How Can I Tell My Girlfriend Her Emotional, Bad Behavior Is Not My Fault?

How can I tell my girlfriend her emotional bad behavior is not my fault

This is a question about splitting up. My girlfriend has been irrational and cruel; we’ve actually split, but I want to explain to her that her emotions and the way she reacts aren’t the fault of other people, only she can control her reactions. I’ll give you an example of something that happened earlier this year. This is by no means the only thing. I fully understand that I am soft and an easy push over.

I took my girlfriend away for a long weekend with some friends to France. We arrived at the hotel on the Friday afternoon and met my friends for drinks, they invited us out for dinner but we were too engrossed in each other and we didn’t leave the room. We made love that night and again in the morning. We went out the next day with my friends and had lunch. At that point one of my friend’s wives asked which cocktail dress another was going to wear that night to dinner. I hadn’t been told it was a black tie dinner, I had a lounge suit and my girlfriend had a nice dress but not a cocktail dress. She was obviously upset. We got back and she wound herself up to the point where she said we can’t go to the dinner. I went down to the bar where my friends were and I said “we’re not coming” explaining the issue. Several of the guys told me that their wife or girlfriend also didn’t have a cocktail dress, they didn’t like them or just didn’t own one. I went upstairs and told my girlfriend and she agreed to come down for dinner.The elevator arrived in the lobby and the doors opened, I was nearest so I exited first, I was two steps into the lobby when she screamed “I can’t do this”, got back into the elevator, the doors closed and she was gone! I was flabbergasted. My friend’s wife went after her but couldn’t find her, the room door was locked and I had the key. I went to look for her, couldn’t find her, I asked the desk staff to let me know if they saw her and I went down to the banqueting hall, the last to arrive, to be told to relax, she was there.

My friend’s wife had found her and lent her a dress, apparently she was hysterical before appearing for dinner, it was all my fault and she said other things about me that my friends wife wouldn’t tell me. We ignored each other for a while but as the conversation around the table flowed we began to talk and by the end of dinner we were talking normally, as though nothing had happened. I was being weak because I was in love. Most guys I know would have finished the relationship right there, but I was also confused. We left the table and she said she was going straight to the room and not coming for drinks with everyone. Possibly too embarrassed, but still making out that it was my fault. I went for drinks with my friends with every intention of dumping her in the morning. I eventually got back to the room to find her naked in the bed.I ignored her until the morning because I was still fuming. When it was obvious I was awake she asked me if I wanted a cuddle. Really, I wanted to dump her right then, but then I thought about how awkward the drive home was going to be. We had the most exciting sex I’ve had for 20 years; it was amazing. Was she guilty for her behavior the night before? I dared not talk about what had happened because I was scared she’d dump me. Now that I’ve finally finished with her I want her to understand that her reaction was not normal, and it really wasn’t my fault, she has to take ownership for her actions and re-actions. How can I do this without the emotion turning it into an argument or a session of criticism?



Dude. Just…dude.

I had the SAME EXACT THING happen to me in the summer of 2000.

The brief version: we were dating for three months.

We were going to a friend’s wedding in Catalina Island. My new girlfriend was very attractive and very vain, but I had no idea how emotional she was. I quickly learned.

The girlfriend was very judicious in what type of dress to wear to a late Sunday afternoon wedding. Can’t wear black. Can’t wear white. Red is too showy and might upstage the bride. So she finally decides on a silky lavender number. She’s happy. She looks great to me. It’s all good.

Until we arrive at the wedding and learn that her dress looks almost EXACTLY like the bridesmaids. It was objectively pretty funny because she tried SO hard to choose the right outfit, but hey, what’re you gonna do, right? Smile, have a laugh, and get on with the night…

That’s not quite how it played out.

There was screaming. There was crying. There was cajoling. There was a tense truce where she stayed through the ceremony and then left before the reception.

Suddenly, I was at a wedding, all by myself where I knew no one but the bride— simply because my girlfriend was upset at her wardrobe choice.

I left the wedding, returned to the hotel room for 2-3 hours of arguing and crying, followed by our usual hot sex.

I stayed with her for three more months — and watched her storm out of both fancy restaurants and cocktail parties, leaving me alone, embarrassed, and, inevitably, chasing after her.

Your ex-girlfriend is an emotional terrorist and you can’t negotiate with terrorists.

