potential abuse down the road, but seriously, life is too short to date someone who thinks "how you said good morning to that guy at breakfast" is a problem.)
posted by MsMolly at 7:06 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

However, he is a nice guy, I like him and I want to give him/myself the benefit of the doubt and try and reassure him and regain his trust. How can I do this?

You did nothing to break his trust, which means it's not in your power to regain his trust, nor is it your responsibility to do so.

I have been with two jealous guys, one who became (more) abusive and one who did not, but even the non-abusive relationship was hellish. I have a habit of staring into space when I'm thinking, and suddenly that was suspect because sometimes there were men in the general vicinity at whom I might have been looking. He got his nose out of joint when I hung out with my (gay!) male friends. I was suddenly responsible if a guy looked at me, even if I hadn't even noticed. I started thinking I had to police myself and everyone around me every single second, and it was a completely exhausting way to live, and a way of life that meant I was pouring all my energy into avoiding angering my boyfriend rather than things like work, friends, hobbies, etc. (And all of that was in the relationship that didn't escalate to further abuse!)

This, to me, would be an immediate Dump the Dude. Not a red flag to pay attention to going forward and see how it develops, but an indication that this man is in no way safe or reliable. He's already making you responsible for reading his mind, for putting his feelings above your own, and for tiptoeing around his anger. He's throwing out words like "aggressive" and "disrespected." Don't tie yourself in knots trying to make yourself smaller in order to be less threatening to him. You deserve so much better than this.
posted by jaguar at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2015 [27 favorites]

Have you even discussed being exclusive yet? Because if you've only been dating a few weeks, and haven't explicitly agreed to it, it is totally normal to expect that you might still be going on dates with other dudes. That's how off the normal meter this dude is. He doesn't even have a right to be jealous if you were actively DATING another guy.

People are showing you their best self in the first few weeks of dating. If he's already showing you this crap, dump him now.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:12 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

Also, all abusers are nice guys at first. No one would ever get involved with an abuser if the abuser came across as abusive right off the bat. People stay with abusers because they see the abuser's "great qualities" and hang on to the few lovely things the abuser did for them early on. A guy who's this controlling, this early, is a guy who can't even keep the mask on more than a few weeks.
posted by jaguar at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2015 [20 favorites]

Dude, a guy chatting you up at a bar for several minutes only means one thing in like 99% of cases. That is a clear and unambiguous come-on

It sounds to me like you're an open person who was passing time while waiting for your drinks. The thought that you could be unaware of the possible intent of a dude chatting you up at a bar seems paternalistic to me. I have faith that you can talk to a horny guy without falling for his machinations - you are an adult with agency. You did nothing objectively wrong here.

However, there are of course people who feel uncomfortable with their partners interacting with other people in situations like that, and so be it. Everyone has different preferences and comfort levels, and the adult thing to do is own that and not blame others for their feelings (which sounds like EXACTLY what your guy in question did). Again, this seems to come down to basic incompatibility.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

You have been dating someone for two weeks and you're calling them a "partner" and a "boyfriend"? And, during your first month of dating, he's dragging you about how your eyeballs get directed at other human beings and you're confused by this? This is pretty wild stuff! Nobody involved in this situation should ever speak to anyone else again.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:14 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

Dude, a guy chatting you up at a bar for several minutes only means one thing in like 99% of cases. That is a clear and unambiguous come-on

That's assuming it actually happened. Some people do things like turn a "oh, is this seat taken? Thanks!" conversation between their girlfriend and a random guy into a multiple-minute long conversation where she was practically licking his balls. They do this because reasonable people will listen when someone who they care about says they did something hurtful, and try to change. But when there's nothing real to change, they start scrambling around, insecure and confused, and they're much easier to control and manipulate.

It's called, at least in part, gaslighting. Gaslighting is when you manipulate the facts or outright lie in order to make someone doubt their own reality, and therefore make them easier to control.

tl;dr: I would not at all assume that what this guy says happened is actually what happened.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [28 favorites]

I don't know if I am gaslighting myself

You don't gaslight yourself.

