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How to help my girlfriend recover her shattered confidence?


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Hi - I've posted a similar topic the other day, but I've learnt some new things and I thought I'd try a different forum. I hope this is OK.

 

Well I've been with my girlfriend now for 2 years (although we were friends for about 3 years prior), and all this time she's been extremely unconfident. She considers herself to be dumb, ugly, etc when this couldn't be further from the truth. She also has some major issues with her body, and is convinced that I find her sexual parts repulsive and that she has fat thighs - when actually she's only recently recovered from being anorexic. She became anorexic about a year ago, and refused to eat at all in fear it'll make her 'even fatter'. Luckily, she isn't like this anymore but her confidence is still shattered.

 

As you can imagine, the fact that she thinks that I find her body disgusting means that we can't enjoy a normal sex life. If we actually do anything, it's always when the lights are off and she worries that I can see or feel parts of her body. She's also very scared of going to college or getting a job, despite the fact she really wants to, because she thinks she's dumb.

 

I actually know exactly why she's like this - her elder sister. For her whole life her elder sister has been controlling her completely, and constantly belittles her in front of everyone. She constantly tells her that she's fat and dumb (see a link between this and the above?) and starts arguements with her knowing that she's too scared to argue back. This led to her being almost housebound because she was scared of telling her sister she wanted to go out, just incase her sister had any plans (because if my girlfriend refused her sister would verbally abuse her even more), and we could only meet up if her sister wasn't doing anything. Also, back a few years ago while they were out shopping, when there was a group of teenage girls they knew, and my girlfriend was red because she was shy: "Are you going red because they're pretty and you're not?". Surely a sister should not treat her already unconfident sister like this?

 

Her sister then moved out a year or so ago (albeit nearby), and since then we've met up a lot more - but her sister asks my girlfriend to go over hers everyday, and if my girlfriend would refuse she'd cause yet more arguements - so she's constantly living in fear of what her sister may say to her, and is convinced that everything her sister say about her is true and that she's worthless. This really upsets me because I love her so much, and because she's so unconfident she doesn't even 'believe' me

 

I just want her to see how beautiful and perfect she is to me, and to finally gain confidence in herself and live her life her way. Can anyone offer any advice on this situation? Thanks

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It sounds to me like most of the problems lie in her truly believing she is not lovable. You see if someone honestly believes they are unlovable, then no matter what you or anyone around them says, or how much love and sweet words you pour at her, it will never override that feeling of worthlessness. I would advise you to get her to see a therapist, to help her overcome this, and let her know that you are behind her 100%. Say to her that she is so lovable and it breaks your heart that she can't see that.

 

I know and love someone immensely too who believes that she is unlovable. It breaks my heart too. It is always the most lovable people who truly believe they are unlovable. the strongest, most courageous, kindest, gentles, smartest people.

 

A type of therapy that may be useful is CBT or psychotherapy.

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On behalf of lots of people in your GFs situation, thanks so much for caring enough to try and help. I think counseling is the way to go too, but it won't be easy and it will take a while. Essentially I believe she not only has to learn to see herself more objectively, but also learn that the older sister is a nobody in the grand scheme of life and has her own problems. I think it will take both of those to get a lasting improvement for her.

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