Why did I do it? Same reason anyone stays in bad relationships:

I was lonely.

She was the most attractive woman I’d ever dated.

The sex was great.

I thought I was in love. She was a good girlfriend 80% of the time.

But that 20%? Holy shit. She said some of the meanest things to me I’d ever heard before I became a dating coach. 🙂  To this day, I wish her well, but pray she learned to manage her emotions a little better — or, at the very least, find a partner who doesn’t trigger her anger so much.

So when you write me this, Jonathan:

“Was she guilty for her behavior the night before? I dared not talk about what had happened because I was scared she’d dump me. Now that I’ve finally finished with her I want her to understand that her reaction was not normal, and it really wasn’t my fault, she has to take ownership for her actions and re-actions. How can I do this without the emotion turning it into an argument or a session of criticism?”  

I have only one word for you:


Don’t try to prove your innocence.

Don’t try to teach her the error of her ways.

Don’t be her psychologist, dating coach, or even her friend.

Your ex-girlfriend is an emotional terrorist and you can’t negotiate with terrorists.

She’s way too wrapped up in her feelings of “being right” to listen to reason, and it will only serve to enflame the situation, create aggravation, and trigger her anger all over again.

If you have a dramatic partner, there’s no fixing it. You will just ride the roller-coaster until you get sick and it throws you off.

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  1. 1

    I had a boyfriend who would react to things like that. About 3 years ago, we went on a road trip to Maine, while in Maine I noticed my debit card was gone. I was a little upset but I use a bank that gives new cards on the spot and they had branches in the area. Instead of saying, “Ok we’ll stop by the bank and get a new card.” He started screaming at the top of his lungs about how stupid an irresponsible I was, we were 12 hours away and he was driving, there really wasn’t anything I could do. A few months later he screamed at me like that when I said I wanted to go for eggs rather than a bagel for breakfast. I broke up with him soon after and never spoke to him again. I suggest Jonathan do the same.

  2. 2

    It’s that chemistry thing again.

  3. 3

    It’s a no brainer – RUN.

    Pointing out this girls flaws and character deficiencies will only enrage her even more and let’s face it, how would you like someone to do the same to you when you think you’re a perfectly nice guy … I would have to ask myself why you went out with me and kept going out with me when you didn’t like who I am or what I’m doing.  
    I had an ex boyfriend tell me all about myself, rather nasty stuff after I dumped him, all that did was tell me I was right to get rid of him as he was jealous, possessive and controlling and had a bad temper. He just reinforced my opinion that I had dodged a bullet by leaving. It was also extremely hurtful to be told these things by someone I thought liked me.  
    I told this man that the relationship wasn’t working for me and left it at that, no excuses or character assessments as to why I didn’t want to keep going out with him.
    If you want to break up with someone, do it politely without criticism and telling them why they aren’t good enough and where they need to improve so you can accept them. Really! How perfect are you?

    1. 3.1

      You don’t have to make excuses or assassinate someone’s character to tell them why you aren’t happy with them. I find when someone doesn’t have a reason is really a cover up for a superficial or nonexistent reason & they don’t like how it sounds to admit it. Ultimately I find just as much closure regardless. The reality is someone who lacks the ability to be introspective or have a meaningful final conversation which allows the other person to let go is emotionally immature & selfish.

      1. 3.1.1
        Angie Taylor

        So very true!

    2. 3.2

      People need constructive criticism otherwise they can’t realize they are doing something wrong.

      If you ex was saying hurtful things to you, jealous, possessive and controlling, then you should grow a   pair and honestly tell him why you broke up. He will see what he needs to improve on, understand exactly what caused your relationship to fail and that way he can better himself for the mext woman. Or perhaps even fix all his issues and everything else was good enough, then you could also assess whether this was worth another shot.


      Maybe you could have also heard his side of the story and seen things from his perspective. People like you are mentally toxic because you lack the decency and integrity to give clarity to someone for something improtant that affects their life.

  4. 4

    Well, it’s obviously good that they’re no longer dating (presumably he called it off) but he’s gotta stop the beta behavior. Take the advice and forget trying to give her unsolicited feedback to prove yourself better or w/e (and not only because this won’t work). Gotta cut and run and let some other guy deal with the crazy.  
    As to the issue, most any guy has been there, and I have, though not to this degree. Some girls are spoiled by their “hotness” (not exactly the same as attractiveness) and thus don’t know how to properly interface to the world, including boyfriends, work, etc., because we let them get away with murder.

