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xchakax's avatar

My girlfriend is very sensitive and it's starting to really push me away. Help?

Asked by xchakax (69 points ) January 8th, 2013

Hi everyone. Thank you for taking the time to read and possibly help out. Here’s some basic info about me, after which I’ll give details about my relationship:

I’m 28, living in Southern California, and live a healthy lifestyle. My girlfriend is also 28, lives in Southern California but she lives about 2 hours away. We’ve been together for a year and almost one month. We see each other every weekend. Either I come up or she comes down. I come up more than she does since she drives an SUV and her gas is expensive and I drive a sedan. She’s also in school and is finishing in 3 months. During my unemployment I would come up sometimes more than once a week to see her and spend time with her.

The problem is that my girlfriend is very sensitive and at times insecure. She is a VERY nice girl with a kind heart. This all started about 6 months ago. We would never really get into any arguments or fights. Our first real argument was over the price for airfare. I was traveling last minute to Canada to see some family and she wanted to come. She asked how much tickets were and I said, “roughly” $1000. I didn’t think much of it because that’s what I was looking at. She said, “oh that’s too much…I won’ be able to afford that”

A couple days later she called me and asked, why I lied about the ticket price and if I wanted to go alone I should have just said so. I asked what she meant, because I didn’t lie. She tells me that she checked tickets and found some as cheap as $650. I told her those have multiple stops and are red-eye. She said that I lied and that my explanation doesn’t make sense. We went back and forth a lot until I had to seriously apologize like 4 times over a period of 2 days until she accepted my apology and let go of the issue. It turns out she very sensitive to HOW I say and WHAT I say to her. We had a couple more fights, all of which I had to learn to speak very calmly, not say ANYTHING that she would consider: controlling, aggressive, not nice, or condescending, or disrespectful. I agree with all of this, yet unfortunately, she would not play by her own rules. At times, she would say condescending things, manipulative and disrespectful things, and definitely not nice things. When I called her out on it, she would say I’m not being nice and that I’m picking at her…

Fast forward to last month, our one year anniversary. We are both not working and have barely any money to spend on going out. We decided to go to a friends’ NYE party and spend the whole day together, just doing things we love. We decided it’s about the memory and time with each other, not about gifts…

Everything seemed fine until a week after our anniversary (today) she tells me on the phone that she feels that I’m no longer putting any effort, nor am I emotionally there. She also was very upset about why I didn’t get her a card for our anniversary. I explained to her that we decided it’s about the memory and that we wouldn’t get any gifts. I also apologized and said that no matter, what I will get a card from now on since I see that it’s important to her. She didn’t accept my apology and started saying how I’m just not showing any effort. I have been driving 2 to 3 times more to see her than she has to see me, even though we are both unemployed. I tell her every time I see her how much I love her and how she is so amazing. I point out the little things she does, or accomplishes and how I’m proud of her and love her so much…
When she says I’m not showing effort, I tried to explain all this, as calmly as I could, since I’ve gotten pretty good at speaking without letting my emotions upset me. She starts to aggressively pick at my words, like “what do you mean by this” or, “I don’t understand why you are making excuses and saying that”. I get very annoyed when she refers to my explanations as excuses, implying that I’m trying to evade responsibility of something I have done. I tried to end the argument by saying, as nicely and calmly as I can, “I’m sorry I didn’t get you a card, I had a wonderful time and it was very memorable, but I will remember to get a card no matter what we’re doing next time.”

She responds with, “How am I supposed to take that?! That’s not even a real apology, you don’t even mean it!” I lose my patients at this point and tell her I need to get off the phone because after apologizing as genuinely as I can, I can’t think of anything else to say to her. She then starts to get upset and says that I do this every time, I get upset with her and start to not be nice…She says I need to take time and learn to nicely apologize.

I don’t know what to do. I haven’t talked to her since we hung up. I feel as though she’s never happy with what I do, when I apologize and keep my cool, she RARELY accepts it. I feel when we argue, she’s so defensive it doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it, she will find something wrong with it. It’s crazy because I’m being as nice as I can, not raising my voice, calmly and genuinely stating that I’m sorry, and yet she makes me feel like I’m some crazy aggressive person…

I don’t know if I can take this. It’s happened too many times and I feel as though I’ve tried a lot to show her how much I love her and be as nice as I can be, yet she’s always finding something wrong. We’re considering moving in with each other when she finishes school in April, and perhaps even getting engaged. I’m having doubts because she’s just very sensitive and insecure, so at times, no matter what I say or how I say it, I hurt her. All the nice things I’ve done or said in the past go out the window and in her eyes all of a sudden I’m this aggressive angry person talking down to her. But I’m totally not, I’m calm, (Very calm for someone in an argument) and nice, yet she still says I’m not…It’s really bothering me.

