Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
I am very sorry to know about this very sad and frustrating situation.
What you describe here is indeed a very serious personal issue your boyfriend has around respect, boundaries, limits, privacy, control and more being projected and deeply undermining your relatiosnhip.
You do have the right and need to keep your privacy for sure, and your social network and support system should not suffer or be undermined at all because of dating; they shouls be rather promoted.
Changes and adjustments to friendships and social life do happen for sure when you are in a committed relationship, but only as long as basic limits and boundaries are respected, and all the behaviors he presents and how he pushes you are very abusive and dysfunctional.
It makes sense why you feel the way you feel, and I believe that tolerating this type of abusive behaviors would only enable them even more, undermining your relationship and your mental health too.
Allowing him to control you this much would only show a very codependent, thus abusive and dysfunctional relationship, never promoting a healthy and mutually fulfilling experience for sure.
He's gotten better over the last 2 years, when we first got together he checked up on me constantly and went through my phone multiple times even though I asked him not to. He's stopped doing those things. But he refuses to consider the possibilty that this particular behavior is controlling and not ok. Now I'm questioning myself, AM i being secretive?
he has told me I'm "so secretive" before when I got annoyed that he was watching me write an email over my shoulder
I do not think so, I think you are being reasonable, but apparently your doubts and having allowed this for so long could point at the opposite, that you have tolerated too much from him, codependently enabling this abusive behaviors. It's very good that he has shown improvements, bu even after such changes, all the current issues he still presents are very serious.
I'm just so relieved to get an unbiased opinion . Sometimes I think the problems ARE with me and not him
I do believe that unless he truly work on resolving his personal issues around respect, control, trust and more, he would not be able to truly respect you nor to play a truly healthy and fulfilling role in your relationship.
I believe you, and that's what codependency could do, misleading the person to take responsibility about other people's behaviors, literally self-sabotaging
I think I need to pay you for high detail
he is so sweet in every other way, I love him and don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I've broken up with him multiple times over this but I always miss him and take him back
...exposing yourself to it even more. Since he has shown these serious issues this long and still unable to even acknowledge he how wrong they are, so to take full responsibility for them, I do not see how he could improve without professional psychological support.
It's very sad and frustrating
do you think we should go to couples counseling or separate?
I understand your dilemma but only you know how painful it feels
I believe he needs consistent individual psychotherapy to work on his personal issues, then he would be able to really benefit from couples counseling or psychotherapy. I do not suggest you to only do couples counseling , since it would not help him work on his personal issues. I think he needs to work on himself while working on the relationship with couples counseling.
Couples counseling effectiveness depends on how well each of you as individuals were able to play a healthy role in your relationship, that unless he is willing and able to do this work too on himself, no matter how hard you try, it would not work. But if he truly loves and cares about you, he would be able to admit these dysfunctions and abuse and his need for professional support.
Does it make sense?
yes it does, it help to know that the way he needs to know everything isn't normal and I'm not being "secretive". I realize I need to work on my own issues to figure out why I put up with this for so long. But I still question myself and I feel like he will twist it around to make it that it's still MY fault. Do you have any books that you recommend for him? ( I can find my own.)
"Codependent No More", is a very good book that could help both of you. coda.org has good information about codependency and directory of local support groups, which are always a very good and necessary complement individual and couples psychotherapy.
Any book on codependency would bring light promoting your insight about these dynamics, but only through adequate psychotherapy and work with objective feedback could allow you to implement real changes.
Remember that manipulation, denial, avoidance and justification are some core issues affecting the way you take good care of yourself and how this relationship evolved, and that's why objective support is so necessary.
ohhhhh. That makes sense. Ok thank you so much for your time and advice, it has helped me a lot.
You're very welcome. Thank you for your trust
Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or to follow up
since I am here willing to support you as possible
I will for sure. Such a relief to get an objective opinion. Thank you!