  5. 5

    I just simply wouldn’t put up with that sh*t.

  6. 6

    Hi Jonathan,
    you sound like a nice and empathetic person.   I once played that role in a very toxic relationship with a very narcissistic man.   It’s so not worth it.   You deserve to share your special gifts with someone who will appreciate you for all your goodness.   It is very obvious to all of us that this girl will not be that person.   Get out, heal, and find that special someone to share your life with.   You are not responsible for “rehabilitating” her.   You are responsible for treating yourself with respect.

    1. 6.1

      That is probably the best comment I have heard in some time. The last sentence says it all. Thanks.

  7. 7

    I’ve been in a similar situation, although not as extreme.   I’ve had friends that wanted to date me go off on a tangent about me saying one little thing in which they disagreed.   They would do this often.   Finally, when I am fed up and start telling these guys about themselves, i.e. “why are you so full of yourselves? Why can’t you accept a little disagreement?”, then everything becomes my fault and they say that I’m ‘cranky’, too sensitive, etc.

    I never understood it.   As long as I let men belittle me, it’s okay.   However, when I’ve had enough, then I’m the problem.

    Yeah, Jonathan needs to stay away from that woman.   She’s probably the reverse of the men that I’ve met.

    Needless to say, one of them actually said that he was the best at everything and could have anything that he wanted.   I told him that was arrogant and he said that I was wrong.


  8. 8

    Someone is still hooked on this nut; “… find a partner who doesn’t trigger her anger as much” . we all need to control our anger and other anti social behavior. It is   our own fault   when we act out. Men will forever fall into this trap. Your partner should be your equal. Not someone you need to fix or constantly prop up. First be whole and healthy and then find another whole healthy individual. In this scenario it takes two wholes to make one.

  9. 9

    Confession: I’m a reformed dramatic/overly emotionally reactive woman : )
    Folks, let me assure you that what this gentleman is describing is not just “dramatic” or “overly emotional”, it’s batsh*t crazy. There is a whole spectrum between self-controlled and insane, and this lady seems to land quite far on the crazy side.
    To people currently dealing with this in their relationship, I’d suggest to sit down with the partner once the storm is passed and calmly say that this was a one-timer, next time you’re outta there. And stick to that resolve. For less crazy behaviors, offering to read together the Book “Non Violent Communication” could encourage progress in communication style, so it could be worth a try before calling it quit for good.
    To people who are dramatic or overly emotionally reactive like I used to be (so, not batsh*t crazy), I can assure you that you can learn self-control. For me the best way was to start with meditative movement (yoga and taiji) and expand to seated meditation. A practice focused on breathing and the observation of thought patterns in a non-judgemental way will over time allow you to find that split second of freedom needed to make an intentional choice on how to react between input (emotional trigger) and output (external reaction).
    But in the Letter Writer’s situation, that ship has sailed and it’s too late to turn the experience into a “teachable moment”. Hopefully this gentleman will learn to trust his own judgement and assert himself before his relationship drama becomes a spectacle.

  10. 10
    Dina Strange

    I must admit the girlfriend sounds immature, spoiled and emotional. But if he doesn’t tell her what’s the problem, she will just continue behaving the same way without ever realizing her mistakes.

  11. 11

    Yep…its not your role to fix her…its up to her.  

  12. 12

    I was the crazy girlfriend once, not too long ago.   Let me tell you something.   I had to be “broken”, much like a horse, in order to grow up and learn my lesson.   I blamed him for everything, I blamed the circumstance, my hormones, other people, etc.   Everyone except myself.   The truth is I really loved him very much, but I was not an emotionally mature/healthy person.   I never would have changed unless I lost him.   I never would have even admitted it was my fault or examined myself unless I experienced a great loss.   Please break up with her.   It’s good for your sanity, and also hopefully will be the catalyst for her to change.

    1. 12.1

      Rose, I can totally identify with your sentiment. I was the same way. I wasn’t the drama queen, but I tend to get emotionally aroused fairly easily. I wouldn’t scream or do anything weird, but I would get really cranked up and bottle it up. Totally great point to share in this post – thanks.

