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Thread: Maybe just communication issues, but want an outside perspective

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    Silver Member chewy21's Avatar
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    Maybe just communication issues, but want an outside perspective

    I (37M) have been with my girlfriend (27F) for just over six years now. Lately we've been arguing. A lot. We have several long-standing issues in the relationship that we're either working on or have promised to work on. For some background, I'll outline the big ones below:

    1. We're not intimate often and rarely have sex.

    This is my biggest issue with the relationship, and for me, most of our problems come back to this one. For five years I struggled with what she told me versus how she acted. She was never really present during sex. It was like she just went somewhere else. She was physically present, of course, and was alert, but wasn't a participant. She didn't engage, didn't seem to ever want to do it. Anytime I'd ask or try to talk to her about it, she'd tell me she just didn't feel that strongly about sex, but that she did enjoy it. Which led to me wondering if I was deficient. Not trying to brag, at all, but I've never been accused of being bad in bed, and there have been times that a partner has been angry enough to hurl that insult if it were an easy one to make. Regardless, I still looked inward, asked if there were something I could do (or stop doing) that would make it enjoyable. She never had an answer, and often would get frustrated at me for asking. Since things never changed, I would get frustrated when I would get rejected four out of every five times I tried to initiate. And I always initiated.

    I started to wonder about why she was seemingly so apathetic about something as great as sex, so I asked her if she felt she was asexual, asked about her past, if there were people who she had bad experiences with, abuse, anything. She only ever mentioned one time, when she was in second grade, a worker at her mom's factory touched her inappropriately (on top of the clothes) and made her feel very afraid. Her mom was summoned immediately and fired the worker on the spot. She assured me that, while that happened and was traumatic for her, it wasn't affecting our relationship, and that she was fine.

    Then, about a year ago, she revealed to me that she had been raped, multiple times and by different people, as a child. I reacted poorly. I was torn between wanting to help her and wanting to jump down her throat for not telling me sooner. The latter side of me won, and I went off. This was only at first, however, and during the same conversation I sincerely apologized and told her all I wanted to do was whatever I could to help. She's since started going to therapy (I already was because of a separate issue with my mother). Her therapist is the wife of my therapist, and we're looking to do a couples session in the near future. However, while she works through this, we're still not being intimate, and as awful as it sounds to say when she's dealing with so much, my needs continue to be unmet in the relationship. I love her, but I don't want to let myself become resentful, nor do I want to lose sight of my own well-being. I won't be any good as a partner if those things happen.

    The work she's doing leads into my next issue:

    2. She's suddenly claiming she's a different person than she was before and that I have to stop acting as if she's the same.

    I'm very proud of her and the progress she's made. But if I'm honest, she's not a different person. She may be trying hard to be, but I can't treat her as though we haven't spent six years together. I know her. I know her habits, I know her conversation tactics, her likes, dislikes, what angers her, what makes her happy, etc. But lately, when I react to something she does or says, and that reaction is based on how she treated me in the past, she freakin loses it. It's confusing to me, because she seemingly wants it both ways: When I behave in a way that's consistent with her past, she's a new person and how dare I do such a thing. When we talk about my needs and intimacy and the future, she's working on it, and it's a process that isn't just gonna happen overnight. I've tried once to point this out, but she took it as me invalidating the work she's done.

    3. She claims that she's the one who always has to change

    This is a recurring argument between us that pops up in the middle of an argument, and there's no way to address it without resorting to score-keeping. Honestly, the numbers are probably on her side. However, I've maintained that the reason she always feels like she needs to change is because I bring up issues far more often than she does. It's not until we're already talking/fighting/discussing that she springs an issue she's apparently had with me for some time. I instead try to point them out when they happen.

    She takes this "always/never" approach with a number of things. She's said before that we never do what she wants to do; we always do what I want to do, and when I pointed out (with examples) times that wasn't true, she relented a bit and said that regardless, it feels like we always do what I wanna do. I've suggested she bring up things she'd like to do, and if we both agree, then we can do that together (one of the issues we're working on). Also, she's claimed that I never compromise, that she always gives and bends. When I pointed out that she asked me to move where I keep my food in the fridge (things I like that she doesn't like), I relented even though it felt like I was being relegated to a drawer. I was clear in saying I didn't hold a grudge, but that it was just one example of a time I've compromised. I also pointed out that we got a rabbit, then another rabbit, because she wanted them, and despite my worries about what we'd do with them when we were out of town, the carpet in the house, proper grooming, etc.

    (For those wondering, the rabbits do have a good home. We love and take care of them and our dog. I hate people who are irresponsibly abusive to animals.)

