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How do I show her she comes first in my life?


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My GF and I have been together since 2016.  A few months ago, she's explained that she doesn't feel like she comes first in my life.  She's said that she felt like she's become second.  And, I admit, when I get involved in something I give it 110%.  I started adjusting the times that I performed my hobbies so that I don't do them at all when she's home (she's working 8 hours a day and helping take care of a horse farm 5 hours a day).  However, she felt that nothing has changed since she brought up that she feels second in my life over the past couple months and said "we need a break."  She still lives with me but sleeps in another room over the past week.  I'm trying to figure out how to show her she comes first.

Generally, I have no complaints about her even though she spends a lot of time away from me, which means I have to do more work around the house.  When I need help, I ask her and she helps me.  When I have ideas for things to do together, she wants to do those things.  I do 90% of the laundry because she hates doing laundry.  I also do 90% of the cleaning because she is so busy with work and the farm that there would be little "us" time.  I do all of the cooking when we eat together, but when I have to eat because she's away, she gladly preps her own food for her.  I have initiated 90% of the date ideas when we go out.  I ask her what she would be interested in doing, but am not usually given any thoughts or ideas.  So, I try to find things that we both enjoy doing together, ask her if she's available, and ask her if she'd like to go, which she almost always says yes to.

I generally love helping people.  And, online, I have provided great technical advice to others seeking it on YouTube.  This has resulted in an almost celebrity-like transformation which is cool but not necessary.  I'm just a guy who knows some stuff and talks to a camera.  I have been contacted by others at all waking hours, online, asking for technical advice.  I love giving it and but I don't let it get in the way of my life.  I respond to messages when she's busy at work or the farm, or she was doing other things like playing games on her cell phone or watching videos.  I enjoy quality time with her but sometimes she is pre-occupied with cell phone games or YouTube videos and I could take a couple minutes to reply to a message, and then leave it.  The celebrity-like status has resulted in people approaching me, excited to meet me, asking for photos with me, etc.  I'm a shy introvert, so I don't seek them out, the seek me out and I'm always happy to smile and give a quick chat.  My GF is usually with me when this happens and I introduce her as she is also very knowledgeable on the subjects but they ignore her for the most part.  Regarding spending time with friends, there have been a few times that friends of mine need help with things and I've gone to help them, but I always ask her if she would be OK with it, and if not, I would gladly reschedule because I want to make sure she knows she's important to me.  I generally have no friends outside of a handful which are not local to me.

My biggest concerns:  She doesn't tell me about her core feelings.  She's quick to criticize me.  She tells me "I feel like..." statements which are hard to decode into her core feelings and when I ask what those core feelings are, she doesn't know how to respond.  So, I'm missing data that could really help me.  I've read the 5 Love Languages book and I'm a "words of affirmation" person but she doesn't know what her love language is so I'm trying to hit them all.  But, not hearing words of affirmation, but criticism, hurts me.  The criticism seems strange to me since I want to help and I want do do things to make sure she feels loved but she's not sure what I can do or say to increase the love.  It has me guessing, scared and afraid.  I sometimes become isolated because of this and she complains I haven't initiated intimacy in the past many months, which is true.

Her general complaints are:  We always do what you want to do.  Whenever we go out, people see me as your girlfriend and not as my own individual.  I feel like I come second to your hobbies.  If I had an event related to my hobby, you wouldn't even come to it.  In response, I've told her:  Please tell me the things you'd like to do together and I'm 100% there.  I do not want to spend all our time doing things I want to do, I want to do things we want to do together, but I really need you to tell me what you'd like to do.  I can't control how people respond to me and you at events but I always introduce you as my GF when they meet you so they know I'm not a one man show, but I'm going to try to stop interacting with people that recognize me.  I have adjusted the time I participate in my hobbies to include only that time you're not home but am willing to spend even less time on them because they are not as important as my relationship.  I am completely open to participating in your hobby and anything you'd like me at, but I'm allergic to horses and this means I can't come to events every day or I'll be passed out on Benedryl all the time.

I'm willing to completely abandon hobbies and have already put some items up for sale in order to not have the ability to interact with those items.  I've also stopped responding to people who are seeking my technical advice.  I still do the cooking, cleaning and laundry and have done some special things for her.  I'm kind to her and won't criticize her.  I asked her what I could do help make things better and she said "I just feel like I come 8th to everything else in your life."  So, I'm lost at this point.  I suggested couples counseling in order to learn how to better communicate with each other and have suggested she tell me her feelings, and what she wants from me, so I could truly work on the things.  "I told you many times I feel like I don't come first in your life and nothing's changed" is what she tells me.  So, I need advice on what I can do, beyond the above, as I truly love her and need her to know she comes first in my life.  