You say in your first sentence that his reactions have been "extreme." You're absolutely correct. It's safe to assume this won't get any better. It's probably unsafe to stick around.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:22 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

Nthing that this will only get worse.

He wants to change you, he doesn't trust you, he wants you to never look at or talk to other men, and it is all about he feels, not about how you feel. There's nothing you can do to fix this, the more you try to explain your behaviour the more he'll twist your words and try to control you.

I had a boyfriend like this and it sucked even though he did have some good qualities. This is how he was after several months: he didn't want me wearing makeup if he wasn't around, he didn't want me to go have fun with my girlfriends if there were going to be guys around, he didn't want me to have male friendships, he didn't even like most of my girlfriends or want me to be with them if he perceived them as the flirty type (lest they encourage me to flirt with other men), he wanted to make my world all about him until there was no me left. He showed the controlling side fairly early (he flipped out when he thought I wasn't paying enough attention to him at a party), I wish I had broken things off at that point, it got much worse and did a number on me.

And in the bar situation, when you're getting drinks and someone starts to chat in a friendly way I think it's rude to shut someone down within the first minute or two if they're not saying anything inappropriate, it's just talking. If they ask if I'm with anyone I'll say "yes, my friend/boyfriend/whoever is over there" and if they keep trying to continue the conversation and I don't want to I'll say "well nice chatting with you, I hope you have a good night, I've got to get back to my friends/whoever", it's not a big deal.
posted by lafemma at 7:25 AM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]

I've dated "Luke", who said those exact things verbatim, and I am decidedly NOT flirty or overtly friendly. I was young and stupid so I tried to rationalize it, using the exact words you are using in your ask. Fortunately, it ended somewhat amusingly when he left me in a bar with a bunch of his friends and no way to get home (no taxis where we were), so I had to ride around with his friends until 4 in the morning while they got progressively drunk and thuggy, and the next day he called me and yelled at me, spectacularly and for a long time, for sleeping with ALL of them the night before, complete with a long list of exotic STDs' that his friends had, which of course I now also had because I had slept with all (four!) of them between midnight and 4am. Run, run, run.
posted by rada at 7:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also, look, OP, you're obviously a thoughtful person who doesn't want to hurt this guy. You're also obviously savvy and pretty up on what's going on here. We could go on and on and try to parse the truth of his accusations, but it sort of doesn't matter. Watch:

There are two different scenarios here, depending on whose version we believe:

1. His version. In this version you've already hurt him so badly that he's having a hard time trusting you. In this version of events, does it makes sense for you to keep seeing him, or for him to keep seeing you? Does it seem right that he would want to date someone who he genuinely felt was repeatedly hurtful? If so, does it seem like you two are compatible? Does it seem like dating him would just lead to him feeling like shit, given that these alleged behaviors are not behaviors that you're really able to identify or control?

2. Your version. In this scenario, he is interpreting things that are totally normal, and that no one else has ever had a problem with, as disrespectful, hurtful, and trust-destroying. Does it seem like that's a healthy reaction? Does it seem like it makes sense for you to change your behavior based on a reaction that no one but this guy has every had?

In either scenario, it seems like there are huge questions about the long-term (or even short-term) viability of this relationship as a healthy force in your lives.

Good luck!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [31 favorites]

Let's say that your behavior actually is unacceptable, just for the sake of argument. A few weeks in, honestly, the mature way to deal with it on his part would be to break up with you. The whole "I like you so much I'm willing to try to overlook this" song and dance is meant to be flattering (he likes you! so much! he doesn't want to break up with you!), but what it really does is paint him as the long-suffering saint of a partner to your flawed inadequate self. Like he's doing you a favor or something.

Adults know what their dealbreakers are, and they know how to walk away when something isn't working. This guy isn't doing that - instead, he wants to make you feel like you owe him and should change to suit him. Not good.

