Abandonment issues

Joey Garcia

My girlfriend and I have been dating for two months. Everything was great at first, but now if I don’t want to do something she wants to do, she takes it personally and acts like I don’t love her. It always becomes a huge fight, and sometimes I give in, even though later I wish I’d stood my ground. I really care for this girl, but I don’t think I can take much more of this.

So the future smacked you in the kisser, and you’re ready to toss in the towel. Good for you! The notion of enduring any more bouts with your girlfriend’s ego is reason enough to exit. She’s obviously burdened with some heavy-duty abandonment issues. When your opinion opposes hers, she fears she is losing you. The resulting terror compels her to scream, threaten and sob until you give in. In the process, of course, you validate her (likely unconscious) belief that if she plays the Tasmanian devil, her wishes will become your command. But along the way, you abandon your own desires, not for the benefit of the relationship but as a Band-Aid against her wrath.

It’s important to accept that you cannot save your girlfriend from herself. She needs to work through the layers of her inner life with a competent psychotherapist. You can, however, share what you have experienced and insist that you will no longer tolerate her behavior. Tell her that when you voice your opinion about an activity, it does not mean that you don’t want to be with her. It’s simply a statement of your choice or preference and an act of self-care. Tell her that when she reacts as if she is being abandoned, it makes you want to leave her and never return. Then, if you decide to give her one more chance, explain that you will no longer accept this kind of treatment. If it happens again, even one more time, end the relationship and find someone who is capable of working through problems to change. If you don’t leave, you will be stuck in an alternating cycle of being angry at her for overreacting and then being angry at yourself for lacking a backbone.

My husband’s ex-wife keeps inserting herself into our life. They have been divorced for 10 years; we’ve been married for seven. She calls frequently to chat with either of us, but we honestly have no interest in keeping up a relationship with her. She just seems to use information from our conversations to keep herself in good standing with my husband’s family so she gets invited for holidays and other family celebrations. She has no family of her own, and my husband has no children with this woman. He is more tolerant of her than I am. I need some advice on how to get rid of her in a way that won’t create any family drama.

Your husband’s ex-wife discovered one of life’s rare joys—a family that loves without choosing sides—and she’s not ready to let go. Instead of trying to hatch schemes to banish her into the wilderness of solo holidays, why not accept her as kin? After all, if you like the song “We Are Family,” here’s an opportunity to live it. By your own admission, she happily chats with you or your husband, so she has no interest in behaving badly behind your back. If her check-ins disturb you, keep the calls short and pleasant. Let her build stronger relationships with others in the family instead. She’s clearly not a threat, so don’t talk yourself into believing she is taking your place in the family. Trust your own uniqueness.

Meditation of the week
“I have no future / I have no past / I don’t know where I am / I have arrived there at last,” wrote Gerald Rosen in what he called “My Little Zen Poem.” Are you living in the present moment?

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