Dear Dr. LoveI read some of the replies to letters you have answered and I felt that you would be able to help me. I will try to give as much information concerning my problem. Here it goes.I am 18 years old, so is Tina. Before I started going out with Tina, she was my best friend. We hung around together whenever we could. I learned a lot about her life. She was sexually abused by her father when she was very young. Later, she became sexually active at a very young age. The majority of her relationships consisted of having sex with her boygriends, primarily. She was very permiscuous. It would be very difficult to know this from her behavior.She is very shy, but serious acting. She dresses very plainly like a guy does. Anyways, she was talking about her current boyfriend (another jerk). I asked her if their were any good people she could go out with. She just looked up at me, there was a long silence. Our relationship was very weird. We weren’t as mushy as other couples, just affectionate looking friends. I care about her very much, and she cares about me.The problem is some emotional problems that she has. Sometimes she is mean to me for no reason. I am a very joking person, and I can take minor silly insults, but sometimes she just gets bitter. If I get mad or defensive, she’ll get upset and start crying. She says she had no reason to be mad at me, she just got mad. These unprovoked feelings of anger within her, really upset her. There are other minor emotional bouts that she has. I feel these are all somewhat related.This relationship is high-maintanence. I might be better equiped to deal with this if this wasn’t my first relationship. When everything is ok, I enjoy it (that’s obvious). Whenever she becomes upset, I stay with her to comfort her and help her deal with what is wrong. She is sometimes just depressed or mad sometimes and I’ll persistently ask her what is bothering her. She’ll get upset when she finally say it.This problem isn’t helped by the fact that I allow a lot of this abuse for the sole reason that I care about her. Sometimes I don’t feel like her significant others, but a nurturer. Sometimes I ask myself if I should stay with her or not. I feel terrible about these thoughts, but having to deal with these problems often is emotionally draining. I feel at times that I am the sole emotional provider of the two. She really does care about me and says ‘I love you often but their is just something missing from her treatment of me.The question I have is this. What can I do to help her with this and what can she do for herself to deal with her emotional problems. I would be hugley grateful.gratefully,A lost soul
Your girlfriend is lucky to have such a devoted boyfriend.This is a high maintenance relationship and it almost feels like you are carrrying her on your back. In answer to your first question, how can you help her deal with her problems, I think we need to encourage her to talk to a therapist.Apart from her receiving therapy, there are a couple of things that you can do to help her heal within your relationship. You are on the right track to ask her what is bothering her when she seems upset. You also need to do something else. Whenever she mistreats you, you must stop her by saying, ‘Did I say or do something to upset you?’ If she says yes, then tell her that you won’t accept her insulting you. Then tell her to calmly describe to you what you said or did and how that made her feel. You are not to sit to any mistreatment. That’s not good for you, and it’s not good for her to be allowed to behave this way.I believe that when she goes after you, she is actually displacing–meaning redirecting onto you anger that is meant for other people, such as her abusers. And, because of this, there is a good chance that when you ask her what you said or did to upset her that she will reply,’nothing.’ When she says nothing, now’s your chance to help her realize that she is, in fact, angry at someone else. You could say, ‘Angry words mean that you have angry feelings. If you aren’t mad at me, then you must be mad at somebody or something. Want to figure out who or what you’re mad at?’By helping her to see that she is displacing and encouraging her to talk about the actual object of her anger, you will help her to heal.Abused people often become abusive. When an abused person abuses others, there is an unconscious wish to release anger and punish those people that harmed him or her. But, abusive behavior never heals the original wound. She may release the internal pressure, but she will never heal until she talks the problem out, which includes identitying her feelings in the moment they arise, and labelling who the feelings are aimed at. It is only by becoming conscious of the feelings and talking about them that she will heal.So, by curbing her abusive behavior toward you, you are protecting yourself and at the same time helping her to talk and heal.So, set firm, limits, encourage her to talk not act out her anger, and you will feel less burdened and she will heal.Good luck.