For what it's worth, I don't think anything you describe was out of line at all, and I can't imagine being hurt were my boyfriend to do those things. (I trust him because I am an adult and I only date people I can trust, and something as simple as talking to a girl at a bar wouldn't undermine that.) But I'm a stranger on the internet and it doesn't really matter what I think - it matters that you have the confidence to say for yourself "My behavior is completely acceptable." There's my vote, though, if you want it.
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:29 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

Or, let me use an analogy.

Even if this guy is totally 100% honest about his reactions and his perception of your behavior, it's like he has hemophilia and you are edward scissorhands. Not a good match.

It's just not going to work out if he's constantly feeling overwhelmingly bad because of things he feels like you've done.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:31 AM on August 25, 2015 [23 favorites]

In a healthy relationship when conflict arises the partner who is upset frames the issue as just that...a specific issue and not an opportunity to blame or jump to conclusions. A nice, decent, respectful partner always assumes best intentions.

So if your boyfriend was really nice he would have said...

I'm a little uncomfortable with how close you get to random strangers so quickly. Could we talk about this so I understand where you're coming from?

Instead of...

According to Luke, "I have no boundaries" and allow people to get closer to me rather than simply walking off, which is, according to him, what I should do.

The fact that he jumps immediately to you having a problem that you need to control, rather than a situation where he feels uncomfortable but recognizes that you are not deliberately making him uncomfortable is troubling.

This has only been a few weeks and he honestly doesn't sound like he's worth the effort to work something out with.
posted by brookeb at 7:33 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

This sounds like a recipe for a real mess. If this:

I was apparently staring at a man who was part of a couple, this: I remember being friendly for a matter of seconds, and this: for example, greeted a man at a hotel breakfast and later when a female joined him, I didn't greet her too.

constitute flirting, then most social human beings are HUGE, out of control flirts.
posted by incolorinred at 7:35 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

I had a huge fight with an ex-boyfriend once because one morning when I woke up, I checked my phone while I was still in bed. Apparently this could only mean that I was waiting for a message from another man. And if that wasn't true, why was I getting so upset at this unfair and ridiculous accusation?

There were countless similar occasions, but this one is illustrative of how you can never placate an emotionally abusive and jealous person. The most innocent behavior can be turned around on you in a second.

This guy is very bad news. I would end things immediately before you get any more entangled. He is the aggressor here.
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 7:49 AM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

I think you need to end it. I don't think there's any hope of salvaging this.

Neither of you is "at fault." You are being who you are and shouldn't have to change; he is not being unreasonable or "bad news." It's just an incompatibility.
posted by jayder at 7:58 AM on August 25, 2015

Dating for a few weeks isn't even up to constructive criticism territory for me, it's still time to understand how this person interacts with the world, me, and whether we fit well knowing what I know. If he's stating actual negatives about you or your behavior and it's a few weeks in, I'd be offended.
posted by mikeh at 7:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Lana Kane has the only reaction you need for this guy.

Best case scenario, he doesn't like how you roll. Don't date people who don't like how you roll.

I mean okay, if "how you roll" was shooting heroin in an alley, maybe we'd all be like "well, this is a good time to rethink your choices." But that is clearly not the case.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:59 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Even to me, this guy sounds controlling and somewhat martyr-y, and I'm a person who doesn't really dig it when a partner flagrantly stares at or flirts with other women in front of me, or treats them markedly differently than he would a man. Especially if he's in denial about it. It's something of a dealbreaker for me.

However, I am aware my only recourse is to not date people who are like that. I don't have a right to control a partner-- much less someone I've just started dating. He's allowed to have a dealbreaker; he's not allowed to "correct" you into a person who behaves the way he wishes.

I get the feeling he'll just get worse.
posted by kapers at 8:13 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, all of that plus three hours away?(!) So not worth the effort. Date someone closer who isn't a dick.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: OK. Lets' break this down.

1) You've been seeing a guy for a short time. He lives several hours away.

2) Whenever you are together, he notices you interact with other males.

