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Caring and helpful...or making me reliant?(105 Posts)
I just wondered your take on this. I have been in my relationship for almost two years. It still feels pretty new. We had some early issues for various reasons. But my main question is how you would feel if a man you didn't live with, often seemed to want to do most things for you?
I don't know if I am just being ungrateful/paranoid and he is being helpful and nice, more so than I am used to, as he is a very different guy to guys I used to date, or if in some way he is making me overly reliant on him. I can't believe he would intentionally be doing this, however.
Examples are I used to have a hobby and a different job and he was often insistent on giving me lifts there and back. I appreciated this sometimes but also felt a bit smothered as I am quite independent and like to walk rather than ride/drive to local places anyway. I told him this but he would still always ask and insist on giving me lifts. But if I said no it didn't really turn to arguments. But I just ended up feeling bad when I said no I want to walk etc.
Also whenever I want to do anything at home he wants to do it, though we don't live together. I was going to get somebody to do some decorating at some point (when I feel safe enough after lock down) no, he would "rather" do it than me get this local tradesman in for it. He didn't really push it too much (he pushed it a bit, however) or argue about it, but still. He didn't give a reason why. I was going to put up some other things in the house, no, he would rather do it and get involved with the sourcing and everything else.
I don't know, writing this down does make me feel a bit silly, I am just concerned I am somehow becoming overly reliant. Maybe I have a gut feeling but it may be paranoia due to my own history. We see each other too much for my liking (a topic I have broached before but we always end up going back to the same old patterns). Perhaps it is more that I am just more independent than he realises. He is older than me and also seems to often want to take on this protector carer role in the relationship, which I know isn't too healthy, and I do get fed up some times with that and feel a bit condescended to sometimes.
I know a lot of men show love by their actions and like to do things but I don't know why... There is something that I am paranoid about or that irritates me a tiny bit about it.
Am I worrying about nothing and just ungrateful?
I appreciate all advice and responses! May take a while to reply as I have so much to get on with today and tonight! thank you
The thing that I am most interested in here is the reason why you feel bad when you say say no to him . I think this is important. If it's because you're a people pleaser and you don't want to disappoint others then you need to address that and work on that , this will help you in all sorts of ways. If you feel bad because of some reaction from hi, he's showing disappointment or pressurising you in quiet ways to go along with what he wants ... Then this is a problem. So think back to the times you've said no and try and work out the root of your negative feelings when you do this.
I don't know... Do you always have to say no to doing something more than once..
That does sound smothering as well. And maybe... Invalidating? Like he hasn't registered or cared about your answer the first time?
I might be way off the mark but it's sounds more like he's trying to control who you see and what you do. What were the problems at the beginning of the relationship?
Didn't want a man in to help decorate, probably wants to check out who shares Yr hobbies with you. What's he like about you seeing other people and nights out
What bothers me is his insistence on giving you lifts. What might be viewed as a nice gesture could actually be a controlling streak starting to come out. He might be insisting on taking you there and back because he doesn't want you to be able to go anywhere or do anything on your own. He'll tell you that he wants to protect you and look after you. What he won't tell you is that he is protecting what he views as his property from the attentions of other men.
What did you learn about relationships when you were growing up?.
What is this man's relationship history like?
This man knows what he is doing and he has a lot of red flags about him. This is controlling behaviour from him and as a result of that, this relationship should be at an end. This from him is abusive behaviour, make no mistake about this.
He wants to keep tabs on all aspects of your life; both professional and personal and keep you in a cage of his own paranoid making. He wants you to become absolutely reliant on him and that will as a result make you easier to control.
He won't let go of you all that easily now that he has targeted you so you need to be strong and reaffirm your own self here. Then you absolutely must block him on all channels from being able to contact you. Thankfully you do not live with him so this will make it easier for you to call it a day with him.
Do read "Why does he do that?" written by Lundy Bancroft. This article too may also be of interest to you:-
You do not owe this man anything let alone a relationship and if you are unhappy anyway that is good reason to end it.
I would feel patronised by the behaviour, as if he doesn’t trust my judgement on e.g. selecting a decorator etc. It’s like he’s trying to muscle his way in, and dictate. I also worry that he’s trying to make you reliant/enmeshed with him, before you know it he’s moved in and controlling everything. I would really e contemplating whether the two of you are compatible as what his agenda is in “insisting” on “nice” things that look innocent like lifts. Look up love bombing.
Your're not living together so you don't really need to consult him over what you are going to do, if you want trademan in, give them call and arrange it you don't need to take him up on his offer. You don't want to see him as much so say you are busy, it may lead to him feeling a bit pushed out but you don't want to feel controlled by him.
Ok. Obviously this has you on your guard, so if you are not sure about carrying on this relationship with him, just try the following.
Draw a line in sand, and stick to it. If he pesters you about things like decorating, and tries to make you feel guilty about not letting him run the show, then end it.
