DEAR KELLY: My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year. I know he’s jealous and he freaks out easily when it comes to other guys because his last girlfriend cheated on him. Other than that, he’s a really good boyfriend and treats me well.
I reassure him all the time we’re good and he has no reason to worry, but he still does. Usually I do a good job of not talking to other guys or anything that might make him go crazy, but there are some things that I can’t help. Recently my history teacher gave us a huge history project that will require a lot of outside work and research. He assigned our groups and gave me a guy as my partner. I didn’t ask for the guy or even want him, but that made my boyfriend so mad. At first he made me go ask the teacher if I could switch partners because I didn’t get along with the guy, which was a lie because I hardly know him. When my history teacher said “no” and that we had to learn to get along, my boyfriend freaked. He told me I had to tell the guy we would work separately and that my parents didn’t allow me to work one-on-one with a guy. Another lie.
At first the other guy was really cool about it. He said we could just do separate parts at home and then put them together and we could do the same for the presentation. But the more we work on it the harder it gets because some of the project has to have our parts connect, especially when we present it. The other guy sent me a text asking if he could come to my house and meet my parents or have my brother sit in the room when we work or do anything to make them comfortable with us working together. I know he cares about his grades and wants us to do well, which means we have to work together. My boyfriend read the text and got so mad. He wrote back and pretended it was me and told the guy that there was no way my parents would allow this and that he shouldn’t text me anymore.
I felt so bad, so the next day in math (we have two classes), I told him the truth. He said that he wondered why my boyfriend gave him bad looks and started following him on Twitter and Snapchat. He totally understood how I was trying to keep the peace and said that he doesn’t want to hook up with me, just get a “A” on our project.
Do I lie to my boyfriend and work with the other guy on the project, or will that make things worse if he finds out? Or do I tell my boyfriend and have him freak out and get angry with me? Or have my boyfriend come sit in the room when we do the project so he knows we aren’t flirting or that we aren’t becoming more than partners on a project? My boyfriend told me to just take an “F” on the project and that we were worth more as a couple than a stupid history grade. I’m so confused and I don’t know what’s the best approach. Please help.
Grade or Girlfriend?
DEAR G: Pick the grade. It’s a no-brainer.
No one should ever ask you to jeopardize your future to make them feel better. Think of how selfish your boyfriend is being by asking you to tank your grade just so he doesn’t feel threatened or scared. You may see it as jealous, but your boyfriend’s behaviors are more abusive than loving. Love doesn’t control or hurt someone. Loving someone means respecting them, trusting them and having genuine concern for the other person and their accomplishments or dreams. Asking you to take a “F” is not loving.
I get it that he got burned before; it happens to most of us. But to project all his unfinished emotions about her cheating on him on you is not healthy. You didn’t cheat on him, she did. But he is making you pay for how she made him feel. His insecurities are driving your relationship and you try to keep him pacified and happy more than you realize. It must be exhausting because it takes a lot of work to feel responsible for someone else’s emotions.
Step back from the relationship and examine what you are getting from it. It sounds pretty stressful to always keep the peace and make sure your boyfriend is not angry. You seem to be adjusting your life to make him feel more secure. You recognize his unhealthy behaviors but you also go to extremes to avoid confronting these unhealthy behaviors. Take a long look at everything you do just so he doesn’t get upset with you. His fears are controlling your life right now and if you let him, he’ll control the direction your life is going as well. The odds are his control and his temper will only escalate and your safety could be in danger.
Go talk with a trusted adult. Share with them what you shared with me and see if they feel the same about his controlling behaviors. You might need adult help if you decide to take a break from the relationship. You aren’t responsible for his feelings and for his insecurities, and you need to think about what is best for you and your life.
Read “In Love and In Danger” by Barry Levy. Work on the project and get the “A.” Don’t let your boyfriend dictate how you live. Stop taking care of him instead of taking care of yourself. Make decisions based on what is best for you, not what keeps him off your back. Love yourself enough to see that this relationship is not healthy, safe or loving.
Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@ sacbee.com.