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Another example of moving the goal posts. First you didn't "make" her feel like she comes first. Then when you give up everything to focus solely on her it's suddenly that she's been "anxious" fo

I’m with SooSad, and like you OP, I still don’t understand what she wants from you. All she’s told you is that she wants to feel like she comes first, but can’t describe in what way. I haven’t seen an

If I were you, I'd be the one who didn't feel like a priority. If she's engaging in a hobby 5 hours per day most days of the week, that's not a healthy balance at all. She's running away from problems

I'm confused.  By what she means "come first" -and why you're jumping through hoops and turning your life upside down like this.  I want my husband to have friends, hobbies, a social life, a professional life, close ties with family, space and time to himself, etc.  In the abstract sure I think our son and I come first in his life but no I don't have those conversations. I think she needs to get a life and she's making that your problem.  She's acting childish by not directly telling you what she wants and making you guess which is ridiculous.

My husband always puts the liner in the garbage can when I take out the garbage. He'll stop whatever he's doing even if he just sat down after doing a task.  That makes me feel like I come first.  But I don't think of it like that -just saying if you made me think of it like that.  We do thoughtful things for each other.  Every day.  Little and larger.  Depending.  I am my own person and have been the entire time I've known him (since 1994, on and off).  I have my own career, interests, friends, fitness routine.  I do volunteer work he has no connection to.  He does many things I have no connection to.

At the core your girlfriend is unhappy with the relationship and with her life.  So she's being abstract with this come first stuff because if she was actually focused on that she'd know how she interprets and what changes she wants.  Please don't take her invitation to run around trying to please her and convince her and "show" her. Do you care about her? Do you think she is her own person? Do you take an interest in things she is interested in?  I watch some of my husband's shows on TV and listen to some of the music he prefers that I don't.  There were times I was really really upset with him when he put certain family members first way back when.  And I let him know it in those specific situations, in context.  But your girlfriend sounds like she's grasping at straws and trying to make it your problem.  Don't let her.

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2 hours ago, dishrag said:

when I get involved in something I give it 110%.  I started adjusting the times that I performed my hobbies so that I don't do them at all when she's home

She still lives with you, so you'll have to figure out why she's so unhappy. Has she met someone else? She seems to have the story of the neglected GF going on.

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I think I’m on the same page as Batya. I think your unexpected success has made her feel like you’re someone, and she’s not. That’s not an issue that you’re going to be able to solve, because fulfillment comes from within. Maybe she hasn’t quite figured out why she feels the way she feels, and so she’s describing it the best way she can. It sounds like you are a really good boyfriend, another reason why I don’t think you’re going to be the solution. This is coming from her lack of fulfillment in her own life, and only she can fix that. Instead of changing all this stuff in your life, which I worry will make her feel guilty and therefore worse, try to help her see the great things in her own life. Let her be the big man on campus in front of you at the horse farm, or encourage her to try doing something she’s always wanted to try. I think she just needs to feel proud of herself, instead of feeling like she’s in your shadow.

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Seems like she is questioning the relationship and considering her options, sorry to say.  What are your ages?  Maybe she is wondering after 5 years if you are husband material.    However, I think you are doing an above average job of being a good boyfriend to her.  Not many of your interests are aligned so that can be a curse or to some a blessing to your relationship some times. "opposites attract"
 Have you asked her to do the 5 love languages quiz to determine which are her top languages?  My wife and I are pretty opposite that way, so I do my best to hit her top ones, but instinctively I try to hit my top ones for her forgetting that those are not her top ones!  Make sense?

 

As far as the "doing things together"  maybe take turns with suggesting date ideas.  Maybe suggest to try something you both haven't done before.

I think they only place you may be dropping the ball is the intimacy part since you said it's been many months of not initiating.  

Wish you well



 

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9 minutes ago, indea08 said:

I think I’m on the same page as Batya. I think your unexpected success has made her feel like you’re someone, and she’s not. That’s not an issue that you’re going to be able to solve, because fulfillment comes from within. Maybe she hasn’t quite figured out why she feels the way she feels, and so she’s describing it the best way she can. It sounds like you are a really good boyfriend, another reason why I don’t think you’re going to be the solution. This is coming from her lack of fulfillment in her own life, and only she can fix that. Instead of changing all this stuff in your life, which I worry will make her feel guilty and therefore worse, try to help her see the great things in her own life. Let her be the big man on campus in front of you at the horse farm, or encourage her to try doing something she’s always wanted to try. I think she just needs to feel proud of herself, instead of feeling like she’s in your shadow.

