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How to deal with her temper?


brehze
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I'm a 29 year old man who's in an increasingly serious relationship with a wonderful 25 year old woman, we've been together for about 6 months now, with talks of moving in together before long. We spend a lot of time together, most of which is great, I can see myself living with her for the rest of my life, though one of her personality traits has me on edge and I feel like I have to be cautious.

 

I've only been with 3 different girls, including one 7 year relationship that was smooth-sailing until the end, I've never had senseless fights before somehow, they always had a reason and in retrospect it always made sense. But with this new girl, I feel like she can spin on a dime. We'll have a great day together and then she'll misinterpret something I say, or she'll extrapolate upon something I said, or I'll give the wrong answer to a question, and as a response she'll get angry in a way that seems unwarranted and unreasonable to me.

 

For instance, we've discussed that we want to travel a lot, it's something that we've both always wanted to do, and that I personally have never taken the time to do. I want to do it with her, and we booked a major travel trip 2 weeks from now, involving 3 cool destinations in 2 different countries over the course of 3 weeks. So last night, we're discussing our desire to break out mutual desire to break the status quo, the fact that I want to travel, that I want to get out more and do stuff I've never done before. This is great for me, I've been waiting for this all my life, someone to go on adventures with. But last night she says she worries that it won't last, that I'll fall back in my old habits, which involved a lot of gaming and staying at home when I was single. We started discussing this in some detail, and I said something regarding how there would be some times when we're kinda "stuck", when we can't travel very much for some time due to financial and other restraints. I am willing to do a lot, I have already changed my life for the better in many aspects and I feel motivated, but I know that life sometimes gives you lemons. She took what I said as some sort of surrender - essentially, she was saying: please continue to strive to accomplish things and to live. And when I said I said "yes, but...", she viewed my reservations to mean I would revert back to being a boring dude who works, plays video games and sleeps. Even after I pointed out that it's a misunderstanding and I also am motivated to change my stagnant life (which she wouldn't call that, I do), she continue to feel anxious and disappointed that I was, at least in her eyes, not willing to put effort into staying in motion. She went off to sleep upset, and in the morning she apologized.

 

Over the last few weeks, I would say that it's just about a weekly occurrence. I will say something that is slightly out of place, or she'll misunderstand something, and all goes to hell, sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 2 hours, and in the worst cases overnight and all is better in the morning. It doesn't get particularly nasty. However, in once instance it got pretty heated in a way that I find uncomfortable, when I pushed back and really insisted that she admit she was making a fuss over nothing, which was bound to make things worse.

 

I know that fights are normal in couples, but I'm not used to them and I don't know how to manage her outbursts. I find them increasingly worrisome the more I get invested into this woman. It's disheartening to be with someone who can go from happy to pissed off over a small misunderstanding, and it makes me nervous too, like I have to watch what I say. Part of me thinks it's not too bad, maybe I should just let it happen since it's quick and nothing bad happens if I just say my piece and let her be angry alone for a few minutes, she'll usually just chill out, but for me it's very emotionally taxing and even though it's not abusive or anything abnormal (I think), it's still a personality trait that irritates me. It's pretty much the only thing about her that makes this hard, because otherwise she's delightful, smart, intellectually stimulating and amazing.

 

So what should I do?

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If you have to walk on eggshells around your girlfriend all of the time, the relationship may be abusive, or the very least has the potential to become abusive. I agree that if you can't go a week without fighting that you should be concerned. Maybe she's having doubts about the relationship, or maybe the two of you are simply incompatible. Either way, these types of issues don't generally get better. Consider ending the relationship and finding a partner you can relax around.

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This is not good, and you know it! It sounds like a lot of work, for such a short relationship.

 

End it. I hope you continue to explore without her and not spend your free time gaming and sleeping. Make your like more interesting. Don't wait for others

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It's emotional abuse, pure and simple. If you Google the term emotional abuse, you will see what she's doing described to a T. If you Google emotional dependency, you will see what you're doing to a T.

 

Dude, she is controlling and manipulating you. She is wearing you down so she can make you her lap dog. You're wrong. Fights about nothing are not common in couples. Only in the abusive ones. And part of the abuse is that a lot of people don't understand that they're being abused. You're talking about spending your life with this woman, and you don't even realize that it would be like stepping into quicksand and getting stuck until there's no escape.

 

These relationships only go from bad to worse. Yes, I'm sure she's warm and loving from time to time. But her evil side is not a personality trait. It's who she is. She probably came from a home where there was abuse and she's just echoing it back in her adult life.

 

Anyways, you probably need time to think about it, but you should Google emotional abuse and emotional dependency and see what you're getting into.

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I would say that this much fighting when you've been together only 6 months is not "normal", no.

