In response to The Core of Relationship Management: You are the Prize, a comenter asks an excellent question:
I have been with my partner JUST under a year known her for about 2 months before we started dating.
I believe i am weak at times, i hate her being mad at me, she can crack it over the smallest thing, and usually wont talk to me after that point, sometimes i dont even know what has happened! (whats made her upset) It can be something like not replying fast enough on facebook so she thinks i am to busy to talk to her. and will say goodnight.
its very confusing for me her getting hurt so easy, and to me i dont think i have done anything actually really hurtful to her, its more her feeling insecure.. but when this happens in the past ive tried to msg call all that sort of thing to much, even tho i dont believe i am not in the wrong. its seem to make it worse because then she believes i have done something wrong or why would i call so much.
When this happens she is very rude and nasty to me, basically a bitch! its annoying when this happens and i am at her place. which is a 45 min drive from my home and i feel like i should leave because how she is treating me but i never have. because i feel if i do and i know i am in the right that she still will think she is and stay mad at me. so i end up trying to make things better and not stand my ground because how i feel.
I few times recently when shes acted this way ive ignored her or being short. shes come back to me later on and apologized. i think this is the right thing for me to do. but havnt felt strong enough to leave her place and do all that. as i think its a bit of an effort for me for something i think is small for her to be upset about.
That brings me to the next thing. Shes is very insecure and even depressed at times and wont believe that i love her etc because of how she feels about herself. nore does she ask me ever to come around because she feels she is taking up my time. i am welcome to visit when ever, also she will never come visit me. its hard to deal with someone like this at times because its confusing to me. Please can you add some insight for me.
This is the nice-guy in a relationship. I used to be like this all the time. And women HATE it.
You hate it when she’s mad at you. You hate conflict. And she can sense that. She uses that as a weapon against you, pummeling you into submission with it.
She can sense your weakness. So she keeps going there, picking at it like a someone who can’t stop touching a scab.
The more she senses your weakness, the more she goes there with little or no reason at all.
She’s like a child throwing a temper tantrum.
You give in enough times to that tantrum and eventually the child becomes a “cry-baby,” flying off the handle for anything and everything because it’s learned to get attention that way.
That child does not enjoy crying. And your woman does not enjoy being a bitch. But you let her get that way. You taught her to seek your attention that way. And so she keeps doing it.
You’ve picked up that ignoring her and being short is the correct way to handle this. But let’s look a little deeper.
First, you need to differentiate whether she is throwing a tantrum or whether she has something legitimate to be upset about.
A child starts to cry for some reason. Is it legitimate? Did he fall and hurt himself or is he just whining?
When she gets upset, did something in her life happen that would make her upset or is she just projecting her insecurity onto you?
If she’s genuinely upset, then you can talk about what in her life happened. If she’s just being insecure, then you need to shut it off.
She doesn’t want to be in a bad mood. She doesn’t want to be a whiny baby, but if you let her be that around you, she’ll resent you for it.
Here’s an example. A woman fishing for a compliment.
“Do these shorts make me look fat?”
“Am I beautiful?”
I never give a woman a compliment when she fishes for it. That makes her do it even more.
And, more importantly, she doesn’t believe you when you give her the answer. She doesn’t trust you. She knows you’re responding just to make her feel better.
Her fishing for a compliment is actually a subliminal shit test to see if you’re a nice guy or to see if she can trust you.
(The correct response when she fishes for a compliment, is to ask a question back. “What makes you think that?”)
If you brought her flowers every day and compliment her all day, she would be completely dubious whether you really mean it.
Nobody means it that much. You’re doing it just to make her feel better. And she knows it.
Instead if you pick her a daisy once a year and say, “This made me think of you,” it will mean way way more. She knows you’re doing it because you want to do it, not to make her feel better.
I can’t tell you if this woman is truly insecure or depressed. But I can tell you this: you are bringing out her insecurity and depression. You are coaxing that out of her.
You have taught her that being insecure and depressed around you gets attention from you. So she’ll do it even more.
And she’ll hate you for it. She will be very unhappy around you. Nobody is happy when they throw tantrums. And you’ve taught her to communicate with you by throwing tantrums.
You should not be confused about how a woman feels. You shouldn’t even really care how she feels, at least not in practical terms. Look at her actions.
Is she treating you with respect? Then treat her with respect back.
Is she emotionally “dumping” her problems on you? Then get out of the conversation as fast as possible.
Did something bad happen to her and she needs a friend? Then be her friend.
Does she feel bad about herself? Let her deal with it. Let her talk about it if she wants, but stop being her care-taker.
Stop taking responsibility for her feelings, for making her feel better, for changing how she feels or even figuring out how she feels. That’s her job.
If she can’t do that when you make an honest effort to listen, then she is purposely obfuscating her feelings to get a reaction out of you, to confuse you and to play on your emotions.
Next time she gets mad at you, let’s say for not replying fast enough on facebook, you can acknowledge that you understand how she feels.
But do not get upset. This is important. Do not feel bad or show her that you feel bad.
Stand strong. Do not apologize. You’ve done nothing wrong. This is only her acting out on your weakness to see if she can get you to capitulate.
Act like a parent who’s kid is throwing a temper tantrum.
Drop the conversation. Walk away. Leave her house, even though it’s 45 minutes away.
Let her stew in her own shit until she comes back to you. You should not accept anyone treating you this way.
When you don’t allow her to act like a child, she’ll respect you for it, even though she may act mad at the time.
You have a long climb out of where you are now.
You’ve taught her to respond to you a certain way and treat you a certain way. The only way back is to pull away your attention when she does these things.
You must be firm and consistent in doing this, like you’d be firm and consistent in training a dog or a child.
You teach people how to treat you, and you have a lot of teaching ahead of you.