I'd be careful at not venturing too far into this role.  She's an adult and you are not her parent or therapist or coach.  I think it most often will come across as fake letting her be big woman on campus and she'll know it.  Reminds me of Carrie's relationship with Mikhail Baryshnokov (who I met on an airplane!!) who played a famous russian artist and had her move to Paris with him.  She played second fiddle to him but it was also because he absolutely treated her as an afterthought.  You don't.  No comparison.  She need not have any sort of celebrity status to feel fulfilled and it doesn't sound like you need that to feel fulfilled.  But yes this is for her to figure out.

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As far as everything you do as a bf, honestly most women would be thrilled to bits to date you and be with you.

That said, there is an old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. This pretty much sums up the state of your relationship. You are doing the lion's share of the work to keep the relationship going while your gf is pretty much refusing to participate.

So you can turn yourself inside out doing things for her, read relationship books but it won't do you any good when your partner is actively stonewalling you.

Could be that she is consumed with jealousy to the point where she can't stand things anymore. Nothing you can do about that though other than let her go. That can kind of corrosive jealousy of others is a character issue that can't be fixed and even if you were to give up things, she'll just find something else to eat at her. Besides, you should never ever give up who you are and what you've achieved to please a partner. Your partner should be your biggest supporter, not a detractor. The moment your relationship takes a turn where you need to give up your hobbies, interests, the very essence of who you are and what makes you happy and whole to please your SO, know that you are in a highly toxic relationship.

The other thing that crossed my mind as well is that she is basically finding fault in the relationship because she's met someone else. Very very common for people to act out like this and paint their existing SO black to alleviate a guilty conscience about either cheating or leaving the relationship. The fact that she is throwing out these kinds of unfounded accusations at you, refuses to talk or resolve anything and is already sleeping in another room points heavily to her having met someone else. Sorry.

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I feel she is just bored... you guys have a lot going on.  So busy 😞 

She sounds like she is kinda fed up with everything, but she needs to learn to do some things on her own... be happy on her own.

I feel you've done plenty enough- but it's not enough.  Not much more you can do then.

Is it just time to accept you two are not as 'compatible' after all?

If she is sleeping in another bed now and has pretty much shut you out?  That's sad 😞  , this isn't the way - to deal with stuff.

 

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You all have shared a tremendous amount of support and concern for me and I greatly appreciate it. I intended to answer some questions you have asked but I want to provide an update. I had such a great day with her during the day. We even talked about how I can adjust hobby time so both she and I can be happy. A good thing.

Then, she abandoned me at bed time again. I just broke down crying in the hallway. It's killing me. She came out and talked. She is ruminating about "being second" and it's consuming her. She also has regrets that she didn't do things years ago because she was in a relationship with me. I told her I would go to the ends of the earth with her to make new memories. I don't need material things or even the house we are in. We have no kids and don't want any. I told her I need her to tell me her feelings, though, so I can understand her better. I cherish quality time with her and want more of it. But I am really hurting every night I sleep alone. 

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She may not want to have anything to do with the man you've evolved into. This is harsh and painful but she too might not know how to vocalize it because it's just too surreal especially because you live together and your lives are entwined. I was with someone in the past who was similar to you but I chose not to continue the relationship because I wanted a quieter life. I also had to come to terms with the idea that someone else could make him very happy but it certainly would not be me. Every cell in my body preferred the other direction. 

You seem very affectionate and sociable. But not everyone is like you and not everyone will be equipped or prefer to have you as a partner. That's just one of the wonders of all of us being different from each other. I hope you find someone who can support you and be a part of your life. You shouldn't give up the things you love doing for anyone. I think you have tried to make this work but every time you think you have tried or given up one more thing, she inches further away or seems confused and disoriented. Her default is to hide away and recoil. I think she is uncomfortable and she's not doing right by you or by herself continuing in this relationship.

Carry on with your interests and hobbies. Make meaningful time for the relationship. Reaffirm your feelings for her, also remain confident that you are bettering your life and stick to your goals and whatever calling you have as an IT guru. Re-evaluate whether this relationship is right for you. 

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2 hours ago, dishrag said:

. She also has regrets that she didn't do things years ago because she was in a relationship with me.

