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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Dear Thelma: 'He controls my every move'

A reader feels like she is not able to be herself in a relationship. 

I’m now in my 20s. I’ve been thinking a lot about my current relationship. As the days go by, I’m feeling very frustated over the stuff that’s happened in the past. 

We’ve been together for two years and still counting. There’s quite a big age gap between us. We’ve had quite a number of arguments over the last couple of years, over small and big matters, leading to certain compromises. 

I finally realise now, I’m very stupid for doing the things that he wants, but not what I want. I gave up a lot things and my own dreams. I’m living life in fear. He doesn’t like me going out with friends too frequently, and I’m not allowed to go out with certain friends.

Moreover, he doesn’t even allow me to experience certain things, despite me being of legal age to go clubbing with friends. I can’t even go out at night with friends for food or drinks. We’ve ended up fighting whenever I bring these issues up. 

Every time I confirm a night out with my friends, I have to think twice about it. There are times I feel like giving up on him but I’m afraid that I will hurt his feelings. I really don’t know what to do, and just keep smiling even though I’m confused and depressed. I feel that my feelings for him are no longer the same as before.

Thelma says:

Being in a relationship is supposed to be fun. The person you are with is supposed to help bring out the best in you. You should want to be a better person, and you should not feel constrained or even forced.

However, many people fall into a trap when they fail to understand what a relationship, and even what love is.

For some reason, people think that love means that one party in the relationship controls the other person’s behaviour because they care. They impose restrictions on who the other person should meet, talk or go out with. They even make decisions on where they can and cannot go. They decide for you who are good people and who are not, and they tell you who they deem fit to be associated with you. And, they will always tell you that it is for your own good. And, therefore, they are the good person and you are not.

Well, it is not. This is not love and this is definitely not a healthy relationship.

And, this is clear through the fear that you feel in this relationship. In a loving and healthy relationship, there should be no fear. Many might confuse fear for respect, but they are two very different things.

When someone tries to control you, it is just that. It is not a symbol of how much they love or care for you.

Instead, controlling behaviour is but one part of an abusive relationship. Yes, abusive.

Abuse is not limited to just the physical. There are other forms of abuse and violence in relationships. These include emotional and psychological abuse. Controlling behaviour is an example of this. It can manifest itself through “caring” behaviour like knowing your movements, and then outright controlling of where you go, who you meet and the other stuff.

What this kind of behaviour does is cut off the “controlled” person from everyone – friends and family – thus leaving the person completely dependent on the abuser. This then leaves the person with total power over the other.

You are right in that it is normal for a young person to want to experience all the things you want. There is nothing wrong in going out with friends or clubbing as long as you know your limits and how to stay safe. If he truly cares for you, he would understand this. He could help you establish safe behaviours, and maybe even have you call him if you run into any trouble, or if you would like an early night.

If you think he cannot give this to you, then he is not the one. Leave this alone and it will only get worse. You know what you have to do, and you have to do it soon.

The fact that you think you will hurt his feelings if you break up with him shows how much he has manipulated you. He probably will not make it easy for you to break up with him. It may even be a long drawn out one. Be sure to have support from friends and family where possible.

Remember that this is something in which you have to put yourself and safety first. There should be no compromises on that.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.


Write to Dear Thelma,
c/o Star2, Menara Star,
15, Jalan 16/11,
46350 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor or e-mail:

Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suff ered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Thelma , lost , confused


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