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

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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?

Thanks,

Jonathan

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:

Run.

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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Comments:

  1. 21
    Justin

    Jonathan,
    I can top that.   I had a crazy girlfriend for 2 years. Broke with me with at least six times, and changed her mind within 12 hours each time. Once she broke up with me because flowers and a nice dinner weren’t special enough for her birthday, she told me to leave immediately and she would ship my stuff to me.   A few hours later she decided that to prove my loyalty to her, she needed to let me shoot her with a paintball gun!   Mind you, this was when I was doing an entire semesters worth of school work for her, writing essays by night and driving her to class each day, she said she needed me to do it so she could handle her   difficult family. Another time, it was I had to smoke marijuana to prove my loyalty. Thankfully, I never did either, she calmed down…eventually both times. She was unstable emotionally but very attractive, charming and my best friend so I stayed and lived with her for two years.   She could be incredibly cruel and held me to impossible standards while creating excuses for hers, like when she spent three weeks in Paris, staying at a “friends” flat, who also happen to be a son of a famous chef and was wealthy. Big waste of my time, they never change.   GET OUT!!!

    1. 21.1
      Eric

      Let you shoot her with a paintball gun …. this proves your loyalty in her mind?

      LOL that’s a good one. Normally I’m a compassionate non violent guy but if the crazy nurse who acted like the women described here I was seeing told me I needed to shoot her with a paintball gun I just might fire every round on hand at her. Lucky for her I’m a great shot with lots of paintball battle experience.

  2. 22
    Anon

    Evan,

    by any chance did your ex have BPD?

      

    1. 22.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I don’t know what she had, but she went for six months of full time outpatient therapy shortly after we broke up. We are no longer in contact. I wish her well.

  3. 23
    Malcolm

    May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,
    May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,
    May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
    May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.

  4. 24
    GL

    I was with an emotional terrorist, he really did some heinous things. AMAZING sex…and I was definitely afraid of loneliness. The straw that broke the camels back was when he threatened to cheat on me if I didn’t have a threesome with him. I told him that was emotional abuse and changed my phone number. Well he has now decided to go to outpatient rehab for alcoholism and has given me a heartfelt apology. I like to think that I helped him make the decision to get help.

  5. 25
    noquay

    People are who they are. You accept them as is or you leave, it’s that simple. You’ve left, good. Telling others about themselves is generally a waste of time as they think they’re perfectly rational and see themselves far differently than you do. The only way this chick is gonna change is when no one will date her and she’s totally alone. A good many people just don’t do self introspection/self improvement unless they hit rock bottom and sometimes not even then. It’s over and she’s not your fixxit project. Move on.

  6. 26
    Gabriella

    I’m ashamed to admit but I was that girlfriend in my previous relationship. My only excuse is that my then boyfriend was an extremely narcisstic, arrogant, selfish man who ignored me 80% of the time when we were together. He constantly critized me and ignored my needs to the point that I became completely hysterical. (He was also a Virgo just like I am).
    I stayed for 3 months because a) I (thought) I was deeply in love with him b) the sex was simply mind-blowing.
    Now I am in a relationship with a very agreeable, tolerant, gentle man (a Pisces). We have been together for 1 and a half years and we have not quarrelled once! It’s not that he is a doormat, he just does not push my buttons. (Though I must admit my feelings for him have never been as intensive as for the Virgo man and also the sex could be better.)
    What I am trying to say is that it is not neccessarily the woman’s fault. She might be a totally balanced, cool girl with someone else. Some people are just not meant to be together because they have such conflicting characters that they simply drive each other crazy.

  7. 27
    Karmic Equation

    This guy’s got it nailed. Ultimately for men, the “hot but not too crazy” chick gets “wived”; and for women, it’s the guy who makes the most money. Three “dating-mating” zones for the women and six zones for men. So women aren’t the picky ones. LOL. Women need to aim to be in the Unicorn zone, and then “settle” for being put into the Date or Wife zone 🙂 This is hilarious and oh so true! Had to share.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKWmFWRVLlU&sns=fb

    1. 27.1
      Julia

      What I want to know is how many 10s are there to go around for all the utterly average men in the world????

      1. 27.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        It doesn’t matter, Julia, LOL because as long as he has MONEY according to the video, he doesn’t need to be cute. He’ll get his share of 10’s. (Unfortunately very true to life).
          