Don't beg or cry or manipulate for sex. It seems she's deliberated this and is severing herself from you.

She has told you how she feels, but you're going in circles. You keep talking about your hobbies, but she's been thinking about ending it for a while now. 

It's possible she's been inspired by some outside attention or interest to reevaluate the relationship.

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A neutral day with her and I ended with me apologizing for last night.  I let her know I kept my feelings cooped up and I broke down on her.  I told her I'm going to need to find someone else to talk to in order to share my feelings because I need it.  She felt that last night was done in order to make her feel bad.  She was angry at me for that and stated, again, that none of this wouldn't have happened if I didn't make her second and never changed.  She packed up some belongings and said she's staying with a friend.  That's OK with me.  I think we both need relief right now.

I asked her if she wanted to fix things with me or not, and she said she does want to be with me but she can't trust that I won't put her second but she also knows there's no way for me to have a chance to put her first without me trying.  She also feels that I'm blaming her when I say that I want her to tell me what her needs are.  But, I can't help fulfill her needs if I don't know what they are so this is a problem.  I asked if she would be open to couples therapy and she said yes, but only if she likes the therapist.  I would like to start seeing an Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist.  I've been to therapy for previous relationships over the years and have learned how to communicate better, but I'm not perfect by any means.

A few more pieces of background info.  I really don't want her to be blamed for any of this:  She is on an anti-depressant for the past few years for anxiety and panic comorbid disorders.  She grew up in a home with emotional neglect, constant criticism and was made the scape-goat in the family.  I grew up in a home with emotional deprivation and fear of being yelled at.  

 

On 3/11/2021 at 8:53 AM, Batya33 said:

Do you care about her? Do you think she is her own person? Do you take an interest in things she is interested in?

Yes, I truly care about her and have been her rock when she needed support over the years.  I feel fulfilled that she could lean on me in times of need in the past, but things changed these past few years.  She's her own person and I want to see her grow and do things she wants in life.  But, I also want to be there for her.  I'm truly interested in her time riding horses, which is the only main hobby she has, but I'm allergic to them so I can't spend a lot of time at the barn.  So, I ask her daily how her time was and know all the horse's names, ask about veterinary care, try to learn what she's working on and am truly interested.  She's also understanding that we're different people and have different interests.  She asks if she can change the channel on the TV or music in the car and I'm always in agreement.  None of that stuff is important to me and I see no point in objecting to it.  She's cool with me doing my hobbies but prefers my attention when she's home.  Sadly, she also spends a lot of time playing games on her phone when I want quality time.  Regardless, I'm her cheerleader amidst all that's going on.  I don't want her to have any regrets in life.  And, that may mean she leaves me in order to grow and I will accept that if I must.

 

On 3/11/2021 at 9:19 AM, Wiseman2 said:

Has she met someone else?

I don't know.  She messages a lot of people all hours of the day.  Horse friends, mainly, but also friends with other hobbies as well as co-workers.  Many of them are men and some are definitely interested in her.  She's beautiful, strong and intelligent.  I am not the jealous type until I feel like her messages are getting in the way of our quality time and then I want to know what's going on.  It's truly possible, she's spending time with another man.
 

On 3/11/2021 at 9:39 AM, indea08 said:

Instead of changing all this stuff in your life, which I worry will make her feel guilty and therefore worse, try to help her see the great things in her own life.

We talked about me giving up all my hobbies, because I'd rather give them up and start fresh with things that are good for the both of us.  I don't need material things, things that have my attention, etc.  People first, in my mind.  But, she agreed she would feel worse and feel guilty.  But, she's having a hard time seeing her life as good at all.  She's always been that way.  When I ask if she loves herself, she says no.

 

On 3/11/2021 at 9:41 AM, Betterwithout said:

Have you asked her to do the 5 love languages quiz to determine which are her top languages?

Yes, and she can't really decide what is more important.  I asked her again after she moved into the other room to be alone and she said, probably physical touch.  Which is what she doesn't want right now.  So, this seems like a self-perpetuating problem.  I'm completely cool if her love language is different than mine.  

On 3/11/2021 at 10:00 AM, DancingFool said:

Very very common for people to act out like this and paint their existing SO black to alleviate a guilty conscience about either cheating or leaving the relationship.

It feels like I'm the subject of black and white thinking right now.  I've gone from totally good to totally bad.  It could be gaslighting but it doesn't feel that way right now.  I'll have to just stay aware and see what happens.
 

