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You Asked: My Boyfriend Tells Me What to Do

Dear Sugar--

My boyfriend and I have been dating for nearly 2 years. He is the breadwinner in our relationship and I am a full time college student. We live together and my "job" is to clean, do laundry, fix things around the house, cook...etc. Sometimes, though, I feel as though my boyfriend walks all over me. For instance, if I get distracted and don't do the laundry RIGHT when he wants it done, or clean the dishes RIGHT when he wants them clean, he puts me on a guilt trip and tells me I am making too many excuses. He tells me that I am wrong and that since it's "my job" to be doing these things, he feels like I am not living up to his expectations.

He has a problem with control and feels like he has to OWN me and CONTROL me. I constantly feel bad about myself with him because he's always correcting what I'm doing and making me feel like I am never good enough. He isn't abusive and he is very loving but he has a bad temper when I try to stand up for myself. He tells me that I am "being too defensive" or "putting up a wall between us." I don't feel equal to him and feel like a slave. He says he's right and since he's older than I am, he knows more about this stuff that I do (we're 9 years apart). His ways are very traditional and he believes in the typical "gender-roles."

We have a great relationship other than this but I don't know what to do. Sometimes I feel like I'm being brainwashed. He sometimes says that I have it "too good" because I don't have a job but when I try to stick up for myself by saying, "well actually, i have college and family stuff to deal with everyday, as well as keep this house spotless to your liking and take care of you and myself to a T," he gets angry and tells me that those are "minor" and that he deals with things that are far more important everyday. Is there is something wrong with me for not seeing more of his side of the story?

--Cinderella Cynthia

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Dear Cinderella Cynthia--

Danger! Danger! It sounds like you have an extremely controlling boyfriend who sees you as his maid and NOT his girlfriend. Who cares that he has a "full time job" --- so do you - as a full time college student! May I add that in no way is it "your job" to also take care of him and your home -- all those responsibilities should be shared between the two of you.

If you don't work this out now, I fear that you are doomed to a life of being at his beck and call forever. Once you graduate and get a full time job, you think he'll all of a sudden think he needs to help out? No way! He'll say "well, you've been doing it all along and it's still your job." I would suggest that you try to talk to him about these gender roles he's set up, and tell him how unfair you think they are.

I know you said that every time you try to stand up for yourself he doesn't listen and just puts you down, but even though he's not harming you physically, verbally knocking someone down on purpose, and making them feel unimportant is a form of emotional abuse and is totally unacceptable! If you try talking to him about how his disrespectful attitude needs to stop, and nothing changes, I'd get out of this relationship immediately. You deserve to be with someone who appreciates how wonderful you are. Good luck.

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