  13. 13

    To a certain extant, I was that girlfriend.   You were right to leave her, not only for your sake but for hers.   It is not your job to explain anything to her though.   She doesn’t have the capacity to hear it anyway.   She’ll look for answers on her own time.   Or not.   One thing you could do, if you’re so inclined, is to develop some compassion for her and others like her.   I’m fairly certain she didn’t wake up every morning to go over her master plan to be shitty to you that day.   She was doing the best she could with the resources she had.   And most likely she had very little.   And you’re right, none of that is you’re fault.   I think somewhere you know it was never really about the dress or whatever else it was she was so “emotional” about.   It was about what she thought the dress would give her or what the lack of a dress would take away.   If you look, you might see you have your own version of the dress.   Maybe it comes in the form of wanting to counsel a woman about her impossible emotional behavior.   A women you rejected by the way.   For what?   So you can feel better?   Interesting.

    1. 13.1

      I didn’t take away from his letter that he did it to feel better but I’m sure there is some sense of relief and why not?   We can have compassion toward highly sensitive, histrionic people but we need to maintain appropriate boundaries because such relationships are exhausting at best, toxic at worst.   

    2. 13.2

      “Emotional terrorism” is something I too am guilty of! I think it comes from living co-dependently and striving to achieve love by doing everything right which internally turns you into a basket-case!   I also notice both stories have to do with WEDDINGS.   Could it be that weddings trigger some women’s insecurities and issues about being unmarried?   I bet so!   I am not marriage-focused or driven per se, but in the last few months, for the first time in perhaps 15 years, I realize that I probably DO want marriage, I just never felt “worthy” of someone wanting to marry so I put it out of my mind as something I cared about (more co-dependency)… I think women prone to emotional volcanoes are often attracted to men who are avoidant.   And vise verse. And the passion is incredible, but so are the miscommunications. It is sad because once you learn to be a woman (person) that actually takes responsibility for your behavior you have often already lost the person you loved most– in fact, for me, it was the motivator to really look at myself and patterns of emotional reactive-based living, and decide when and how I could start letting go of the rage to heal the fear and pain that plagues so many of us in relationships.   I am far from recovered, but I am working willfully and dutifully on the process of being a more emotionally responsible person. Every human on earth is guilty of reacting poorly from time to time, the key is to recognize it, confess to it and ATONE by channeling your energy into decompressing WHY the reaction took place and how to eliminate that trigger-response in the future. It is not easy, but it is worth it.   No one wants to be a shrew.   

      1. 13.2.1

        How does a woman loose the one they love the most? From the outside it looks like they want to get their way 100% of the time which I’d label insane. Ego & pride seem to be valued more than the relationship with a man they love. It’s like a feed back loop that results in ever poorer decisions that are more about justifying previous bad decisions than resolution.   I see it in a significant amount of women in my life. They seem to have no ability to be introspective, empathetic, or even wrong. No one gets through because they don’t trust anyone, at least I think that is what is going on. This can’t be psychologically sustainable.   It’s strange & sad to witness. I had a GF like this, at the end it was a relief she left, but sad to know in the future she’ll have to deal with throwing away the “love of her life” simply because she was too proud to ever be wrong, mostly over things that don’t matter. The only thing I’m left with is a curiosity of what the mental process is that makes tragedies out of life’s quirks, then refusing to be responsible for over reacting, then valuing the whole absurd scenario that not being wrong means more than keeping the person you love?

        1. Adrian

          Thank you.

      2. 13.2.2


        I felt compelled to respond to your “but I am working willfully and dutifully on the process of being a more emotionally responsible person. Every human on earth is guilty of reacting poorly from time to time, the key is to recognize it, confess to it and ATONE by channeling your energy into decompressing WHY the reaction took place and how to eliminate that trigger-response in the future.” statement.

        I appreciate women like you; strong women who take responsibility for their actions/responses and actually DO something to change, not just blame their partner.

        I’ve been working to take responsibility for my (dysfunctional) responses with years of therapy for the last two decades, for the benefit of MY life, and THE relationship, so it’s only good that the woman does the same. If not, I keep telling myself there are women like you in this world.