For those wondering. She has issues with her dad about the way he would treat her mom. We’re both aware of this and she has done some counseling to grow past her issues. Our problem is very much the fact that she expects me to be a certain way, which she is not herself, and when I am, as much as I can be, it’s not good enough.

Any advice?

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34 Answers

livelaughlove21's avatar

Date men. They’re not nearly as sensitive.

No, but seriously, I thought I was bad. This girl needs to be secure in herself before she can be secure in a relationship. I say let her loose. I’m not sure why you’re still sticking around if she’s really like that. I couldn’t handle it.

She’s obviously got some issues that need to be worked out, and maybe she should do that alone.

bookish1's avatar

Hey man, welcome to Fluther.

It sounds like she does not know how to identify or accept a sincere apology. Is she capable of apologizing herself? This doesn’t really sound like a problem of her being sensitive, but of her being manipulative and controlling in a passive-aggressive way. Right now, your relationship dynamic allows her to stay in charge because she gets to decide what an infraction is or is not, and she is always right. As @livelaughlove21 said, it really sounds like your girlfriend still has some problems and perhaps has not “worked out” everything in therapy.

IMHO, the solution when dealing with a manipulative or controlling dynamic like this is not to become “nicer.” It is to push back, and then leave if you get no solution from bringing it out in the open. You need to tell her “I don’t know if I can take this,” like you have told strangers on the internet. If this is an ongoing problem and causing you to have doubts, you need to confront her with this, and give her a chance to see that her behavior is hurting you and your relationship. If history is any precedent, she will probably say you’re “not being nice” and stuff. 28 huh? It sounds like she has a lot of maturing to go.

My most concrete advice for you is DON’T MOVE IN WITH HER. If you’re at your wits’ end right now, imagine what it would be like living with someone who is incapable of extending good faith to you, and breaks the rules for herself that she sets for you.

I hope that you can work something out… But if not, don’t worry, not all women are like this.

Also, props on the most thoughtfully explained and well written relationship question I’ve seen on Fluther in a while…

Rarebear's avatar

Looks to me like you’re the one who is insecure and sensitive. Sorry.

marinelife's avatar

Break up with her, She is not going to change. (Witness the fact that you did not have arguments the first six months when she was hiding who she was.)

She needs serious therapy and long-term.

I would move on.

Coloma's avatar

Welcome to fluther!

Yes, the girl/woman sounds very emotionally high maintenance and this walking on eggshells and feeling as if you have to watch every little word and tone and expression because little miss hypersensitive might flip out is not a good sign for a lasting relationship.
I agree with @bookish1 You need to set boundaries and tell her that your every word and gesture is not subject to interrogation. That you will not STAND to be put in the freaking electric chair over every tiny imagined slight she conjures up.
The plane ticket thing was ridiculous!

Make no mistake about it, this woman is being emotionally abusive.
Nip it in the bud or dump her fussy little behind.

bookish1's avatar

PS: My relationship with my last girlfriend felt an awful lot like this on the way out. She was pretty prejudiced against men in general, but I didn’t know that going into it. It had nothing to do with me, but she used it as a way to maintain control in the relationship. Baggage can be a handy tool for abuse. She wanted apologies for all sorts of perceived slights, but never held herself to the same standard.

jordym84's avatar

Do you happen to know this is her first serious relationship? She sounds a lot like how I was with my first boyfriend. Granted I wasn’t that extreme and kept most of my insecurities to myself so we barely ever argued, but I know that my own insecurities made me change a lot over the course of our relationship until I couldn’t take it anymore and, eventually, broke things off with him. Although in my case my suspicions turned out to be true (I found out that not only was he married, but he had also been cheating on me), you sound like a wholesome guy and she should have no reason to be insecure about your relationship if everything you’ve said is true. It seems to me that she needs some time on her own to become more emotionally mature before she can actually commit to a serious relationship. She has to work out whatever personal issues she has with herself and her demons (i.e. her family history) before she can feel secure in a committed relationship.

Best of luck to you!

wundayatta's avatar

Is she Asian by any chance?

It sounds like she has certain kinds of expectations that I would consider very unrealistic. Most often, when a woman is like this, it also turns out she is Asian. Anyway. Just curious.

This does sound very mean to me. You are apologizing, and she doesn’t believe you. How does that make you feel? I would feel pretty bad. I would not feel respected. She seems to be making small things into huge things.

How can she forget that you agreed not to give gifts? Either there is something wrong with her mentally, or she is deliberately making you wrong. If she is manipulating you, then do you want to put up with that? Do you think she will ever change? Is this a matter of insecurity? If so, then what is she doing about it? It is her problem, not yours.

