If you stay with this woman you will come to rue the day you were born. This is such hideous abusuve behaviour. GTFO
"Her 'feelings' about things tend to determine everything we do"

After the first paragraph, I was thinking DTMFA. But this is the giant red flag to end all red flags. Like if the Cold War commies wanted to upscale us decadent capitalists, they would have taken this red flag and draped it across all 11 time zones of Mother Russia.

D! T! M! F! A!!!!!!
You don't need Dan's (or anyone else's) advice, TOM, you just need to reread your letter as if it had been written by some other guy. You would find that guy crazy for staying with that monster.
This is a textbook example of why single parents should not, not, NOT! get their children involved in relationships until it looks like a good bet that it will become permanent, (which I guess LW & GF did - she is his fiancé, after all). Oh, and rule number two...Don't turn batshit crazy, jealous women into fiancés in the first place! Broadway musicals seem to be the theme today, so, unless this woman is willing to commit to some serious therapy, I'll quote The Lion King and say, "Run away. Run away and never come back!"
P.S. Same goes for batshit crazy, jealous men.
@2 That part that stood out to me too as a big flapping red flag. If she was taking responsibility for her own irrational jealousy and making a serious effort to work through it (going to therapy a few times does not by itself constitute a serious effort), I'd say it miiiiight be worth giving her a chance. But she's not. She's using her "feelings" as a pretext for blaming and controlling her partner. Snooping, making scenes, and being mean to innocent bystanders seems like a typical pattern of emotional abuse to me. DTMFA.
I guess if he wants to give her one last chance, he could give the Shamu Strategy a try. He'd best teach it to her son, too, who is probably going to need it for a long time.
P.S. About the anti-anxiety medication: anxiety, like depression, can be difficult to impossible to think your way out of, hence the medication. But having anxiety doesn't entail that you coerce other people to do what you want. I'm no shrink, but I'm pretty sure there's no medication for being an asshole.
Gotta agree. Assuming a long life, does the LW want to deal with another 50+ years of this?
Really enjoyed that linked article.
I almost think he should marry her, deliberately drive her completely insane (the final 25% shouldn't be that hard), and get custody of the poor child. This would also be a just punishment for LW's mangled French.

But at least he didn't tell us that his fiancee is a masseur.
. Well she sure got you by the short and curlies( if you still have any).
This child has a dad, so he is covered, though I'm sure he'd miss you.
Seeing you said you don't want to kick her to the curb, how about telling her the truth? That she is manipulative and seriously risking your love and commitment to her. Give her fair warning these behaviour have to stop or you are out.
Suggest she go do some real work on herself re her jealousy and " feeling" control.
If you do end up breaking with her, let the child know how much you care for him, that it just didn't work with his mother.
Wow, sounds a lot like my BIL's ex-wife. Did I mention 'ex'. Did I mention 'wife'. It's much, much easier to step away from the brink now than to have to deal with divorce and custody a few years down the line.

(I seriously couldn't scratch the surface of that particular barrel of fuck. She was always very nice and personable around me, but we lived in the same house and I guess she didn't know that we all heard her screaming through the walls. She was so jealous that she completely flipped at him once when he called her from the airport after a work trip, because she could hear a woman talking in the background on the was his sister...who she KNEW was going to be picking her husband up from the airport. She then made him quit the job - at the height of the recession, with nothing else lined up - because of 'her feelings' about him travelling for work, and therefore having the purely theoretical opportunity to cheat on her. Anyone that 'jealous' has some deep-seated issues about self-worth, boundaries and control, and the more you abide by their 'feelings', the worse they will treat you.)
I was like the LWs fiance with my very first 'adult' relationship & wa probably similar with my relationships in my teens. But the adult relationship i had where i acted like the LWs fiance did not end well. My behaviour was so destructive to myself and our relationship and so freaking selfish!! I was 99% to blame for our relationship not working out. We had been together for almost 3 years i think. So from when i was 18-21. And i truly believe he was the love of my life. But who knows, i was pretty young. Him breaking up with me really (eventually) opened my eyes to how i was behaving & completely changed my perspective of how i needed to act in order to keep someone i love. For me, it was very beneficial for my growth as a person to go through this. I have no idea if i would have seen the light had he stayed with me. The man i was with truly loved me, but could not be with me. Your fiance is not your burden to bear.
Find a nice secure woman whom you can cheat on in peace.
I'd counter Broadway with Shakespeare, and quote Othello: "Beware of jealousy - it is the green-eyed monster that mocks the meat it feeds on." But here's one even better from The Comedy of Errors: "How many fond fools serve mad jealousy?
@2, yeah, I read that too, and I'd just like to add to your response, "Dude, why do you *let* her?"