On 3/11/2021 at 2:36 PM, SooSad33 said:

Is it just time to accept you two are not as 'compatible' after all?

It may be that time but I'd love to explore couples therapy, first.  My couples communication skills have gotten worse and she's never learned them.  If we can communicate and both decide it's over, I'd feel so much better.
 

16 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

Don't beg or cry or manipulate for sex.

Nope, no begging and I have zero desire for sex right now.  I couldn't help but cry because I'm feeling a lot of pain.  I don't easily cry but couldn't hold back explaining how hurt I feel and the tears came.  
 

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Her reactions don't make sense. Unless there are missing parts to the story or past history we are not getting. Were there any instances of women contacting you on your phone or issues of infidelity/mistrust/cheating? Did she see any inappropriate messages on your phone? 

The trust is practically gone and totally devoid in this relationship. She reacts to you with anger. Nothing about her suggests she's at ease or comfortable around you. You can try couples counseling but I doubt it will work.

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29 minutes ago, dishrag said:

I ended with me apologizing for last night.  I let her know I kept my feelings cooped up and I broke down on her.  I told her I'm going to need to find someone else to talk to in order to share my feelings because I need it.  She felt that last night was done in order to make her feel bad.  She was angry at me for that and stated, again, that none of this wouldn't have happened if I didn't make her second and never changed.

She gets upset with you because you have emotions?  Wow 😞 

And.. to make her feel bad?  Isn't it the other way around?

I still don't get it... make her feel like second, yet her response is to sleep in another room .  😞 

She's full of issue;s & mixed emotions, I feel.. and is not dealing with anything properly.

She is dealing w/ depression & anxiety?  Yah, that can add to this, as some people push others away, etc.

Just let her be a while, to sort things out - but try not to let it all weigh down on YOU here.. it takes two.. and sounds like you are trying.  You can't please everyone - especially those who just give up - for whatever reasons...

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I’m with SooSad, and like you OP, I still don’t understand what she wants from you. All she’s told you is that she wants to feel like she comes first, but can’t describe in what way. I haven’t seen any specific examples where’s she’s said “you do X, and it makes me feel Y, I wish you’d do Z.” How can you possibly rectify this if she can’t even articulate what you’re doing to make her feel second? It’s almost like she’s being vague so that she can continue to be angry with you for no concrete reason. I don’t know, maybe she really is talking with someone else. I just can’t wrap my brain around being so angry that you’re not sleeping together and now she’s staying somewhere else, but can’t even tell you specifically what you’ve done and what she wishes you’d do differently. It’s just odd.

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Sorry about all this. 

Along with others, I'm getting the impression that, whatever it is you're facing in her, it has very little to do with you despite her way of expressing herself. 

This first/second business? It's a trap. I don't mean that to imply that she means for it to be a trap, but think about it: she's asking you to prove something that is, literally, impossible to prove. The goalposts can always move, as they seem to. 

You can do x, y, and z, and she can say she still feels second. Then you do a, b, and c and she can say the same thing. And so what happens—what, I think, is happening—is that anything you do to appease her feelings will just confirm her self-conception as "second." For some reason this is very strong in her mind right now, a misguided place where she feels a sense of (momentary) power and security. Imagine if you vanished from her life she would feel much the same way, just without the immediate target/mirror (you) to pinpoint as the culprit.

Have you tried—and I know this is hard—to ask her what's going on, inside of her? Have you tried to get curious about all this anger, disappointment, feelings of inadequacy? In other words, can you try to take her pain and feelings very seriously without buying into this narrative that it's all your doing? Because at least from the sidelines that seems to be with what you're dealing with here—and not dealing with someone who is handling all that well. 

Your threads are a bit a heartbreaking to read, I admit, in that it's clear how much you care for her. But do take a moment, in this moment of quiet, to remember that you can't cure her or anyone. She's basically asking you to do that, and yet it's inherently arrogant to think you have that power. So to take the bait, so to speak, is just to reinforce the very cycle that's got you two circling the drain, since you're giving fuel to her sense of being powerless, second place in some phantom paradigm that is far bigger than this relationship, I think. 

Moving forward? I would tell her that you love her, believe in her, believe in what you two have, but are at a complete loss and can't move forward without help. If she'll commit with you to a counselor—well, that's something, shows you she's still sincerely invested. If she hems and haws and makes it all about finding the right person, finds something wrong with everyone you suggest, and/or makes no effort—well, then you know that her sole investment is in keeping things exactly as they are, regardless of what she says. 