        As for the non-cute/not-moneyed guys, they’re all going to tell you they’re worth more than the “alpha” guys because they will offer her a loving devoted relationship, whereas all those alphas will “only” offer sex.
          
        I happen to believe that hot-10 alphas will offer relationships to hot 10 unicorns.
          
        There just aren’t any 10 unicorns out there to entice those Alpha-10-males into relationships. 10-Danger Zoners there are plenty of though 😉 — and those gals are only going get STRs out of those Alphas because their craziness will eventually drive them away.
          
        God has a sense of humor 😉

        1. Julia

          I’m pretty happy in my 7-8 range and have a feeling I’m wife material 😛

          Meanwhile, that guy has money? dressed like that?  

      2. 27.1.2
        SparklingEmerald

        Hmmm, redheads got put in the danger zone along with strippers and something else.   I just recently went back to being a brunette.
        Maybe it’s time to get my pics re-done & go on a different dating site as a brunette.   Maybe I have been presumed to be crazy because of my red hair.

  8. 28
    Rebecca

    And the only clear message you can send her is your exit.   She cannot hear you as you try to parent her on her emotional issues – she will have to figure those things out for herself.

  9. 29
    H12345

    My boyfriend of a year and a month just have broken up with me over similar thing: me being over emotional out of the blue and without a valid reason. I’m so depressed. Such thing happened only once, I wasn’t screaming or crying, and I said him afterwards that it’d been stupid, and I’d been over emotional, but he didn’t forgive me. I think it’s him who’s insensitive here, not me: after a year of a good relationship he couldn’t forgive me a minor   episode of mood changing that happened in rather difficult period of my life. I think he just didn’t love me otherwise he’d forgive me a little craziness after I put up with so many episodes of his crazy behavior.  
    I do think I must work on myself   and to learn how to control my impulses, I know I have a problem here, but I really wasn’t expecting him to want to end out relationship over such thing (and yes, without any explanation, as many of you suggest here to do – sorry, but I think it’s just inhuman thing not to give any explanation and just to dump your partner).  

    1. 29.1
      JNordan

      It sounds like despite some MINOR “self awareness” admissions, you’re still just making excuses and rationalizing your embarrassing behavior. How about you work on yourself and try again instead of shit-talking the guy you put through all of that?   It isn’t HIS fault you messed up.

  10. 30
    Kate

    If you’ve split up, you should be in “no contact.”   Your physical/verbal/emotional removal from her is really the only way to show that her behavior is unacceptable.   Further engagement from you will only result in your own frustration/hurt/pain.   

    1. 30.1
      Pj

      Exactly what I wish I heard four years ago, bravo!

      if you choose to stay, staying won’t fix their choice of reactions and you will sit there wondering why you can’t get the love you deserve rather than the reactions they want to give.

  11. 31
    Cecilia

    Personally, I find it very strange why the guy in the opening post says he is afraid to talk to this woman out of fear she will break up with him, yet on the same hand wants to break up with her. While i agree when people say you can’t be someone’s therapist, it takes two in a relationship and i do not think that this womans behavior is entirely her fault. I once read this article for guys that said that when all your girlfriends are crazy bitches the only common denominator they have is you. Maybe this guy needs to look at his own emotional availability instead of walking away and saying the woman is to blame. Obviously just a little part if the story is shown here, but i am sure the problem wasnt about the dress, but she probably had insecurities about the relationship and about her self with regards to these friends. While i do agree that people shouldnt stay in something they are unhappy with, but i do think that people should look at the things that lie beyond the behavior more instead of shutting each other out.  

  12. 32
    Chris

    This is an emotional/verbal abuser.
    I wish I had know what that was when I met my ex boyfriend/fiance. He was abused by his dad, and in a verbally abusive long marriage with an alcoholic. It was how he learned to be in relationship. Not because he is an evil person, he actually is a wonderful, amazing human being, just stuck in a childish emotional place where his old wounds come out to haunt him and those he is in a close relationship with.
    I wish someone had told me to RUN before we moved in together. I knew something was off. I knew his behavior, angry outbursts were not normal or ok.
    Don’t ask why a woman (or man) stays with someone like this. She often doesn’t know. You love each other, really do. You are so compatible. Really are. But the emotional immaturity, the deep wounds he had that I triggered, the inability to stop and change, will tear you apart emotionally. Eventually, it or you, or both, will fall apart.
    And good chance you are an empath like me that wants to help. The 80% of good, true love, connection and glimpses of a great man, keep you there, keep you trying, keep you hoping, keep you putting up with hateful looks and words, and anger and drama.
    I encourage all readers to learn about sociopaths, verbal and emotional abuse and controllers. Even if you are in a great relationship or dating a great person. A friend or family member might need your help. To tell them to RUN. And to help them get out, maybe give them a place to stay. Please. It is not talked about enough.   Please learn the signs. Emotional and verbal abuse is just as bad or worse than physical, as there are no visible signs. No hotline or police you can call.