She knows she can emotionally manipulate you. So she does. LW, If you *really* want to stay with her, stop being manipulated. Next time one of those "social events" comes up, or you're in public, say 'If you want to leave the party, fine. I'm enjoying myself. Take the car & I'll get a cab home.' or 'If you're going to be a downer at this event, I'm leaving. I would love to have a fun time with you, but I'm not going to coddle you if you choose to be a bitch. I'm going to go to and enjoy myself there. You can stay here or come with, but I'm not interested in you coming if you're going to continue to be a bitch.'
Jealousy is a hard one to overcome. I've struggled with it over the years, and despite how irrational you know you're being, those feelings of anxiety just eat away at you. I doubt there's anyone out there who wants to be jealous; it feels absolutely awful. When I was in high school, my first serious boyfriend was away at a school event and a girl from another school attempted to overdose. He and a couple other students from their group found her, got help, and stayed to comfort her until the ambulance came. While telling me about this traumatizing experience, all I could think about was how jealous I was that he went through this emotional experience with these strangers and he now had this bond with them that I'd never have with him. Truly batshit thinking, but I was 16 so what are ya gonna do? Thankfully, even then I recognized those feelings as a problem that was purely in my head and even as a hormonal 16 yr old I knew voicing these crazy thoughts was a bad idea, so for the most part I kept them under wraps where they could only damage me and not my relationships. Over the years it's gotten better, but it's still always there in the back of my mind somewhere just waiting for the opportunity to pop up.

I doubt the fiance enjoys herself when she's being petty and irrational, and I'm sure on some level she knows it's in her head, but just doesn't have the success controlling it. Or she hasn't yet had the opportunity to see how poisonous that kind of thinking (and acting on it) is. I'd encourage LW to give her fair warning. Tell her that he loves her and her son and he doesn't want to end the relationship, but that he can't continue living with her irrational outbursts and control. There needs to be a change or the relationship can't continue. And then follow through.
TOM should also get some counseling to figure out why he is drawn to a woman who treats him this way. Anyone who didn't run-don't-walk at the first instance of snooping through his e-mails surely has his own issues to sort out.
Of course you should dump her, but you knew that before you wrote. It's hard to leave someone you love, and in this case, it's 2 people you love. So here's what you do in order to give yourself a leg up in this situation. Tell her you want some pre-marital counseling or that you'd like to attend a couple of her therapy sessions with her. Within that structured space, tell your wife that her jealous demands concern you and ask her to tell you what she'd like you to do, specifically, to allay her jealousy. Tell her you want a detailed list. Give her time.

The things on her list will fall into one of 2 categories. Most likely, they'll be ridiculous vague things that you're unable to do, things like "don't make me jealous," or "don't talk to women ever" or "don't look at women with that expression"-- which can lead to some conversation asking her to be specific about which expression. The idea is to help her see that she's asking the impossible. You then tell her that you're unable to comply and break off the engagement.

There's also the possibility that she'll name something specific like "let me look through you phone history" or "give me the passwords to your computer" or "don't go to parties." At that point, you decide if these are things you can live with. Probably not in which case it makes your decision to break up with her easier. If by some miracle the things she lists are things you don't mind doing, something like "no shared accommodations with women at business conferences," agree to that and put off the wedding date for a while. In time, you'll keep to your side of the bargain, but she won't keep hers. She'll get jealous over something that's not on her list. THEN you break up with her, but you'll feel better about it. You'll have something specific to go by. You'll feel more like she's the one who broke it off because she broke a promise.

