Boyfriend Wants a Backwards Relationship…

Dear Liz,

One of my best friends is in a relationship that is not normal. The boyfriend does not want to talk through the troubles that both of them go through. He puts her down sometimes and ignores her when she brings up things that they need to talk together about. She has to do the driving all the time, plan all the dates, because the boy wants to have a “backwards relationship” and I want to help, it’s just I don’t really know how besides possibly giving some advice. Please let me know how I can help.

Dear Friend,

I’m not sure what to make of this “backwards relationship” practice. I’ve got this uncomfortable feeling that at best, this guy is emotionally insecure and threatened by genuine intimacy, while my gut tells me it’s more likely that he is “reminding her of her place,” with multiple, not so subtle behaviors.

Sure, the guy usually is the one who drives and plans dates—arguably a chivalrous/sexist expectation, one that should be comfortably interrupted by both individuals in a relationship. But he seems bent on something greater than “let’s not have roles…let’s be true partners instead…”  The fact that he won’t talk through issues is problematic, because I can’t imagine a relationship flourishing without intimate, honest, dialogue.

You also shared, he puts her down sometimes and ignores her…Ignoring a person is abusive.

So let me get this straight (given the limited information I have to work with):  he disrespects her, attempts to make her feel “less than,” demeans her by ignoring her when she has something important to say, refuses to communicate, and is rigid regarding relationship practices…

This is an easy one.

This guy is bad news. He is behaving in a misogynistic way, and I suggest your friend remove herself from the relationship before his controlling behavior strips her of her voice, her dignity, and her worth. Not only is this guy NOT a keeper, but he’s someone she’d do best to avoid all together.

And a heads up: My guess is that he might try to manipulate your friend should she try to end it—she will be accused of having the issues…assure her that she is behaving in a healthy way in terms of her relationship expectations, and he is not.  Your friend is fortunate to have you in her life—speak the truth to her, in the most loving way possible.

Love, Liz

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