I would not let her keep on making you wrong. I would break up with her until she can figure out how to be more responsible. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up that she will change.

Good luck and welcome to fluther!

sinscriven's avatar

You’re being emotionally manipulated with all certainty. Whether she does this cause she’s screwed in the head or if she’s a really abusive person is really not relevant because both are signs you need to end this relationship and run.

You have allowed her to set the precedent and rules that you are never allowed to stand up for yourself, assert truths that are not the ones she wants and you’re not allowed to call her out on her behavior because that makes you the asshole. You are never allowed to be right, or to have the upper hand or be in any position that takes her out of control over you. You are always apologizing or kowtowing, and you have a lack of self respect when you try to butter her up even though she’s clearly in the wrong and she loves that. You’re her little puppy who follows her around even though she kicks you.

You need to make the right decision for your emotional health and steer clear of her, regardless of whatever’s wrong with her, you are in an unhealthy relationship and you need to look out for yourself and find someone who respects you and your feelings and opinions.

chyna's avatar

I could not stand that kind of drama in my life. It seems as if no matter what you say she is going to find a way to make you feel as if you are wrong, you need to apologize.
I would take time away from her and decide if you want this kind of abuse. Relationships do not have to be this way. Life is too short to have to watch everything you say and do, or to explain yourself over and over in a way that she deems the best way to say something.

dabbler's avatar

Oddly it sounds to me like she wants to break up with you and doesn’t know how to say it, and maybe doesn’t even know it. From your description you have been sufficiently patient and understanding.
Either that or her unemployment is sitting less well with her than with you. A lot less.

It’s time for a confrontation, sit-down, powwow, about the future of your relationship.
Tell her how you feel and what you want and ask her how does she feel and what does she want. Be prepared for the whole range from I-want-you to get-lost, and be prepared for the long sad ride home if that’s what it comes down to.
But stand your ground about not wanting any more abuse, because that what her tirades are.
She can be upset at life but she should not take it out on you.

bookish1's avatar

Yowza, @sinscriven said it so well. I wish someone had been around to give me a kick in the pants like that…

@wundayatta: What do you mean by ‘Asian’? Uzbek or Burmese? How do racial stereotypes help answer this question? Anyone can be emotionally abusive.

wundayatta's avatar

@bookish1 Sure, anyone can be emotionally abusive. But this just has a certain feeling to me that I think arises from Asian cultures. I could well be wrong. But I won’t know if I don’t ask.

And sure, racial stereotypes may not be useful, but cultural stereotypes might be useful. You always have to be careful, but culture does make a difference. So I hope you will see this as asking about culture, not race, because that is what I am doing.

bookish1's avatar

@wundayatta : It doesn’t have to be about race, and culture certainly makes a difference, but Asia is still a massive continent, and there is no such single entity as “Asian culture.” If there is some stereotype about “Asian” people being emotionally abusive, there is equally a stereotype about “Asian women” being submissive and docile. So I really don’t think that relying on cultural stereotypes helps clarify this situation.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s not a stereotype. It’s really quite specific aspects of the behavior that made me think this. It isn’t abuse in particular, but the specifics of the behavior that make me wonder. Let’s just see. Do you want me to guess which specific culture?

Sunny2's avatar

Do you want to spend the rest of your life walking on eggs? It’s time to walk away. She isn’t going to change. You’ve bent over backwards trying to please her. Here’s that old cliched question: Are you a man or a mouse? Say goodbye before she does.

Bellatrix's avatar

Some relationships are fraught with drama. This sounds like one of those relationships. You can’t change your girlfriend. You have been together long enough to know this is her personality and even if the communication between you improves (which I doubt) she is highly unlikely to change the way she deals with perceived conflict.

You could try going to counselling. It might help you both to work out how to communicate better including how to give and receive criticism. In the end it comes down to whether you feel you want to invest that sort of time into this relationship?

I personally would not want to be in such a drama filled relationship. Not all women are such hard work.

bob_'s avatar

Get a new girlfriend.

Ela's avatar

I was in a long term relationship where I felt like I was always doing or saying something wrong. It takes a toll on your self-esteem and chips away at your self worth to where you feel you have little real value. For me, it’s not something I’m bouncing back from easily.

Every moment you spend in this relationship is a moment of your life you will never get back.
Think about that. Think about how you feel when you are with this person and do you want to continue feeling this way.

You deserve to be in a happy, healthy, loving relationship… this is not one, imo.

gailcalled's avatar

Simply reading about this woman and her mercurial and immature responses is giving me a
super-migraine.

