Caroline Buchanan is our new Agony Aunt at the Dorset Echo. She’ll be helping readers with their problems on a weekly basis.

Dear Caroline,

Growing up as an only child, I always got my way.

My parents treated me like a princess and taught me to live by the rule ‘it’s my way or the highway’ and to always demand the best. I even got called Bossy Boots at school, but I didn’t care. I was always the leader of my little gang of girls.

When it comes to men, I admit I’m the ultimate bossy girlfriend and proud of it. Well I was, until recently…I started dating at 16 and I’ve had three long-term relationships.

I’m 32 now and I’ve just broken up with my last boyfriend because he started complaining I was too controlling and didn’t give him room to breathe. When he told me he didn’t like my attitude, I told him we were over. I have a set of rules guys must follow, such as I make sure they text me several times a day to check in and I like to be bought flowers once a week.

And I absolutely insist I have the password for their email and Facebook account – because if a man is dating me, I need to trust him implicitly so he should have nothing to hide. I’m also a bit controlling when it comes to the movies we see, the television shows we watch and the music we listen to – because I feel it's important that my boyfriend likes what I like.

And when it came to boys’ nights out, I figured he can either date me or date his mates. I believe we women have to demand respect and if you let men walk all over you then you’ll end up being taken advantage of and no one want that.

But I’m starting to wonder if my standards are too high. I’m at a bit of a crossroads – should I be more flexible? I’m just worried I’ll be taken for granted if I am.

Penny, Dorchester.

Wow, Penny, I’m amazed you’ve got away with this behaviour for so long!

While I’m sure your parents meant well, their lack of boundaries has undoubtedly contributed to you having a distorted sense of entitlement. That will not lead to long term happiness in any relationship. True intimacy depends on a sense of shared love, respect, thoughtfulness, communication and flexibility.

There needs to be give and take on both sides so both partners feel their needs are being respected and valued.. Your need to be in total control spells disaster for any relationship. Where is your empathy?

Sit down and really think about what it would feel like to be on the other end of your rigid rules and behaviour.? Not nice, eh? In other words, do as you would be done by, and if you find a problem with that, seek counselling as soon as possible.

I’m sure your ex would appreciate a letter of apology. You could also make it a thank you message too, telling him you’re so grateful for your new learning curve!

Caroline Buchanan is a journalist, author, agony aunt and Relate- trained counsellor who lives in Dorset and West London. Her latest book is The 15-Minute Rule for Forgiveness. Her previous book, The 15-Minute Rule - How to Stop Procrastinating and Take Control of Your Life, is a bestseller. If you would like Caroline’s advice, send your problem to joanna.davis@dorsetecho. and it will be passed on.