Dear Miss Emily,

Please help!  I have been with my boyfriend going on two years now, and living together for a year.  I am 25 and he is 31. He had 2 failed marriages prior to meeting me. When I first met him, he was just so charming and I couldn’t understand why both marriages didn’t work out. But as time passed, I began to see what probably caused this.  He has some major trust issues going on and, to me, it kinda seems like a control issue also. I love him and, for the most part, he's been pretty good to me, except in certain areas. I guess I should've known, because 2 months into the relationship, he started sneaking and looking through my phone. I don’t have anything to hide at all but I think that is so disrespectful and an invasion of my privacy. I did have 2 really good male friends that I have known years before I even met him, and they are truly nothing but friends. He would get mad and start accusing me of things, even if he just read something that said "Hey, how are you?" I don't even talk to them anymore because of him. He also has gone so far as to put some kinda of spy thing on the computer to break into my Myspace. One time, I was actually texting my sister and he was in the room, so it wasn't like I was trying to hide anything, and he went so far as to forcefully take my phone from me so that he could read the messages (he thought that I was texting a guy). He has even woken me up out of my sleep after sneaking through my phone to ask me about a message(which was a message from a girlfriend), and the only reason he thought it was a guy is because the number was not programmed into my phone (she was using her boyfriend’s phone). And when he questions me about stuff like this, I tell him the truth. In that case, it was a girl friend that he has even met before, and he was angry and said that I was lying, which is what he always says. Also, he is always accusing me of cheating on him, even for no reason. I have never ever cheated on him, or even given him a reason to think that I was!  I never really go anywhere unless it’s with him and I’m not even working right now because of an injury. He always apologizes and says its not gonna happen anymore, but it always does. When I ask him why he’s doing this, ,and if I’m not showing him enough love, but he says that’s not it and its mainly because he's been done wrong in the past.  I always try to explain to him that I’m not those women and that no relationship can work without trust. And he always says that he will work on it but all these things keep happening.  Recently, we were out getting something to eat, and he said that he'd left something at home. So we went back home to get it, but I stayed in the car. He was in the house longer then it would take to just grab something. But I gave him the benefit of a doubt, because I figured he probably misplaced it and was looking for it. I had left my phone in the house to charge, and turns out he was in there looking at it. When he came back to the car, his whole attitude had changed. From the past experiences, I knew what was wrong. You see, he accuses me of changing guys names into girls. And he read a conversation from my childhood best friend(a girl) just saying that she wanted to try to send me a plane ticket b/c she lives out of state, and we haven't seen each other in so long. Well, of course, he thought it was a guy and there was a big argument. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't want me even communicating with anyone but him.  I get interrogated for the smallest things, even down to why I put a certain layout on my Myspace. And it always boils down to him thinking I probably did it for some other guy or something. Sometimes when he comes home, he'll be looking around on the furniture and floor like he’s looking for a indication that a guy has been there.  And if he sees the smallest mark, I get questioned.  He says that he trust me but his actions are proving otherwise.  Most of the time they say that when someone is like this that its because they are cheating, but I don't think this is the case.  I trust him as far as not cheating, because I couldn’t be with someone I didn’t trust.  He never really goes anywhere w/o me, that I know of, unless it is to work..  Sometimes he'll tell me that some of his friends are going out, and they asked him to come, but he never goes.  He says he just wants to be around me.  I do love him and want to be with him, and would never cheat.  But no matter how much I try to show and tell him that I love him (even though he "says" that he knows this), it never seems good enough in his mind.  This is really putting a huge strain on our relationship. Am I being unreasonable for wanting my privacy respected? And do you think he'll ever really change or is he just stuck in his ways?
Scared
------------------------Miss Emily’s advice----------------

Dear Scared:

No, you are no being unreasonable for wanting your privacy respected.  And no, I do not think he will ever change.  He is not just "struck in his ways” however, he’s a twisted, control freak, who is, without a doubt, abusive.  You know, I’m always amazed when I read a letter like this.  I find myself believing that all women know the signs of a dangerously abusive relationship, and wouldn’t even ask the questions you have asked.  But it’s a sad truth that women are often victims of abusers, and either think the abuser will change, or end up feeling that they have to change to appease the abuser. You have laid out a serious condition in what you consider a relationship, but I consider a captor/prisoner relationship.  And why?  Well, he monitors your correspondence, he is suspicious of you for no reason, and he is limiting your contact with the outside world by making unfounded accusations.  The abusive male is like the alcoholic in many respects.  They are driven by an inner demon that takes them through a cycle of abuse, repentance and, then, denial, only to be repeated it ad infinitum. Two failed marriages by the age of 31, speaks volumes.  He’s young enough, where he was able to let the other women in his life go, before his control issues became so obsessive that he will no longer allow another woman to leave him.  This is what I would do.  Find out any information you can on abusive relationships.  Do no use your computer.  He monitors it, and this could mean trouble.  You don’t seem to be too lucky with your cell phone, either, so I would borrow one, and then call an Abuse Hot-line (listed in the yellow pages) and tell them what you have told me.  If you don’t get out of this relationship soon, your life may be in danger.  I know, you think he could never do that to you.  But abuse escalates.  If he begins to physically abuse you, you may find yourself a virtual slave to him.  It is insidious, and you become totally powerless.  Act now, before it’s too late.  And above all, do not fall into the trap when he says, "I can change."   Be very careful, and let me know what happens.  I care.