Am I controlling?

I don’t want my partner to go to ladies’ night without telling me – is that so wrong? 

Not at all, says our elder. You deserve to be treated with honesty and respect.


Dear EWC

Hello, I have been in a five-year relationship with a man 16 years older than me. I am 28. I do not tell anyone what they can and cannot do but I am starting to feel as though things that make me uncomfortable may be controlling. For example, my significant other disappeared for the night. I knew he was going out but he gave me no details. I think details should be given without having to ask. I received a message from a friend late in the evening that he was at a country club bar. That bar happened to be having ladies’ night as well. Where it gets difficult and I question myself is that I did not mind that he was out with a friend and wanted him to enjoy himself, what I did mind is he went to a bar hosting ladies’ night and did not tell me he was going there. When I confronted him, he lied about his whereabouts which also made me angry. I told him I felt it was disrespectful to go to a bar that is having ladies’ night without me. Is it controlling to want to know where my partner is going on an outing with friends? Is it controlling to not want him to go out to ladies’ night with his friends? Ladies’ night specifically.


Mr.Bill replies

Thanks for writing to us, and posing this interesting question in your relationship. Let me answer your question right away, then I’ll share a few other thoughts with you.

No, from what you have written here, I don’t think you are controlling. Not at all. You are concerned about some things, things that bother you. I think you are justified in those concerns and they may reflect the needs for what might have to come next in your relationship.

My other thoughts… You mention that you would like details when your partner goes out, and that you should be given them, without having to ask. I agree. It is only polite, courteous, and sensitive to share with your partner of five years where you are going and what you are doing. That is, if it is a partnership, not simply two people, together, living independently of one another. Like roommates. 

You write that you are in a five-year relationship. I think I know what that means, but I certainly don’t know the details, like the living arrangements, or any agreements you two have. It seems obvious that you fell in love and have been together over these five years. That establishes a relationship that implies commitment and support and understanding and sharing and much, much more. At least it should

You also write that there is a 16 year difference in your ages. Five years together is a long time, and you were 21 when this relationship began. He was 37. A difference that can be bridged, but at 37 he had had many more life experiences and impactful relationships and times, more than you at 21. Now, at your 28 and his 42, you are still a young woman. He is approaching middle age if he hasn’t already reached it. 

If I remember my human development correctly, there are different needs and phases at these two periods in life. Regardless of those differences, if you two are “together”, you both will have to understand each other and work together to continue this relationship. If it is to continue at all. You want him to have a good time, be with friends. But you have needs and a desire to know what he is doing. That seems to me to be a realistic expectation after five years. And for sure, when you ask him about it, for this relationship to be solid and continue on, you deserve the truth. 

As I wrote, there are many important elements to a supportive and mutually satisfying relationship. Honesty, sharing, and consideration are certainly three of those. I also wrote that if this relationship is to continue, you both will have to make an effort, and work at its success. Given the age differences, maybe even focused on that if the difference did not exist. But, attention to the relationship is critical. 

No, I don’t think you are being controlling, but I do think your partner could do better to include you and share with you and to be honest. If that isn’t happening, and if he won’t or can’t, or even listen and understand your concerns, there may be an important, significant decision to be made here. 

That’s my thinking. I hope it helps, and if you have reactions or questions about anything I’ve written, please don’t hesitate to write back and share them. I’ll be thinking about you, and hope things go well for you in your relationship. Five years is a long time and certainly enough time to establish a solid foundation. But any relationship has to be paid attention to and there must be constantly building on the foundation. Especially a relationship with a significant age difference, such as yours, where, as the years go by, the differences are going to be even more impactful.

Article #: 501061
Category: Dating/Relationship

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