I had always thought of myself as being relatively capable and confident once I had left home and moved away from my manipulative mother. I pushed ahead with my career, made my own friends and lived independently without her constant criticism and carping. And relished the chance of finding my feet, and life opening up for me.
Then I met Charlie. He was handsome, clever and funny and I felt proud that he had chosen me as his girlfriend. He also took such an interest in me which l lovedas it was so different to my parents. He even paid for me to go to a fancy hair salon, took me to buy dresses from smart shops, even though I usually preferred to wear jeans.
When we first went out together he’d grin with pleasure at how I looked and seemed to like showing me off to his friends. As the relationship progressedit became harder to please him but I could never understand exactly what I was doing wrong. I tried to behave as I thought he wanted me to. He started to criticise me over trivia and I felt the novelty of being with me had worn off. Warning bells sounded.
Meanwhile at work I had come up with an idea for a great project that would draw on new skills. I knew the idea was a good one, and I could involve other people if I needed help. When I first mentioned my idea to Charlie he seemed happy to discuss it. It took a while for me to realise that although his comments were initially encouraging they were always followed by reasons why the idea wouldn’t work. I carried on developing the project. When a colleague came up with a serious obstacle, I hoped Charlie would listen and help me find a solution. Instead he said dismissively ‘I knew this would never work as you don’t have the skills. I just humoured you as it seemed so important to you.” It was then that I realised that my boyfriend was my mother reincarnated.
Be careful not to repeat the experience of being with another horrid person so watch out for controlling behaviour, including put-downs and criticism from a boyfriend or partner. Instead look for friends and relationships that are unconditional and where there is give as well as take. Hold on to your self-worth. If you are worried, try talking to a trusted friend or colleague.