She might, without prompting, say "I promise to ..." And then she'll break her promise. So you point out that you're leaving because of something that she did.

See how this keeps the guilt at bay? It's recognizing irreconcilable differences before they get to that point.
20 is pretty brilliant. But it's something to try only if you can't run away from this whole thing, ideally while screaming like your hair was on fire.

Even better if you actually set your hair on fire for added dramatic effect. Bonus points.
One parenthetical in the letter caught my eye, which Dan and others here haven't mentioned. The LW's fiancee is particularly threatened by white women, which is race of the LW's ex-girlfriend. I suspect that LW and his ex-girlfriend were an interracial couple, and that LW and his fiancee are of the same race. I point this out because if LW's fiancee is going to tackle her issues and insecurities, she needs to get to the root of her anxiety, which isn't just jealousy borne of the fear of other women.
@ 20 - Why wait all that time and go through all this if the result is that he'll break up with her anyway?

He's not the guilty party, she is. He should not feel any guilt at all. But if he does, he can go to therapy on his own once he's broken it off. That would be constructive, instead of the waste of time and energy you suggest.

As Eud says @ 21, it's something to try only if you can't run away from this whole thing. He can, and he should.
Someone needs to speak up for the French, so I volunteer. A fiancé is a man who is engaged to be married; a fiancée is a woman who is engaged to be married. This person is talking about a fiancée.
@ 24 - Thanks for taking up the mantle. Pretty much every French word or expression used in English is usually misused or misspelled, so even though it's my mother tongue, I gave up the fight a long time ago.

That said, since we're on this subject, let me take this occasion to remind everyone that "ménage à trois" doesn't mean "threesome". It's an ironic way to describe a situation where one of the spouses has a lover. Since "ménage" refers to living arrangements, you can also use it non-ironically to talk about a triad. (Sorry for the digression, but this one really gets on my nerves.)
@23: On the other hand, guilt-mitigation measures have value even to people who didn't do anything wrong. Whatever it is that makes us feel guilt isn't very well-attuned to whether or not we should feel guilty.

Just speaking as an ex-Catholic...
@ 26 - Yes, but he doesn't need to stick around with her for an eternity to do that. He can work on that on his own.

Just speaking as an ex-Catholic who actually managed to get rid of all the useless guilt feelings.
What @20 suggests is not nearly as good as making up your own mind. Laying traps for someone (who you supposedly love) until you can feel like you're not a bad person for breaking up with them is gaslighting. Your priority should be to find out what you need to know, and if it doesn't work get out. Not to salve your ego at the expense of the other person's mental health.
28-Moggadeet-- No, gaslighting is accusing someone so you won't be accused. It's calling someone crazy when they're actually being reasonable. It's twisting information to favor the abuser. Taking steps to help someone who has a problem (crazy jealousy) to realize that she's being the problem (being crazy jealous) is not gaslighting.

That said, I actually don't disagree with Eud and Ricardo. I'm not suggesting that TOM should go into counseling with his jealous girlfriend. I agree that he should break it off with her. Maybe that's abbreviated as "RUN!!!" But I'm looking at his own words: "My hunch is that you'll tell me to walk away, but I'm afraid to leave and of the drama that will unfold with her and her son with whom I've grown close, and I also do love her."

Life is full of things that we know we should do. (Exercise. Get a job. Lose weight. Stop smoking. Just say no. Break up with your crazy jealous fiancee.) The trouble is that we humans have a tough time doing the things we know we should do. It's rare when people are truly unaware of something that's obvious to everyone else. (Really? I should lose weight? Really, exercise? I had no idea /s) Sometimes someone writes to Dan or gets into therapy because they honestly don't know what to do, but I suspect that it's more likely that they write because they know but feel bad about it, or they know but something is holding them back. They're asking for some tips, some recipe, to help.

