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How do I show I care?


Dontwannagiveup
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I have been with my girlfriend for 3 years now. Due to my selfishness and issues that haven’t been properly dealt with our relationship is on the brink. She tells me that I don’t show that I care. I don’t know what to do. I never know what to do. I don’t want to lose her but she’s absolutely fed up with me. She tells me that I also need to show her that I care. But I do and I don’t know how I can properly show her. 

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16 minutes ago, Dontwannagiveup said:

Due to my selfishness and issues that haven’t been properly dealt with our relationship is on the brink. She tells me that I don’t show that I care.

What do you mean by "selfishness and issues"? You seem to have some insight into this, that's a good start.

 What, exactly, does she mean by you don't care? No affection? No dates? Don't listen? Cheat? Ignore her?

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What does she like and enjoy?  What is meaningful to her?  Can you do any of those things with or for her? Can you show when she accomplishes something that -in a genuine, not gushing way -you acknowledge her success? What work does she do that you can help her with to give her more free time? Yes including housework. Yes including the work it takes to order food, to prepare a meal, to clean up after a meal.  

What do you do when she talks to you? Do you listen without interrupting and ask her before giving unsolicited advice?  

Avoid the passive descriptions of what this is "due to" - own up to it even in the way you write about it  "I have acted in a selfish way"  I have subjected her to my issues.  I have created distance between us by behaving in a selfish way. 

It's good she's communicating all of this and not just walking away.

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When involved, yes, you need to 'give' a little.

A healthy relationship takes your time & energy.  You should be respectful, trustworthy, present ( meaning being there with them at times - do things together) and you need to communicate.

Not sure how SHE is in all of this?  if she is just more 'needy' or if you are actually lacking in a few area's?

THIS Is where we learn.  We learn if we're truly compatible, if we mesh okay.

Has she explained what is bothering her?

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1 hour ago, Dontwannagiveup said:

I have been with my girlfriend for 3 years now. Due to my selfishness and issues that haven’t been properly dealt with our relationship is on the brink. She tells me that I don’t show that I care. I don’t know what to do. I never know what to do. I don’t want to lose her but she’s absolutely fed up with me. She tells me that I also need to show her that I care. But I do and I don’t know how I can properly show her. 

Do you have any memory problems or trouble following directions? Ask her to be more specific and do what she asks. I hope the relationship is reciprocal and loving. 

Has this always been the dynamic?

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2 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

What do you mean by "selfishness and issues"? You seem to have some insight into this, that's a good start.

 What, exactly, does she mean by you don't care? No affection? No dates? Don't listen? Cheat? Ignore her?

I was going to ask the same questions.  It would be helpful if you could answer these questions to give us a better understanding of what's going on.

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Do something special for her such as for her birthday, Valentine's Day and Christmas, for example.  Or, it doesn't have to be an occasion, just do it.

Cook a special dinner for her if you can do it or a take out meal.  Or, go on a picnic together.  Take walks, be a good conversationalist, a good listener and have empathy.

Demonstrate and practice good manners, never interrupt when she's speaking, have compassion, speak wisely and carefully.  Same with texting.  Make it brief yet considerate. 

Be generous with your time and energy.  Be selfless and she will take notice. 

My husband is the very helpful type and I don't have to ask each and every time.  Jump right in and help with chores, tasks and errands.  Don't wait until she has to ask for help.  Just do it.  Always lend a helping hand without her having to ask you.  Be courteous always.  Actions speak louder than words. 

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22 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

What do you mean by "selfishness and issues"? You seem to have some insight into this, that's a good start.

 What, exactly, does she mean by you don't care? No affection? No dates? Don't listen? Cheat? Ignore her?

One, I’ve come to the realization that I can be fairly selfish and have a place my mask on first before helping others mentality. And I’ll make promises I cant keep or lie for no reason. It just me being manipulative. we have a daughter and it’s hard to plan things. The issues she tells me between us is that I’ll say how much I care and lover her but won’t show it. 

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21 hours ago, Rose Mosse said:

Do you have any memory problems or trouble following directions? Ask her to be more specific and do what she asks. I hope the relationship is reciprocal and loving. 

Has this always been the dynamic?

I also have the worst time remembering things. I feel like I live in clouds so often  and just am not present. 

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11 minutes ago, Dontwannagiveup said:

we have a daughter 

Ok you need to get yourself together before you end up with hefty child support payments and seeing your child now and then.

When a wife/GF starts firing warning shots like this...listen.

 Knock off the lies and games.

Help out with your child more. Take her out more. Participate like a mature family man.

