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You Asked: Are We Compatible?

Dear Sugar,

I have been with my boyfriend for two and a half years. We now live together and both work full-time jobs, do well financially, love to travel together, plan the future (marriage, home, kids) and according to our friends, we are a great couple. I'm 24 and he is 26 and we are happy, however I've been feeling more frustrated lately about certain things. We disagree about spending money. While we do have a joint account that we use for rent, bills, and groceries, we have separate accounts for our own needs. He doesn't spend much and does not see the value of anything material — he thinks shopping for expensive things is ridiculous and feels we can do more with our money than purchasing beautiful handbags, shoes and accessories. I love fashion and shopping. I have no debt and I pay my credit cards in full. There are times I need to rein in my self-control when I see something out of budget, but I never shop beyond my means.

Another area is health. I am definitely careful about what I eat and have maintained a healthy weight since high school. I love chocolate, the occasional fries, and indulging when going out. He's the opposite. He wants to eat the healthiest foods at all times and never eats fried or fatty foods when we go out. If I cook something too high in butter or too salty, he asks if I will cook with less next time. He also pushes me to exercise so I can stay healthy. I take two to three workout classes a week, and I feel that is enough for me.

Overall, he just wants me to be the best I can be. He's a very smart person with three degrees from Stanford and a great job. He loves his family, he's a good friend, and he truly does care about me; it's just that he is critical without realizing that what he says makes me feel pressure to be perfect. He really sees it as helping me, and always asks me to help him be better in any way.

I want this relationship to work. I've thought about breaking up, but I break down just thinking about it — I love him a lot and I know he loves me too. Is there any way to make this work? What should I do? — Feeling the Pressure Pamela

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Feeling the Pressure Pamela,

I don't blame you for questioning your relationship. As we all know, no one is perfect, so when you're dating someone that wants you to be just that, it can feel incredibly overwhelming, even leaving you critical of yourself for no good reason. Everyone has different opinions on materialism, but the fact of the matter is you're entitled to do whatever you please with your own money. If you're paying your bills on time, and not dipping into your shared account or retirement funds, I don't see what the problem is. Treating yourself to nice things, if you can afford them, is perfectly normal if you ask me.

My concern here, Pamela, is your boyfriend's issues with control. It's very clear from his strict eating/working out regimen that he's disciplined and he's trying to push you to be the same way. Giving into your vices every once in a while is healthy — that's what makes life fun!