That's where my idea for asking Ms. Tom to clarify what would satisfy her jealousy comes from. It would help TOM make the break, help him realize that life with her as it stands is never going to get any better. No, he has nothing to feel guilty about, but that fact that's so obvious to us isn't trickling down to the place in his mind where he needs to hear it.
@ 29 - I'm not faulting your logic, which is solid, but what I find touchy about your suggestion is that the longer he sticks around, the more his fiancée's son will grow attached to him.
@15 - Seandr, I feel like I can always count on you for a refreshing little blast of evil (or evil-lite). Thanks for being you.

I think the LW should give her one last chance before he dumps her (and tell her it's her last chance). Probably won't work, but seems only fair.

I kinda like the Shamu strategy though.
@28 - OMG, "Love Is The Plan The Plan Is Death" is one of my most favoritest stories ever.
This guy is a wimp. Afraid to leave, and the drama that will ensue.. Oh, and I love her.
So, he'd rather endure the next many yrs being emotionally controlled.
LW, you are just going to have to face the drama and the grief/ sadness of moving out of this woman and her child's life, and as Fan suggested do some therapy yourself before you get linked up with any new romantic interest.
Then look for a woman who is comfortable in her own skin and whose definition of love includes wanting her partner to be happy.
@22 makes an excellent point. I did miss that the ex was "white" and that the fiancee is especially jealous of "white" women!

This probably does speak to an underlying insecurity on the fiancee's part. It's not necessarily that the LW & the crazy are an interracial couple, though. I've actually seen that dynamic most often in a couple consisting of a black man and a black woman.

That may explain part of the LW's reluctance to leave. There are circles that foster some pretty toxic attitudes: black men who date white women are race traitors, black men are all philanderers, etc. If that's what's going on here, the LW is not only being manipulated by the crazy fiancee, but there's a larger social stigma that's making it harder for him to leave.

He may feel the need to martyr himself to abuse in order to disprove those stereotypes. And she may feel that her irrational behavior is the only way to hang onto a man if she isn't confident in her own attractiveness, not realizing that it's the very thing that's going to drive him away.
@34, yes. Missed that clue. So this adds another burden to the LWs' dilemma.
The woman is using the race card to control him.
@22, I noticed the comment about her hostility towards white women, as well, and feel like there is more going on here than just standard jealousy / insecurity. I think as a white person Dan might be missing out on how racial dynamics may be affecting this situation, including well outside the dating situation. At a minimum, I definitely don't get that she wants him to break up with her. Odds are she is a traumatized person whose can't see past her hurt to realize that her behavior is going to get her the opposite of what she wants.

Additionally, anti-anxiety meds are almost always benzos, and (as someone who was unfortunately on them for years for a sleep disorder) not only do they make you kind of crazy while you're under their influence, they cause such a strong physical dependency that people start going into withdrawal (extreme and irrational anxiety and negative emotions being a chief sign of benzo withdrawal) in between their doses if the dose isn't regularly increased. Because the withdrawal symptoms resemble the original symptom set so much, though, they are rarely seen for what they are.
@ 25 TouchĂȘ!
Dump her but gently. Basically what you want to do is to tell her that you are leaving her and that you still love her but her way of treating you at the moment is causing you a lot of pain and you can't take it anymore. Be calm about it to her. You are willing to have her back if she truly wants to work with herself about her issues. This way, she truly has the call to choose which road she wants to walk upon. Even if she chooses to walk away from you, thank her for the good times you got with her and move along. You can only do so much for another person to wake up. Give her some time, and above all, yourself!

You don't negotiate with terrorists.

This is an abusive relationship. Same tactics abusive men use to keep women in relationships.