Put down the weed or booze or porn or whatever you are so lost in and lying about.

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22 minutes ago, Dontwannagiveup said:

One, I’ve come to the realization that I can be fairly selfish and have a place my mask on first before helping others mentality. And I’ll make promises I cant keep or lie for no reason. It just me being manipulative. we have a daughter and it’s hard to plan things. The issues she tells me between us is that I’ll say how much I care and lover her but won’t show it. 

What are examples of these promises you can’t keep?

You sound disinterested and bored overall. What’s keeping you there? 

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Sometimes you can tell her to have some nice solo time while you occupy your daughter doing something fun. You can get some lotion and massage her feet or shoulders while you're watching t.v. Make sure you do your fair of chores, and maybe  take on an extra one she normally does once in a while. Write her a note to tell her everything you appreciate about her. Even if it's inexpensive, pick her up a little trinket without their being a special occasion. If you have a store called Claire's at the mall, they have some cute inexpensive earrings and ankle bracelets, etc. 

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Often/usually the problem is not what you're doing or not doing, but who you are.  If you are someone who can only get off the couch and help out and/or stop lying to her when you think she's on her way out, then all of these efforts will be short-lived anyway and will stop when the coast is (perceived to be) clear.

Bottom line is you're going to have to forget putting on an act just to save your relationship and seriously work on yourself.

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41 minutes ago, Dontwannagiveup said:

The issues she tells me between us is that I’ll say how much I care and lover her but won’t show it. 

So you are "big on words but small on deeds". Its an issue. But an issue you can work on if you choose to. 

There are number of ways depending of what she likes. Others named a few, but will add maybe few other stuff like breakfast in bed. Other then just stuff you can do around home and kid, you need to show her that she is special. So, prepare her some eggs in the way she likes it and some bacon by the side and pour her a glass of juice. It can be as simple as that and she will be happy you care. As for gifts, other then small or big material stuff, would reccomend flowers every now and then. Its not that expensive and its a nice way of showing her that you think of her. Also, maybe she misses going out due to kid and obligations. So, get somebody to look out for kid and organise a nice dinner somewhere for you two. All that stuff requires a little planning and effort. So, dont just be big on words and show her that you really mean it even after all those years together.

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On 9/12/2021 at 11:15 AM, Dontwannagiveup said:

One, I’ve come to the realization that I can be fairly selfish and have a place my mask on first before helping others mentality. And I’ll make promises I cant keep or lie for no reason. It just me being manipulative. we have a daughter and it’s hard to plan things. The issues she tells me between us is that I’ll say how much I care and lover her but won’t show it. 

Become selfless.  Think of her first before thinking of yourself.  Practice keeping promises you make.  Be good on your word and never go back on your word.  A promise is a promise. 

Don't be manipulative otherwise your relationship will go downhill fast. 

Give her a break.  Let her have time for herself while you take care of your daughter.  During other times, while your daughter is napping or sleeping, enjoy a quiet meal together, put some candles on the table and make it special. 

Help with chores, tasks and errands without being asked.  Be generous and selfless in that way.  "Happy wife equals happy life."  Even my neighbors have told me the same thing. 

 

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On 9/13/2021 at 4:52 AM, waffle said:

Often/usually the problem is not what you're doing or not doing, but who you are.  If you are someone who can only get off the couch and help out and/or stop lying to her when you think she's on her way out, then all of these efforts will be short-lived anyway and will stop when the coast is (perceived to be) clear.

Bottom line is you're going to have to forget putting on an act just to save your relationship and seriously work on yourself.

^ I think this entire post nailed it.  You can't show how you care because you really don't, or simply can't be bothered.  This is just who you are.  A part of your general make-up.  Time to really look within and get some professional help to get to the bottom of where all this behaviour is coming from.

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On 9/11/2021 at 4:02 PM, Wiseman2 said:

What do you mean by "selfishness and issues"? You seem to have some insight into this, that's a good start.

 What, exactly, does she mean by you don't care? No affection? No dates? Don't listen? Cheat? Ignore her?

 

On 9/14/2021 at 12:36 AM, MissCanuck said:

And where do you think you learned to behave this way?

 

I would say looking back and taking the time it comes from how I was raised. As I’ve gotten old issues in that relationship have cause problems with my girlfriend. I love my girlfriend. I love our child. I hate being selfish because in the end I don’t get much out of it. I don’t feel grounded so I feel like I distract myself from things that are important or even hard to deal with. 

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On 9/12/2021 at 2:38 PM, Rose Mosse said:

What are examples of these promises you can’t keep?

You sound disinterested and bored overall. What’s keeping you there? 

