Dear Barb—Manipulative Motivations

Dear Barb:

My best friend has been dating her boyfriend for six months.  We used to hang out all the time, but now I rarely see her.  Her boyfriend occupies all her time.  Whenever she does go somewhere with me, he is constantly texting and calling her.  In fact one night we went out to a club and halfway through the night he showed up.  Needless to say I ended up being the third wheel.  It makes me not want to go out with her anymore.  Why do some girls get a boyfriend and forget all their friends? Confused, Kara.

Hey Kara:

Thanks for writing. Kara.  I’ve received many letters about this same issue.  Often when a couple first gets together they spend all their time together getting to know each other, but after a few months they begin to spend some time with their friends.  Although what you are describing sounds like your friend’s boyfriend is controlling and possessive.  She needs to assert her independence or this could turn into a very unhealthy situation.  You may want to have your friend consider if many of these signs of a manipulative or controlling relationship apply to hers.  Ask her if he does any of the following:

  1. Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
  2. Put down your accomplishments or discourage your goals?
  3. Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
  4. Use intimidation, guilt, or threats to gain compliance?
  5. Tell you what you can and cannot wear?
  6. Tell you what you need to do with your hair?
  7. Tell you that you are nothing without them, or they are nothing without you?
  8. Treat you roughly without your consent – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
  9. Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  10. Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  11. Blame you for how they feel or act?
  12. Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
  13. Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
  14. Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
  15. Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?


Dear Barb:

I need some motivation! I began working on my degree five years ago.  Then I got pregnant and I was so sick during my pregnancy that I had to stop taking courses.  At that time I was about half way through my BA.  and I hoped to continue with my studies after I had my daughter, but that didn’t work out.  I ended up wanting to spend all my time with her so I took another year off.  Now I am ready to get back to taking courses, but I don’t have any motivation.  Not sure where to turn for help, do you have any suggestion? Thanks, Catherine.

Hi Catherine:

We’ve all been where you are.  My suggestion would be to contact Athabasca University Learner Support services at:  They will be able to offer ways to help get you motivated and focused.  Good Luck and thanks for writing.

Email your questions to  Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed.  This column is for entertainment only.  The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.