    4. She often loses control of her emotions, making an adult discussion nearly impossible

    Title of this one pretty much says it all. It's so incredibly difficult to keep a conversation/discussion on track (and to keep it from veering into argument/fight territory) when she's screaming at me every few minutes, usually about one of the above things. Then we have to derail so she can realize what she's doing and calm down. And by then, we've both forgotten what we were discussing before. It sometimes feels like a tactic, but I give her the benefit of the doubt.

    So to outline what's currently going on, a friend of hers (we'll call her "R") is staying with us after moving back to the U.S. from India, where R worked for 15 months. As a result, the three of us quarantined for two weeks (ends tomorrow), and her friend should be moving into her new place early next week.

    In an effort to spend more time together doing something we both enjoy, (sorry for non-videogame folks) we've been playing a game called Ark: Survival Evolved together. Created a server, opened it up so that our friends could play, all that. It's been pretty fun. Also something I thought of the other day that would get us out of the house and active a little more is playing some catch. Since I hadn't owned a baseball mitt in nearly a decade, and she'd never had one, I figured it would be a fun time. So we bought mitts and a couple balls and went out after work Friday to play some catch in the yard. It lasted about 20 minutes before the mosquitoes were too much for her to bear (damn you, Texas!) and she had to go back inside, where I helped apply some gel to the bites. She said she had fun, though, and would be down to try again another time.

    So yesterday was the last day of the weekend, and the day before she had spent all day with her friend, going on walks, watching movies, etc. I don't mind at all, I'm glad she's got a friend to spend some time with while all this is going on. I pretty much spent all day in the office playing Ark, building a "base" (a building in the game where you store materials and craft items) to show her next time she logged in. I finished the house part and had her come into the office to see. She had a pretty "meh" response, though generally positive. Just kinda hurt my feelings a bit that I'd spent several hours on something I knew she'd like and that was all I got in return. But no big deal, she'd log in the next morning before I got up and see all the cool new dinosaurs I'd tamed for her.

    I got up and came into the office, where she was already sitting. Asked if she'd logged into the server, and she said she hadn't. Told her I had surprises for her. Can't remember if she responded; I think she was reading a manga or something. Anyway, I logged in and showed her the new dinos and she seemed super excited and logged in immediately. We had talked the night before about how I got burned out a bit from gathering resources *and* doing all the building myself, and she said she understood and that when we played next, she'd gather resources so I could build because she likes the way I build things.

    Well we hop and and we're playing, and she's out gathering resources. I decide while she's doing that I'll go explore around the map a little bit. So we're both kinda doing our own thing. I mentioned once that this was a really pretty area I was in (our computers are in the same room, so she can look over and see on my screen), but I didn't get a response. Just assumed she was busy or focused or maybe listening to music.

    A few minutes later, I hear her chair squeak as she turns to me, sighs heavily, and says "Welp, I'm gonna get off." I gave her a look that was probably equal parts confused and hurt. "Really?" I asked. "Yeah" she said. "We're just sitting here doing separate things and not talking. Am I wrong?" "No" I said back, "but I said something earlier and you didn't say anything back, so I just figured you were busy. I'm just killing time until you're ready to start building. Why didn't you say something?"

    "No!" she said with her jaw clenched. "You are not going to make me feel bad- I am not going to feel bad for not playing video games!"

    I was pretty exasperated. "It doesn't have anything to do with video games," I said as she left the room.

    I was pretty far from our base, so I spent the next couple minutes getting myself and the dino I was riding back to safety, then logged off to go talk to her. Opened the bedroom door, and she was getting changed. She recoiled and covered herself as though I were some stranger and shrieked "Jesus!" This really got under my skin, because she makes "mountains out of molehills" often as a tactic if there's any kind of tension between us so that she can focus on blaming me for something instead of whatever part she might have in the tension. "Sorry, this is my bedroom, and I'll come in when I please," I said pointedly as I closed the door. Asked her if she maybe felt like trying to go out and play catch again, but she said that she and R had already planned to go for a walk. I told her a felt like she just didn't want to spend time with me and wondered what the deal was. It was basically an argument at this point because she was getting defensive and saying that she'd been spending tons of time with me (when we work remote we're in the same office at home, which I personally don't think qualifies, but anyway...), said the only time she'd spent with R was a couple of nights the week before and then yesterday (Saturday, at this point, when they hung out all day). Don't remember the specifics from here, but the whole conversation made me feel a little swept aside. Anyway, she spent the rest of the evening with R, and the only other words we spoke yesterday were "Good night, I love you".