Judi's avatar

I’m sorry, I couldn’t finish reading this.
I think she is trying to get you to break up with her so you can be the bad guy.
I would give her what she wants.
Unless you’re willing to invest in months of counseling or you love being walked all over move on. This is not going to get any better if you continue to indulge her irrational demands.
Edit: my daughter treated her first love like this and was shocked when he finally stood up for himself and dumped her. She was devastated but it made her do a lot of self examination and she is a better person now and a better wife to her husband because that guy who adored her had the courage and self esteem to leave her.

Kardamom's avatar

Oh dear, this young lady sounds like extremely high maintenance and very insecure. Why? Who knows. You could suggest that unless you and she get into some pre-marital counseling, then you better call it quits. Otherwise you will end up having to put up with more of this sh*t, but of more an extreme nature if you continue on with her or you end up married.

Part of the problem is that your relationship is long distance. Even if you see each other every weekend, you don’t see each other in a regular way, in normal every day time, so every emotion is heightened and things are not “real.”. They are fantasy.

Either move to the same city, or have her move to your city, but either way, you two need some couples counseling, otherwise this mess is going to get worse, only with bigger consequences if you should decide to get married an/or have kids. FIX THIS PROBLEM NOW! Or move on.

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xchakax's avatar

Thanks for the responses everyone. I appreciate the time you all took. I am going to speak with her tomorrow. It’s not that I enjoy her manipulating me, I just love her very much. She has family issues but she’s a very nice person. I just don’t know if I can take this, walking on eggshells any longer. I mean, I tell myself at times it’s easy to just apologize nicely and let it go, even though she’s wrong…but like some of you have said, can I do that when much bigger issues are at hand?

The irony is that I have invested more time and love into this relationship than any of my past relationships, yet she is the least appreciative out of anyone I’ve ever dated…

Thank you all. This has been very difficult because I love her so much. I always stand up for myself in any case, but with her, I just feel bad because she’s had all these issues and I don’t want to hurt her.

Thank you all again.

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gailcalled's avatar

@xchakax: The irony is that I have invested more time and love into this relationship than any of my relationships, yet she is the least appreciative out of anyone I have ever dated.

Words to engrave on the insides of your eyelids.

sinscriven's avatar

@xchakax : Remember that just because everyone has baggage does not mean they are allowed to beat you over the head with them. She’s a human being, not porcelain. If she gets hurt it is a natural result of her own actions.

Best of luck to you.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Wow, I’d be out of there. Either you click or you don’t, sometimes the more work it takes, the more you should question it. Her issues are her issues and if you don’t want to deal with them all your life, move on and be happy.

emeraldisles's avatar

Well get out then and wish her the best.

xchakax's avatar

Thanks everyone. I told her everything that I said here and how I felt. She made a promise to be open and aware of her double standards and to work on being more understanding and less sensitive.

Time will test her promise. I have had relationships in the past where the person tried very hard and could not change. I cannot stand around too long so I will give her about 3–4 months, until she graduates.

Thanks again

Kardamom's avatar

I’m so glad to hear that you were able to tell her, directly. Do you think she took it OK? You sound like a great guy. Glad you are giving it a time limit, stick to it if she can’t/won’t change her ways.

Also make sure you learn not to apologize (only when you are NOT wrong, of course) simply to get her to stop being unreasonable. Everyone should apologize when they are actually wrong, but just doing so, to get someone else to stop their bad behavior, unfortunately, makes the situation worse.

You are already kind, so throw in a little bit of logic if she starts up again. Also, have a pat answer such as: “Mary, you know that isn’t true (give a quick reason as to why) and I won’t continue this conversation until you calm down and speak to me in a reasonable manner.”

Then walk away, if you have to. She’ll get the picture very quickly, even if it means that she doesn’t accept the way you are. Either way, you’ll figure out whether you are truly a good match for the long haul. I wish you the best of luck : )

bookish1's avatar

Way to go @xchakax! I’m glad to hear that you gave her a time limit. Best of luck to you.

xchakax's avatar

@Kardamom Thank you. I appreciate your kind words. I will definitely remember your advice. I think it will come in handy. I’m excited to see if she really does change because I truly care for her. However, I must be realistic and look down the line. The time limit I am giving her should be ample time for her to show some genuine change. I wish you the best of luck as well!

@bookish1 Thank you. I appreciate your support and wish you the best of luck as well.

This is a great place. I will definitely try to contribute back :D

afriendofeyecow's avatar

Unbelievable!
I think you and I were dating the same girl.
Your stories are exactly the same type of s**t I lived.
The freakin’ same!!!!!
We went out for about 8 months.
Her and I split last holiday season.
She was just a psycho as your girlfriend.
She was IMPOSSIBLE to deal with.
Completely manipulative. A real bully.
And she was Asian!!! (Cambodian)

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