There are other women out there you can have good sex with.
An ultimatum provided me with the motivation to change. I knew - and this woman knows - that the behavior is unhealthy and she probably wants to quit it. I'm not saying it will work - probably it won't - but if you truly love her tell heron so many words - " I love you and I want to marry you but here are some concrete things I will not put up with. I'll leave you if you can't stop doing A, B, and C." This will only work in the context of real love, respect (I.e, saying "quit being a crazy controlling bitch" is not going to work, but "I understand this is hard for you because of your history" might), and a true desire in her part to change and grow. It's worth a shot, with a time limit - like 3-6 months to see real change and few or no backsliding. I've been married fifteen years now and in all that time have only thrown maybe two jealous tantrums. I'm so glad my husband was straight and blunt with me about exactly what he would not tolerate, rather than just saying"you can't be like this."
Thanks for all of the helpful and honest assessments and suggestions. I think it does boil down to the fact that I need to get out of the relationship, but it's the how that gnaws at me the most. The consensus was pretty clear on the fact that real change should happen before marriage does, not after, but agree that it's a long-shot. I know this and have always known it, yet, when it comes to people we love we often break a lot of our own rules for one reason or another. Thank you sincerely for all of your responses.
I disagree. Don't dump her! You're otherwise happy. I was recently dumped over bad behavior and I had no warning so no chance to reform. Let her know it has to change or you can't go on as a couple. Give her a chance to change. A warning at least.
@ 41 - "when it comes to people we love we often break a lot of our own rules for one reason or another"

That's very true. And then we regret having broken them. Believe me!

Thanks for writing in, TeeDR
@41: Thanks for writing in. For what it's worth, this kind of change doesn't usually happen--once someone gets into the pattern of controlling you by having emotional meltdowns, they're going to keep doing it; that habit is too hard to break.

Good luck. It sounds like you've been put through the ringer, and she'll probably keep putting you through it as long as she can. People like power, and they'll keep doing whatever seems to get them more of it.
TeeDR, hi. Of course it's hard to leave a relationship where there is some love for the partner and a lot of love for the child.
It will hurt you and them. You can't sacrifice yourself though.
Make a time and place to talk with her, without the child present, and just tell her you are done. Be firm and clear in your language, sometimes ruthless honesty is all you got.
If she allows you too, keep seeing the child as his friend. If she doesn't allow, make sure you let the child know this, and that you have love for him.
At five, he will understand.
I'm actually with @20 in general. I don't have much hope for the relationship, but I do think it may well be emotionally necessary or at least beneficial for the LW to at least give it a try (and who knows? See above. Some people do change). I feel very uneasy about going into counseling with an agenda, but I don't see why you couldn't do the same thing without a therapist.
Tell her that her jealousy is making it impossible for you to stay in the relationship. Ask her to tell you what specifically it would take for her to dial back (massively) on her controlling behavior. Have a clear sense of what is and what isn't acceptable to you beforehand. If you can't agree, leave. If she doesn't stick to her end of the bargain, leave.
I think you have maybe a 10% chance that will work. But a) isn't love all about improbable odds? and b) in the remaining 90%, you will at least have some degree of certainty that you tried everything and should have very few lingering doubts.
Jenny @42: The sentence "She is taking some anti-anxiety meds, and she's seen a therapist a few times, but these issues continue to arise" led me to believe TOM aka TeeDR has given her some warning -- but he can clarify, as he's joined in the conversation himself. Hi TeeDR, thanks for writing in! Hope we've been gentle with you.
My wife used to be like this: irrational jealousy, baseless accusations, abusive behavior, violent rages, suicide threats, etc. I would not advise anyone to put up with this kind of behavior from a partner, but I did... and things actually did get better. It helped my sanity to realize that my wife's behavior had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with chemicals in her brain and traumatic events that happened long before we met. Medication, many helpful people, a stable environment, and (most importantly) her own desire for a better life have helped her to reach a better place. That being said, I wouldn't wish what we went through on anyone; the odds of a positive outcome are vanishingly low, and it's still a work in progress, one day at a time.
@ 42 - I find JennyGold's comment rather self-serving.

She says she was dumped without a warning so she didn't have a chance to reform, but who knows if she hadn't already received a hundred warnings that she chose to ignore or failed to take seriously, like the two jealous guys I had LTRs with (who were "really surprised" and "didn't understand" when I told them it was over, in spite of all the discussions we had had on the subject).

Now she wants the LW, who's obviously already endured more than he should have, to stay with this woman who's making him miserable just because she won't admit that she herself went too far with er ex, and now she's projecting that onto his relationship. And her argument is "you're otherwise happy", as if we didn't all know that people who have an abusive partner always try to convince themselves (and Dan, when they write him) that they are otherwise happy... except, of course, when they're utterly miserable, which ends up being most of the time.
Pretty much. "My abuse victim left without giving me (yet another) chance to reform! How was I to know that this time they were serious about leaving if the abuse didn't stop!"

