His 'considerate' is her 'controlling'

His 'just be considerate' is her 'he's so controlling'

Q: My girlfriend of two-and-a-half years works as a payroll accountant. I am self-employed.

We have conflicts over her communicating when, approximately, she is leaving work for home or to come to my house. I ask her mid- to late afternoon to give me a heads-up when she thinks she will leave the office, and she takes offense . . . telling me she is "in the corporate world" and things change. I told her she can give me a heads-up later if it changes.

I just want to know when we will be seeing each other, as that gives me an idea what last-second projects I can complete and be on time at her place or mine. Also, I want details — where we will have dinner, etc.

Once she asked a co-worker, and he said if we don't have plans with other people, then she shouldn't worry about communicating with me.

It is an ongoing argument that doesn't seem to stop . . . I just want her to be considerate, that is all. She says I am controlling and she doesn't have to "answer" to me. Any suggestions?

J.

A: Yes. Stop asking for her ETA. She's right, you've crossed the line into controlling.

She's wrong, too, to be using a colleague as leverage. While it can be healthy to compare notes on your relationship with others — since the alternative is isolation, the perfect environment for abuse to take hold — it's inexcusably childish to announce to one's friend or mate, "X agrees with me that you're being (whatever)." Either you own it as your viewpoint — "I think you're being (whatever)" — or you make it clear you're still turning things over in your mind. "It looks to me like you're being (whatever), but I'd like to hear your side." There is no place for the "everyone agrees with me" panel of friends in any adult discussion.

But I digress. The reasons your behavior has crossed over from planning to controlling are your refusal to take "no" for an answer and belief that you're justified in pressuring her to change her behavior to your liking.

Your girlfriend doesn't feel comfortable giving you a fixed time, yet you press for what you "just want."

Understanding her reason for resisting matters more than just getting what you want. If you suspect she's hiding something from you, then this is about a lack of trust, not a lack of consideration. Leashing her won't make or keep her honest.

If she has a genuinely busy and unpredictable job, then this is about a lack of respect — yours, for her work culture.

If she is a natural people-pleaser and sees even a vague prediction of her departure time as pressure, then this is about both of you needing to know each other, and yourselves, a lot better. It means your finding your own way through your workday, without pegging your day to her evening. And, it means her admitting openly that she struggles with holding boundaries, like "I can't predict when I'll finish, and it's a nuisance when you keep asking me to." End of running debate.

If you're not sure which of these applies, at least know that you can't make her do things your way — you can only make both of you miserable trying.

His 'considerate' is her 'controlling' 09/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 5:30am]

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