Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"I Feel Trapped in This Relationship"

Dear Dr, Love

I am a 20 year old female that is in a relationship with a 25 year old man. We have been going out for three months now, but we fell in love after going out for three weeks. The relationship was a dream come true until very recently.
My boyfriend asked me to stay with him during my school break from college (2 weeks). This seemed like a long period of time and I was a little nervous inside because of concern over my need for space.
Despite this apprehension, I agreed to the arrangement. He said that it has been the best time of his life while I felt like I was going crazy after the two weeks were over. I told him that I needed to go away for a few days so that I could have more freedom, more space, and get more things done. I complained that I felt like I had gotten married overnight. I was confined to the house most of the time. It took him a while to finally give me a key and I am isolated from transportation and friends. I felt like he wanted me to adapt to his ways of doing things instead of doing things my own way.
When I wasn't living with him, he would still come straight from work and take me out for a great time. Since I've been staying with him, we mostly go out to run errands, go to the grocery store, and take the trash out!
Every time he was around he wanted me to be with him (For example: if I was watching TV, he would want me to stop so that I could lay next to him while he was on the phone.) I told him that simple things make me feel in control (being able to come and go as I please, working outside the house, etc.) but I felt like he was trying to be in control. I told him that made me feel unhappy so I had to go back to my original environment for a little while.
Meanwhile, he keeps saying he wants to ask me to marry him someday, he wants me to have his children, he wants me to live with him permanently after I graduate in May. I'll admit that we've had some wonderful times together. But I'm feeling suffocated.
After we discussed these things, he voluntarily said he would change. He said he didn't think he was controlling but that possibly I thought so because of the way he said things and that he would try to be more careful. I told him that I am a very independent person and I need time for my own activities and interests. He said he will value my privacy more.
This is all nice but I am still feeling awkward about going back to stay with him. I feel more irritated by him that ever and my need for space seems to grow everyday.
I feel overwhelmed and confused. I keep telling myself that love will keep us together despite my recent doubts.
What should I do?


This guy may be great and wonderful but you are in an entirely different life stage. You are definitely not ready to play house.
Your feelings are right when they tell you that being confined is not right for you at the age of 20. We need to keep in mind that he is five years older than you and may be more ready than you are. This relationship, as loving as it is, was not equipped to handle coming home and doing chores.
You had your best times when you could go out and have fun. You need to keep doing this. So many young people make the mistake of giving up their late adolescence and early adulthood, which is a time of discovery and experimentation, to be committed to someone they might eventually outgrow.
We change the most between the ages of 20 to 28. All your feelings of being stifled are telling you that you need to be much freer than you are with this young man. Your heart is telling you that you can't handle this so listen to it.
Try to go back to the stage where you are merely dating. Errands and chores at your age will deprive you of the period of experimentation and growth at the sacrifice of what he needs you to be.
I can't stress how strongly I feel that you need to break away from this and discover your own life as a separate individual before you make this kind of choice.
What if you wake up in five years and say, "My God, I've missed five years of my development!"
I guarantee you this is what will happen.
Your feelings are correct. Pay attention to them.


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