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  • Been wondering for a little while now

    Hello!

    I'm struggling with my long term relationship, and I'm running out of places to look for help. I figure why not ask the internet!

    A brief history of my social life: I started out the shy kid. Not unpopular or outcast, just didn't really pursue anything. First real relationship was about 18 months long running through my senior year of high school. Next one was about a year long, in my early 20s. Third up, lasted about 6 months and wasn't serious.

    A brief history of her (current GF): Had her first kid at 15, and another with someone else a few years later. One or both of those relationships were abusive to her. Some minor dating in between.

    The situation: We are both 30, and we both work at the same location (I know, I know). The relationship began as too many do nowadays, a drunken hookup, which progressed to drinking together more and more often, which progressed to hanging out, to 'talking to' eachother, to 'dating' to an actual relationship. I'm really not a fan of that system, but that seems to be how a lot of the dating life is nowadays. Anyways, we went from friends that hung out, to happy relationship in the span of a few months. There were a few more happy months after that, and now here we are, roughly 2 years in. There's good times, there's bad times, and that is of course to be expected, but as the topic illustrates, I've been wondering for a while now: are there enough good times?

    The problem: we have fights, which is normal, but we keep having the same fights. And a lot of em aren't even fights any more. She is just mad at me for something trivial, or something that I have no control over, and that's the end of the story. Nothing I do or say changes anything. And yes, I can see that some would be quick to point out that A: something trivial to me may be important to her. B: sometimes people get mad at people even if the cause is our of their control. I feel like an example is in order. The latest, which prompted this post, is that she is fuming mad at me for sleeping all day. The next paragraph basically outlines that I have sleeping problems, can gloss over it and take my word for it if you like.

    To put some perspective on that, for one I work nights. A 'normal' sleep pattern is going to bed around 4-5am, getting up at 11am or early afternoon if I'm lucky. Also I have sleep problems dating to before I took on night shifts. To the point where I've been to see medical professionals about it. I put 'normal' in quotes because I frequently have troubles sleeping more than a couple hours, and maybe once a week or so I can't fall asleep *at all*. Anyways, one such occurence of this happened, I'd say less than 10 hours of sleep total for a week. After this I finally passed out for something like 12 hours. Unfortunately at this time my sleep schedule is way out of wack. I'm wide awake at 7am, have responsibilities from 11am til 4am that day. You would think I would be able to pass out at 4am after being up that long (21 hours) but no, I again can't fall asleep. Finally pass out at 3pm and sleep 12 hours again.

    So, she is irreparably mad at me for this, and I can't figure out why, let alone talk about it, let alone fix it. I get it that it's frustrating when our sleep patterns don't match up, and I get that at least initially she could maybe take it all wrong, like I'm up doing things I enjoy more than her company, and sleeping when she's wanting to hang out. I don't understand how it equates to anger, and being dismissive, and actually hanging up on me. By dismissive, I mean when I ask her what she is doing today, I get back: "Why do you care, you will be sleeping anyways". She texted "see you on friday" when we both work. It's tuesday morning.

    At this point, I'm rereading my post and I'm thinking, this isn't *too* bad, right? Problem is, we've had this exact 'fight' maybe 8 times before. And several other issues are the same. There has also been a couple other more serious issues that I'm choosing for now not to disclose for privacy reasons. Let's just say a few things are clear right now. One, she gets really angry, often, for the same reasons, sometimes no good reason. Two, it's not getting better, it's getting slowly worse. Part of this is my fault because my patience with the same fight over and over and over again is wearing out. Also, there have been things that really were my fault, but in those cases the response was blown out of proportion, and there's never any talking things out and moving forward. At least not in any sort of timely fashion. I think she looks back on some of this and realizes she is overreacting, and definitely knows she has anger issues (she is receiving counselling).

    Anyways, it seems like that last few months theres been more bad times than good. Worst of all, I've run out of options for advice. I talk to my friends about it, she gets wind that I am talking about it, and that's yet another thing that sets her off into a rage. On the other hand, I'm 30 and been in a few relationships, but this is the first girl I feel truly and deeply cares about me, rather than just going through the motions, or having a relationship that is never really serious. I've been clinging to that for a while, because it is hugely important. However, at what point is that not enough? At what point would both of us be happier if we went our separate ways? I feel like this brief (even though it's long and rambling) description is maybe not enough information to go on, but I'd like to see what people have to say. And maybe it put a few things in better perspective for me just to type em out.

