T Nation

Seeking Girlfriend Advice


#1

I'm trying to figure out what to do about my girlfriend. It's not a relationship question. It's a "how do I help someone I care about" question.

The basic issue is that she's unhappy, and I'd like her to be happy, or at least, happier. I know that's vague, and I know you can't "change" people, but people can choose to change when given opportunity and awareness.

Some background...

She has a preconceived notion that I don't care about her, that I don't love her, that, etc. etc. (I quit my job, left friends behind, moved cities, and changed significant parts of my lifestyle in order to adapt to hers.) Yet when confronted with the facts, she completely negates their relevance and then lashes out at me. In effect, it's still all my fault, and I'm letting her down, and so on.

Once upon a time, I interpreted that as "I need to try harder", but after running myself into the ground, I finally came to my senses. That was a long while ago.

But it's really not about me at all.

She says some ridiculous stuff though. She wants to talk every night, 95%+ of it is her talking, and then she blames me for keeping her on the phone... followed by a diatribe blaming me for not respecting her time, not respecting anyone's time. When challenged on the topic of "respect", it spirals into her saying "why should I respect you when you don't respect me?"

Nothing's worked yet...

Observing and challenging her behavior has gotten me nowhere. Pointing out what she does and how she does it, her arguing tactics and defensiveness, hasn't really done anything. Certainly better than actually arguing.

Once upon a time, I explained things clearly in a letter, and broke up with her. That didn't accomplish anything either. That I then dated a girl nearly 10 years younger than her also didn't help things much.

Really though, I don't have a problem with the relationship. I'm actually pretty happy, and the majority of our time is positive. She's not really dragging me down or anything like that.

But, these are latent issues that come up.

What I think is happening...

My best understanding of things right now is that she has a very low self-image (I could argue self-loathing, but that might be too extreme)... and because of that, she's in denial that anyone would possibly care about her or love her. But in order to deal with that, she place the blame outside of herself and lashes out, and tries to compensate via control over her environment and over me.

And thus, she's unhappy, making herself unhappy, and working really really hard to ensure she stays unhappy and has external reasons to blame for it.

So, to some extent, that makes her perfectly normal.

What now?

Anyway, I don't really know what to do to help enact a paradigm shift. I want her to figure out how to be happy... by her realizing how she's making herself unhappy, and changing that.

Any ideas?

And at this point, leaving her is not an option I'm willing to consider.


#2

Just a possibility. I didn't read everything. It's possible that she may not love you in a way that she thinks she should and harbors guilt for said feelings or a lack of them.


#3

Take that pic down, you clown. We don't need to know what she looks like. Putting pics up can always back fire if some creep takes things too far.


#4

I got confused reading that. Pronouns got misplaced?

Secondly, any ideas how to shorten it? I guess I could drop the whole "examples" section.


#5

I think you need to man up. You sit down with her, one day, when she's in a good mood, and tell it to her straight. Everything that bothers you. Then at that point, you lay down the law. You tell her "I'm tired of you saying it's my fault blablabla".
If nothing changes, or things get worse, you dump her ass and move the fuck on.

I've been in relationships where I felt I "had" to change the person. Barring some major life altering event like an accident or near death, you will NOT change anything about her. She's an adult, not a kid, meaning who she is is set in stone.
The fact that you yourself say she is psycho and you don't get it and blablabla, makes me wonder why you even bother. You KNOW how it is. Come to terms with the facts.
You got about 150 million bitches in the U.S., you can find another gf.


#6

Work on helping her build confidence. Be confident yourself. Sometimes making "joking" comments can be hurtful even if you don't mean them to be.

Actually take time to listen to her and encourage her to communicate. A good, serious relationship is a very heavy investment in time and effort. People downplay what it takes to strengthen a union between two people.

Get her to actually tell her the problem, help her remove any negativity in her life, and be her support, but work on strengthening her to stand on her own two feet. If you truly care about her, that will be what is most important.


#7

You love her more than she loves you and you always will. Leave her sooner rather than later and save yourself from having to deal with this crazy chick cheating on you with a high school dropout who "really cares about her".


#8

Lol. I don't even know how to respond to this without sounding like one of those girls who say "but he's different, you'll see"...

But really, this is different.

It's more an issue of cognitive dissonance. Her actions, her behavior, the majority of what she does, it's very clear how she feels about me. But when it's brought to a conscious level, she changes her tone 180 degrees.

It's actually really strange.


#9

No, no pronouns were misplaced from what I could see. Not as musical a post as I could concoct, but it serves its purpose. I hypothesize that she's acting upon her guilt. I could be wrong. I very well could be wrong, but that's mighty damn improbable. It is also possible that she is fearful of her emotions. Fear or guilt.

Don't bother with the OP. The issue is visible. Address it.


#10

"I tried dating a girl 10 years younger and that didn't work either."........

What do you mean that didn't work? what effect were you thinking that was supposed to have? Have you considered that maybe she is unhappy because she is with you? Or, possibly and more likely, she is just an unhappy person whose attitude and view of life do not match up with yours or with someone you would want to be with. She has all these issues yet you are still with her..so that tells me that theres more to this, that some of the issues are with YOU. You are playing the classic role of trying to be the "savior." Some people are hopelessly attracted to this role. I have bad news for you though, it never works. Ever. You will not change her, and in the end, even though you don't believe it yet, the issue here is YOU. Look deep enough and there it is.


