Dear Rachel,

I have been dating for a long time. I am almost thirty years old, and I would really like to get married. I was starting to lose all hope that I would ever find someone, when I met Ethan six months ago. From the beginning he was attentive and kind. He seemed very in tune to my needs, and would buy wonderful presents. The first few months of our relationship were nice. However, I am starting to get very concerned about things.

I noticed that he likes things done his way. Meaning, eating out at his favorite place, at the time he wants; we only go to the movies he wants; etc. He also wants to know where I am if we are not spending time together. He’ll call my cell phone every ten minutes, and gets upset if I don’t answer. I hardly see my friends anymore, and I am beginning to feel very isolated. Also, I started to notice that he has an anger problem. He’s never directed it at me, but I see more and more his low tolerance for frustration, and how quick he is to lash out and throw things. I am hesitant to leave, as it took me so long to find him, and he keeps telling me how much he loves me, but, sometimes I get really scared. What should I do?



Dear Z.D.,

Some of the things that you have described are more than just a little concerning for meThis sounds like a very serious situation that you are in. It is understandable why you felt so good when you met this man who was willing to give you so much attention. It is confidence-building and exciting when we are on the receiving end of such lavish attention. However, some of the things that you have described are more than just a little concerning for me.

An essential part of any relationship is that the man and the woman have a relationship based on mutual trust, respect, kindness and understanding. From what you have described above, I am quite concerned that these elements are missing.

No one should ever feel scared when they are in a healthy relationship. There is a strong Torah commandment to love another like yourself. This philosophy is what helps keep relationships healthy and strong. All the more so does one violate that commandment when they instill fear in one with whom they are sharing a relationship. No one ever has the right to make you feel scared, isolated and alone.

You have mentioned a few points that indicate to me that this relationship is heading towards abusiveness. The way that you emphasized “his way,” and that he is taking great measures to keep you away from favored activities and friends, indicates that he is trying to isolate you, which makes it easier for him to control you.

The most important thing, which I cannot emphasize enough, is that you should cut off the relationship immediately. He may ask why, and I would not offer him much information as to the reasons why you feel the relationship is not working out. The more information you offer him, the more ways he can find to apologize and try to manipulate you into re-entering a relationship with him. Just let him know that you don’t feel that the two of you are compatible for your own personal reasons, and that you feel it would be better if you ended the relationship.

If, at any time, he makes you feel afraid, or you fear that he may turn violent, then you should turn to your local police station or social services agency to help you find a secure shelter where you can stay until the situation is resolved. There are professionals there who will guide you and help you both emotionally and physically. They will also help you find a therapist who specializes in women recovering from these types of relationships, or you may be able to join a support group, which you may find even more helpful in meeting women who have emerged from this type of relationship and become even stronger.

By developing yourself personally, you will be able to find your own inner strengthFrom the opening tone of your letter, I got the feeling that you were starting to get desperate to find someone. Unfortunately, this is a good match for someone who is looking for someone to control. When you find a therapist, I would also encourage you to talk to him or her about healthy relationships and building your own self-confidence. By developing yourself personally, you will be able to find your own inner strength and positive attributes that will help you feel good about yourself. By shining with these feel-good feelings, this will help you find a stable, healthy person with which to have a relationship.

Make an extra effort to reconnect with your friends. They can be an excellent source of support and guidance during a potentially scary and isolating time. They will be able to help keep you grounded and secure in the decisions that you need to make.

These types of challenges that people face are often the toughest to overcome. But I am sure that with the right support, you will be able to emerge from this situation a healthier, happier person. I want to wish you a lot of luck in your journey.