Like I’ll say I’ll do something like fill the holes in the walls and get distracted and not do anything until she’s upset that they are still there even though I said I would do them before. Or the big issue which is all my own fault not managing my money right. I’ll spend and spend trying to appease everyone and be upside for part of the month throwing finances. Like I dont want to be this way and I have to step back and assess the way I’m behaving cause one I’m just gonna be like this with the next person I would be with if we broke up and two I don’t want to run away cause that’s always my first instinct. Like people are better off without me but that’s selfish cause I’m running not trying to change. And I do legitimately want to change! 

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8 minutes ago, Dontwannagiveup said:

Like I’ll say I’ll do something like fill the holes in the walls and get distracted and not do anything until she’s upset that they are still there even though I said I would do them before. Or the big issue which is all my own fault not managing my money right. I’ll spend and spend trying to appease everyone and be upside for part of the month throwing finances. Like I dont want to be this way and I have to step back and assess the way I’m behaving cause one I’m just gonna be like this with the next person I would be with if we broke up and two I don’t want to run away cause that’s always my first instinct. Like people are better off without me but that’s selfish cause I’m running not trying to change. And I do legitimately want to change! 

No you don't want to change badly enough because you're taking too much of a passive approach and not showing with even small actions that you're doing the actual work not just talking and musing and having a pity party.  You get more pleasure than pain out of being  this way -more benefits in choosing to be "distracted".  Have you been tested for any medical or mental health issues that relate to distraction? Do you keep reminder lists and lists to remind you to look at the reminder list? What if you tell yourself you'll give $___ (an amount that would hurt you) to a cause you despise if  you break your promise to follow through?

Stop telling yourself stories and lies about how you spend to "appease" -that is only partly true.  You over spend because you choose to.  Full stop.  You don't need to "assess" anything -you're smart -you know exactly what steps to take.  You know how not to whip out a credit card and purchase something.  

I'd also not go with the "people are better off without me" because that devolves into a pity party where you beat yourself up and tell yourself that is "doing something".  It's not. 

First instincts -so what.  We all have first instincts we choose to ignore to do the right thing.  I dropped an egg carton (careless) I'd just paid for the other day.  With a cart full of paid for perishable groceries and I was exhausted and rushed. 

I was tempted to exchange the eggs for a fresh carton - and leave. Yes, I was tempted.  I could have done so if it was the store's fault.  But it was mine.  I could have left without the carton and wasted the $.  But I got a new carton of eggs.  I waited on the express line and told the cashier "I broke this carton of eggs.  I took a new carton and want to pay for it".  She said "no no it's fine - just take the new one". 

Yes, my instinct was to exchange with the silly rationalization that of course I've arrived home to find food they sold me no good (even if I had gone back later to pay which is not really feasible where I shop). Or to waste the food.  So? Am I a terrible person because I was tempted in my state of mind? No.  I don't think so.  Because I chose not to act on it.  I chose to take full responsibility.  We all have first instincts that are not the best even shameful when we're vulnerable.  You're an adult. You get to choose how to react.  What are you going to choose?

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It's little actions that add up over time and become habit. Talking about improving or changing is only talk unless it's put to action or practice. Reckless spending, not feeling grounded, pressured or divided would be a problem and signify some other underlying mental health issue. I would also not rule out fatigue, listlessness, being burnt out or low motivation as something physically amiss and would see a doctor to rule out any physical issues.

I think you need more help than a forum of laypeople can provide. 

 

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3 hours ago, Dontwannagiveup said:

Like I’ll say I’ll do something like fill the holes in the walls and get distracted and not do anything until she’s upset that they are still there even though I said I would do them before. Or the big issue which is all my own fault not managing my money right. I’ll spend and spend trying to appease everyone and be upside for part of the month throwing finances. Like I dont want to be this way and I have to step back and assess the way I’m behaving cause one I’m just gonna be like this with the next person I would be with if we broke up and two I don’t want to run away cause that’s always my first instinct. Like people are better off without me but that’s selfish cause I’m running not trying to change. And I do legitimately want to change! 

Please make an appointment with a psychiatrist. It sounds like you might be living with undiagnosed ADHD and so that will make your life very difficult. It's easy for people to accuse you and say things like you forget because you don't want to do it badly enough. It's about as helpful as telling a person with a broken leg that they could run if they really wanted to. This kind of forgetfulness and lack of impulse control usually are symptoms of a bigger problem that can be treated, managed, and addressed properly so you don't have to live feeling bad and destroying relationships. Feeling bad, worried, or guilty won't help you. Getting proper professional care will change your life for the better.

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