Bully boyfriend = bully husband

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I started dating a guy while I was in college. He can be unkind and has called me names like stupid, greedy, or insecure.

I believed him. But I also excused him by saying he was just mad or I must’ve really upset him.

He’s super smart and became an engineer. He makes great money.

I always thought I was smart until I met him and he convinced me that I wasn’t. I didn’t finish school, but I’m proud of the medical field I work in.

Just when I was about to break up with him, he asked me to marry him.

I told him how I felt about the things he said to me. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. Then he got mad at me and walked away.

He hasn’t called me in four days, but he’s done this before. He won’t speak to me for days and then he acts like nothing happened.

My girlfriend said I’m being too sensitive and anyone would want to marry him because he’s handsome, smart and fun.

Am I being too sensitive?

Signed,

Sensitive

Dear Sensitive,

We think you are very smart to see the red flags while you are dating him.

A bullying boyfriend will be a bullying husband. And yes, he’s a bully.

Ostracizing is a punishing and manipulative form of bullying.

Kipling Williams, a professor of psychology at Purdue University, who has studied ostracism for 20 years, said in a study, “Excluding and ignoring people, such as giving them the cold shoulder or silent treatment, are used to punish or manipulate, and people may not realize the emotional or physical harm that is being done.”

The silent treatment activates the part of the brain that detects physical pain.

Instead of listening to your concerns, your boyfriend felt criticized and responded with silence and emotional distance to punish you. This pattern may continue if you marry him.

Controlling you with name-calling and other tactics is also a form of bullying.

The name-calling and manipulation by your boyfriend are control methods to absolve his hurtful actions.

Ask yourself, does your boyfriend:

• Dominate you, and do you feel suffocated by him?

• Take away your freedom?

• Act as if he knows what’s best for you?

Please know you won’t be able to control a controller!

We think you know, better than your friends, what’s best for you.

Signed,

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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