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How to deal with oversensitive/workaholic/insecure girlfriend?


fastwalker

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My girlfriend is very "Type A" personality. She's an extremely hard worker, to her own detriment. She is stuck in dead-end jobs (waitressing, home health aid, and housecleaning) where her employers treat her badly and she is overworked to death. She returns home to a family whom she financially supports (and I'm not talking children: her mother and two young adult sisters). She is sufficiently emotionally drained.

 

As she works as a waitress, and I work a 9-5 M-F job, the only day we share off is Sunday. But by the end of her workwork, she generally wants to be alone doing "introverted projects" such as sewing or exercising.

 

I generally feel shafted by the amount of attention she gives me. Even when I point this out in the most neutral terms, she accuses me of being petulant.

 

She sleeps at my house every night of the week, but she doesn't arrive usually until 11pm, and then I'm up at 8 for work, so that doesn't exactly give us quality time together.

 

There is so much more detail I could go into about my lame relationship anguish, but will spare some details. I will say we have been together for 2.5 years, and are both in our mid-20s. I have been cheated on several times in the past, and brought some serious insecurity issues to this relationship. She certainly has as well. Our personalities are very different but I think our internal processes and worldviews are rather similar. Sometimes she is so nice to me but generally she claims she is just too tired to do anything except watch TV, but she's willing to chauffeur her adult sister around 3 nights a week.

 

I have certainly raised these issues with her, but she becomes very defensive and, truthfully, I don't really have much to say. I just think at some point you turn your focus away from family and work on building your own life. You can't really be a true help for others if you're a mess yourself, right? She describes herself as a "people pleaser" and she has a terribly hard time saying "no" to anything, except me it seems! And in fact I am the only person I've ever seen her stand up to or raise her voice at, which I find comforting but sad: since she is walked all over by her family and employers and I sincerely believe that I try to do good things for her and offer her a way out or at least some breathing room.

 

But then I spend all week wondering if she's just doing stuff behind my back, and using me like a hotel room?

 

 

 

Why do people stay in relationships if they don't want to devote any time to the other person? Isn't that the point?

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To some extent I can relate to her from my own experience. She has her duties and priorities set from prior to your relationship, and is ticking off the tasks she has to do each day. To her, sleeping at your place is giving you all her "spare" time.

 

In order to help change this, those tasks of hers need to gradually be weaned away from her and to someone else. It will be hard for her to let go - there's a degree of satisfaction in owning those duties and in being Superwoman. But it's the only way to achieve what you are after.

 

I think you are also needier than she is - how busy are you? Do you have anything else in your life besides her and work?

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It certainly sounds as though your girlfriend is a 'people pleaser', and many of the behaviours you describe are self-destructive and, in some sense, compulsive. You could actually describe her as codependent - which is a form of addiction, but to behaviours rather than a substance.

 

However ... you can't change her. Her defensiveness when you've tried to discuss the issues which bother you is similar to that of any other addict and, sadly, the fact that you do your best to support her through all this will actually prolong her behaviour. She's unlikely to change unless she has a physical or emotional breakdown through over-work. Her relentless working for other people's benefit and not being available to you is actually part of a condition which arises from being unable to establish intimate relationships which are based on sharing and both partners being equal.

 

You need to recognise that, given who she is, she is doing her best. The next question is to ask yourself why you are staying in a relationship where your needs are very clearly not being met. This is not a rhetorical question - looking at your own issues may yield some very interesting information.

 

Hope this helps!

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Her relentless working for other people's benefit and not being available to you is actually part of a condition which arises from being unable to establish intimate relationships which are based on sharing and both partners being equal.

 

Or being in relationships where she feels the other person doesn't have that desire. My ex used to accuse me of that, but in reality he was totally unavailable so I simply stopped trying and focused on other things in my life. Not saying that's the OP, just counterpoint to your argument.

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To some extent I can relate to her from my own experience. She has her duties and priorities set from prior to your relationship, and is ticking off the tasks she has to do each day. To her, sleeping at your place is giving you all her "spare" time.

 

In order to help change this, those tasks of hers need to gradually be weaned away from her and to someone else. It will be hard for her to let go - there's a degree of satisfaction in owning those duties and in being Superwoman. But it's the only way to achieve what you are after.

 

I think you are also needier than she is - how busy are you? Do you have anything else in your life besides her and work?

 

 

 

Thank you for your response.

