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is he trying to change me or is this just compromise?

I've never actually had this experience before. I've dated a number of people before and they have all been very nice, and kind, and respectful of me. I've been dating a new guy for about 7 months and have been increasingly aware of some things that bother me.

He thinks that relationships require compromise, which I agree with, but he thinks that means changing personality characteristics. When I get excited about some sort of topic or conversation, sometimes I'll interject something into a conversation like, 'that's awesome' or something like that. I know it's interrupting, but that's all it is, and I don't do it often. He claims it's personally offensive to be interrupted like that and that it means that I'm trying to claim power and take over the conversation because I'm not interested in what he's saying. He also claims that when he's been talking and stops, I think he's done, and reply. He gets really angry and upset about this and then it's a whole afternoon of him pouting and me feeling chastised like a kid.

He's also said that he doesn't like when I tell him about things that've happened in the past, people, places, because they're not about him and he just isn't interested.

I have some residual hyper vigilance from some things that have happened in the past. I always tell people I'm dating what triggers it, like loud sounds, etc. He's the only person who has ever picked on me for it. When I explained why (which is a difficult topic for me to talk about). He sat there, and didn't say anything, no acknowledgment that he had heard me, no affirmation that he understood what I said, really, just nothing. He thinks he is being exceptionally accommodating when I say I have a personal boundary or don't like it when he wants to do something like grope me frequently, even after I tell him I don't like it. He argued that since we're dating, I need to compromise with him, for example even if I don't like it when he pinches my butt, I should just let him because he likes it. If he wants to have sex and I'm just not in the mood (and I am in the mood a lot of the time, so this isn't frequent) he seems to think I should feel entitled to do it anyways because we're dating. He explained that if he goes more than a few days he gets tense and crabby and he knows it's not fair. I've never dated anyone who used not getting sex as an excuse for mean behavior. Sometimes he says he understands, but then he proceeds to guilt me about it.

When we disagree about things it's like there's a double standard. I'll be upset and tell him about it, and he turns into a cold brick wall and starts talking immediately about things I do that bother him. When he gets upset, he gets angry and aggressive, and calls me all sorts of nasty names and accuses me of completely unrelated insulting things. I know everyone deals with conflict differently, but in all my relationships in the past, we were at the very least respectful of each other. His favorite comeback if I don't want to do something he wants to do is that I'm making excuses again and he doesn't want to hear them, even if I think they're legitimate reasons. For example, I've experienced some trauma in the past and I can't sleep someplace I don't feel safe. He wanted to go camping by the side of a freeway because he didn't want to drive anymore, and accused me of always having an excuse to not compromise and do what he wants. If I don't want to do something, I can't just say no directly, because he says no makes him feel rejected, I have to come up with some other way of saying it. For some reason it's a power dynamic imbalance, somehow he relates everything to power dynamic.

When I try to bring these things up, he says I'm always telling him that he's wrong and never taking the blame. I don't think that's really fair in the instance of not feeling safe. He also doesn't believe that 2 people can have a disagreement and it can just not be anyone's fault, he always has to be able to assign blame.

He's also told me that he really likes me, but there are things he just doesn't want to know about me. Also, when I talk about mutual acquaintances who I think or worry about sometimes who are sick or working though some issues, he accuses me of being negative, even though he admits he goes on angry rants about things frequently. He's pointed out several behaviors that I have that bother him. It's easier to just modify them than put up with the pouting. He also isn't very complimentary, every once in a while he'll say things like he likes me or I know he thinks I'm attractive, but it's so infrequent I don't really believe him. If I ask him to do something nice for me, it's like he keeps track and will say that I should recognize that he did this thing even though I might not have wanted to do some unrelated thing previously. And niceness always has to be on the level. If he does something nice, it's like he'll cash it in and ask for something referencing that thing later (usually the same day). In retrospect, there are a lot of behaviors I've changed in the last few months, not because I think they were rude or bad, but because it's just easier than dealing with him getting angry about them. He says these sorts of things just happen in relationships, people compromise. But somehow I feel like he's been conditioning me by negative reinforcement. Given the ways in which he doesn't want me to speak, the things he doesn't want to hear or talk about, I feel like he's trying to turn me into a smaller truncated version of myself that he'll like more.

When he is nice and we get along we do have fun, and it's nice. After he started telling me about behaviors of mine he didn't like and explaining that all relationships require compromise, I did start thinking. He suggested that I'd just been in relationships before where people gave in to what I wanted more than normal and I wasn't used to compromise. I don't really think this is true, I've been in a few very good and caring relationships where there was compromise, but never a feeling like we didn't like or care for each other for who we were.

So, in a very large nut shell (sorry, this is cathartic, I'm in a small community and am a bit embarrassed to be in a situation where I feel this way, I'm usually pretty empowered) is this normal. Do couples usually compromise like this and I've just had angelic partners who have been exceptionally accommodating, or is he wrong and trying to warp my reality to make me think that I'm being unreasonable not giving him what he wants. Has anyone else had this experience? And advice, opinions, anything please.
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replied November 7th, 2010
Community Volunteer
Hi MollyB63....I question what fun a relationship can be with differences such as the two of you already experience...IMO, when you have to work to make it get better so that the two of you can get along, then you have a problem...

I guess one of the reasons that I fell head over heels in love with my husband was that we were so alike...You see after marriage is when you have the work...Take care...

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replied November 20th, 2016
After reading your story, it pretty much sounded like what I was living. I rebelled hence our problems ensued, However, I felt that over time he would just accept me for who I was when he realized what he was trying to do. He was always groping and wanting to make out (all the time) even after I expressed that I would like for him to cut it in half. (we are in our late 50's) I could not have "me" time as he would get upset that I didn't want to always be with him, I could not see friends, I had to answer texts and phone calls immediately or had to listen to complaining, he criticized my music, my tv programs, the amount of time I wanted to see my kids (he basically wanted to isolate me) he started becoming short tempered at the smallest things, he wouldn't trust me even though I never gave him a reason not to. He started having a problem with the way I dressed. His reasoning for all of this was that I wasn't doing what was needed to keep him in his comfort zone (which means you need to do what I say) I always asked what about my comfort zone? I asked him for months to trust me and accept me for who I am. I always told him all I am asking for was to be in control of myself with making my own choices and decisions about myself. I had begun pulling away and insisting that I could not go on like this unless things changed. He obviously couldn't so in the end, he became angry and said "I can't take someone like you" and broke things off. He left with the idea in his mind that I was the problem. I am old enough to recognize this for what it was (controlling & insecurity) but always give things a try. I know that me just wanting to be who I am is not the problem. It's him trying to make me someone I'm not is where the problem lies. I'm much better now as I felt as though I was released from shackles and was once again myself without turmoil. You will too.
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