    Thanks for reading

  • #2
    She sounds completely unreasonable. You do have some sleep issues, but sounds like sometimes you're getting maybe 6 hours of sleep a night, which isn't really enough. If you occasionally sleep 12 hours to catch up, she should be understanding unless you have specifically made plans to do something important with her. Honestly, I'd tell her she has no empathy and that your health and getting some sleep IS more important than whatever hour of hanging out you're missing with her and that you didn't want to hear her harp on the subject again or you're leaving so you can get some sleep without feeling guilty about it.
    Not at all flirtatious. Why does it say that??

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the response. I would have to agree its a little unreasonable, but I care for her very much. Makes it hard to know what to do.

      Comment


      • #4
        I assume that you are missing the underlying cause of her "anger".

        Some basics. "Anger" is a secondary emotion driven by a primary emotion. Primary emotions are more subtle, nuanced, and vulnerable. And those primary emotions are driven by an internal "narrative" she is telling herself about why you are sleeping all day (or doing whatever you are doing that sets her off).

        For example,

        Her Narrative: She might be thinking that, rather than spending time with her, you choose to sleep all day.
        Primary Emotions: That leaves her feeling rejected, unloved, unimportant, and/or lonely.
        Secondary Emotions: Rather than "owning" or admitting that she feels those things (the primary emotions) which feel weak or vulnerable, she skips over them and goes right to a more powerful and self-protective emotions--ANGER. "Since you reject me, I'll reject you."

        Narrative #2 (we can have many simultaneous stories): She might be thinking that you two have discussed this topic (sleeping and spending time together) many times and you do nothing to fix it--except make excuses.
        Primary Emotions: This leave her feeling hopeless (that nothing changes), unimportant, disregarded, etc.
        Secondary Emotions: Anger, Frustration

        If that's her story (right or wrong), than her reactions and behavior aren't so "unreasonable". And your repeated responses (making excuses and claiming victimhood) do nothing to counter her story -- that you would rather sleep than spend time with her and you don't care enough about her to make any changes.

        So since you're missing her underlying reason for her behavior, it just repeats itself.

        You claim that you're trying to talk about it, but what you really want to do is get her to understand and let you sleep rather than actually addressing her needs--for time together or reassurance that you actually care about her.

        My suggestion is that you sit her down and say (not ask questions),

        "...Honey, we keep having the same argument over and over. I am clearly not giving you what you need, so I need some help. I'm guessing that you might be thinking that I don't spend enough time with you and that leaves you feeling unloved or unimportant or disregarded. Do I have that right?..."

        If she confirms that is how she's feeling, then you can say..

        "...I love you very much, so let's work out a schedule so that we can spend more time together..."

        Then work out a schedule. And assuming you make a diligent effort to spend time with her, thereby helping her to feel loved and cared for, she'll be more understanding when those 12-hour sleep sessions come along.

        The bottom line is, rather than being defensive and making excuses and thinking of her as being unreasonable, listen to what she's saying and empathize with what she's feeling. Then make an effort to meet her needs.


        Having said all that, she might be unreasonable AND she might have some crazy ideas about how one shows their love. Meaning, she learned from her previous relationships that the drama and controlling and abusive behavior are "signs" that someone cares versus being kind and allowing a certain level of independence.

        Good luck

        Comment


        • #5
          This is a great response, and I really think it's spot on at every point. However!

          I'm trying hard on my end to figure this out. The suggestion you gave? I've done something very similar, multiple times on multiple issues. Now, I consider myself a very calm and reserved person, in fact I don't think I know anyone moreso. But it's getting harder and harder, because nothing is improving. I'm starting to get a little snappy when these things happen, and I'm being less and less inclined to tuck my tail or walk on egg shells until things calm down. It started as you suggest, trying to figure out what she is thinking and feeling, and trying to see what I can do better. It's devolving into a frustrated "What the **** do you want me to do?" (Not there yet but moving in that direction)

          Also I'd like to comment on narrative #2 there, where she might think that we've talked about it and I've done nothing to fix it. I think she does at least somewhat see it that way. The problem is, that information isn't actionable, because I feel like I've done and am doing everything I can, and have explained that as well and directly as I can.