 

I agree perhaps I am "needier" than she is, but that's why I asked the question of why be with someone if you're not willing to spend energy on them. I have a much more extensive extra-curricular life than she does. My close friends don't live nearby, but I enjoy going to local music performances a lot, say maybe average 4-6 times a month. She is not interested in that stuff and has perhaps accompanied me to a show 3x since we've been together. Now, my tastes are a little avant garde, and she's pretty introverted, so I don't blame her for wanting to stay home if I go out to something like that. And whenever she has an event she'd like to attend, such as a band SHE likes, maybe a poetry reading or something like that, I will gladly accompany her even if it is not my forte, just for the chance to go on a date with her! She's also very good at making plans to do something and then backing out. For instance she will say "well maybe we can get dinner together tomorrow night" after blowing me off to, I don't know, go for a bike ride or whatever she does when I'm not around, and then when tomorrow comes it's the same deal. Rinse, wash, repeat.

 

I try to suggest date ideas. She shoots them down a lot. I try to surprise her and she will display disinterest. She also gets mad at me, accusing me of a having some gadabout social life while she has none. And, compared to her, I do, but it is her own fault. We don't live in a very big area, but it seems like she would rather our social lives not overlap at all, since she seems to instantly discriminate against anyone I may know or anything I may be interested in. It makes me wonder why she's with me and what she likes about me at all.

 

One thing that really bugs me is that... I had a roommate who was an old acquaintance from high school. Well after six months of living together, he decided he didn't like me and moved out. He then promptly called and asked my girlfriend out. She claimed it was just a friend thing, and told me she never went out with him. And as far as I know they have never hung out since then. I told her that I did not feel very comfortable about the situation, since I had no fond feelings towards this person whatsoever, but that it is her life and she could hang out with whomever she wants: just please be honest about it to me. Well over the months my suspicions were piqued enough to check her cellphone where I would occasionally find out that she had flat out lied to me on numerous occasions about what she had been doing at a certain time for instance. When I confronted her about it, a massive fight ensued where I reiterated my original point of do what you want just please be honest with me, I feel betrayed by your interest in this person whom dislikes me, etc. But that's a whole other tangent...

 

I know she has a lot of issues but she is a really smart and lovely girl. I just wonder if people like this will be like that their whole lives or if there's a real chance. I have a sort of outlook toward her where "if it's not one thing, it'll be another". So maybe I'm doomed?

 

But really, why be with someone if you're not going to BE WITH THEM?

 

 

It certainly sounds as though your girlfriend is a 'people pleaser', and many of the behaviours you describe are self-destructive and, in some sense, compulsive. You could actually describe her as codependent - which is a form of addiction, but to behaviours rather than a substance.

 

However ... you can't change her. Her defensiveness when you've tried to discuss the issues which bother you is similar to that of any other addict and, sadly, the fact that you do your best to support her through all this will actually prolong her behaviour. She's unlikely to change unless she has a physical or emotional breakdown through over-work. Her relentless working for other people's benefit and not being available to you is actually part of a condition which arises from being unable to establish intimate relationships which are based on sharing and both partners being equal.

 

You need to recognise that, given who she is, she is doing her best. The next question is to ask yourself why you are staying in a relationship where your needs are very clearly not being met. This is not a rhetorical question - looking at your own issues may yield some very interesting information.

 

Hope this helps!

 

thank you for this reply as well, though the perspective is a bit fatalistic and one that I was already subscribing to: thus I came here looking for something fresh!

 

unfortunately, she is extremely compulsive (though, as she often defers to point out, others in her family are much worse).

 

why am i staying in a relationship where my needs are not being met? that is an excellent question, and I think it's one i've been asking over and over in this post. i suppose the true answer is because i don't feel that any one person will meet all of another persons needs, and that relationships are about sacrifice, and the fact that i care about this girl a whole lot that i would just feel like a terrible person for dumping her because of my own selfish needs. the give and take...? i don't know. it's rough. i suppose i would hate to feel like i've wasted almost 3 years of my life.

 

there's also the fact that half of her family is moving many hours away soon, and a slight chance that things may improve. but as i already stated, i fear something else falling in place to fill the gap will leave her just as stressed and overwrought as before.

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Everything you're saying points to simple incompatability, IMO. I don't think it's that she has no time for you, it's that you're living very different lives.

 

well i don't know that it's just simple incompatibility. things can be generally good. we joke and get along, it's mostly that i'm worried about her! i enjoy spoiling her and i know she likes it! i think she is very worried about herself too but just feels helpless and trapped. and then time flies and you've been doing the same routine for years!

