Dear Anne…..I’m 18 years old and have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 5 months, who is 19. Our arguing is so bad, and I feel like we are married. He has had a hard past, and comes from a family where he raised himself practically. Everyone he has known has let him down somehow, and women have lied to him. At least this is the excuse he gives me. Myself on the other hand, I come from a family where both parents have always been there, and for that I am very fortunate. The first couple of months of the relationship were wonderful. We had so many fun times and finally, things turned pretty serious. For the last 3 months, all he has been doing is obsessively accusing me of being a liar, and he can’t trust me. I don’t recall doing anything that could have made things come to this, and he says I haven’t, yet he still has it in his head that he can’t trust. He really wants to change this, and work on things because he wants us to stay together. And of course, if he can’t trust me eventually, we will have to go our separate ways. He has this constant fear of me leaving or breaking his heart, and I’m trying to prove myself to him, which is becoming extremely hard. I’ve loved him enough to come this far, and things have gotten a little better since I gave him an ultimatum. I try really hard to do nice things for him, and to make him know he’s deeply cared for. I just wish I could understand more on how to deal with this, and how to find a better solution. I would greatly appreciate your help.
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Have you ever heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy? A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when someone creates the very situation that they are most afraid of, by trying to keep what they are afraid of from happening. Your boyfriend is acting out a self-fulfilling prophecy, from what I can tell. He has been abandoned before, and is trying to avoid the hurt of what he imagines is the only possible outcome (you abandoning him) by not trusting you, and by keeping his distance from you by reminding himself of what a ‘liar’ you are. In the process he is sabotaging your mutual relationship. It is noble of you (and oh such a young-woman sort of thing to do) to want to ‘save’ this boy. But I’ll bet you that trying to prove to him how trustworthy and sweet you are will get stale soon enough (if it hasn’t happened already). You may be both sweet and trustworthy, but you are human too, and you will want good treatment from him before long. He’s setting you up to get frustrated with him, and then leave him. If you keep trying to prove yourself to him, you’ll want to leave him. Instead, try telling him about his self-fulfilling prophecy behavior, and then ask him (in a nice way) to cut the self-pity crapola and act loving towards you instead.