 

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If I were you, I'd be the one who didn't feel like a priority. If she's engaging in a hobby 5 hours per day most days of the week, that's not a healthy balance at all. She's running away from problems and escaping you, versus working together with issues spoken in concrete terms. 

Yes, in my first marriage when we went to couples therapy, my husband sat there with his arms crossed defensively, always believing the therapist was on my side and not his. I never saw any partiality. He suffered from depression, just as your gf does, and in my experience of people whom I've know with depression, they regularly see things through a faulty lens.

You sound like you might be a people pleaser to your own detriment. And that actually becomes unappealing to a partner when you act like a doormat. Speak up for yourself. Haven't you felt abandoned that she's home so little when it's not necessary? Of course it's fine to have a hobby, but I know I wouldn't be happy with a partner who engages in one for 25 to 35 hours a week. I've chosen a lifetime partner to enjoy spending evenings together and enjoy our days off together. I dated a workaholic for a year who worked 6 days a week, 12 hour days, and that was one of the least enjoyable experiences I ever had.

Don't let her attractiveness and being used to her rare presence for 5 years override your own needs which you've probably been neglecting. 

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2 hours ago, Rose Mosse said:

Were there any instances of women contacting you on your phone or issues of infidelity/mistrust/cheating? Did she see any inappropriate messages on your phone? 

No.  I've been 100% true to her and not even interested in talking with other women.  If anyone was to try to start flirting with me, I'd blow them off.  I don't want that kind of drama in my life.  Heck, we can be out in public and I can see a pretty girl but I just notice and move on.  It's not even a distraction.  She's free to go through my phone if she wants to.  I truly have nothing to hide, to be honest.
 

2 hours ago, SooSad33 said:

She gets upset with you because you have emotions?  Wow 😞 And.. to make her feel bad?  Isn't it the other way around? I still don't get it... make her feel like second, yet her response is to sleep in another room .  😞 She's full of issue;s & mixed emotions, I feel.. and is not dealing with anything properly.She is dealing w/ depression & anxiety? 

It's not logical to me, at this point, what's really going on.  I knew her before she started medication, so I know what it's like when she's not medicated for anxiety / panic disorder.  She can behave like she's been abandoned, very clingly, needy and repetitively stating that I'm going to leave her.  So, I don't think there's a medication issue. 

 

1 hour ago, indea08 said:

I haven’t seen any specific examples where’s she’s said “you do X, and it makes me feel Y, I wish you’d do Z.” How can you possibly rectify this if she can’t even articulate what you’re doing to make her feel second? It’s almost like she’s being vague so that she can continue to be angry with you for no concrete reason.

You asked a good question that makes me ponder more.  Two years ago when she bought her first horse, she was spending nearly every day at the barn and spending no time with me, except for 2 hours a night before bed, eating dinner and getting ready for bed.  I told her that she used to spend quality time with me, but not anymore.  Walks after work, maybe a nap, shower, off to dinner or go dancing or practice at home.  We would social dance.  But, when she would spend so much time at the barn, she came home exhausted and we wouldn't do much on the weeknights.  So, she'd message me asking if I had plans on a weekend day and I'd say no, so she would say she wants to go spend the day at the barn.  I told her that I'm going to be lonely and that she's clearly not aware of the choices she is making which is damaging the relationship.  She felt there were expectations that she didn't know how to meet.  We worked it out but it still resulted in me feeling lonely 5 hours a day, so I started working on hobbies and YouTube editing / uploading / answering questions.  I literally filled the time she wasn't here with this hobby, which is actually producing income from ad revenue, which I can reinvest back into the hobby to make content.  So, it's turning into a low paying business, but it's something.  Anyway, it's as if we were speaking two different languages, both then and now.  But the shoe is on the other foot. 

The only thing is, I'm always home doing what I do.  I never leave the house because I don't have to.  She's at the barn, I work on my hobbies and when she gets home, I stop what I'm doing, spend time with her and ask her all about her time at the barn.  Very rarely does she ask what I was doing.  I then prepare dinner and do the dishes.  So, I'm trying to accommodate her so she can destress and I'm absolutely happy doing what I'm doing.  But, if I can't "make her feel like she comes first" which I can't make her feel anything, the only possible thought that I came up with was abandoning the hobbies, which would abandon the YouTube / business and leave me with nothing else to do while she was gone.  
 

1 hour ago, bluecastle said:

Have you tried—and I know this is hard—to ask her what's going on, inside of her? Have you tried to get curious about all this anger, disappointment, feelings of inadequacy? In other words, can you try to take her pain and feelings very seriously without buying into this narrative that it's all your doing?

