My girlfriend monitors everything I do. From the beginning, she snooped around my Facebook page and questioned me. She justifies her irrational thinking with stereotypes like, “All men have something to hide.” Instead of focusing on things like obtaining gainful employment, she focuses on “the relationship” and accuses me of cheating. I tell her that I cannot be with some clingy, insecure, emotionally dependent little girl that constantly needs reassurance. Yet she continues her childish behavior. I never pressure her for sex. She always wants sex and says I should always be ready. If I’m not, she thinks I’ve been having sex with someone else. I tell her that I would be attracted to her if she would cease the accusations. Should I just subjugate my emotions and perform for her benefit? Is it worth giving in if it makes me miserable?
You write that you have never pressured your girlfriend for sex. Why, then, are you harassing yourself about it? Your obsessive pattern of thinking is twin to your girlfriend’s pattern. So you argue with yourself in your mind, and you argue with your girlfriend when you are out of your mind. Oh, not literally, of course! But a person must be out of their conscious mind to argue so often about the same issues.
Problems arise in any relationship, but in a healthy relationship, difficulties are processed and solved. In those partnerships, each individual shares his or her feelings and perspective as the other listens. Then, they switch roles. Next, the couple talks through the dilemma together and finds a viable solution. Sometimes that solution includes making changes to accommodate their partner. That’s what real love does: invites us to become our best self.
Your situation is challenging, because the basic elements necessary for a healthy relationship are missing: chemistry, friendship, trust and commitment. Relationships like yours are often the result of getting sexually involved too early, before you really know each other. For some people, sex is like glue. Even if the sex is not spectacular, they stay, or at least remain peripherally connected. That’s because sex stimulates the body’s attachment chemicals. So even though the relationship is not working, our biology compels us to go back for more. That’s right, even when an evolved brain says “Leave!” the body insists “Stay!” Those mixed signals result in conflicted actions like constantly breaking up and getting back together, or in arguments that become fights and fights that involve law enforcement.
You must have a serious conversation with the man in the mirror (yes, honey, that would be you). Start here: If your girlfriend never trusted you, why did you continue dating? This question is not an opportunity to judge yourself harshly. It’s a way to explore your motivations. Only through honest inquiry can you awaken to how you have created a lifestyle that is painful to live. And, if you and your girlfriend have children together, you must go to counseling. If you don’t parent together, move on. She deserves someone she can trust. And so do you.
What’s the best way to get my 13-year-old son to open up and talk to me?
Studies show that teen boys open up most often when they are engaged in activities where they are side by side with a parent. Gardening, fishing, building a fence and hiking on wide trails are options. Teenage girls generally open up when they are face to face with a parent. Dining out, partner yoga or playing board games are possibilities.
Your ability to listen without fear or judgment is the most essential part of the experience. Teens withhold the truth when they become afraid of a parent’s reaction. So by learning to respond and not react, you can keep conversation flowing.
“If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to one another,” said Mother Teresa. Can you recognize the whole world as your family?