          Anyways, the sleep thing was just one example. Maybe a different one will shed some more light. It was a night where I worked late, and she was out of town with some friends. She called me before going to bed, we said our goodbyes and I love yous and everything was good. I set my phone down and returned to what I was working on on the computer. About 15 minutes later I heard my phone, neither of us had hung up. I thought nothing of it, decided to leave it be, see how long/if she would notice. She did notice, and it was armageddon. Like I was maliciously spying on her. So this was a situation where I set aside my views, which is that this was a complete non-issue, you can listen to any phone call to any person of mine you want, I don't care. I get it that she has different thoughts and a different history. But, I think this was one of our fights where I first put my foot down a little. To my mind, I did *nothing* wrong. To me that means that even while it might be wrong in her mind, there should be a level of respect and trust there that we can quickly get to a resolution or compromise. Or maybe we can't? This is why I'm here.

          Comment


          • #6
            think I need to clarify a touch on that last paragraph: my response to her after blowing up started out as "me setting my views aside" and trying to figure out how shes feeling and trying to do better. She stayed mad, and the more she berated me and the more I thought about it, I started feeling disrespected and untrusted, and finally "put my foot down".

            Unfortunately, I feel like I don't get through to her sometimes unless I'm yelling and cussing too, which is not me.

            Comment


            • #7
              If you work different hours and sleep different hours it's important for you both to work on something tangible in the future and have something to work towards. That is the only way you will not grow apart. Discipline and regular routines are also helpful. If a regular routine (as opposite as your schedules are) are not an option you might need to re-evaluate your entire lifestyle and choice of employment/industry and decide what you really want out of life. I'm not talking about your relationship under a microscope. I'm talking about big picture and bigger building blocks that can cause small problems like this - or which should be minor problems in a relationship. My fiance and I do not have the same work or sleeping schedules either but we are committed to a relationship and building a future together. Two years is a good chunk of time to have either projected into the future or start projecting meaningfully. You have to be open to asking yourself and each other some potentially difficult questions such as your financial state of affairs, where you want to take this relationship and what you both really live for. In our case we work hard to build opportunities for ourselves into our future and we work different hours not only due to our interests and love of different careers, we are also committed to building a personal future together excluding the rest of the world and our private lives and the way we talk and debate and discuss different issues in life are overshadowed by the premise of commitment and shared future building. You have to look pretty deep and face some unnerving issues along the way and be ready for that.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by bigben View Post
                ....Had her first kid at 15, and another with someone else a few years later. One or both of those relationships were abusive to her. ...

                ....Now, I consider myself a very calm and reserved person, in fact I don't think I know anyone moreso. ...

                ...Unfortunately, I feel like I don't get through to her sometimes unless I'm yelling and cussing too, which is not me....

                As I said before,

                "...she might be unreasonable AND she might have some crazy ideas about how one shows their love. Meaning, she learned from her previous relationships that the drama and controlling and abusive behavior are "signs" that someone cares versus being kind and allowing a certain level of independence...."

                I would speculate that what she absorbed, from her relationship and childhood history, is that loud heated reactions and discussion are demonstrations of love and caring. Your calm reserved style are interpreted as lack of interest and care. Therefore, she provokes your outbursts as reassurance that you have emotion toward her.

                How does she respond when you do yell and cuss? Does she calm down? Does she become more affectionate? What does she do?
                Last edited by Pollon; November 28th, 2017, 06:30 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hopefully my forum quotation skills work here..

                  Originally posted by Rose Mosse View Post
                  If you work different hours and sleep different hours it's important for you both to work on something tangible in the future and have something to work towards. That is the only way you will not grow apart. Discipline and regular routines are also helpful. If a regular routine (as opposite as your schedules are) are not an option you might need to re-evaluate your entire lifestyle and choice of employment/industry and decide what you really want out of life. I'm not talking about your relationship under a microscope. I'm talking about big picture and bigger building blocks that can cause small problems like this - or which should be minor problems in a relationship. My fiance and I do not have the same work or sleeping schedules either but we are committed to a relationship and building a future together. Two years is a good chunk of time to have either projected into the future or start projecting meaningfully. You have to be open to asking yourself and each other some potentially difficult questions such as your financial state of affairs, where you want to take this relationship and what you both really live for. In our case we work hard to build opportunities for ourselves into our future and we work different hours not only due to our interests and love of different careers, we are also committed to building a personal future together excluding the rest of the world and our private lives and the way we talk and debate and discuss different issues in life are overshadowed by the premise of commitment and shared future building. You have to look pretty deep and face some unnerving issues along the way and be ready for that.
                  Our hours aren't that different, I just have sleeping issues. My alarm clock is my phone on vibrate, if that tells you anything. I do see what you are saying though. The hard questions are being asked internally for sure, and we definitely have had some discussion as well. I really can't tell you if I want to marry or break up with this girl. And that's why I'm here, was hoping maybe someone who has been in a similar spot can tell me they stuck it out/bailed and that it was a great/terrible decision. The comments are getting are still useful though, thank you.