3) He thinks you are too flirtatious.

4) You worry this is the case but don't know how to handle this.

First of all, we are dealing with Luke's own issues here. He has a basic lack of trust in you that I find disturbing given you have only been together a short time. RIGHT NOW is when he is supposed to be on his best behaviour. If he does not trust you right now, will he be able to trust you six months from now? Six years? This is something you need to discuss with him in a full and frank manner.

Secondly, I am concerned about the way he claims ownership of your attention. You cannot interact with other males? What is this? The African savannah? Take back your agency when you talk to him about the first issue. Ask him if he can accept that you are your own person - not "Luke's girlfriend". You are heartofglass who happens to be dating Luke, but that does not mean he has exclusive access to your attention. If he cannot accept that, then he needs to grow as a person so that he can see you as something other than an object to own.

Thirdly, I would probably not have this discussion with him in private. I would choose a brightly-lit public space - a bench in a town square or a big cafe where people can see you but not hear you. Not that I predict he'll become abusive, but these things are always best discussed where you can walk away.

Fourthly, own your right to personhood. If somebody wants to control and own you after a short period of dating, he is probably not a nice person and you can do better. Stand up for yourself - if Luke is genuinely a good guy and there's just been some miscommunication between you guys, he'll like you owning your rights. If he gets affronted by you calling him on his crap, dump the heck out of him.

Best of luck.
posted by kariebookish at 8:45 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I agree that this is not a good sign, but my story is from the other side of the relationship. I was young, a little shy, a little insecure. I started dating a majorly extroverted musician. I could handle the conversations, but when women actually touched him (casually, hand on arm, hugs from old friends, etc), it moved out of my comfort zone. Especially late at night, in bars, everyone was drinking, you get the picture.

After a few months, I used my words, told him how much it bothered me. His reply was that he was doing nothing wrong, that's the way he was, and jealousy in this relationship was MY problem to deal with, not his. He was very kind about it, but that was the bottom line. And you know, he was right. The problem was mine to own, and if I couldn't deal with it then I needed to find someone not quite so outgoing. It really was my responsibility to find my own comfort level.

I decided to stay and deal, we've been together 32 years, and we've never had that issue again. Looking back, one of the best gifts I've received from him is all the wonderful friends he's brought in to my life, plus the lesson on how to do that, be open and friendly to random strangers, and live a more colorful life.

So I guess I'm telling you that you get to stand up and say "this is how I am" and he doesn't get to say "be a different person." If you like him so much, give him a chance to expand his outlook. Maybe he will, maybe he won't, but at least you'll know you tried.
posted by raisingsand at 8:51 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

As a general rule, if you find yourself asking Metafilter for relationship advice after just a few weeks of dating someone, it is probably not worth continuing.
posted by alligatorman at 8:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [18 favorites]

I would also like to add to my prior comment that I bet you are not even doing what he says you're doing.

entertained and encouraged the conversation for a long time
I would bet money you were just being polite, and his characterization of the interaction concerns me. Watch him have a problem with any interaction you have (or he thinks you have) with any male person. Old friend, clerk at a store, coworker, guy passing you in his vehicle...
posted by kapers at 8:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Break up with Luke; ask a good female friend if you seem to stare at people (or men) too much or if you only use your politeness with men or if you are too flirty in casual interactions. I bet you're fine.

Other women give much more reliable reports on whether your level of politeness is appropriate; too many men either think every woman who's polite wants to sleep with them, or think the right way to go through life is brusquely, without realizing the different social expectations and minefields for women.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:30 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

"You can choose to trust me and we can keep dating, or you can choose to continue acting jealous. You can take a couple of days to think about it if you need to, and you can choose only one option."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:34 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is a big, big red flag; my abusive relationship started out with my boyfriend telling me that I was giving too much attention to other men (that meant pretty much that I talked to any other man for more than one or two minutes at a time). It was just the first step on the road to my eventually becoming isolated from everyone but him. Obviously, I don't know whether this relationship will also turn abusive, but I'll just leave the data point here.

