My Boyfriend Makes Me Prove That I'm Working Out
He asks for photographic evidence.
Today's post answers a question a woman has about her relationship with her boyfriend who has a laundry list of things he wishes she'd change.
Hi Telltale Har!
So I recently stumbled on your blog and I loved how honest you were with your responses. You seem like you could be the therapy I can't afford. I wanted to see if you could offer me some insight on this "issue" or whatever it is I'm dealing with.
I'm in a relationship with this guy. He's really sweet, tells me how much he loves me ,and how he would do anything for me, and all that romantic bullshit. I call it bullshit, but I love it, it makes me feel good. However, there are these moments… and these fights. Sometimes he'll tell me that he can't wait until I find someone, and that he'll always love me—all these low comments insinuating this won't be forever. I get upset and I ask him to not say those things. He gets upset that I get upset and he tells me I'm crazy, and that I shouldn't be upset because he just doesn't know what he wants right now. He doesn't want to think I'm the last person he'll be with, he says he hasn't traveled single enough, he doesn't like how I won't commit to working out 5x a week to lose weight, he doesn't like that I'm not clean enough for him, he doesn't like how I laugh loudly, he doesn't like how much I piss him off, and all of these things. He unloads on me and makes me feel so terrible. After I get so upset he takes it all back and says he doesn't mean any of it and that he's happy with me for right now, and there’s no need to look into the future.
Here are a few things I hear from him:
"You just need to change, I'm serious this time."
"Do this and I'll love you. If you do this, I'll love you more, I promise."
"Where do you think you'd be without me? Probably still in that shit hole and dating some gross guy because you settle. You always settle."
"Who would want someone that lives like this?? You need to be cleaner." (My apartment with my three other girlfriends isn't even that dirty. He just has a lot more money than me and thinks I should be living by his standards.)
"Woahhh, hello!" (When a hot girl walks by, or he scrolls by one on Instagram.)
I'm not like "will you marry me!?!" ever, but I love him and sometimes I look forward to taking the next step with him. I want to be in a relationship where we can't wait to live together and go through life together. Sometimes he says "I just want to travel the world with you. You would be the one I want to end up with; I just don't know if that's what I want." I guess I have to accept that, but it seems odd to stay with someone when you have so many issues with them? If he doesn't like my weight, the way I live, how I talk, who I hang with and doesn't want a future with me, then why does he stay? I don't know what to do. He's mean, he comments about other girls and how hot they constantly, always liking other girl’s IG pictures (I know, I sound ridiculous, but when he talks about your weight all the time, little things like that hurt). He tells me I handle him better than anyone he's ever met but I don't know if I'm handling him well, or just hoping he changes and loves me the way I love him. He's relentless about my weight, asks me to snap him a pic to see if I actually worked out, but he's also the person calling me all day to talk because he misses me and wants to talk about his day (and mine sometimes LOL). He takes me on trips, he tells me he loves me, always brings me around his friends and family, always looking to see how he can help me. But something just isn't right.
What should I do?
Confused & A Little Sad
Hey there C&ALS,
Let me start by saying that whilst reading your email, the wise words of my fellow advice columnist, Dan Savage, rang through my ears. Here it goes. Ahem… DTMFA! Which stands for “dump the motherf*cker already!”
You started off with telling me how this guy is “really sweet” and how much he showers you with lovey-dovey bullshit—which is great news! That’s the kind of thing I like to hear from people that are in relationships! However, you take quick turn when you start to elaborate on some of these moments you share.
Let’s start with the comments he makes where he insinuates (gorgeous word choice, btw) that you’re only around for the right now and not forever. First of all, even if you think it, you really never say that to the person you’re dating. “I like this for right now, but in the future I can’t wait to see who I’m dating next!”—no. No one says that. And his pathetic attempt to Band-Aid those sorts of statements by saying he can’t wait until you find someone? What even is that? Isn’t he aware that you are in a relationship WITH HIM? You getting upset by that is 100 percent reasonable. The fact that after you get upset, he calls you crazy and gets upset with YOU is downright narcissistic behavior. Flipping the script on you so that he looks like the victim of your anger is screwed up. No one should be dating someone who makes them feel like a temporary option.
Now, I like how you quoted him a few times—this has allowed me to really get a feel for him:
"You just need to change, I'm serious this time." Is this some sort of threat?
"Do this and I'll love you. If you do this, I'll love you more, I promise." This makes my stomach churn. Loving someone isn’t contingent on a barter system. You cannot dangle loving someone on a string in front of their face and promise they’ll get it if they comply with something you want. This is another example of narcissistic behavior.
"Where do you think you'd be without me? Probably still in that shit hole and dating some gross guy because you settle. You always settle." His suggestion that you are better off with him/ because of him is downright twisted and I can’t stand that he thinks he’s helping you in any way.
"Who would want someone that lives like this?? You need to be cleaner." HE DOESN’T LIVE THERE. WHY DOES HE CARE HOW YOUR HOME LOOKS?
"Woahhh, hello!" Keep it to yourself, asshole.
DTMFA DTMFA DTMFA
His obsession with your weight and workout schedule is absurd. Your body, your rules. You can work out when you want, if you want, and if he doesn’t like it—he can keep his mouth shut. Asking you to snap photos to prove you’re working out is abusive and controlling.
You pose a great question when you ask why, if he hates so many things about you, does he stay? But my question to you is if he hates so many things about you, then why do YOU stay? Narcissists like having people they can control. Their typical M.O. is to latch onto an emotional creature, and manipulate them into what they want them to be. They do this by building them up really high, and then tearing them down really low. He’ll tell you he loves you and you’re wonderful and he can’t imagine life without you, and then he’ll make you feel like you are nothing without him, until you truly are convinced that you need him. He doesn’t love you; he is brainwashing and abusing you. Tell him to kick rocks.
There is no doubt in my mind that you can and will find someone who will treat you infinitely better than he ever could, despite what he tells you. You deserve someone who loves your body, your laugh, and even your messes.
Until next time,
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
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