 

i would (and have) gladly sacrificed my extracurricular stuff to just hang out and watch some trashy TV with her. other than supporting myself and my cat, she's my number one priority. maybe i'm just more nurturing than she is?

 

i would certainly rather save it than end it. she's never intentionally mean to me, i just think she's not very good at interpersonal relationships. to end it would mean abandoning her, and i feel like that's a pretty selfish predicament to find myself in.

 

thank you for the insight. it's nice to be able to vent to non-involved parties!

 

she sounds like an awful gf. maybe a really awesome sister, but a bad gf.

 

perhaps she is, but let's say, for instance, you've been with someone for a year and it's going well but then their mother develops Alzheimer's and the next years of their life are spent taking care of this person. Wouldn't you feel awful for calling them an awful SO because they were being altruistic enough to care for their parent but didn't have as much time to be fooling around with you? that's sort of what i am finding myself in, i think.

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well, there's a difference between not as much time to spend with her SO vs. spending NO quality time together. it's the fact that you said she shoots you down when you suggest dates or say you want to spend couple time together that made me say that.

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well, there's a difference between not as much time to spend with her SO vs. spending NO quality time together. it's the fact that you said she shoots you down when you suggest dates or say you want to spend couple time together that made me say that.

 

yes, thank you. there is. i appreciate your insight.

 

she's very much a homebody, she's very much frugal, and she's very much always afraid of what tomorrow will bring her to do. it makes dating hard i guess.

 

oh well. i guess i know what i should do i just don't feel right about doing it.

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i would approach her in a really loving way. say that you love her and that you love spending time with her. that you understand she has a lot of obligations, but she also has a relationship with you and she has to nurture that relationship. tell her what you want in concrete terms. like 1 special date a week. i think that's reasonable. if she does not, then maybe it is time to let her go.

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i would approach her in a really loving way. say that you love her and that you love spending time with her. that you understand she has a lot of obligations, but she also has a relationship with you and she has to nurture that relationship. tell her what you want in concrete terms. like 1 special date a week. i think that's reasonable. if she does not, then maybe it is time to let her go.

 

that's an idea i can try. i think i will soften her up first by showing her link removed

 

i do really appreciate all this. thoughtfulness and insight from a complete stranger is pretty miraculous.

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lol, thanks. actually i have a friend who has a gf like yours. she is kind of the saint of the family. cares after everyone, and picking up everyone else's missed obligations. luckily, it seems like they do make time for each other. i think that's what keeps him hanging in there.

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lol, thanks. actually i have a friend who has a gf like yours. she is kind of the saint of the family. cares after everyone, and picking up everyone else's missed obligations. luckily, it seems like they do make time for each other. i think that's what keeps him hanging in there.

 

my gf has an 18 year old sister who has recently graduated high school and a 22 year old sister who has recently graduated college.

 

they all live in a 2 bedroom apartment with their mother. the 18 year old sister has been hospitalized in the past due to anorexia. she is also an obsessive gymnast. she has license, but my girlfriend and her mother are too worried about the youngest sister to let her drive herself, so my girlfriend "volunteers" (she tells me this daily, as though it's a surprise every day) to pick up her sister from gymnastics 3 nights a week and make sure she eats her dinner afterwards. it is, as you can imagine, incredibly taxing on my girlfriend. they are a very co-dependent family. my girlfriend seems to think that her mother works too hard and needs the break, even though she works less than my girlfriend does! it's just the good-girl syndrome i guess. it is very taxing because her family seems, to me, to mostly take her for granted. and as i'm sure some of you may know, dealing with a family member with an eating disorder is challenging, to say the least. i tell my girlfriend that she doesn't need to be supporting her anorexic sister's gymnastics habbit, and she agrees, but won't change her ways because she sees it as the only thing in her young sister's life that brings her joy (even though it really doesn't!)

 

her youngest sister is like her, 10x in terms of over-achieving in school. my girlfriend is going to struggle with her fear for her family's security for the rest of her life i think. i just don't know how to suggest healthier ways for her to deal with it; she just sacrifices her entire being. and every now and then, when they're especially ungrateful to her, she will vent about how she knows all this is true, but generally she is just sympathetic to them.

 

where's dad? far away. but my girlfriend hasn't spoken to him in over 5 years, and in the near-three-years that i've been with her, she hasn't even told me why, except to say she doesn't like him and that no physical abuse was involved. which i find odd since she has been physically abused by her mother in the past but she has much more sympathy for her. maybe it's a woman/woman identifying thing, i don't know.

 

it all really ties my head in knots.

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does she ever tell you how she feels taken for granted?