    Then this morning I woke up late because I had the day off. She was already at her desk. I thanked her for doing a chore of mine that I had forgotten to do the night before, and offered to do one of hers. She seemed annoyed, said no, it's fine. I asked if everything was okay, and she said yeah, I'm just tired. So I said okay, I'll leave you alone. Started playing a game at my desk. Came across a part that I thought she'd appreciate, and said something aloud to get her attention. She ripped her headset off her head and looked at me with this face that said "What are you bothering me for?", but her mouth just said the first part, "What?" I raised my hands and my eyebrows and turned away. "Nevermind," I said. "You're clearly in a pretty crappy mood today."

    So then we started arguing again about what had happened yesterday, she asked me what was going on with me, I told her nothing, that I'm about as midline as possible right now and have been for several weeks. When I again pointed out that I had tried to talk to her, and asked her why she didn't say something if she wanted to talk, she started making a whiny baby voice mimicking what she might say. At that point, I was done talking, because it seemed to me that all she wanted to do was make me angry, and I wasn't going to fall into the trap. I put my own headset back on as she screamed at me, knowing that even if we did get into a fight she had an out: "I'm still on the clock, so I can't do this right now." (She didn't say that, because I didn't give her the chance, but she definitely would have.)

    So after a few minutes of her yelling/talking/screaming at me, I turned off my computer and got up to start doing laundry. Already had it in my head that I was gonna go for a drive, cool off, and that maybe by the time I got home, she'd be cooled off too. Took a shower and had clothes laid out on the bed, and when I got out of the shower she was in the bedroom getting changed. "You going somewhere?" she asked. "I had planned on it, unless you want to try talking again," I responded. So we got into it again. It was more productive, even though she kept doing the mocking whiny baby voice, saying she'd feel "pathetic" if she had to ask me to talk to her. She also accused me of leaving the door open while she was naked and I made some grand proclamation about this being my bedroom (which I didn't, I was merely reacting to her exaggerated reaction, and I closed the door as I talked). She said I had "burned a bridge of trust" with her by doing the thing that I didn't do. I believe this is probably why we're still not speaking and I'm here writing this post.

    From there, the argument got pretty petty and heated, I called her out for interrupting, she claimed that if she didn't I'd monologue for twenty minutes with no rebuttal. Told her I'd try to pause more often if she'd stop interrupting. Then she interrupted again later on, and when I called her on it, she owned it and said "Yes I did! And I meant to!" At that point I was done. Told her so. She kept trying to scream at me, but I just repeated that I was done talking now, thank you. After that I got dressed and left to go for a drive.

    Came home a few hours later. She and R were watching movies in the living room. Part of the laundry I'd done was the sheets on our bed, so I put the sheets in the dryer and went into the office to hang out and play some games with my friends. About two hours ago (just before midnight) I pulled the sheets out of the dryer and made the bed. Found her asleep on the couch watching Star Trek. Woke her up and told her if she was waiting for the bed to be made, it's ready. She said she wasn't waiting for the bed to be made. "You're not?" I asked. She shook her head. "Then you're sleeping on the couch?" She nodded. "Well that's fine," I said. "That was actually my plan anyway, but I can sleep in the bed, no big deal. Do you want your pillow and blanket?" "Yeah," she said. So I went to the bedroom, and brought back her pillow and blanket. I wasn't about to tuck her in or anything after the way I'd been treated today, so I just kinda tossed them onto her legs. Heard her react to it as though I'd pinched her too hard or something, but I kept walking out of the room.


    I've been as fair and honest as I know how to be here, and done my best to show both sides. Though I've gotta be honest, I really don't understand hers here other than she's convinced herself somehow that I inconsiderately left the door open (which I know I didn't). And that means I don't care about her or her progress or the trauma she's been through somehow. Maybe she exaggerated the amount of time the door was open because someone potentially seeing her naked (other than me) is a big trigger for her and the moment seemed longer than it was? That's the only rational explanation I can come up with. Either way, it's clear to me that we have some communication issues, but just wanted to get an outsider's perspective to make sure I'm not somehow being a big ol' dong here.

    Thanks for reading! Getting Ready for a First Date

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    It would help if you stopped treating her like a child. What's the plan here? Just keep living together or kids, marriage, etc?

    Unfortunately it may be time to admit how incompatible you are.

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    In my experience, when people say that they are a different person from before, it could be a big red flag.

    You have been together for six years, so any change would have been gradual enough to not be noticeable. Imagine that you are the right person for her because your characters match, your thoughts are aligned, and you get along pretty well. Now imagine that she changes her whole personality, or feels like she has. Are you still the right person for her, since she is not the same person as before?

    The red flag is that her convinction about her change could hide a bigger reality, which is, she is having doubts about the relationship. I would confront her about it to remove any doubts, since no plans can be worked out if she is really checking herself out.