                  Originally posted by Pollon View Post


                  How does she respond when you do yell and cuss? Does she calm down? Does she become more affectionate? What does she do?
                  It's like she finally actually listens to what I'm saying, rather than listening to reply to me. I get the idea it's the only time there is any introspection and trying out my perspective.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Bigben, this is either going to be a misinterpretation on my part or it's going to sound offensive or both: I read your post but all I could get out of it is that you may not be disciplined enough to earn her respect. You mentioned she passed comments about your sleeping schedule and what sounds like insomnia sometimes. If it has anything to do with diet (eating junk food before bed or fatty foods), poor diet in general, lack of exercise, motivation or sharpness of mind, women generally tend to spiral into nastiness over the long term because the man they are with just doesn't inspire any respect. She is disrespecting you because in some way she also feels disrespected or that you are disrespectful - whether to your time together or your time apart or to certain things she got used to in the honeymoon period of your dating and which seems to be lost right now (ie. like that spark is lost). I tried to be big picture subtle in my earlier post but I think it's not specific enough. What I am saying is: maybe it takes some serious re-evaluation on what is causing your sleeping disruptions difficulties focusing or staying awake. Stress is also a big factor in sleeplessness and other diet and health concerns.. it becomes cyclical. The bottomline is she is disrespectful to you and whether or not you have omitted some other issues here which aggravate her, that is something for both of you to work through and look at also. If she continues to disrespect you the relationship isn't on sincere and open footing. You both need to be vested in it sincerely and openly and be able to speak civilly and maturely with each other to give this a shot.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Don't worry about being offensive to me, that's nearly impossible haha. Also don't worry about misinterpretation, that's almost a given when I'm trying to sum up my relationship in a few paragraphs. I appreciate your time trying to help.

                      That said, I have a few comments for this. One, yeah, it's definitely on me somewhat that I sleep poorly. I've chosen this career, my sleep hygiene has degraded, etc. It's a struggle I have in my life, for sure. But, this started when I was 14, sharing a room with my brother. Couldn't sleep, didn't know any different. Finally in high school I started sleeping on a couch in the basement. I once was up for over 100 hours straight. So, while I perhaps havent done enough to remedy this, it's not like I'm some lazy slob that isn't even trying. I still manage a normal life, I just need to catch up here and there, I think we all do. Two, and this is really getting at the heart of it: if she doesn't respect me, for *any* reason, that's grounds for exactly two options in my book. The first is obviously for me to evaluate my end, if I'm doing enough. Second is to get out. This is where I'm having troubles now, at what point have I done enough? Believe me I understand you have to work on relationships for them to work out, and I have been, and I'm willing to continue to do so. But there's a line and I feel like I am approaching it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Ben, okay I understand a lot better now. Personally without sleep for me I am a complete monster/diablo, worse than the devil himself risen up from the earth and everyone does cartwheels to get away from me. It is not a pretty sight and hell generally breaks loose. Some people like my fiance can get away with very little sleep and still operate in saint mode. I can only imagine what it does to other people and can empathize. I'm really glad to hear that you are thinking about your role in this relationship and also weighing your self-worth and your own time because in the end time is precious (almost as precious as sleep!). I still think that no matter what you ought to receive the respect you deserve. Everyone does. Pardon - I did not mean at all you were a lazy slob. I lack discipline in some areas too and don't follow through and then I pay for it later. I think also a woman should inspire you to be the best man you can be.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Ben! Hope you are doing ok

                          I read your post and actually felt sympathy for both you and your girlfriend. I myself suffer from some mental illness issues, one being insomnia, and understand completely what it's like to need that "catch up". Like you sometimes I'll need to sleep for up to 12 hours to feel refreshed. So I totally understand how hard it can be. Having said that, I also understand how hard it can be for anyone that loves or cares about you to somewhat suffer from the things that come when you love someone suffering from mental health issues. Now I'm not saying your girlfriend shouldn't think about you and your needs, especially when it comes to health, she needs to be open and understanding if you plan on spending an entire lifetime together because there will always be mishaps. But as someone else said here, when you spend that time away sleeping, it could very well be playing with her own mind, causing her anxiety that something else is going on. You said above that you've tried getting through to her that you are genuinely just trying to catch up on sleep and there is nothing else to it, and that these arguments are still happening. Perhaps (if you haven't already) you could suggest to her that you guys stay together one time when this "catch up" needs to happen? So that she can see herself that you are telling the truth.