 

yes. often.

 

but when i press her to make changes, she'll trivialize it and say she just needs to vent.

 

of course, she tells me that *I* take her for granted as well. such as when i am not so sympathetic to her not wanting to spend time with me in lieu of her family or 6-day-work-week obligations and i do get maybe a little petulant.

 

i suppose i could be more supportive of her lifestyle decisions, but it's hard to see how i take her for granted when i'm constantly buying her small gifts, occasionally offering my driving services to alleviate her nights, try to take her out whenever we may have a few spare hours, etc.

 

but well, who knows?

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Out of curiosity, do you want to marry her? Is your girlfriend 'the one' for you?

 

do you believe in "the one"? with 9 billion people on the planet, the chance of "the one" being someone i run accross seems pretty slim, if they're out there at all.

 

i do think she would be worth marrying if she would "improve". but i don't think people really change. she says she's not ready to get married. which i can only presume means she's just waiting for something better to come along. but neither her nor i have families that set a fine precedent for institutions such as marriage. (my parents have 5 between the 2 of them and her parents bitterly divorced to seemingly become friendless loners, a lifestyle she already sort of lives) i do love her and WOULD marry her but sometimes i wonder if she's just stringing me along. i think she has a past history of cheating but has never explicitly stated it to me. i am somewhat paranoid (distrustful?) by nature but have put pretty good faith in her i think.

 

i think our personalities are similar. i used to have much lower self-esteem but somewhere along the line i changed my thinking in such a manner as to avoid many external self-pity traps. i realize changing your thought process is an incredibly hard thing to do. but it is not impossible. i think if you want something, get it, or change things to work in your favor. i try to occasionally point this out to her, but it's hard thing to hear sometimes when you're in the depths of hopelessness. then again, i've also never had to deal with the type of situation she has found herself in; i distanced myself from my family relations to avoid precisely the type of interactions she's found herself in: because i do not want the stresses of it. so perhaps she is a better person than i for "caring" or being so altruistic. in the long run, i don't think it will matter either way. she has much deeper issues regarding guilt than i do. maybe it's a male/female thing?

 

i know i care about her. i know i have told myself that i would marry her. i know that i did not feel that way in the entire course of my last long relationship. i know i want to support her (and have offered her this in a form she has come very close to accepting on several occasions, but backed down). i know she is very important to me and i love seeing her happy. but unfortunately it is not very often these days.

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Question asked in that way specifically to get a strong response. Some people believe in soul mates, other believe in multiple 'the ones', and others want to be alone in a log cabin in the woods.

 

It's very hard when you are in the middle of something and want it to work out to see some of the major challenges in it. First, you give some contradictory statements. I think she would be worth marrying if she changes, but people don't change. Follow that to it's logical conclusion ... you actually don't think that she's worth marrying.

 

And everything you say after this is either trying to convince yourself (as you say) that you would marry her or analyzing your personalities. What is interesting is that people who marry don't always have to say that the other person is 'the one' to be successful. But, they do point out aspects of their relationship that work really well: the ability to communincate well, negotiate effectively, cooperate fully, resolve conflict, share trust, maintain integrity, and support each other. Unfortunately, you talk about the opposite: you've been able to resolve your major issues, you do not trust her in that you suspect she's stringing you along, and you certainly never resolved the situation where she lied to you thus breaking her integrity, and it doesn't sound like the two of you support each other.

 

I think it would be interesting for you to examine your family history and investigate the reasons for each divorce. I think often before marriages that fail, people enter into them ignoring major issues that they did not resolve beforehand and instead of improving it just festers and the relatinship just dies.

 

It's hard to hear these things. And maybe you won't take them to heart, but if this relationship is going to go the distance there have to be some major changes - not only in her actions but in your FEELINGS. If she changes her actions, will you change your feelings, who knows? But both of those aspects really need some attention.

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i think my feelings are pretty strong. part of me thinks she's still a "little girl" and i have faith that she'll grow up and out of this stuff. and i'd hate to miss out on her lovely future because of a choice i make now that seems self-serving depending on how i look at it.

 

your comments are pretty spot-on, obviously, but i was already aware of my contradictions. people are naturally full of them.

 

i can't really examine her family history because she is very guarded about it. my family history has resulted in me not emulating my parents. i was the first person in my fathers family to graduate college, for instance. and my parents personalities and lifestyles are different than mine in many ways as well. i don't feel that i have emulated their relationship problems all that much, but i suppose it is certainly something to dwell on.

 

maybe i should just let her read this thread.

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