#11

How do you do that? Just in broad strokes.

She has a lot to be proud of and has accomplished quite a bit on her own. She has a lot of things in place that give the appearance of confidence. But at the same time, I know things aren't always as they look.

It's only been recently that I've considered that her behavior might stem from a low self-image, so I haven't done a whole lot here.

We've worked on this, but she can't seem to get past externalizing blame. The problem is me. The problem is her mom. The problem is the people at work.

Unfortunately, even when I'm able to have those conversations without being defensive at all [which took a lot of work], she gets really fixated on these topics and never moves past them.

She can sometimes be a fount of negativity; a significant portion of what she talks about is negative judgment of situations or people. Not all, but significant enough.

This is where a very skilled therapist could help, and an unskilled one could make things worse... which is why I've tread pretty lightly.

I'm not sure how to do this, beyond where things are right now.

As I mentioned, she's done ok for herself. Finished med school, finished residency, and just moved out west to work in a clinic. But she's also filled the majority of her free time [that wasn't spent with me] studying for her board exam. And she hasn't really developed any close friendships, and isn't close to her parents, so that pretty much has left me as her outlet for everything.

I suppose I could encourage developing more friendships. And provide even more encouragement for some of the things she's doing when she's not studying.


#12

I hope so man. Obviously I can only get so much from a forum post without knowing either of you. That's just my view coming from where I have been. She sounds a LOT like my ex.


#13

Wow, that was a serious misquote.

I broke up with her, then I dated someone nearly 10 years younger. Eventually, we ended up back together. I didn't do it to prove a point or anything.

I do like the accusative tone though. That's neat.

There's a few responses I expected:
- you should leave her
- she's going to cheat on you, if she hasn't already
- some variant of "there's a whole world of women out there"
- and, basically what you said.

So, to restate what I'd said before... I'm actually pretty ok with the relationship. But I see that she's hurting, and I'd like to help, if I can, because I care.

Some people should be cut from your life, some people deserve more. She deserves more.

Most people would help out their closest friends, most people would help out their family members... and nobody would say anything bad about it. But say the same thing about a woman, and all of a sudden she's not worth it.

She's my girlfriend now, but she's also been a close friend for 14 years. So yeah, there's more to it.


#14

Very brief synopsis of our history.

"Serious" relationship in high school, that ended because my parents moved. She dated another guy, then married him. I lived a completely different life for several years. Eventually we met back up... and yeah, we're together again.

Destiny? No. But there's not any real doubt how she feels about me.

Thanks though for caring. Sorry about what happened.


#15

Dude it looks like you bent over backwards to fit her lifestyle and she still thinks you don't love her?
What a fuckin' ingrate...sorry man, it is what it is, and the sad thing about it is, is that you're pussy-whipped
and TAKE this bullshit from her after all you've done.
Look, you can't make anybody ''happy'' anyway, you motherfucker you better listen to me and listen good,
this girl is trouble down the road, and if she doesn't appreciate all you have done for her 'til now, she will
NEVER quit being an ingrate, Girls just don't change their stripes and BECOME grateful later, and I suspect you don't want
to let her go because she's good in the sack....I see American men take so much shit from their ladies so much,
and the guys just sit there and TAKE it...if that isn't you, man up, get pissed at her and show her you are NOT
''equals''...she looks up to YOU, not the other way around, because if this was the ideal relationship, One of
you is the "Head" of the household.... that's not a license that you abuse her or subjugate her in anyway, NO, Love her
as you would love life itself, never hit her, etc. you know the rules....but shit needs to change under that pussy
whipped roof of yours that you need to come on HERE, to get advice.

What, you expected a 'rah rah' positive, ''feel good'' from all of us? Did you disclose EVERYTHING to us?
Women no matter how "sweet" can be fuckin' ruthless ingrates later....IN-GRATES, especially when they get to their 30's when their
testosterone rises as men's drop during the same time period...so either man up, or don't injure your vagina
as you leave this forum.
If a Woman NEEDS you to be "happy", that's too much of a burden for us...not happening, because then by default
you have the UNrequested power to make her unhappy, even if you don't MEAN to...get it??
Good Luck....I mean that.


#16

Actually been there, done that, with a few issues. Things actually got a lot better after that point.

It's solid advice.

At this point it's more that while she's stopped actually verbalizing these things, she still harbors a bunch of beliefs that are making her unhappy. It's not really me; I just happen to be the closest target.

Eh, but people's attitudes toward things change, their belief systems change. It's not an instant thing, and it takes time, but it can happen. There's already been some change already... I'm not in a rush, just, momentarily frustrated and drawing a blank.


#17

I see what you mean... crammed a bit too much for me into a terse statement. It's ok to be a bit redundant sometimes :wink:


#18

lol Either way, I hope all goes well for you.


#19

I feel like people are giving you great advice and you just shoot it down cause it isn't what you want to hear. As others have said, just get out......She was already married before and got divorced, to me that is a negative sign. Not saying all people who have been divorced are bad eggs, but still. Also, she blames you for a lot of things that make so sense at all including taking her time on the phone when she is the only one talking.

The dating a girl 10 years younger is a bit odd to me too.... To each their own.


#20

Ok, so, if that were the case -- that she's acting on her guilt -- what would you do?

How would you use that information to enact (or enable) any sort of transformation?