  14. 14

    I should add my “chemistry thing” was not meant to cut down or insult the OP.   I only say it to point out that we’ve all been thrown by it. And before the firestorm starts, yes, there does need to be some chemistry *balanced* with compatability, emphasis on balance.   I would be willing to bet people have tried to get through to this girl but she does not hear them.

  15. 15

    I went out with a lady last year who was bat shit crazy Unfortunately I hung around too long in a toxic relationship because of incredible chemistry. Looking back it was purely lust. I’ve learned my lesson and will never fall into that trap again.

    1. 15.1
      I say

      Yep –   the worst combo is two incompatible people with strong chemistry. It cannot end well & doesn’t. The physicality is intense, it’s big dopamine hits flooding your brain & that’s the first problem. That overrides the rational judgement that actually, objectively, the two people don’t share many values or a communication style or priority (say, honesty vs loyalty). All that dopamine generally leads to an inability to let go until it gets to inevitable crisis point, & that is second part of the problem. Because some of that chemistry is really an attraction to something the very opposite of you, the result is a whole lot of drama.

  16. 16

    I had a gf like that too and it drove me crazy.   Most of the time, she was a beautiful, wonderful, mature, smart person but when she got triggered, she turned into a hurt little girl.   Yes, she was like two people at the same time:   the wonderful adult wanting a fulfilling relationship and a hurt little child who was pushing me away because she was afraid of the pain that could result from becoming vulnerable.   It was really sad and it tore me to pieces wondering how this wonderful woman could turn into a raging mess because I said some common trigger words that a person from her past used to say.   How was I supposed to know??   How could she hold me responsible for what this other person did?!?!?   Couldn’t she understand that I wasn’t him?   
    I’ve done a lot of reading since then (which is how I found this site) and learned that she had a very wounded child within her who still hadn’t healed.   She knew this was going on within her but the child within just became too strong.   It was very sad and I wish her well.   I would have worked with her but it just wasn’t to be.
    I read someone’s story about a similar situation on another site and he said that dating someone like this takes something from you that you will never get back and I can totally relate to what he meant.   
    Just remember, that which does not kill us makes us stronger.   Learn from your situation.   Another nugget of wisdom I read said that only an unhealthy person would settle for a relationship with another unhealthy person.   A healthy person wouldn’t tolerate that crap.   Will you tolerate that crap another time?  

    1. 16.1

      My boyfriend of 5 1/2 years broke off our relationship about 6 months ago.   He is highly dramatic, and easy to anger and never takes any responsibility or apologizes for his behavior.   I always found myself apologizing to him because like your X he was wonderful, smart, driven and loving most of the time and I just wanted to get back to that state.   I put up with so much, and can’t understand how I could love someone like this and allow them to treat me so badly and blame me for being argumentative.   I know that I am not perfect but what you said about only an unhealthy person would settle for a relationship with another unhealthy person, this really hit home.    I am now taking some time to work on myself and even though he has moved on and started dating again I want to make sure that I am whole before I move on.     

    2. 16.2

      Was she in any sort of counseling program?   It is one thing to be aware, but quite another to try to resolve that issue without the help of counseling and within a group of safe people.   If something is so deeply rooted in our formative years, we often need help to bring it to the surface and deal with it, even if we have the awareness of it.

      1. 16.2.1

        Yes, she was working with a counselor but, IMO, it just didn’t seem to be effective.   I kept getting the impression that she was struggling to hide some aspect of herself and to appear “normal” but she got to the point where it was too much of a struggle.   Again,  just my gut telling me that.       She was very insecure and defensive and would even apologize for her moodiness when she wasn’t being moody but when she really was moody, she wouldn’t apologize.   It’s all very unfortunate- she had/has so many good qualities and if she gets her emotions under control, she will be a real catch.  
        MARTHA-   you mentioned wanting to get back to the state when the relationship was good.   There’s a great blog on Baggage Reclaim  about how people blow hot and cold to manage your expectations down and about trying to get back to  how it was in the beginning.   It’s all mind effery.  

        1. Andre


          The two people you describe exhibit identical approaches to life and my recent woman did. It just ended after 4.5 years of being together. She was 80/90% great, and we were great, but the other 20/10% was not too fun.

          I know from my long efforts at therapy that our relationship with a co-dependent relationship. Essentially, like ScottH wrote, it takes two to tango. We both had our issues, but the unfortunate thing in the relationship is that she never wanted to do therapy for her past hurts. To her, she didn’t have any baggage.

