Love Island 2019: Why It’s Wrong For Your Partner To Dictate Your Friendships

Joe has been labelled 'controlling' after questioning Lucie's friendship with Tommy.

Love Island viewers have called Joe Garratt “possessive” and “controlling” after he told Lucie Donlan, who he’s coupled up with, that she shouldn’t be friends with boxer Tommy Fury. Instead, he has suggested she spend more time with the girls in the villa.

According to Joe, Lucie was spending “an excessive amount” of time talking to Tommy, and added: “I’m not happy with it. It’s strange.” His behaviour sparked outrage on Twitter, while relationship experts have told HuffPost UK that in a loving and caring relationship, one partner should not tell the other who they can and can’t be friends with.

Controlling partners “present a real threat to your mental wellbeing and safety”, says Ammanda Major, head of service quality and clinical practice at Relate. “When somebody is behaving consistently in this way, it is emotional abuse, which is a form of domestic abuse,” she explains.

The reality is, it’s perfectly natural to have friends of either sex. “If you find yourself with a partner who takes a different view to this, then it’s sensible to consider whether this is a healthy relationship and where you want to be,” Major says. “Having someone behave jealously towards you might seem like they care about you or love you, but this is often the early stage of behaviours that get far worse.”

Pam Custers, a couples counsellor from the Counselling Directory, says that in the context of Love Island, Joe’s behaviour is, to some degree, understandable – but that in real life this kind of behaviour can be a “relationship red flag”.

“Love Island is an artificial situation whereby people are foisted together and intimacy is cultivated,” she says. “So all the participants will be at a heightened stage of seeking connection with others.”

That context means you can kind of understand why Joe is threatened by Lucie’s friendship with Tommy, Custers says: “He wants to have a relatively ‘committed’ relationship with Lucie and the show is set up in order for people to swap relationships and hook up as quickly as possible.”

Justin Lambert via Getty Images / HuffPost UK

But in real life, if your partner is dictating your friendships, it’s important to take stock. We all have to have healthy boundaries, and if your partner says you can’t be friends with anybody of the opposite sex – or they start to isolate you from all your friends – this is a red flag. “If it starts impacting on the day-to-day happiness of the couple’s relationship or causes huge polarising, they need to seek [professional] help,” Custers adds.

In a loving and caring relationship, partners respect each other’s need for individuality and self-determination, says Major, adding: “It should never be the case of one partner telling the other who they can and can’t be friends with.”

Other helplines and support...

  • Refuge- Domestic violence help for women and children - 0808 2000 247
  • Visit Women’s Aid- support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247
  • Broken Rainbow- The LGBT domestic violence charity - 0845 2 60 55 60
  • Men’s Advice Line for advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse - 0808 801 0327