He seems controlling to me - a man who is used to being a dominant and what he says, goes. If you show him where your boundaries are, and he manages to make it all about him (which might include silent treatment, guilt tripping, sulking) then obviously, it isn't about being nice or helping you at all. It's about him, his feelings, and his will to control and dominate the things he wants to. He will not respect your boundaries because his wants come first.
It's YOUR damn house. Not his. Yours. You can get anyone you like to decorate for you, and that's that. I'm a bit concerned because this could be a man that is trying to lessen your contact with other men and keep an eye one you. Hence the lift giving situation and the fact he wants to decorate your place himself, known that the tradesperson will be likely be male.
If he is someone sinister, expect him to question why you need a hobby in the first place, to insist that he accompanies you everywhere, to be suspicious about who you're talking to on a daily basis. Expect alienation. I'm sure many of the women on here have a lot of experience with regards to this.
It does sound like the start of controlling behaviour but... it might not be.
I would trust my gut to be honest.
But if you want give it a go then you need to get far more assertive and you need to lay some ground rules.
HIM - I'm giving you a lift.
YOU - No thanks for the offer. I'm walking. I will see you later.
HIM - Any argument at all.
YOU - I said no. You need to respect MY decision
YOU - I'm getting a decorator
HIM - No. I'd rather do it.
YOU - Thanks for the offer but I trust this guy implicitly and he is doing it.
HIM - any argument at all.
YOU - HE is doing it. You need to respect MY decision.
Stand your ground.
Do not be railroaded!
he was often insistent on giving me lifts there
he would "rather" do it than me get this local tradesman in for it
We see each other too much for my liking (a topic I have broached before but we always end up going back to the same old patterns)
This isn't you being over reliant. This is you trying to assert your boundaries and him ignoring them. I agree with pp that he sounds controlling.
Thank you so much for the quick responses everyone! I will try to respond as much as I can now, before I get busy with my work and other things later (but I still welcome any further advice even if I can’t reply again for a while!)
I don’t think of myself as a people pleaser really but I do have a thing about always feeling guilty for anything! He does sometimes react not really badly, but in ways that I can find uncomfortable (can’t think of any examples at the moment)
Yes I have had to say no to something more than once. Like telling him a few times before about the lifts. He always says I just want to help, don’t want you thinking I am not offering. He does usually genuinely seem to be offering out of kindness though. Doesn’t seem really like ill intent
Yes I do really find some of it smothering. I have always preferred relationships where I had more time to myself (this is why I loved having a few long distance relationships) where I didn’t actually have someone offering me lifts and things all the time, etc, even though some people might quite like that.
the problems at the beginning were hard to explain. We just argued a lot. We were getting used to each other. I was getting used to a man totally different to my exs. Unfortunately I was also still recovering from another relationship break up and other life problems so I know it was stupid of me to get into a new one. I am not sure he enjoys it when I am assertive and perhaps that shocked him at the start.
He has not had a problem with me going out at all. Obviously past few months not much of that has been happening. However, I do have only a few friends. I am quite a homebody and do not go out a huge deal, anyway, to begin with (although I would actually like to increase friends)
This is what I was worried about but didn’t know if it was just my paranoia as it does really seem to come from a good place when he offers. But it does feel smothering sometimes at the least.
I am not sure it is that bad but yes, I have had problematic relationships in the past.
He was single for quite a while. He is older and perhaps just “old fashioned” about some things in a way (hate to use that phrase).
It doesn’t come across as controlling though really. Like I said about the decorator thing, he pushed it a little, but we didn’t argue. We just kind of left it.
I am not sure he wants to keep tabs though. He doesn’t mind when I (not very often) go out. He doesn’t want to see my phone or check social media or anything horrendous like that. I think he could be co-dependent in some way himself. I only have a few friends and he has even less. Not much of a social outlet etc.
I know that I at least need to be more assertive and not get trod down. I do feel I have lost some of my assertiveness in some way, hard to explain.
Yes I do feel patronised sometimes by him. And I am worried about him making me reliant yes, that is why I made this post! So I guess that might confirm my worry.
I don't know... It could be a guy who just tries too hard ( I used to know someone like that , but there wasn't a bad bone in his body, although now I'm thinking about it)... The guy I am thinking of (relative), he was probably a bit of a people pleaser... Could that be a possibility? He's just really trying to make you happy because he is a people pleaser?
OP why are you dating him? From your posts you sound like you like space and independence yet you are dating a man that you find a bit smothering and condescending. What are his good points that outweigh what seem to be some quite fundamental differences between the 2 of you?