I will also echo what others have said a few times already: I don't understand why you'd put up with this shit from a guy you've been dating for just a few weeks. I'd move on instead of figuring out how you can appease this person, who sounds problematic, to put it extremely kindly.
posted by holborne at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you stay with Luke, he will continue to abuse you. I say continue, because he is abusing you already. Your gut is telling you something is wrong. It is. You might not have every verifiable fact to back up what your gut is telling you, but trust your gut (and the choir of people telling you their stories of what happened to them when they didn't).

I could tell you my story too, but I'll leave it at this: my gut screamed "Run!" just by reading your question and I hoped as I scrolled through the responses that I would see an update from you telling us that you are going to dump this guy. Luke is an abuser. Please get out now.
posted by murrey at 9:45 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

I just wanted to say, dating someone for a few weeks does not make them your partner. A few weeks is just some guy you're seeing. Hope that puts it into perspective. I wouldn't want you to feel like you owe Luke anything more than you would a stranger of 3 weeks' association.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is the cleanest and least-dinged your relationship will ever be.

And it's already a garbage fire.

Nobody should be acting like this a few weeks in. This isn't "jealousy", this is testing you to see if you give in, if you need to be liked so desperately that you will accept his controlling and inappropriate behavior. This is grooming. It will never get better than this.

The fact that you are asking this question instead of changing his name to "Fuckshit Donotanswer" in your phone contacts suggests you are at risk of doing that.

he is a nice guy
Incorrect. He is a Poop Milkshake.

I like him and
You need to sit down and have a long honest conversation with yourself about why you would like a person who acts like this to anybody, and to you in particular.

I want to give him

myself the benefit of the doubt
You want to doubt yourself, is what you're saying.

try and reassure him and regain his trust

You shouldn't start a relationship by having to prove to the guy that you're not horrible. This is not about your value as a person, there is no "win" here if you prove you're not a lying cheating piece of shit. And you are not a mental health professional, you are not going to save this guy from his misogyny and abusive behavior. And if you were a mental health professional, you'd lose your license for dating him, so the "I'm'a fiiiiiix this guy" argument is a non-starter.

Go find a fixed one and date him instead, or be alone. That is a perfectly valid alternate to being with him.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [34 favorites]

Nthing everyone else.

Even if you are doing everything this person says and are the most flirty person in the world, this person isn't for you. If you're not flirting at all, then this person's impressions are skewed, and this person isn't for you.

Either way, find someone else.
posted by cnc at 10:05 AM on August 25, 2015

This is so completely batshit out of control. I mean, I'm really sensitive to any hint of jealousy and consider ANY of it a problem in my own relationships, but even if I found jealousy romantic (ick) I would still find this completely irrational and dangerous and red-flaggy all to hell. Bad news. Really, really bad news. And even if you're not worried about him gaslighting you and fast-tracking his way towards being an abuser, it just sounds utterly exhausting to be constantly policing yourself in order to coddle someone else's fragile emotional state. He's a grown-ass man, and responsible for his own feelings. Your only responsibility is to follow agreed upon limitations for the duration of a relationship, which in this case (presumably) means sexual fidelity. Who you talk to, who you look at, and how you interact with humans in a clothes-on public situation is NOT THE DEAL unless you've explicitly MADE that deal, and my guess is that you two haven't even talked about expectations — he's starting from a place of look how out of control your [totally normal behavior] is."

posted by you're a kitty! at 10:35 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hey, also, I went through a really tough time after I split up with my husband. My self-esteem was not amazing, I was embarrassed and sad about my marriage being over, I was under a ton of financial and personal stress.

Unfortunately, as a result, I attracted a lot of guys who were just not the kinds of guys that you would want to be in a long-term relationship with.

It's weird, because now that I'm feeling much better and much more in control, I'm attracting attention from people who are a lot nicer, a lot more compassionate, and a lot better at being in relationships. But for a time it seems that every guy who had some sleazy motive or who was a controlling jerk just made a beeline for me.

