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How to Deal with a Jealous Boyfriend

Dear Philippa,

I've been seeing this great guy for about five months. Everything is perfect except for one thing. He is very possessive of me. When we go to parties he's ready to punch out any guy who just looks at me. Its nice to feel protected but he even gets upset if I wear something fun when I go out with the girls. I know his last girlfriend cheated on him. So, what should I do to reassure him that I'm not going to play around on him?

�Brenda, Chicago, IL

Dear Brenda,

Your letter really concerns me. The behavior you describe in your boyfriend sounds very unhealthy. Whatever the cause of his angst-whether its because his last relationship left him insecure or even if you do dress like Britney Spears when you're out with the girls-he has no right to control you. And control is the issue at the heart of all this jealousy and possessiveness.

Let's differentiate between your boyfriend's behavior and someone who is just a bit insecure. Let's call this insecure guy George. Now George may see other guys looking at you or talking with you at a party and feel a bit threatened. But George doesn't make a big deal about it. He just goes over to you as you are talking to some guy and puts his arm around you and joins the conversation. He's letting the other guy know that you are taken. That's OK behavior.

You are preparing to go out with the girls to a strip club for someone's birthday. George is a bit uncomfortable about the beefcake performance and he notices that you're wearing a mini skirt and a low top. He would rather see you dressed like a nun for this event where things can get pretty wild. George shows a lustful response to your sexy outfit, holds you close, and lets you know how special you are to him. He then tells you with sincere concern that he wouldn't want any guys to think that your hot outfit gives them license to push themselves on you. This way you get the message and can decide if you want to wear a different top or skirt. If you don't voluntarily change your outfit he might tell you again that he is really worried about your safety late at night without him.

Then you both could discuss the issue as equals and he would have to accept your opinion and your right to wear whatever you want.

But your boyfriend sounds like he has overstepped the bounds of concern into the area of control. And that is what concerns me and should concern you. The kind of behavior you describe your boyfriend exhibiting can escalate into more and more controlling conduct and ultimately extend to stalking and physical abuse.

The fact that your boyfriend is showing this behavior so soon in the relationship is a good sign. I hear too many horror stories about people who have relationships that seem normal until they marry or move-in with someone and the other person turns into a green-eyed monster.

Now at least you have the facts and you can weigh the dangers against the value of staying in this relationship. I wonder if his ex girlfriend really cheated on him or if he just convinced himself that she did. I'd like to hear her story.

I've never told anyone in this column to end a relationship because I don't know all the dynamics of their situation. That is something for readers to decide for themselves. But, my dear, my instincts are shouting out on this one. Value yourself enough to see that you deserve a loving, healthy relationship where overly suspicious jealousy has no place. Take control and protect yourself before things get worse.

�Philippa

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