Teen Talk

Teen talk: Control freak or not, he’s in the wrong

Kelly Richardson
Kelly Richardson Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

DEAR KELLY: My mom and I are fighting, and I need some help. I have the most amazing and wonderful boyfriend. We’ve been together for almost five months as a couple because we were super good friends before. He makes me happier than I’ve even been. He brings me coffee to school once a week and I pack his lunch on away soccer games because I like to give him special treats. I seriously love him and my mom used to love him until what happened the other night.

Recently, I posted a picture on Instagram of me and my friend messing around. I was wearing a crop top and didn’t realize it had gone up on my stomach a little so it looked kind of short. A lot of people liked my picture and a lot of guys did things like the emoji for hot and wrote things like how good I looked. When my boyfriend saw it, he got pretty upset and I took it down immediately. Then later when we were talking we decided that it would make him feel better if we went through, and if he didn’t know the guy, we deleted him off my Instagram account. I was totally fine with it and don’t think he was trying to control me or anything. He just wanted to avoid fighting. So basically I have about 75 guy friends still on it who my boyfriend knows and trusts and who wouldn’t write things about how hot I am or anything to make him feel weird. I also stopped following all the other guys because I just thought it was the right thing to do, so he knew how much I cared about him. Again, I did it, not my boyfriend.

So when one of my good guy friends who I’ve known since preschool was one of the one who posted how hot I was and we should hang out sometime (as friends), I deleted him because my boyfriend doesn’t know him. The other night I was hanging out with my boyfriend and that other guy texted me and asked why I deleted him. My boyfriend grabbed my phone to see who I was texting and replied that this was her boyfriend and that he needs to respect our relationship and back off. My friend replied that we were just friends and that my boyfriend was ridiculous for making me delete all the guys off my page. They texted back and forth and finally stopped. I later texted my guy friend and apologized and told him my boyfriend had just had a bad day at practice.

The problem is that he told his mom what happened. Our moms are friends, so his mom called my mom and told her everything. My mom looked at my Instagram and freaked because she now thinks my boyfriend is some control freak who is going to pull me away from all my friends and family, which is so far from the truth. She was so rude to my boyfriend last night, and now he feels like she hates him. If I did it, why is she blaming my boyfriend when it wasn’t even his fault? Please help me. I don’t know how to fix it. This is terrible.

Torn in Two

DEAR TORN: Sometimes we can be too close to a situation to see what’s happening or little red flags. That being said, I hear you that you care for your boyfriend and you appreciate the nice gestures he does for you. You’re correct, that is a thoughtful thing to do and it sounds like you do nice things for each other. All good things in a relationship.

Where the red flags pop up are around his actions which feel insecure and controlling. Sorry if I sound like your mom, but her concerns are valid. I understand you were the one who initiated the removal of the guys off Instagram, but you did it because it made him feel insecure to know that other guys thought you were pretty and commented on it. A more secure boyfriend would take pride in thinking other guys thought his girlfriend was pretty and not feel threatened by it. That’s only one part, though. There are other red flags such as him grabbing the phone to see who you were texting and then getting into a texting war with an old friend of yours. Again, not OK. The idea that you have to stop following guy friends just to prove your love to him feels off. What next, not talking to anyone but females?

It’s been five months and you’re already making pretty drastic changes just to appease him and avoid upsetting him. This is concerning. If he can’t handle you having guy friends or guy followers, you are in for a very rough and emotionally isolating relationship. Unless you nip this right now, your boyfrend’s behavior will only escalate and become more controlling and overprotective.

The best way to fix it would be to go to your mom and agree that your boyfriend was out of line for texting your preschool friend. Also share with her that you understand her concerns about his controlling behavior and that you will be very aware of this as the relationship continues. Be grateful she cares so much about you that she doesn’t want to see you get into a restrictive relationship with a jealous boyfriend. Show appreciation for her concern and don’t defend his actions.

Then talk with your boyfriend. Tell him that you need to have guy friends and if he can’t handle it, you can’t be with him anymore. Also, you can’t control if other boys think you’re pretty and you don’t want to feel bad or scared of his reaction if people like your pictures. Your Instagram account should be just that – yours. Don’t let his emotions monitor your lifestyle.

Don’t give in to his jealousy. Be yourself and stay connected to all your friends, regardless of their gender. Don’t isolate yourself just to prove your love. Love shouldn’t have to be proved and jealousy doesn’t equal love. If your boyfriend is worth it, he will respect your friendships and not feel threatened by other people in your life. Don’t settle for a relationship that restricts, redefines and reduces who you are.