And I did, in fact, have the feeling that I'd better grab the next man who was available because I missed being married. I missed the security; I missed the closeness; I missed the companionship. I really wanted all of that stuff back, and I looked for a lot of it in the wrong places with the kinds of guys.

So, what I am saying to you is that you are at a low point in terms of your ability to screen out guys who aren't right for you, and you are at a low point in terms of your ability to feel like you can just walk away. But I am here to tell you that it gets a lot better, and all you have to do is wait. So if you feel like this guy isn't for you, and wait six months, you'll have better and more opportunities with better guys.

This isn't it for you. You have so, so many more chances out there.

Good luck!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:04 AM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]

This guy is bad news.

He may say that it's just his *feelings* and he can't help it. But it is not you responsibility to change your behavior for his feelings. He might not be able to help what he feels but he can (1) recognize it's irrational and (2) not make you deal with his irrational feelings through working through them on his own. The fact that he does do this at best means he is incredibly immature and at worst means he is grooming you & is an abuser. It is really really not work the risk to stay with him.
posted by CMcG at 11:16 AM on August 25, 2015

Best answer: The best way to talk to someone when you don't like what they're doing is to talk about how that behavior makes you feel, as in, "When you were talking to that guy at the bar, I felt hurt and embarrassed." If your guy had done that, you would be able to acknowledge his feelings and then explain your perceptions. Your guy didn't do that; he said your boundaries are inadequate and that you're insulting him by looking at and talking to other men.

How to handle it now? Even though he was making accusations and decided he knew (without asking) what your motivations were, go ahead and acknowledge his feelings and reflect them back. If you're reluctant to assume you know what those feelings were/are, you can ask. "I listened to what you said. It sounds like you felt jealous, and like I wasn't being respectful. Is that right?" If he starts in with the "you, you, you..." just go back to, "I'm sorry you felt bad in that situation." Stay on message.

Then say your feelings -- (approximately) that you're confused and surprised, because you had no interest in those men and weren't trying to attract them. That you're frustrated because he assumed that your intentions were disrespectful and aggressive before he even talked to you. Definitely don't make things worse by suggesting he's too sensitive or over-reacting, or that he's making it all about him (even though he is). Also tell him, if it's true, that you like being with him and aren't even thinking about meeting someone new.

Then ask if he thinks the two of you can work it out. See what he says. I don't have high hopes in this case. But if he really is a good guy, he might apologize. He might be willing to consider giving you a pass on being friendly to guys, and to tell you his feelings if he's not feeling good. He can learn to talk about issues without accusing and blaming you.

I realize that all of this is suggesting that YOU take the high road and go out of your way to be understanding and patient with someone who handled it entirely the wrong way. It's natural to think, "why do I have to be the reasonable one?" but your efforts could open the door for him to treat you with more understanding and patience. And if that doesn't happen, at least you'll know that you made an unselfish effort to make things better, without acting against your own best interest.
posted by wryly at 11:18 AM on August 25, 2015

Long distance relationships require an ability to trust and give the benefit of the doubt. Early on, this relationship is not showing a lot on those fronts.
posted by benbenson at 11:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I recently broke things off with a guy a lot like this. He was insecure and extremely jealous of any interactions I had with other men. The 'interactions' that are problems for your guy were also problems for the guy I dated.

His jealousy extended to even men I'd known for decades that I considered family. In his head, our casual relationship that was only a couple of weeks long trumped 25+ years of close friendship, and I should cut my old friends loose. At first, I thought he just needed to get to know my friends, and once he saw our platonic interactions, he'd calm down. But no, the insecurity and jealousy only escalated.

He once berated me because I'd committed the great grand crime of walking ahead of him out of a bar, disrespecting him and making him look like less of a man (on his planet).

The real kicker is when he decided that he wanted to be able to sleep with and date other women, while wanting me to not just only sleep with him — but for me to wait around until he decided which woman he liked better for a 'real' relationship.

