She's insecure. It's driving him crazy. Let's help.
Q: Heya, Meredith, I'm a fan of your section here on the site and was looking for a little feedback on my situation. I've been with my girlfriend for 14 months now. We've gone through our ups and downs much like any normal couple but one persistent thing has been her lack of self esteem and confidence in our relationship. She literally has nightmares of us breaking apart and sees it as something that will inevitably happen. I will admit she has gotten better with this though. I sense she has abandonment issues because her father left her family around the time she was born and her mother worked in another country which left her with her grandmother until she was 6. I've done everything I can think of within my power to convince her that I'm not planning to leave her and that I'm there for her as long as she'll allow me. I've helped her move and stay at my place for a week since she had roommate issues plus I'm currently helping her with a court case between her and her ex. Are there any suggestions you could make? Thanks.
-- Surely Unsure, Boston
A: Heya, Surely.
Some of my readers are going to tell you that a woman who is this insecure about being left alone isn’t capable of a normal relationship. I’m tempted to say that, as well.
Instead, I’ll say that you should ask her what you just asked me – “What can I do to make you believe that I don’t plan to leave?” She may have a specific answer -- like moving in together or a proposal -- but my guess is that there's little you can do to calm her nerves.
It sounds like she needs therapy. Big time.
It’s awful when women (and men) get like this. They fret about their partner leaving until they force the inevitable to happen. Obviously, her childhood (and a bad relationship with an ex) has given her cause to panic about abandonment even when it’s not imminent. Unless she help herself – or get professional help – she’s going to drive you (and others) away.
The truth is there are no guarantees. People change. They break-up. If you’re showing up for her every day, that’s the best you can do. Now she has to learn to stop the self-sabotage. You have every right to make that demand.