 

What do you mean when you say that argument got pretty heated - what did you both say and do? And what did you fight over, generally speaking? You say it's often something minor, but you need to be more specific so we understand the bigger picture.

 

Think of this way: if you're fighting over nothing right now, what is going to happen when truly serious issues arise? Conflict resolution is very important in a long-term relationship, and the ability to talk things out without constant fights is crucial. Someone can be intelligent and stimulating, and still be combative and irritable and inflexible. You need to think carefully about what the future would look like here.

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Are you on the rebound or is she? This is all way too much too soon. 6 mos is a good time to get to know each other spend time together take trips together etc. Not talk about moving in together and happily ever after. What's her story? Recent breakup/divorce? History of mood disorders? Substance abuse/drinking? Does any of that run in her family?

 

Unfortunately you are finally starting to see the real her. She's not going to change her character or personality. And you can't fix, change or rescue her. Do you really want to walk on eggshells? Yeah, everything is "amazing" until it sucks repeatedly.

I've only been with 3 different girls, including one 7 year relationship that was smooth-sailing until the end. It's disheartening to be with someone who can go from happy to pissed off over a small misunderstanding, and it makes me nervous too, like I have to watch what I say.
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Neither of us are on a rebound, and although I understand what you guys are saying I'm not feeling like this is abuse, although would agree that it seems like it from me being "scared" of her bad moods, but much of that is from me getting overly affected from her mood swings that generally don't really attack me personally. Rather, she just gets angry on her own and it annoys me.

 

I agree that it's a bad behavior but I don't necessarily think that it's impossible to solve. Last night, I talked to her about it and she seemed very understanding. I don't necessarily agree that she can't change, but if she can't, I know that it'll wear me down and we won't work out. I told her that and she explained that her mood swings are just because basically she's anxious and she's been unsatisfied with her life and wants to move on... I'll stick to this for a bit and see how it goes for the next little while. I think our trip will tell me what I need to know to make my decision

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Unsatisfied with what? Move on with what? How is any of that your fault to make you her punching bag? Does she drink a lot or use drugs? How much do you really know about her, her history, her job, her finances and her family? Go on your trip together as planned. It will be a good learning experience. You'll see even more of the real her and her mood swings and temper. Talking won't change this. She doesn't want to. She just told you that by dismissing it as her "stress" or whatever. If it could, she would be in therapy. But she's not.

she explained that her mood swings are just because basically she's anxious and she's been unsatisfied with her life and wants to move on.
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She has been unsatisfied with how previous relationships from over a year ago were stagnant, how her family and friends were often unwilling to do things and just stayed at home and wouldn't do much in terms of going out and exploring the world. None of that is my fault, nor does she use me as a punching bag, she has "mood swings" that are too frequent and annoying.

 

She drinks socially but very rarely and not enough to even be tipsy, doesn't use drugs at all.

I know a lot about her and I trust she isn't hiding anything, she's been nothing but relentlessly honest and transparent

She's a project manager in a small tech firm. I know that even there, she's had issues with her temper, having snapped at a client and cried in front of her boss, so there's an issue there

 

It's not directed at me. But yeah that's what I know. I agree that there's a problem, there clearly is, but I don't think she's irredeemable.

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She sounds emotionally and communicatively immature, and taking her baggage out onto you. Not much I can advise, because I was like at her age, and grew out of it through trial and error, and making personal breakthroughs. I guarantee she's the same way with her dad. So they bash and bash because they believe the other person won't leave or stop loving them. And they also don't realize how crazy they sound, and aren't really listening.

 

The only thing that really jolted in me to stop assuming things, and actually listen to others was taking Landmark Forum classes. But it made a 180 in my life, so I can't ever knock it.

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I don't think telling her to "move on" from her past is going to help this. In my mind, that's over-simplifying things. I say that having dealt with an ex much like this; it wasn't as simple as feeling stagnant in life or some such thing. It runs much deeper than that.

 

If she truly has anger management problems, you're going to be seeing these mood swings again and again. Take a step back now and observe. See if she takes steps to control her emotions. Be prepared to walk away if it doesn't improve.

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It's not directed at me.

 

It is being directed at you though.

 

I'm with most the other posters in thinking that this is unlikely to improve. Although personally if the rest of the relationship was amazing, I'd ask her to go to anger management / counselling first (rather than an immediate breakup) if only to put my mind at rest that I'd done everything I'd possibly could.