Yes, I've asked her to reach down and share some of her basic feelings (sadness, anger, numbness, etc.) but I  get the same answer:  "I feel like I come second in your life."  It leaves me with more questions and I feel like I'm the cause of this particular issue, again.  Deep down, she feels like she has no value.  Medication helped her stop having those feelings a few years ago, and she's still on medication, but she can't remember a time in her life that she had value.  She doesn't love herself, even though she is very lovable and I think she is trying to distract herself from that with things like horses.  I'm kind of "safe" and not as exciting as unpredictable horses.  The stuff she is doing involves training race horses to perform jumping and cross-country events.  So, you're trying to make something do a totally different thing and it's challenging, rewarding and exciting because you never know what you're going to get.  She hasn't done talk therapy in years and really needs this in order to work on her, but every night dedicates a lot of time to playing cell phone games, which is another distraction.  In fact, at one point she said she wanted to distance herself from me to work on her, but she doesn't make the effort, instead she relies on a distraction.  Maybe I've gotten to the point in this thread where I need to stop caring and accept.  
 

1 hour ago, Andrina said:

Haven't you felt abandoned that she's home so little when it's not necessary? Of course it's fine to have a hobby, but I know I wouldn't be happy with a partner who engages in one for 25 to 35 hours a week.

Yes, I felt very abandoned and lonely two years ago when she bought her first horse (she's sold and bought more since then), and I decided to fill that time she is away with my own hobbies.  You've generated some though on my end.  It's as if she wanted me to spend more time with her at the barn instead of doing things by myself, resulting in more quality time together, there.  I'm just allergic to the animals so I avoid them.  Otherwise, I'd have to go on allergy shots and that's a long course of things to take to sit on the sidelines and watch someone ride horses and clean stalls, lol.

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So how old are you guys? I actually agree with some of the other posters. The thing that jumped out at me straight away is that your girlfriend sounds jealous of your new success and it also makes her feel insecure. They do call jealousy "the green eyed monster" for a reason! Jealousy can make someone act resentful and blame you, when really you haven't done anything wrong as such. Jealousy is actually mostly an internal feeling though so there probably isn't much you can do. It doesn't seem like anything you're doing is actually enough. That's probably because the issue is actually within your girlfriend.

I can kind of relate because I used to be (and still am a little) jealous of my best friend. She's very slim and really attractive. I've known her for over ten years and when we were younger we used to go out a lot more. Like to all kinds of events, parties, bars, etc. Because she's so attractive, guys would come up to us, but they would only talk to her and basically just ignore me. Kind of act like I don't even exist. It was a horrible feeling and it made me feel really jealous and resentful of my best friend. At times I felt like I really didn't like her or that she'd wronged me in some way. One time I even picked a huge fight with her. In reality she actually wasn't doing anything wrong at all. She just happens to be beautiful and we would go out a lot together because we're best friends and guys just flocked to her. She would literally just be standing there and guys would start hitting on her. So I can definitely understand how being ignored and feeling jealous can make you resentful towards the other person.

I think maybe the reason why your girlfriend hasn't actually given you real examples of how you're "not putting her first" or given more explanation is because she doesn't actually have an explanation. The explanation is that most likely she feels jealous because you've become kind of famous and people recognise you and want to talk to you. That's not actually your fault. She said she's not being treated as an individual, but just second to being your girlfriend. Well, she must mean by other people? 

If your girlfriend wants to be an individual then that is her responsibility to create that for herself. There is nothing you can actually do to make people notice her more or for her to have a more fulfilling life. I don't think that you should have to give up any of your hobbies or your YouTube channel just to help with your girlfriend's insecurities. It sounds like you really enjoy having the You Tube channel and if it means a lot to you, then why should you give it up? There is no good reason that you need to ditch all your hobbies other than some issue your girlfriend has within herself. If she can't feel secure now that you're popular then there is nothing that can be done about it. However it is also her prerogative not to date you now that your life has changed a lot. I.e. that you're semi famous now, but you weren't before.

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I agree with the thought that the goal posts of ‘you don’t make me feel like a priority’ can and are being moved. This is an internal problem, only she can fix it. 
 

Meanwhile what is she doing to meet you half way? It doesn’t sound like she’s lifting a finger to close the emotional distance between you. And you won’t be able to if she doesn’t participate. 
 

Getting upset at you for having feelings. She needs a reality check!

