Auntie SparkNotes: My Boyfriend Is the Jealous Type
So I've been dating this amazing guy for a few months now. He's like something out of a dream. He wakes me up with a "Good morning beautiful :)" text, he brought me flowers when I was sick, he lets me borrow his hoodie all the time, and he constantly makes sweet comments just to make me smile. These past few months have mostly been great.
There's just one problem: he's the jealous type. I have a lot of close male friends, and he dislikes this. If I have plans with one, he'll try to convince me to spend time with him instead. He accuses me of flirting with many of his friends. He gets offended if I choose to talk to another boy in front of him. I am a very independent person, and this is completely clashing with my usual behavior. I've tried to discuss this with him and explain that the friendships are completely platonic, but he just gets sad and blames it on his low self esteem. He says he's just "afraid to lose me". I understand that part of being in a relationship is not flirting with other people, but this seems a little excessive.
From what I know, a little bit of jealousy in a relationship is healthy but too much is a definite red flag. I just don't know what "too much" is. Right now, I'm just not telling him about my plans with my guy friends. This doesn't seem honest to me though. If the good times still outweigh the bad, should I just get over this and deal with it, or run as fast as I can in the other direction?
Hmm. HMMMMM. Well, for starters: jealousy, in and of itself, isn't really healthy in any amount. It can be a valid reaction to a problem that needs to be addressed, or it can be an unreasonable expression of a person's insecurities. But either way, it means that something's not right.
And in your case, darling, the not-right something is that your boyfriend is acting like a controlling, possessive douche canoe.
This behavior is not okay. You know it's not okay. I know you know that it's not okay. And even your boyfriend, in spite of everything, knows that it's not okay—which is why, when confronted with his vastly inappropriate attitude, he tries to justify it with pathetic paeans to his low self-esteem, being apparently unaware of the difference between a reason and an excuse. (Hint: If you have low self-esteem that's causing you to act like a controlling jerkus, the solution is to work on your confidence—not to goad and plead and punish the people you love into total isolation because your precious fee-fees can't take the pain of them having normal lives.)
And if you'd like to make a swift and painless exit from your relationship now, nobody would blame you. This is dealbreaker stuff; there is no planet on which an S.O. trying to isolate you away from your friends is okay.
But if you don't want to walk away... well, maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but here's the thing: you guys are young. And when you're young—when you combine teenage insecurities with minimal experience—what you often get are people giving in to their jealous, manipulative, possessive impulses because they don't know any better about what a healthy relationship looks like. But with the benefit of time and maturity, most of these same people realize that romance needs free will to thrive (and that controlling the minutiae of another person's life is an exhausting endeavor that never makes you feel better and never ever ends.)
And your boyfriend, who at least recognizes the link between his insecurity and his jealousy, might be ready to have an epiphany about where the real problem lies. So if you're feeling strong and energetic, sit down with your guy and present him with a one-time-only opportunity for a healthy relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
Which works as follows: you promise to keep on behaving in a way that honors your commitment to him, including being honest and transparent with him about your friendships. Because you have nothing to hide, right? And you'll also promise that if he has a reasonable objection to something specific you've done, you'll hear him out (expressed in the form of a "When you did x, I felt y" statement; generalized accusations of flirting are a no-no.)
Meanwhile, he holds up his end of the bargain by recognizing that his feelings are his responsibility, and that your friendships are not, and he immediately ceases all attempts to make you ditch, distance yourself, or otherwise compromise your social life to appease him.
And if he insists that he can't be with you on these terms? Take him at his word, and end it. Because he doesn't trust you, and without trust, no relationship can survive.
If you do this, though, you've got to be strong enough to see it through, and hold absolutely firm to the tenets of a healthy romance. You'll have to resist the all-too-common urge in cases like this to just give in, inch by inch, because it's easier—to cancel those plans, or distance yourself from that person, or stop wearing that thing—than it is to argue for your autonomy. But if you're prepared for that, it might just be that you can lead your boyfriend by example into a better place: a world of mutually-trusting relationships in which both parties appreciate the beauty of being with someone who, with so much freedom to choose, chooses you.
Or he'll keep acting like a jackass, and being smart enough to know a lost cause when you see one, you'll dump him.
But we'll hope for the former.
Have you ever had a possessive S.O.? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.