There's a reason we have shelters, instead of just telling people "Nah, I'm sure this time he means it when he says he'll stop hitting you."

The problem isn't that she's jealous, the problem is that she's figured out that having hurt feelings leads to having more control over her environment. People love having control over their environment. If you force her to get the jealousy under control, she'll just become hypersensitive about something else.
I think NoHighway's experience (post48) is the exception not the rule.

I'm three years out of a 24 year marriage to someone like this.

I kept the kids and the debt and she kept the assets all of which I generated. I kept my willingness to work and to trust, she kept her unwillingness to work and to trust. We still have eighteen months and at least fifty grand left to waste on her quest to convince a court that I am sexually inappropriate with my teenage daughters.

We went through an insidious decades long escalation from making me call off being the long planned official date for a friend at a function six weeks into our relationship, through cutting off all my female and most of my male friends, through accidental pregnancies every time I started something that was going to be hard work but great (university degree, tough jobs that were great for my career) all the way up to accusing me of having affairs with people I had never seen outside work and and accusing me of abusing my children. Eventually I cracked after realising that I was not allowed to go shopping or to the movies by myself (let alone a conference) and that I was terrified others would find out about her accusations.

A few rape and violence allegations and a relentless campaign to extract false allegations out of my children later I am coming out the other side. Now I am that guy she always knew I was: I love another woman.

Dan's right. Your fiancee is right. You need another woman. It is true that she will probably withhold the kid from you. Sorry. This is going to hurt you a real lot either way.
51- Count-- Is there anything someone could have told your younger self that would have made a difference?
I agree Count, I doubt this woman will allow him to continue seeing the child.
Even though he has been a part of the child's life for so many years.
How can anyone think this sort of behaviour can come under the label, love.
Sorry to hear of the pain and horror you have been enduring.
@ 51 - I'm extremely sorry for all that happened to you (and is still happening). Thanks for sharing your story. I really hope that TeeDR (the LW) reads it.
@51: Wow, sounds horrible. I am sorry too that you're going through this. Hope TeeDR is reading.
Though I disagree with one sentence: "You need another woman." No, he doesn't -- he just doesn't need THIS woman. Being single for a while until he can rebuild some self-respect and self-esteem is probably much better than jumping straight into the arms of someone who might turn out to be equally awful.
@51: That's really shitty. I hope TeeDR reads this, and understands that what he needs to do is to run, run, RUN.

Seconding 52: Is there anything someone could have said to you that would've made a difference?
TeeDR, I think you have to plan your exit carefully. Abused spouses need to have all their balls in a row, before they throw the big one.
Organize a place where you can stay first up. Swear them to secrecy. Get your important papers out of the house ASAP. Then other stuff you really want. But by bit. Draw no suspicion on yourself, till you ready to walk out that door and man the battlefields. Cause that's what is ahead of you.
Forwarned is Forarmed.
Please let us know how you do, and yes sorry, I think the deepest cut will be between you and the boy. Make sure you find him and tell him of your love. His father will keep his eye on him?
Just tell her one night/ sat whatever, when the child just left for his dad's, and be ready to walk out the door.
She will explode and best the child protected from that. Maybe tell the father after you tell her, what has happened.
Kind and clear language, leave her no room to misunderstand your decision. Whatever that decision is.
Good luck. Take care.
The consensus among commenters seems to be DTMFA, with some saying give notice first THEN DTMFA if nothing changes. I'd like to add that if you take option 2, give notice first & then DTMFA if nothing chenges, you need to ALSO PUT OFF THE WEDDING for a year at minimum, two would be better. A jealous fiance can get things under control TEMPORARILY without having a real change of attitude. Once the fiance becomes wife incentives change and reversion to form is likely. If you decide not to just DTMFA immediately, the way to give notice is by calling the wedding date OFF right now.

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