I think that you should listen to your feelings. A part of being independent is being able to think independently, and not be "made" to think differently, or to be reliant. If your feelings aren't positive, it is ok to finish with him without any kind of excuse or blame, just that it is not right for you. Analysing by others might tie you up in knots as being caring could be controlling or could be just nice, it is impossible to analyse. Think about how YOU feel. I am independent and I wouldn't want someone doing things for me all the time, and I would want them to listen first time. But some women would love it. So, to recap what he is doing isn't wrong, necessarily, it is just wrong for you. If you find yourself coming on mumsnet a lot to try to seek others to tell you what to do, try to start thinking about it for yourself a bit more, sit down and do lists or pros and cons and try to work out how YOU really feel. We can't tell you how you feel. And we can't tell you what you should feel. And there are some posters who see abuse in every man whether you have described it or not, and others who are the opposite, as I am sure you know. You need to start to work all this out for yourself. That way, you won't ever be "made" reliant by someone else.
How often do you see him and have you talked about a future?
This would drive me bonkers and I've been there so I really do sympathise...because it's a genuine issue but it's so hard to explain to people when all they see is someone doing nice things. I always felt it was difficult to bring up because he'd push it and then if I put my foot down (because he hadn't backed off) I'd get a wounded "I was only offering, I thought it was a nice thing to do". These things are nice. IF you wanted them and he offered them with no expectations and no upset if you said no thanks.
A PP is correct that it could be him subtly showing signs of displeasure or it could be you creating your own sense of feeling bad, but I'd argue either way this probably isn't the right relationship for you right now.
I do feel I have lost some of my assertiveness in some way, hard to explain.
Is that in general or in relation to him?
I do think you ought to look up love bombing.
Also it might just be that you have different expectations of a relationship and roles in them. You like a more independent approach and he may just be a bit “old school chivalry” that is a bit out of kilter now. It might explain his reaction to you asserting yourself.
Or he’s a chauvinistic arse.
I have had three serious relationships since leaving university and the men in all three love bombed, all three wanted to give me lifts, all three wanted to do sort of outstanding things to show they cared, all three were helpful, wanting to make me things to eat or drink and only ONE became abusive. The other two, long term relationships, no abuse whatsoever. The abusive one became very abusive. So I am not sure you would be able to get a pattern here. Lovebombing very early on, before you really know each other, can be a red flag, but lovebombing in a relationship generally and doing caring things according to my experience wouldn't be necessarily.
This is why my advice is very strongly that you must become aware of your own feelings here. You can come to the internet with posts about this sort of thing to try to get insights or perspectives, but in fact for this sort of thing the answers are just in one place, and that is inside you. You just need to be more aware of your own feelings to access the answers.
Hm could be red flags, could be him being old fashioned. Neither is great really. You need to let go of 'feeling bad' and have proper chat to explain this is not ok for you. See how he take the chat, if too defensive and refusing to accept he comes off
overbearing, I would let it go. It's nice to have someone wanting to do things to make your life easy, but too much can be overbearing and suffocating.
He thinks he's a 'nice guy' and is insisting on doing 'nice guy things' for you whether you like it or not. Nice guys think women do not know their own minds and are incapable of knowing what is good for them. Nice guys think their way is the only way, and wrap it up in 'niceness'.
Nice guys keep a tally of nice guy things they do. And nice guys expect payment for being a nice guy. Nice guys throw their nice guys actions in your face if you don't swoon at their nice guy actions and show continual ott appreciation of they're nice guyness.
Nice guys scare me. Lots of Incels and mysoginists think they're 'nice guys'. And get angry at women for not showing due appreciation.
@thingsdogetbetter I take it you don't like not nice guys either which means you basically don't like any men whatsoever? What about nice women, are they exactly the same as nice men, untrustworthy?
Thanks everyone, and apologies for late reply.
I know I need to figure out more what I want and what my feelings actually are.
I've had abusive relationships in the past so wonder if I am overly paranoid. The pretty good relationship I had, yes he did do kind things for me sometimes, but I feel the relationship went more slowly (was about 7 years) never really felt smothered or like we weren't equals, and he wasn't constantly offering, it was more like I would ask if I could have a one off lift one time and he would be happy to, not getting offered a lift pretty much most times I go anywhere.
But he is attractive and funny and kind and I don't know I have always had this slight confusion which I haven't had with other relationships.
He does sometimes get a bit awkward and defensive when I try to say no to these things.
It is funny you mention "nice guy" as he said a few times early on that he was a nice guy. I did find that weird at the time, who actually says that.
I don't know, I know I am confused and need to figure it out for myself rather than just asking you helpful strangers online! I just know I feel smothered and condescended sometimes, and in some way feel I am not as assertive as I was, probably because I want to avoid blazing arguments which we had a lot of for a while.
Hope this post isn't too rambling!
He does occasionally apologize but yes sometimes defensive and doesn't realise he is overbearing. One of the issues at the start was feeling a little intimidated by him during arguments due to him being huge in comparison to me, nothing more really, and my experience, but when I tried to explain that to him apart from one time when he got upset (like teary, in a nice way) the rest of the time he said it was my fault because of still being bothered by my past, that I react to his stature that way. If that makes sense. Though we haven't had that issue in a while, not as many arguments now.
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