- Gender and Relationships
Her Emotional Behavior is Scaring Him. He Wants Out. What Should He Do? - Relationship Advice
I'm writing because I don't know what to do about my relationship. My girlfriend of 2 years is extremely emotional and I can't take it anymore. I dread coming home at night because I have no idea what mood she will be in. Sometimes she's fine and normal. But about half the time she's irrational and crying. She obsesses over every little thing I say or do. Everything I do is wrong. I can't follow the logic of these emotional outbursts. If I put on a shirt she will decide out of nowhere that it means I will never marry her because it looks like a shirt my ex girlfriend bought for me. She'll call me a chicken shit for not being honest and for making her have to guess by giving her all these clues like this shirt.
I will just stand there with my mouth opened because I can't figure out what she's talking about. It makes no sense. She's always angry and hurt and blaming me. She says horrible things crying saying I am ruining her life. Frankly it scares me that she's like this. I'm done. I can't stand living like this or feeling like this. She's not someone I want to be around. I can't imagine anyone wanting to deal with someone like this. She used to be so fun. I couldn't wait to get home to her. Then she started with this paranoia which escalated into long nights of crying and accusing me of crazy things. Now it's to the point that if I wake up and I'm not hungry she decides that means I'm criticizing her cooking and that's why I won't marry her. And there's this constant accusation of why can't I just be honest. I have no idea what I'm doing that's dishonest. I can't even call my house and tell her if I'm working late because she will scream and yell and accuse me of going out with my friends instead of working. Even if I was going out with friends why would that be wrong? She'll cry and hang up on me and call back a hundred times until I'm home. And I'm in trouble when I'm home. I don't need this. I was worried about her and I tried telling her I think she needs help and that infuriated her. .... For the past month I've known I don't want to fix this. I want this over. But I do still care about her and I don't know what to do. She's so emotional. I want her to get the help she needs and I don't want her to hurt herself. I can't talk to her. Anything I say she is furious about. Anything I do is wrong and causes her to yell and scream and cry hysterically like an insane person. How do I end this?
Dear Miserable Man,
There are a lot of tells in your email. The examples of the kinds of conclusions she draws involve why you won't marry her. This makes it pretty clear what's going on.
Since I don't know your ages or the background of conversations you had with her regarding marriage and the future, I am going to have to remain a little more broad in my response than I'd have liked to be. But I still think I have a pretty good grasp of what's happening.
Your girlfriend started out fine with you. You said she was someone you couldn't wait to get home and be with. And then at some point she became focused on marriage. I don't know how you two communicated or what was said, but that is the heart of the decline. Her constant hysterical wording to you of "why won't you be honest" tells me you have probably conveyed to her at some point that you aren't ready for marriage.
I want to be clear here that there is nothing wrong with your not being ready for marriage. Even if you told her you didn't know how you felt about marriage, that's an honest answer for a lot of people, especially at an age too young to marry, like in their early twenties.
I've received many comments and emails from women who I think were in a place similar to your girlfriend's headspace right now. What you are describing is the situation today with your girlfriend is exactly what I try to advise my readers not to do. They get so focused on getting married that they completely lose all focus on the relationship, on listening to their partners, on behaving like a partner, and on creating the kind of living situation that might actually make the guy WANT to spend his life with her.
The problem she is having is in her perception. I don't know what you did or said, or didn't do or say, that has lead her to worry about not getting married. Again I stress that there is no wrong way to feel: you are allowed not to want to get married, you are allowed not to know how you feel yet, you are allowed to have your feelings and thoughts about marriage. I'm just saying, somehow you've communicated to her that you aren't on the same page as she is. Her perception is that this shouldn't be a matter of opinion. She thinks her take on marriage is the only right one, and that she will berate and punish you until you do the "right" thing.
Obviously, that will not work.
The emails and comments I get from women in your girlfriend's position often say things like, when will he grow up, or, how long do I have to wait for him to do something and marry me. This demonstrates two things. One is the point that I made, that they think they are right about marriage and the man is wrong and needs to change or grow up. And the other is that they aren't ready to be a life-long partner in marriage if they can't listen to their partner's opinions and feelings, and try to respect them.
Here's where this gets tricky. Just as you have every right to have your feelings and thoughts about marriage, so does she. She has every right to want to get married. She is allowed to live her life with that goal. The problem is that many women want to inflict their wants and needs on the relationship they are in, instead of seeking out a partner that is looking for a similar future. Women that stay in a relationship with someone they have to change or rush or pressure, are doomed for failure.
Obviously your girlfriend got involved with you on a good foot. You described her as fun, and you said you couldn't wait to get home to her. Had she relaxed and enjoyed the relationship she was having, she might have cultivated a good safe growing environment for you to actually consider wanting to make a forever commitment. Maybe not today, but one day. Instead she couldn't enjoy the relationship you were having. She sacrificed it for the relationship she wants. And in doing so, she stopped being a partner. She stopped being fun. She's left you thinking she's crazy and needs therapeutic help for her irrational behavior.
I realize that I'm only getting one side of the story from your email. I don't like the comment about how angry she would be if you were to go out with your friends. That's a scary level of control. On the other hand, I don't know what you've done if anything that may have contributed to her paranoia and accusations. If you've lied about your intentions, if you've cheated, if your friends have been disrespectful to her, then you've set her up to be this hysterical mess. I still think she's wrong, but I really don't know if there's blame to be placed.
In any case, it is pretty clear from your words that this is over. You didn't ask me how to make her feel safe, or how to talk some sense into her. You said, you're done. You want out. You don't need this. You're only asking about how to extract yourself from this situation because you think she's that far off the deep end that she could really be in danger when you drop the axe.
My advice is to involve someone close to her. Her mother, her sister, her best friend. I think it's wise to be safe than sorry. If you really do believe the picture you've painted of her being so emotional that it scares you, then put a safety net in place. Don't drag this out any longer. It's not healthy, and it's not smart. Do it tonight. Do it as quickly as possible. On your drive home from work, call someone close to her and invite them over. You can be honest, you have nothing to lose at this point. You aren't going to win friends with this break up, so don't think about how this person is going to hate you. You can simply say that you're on your way home and that you think your girlfriend will need the support and love of this person, so would they please come over. If they ask why what's going on, you can say, please just come over, I'd rather she tell you herself or you can say, because we're breaking up. Whatever you're comfortable with.
And then walk in and do it. Pull the plug. Try to be calm, try to be fair. But you need to be clear. You need to let her know you aren't interested in fixing this at this point. This is the end. You should be as honest as you feel you can be, but please don't be hurtful. It's one thing to explain that you aren't ready for marriage, and you don't want to feel pressured and pushed and punished. It's entirely something else for you to say, "You did this to yourself! You're crazy!" There's no reason to be hurtful or mean. You are a grown up, you can find a way to communicate honestly without trying to place blame. Especially since you've said her emotional outbursts actually scare you and you think she needs help, you don't want to push her into anything extra. If you were trying to fix the relationship it would be important to discuss the minutia and work through the details. But you don't want to maintain this relationship. You want it over.
I'm getting the impression that you are cohabitational. It might be the gentlemanly thing to do to offer to stay at a hotel room tonight. Include whomever you've invited over for her support system in that decision. This person is going to be mad at you, and might lash out at you too. Just remember this is almost over. You can't go on living as you are. You said you're done. So be done.
If she is unbalanced and needs some psychiatric help, hopefully this friend or relative you've asked to intervene will be able to get through to her since you couldn't.
Learn what you can from this experience and be careful next time. If you're being honest and respectful, you deserve the same in return. Thanks for writing.