          I’m still unpacking mine, so as to not attract and BE attracted to such a seductive personality as I have found out.

        2. Andre

          (I fixed mis-spellings in this comment, from the one previously)


          The two people you describe exhibit identical approaches to life as my recent woman did. It just ended after 4.5 years of being together. She was 80/90% great, and we were great, but the other 20/10% was not too fun.

          I know from my long efforts at therapy that our relationship was a co-dependent relationship. Essentially, like ScottH wrote, it takes two to tango. We both had our issues, but the unfortunate thing in the relationship is that she never wanted to do therapy for her past hurts. To her, she didn’t have any baggage.

          I’m still unpacking mine, so as to not attract and BE attracted to such a seductive personality as I have found out.

  17. 17

    “She said some of the meanest things to me I’d ever heard before I became a dating coach.”
    “Your ex-girlfriend is an emotional terrorist and you can’t negotiate with terrorists.
    Lol! Anyway both woman sound kooky to me, and not in a cute way, just sweating the small stuff way too much. Just an hr with such a person would make me wanna scream.

  18. 18

    Evan once said in his response to the circular dating thing that if her reactions become her boyfriend’s problem when he hasn’t done anything wrong, it’s on her to react in a more healthy way.   I keep reminding myself of that when I think back to my over reactive gf.   Also, people think that because they have “feelings,” that those feelings are right and appropriate and valid.   That is just not true.   We need to think about our feelings and make sure that they are appropriate.  

    1. 18.1

      I think all feelings are valid, but the way we express them to others (our emotions) must be appropriate. Translating intense internal feelings into an authentic but respectful communication is an art that can be learned. Such skill allows a deeper emotional connection based on authenticity, vulnerability, and acceptance, and is key to a happy and healthy relationship.

    2. 18.2

      We will feel what we’re going to feel. But feelings are fickle and far too subjective to be facts.   It’s what we do with those feelings. Now, had this girl in our story have admitted that yes, she was embarrassed about not having the appropriate manner of dress for the event, but would buck up, make the best of things, and enjoy the event, then I think we’d not be discussing this letter.   Her acting out and behavior were entirely inappropriate.   But we can’t tell people how they must or must not feel.   It sounds to me like the OP tried to empathize with her as best he could but she was unable to meet him half way and turn it into a moment of growth.

  19. 19

    Great comments, all of them. Everything here vindicates Evan’s compatibility over Chemistry mantra. It doesn’t matter how much of a ‘spark’/physical attraction/excitement there is if you’re living with a lunatic (unless you tend that way yourself). Here’s the rub: it’s not always obvious that someone is not really okay in themselves until we get close and by that point hormones often have a hold.

    The hardest but most worthwhile thing to do in my view if attracting histrionic types/borderlines/narcissists is a pattern for you is to do your own work (get a good therapist – take your time choosing). Then you will become narc-proof. Because as someone wrote earlier, we attract others at our common level of woundedness (or common level of emotional health:)

    If you want to give a lecture about your ex’s poor behaviour, save the heart to hearts for yourself. Ask yourself openly what you need to do move forward with your choice of dates/relationships and then do the work, and importantly,forgive yourself for what you allowed yourself to go through .

    1. 19.1

      Great suggestion about seeing a counselor when dating!   They can be incredibly helpful in acting as a mirror to your experience and providing meaningful feedback.   However, even if you find a good therapist, I’d caution anyone if they start to feel “narc-proof.”   Narcissists (particularly highly skilled ones) can draw   healthy people (at least initially).   We should always keep our metaphorical eyes open and also not judge others as being at a low level of emotional health if they wind up with one.

      1. 19.1.1

        ‘narcs can draw healthy people’- veeery true.

        I was single a year and a half and then met a seemingly great guy. Three months in he cheated on me and it blew my mind. I became insecure and needy all the while him saying it was a mistake and he loved me. The next half year he cheated with more girls and I went through the anguish again. We mended and I began being okay. This was the first guy I stayed for before. I previously got rid of guys who didn’t fit my idea of a gentleman.

        He proposed, we engaged and three months later I found him cheating again. I went the way of the bat and he said sorry and we kept having sex ( why he stuck around ) well the fourth year I was still insecure from it all wondering where the real me had hidden to… And he wants to break up and by then I was so dependent on him trying to fix us that I tried to fix us by begging him not to leave. I had never put my worth into a guy this way before.