At that, I noped the fuck out of there. At light speed.

I forget who said that a jerk is a nice guy 80% of the time, but it's true. This guy may have some good qualities, but nothing is enough to redeem his 20% jerkiness.
posted by culfinglin at 1:28 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Your new guy has an unrealistic expectation of egalitarian relationship behavior. It sounds like he wants you to be "demure," by his standards and whether he realizes it or not, he's being controlling and gaslighting you. Whether he's an actual nice guy with poor relationship skills and expectations or a crummy guy with a few behavioral niceties really doesn't matter.

You won't (and shouldn't try) to change him as he's trying to change you. It's my opinion the only thing a person has the right to ask you to change is something that directly impacts them in a way they can't control -- if he were powerfully allergic to your perfume, he could ask you not to wear it when you go out. I dated a guy who could not hear out of one ear and asked me to sit to his left so he could hear me. These things are fair. Asking you to change how you interact with other humans? Unacceptable.

I talk to everyone. Men. Women. Children. My age. Teenagers. Senior citizens. Occasionally fish in tanks. I'm a huge extrovert. Unless I were rubbing up against a man or talking about things of an intimate nature, nobody I'm dating would dare have a claim that I was inappropriately flirting. If you're actually STARING at people as opposed to observing them, well, that's kind of creepy. But I suspect that's not what you're doing, and staring at people isn't flirting.

Finally, I'll give you the advice I give about 99% of the time on AskMe. If one of your best friends had written this question, what would you tell her?
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 2:30 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

I looked at your last question. This man is actually going to be dangerous to you. Please leave him. Do it carefully, I am certain he will lash out.

He is a textbook controlling abuser who will escalate to violence with time.
Drop him. Drop carefully. But, please drop him. Via text. Then block him. Don't tell him it's him or he'll likely come after you. Be vague but firm that it's over. High fives to you for identifying this early. Most people don't catch it before it's too late. They are the ones that end up physically hurt or dead. Ask me how I know. :-(
posted by taff at 2:32 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Also. Real talk. You have been single for less time than it takes me to get a paycheck. literally. Per your question history, since you have separated from your husband I have paid rent two times. You haven't even been single long enough to need your hair cut.* There is ice cream in my freezer that has been there longer than you have been single. And I'm not even that lousy of a housekeeper, girl!

And yet already you're trying to mash yourself into a tiny tiny box to please some petulant douchecanoe?

I know. I KNOW. Things hurt and are scary and you just want them to not hurt and be done and what if there's never anyone again and oh my god what about babies and and and and. I KNOW, I have been there. But.

This dude will not fix that. No dude is gonna fix that. Ever. The only things that fix it are you and time. And until you and time get to work, every dude, EVERY, makes shit exponentially worse. Even the actually-nice ones, which this dude is not. They all make things worse until YOU do the work and make yourself okay with the unpredictability of life and the feelings of discomfort and heartache.

The sooner you learn this, the less your life will be a horrorshow of cringe-inducing memories that linger for a decade (ask me how I know).

*Fine, fine, I have been told that my haircut habits are lacking. YMMV
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:19 PM on August 25, 2015 [33 favorites]

if I actually have a problem and am naturally flirtatious (there is a possibility that might be the case ---- and of course I would be uncomfortable/jealous/upset if that is *really* the case and if I was in Luke's shoes)

Even if you are "naturally flirtatious" as part of your personality, there is nothing wrong with that. You don't "have a problem" if you have an outgoing and friendly personality.

What would you do if you were dating someone with a flirtatious personality -- get upset, tell them there is something wrong with there personality and demand they change, or would you observe that you didn't have compatible personalities and break up? What's more likely -- that someone will change their personality to be compatible with you, or that you can find someone else with a different personality to date? (yes, yes you can)

Think about what makes sense there, and think about what Luke is doing.
posted by yohko at 4:33 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

He can learn to talk about issues without accusing and blaming you.

