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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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Is this abusive or am I overreacting?

This answer was rated:

Is this abusive or am I overreacting?
Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

I believe that I can help because I clearly understand abusive behavior. Perhaps you wrote a description of what behavior your are discussing but it does not appear on this question or any of your history. Only the question about your refrigerator.

Please take your time and describe your situation in detail and I shall give you a detailed response with recommendations.

Warm regards,

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Elliott,


my fiance and I have been together for 2 yrs. In the beginning he did some things that I felt were red flags. He went through my phone when I was out of the room, and when I told him that wasn't normal and to please not do it again, he kept doing it. When I was in a room alone, like taking care of "girlie maintenance" in the bathroom, he would barge in and then act like he didn't know I was in there. I put up with it because he was so gentle and affectionate and we had so much fun together. He also checked in with me more than any other guy I've ever been with, and would pout if I didn't answer right away because I was at work. He watched over my shoulder when I wrote emails. He didn't like me talking to my best (male) friend, so I pretty much stopped that. He doesn't like me to show too much skin. I've changed so many things about myself for him, which I know is something that has to happen to an extent in a relationship, but he's never secure that I want to be with him. He finally has stopped needing to know where I am every second, and he doesn't go thru my phone or email as far as I know. I got a package in the mail the other day and I didn't want to tell him what it was because it was slightly embarrasing and private and nothing to do with him. He can't let it go, and has asked me at least 4 times since then. I told him he's being invasive and he turns it on me and say's "Fine, keep your secrets" like I'm being secretive. Is this normal jealousy? Does this qualify as abusive or am I being dramatic? He won't even consider the possibility that it IS abusive. I need an objective opinion. Sorry so long.

Dear friend,

Sorry I took so long to respond. I was finishing up with another client.

There are definitely some red flags here, meaning that this relationship might face many hardships due to his jealous and demanding nature.

You have not described other paranoid traits but I shall neverthesless list the criteria for Paranoid Personality Disorder just to be certain:

Diagnostic criteria for 301.0 Paranoid Personality Disorder

A. A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

(1) suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her

(2) is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates

(3) is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her

(4) reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events

(5) persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights

(6) perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack

(7) has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner

B. Does not occur exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia, a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, or another Psychotic Disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition.

If does seem that he has several of these characteristics. It is hard to tell without a face-to-face assessment, if he does meet the criteria for four or more or thesem criteria, but it is possible.

It could be explained by low-self esteem, and possible because of issues of abandonment in childhood or in earlier relationships.

Diagnosing him is really secondary and is not the point here.

The point is whether or not he is abusing you?

If you are not sure, and his actions are disturbing to you and interfere with your normal day to day functioning, then you are being emotionally abused.

One definition from of emotional abuse from Psychology Today (don't have issue number, just kept it in my notes) is:

"any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth."

I think that this passes the definition of the acts (some of the) and the consequences for you.

This is why the warning bells have rung for you.

If you are capable of backing him off, and he is capable of change, then you have an opportunity to improve your relationship.

If this is more personality disorder than self-esteem issues, than it may be more difficult.

I don't know how he will react to a gift of these two workbooks, so consider carefully. If you have the in hand, however, he may peruse them and may even learn something:

Product Details

Overcoming Paranoid and Suspicious Thoughts: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Daniel Freeman


Product Details

The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi

I wish you great success.

Warm regards,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you