        We get used to how people treat us, but as a self proclaimed narcicist, he knew what he was doing and they usually always do.   People treat us how we let them and had I left when he first cheated, I would probably be with someone amazing now.

  20. 20

    Ok, so should we do with the intense negative feelings when they arise? There are great recommendations here about how to control/modify “the output” – that is, how we convey our negative feelings in a respectful way.  
    Been there, tried to do it. The problem with behavior modifications is this: you only modify the behavior but not the issue underneath it. If the underlining anger is still there, no matter how much we try to control the expression of it, it’s still there. It’s like trying to keep a lid on a pot of boiling water… Just a matter of time before it blows up, again and again. I’ve seen it again and again: all behavior-modification types of measures do not stick for long.
    So, the real struggle I have is this: how do I BECOME a better person? A kinder one who doesn’t have the anger raging inside? How do I heal that – as cliche says- “little hurt girl” inside?   How do I BECOME a more compassionate, loving, tolerant, giving person? Therapy ? Soul searching via spiritual reading? Been doing it….. Progress is very slow…. Having to look into your own retched soul and seeing the stuff you rally don’t want to see, but it’s there, eating you inside and ruining your relationships. And, having the consistent courage to work on it and change it.
    But may be, this is a discussion for a different blog.  

    1. 20.1

      Find a good cognitive therapist  

    2. 20.2

      Therapy comes in different shades and depths, through different types of people who are skilled and trained at it to varying degrees. The work can be painful, long, expensive and humbling. My experience is that it completely changed my life (over 3 years) and I have vanquished a huge dragon (I didn’t even know I was fighting) that was stopping me from living happily. Don’t worry about the type of therapy the therapist offers (if they only use one kind they’re probably not a particularly skilled therapist. Abraham Maslow said:  “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then all your problems begin to look like nails.”  Just look at their years of experience and the types of issues they say they deal with as well as how well you ‘click’ with them. Meet them like you would a date and ask them questions about their work. Only stick with the one who you feel fine with. Truly amazing things can happen when two people meet with the intention of healing and have the skills (therapist) and determination (client) to make it happen. Best money I ever spent.

    3. 20.3

      I am a big fan of Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend; one form of therapy they advocate is group therapy as it allows someone to bring those split aspects into the light where the person can receive help and acceptance in a safe group of people.   In some cases, the acting out can be the result of splitting off parts of a person’s character because they do not feel they can be accepted if they are being authentic with others. For example, a child receives condemnation from a parent or peers for liking the color blue (simplistic example but stay with me); that child will internalize that criticism and bury the shame over liking the color blue, then as he grows, have this intense fear, dislike of the color blue to the point of being extremely against blue.   If that person gets into a therapy group where he can bring his issues surrounding blue to light, and be accepted for liking blue even if nobody else in the group does,   that can bring healing and resolution to the issue. That’s if the person wants to do the work to change.

      1. 20.3.1

        Just came across Dr Henry Cloud looking for something else..great recommendation!

      2. 20.3.2

        How do I find a group therapy like that?

    4. 20.4

    5. 20.5

      I think Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love  You Want  should be required reading for everybody in a relationship.   Also, do a google search on “serenityonline reparenting wounded child”.       Also The Road Less Traveled.
      But  change all comes down to one thing:   you have to be sick and tired of the way things are and decide and commit to making a change.    As a human, you  most likely prefer  the familiar (even if it’s bad) to  a change (even if it’s good).   Living authentically does not come  naturally or easily.     There’s lots of stuff going on in the subconscious that drives us all to do some wacky things.   You just need to try to be aware and responsible for what you do.