1. I'm far from sure, actually, that heartofglass' partner is capable of changing this much -- or even realizing that he needs to change.

2. If Luke does eventually grasp that his insecurity and need for control are way over the line, he needs to address this on his own, in therapy. Undertaking the vast emotional labor on Luke's behalf is not the responsibility of heartofglass or any other woman in this guy's life
posted by virago at 5:52 PM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

All these situations got Luke into thinking that he is being the subject of aggression, that I am disrespecting him and his trust in me has weakened.

Oh good grief. The only real downside of everyone across the board being more culturally aware of things like microagressions and gender norms and victim blaming and trigger warnings and gaslighting and whatnot is that sometimes those concepts and terminology get twisted 180 degrees by people with the same old dickish, controlling behaviours that dickish, controlling people have displayed since time immemorial.

He is emphatically not the subject of aggression here. He has a right to his feelings, but it doesn't sound particularly like he is taking yours into consideration.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:48 PM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

I was a therapist in a previous life, and on the occasions I saw women in abusive relationships, the sort of irrationally jealous behavior that you seem to be describing here was one of the first red flags that the relationship was headed down a dark road.

Abusive men can be downright delusional in their perceptions of their mate's behaviors--in one case, my client was accused of having sex with the mailman when she walked the quarter mile to the mailbox and "took too long." This woman was terrified of doing anything to set her husband off and had zero interest in sex at all by that point.

If you do decide that it is worth continuing with this relationship, I urge to to watch for signs that he is trying to isolate you from your support systems--being jealous of your family members or friends and suggesting, for example, that you are "too close" with them or that they don't support you like they should and he does.

The guy you've described gives me the willies.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:40 PM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: 1.) Angrily telling the person you're dating that they have "no boundaries" is emotional abuse. He is already abusing you. Please take a minute to think about this.

2.) Honey I know you're hurting from your divorce and that adjusting to being single is hard, but this man is dangerous. I think you're moving way too fast with this guy-- in no world ever is someone you've been dating for a couple of weeks "a partner"-- maybe because your default for couple behavior is acting like you are in a serious relationship, the kind that involves personal work and compromise and self-examination. Those are not things that should be going on in the first couple of weeks of dating, and this controlling, abusive guy you've been with has been taking MAJOR advantage of you by using your default relationship behavior to gaslight you and treat you like he already owns you. Please stay safe and get away from him. You're going to be okay and you're going to find someone else who loves you-- just not this guy, who is going to hurt you. Take care, ok? We're rooting for you.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:28 PM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

You shouldn't change who you are to fit the needs of someone you've only known for a few weeks.
posted by nathanfhtagn at 9:44 AM on August 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

How to handle him? By dumping him. Sorry.

I do think flirting is wrong (unless you've talked about it and agree you're both happy for the other to do it) but what you have been doing is not flirting. I would call it "speaking to men" or "looking at people". It is unrealistic and controlling to ask you to stop doing these things. But worse than that, he is actually telling you that something happened that you know full well did not, and is so conniving that you actually doubt yourself and your own perception. He already seems to have worn you down a bit because you use phrases like "gaslighting myself" and "regain his trust" implying this is a problem YOU have to fix when really he should be trying to fix himself. If it was just the controllingness/jealousy you might have a chance of working things out, but the gaslighting and his inability to see that he has a problem is a massive red flag.
posted by intensitymultiply at 2:45 PM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not going to provide armchair diagnoses for you or this guy that you described, but I will say that it doesn't sound like you two are compatible at all.

1.) You live 3 hours apart.
2.) By your own admission, you do something ("a habit of staring at men") that you can't or won't change that clearly bothers him.

Those are the facts and frankly, considering you've only been seeing this guy for a few weeks, I don't see any point in continuing this relationship.

Things are supposed to fun in the first few're supposed to enjoy each other's company and not turn dates into tortuous armchair psychoanalysis.
posted by PsuDab93 at 9:04 AM on August 31, 2015

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