If you want this relationship to work, he must understand how you feel and what it is that makes you tick. Having such a controlling boyfriend will only lead to greater problems down the road so it's imperative to get to the bottom of these issues sooner than later. If your likes and dislikes stray too far from one another, this relationship just might not be the right fit. While love is extremely important, compatibility is really what it takes to have a successful relationship. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
What you need to do is lay down the law, asap. You need to say things like: -- Fashion is important to me and I will always be spending money on expensive bags and clothes. -- I am going to eat what I want, when I want and I don't want to hear any comments about it. -- I'm going to exercise on my schedule and don't want you to pressure me to do more than I'm already doing. Of course, you should only say those things if you mean them. We all have to make small compromises in relationships, and if the ones he's asking you to make aren't okay with you, he needs to know up front. Then he can decide if they're deal breakers or not. But as for him asking you to cook with less fat and salt, I do not see that as controlling as all. I mean, my boyfriend doesn't like bacon so I don't cook with it. It doesn't make him some huge control freak - it is just one of many small compromises that we each make for each other in order to have a happy relationship. Bottm line though - you really do need to figure out if this is deal breaker material, and you need to let him figure out the same thing.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Sorry but he has every right to be concerned if the person he plans to marry isn't financially responsible. We women are looking for certain qualities in a man and if we don't agree we just freely complain, but if a man does it then he's controlling? He wants to find the qualities that he finds important in his partner, and that just sounds like he's showing her who he is and the type of lifestyle he wants to live. He should have an opinion on her finances and what he considers frivolous or what she eats or how she takes care of herself b/c he's trying to determine if she's the person HE wants to spend HIS life goes both ways:) Me and my SO are eventually planning marriage but for right now we have our joint accounts, our combined investment accounts, joint credit card, and we also have a separate card, Roth IRAs and checking/savings accounts. We are planning to purchase a house together and we have the same values when it comes to health. If he thinks that it's wiser to put money towards investing rather than getting that new pair of shoes, then it's just him trying to plan for our future and thinking of what that investment now will be. Yes he may not be her finance but for many people that is an irrelevant point, it just depends on where the relationship status is in your own life. For my SO and myself, we fall into that very different category. So while so many are saying that he's controlling and she should get out as a red flag, he could be thinking that she's not on the same page as him with maturity and financial responsibilities and what's important in life and he could be seeing HER as a red flag and should move on. He is just expressing his values and sounds as though he's hoping that she'll share them. It's a compromise and if this isn't the life for you then you should move on, but I certainly would never see him as controlling or that he should have no investment in her finances or lifestyle. He's planning a future with her and he needs to know NOW if she's on the same page rather than getting engaged to find out she doesn't plan to live the life he has in his future.
pixelhaze pixelhaze 9 years
Huh, I also didn't see the "control freak" part, I just thought he was a perfectionist, haha don't listen to meee. . . . . Well you could always play the "silly girl" card - "ARE YOU SAYING IM FAT?????!!!!!" That tends to shut most guys up ;)
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
I agree with everything TheMissus said. He does sound very controlling and critical. I have been with men like that before. My fiance now accepts me for EXACTLY the way I am. Sure, there are things about me that he doesn't like. But he never tries to change me. Personally, I could not be with someone like what you describe. How you spend YOUR money is your business and what you eat and how often you exercise is also your business. I think that you really need to set some boundaries here and stick up for yourself more. You also need to sit down with him and have a serious talk about how his unrealistic expectations are making you feel about yourself. If he doesn't respond well or try to change, then you know that he is not going to change, ever. I also agree with some of the girls here re: what kind of dad do you think he will make? Will he also try to control his children and expect them to perfect? Does not sound like a guy I would want raising my kids, but that's just my opinion.
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
i don't have time to upgrade my man... and i don't want someone who wants to upgrade me (not saying that's what the OP's BF is doing) i'm sure he was a conservative person when she met him, just like he knew she liked to shop alot and eat chilli cheese fries....
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
Dan (my boyfriend) is responsible with his money...his finances are in order, he owns property, and he has discretionary income...thus, he buys what he wants when he wants. i'm in the same predicament....i can afford to do my own thing with my money. i wouldn't go as far to say that the OP's boyfriend is a control freak...he just sounds like he has a dominating personality. ME, i don't like that, because we would butt heads ....BIG TIME. but that's me being independent and not letting anyone tell me how to handle my business. especially when i don't impose on his. maybe i'm just not one of those people who wish their man was different...if i don't like something about you, i probably wouldn't be in a relationship with you, let alone one where we shack up.
DCRoamer DCRoamer 9 years
I disagree. I don't think he is controlling. Just because he thinks expensive handbags are frivolous and doesn't want to eat fatty foods, that doesn't mean he is controlling. Honestly, a guy at 26 who is thinking about long term finances and wants to eat healthy sounds like a catch. And from reading the post, I don't see how he is "controlling" her. Rather, he is telling her that he disagrees with her spending habits (a fair point, in my opinion) and that he would like her to cook with less fattening ingredients. I don't see where he told her not to buy a handbag or not to eat that second helping of ice cream. THAT would be controlling, but it doesn't seem like he is doing that. Think about it ladies - I'll bet most of you wish your significant others were more responsible with money and had a better diet. Does that make you controlling too?
HonestMuffin HonestMuffin 9 years
Relationships are work! I love how everyone always thinks their serious relationships are going to be drama free. They're not! You're having a totally normal disagreement... BUT he can't get his way all the time. Relationships are also compromise. He needs to hear you out too. Stick up for yourself! I do. PS Totally feel ya on the not being able to cook whatever you want for him. My boyfriend wont eat meat, and im italian! it makes me crazzzyyy!!!!
Meike Meike 9 years
"OMG, I didn't even realize this guy is controlling before I read other readers' comments... I just thought he is a very together guy and that's how it should be hahaha... oh my god, does that mean i am controling as well?" Hahaha, no kidding, Tomatoshirt. This guy sounds like my hubby and myself when it comes to finances and health. I guess having our act together must mean we're controlling, too. On topic to the OP, if you can't deal with his high standards, go for someone whose values match yours.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 9 years
I'm hoping Asia84's comment is a joke post.
frenchie77 frenchie77 9 years