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    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    Her brain didn't even fully mature until 2 years ago in the decision making area, the pre-frontal cortex, and if she hadn't changed from her early twenties to the later twenties, that'd be pretty stagnant. Perhaps she's outgrown the relationship.

    It doesn't sound like either of you are going to be capable of fixing things on your own, so it's good you're both in therapy and will be going to couples therapy, but that can't just be one session. Give yourself an unspoken timeline of how long you will give therapy to work, and if it doesn't, then don't invest anymore time in a relationship that is too heavy on the dissatisfaction side.

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    It sounds like there has been so much resentment between you two over the years that she's edging out of the relationship.

    Are you sure you want to be in the relationship at this point? It doesn't seem as though she really does, but hasn't quite yet found the courage to end it with you. How do you feel about it?

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    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    5 years out of 6, this relationship has been nothing but a misery. On top of that things aren't getting better, they are getting worse and more miserable. So at what point do you think you can face the fact that this relationship, this woman isn't right for you. It's not working and truly....you've done all you can to try.... I mean there comes a point where you've tried enough and it's time to let go and part ways. You are years past that point already. How many more years do you want to waste on pounding a square peg into a round hole?

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    Silver Member chewy21's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Wiseman2
    It would help if you stopped treating her like a child. What's the plan here? Just keep living together or kids, marriage, etc?

    Unfortunately it may be time to admit how incompatible you are.
    I'm not sure what leads you to believe I'm treating her like a child. Could you elaborate?

    The plan, originally, was marriage. I started looking at rings a few years ago, which prompted me to really dig into my own feelings about committing to her. Ever since, things have been too uncertain for me to consider making that commitment. Your last sentence is basically where I don't want to admit I'm at.

    Thanks for the reply.

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    Silver Member chewy21's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WandererBoy
    In my experience, when people say that they are a different person from before, it could be a big red flag.

    You have been together for six years, so any change would have been gradual enough to not be noticeable. Imagine that you are the right person for her because your characters match, your thoughts are aligned, and you get along pretty well. Now imagine that she changes her whole personality, or feels like she has. Are you still the right person for her, since she is not the same person as before?

    The red flag is that her convinction about her change could hide a bigger reality, which is, she is having doubts about the relationship. I would confront her about it to remove any doubts, since no plans can be worked out if she is really checking herself out.
    Good advice. We've come close to ending it a few times over the past six months, but wanted to give couples sessions a try before we made anything permanent. Those sessions will start in about a week.

    The change certainly hasn't been gradual, at least not in her mind. She believes, and expects me to believe, that she's become a different person in the last four months. While I'll admit she's made good progress and is generally more aware of her own feelings and how her actions impact me, she's far from a different person altogether. I had the same thought you did when she started all this "different person" stuff and asked her if she was sure I'd still be what she wanted once she had worked through everything and finished changing. She said she wasn't sure, but that she loved me and couldn't imagine wanting anyone but me right now.

    So I guess she could be lying about that, but I don't have a reason to think so.

    Thanks for your reply.

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    Silver Member chewy21's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Andrina
    Her brain didn't even fully mature until 2 years ago in the decision making area, the pre-frontal cortex, and if she hadn't changed from her early twenties to the later twenties, that'd be pretty stagnant. Perhaps she's outgrown the relationship.

    It doesn't sound like either of you are going to be capable of fixing things on your own, so it's good you're both in therapy and will be going to couples therapy, but that can't just be one session. Give yourself an unspoken timeline of how long you will give therapy to work, and if it doesn't, then don't invest anymore time in a relationship that is too heavy on the dissatisfaction side.
    I agree, and I'm not saying she hasn't changed at all, but she's certainly not a completely different person as she'd like me to believe.

    The unspoken amount of time, for me, is six months after the couples sessions start. If things don't improve by then, I'll feel okay (well, as okay as one can after six years) about ending it.

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

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    Silver Member chewy21's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MissCanuck
    It sounds like there has been so much resentment between you two over the years that she's edging out of the relationship.

    Are you sure you want to be in the relationship at this point? It doesn't seem as though she really does, but hasn't quite yet found the courage to end it with you. How do you feel about it?
    I'm not sure. She claims she is sure anytime I bring it up. I've brought up my uncertainty before, but it's always resulted in reassurances that we'd work on our issues and things would get better. I believe we have a real shot at that now that she's in therapy as well, but that seems to have brought a new wrinkle with it as well. So, as I said to the poster above, I plan to give it six months once we start doing couples sessions, and if there's no drastic improvement in the relationship, it's probably best to move on.

    Thanks for the reply.

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