                          I would also suggest sitting down with her and asking her straight up whether there is anything else going on in her head. Could she be harbouring something a bit more than she is letting on? Anger coming from somewhere, and to do with something that she hasn't wanted to tell you or talk about. (I'm not trying to scare you here by the way, it's just from my personal experience sometimes the answer you are looking for can be buried underneath built up anger over trivial things that wouldn't usually matter.)

                          It's lovely to see how much you care about her, you seem like a very nice guy and she should feel fortunate that you are so committed to fixing things.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Updating this old post with new info.

                            We we are still together (now moved in for a couple months) and things are not better. This is about a year now of continuing issues like the one hashed out above several months ago.

                            The new new info is not very fun. I have no education or training is psychology or psychiatry past an intro college course, but what started as a suspicion has grown into being pretty sure. As far as I can tell she is, without a doubt, A: clinically depressed, and B: severe anger management issues (which may stem from A). This includes talk of suicide, and is compounded by a VERY stubbornly pessimistic outlook. I just spent several hours trying to convince her that something has to change: either she can stay on this path and get the same results, or we can try what’s out there to try (she has had moderate success with counseling before). I’m unsure I’ve convinced her anything is worth trying.

                            I want it clear, this thread isn’t about me anymore. I care about her, and regardless what happens with us/me at this point, I’m not concerned with my happiness AT ALL right now, it’s about what she needs. I’ve had thoughts of leaving at a few points, but they’ve been dismissed because, well, I’m not about to leave someone because they have a potentially fixable mental problem and I have a very real concern that if I left her, it would destroy her. I get that at some point, I need to worry about my happiness too, but that point is after I’ve done my part to see if she can get better. I KNOW that there’s a great, happy woman in there somewhere.

                            So anyways, what’s the move? Has anyone been here, or in a similar spot? How do you convince a depressed person to get help? Like I said I’m no doctor, but from what I can tell this is textbook depression. I don’t know of options outside of therapy/counseling and medication. Counseling she’s had some success but she’s stubbornly convinced the results are slight and short lived. Medication, she is very against, doesn’t want to just be a ‘numb robot’.

                            Thanks again for people that answered months ago, and thanks in advance for trying to help. I need it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm a clinical psychologist, so let me tell you a bit about people with depression.
                              When someone is depressed, their sadness becomes so overwhelming and heavy to bare, it takes all their energy just to keep going through the motions of life. They divert all their attention inward. The needs of others cease to exist, because in their own little world, it feels like they are about to drown. Keeping their own heads above water is more important than anything else.

                              In relationships, this tends to lead to a balance shift. Instead of being 2 individuals who's needs and happiness are seen as equally important, it's very easy to slip into the roles of caregiver and caretaker. Especially when the partner is someone with a caring and nurturing nature. What you need to realize is, this is only manageable for a short time. Relationships are made for this imbalance. The very reason why we engage in relationships is to fulfill our own needs, like love, affection, support, companionship etc. So when all the attention starts flowing toward one, and none toward the other, the foundation of the relationship starts breaking down, usually by the partner feeling so drained and mentally exhausted they may start to fall into a depression themselves.

                              Sadly, at the point where the partner is becoming depressed, patterns of behavior have already been established and they are very hard to break. The originally depressed partner is no longer used to paying attention to the needs of their SO and expects the same amount of care, love and nurture to be given, regardless of the bottomless pit their SO is diving into.

                              Motivation to get help is often an issue. The reason for that is, people often need a crisis to be encouraged to break their habits. If the crisis isn't intense enough, or the crisis is being softened by someone else, the will to get help doesn't always come. So in caregiver - caretaker relationships, the carer might believe he's helping his SO through the depression, while in fact he is enabling them to keep on going through life without having to get help.

                              My advice to you is to step away from the caregiver role, as it will only enable her to lean on you instead of getting professional help. Stop putting her needs before your own. And set clear expectations to her about seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist. Don't try to make it all easier for her-- you're only slowing down her healing process.
                              Be direct and firm in your expectations and don't let her get away with not going through with treatment.

                              If her happiness is really important to you, realize that you may have to walk away from her, for her own good if she doesn't see a professional. By leaving, you are giving her the crisis she needs to get motivated for help.
                              You can't control the waves, but you can learn to surf

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