Jump to content

Hard to see things clearly


Recommended Posts

I'd love some outside perspectives. Thanks in advance! Sorry if this ends up a bit long.


I am 31, male, while my girlfriend is 24, female. We've been together just over two years and are unmarried. We moved into a house together (rented) 3 months ago.


I love her but am having serious doubts, most of which stem from some core incompatibilities and what I think might be some mental health issues she is uninterested in addressing. However, I'm also hoping some of you might tell me differently / point out where I'm also to blame, etc.


Over the course of the last year and a half or so -- and doubly so those months we've lived together -- I've found myself sinking into depression, anxiety and general apathy. I've dabbled in antidepressants and, furthermore, go to great lengths with regards self-care -- avoiding social media, meditating, exercise, eating right, seeing friends. Everything you can think of. A week away visiting my parents has made an underlying cause of my ill-feeling clearer than before -- the dynamic of my relationship.


It's hard to know where to start, so I'll begin with some positives. Much of the time my gf is incredibly sweet, caring, thoughtful, well-intentioned, generous, funny and we share a lot of similar interests.


On the other hand, she finds it incredibly hard to be alone, cannot take any form of criticism, needs to speak to me every day, and requires a level of emotional/affection upkeep I find hard to maintain. She also cuts herself -- her arms are mostly scar tissue at this point. When we first began dating I thought this behaviour had stopped but clearly I was very wrong about that. She's told me on multiple occasions that she feels like killing herself -- often after we've had a fight. I don't believe she means this manipulatively (at least consciously). I do believe she is deathly afraid of being abandoned and has very low self esteem. Indeed, she explicitly blames me for her low self esteem -- with the cause being that I am insufficiently affectionate towards her, or that I hurt her by some of the things I say, or that I make her feel stupid.


I'm sympathetic to that -- we've both said some mean stuff to each during fights. However, her words are 'objectively' worse much of the time (insofar as that's possible; I'll give an example) -- it's just that her level of feeling is so much worse. Everything I do or say has the capacity to hurt her, including if I tell her I'm feeling miserable. If I tell her that her behaviour upsets me she really can't seem to handle it -- and tells me I'm horrible, a sh** person, that kind of thing. She thinks I'm constantly harbouring thoughts about what a 'bad person' she is. I've tried to make it clear to her that the idea of anyone being a 'bad person' in our relationship is entirely her projection -- I'm simply trying to work out something fair where I don't feel chronically stressed out by someone acting (as it seems to me) like a child. Perspective on this is hard, though. In the end, of course, she's the one who ends up calling me a bad person...


So an example from our most recent fight (the fights have escalated to a point where we seem to be fighting more days than not) -- I told her that I'd thought things through as thoroughly as I could (our relationship dynamic) and couldn't see any way in which her behaviour was 'right' or fair; she took this as incredibly wounding, that I was apparently 'making her feel small' and stupid because I was saying my thinking (I presume) was something like the word of law. She soon after stood over me telling me I was a sh** person, terrible, awful, horrible, etc. I'm an adult, I can take name-calling -- but the unfairness (because she's obviously so wounded by name-calling yet does it often) galls me. Moreover -- the point I'd been trying to get across was how desperate I was to be able to see some way in which I might be wrong. I find myself trying to perform mental gymnastics to justify her behaviour and how I must, actually, be the one somehow misbehaving. This is getting increasingly difficult.


I also do have a habit of overthinking things as a defence mechanism against feeling particularly difficult emotions. I don't believe myself to be uncaring, but I do value space and independence and time alone. And privacy for that matter. I've had to fight extremely hard for all of these things (she likes to go through the contents of my computer) and still feel they aren't really respected and perhaps never will be. The idea that I might be away for several days is viscerally harrowing for her. Within hours she'll speak to me on the phone and tell me how much she misses me -- I've tried telling her I miss her too, but she doesn't believe me, which is fair enough because usually I feel so oversaturated that a few days apart feels like a blessing. My negative feelings begin to diminish and I'm able to relax.


I feel like I'm in the role of an emotional care-giver much of the time -- and that she tends towards occupying a somewhat childish role. I do almost all of the chores in the house, cooking most evenings (for her lunch the next day at work, too), washing up, picking things up after her -- all that petty stuff I really don't want to be cross about. I'm aware there's a fair age gap between us, but I'm not convinced it justifies the behaviour. She isn't totally remiss -- she'll sometimes make a nice meal, and she tends to do the clothes washing since I struggle to bend to the washing machine due to a back injury; but the difference in pure time/energy spent is considerable.


I'm at the point where I feel as if I'd be happier by myself. I know that isn't the case for her. I suspect the underlying thing is something like this -- she's terrified of being left alone so is incredibly clingy, yet looks for ways to be hurt by me and is hyper-sensitive and cannot be reasoned with (she's right to feel whatever she feels, she insists, and to a degree that's true, but after a certain point I doubt anyone can deal with it). I've seen her play our a remarkably similar thing with her father, whom she is incredibly quick to be enraged by and, subsequently, to feel neglected by. In short: I'm tired of being cast as her neglectful dad.


Whew. This really is turning into an epic. Sorry. Finally, I've come to her these last few days and tried to make it clear where I stand. Her response has simply been that she needs me to change too, she needs it to be equal, etc. My stipulation has been that she talk to someone or somehow seek treatment for what I increasingly believe resembles a personality disorder. She was sectioned for several years when she was a teenager and has tried to take her life on several occasions (though not, as far as I know, while I've been with her). She has flat out refused to see therapists -- she's been through that enough, she says, and they don't help. She has no really close friends -- even talking to them might help her see that her behaviour is sometimes unreasonable (I have a reasonably good social circle...a fact she's often not very happy about in itself). I don't really know where to go with this. I told myself I'd leave if she refused to seek some sort of treatment, but I do love her -- and, more uncomfortable still to admit, is that I suspect I want to suffer in this way to some extent. My mother displayed similar behaviours as I grew up, and is an abuse survivor herself who has since turned into an alcoholic etc. So...


