How Much Control Should My Boyfriend Have Over My Life?

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Hey Wendy,

My boyfriend doesn’t like witchcraft and says it’s against his religion. I’ve thought about it for years and I want to read and learn more about it first to see if it’s something I might like. I asked my boyfriend to get me a book called “The Green Witch” and he said that I can’t read it or get into anything like that and he won’t allow it in his house. He said I need to get a new hobby.

Michelle S.

Hey Michelle,

Your question is cringe-worthy to many who read it, but I bet those same people don’t think that nearly every relationship is based on ownership—and they are.

“You want to be with me? Well, then you can’t do x anymore.”

The flavors and degrees to which we think we “own” each other vary from person to person and relationship to relationship.

For example, some people don’t want their partner to talk with strangers they might be sexually attracted to. Others put limits on whom their partner gets to hang out with (those old buddies have to go). What a person can wear, do with their time, or what they can spend their money on are a few more. What you read is less common, but clearly, it’s a thing.

Being Owned is a Choice

My opinion on the topic of ownership is that people get to choose. We all get to choose what we need control over, and we all get to choose where and why we relinquish our control. Just as long as everyone is on the same page and no one is acquiescing under duress, it’s all good.

Your guy has just spelled (no pun intended) out one of the areas of control he expects to have over your life. And he’s set a boundary around what comes into his home. Cool! You now know two things about him. This is great information for you to have, and it’s a starting point for a conversation about what you both expect from each other. He stated what he needs. Now you can look to see if you’re compatible, and also what other expectations and limits you’ll each put on each other’s lives if you decide to continue down the path to marriage or an LTR.

Control or Veto Power is a Choice

What areas of your life are you willing (and unwilling) to give him veto power over?

People hand over veto power to their person every day. I know people who willfully enter into relationships where one person is in charge and dictates how things go, and the other person follows their lead 24/7. And everyone’s happy, whole, and content. In these roles, they’re a well-suited match.

Being a Free Human is a Choice

My partnership is on the other end of the spectrum. I can read any book that tickles my fancy. Because when he and I came together, we intentionally decided to treat each other like free humans who can do whatever we want pretty much any time we want. We don’t own aspects of each other or have veto power over each other’s choices. This works because we’re both sensible about it and not assholes to each other, but it definitely makes some people scratch their heads in wonder and disbelief that our union could work at all.

Most people are somewhere in between.

So, where are you going to fall?

Do you need to be able to read a book without someone’s permission?

What about other aspects of your life?

What areas of your life will he have veto power over?

What do you want/need to control in turn?

If you need help sorting this, check out my self-guided relationship workshop.

Ultimately, you get a say in how much of your autonomy you’re giving away to your boyfriend. Both of you need to go into this conversation with your eyes wide open. And if you decide that he doesn’t get to tell you what to read, then you can go pick up The Green Witch all on your own and he’ll just have to deal with that.

Good luck!

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