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Carolyn Hax: Being controlling leads to misery

Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend of two and a half years works as a payroll accountant. I am self-employed.

We have conflicts over her communicating when, approximately, she is leaving work for home or to come to my house. I ask her mid- to late afternoon to give me a heads-up when she thinks she will leave the office, and she takes offense … telling me she is “in the corporate world” and things change. I told her she can give me a heads-up later if it changes.

I just want to know when we will be seeing each other, as that gives me an idea what last-second projects I can complete and be on time at her place or mine. Also, I want details – where we will have dinner, etc.

Once she asked a co-worker, and he said if we don’t have plans with other people, then she shouldn’t worry about communicating with me.

I just want her to be considerate, that is all. She says I am controlling and she doesn’t have to “answer” to me. Any suggestions? – J.

The reasons your behavior has crossed over from planning to controlling are your refusal to take “no” for an answer and belief that you’re justified in pressuring her to change her behavior to your liking.

Your girlfriend doesn’t feel comfortable giving you a fixed time, yet you press for what you “just want.”

Understanding her reason for resisting matters more than just getting what you want. If you suspect she’s hiding something from you, then this is about a lack of trust, not a lack of consideration. Leashing her won’t make or keep her honest.

If she has a genuinely busy and unpredictable job, then this is about a lack of respect – yours, for her work culture.

If you’re not sure which of these applies, at least know that you can’t make her do things your way – you can only make both of you miserable trying.