  13. 33
    Lisa

    People that are passionate are passionate in every way.   So a person that is good in bed, and gives you hot sex, will also tend to be that same person with a bad temper or who cries easily, thems just the breaks :).      You take the good with the bad, and I think its why they say crazy women are always good in bed.   Trust me crazy men are too.       That being said, I have been this girl that both of you describe, so let me give you some insight.   I have only been this girl in certain relationships, in fact in most of my relationships I have not even come close to reacting in such a way.    Are there some people that are just plain crazy drama kings or queens sure there are, but often times the behavior is more about the relationship, then it is about the person.   Men always say women are crazy but 99% of the time it is the man’s behavior that makes them that way.   The relationships in which I behaved this way were the ones were I felt insecure.   Where the man treated me in such a way that I never was certain where I stood.    Where he was hot and cold, afraid of committment one minute and in love with me the next.    Where he constantly wanted me to be in a position of imbalance never sure what would come next.   When he took me to weddings, but did not introduce me as his girlfriend, or introduced me by his ex girlfriends name by accident.    So of course I was highly emotionally, and I am certain I said and did things that were irrational and embarassed him and so forth, but I was also going through hell.         I did not realize what was happened until I left, and after months of chasing these guys finally gave up.   When I got into a relationship where there was true love, and the man treated me the right way, I never felt the urge to come even close to behaving like this.      So you see Evan and the writer, don’t always jumpt to the conclusion that the woman is fully at fault, particularly if you are the type of guy that always dates “crazy” girls.         To me that’s a dead ringer. If a guy tells me when we first start dating that all his exes are crazy, I run in the opposite direction, because more likely than not, it’s him that is the root cause not the girls.             All women have the potential to be crazy, it just takes the right (or the wrong) man to bring that out.

    1. 33.1
      Allison

      Lisa, Thank you! That is my situation in a nutshell. I have never been the “crazy” girlfriend until now. And when I say crazy, I mean going off verbally. After a week of no contact (except him texting me to say he wanted his umbrella–whatever), I sent him a message apologizing for my behavior. I wish I would’ve read this first.

       

  14. 34
    Mandy Callery

    Your wife had written a blog post about being upset that you didn’t invite her to a wedding early on in your relationship. How she handled her feelings, and how you both worked through it without any drama.   Having just read this serious of events, could it be the reason you practiced caution early on, not that your wife would have ever acted in the same way! Being gun shy from a bad experience(s) affects all us! Thanks for sharing!

  15. 35
    Tiffany

    I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder recently but went along with no clue until I turned 35. I have emotional splitting, where I turn into a Mr Hyde. It’s not as crazy as that gf you describe but I know my thoughts get irrational when I feel vulnerable. If I had been diagnosed sooner I would understand my issues. I don’t think this is necessarily something you need to run from unless that person is unwilling or too narcissistic to seek professional help. I have calmed down in many ways in the past year since taking CBT and Mindfulness programs.

  16. 36
    tom

    I fell in love with a lady with a troubled past. She had been married twice. First husband turned out to be a rapist, her 2nd a druggy. She was 4K in debt cause her 23 year old son wouldn’t work or claim benefits, and her 25 year old daughter turned out to be a prostitute.

    my girlfriend had a colourful sexual past, so many 1 night stands she couldn’t remember, all unprotected , Evan with married men. We never bickered or argued. She moved in with me and asked a direct question, have you ever been to a brothel?

    i replied 3 times when I was single, I’d never do it in a relationship.

    all hell broke loose and we are no more.

    i showed her so much love and compassion re her past, only for me to not get the same in return.

    1. 36.1
      gertie

      Cool story bro.

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