      1. 20.5.1

        I am absolutely sick and tired of the way I act. I wish I can handle it all better. Sometimes I feel out of control and I act out. I am afraid I will ruin my relationships with people who love me

    6. 20.6

      Lola2, I love your honesty and thirst for change.   Beyond anything else, the key to behavior change is an honest and fervent desire to change.   Reading your comment, I get the sense that you already possess that quality.   Good for you!   I would consider all of the advice the other posters have suggested (especially seeking a therapist you click with — which can be hard after you feel like you’ve already spilled your guts to them after a session, right?)   There are a lot of different modes of therapy:   behavioral, cognitive behavioral, existential, person-center therapy, somatic experiencing, etc.   With a behavioral or somatic experiencing approach, the therapist will help you find the “triggers” that begin the escalation process and help you physically change your reactions to them.   If you feel like it’s more of an issue that you need to talk through with the therapist about, the other therapeutic approaches might be more effective.   Mindfulness techniques can also help you stay more centered so you experience less anxiety and have a higher tolerance threshold for irritations.   Most important thing is to keep trying!   Growth is a journey that we take our entire lives.

    7. 20.7
      Karmic Equation

      I just finished reading this book and I found it very enlightening, I think you’ll find it very helpful to becoming the person you want to become:
      It was really eye opening and I was even implement a little bit of it just the other day. Normally I would have reacted defensively when my guy is a little curt. But after reading this book, instead of reacting defensively to his curtness, I reacted with compassion. We were on the phone discussing some work I was helping him do and he got a little short with me.  Me: “Are you mad at me?”  Him: “No. Why do you think that?”  Me: “Ok then. Is everything alright? You sound so stressed.” (Normally, I would have ended at “Ok then” – but I had felt his stress and wanted to comment on it, something I would never have done in the past. I wanted him to “feel” that I felt what he was feeling).Him: “I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you later.”  

      Later turned into 2 hours later and I had to call him as I wanted to complete the project I was helping him with.

      I mentioned again how stressed he had sounded and he confessed, “Yeah. I was out of my mind. I just picked up my car from the mechanic’s and my iPod is gone. I’m getting things stolen from me left and right.” (His business was broken into a couple of months ago.)

      He then invited me over to his place to discuss the project. And he cooked dinner. We talked amicable about the project. And he mentioned he had talked to his dad and his dad found his iPod in his car. (He normally NEVER takes his iPod out of his own car, which is why he thought it was stolen. He had forgotten he had taken it with him him on a trip with his dad.)

      Later, as we lay in bed, he apologized not once, but twice. “I’m really sorry I was curt with you earlier.” I said, that’s ok. It’s understandable.

      A few minutes later, he apologized again. I just smiled and gave him a hug. “It’s ok. Don’t mention it.”

      Letting myself “feel” for him instead of being guarded helped us bond and got apologies from him I wouldn’t have in the past. It was such an awesome feeling.

      1. 20.7.1
        Karmic Equation

        Sorry for the typos:
        *implent in 2nd paragraph should be implemented
        *amicable should be amicably
          *one too many “him”s in 4th paragraph from the bottom  

    8. 20.8

      There is something called ” psychoanalytic psychotherapy”, it is a shorter and less intensive variant of psychoanalysis. Unlike behaviour therapies, it does not try to modify your behaviour, but rather to help you pass through the process of self discovery. It is a long and expensive journey, but offers much more than simply “changing” your behaviour on the outside. Not to mention that this is impossible, or as one psychotherapist put it, ” after CBT he stopped pissing in his pants and started shitting in his pants”

    9. 20.9

      You are correct in thinking that this is a slow process. It, unfortunately, is.

      Many of the behaviors that are impacting present relationships have their root in the past. The past is in the present, so to speak. Undoing, or changing, the hard-wiring of these now unwanted behaviors is a looooong tedious process, if change is to effectively occur.

      But, it can be done. I recovered from a 20-year chronic depression. BUT, it took almost 10 years of therapy.

      My depression ended 15 years ago, so the change lasted. But this was only the beginning.I’ve been at this for over 25 years now, off and on. It’s a never-ending journey of growth.

      The root cause of the depression, and many other unwanted relationship behaviors, does an EXTREMELY good job hiding in the childhood box you hid them in when young and vulnerable. You were very smart to do this back then.

      But now these hidden aspects of yourself (your ‘shadow’) rise up in unwanted situations, in this case – relationships.

      The first qualification to effect change, you seem to already have. You want to change. NEVER let that go. It will save you and keep you moving forward for the rest of your life, in spite of your circumstances, and relationship status.

      Yes, a good therapist is needed. Select one like dating: look for resonance with that person.

      Read. Read more. And read even more. Never stop learning about what you’re discovering about your-Self. There’s a beautiful woman in there, waiting to be brought out to the light of day, and love.

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