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Medication helped her stop having those feelings a few years ago, and she's still on medication, but she can't remember a time in her life that she had value.  She doesn't love herself, even though she is very lovable and I think she is trying to distract herself from that with things like horses. 

This is very worrying. A person who doesn't know how to love themselves will find it next to impossible loving someone else. I know you're hurt and trying your best and I'm very glad there hasn't been any infidelity on either your parts.

I hope that both of you find a way to communicate better but I think this relationship is dying a slow death. She has to work out those issues and be committed to helping herself. If she's in denial or heaping the blame on you, it doesn't look good. 

 

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11 hours ago, dishrag said:

She messages a lot of people all hours of the day.  Horse friends, mainly, but also friends with other hobbies as well as co-workers.  Many of them are men and some are definitely interested in her.  

Sorry to say, but it sounds like no matter what you do, it won't work. 

She seems checked out and nitpicking, but over a dead horse in terms of trying to fix this.

She may be talking to others and already planning her departure.

Stop trying to fix it or talk about hobbies and ask if she's planning to move out. Cut to the chase in this matter.

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Instead of accepting critical statements as things you need to figure out how to change, why not simply ask, "What are the things that I'm not saying or doing that you want me to do, and what are the things that I say or do that you don't want me to do?"

She doesn't need to come up with the answers on the spot. Offer her the opportunity to come up with a list of things to help you to give her what she wants. Ask how often she'd like to carve out touch-base time to relax together and discuss these things. Over time, you can come up with a list of your own.

Successful couples negotiate all the time rather than assume that "If you love me enough, you'll figure it out." Skip that. Bribery is the fine art of teaching one another what you each value--and how to make fair trades of the things she values in exchange for things that are valuable to you.

Call her out on abstractions. Those are things that mean two different things to two different people. Things like 'be there for me...' or 'make me feel a certain way...' That's useless stuff. Don't give up until she narrows down specifics: "When you invite me out with your friends, pay attention to me in front of them instead of ignoring me. Otherwise, you give them permission to ignore me, too, and it makes me feel lonely and dissed."

Allowing someone to complain without offering what they want from you robs YOUR SELF of the important information you need. You can blame her for that if you want to, but it's not going to get you any closer to learning anything useful.

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On 3/12/2021 at 9:33 PM, Tinydance said:

So how old are you guys?

There's an age gap but I didn't want to bring that into the discussion because many folks may jump to conclusions.  
 

On 3/12/2021 at 9:33 PM, Tinydance said:

It sounds like you really enjoy having the You Tube channel and if it means a lot to you, then why should you give it up?

I put people before things.  I honestly believe that if there's an opportunity to spend more time with the one I love rather than with a thing, I'll choose the person every time.  Also, I sort of started spending more time on the YouTube thing because she was at the farm so many hours per week.  At this point, I'd be ecstatic to be invited to come to the farm.

 

On 3/12/2021 at 10:00 PM, 1a1a said:

Meanwhile what is she doing to meet you half way? It doesn’t sound like she’s lifting a finger to close the emotional distance between you. And you won’t be able to if she doesn’t participate. Getting upset at you for having feelings. She needs a reality check!

There's no half way right now.  She said she needs time to process her emotions.  So, I'm giving her that.

 

On 3/13/2021 at 5:09 AM, Wiseman2 said:

She may be talking to others and already planning her departure. Stop trying to fix it or talk about hobbies and ask if she's planning to move out.

She hasn't been home in 2 days and I'm leaving her alone while she's gone.  NC.  I will see what happens when she gets back.  She only took a small bag with a few day's worth of clothes and her meds.
 

20 minutes ago, catfeeder said:

"What are the things that I'm not saying or doing that you want me to do, and what are the things that I say or do that you don't want me to do?"

The last time I asked her that, she said she wanted to be left alone.  So, that's the stage where we are at right now.
 

22 minutes ago, catfeeder said:

Allowing someone to complain without offering what they want from you robs YOUR SELF of the important information you need. You can blame her for that if you want to, but it's not going to get you any closer to learning anything useful.

Absolutely correct.  When I broke down Thursday night, I explained that I'm missing data and I don't have the secret decoder ring that allows me to interpret what she's been saying.  And she understood.  I just don't know what her motives are at this point.

 

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1 hour ago, dishrag said:

She hasn't been home in 2 days and I'm leaving her alone while she's gone.  NC.  I will see what happens when she gets back.  She only took a small bag with a few day's worth of clothes and her meds.

Did she say where she's going?

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