Any follow-up questions/perspectives/words of advice would be great. My not-so-secret desire is for you all to tell me that I'm in the wrong and it can be all worked out and it's something I can fix (in myself), etc. Many thanks.

Link to comment

You're not in the wrong, OP.


Your girlfriend needs help, plain and simple. Her coping mechanisms are self-destructive, but also very destructive to the relationship. I have an ex who was very similar, but without the self-harming or suicide threats. He did indeed turn out to have a diagnosed personalty disorder, which he refused to treat in any way. I finally got tired of it and realized I couldn't help him if he refused to help himself.


I cannot conclude which (if any) mental health problems your girlfriend suffers from, but it's clear that this relationship isn't working and it's making you very unhappy. I think you are going to need to be firm with her that there will not be a future if she is unwilling to seek help, both on her own and as a couple. Not only as a couple, as that won't address the root of the issues on her side. Yes, she will be very upset. But you cannot go on like this.

Link to comment

I think you're wrong that she wouldn't be happier on her own. The relationship is dysfunctional. She can't be enjoying it either. Forcing her to be on her own will mean she has to confront the issues that cropped up in your relationship - by staying with her, you are enabling her to continue without getting brutally honest with herself and what she's doing. You staying is implicitly saying to her that things can continue this way. At this stage, I don't think any amount of words or conversations are going to do much use in eliciting a change. If she hasn't accepted by now that she is creating toxicity, she's not going to accept it when you give her an ultimatum to seek help or leave.


The loudest, clearest and most effective thing you can say at this moment, will be said by removing yourself from the situation.


And yeah, I know that's not easy. Maybe you can go stay with one of your friends for a few weeks and go no contact. At least it gives you that time you need to think things over, and it gives her the scare that she might need to recognise the role she's playing.


Ultimately, I think your relationship needs to end, and soon - before any further financial ties come up, before this takes such a toll on your life that you're struggling to function in other areas. But if you're not ready to end it immediately, then at the very least, take a few weeks of no contact (keep paying rent) and let her take care of herself for a bit.


No matter how much you love her, she is NOT your responsibility. Neither are her emotional/mental issues.


Threatening to kill herself, btw, is her way of exerting control and ensuring you don't abandon her. It seems to be working, too.

Link to comment

1) You need to end this relationship immediately, for her sake and your own. Agree with above poster that you are not only enabling but aggravating her issues and stopping her from facing reality and dealing with her mental health problems.


2) Stop worrying about her issues and address your own. Carrying on with this woman in this kind of a toxic insanity speaks a lot to your own lack of mental health.


3) Do not date or get involved with anyone else until you have gone through sufficient therapy for yourself to clear your issues, what's driving you to get marooned in this nuthouse you call a relationship, and basically have your head screwed on straight again.


Btw....your hint about your mother, you are a grown man today and responsible for your own mental health. Can't blame your parents forever. Comes a point where if you suspect that there is unresolved damage from them that is affecting you, your life, and your relationships, it's on YOU to get yourself fixed.

Link to comment

I agree that you need to get out of this relationship, it is not working for either of you.


That said, you need to be sensitive to her emotional state. Look into cutting, and find a resource for her to help deal with things.


But you need to move out. Separate finances, etc.


Maybe get her in touch with her family.

Link to comment

Yeah, I think you've analyzed the situation correctly. It sounds like she may have been emotionally abused as a child and in turn you're seeing the female version of emotional abuse. She is trying to control you through the threats of hurting herself and through the arguments that somehow you're to blame for this situation and if you could only change your behavior she would be better. But what happens in this situation is that you can never change enough to suit her. Also her never wanting to be alone is a way to keep you from leaving in an attempt to keep you isolated from friends and family. I would have guessed you were at the two-year point in the relationship. She will have you do more and more as time goes on, but she won't get better only demanding more from you.


I would guess that she's actually suffering from depression and she may be bipolar or has borderline personality disorder. She needs counseling and meds. You will only get more and more depressed. You should feel no guilt if you decide to leave her. You should always look out for your mental health firstly. If you want to stay with her, you've got to try to get her some professional help. Arguing with her won't help. Instead you have to turn them around and when she says something like you're making her feel stupid, ask her how do you make her feel stupid. When she screams about being left along, ask her why she's afraid of being left alone. The point of the arguing is to finally get you to back down and apologize. But if you keep tossing her questions, it breaks her emotional arguing and actually gets her to thinking. It's difficult to do, but she might realize that there's definitely something wrong that she needs to fix. But, of course, you're not a professional and you might have to save your sanity by break up and moving on.

Link to comment

Sorry to hear this. She needs a psychiatrist not a live-in care taker. She's not ready for a stable mature relationship. You can't fix her. She'll take you down with her. try to extricate yourself from this slowly but surely. Expect a lot of suicide threats, tantrums and a whole host of other manipulative abusive behaviors she uses to control people.

She also cuts herself -- her arms are mostly scar tissue at this point.

She's told me on multiple occasions that she feels like killing herself

tells me I'm horrible, a sh** person,

She thinks I'm constantly harbouring thoughts about what a 'bad person' she is.

I feel like I'm in the role of an emotional care-giver

She was sectioned for several years when she was a teenager and has tried to take her life on several occasions

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...