He doesn't really have any say in the way YOU spend YOUR money. You aren't married, you aren't engaged. And your money IS there for that reason. You sound like a reasonable person. And you sound like you eat healthy enough. So long as you aren't making him eat things he doesn't want to on a regular basis, you're fine. I think you need to tell him what you told us, tell him that he needs to let you make your own decisions, especially as they are balanced and normal, as you are an adult. Or he will lose you.
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
The money thing bothers me. he's your BOYFRIEND, not your FIANCE. I don't see a Tiffany's ring on your finger, ergo i wouldn't have a joint account or be saving up money for a down payment for a home with him. it would be different if you guys were engaged and saving for a home....but right now, he's just a long term f*ck buddy. That's why you work. you handle your business and you buy things that make you happy. F*ck what he's talkin' about. Furthermore, if this muthaf*cka got all these degrees from Standford, then his a*s needs to have the type of job to support us, and handle up on things like a future home. He should be making sure you got you monthly fix of Manolo's (Steve Madden's are hot too). Pompous a*s ups the ante a bit. He thinks he's too much (arrogant) and he tries to impose his a*sy-ness on you, and it makes you feel bad about how you run sh*t. d*mn, you're a grown woman, and i don't know what kind of relationship you have with your father, but you already got a daddy. Your boyfriend needs to fall back before he loses what sounds like a nice gal. Jacka*s!
bluestar bluestar 9 years
This guy sounds like an asshat. My ex pulled the same crap...finally I stopped trying to change myself into what HE thought I should be and what he wanted me to do...and dumped his ass!
RaCheer RaCheer 9 years
Controlling relationships are the worst. I just got out of a 4 1/2 year long one. I remember one night I didn't answer my phone right away when he called so I called him right back. He accused me of being out with someone else and even left a movie he was at with his friends across town to drive to my house in the rain to see if I was really there. He didn't like me having any friends of my own. He was jealous and manipulative also. My best suggestion to you if if you see any of these red flags go up...RUN!
tomatoshirt tomatoshirt 9 years
OMG, I didn't even realize this guy is controlling before I read other readers' comments... I just thought he is a very together guy and that's how it should be hahaha... oh my god, does that mean i am controling as well? in any case, if u guys truly love and care for each other, i am sure u will find a happy median. =)
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Don't make excuses for him. He's more then aware of what he says to you and he's a controlling rat.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
You have to decide if it's all a dealbreaker for you. He sounds very intelligent and is more concerned with financial stability than getting the newest hot trend. So while you may have a new pair of shoes, he's thinking of how that $ invested would be a few 10 grand in a couple of years if invested correctly. Reality is that no one is perfect and if you are going to break up with him over this, then what exactly do you expect to find in a partner? We all have our faults and if you end this relationship, you'll be in a similar situation with someone else stating how they are addicted to porn or like to only hang out with their guy friends, or they are super flirty with other girls or they drink too much or are a bad dancer or you hate their family or they don't want to get a job, etc. Is this really a dealbreaker for you? That's the only question really:)
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 9 years
that sounds like my boyfriend thinking shopping is ridiculous & always sticking to a strict eating plan! -- except mine won't comment negatively on my shopping and actually usually seems highly at amused at how delighted I am by new shoes.. and he sometimes cheats on his diet on weekends, especially if I made cookies or a cake. I think all the advice that's always been posted is great. I would resent anyone that told me I had to change my ways. It sounds like you're already doing alot for him (3 workout classes a week!), and I wouldn't do any more. You're still an individual in your relationship. He has to let you be that.
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
He sounds like a total control freak. You need to just tell him flat out, "Hey.. I want this to work long-term... But I am not going to settle for someone telling me how to spend my money and how to eat. I am an adult. I eat healthy, exercise AND I am responsible with money. If you don't like the way I am enjoying my life, then you don't have to be a part of it. I don't criticize you for your rigid ways... Don't criticize me for my enjoyment. As long as we commit to shared goals, then that's all that matters. But I will not settle for someone who tries to control every little thing."
Vsugar Vsugar 9 years
I agree with Sugar's answer, but what I was thinking about was kids: If he is pressuring YOU to be perfect, and you are feeling the strain, imagine what kind of a FATHER he is going to be - do you really want to bring kids into that kind of family? I'm not saying it can't work, and it's entirely possible that if you share these concerns with him, he may not even realize that what he's doing is coming across as controlling, or making you feel under pressure. If you bring it up, he may very well WANT to work at creating a more safe and nurturing environment for you and for a potential family. But you definitely need to find a way to talk to him about this. There are a lot of ways to bring things like this up, and one way to do it is to talk about the perfectionism aspect of it - sometime when he is making a comment about food for instance, you could say something like: "I really appreciate that eating healthy is very important to you, and I think that's great, but sometimes it comes across as criticism and I would like for you not to judge my eating habits with quite so much scrutiny." That can open the door to bringing up a slightly pressure filled environment that he may be unwittingly creating, and I think it's really important that you talk about creating a place for children where they feel like they aren't being pushed into perfection. If he thinks that expecting you and your potential offspring to be perfect is normal and ok, there are HUUUUGE problems on the horizon and you need to deal with it now. Money is a slightly different issue however - try asking him what he thinks you should be saving your money for - maybe he has a financial goal like buying a home (or a second home) that he hasn't articulated to you yet because you aren't married, but wants you to be a part of, and that's why he gets uppity when you spend your money on other things. If you are paying all your bills and doing ok and still have extra cash for fashion and style, that's great, but some people have larger goals for their money, and in that context, buying things like shoes and handbags WOULD seem to be materialistic and shallow - I mean really, HOUSE WITH NO MORTGAGE vs. Shoes and Handbags - Rather than defending your spending habits when he brings it up, you should ask him if he has a financial goal for you as a couple that he hasn't told you about yet. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised at his answer!! Good Luck.
jaxon jaxon 9 years
Sounds controlling to me.... Is he going to try and force your children to be mini-him perfect clones as well?
cubadog cubadog 9 years
This was on here a few months ago.
sundaygreen sundaygreen 9 years
You should be with someone who loves you the way you are and let's you be yourself.
MissJules5x MissJules5x 9 years
if he's as great as you say he is i would just try talking to him. let him know that you feel pressured and also by doing this he makes you feel like you aren't good enough. chances are its just his type A personality trying to micromanage everything and he doesn't realize that he's hurting you. If he continues to do it after you communicate your feelings to him then maybe its time to let it go because clearly he won't change and you will never be fully happy in a relationship where you can't just let loose a little.
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