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We've had a second pretty long discussion about it, I told her she might want to talk about it with a professional and she wasn't completely closed to it, which is encouraging, but yeah I'm slowing it down for now. She says that historically she's been pretty prone to having "breakdowns", where she feels the need to just be alone and to calm down. So at least from her perspective, she feels insecure and overly emotional because she feels uncertainty about our situation. And to be fair, she's on a work visa in a foreign country, lots of things are difficult, she's away from her friends and family, so one one hand I'm inclined to kind of be lenient but I told her it can't keep being like that. She cried a bit and felt horrible, so I'll be monitoring the situation and probably propose seeking professional help if it continues.

 

Rest assured though that if it continues and no effort is made to solve this problem, I won't put up with it.

 

She sounds emotionally and communicatively immature, and taking her baggage out onto you. Not much I can advise, because I was like at her age, and grew out of it through trial and error, and making personal breakthroughs. I guarantee she's the same way with her dad. So they bash and bash because they believe the other person won't leave or stop loving them. And they also don't realize how crazy they sound, and aren't really listening.

 

The only thing that really jolted in me to stop assuming things, and actually listen to others was taking Landmark Forum classes. But it made a 180 in my life, so I can't ever knock it.

That sounds about right, although she isn't like that with her dad, to my knowledge, on the contrary they have a very positive no-bull relationship. Most of our talks have been about communication, and to stop assuming negative things, which has been part of my mindset also, though I believe I've gotten over it and have taken to discussing my concerns in a sober way.

 

It is being directed at you though.

 

I'm with most the other posters in thinking that this is unlikely to improve. Although personally if the rest of the relationship was amazing, I'd ask her to go to anger management / counselling first (rather than an immediate breakup) if only to put my mind at rest that I'd done everything I'd possibly could.

People have all manner of vices, I certainly have my own and I've been working on them especially since meeting her. It might very well be that she will not improve and she's just difficult to live with, in which case it'll wear me down and I'll go. But yeah until then I'll try to give a honest shot to managing her emotional issues.

 

It is directed at me but also it kind of isn't... As in, she gets overly frustrated about work and for 5 minutes she's basically enraged, and then it goes away... Like how I snap at people when I'm hungry but worse. If I leave her alone everything is fine but yeah it's certainly very unhealthy and it needs to change.

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OP, if she's telling you that she is prone to breakdowns, then you are dealing with a deeply-ingrained pattern of behaviour. And you have now already suggested she seek help, so there is no need to do that again.

 

See if she takes that step. My guess is that she isn't quite ready to.

 

I get her frustration to an extent, as I also live abroad and have no family or old friends on this continent. It's not always easy, even after 5.5 years of living here and adapting fairly well. My boyfriend is a well-traveled local, who understands life can be challenging for a foreigner here. However, I have also built up a pretty good group of friends in my adopted city, and have activities and a social life that extend beyond my work and my partner. I've made an effort to keep things well-rounded - has your girlfriend done the same? It's so important in terms of keeping sane and happy abroad. I don't think this will be enough to tackle her underlying emotional regulation issues, but I wonder how balanced her life is.

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Thanks for your responses everybody. Things have been good for the last little while, we've opened some new communication channels and she understands my perspective. Our vacation in a few days will be telling though, but I'm quite optimistic.

 

OP, if she's telling you that she is prone to breakdowns, then you are dealing with a deeply-ingrained pattern of behaviour. And you have now already suggested she seek help, so there is no need to do that again.

 

See if she takes that step. My guess is that she isn't quite ready to.

 

I get her frustration to an extent, as I also live abroad and have no family or old friends on this continent. It's not always easy, even after 5.5 years of living here and adapting fairly well. My boyfriend is a well-traveled local, who understands life can be challenging for a foreigner here. However, I have also built up a pretty good group of friends in my adopted city, and have activities and a social life that extend beyond my work and my partner. I've made an effort to keep things well-rounded - has your girlfriend done the same? It's so important in terms of keeping sane and happy abroad. I don't think this will be enough to tackle her underlying emotional regulation issues, but I wonder how balanced her life is.

She's working on balancing out her life here, she's making friends though there's a bit of a language barrier making things complicated, but yeah there's a need to fill her life with more people and hobbies right now, it's definitely a thing. It's in the works :) cheers

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It sounds like she is depressed and taking it out on you, expecting you to save her. And you have been waiting for someone to travel with so you can stop being stagnant. Watch out for codependency:

 

There are times where you will game and work and sleep. There are seasons for that kind of routine. You may replace gaming with taking care of kids, or doing chores or home improvement projects. The result is the same - you are settled in for that time.

 

On the other hand, you don't need someone to go on adventures with if that is what is calling to you. It can be challenging to travel alone, but it is a really good experience I recommend to anyone. You can meet interesting people and learn a lot about yourself. If you stay together, it's not like you even have to always travel together. Most of the couples I know will have times where they travel together, and times where they travel independently, either for work or family reasons.

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