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Coping with abandonment issues

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  February 19, 2009 11:03 AM

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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.

Readers? Should he stay? Is the baggage too much? Give Surely some advice here. Send a letter here. Read yesterday's chat here.

-- Meredith

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55 comments so far...
  1. There is nothing YOU can do, you cannot control her fears. If SHE wants to address her fears, then she needs to get professional help. Please encourage her to do this in a loving way.
    The risk here is that you bend over backwards to make her feel safe and end up resenting the constant paranoia. This is something she needs to deal with -- with your love and support, naturally.

    Posted by susan February 19, 09 11:51 AM
  1. After 14 months you should have a decent idea if you want to be married to this woman or not. If you are ready to make a lifelong commitment, then, hey, you are on the right track and I wish you all the best. If you have no interest in making this woman your wife (or life partner, or whatever people re-label marriage without getting married as nowadays), then, well, I guess her fears are going to come true. Get out soon before she does something desperate like "forgetting" her birth control and getting pregnant.

    I personally can't stand dependent and clingy people who "need" someone around all the time. If they are out of the house and still are on the phone to their mother, father, sister, etc every ten minutes to figure out how to do everything, it's a major turn-off. I work with people whose wives call or IM them about everything, I don't know how they stand it.

    Posted by J February 19, 09 12:02 PM
  1. Do you love her? Do you want to live with her for the rest of your life?

    If not, she does have a basis for her (admittedly exagerated) fears, and might not get over it until she feels confident that you are there to stay.

    I am not suggesting that you commit just to make her feel better - what I'm saying is that if you already commited, you might as well let her know. If you beleieve you'll never be ready... that's a different story.

    Posted by HBX February 19, 09 12:05 PM
  1. Low self-esteem; requires constant reassurance about status of relationship; problems with roommates; court case with ex. This is a boat load of trouble and I'm afraid you are not in a relationship with a healthy adult. That's the tough love reality. As long as you (or some equivalent) are around, I don't see this girl growing up, learning to stand on her own two feet, becoming self-reliant; self-confident, independent and strong. And, since you appear to love her, I assume that is what you would wish for her also. Problem is, she is looking to you to provide all of these attributes since, right now, they cannot be found within. I would step away from the relationship and move along.

    Posted by beentheredonethat February 19, 09 12:05 PM
  1. Move her back to her roomate and stay out of her court case with an ex...you are nuts to be taking on an obvious nut case. Go find something or someone better to spend time with and let the men in white suits come and get her.

    Posted by Rico February 19, 09 12:05 PM
  1. Sounds like an insecure drama queen. If you've decided you're in this relationship for good, then you need to figure out how to soothe her and reassure her, which will probably be exhausting. However, just realize that after marriage, she will most likely get even worse. From what you've written about, she definately has relationship issues......living with you because of a conflict with her roommate...going to court because of an issue with her ex. I see a lot of red flags!

    Everyone comes into a relationship with some level of issues, it's just up to decide whether or not we want those issues as part of the marriage.

    Posted by CM February 19, 09 12:15 PM
  1. She does need to get professional help before she suffers a breakdown or lets her fears get the best of her. If after getting professional help, her fears have been subsided, then it would be okay to continue a relationship with her. However, if she continues to behave this way and you stay with her, things are not going to get better, they will only get worse. It is difficult living your own life if you have someone who is so clingy and needy. Trust me, I know, take it from someone who used to have a boyfriend whose friend behaved the same exact way explained in the letter. It is exhausting to having to deal with it. I wish you the best.

    Posted by Sandy February 19, 09 12:16 PM
  1. If you love her, tell her and show her.

    I agree with Meredith that she needs therapy -- not just for the sake of your relationship, but to help her find some inner peace.

    If you think she'd freak out if you suggested therapy, offer to go with her. Bring up couples counseling as a tool to help the two of you communicate better and to find the security that she's looking for.

    Posted by CD February 19, 09 12:18 PM
  1. I have a similiar fear of abandoment and have had to deal with it in all my relationships. no matter how much you reassure her, it's something from inside her self. i dealt with it by having a reality check and realizing that everything doesn't last forever but i am worried constantly about something ending i never truly get to enjoy how great that relationship is. i agree she does need to work out her issues, perhaps in therapy, but i don't think that this alone should be a reason to call it quits--this would only further her feelings of abandoment. good luck and hopefully she can learn to enjoy your relationship before it's too late!

    Posted by beenthere February 19, 09 12:21 PM
  1. Thanks for the advice Mer and everyone who has posted so far. Her and I have actually talked about therapy for her before but it hasn't come to that yet. The great thing about our relationship I have to mention is that we communicate about whatever is on our minds to each other. This leaves us with no secrets and we address problems right away instead of allowing them to sit and fester into something bigger. It's been the foundation of our love and has kept us from breaking up at one point. I care for her a lot and see mostly good qualities that I would want in a life partner.

    She's not needy, just the usual want to be cuddled that I consider normal enough. She only stayed with me for a week after her roommate issues since she couldn't move into her new place yet. The roommate was very hostile and threatened to change the locks on her so I suggested she stay with me for the time being for her sake. I just figured I'd clear the air with all that.

    Posted by Surely Unsure aka DI$CO February 19, 09 12:46 PM
  1. Issues with the ex, issues with the roommate, issues with you. WAKE UP!!! Can you say, LOOOOOOOOOOZAH? You'll need to be her foot rest for the rest of your life. Move on.

    Posted by val February 19, 09 12:48 PM
  1. 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 ...

    No you haven't. You have not done the one thing this woman is fishing for and that is putting a ring on it (thank you Beyonce). She likes the you taking care of her part (the court case, the roomate issues) and does not want that to stop. You are being played.

    Tell her she needs to work on her self esteem issues with a therapist and you will be there to support her and you will not consider escalating the relationship until her issues are worked out. See how fast you get dumped or (god forbid) she becomes pregnant.

    Posted by CynicalinDanvers February 19, 09 12:50 PM
  1. I think you sound mature and compassionate and sense that you wouldn't have written if you weren't already committed. I think the answer here is simple: help her learn to help herself. I myself have longstanding abandonment issues and made a lot of destructive decisions in my younger life. With therapy I learned to let go and love myself and enjoy healthy relationships. People grow and can definitely change - sometimes they just need some help. Encourage her to enter therapy and don't make false promises about your future. During the process, be sure to communicate your needs so that you don't fall into resentment. Be open, be kind to each other, and see how things progress. Good luck!

    Posted by smackysmomma February 19, 09 12:50 PM
  1. I'm sorry that both of you have to go through that.
    If it eases your pain in the situation, remember that it is far worse for her. Her paranoia is an all encompassing fear that, at its worst, doesn't allow her to focus on anything else. Remember that things people have fixations about are usually small aspects of the most important things in their lives (ie: the small, you leaving her; the important, you).
    If you love her, tell her -- all the time. If not, than think about moving on, for both of you. I know its unfair to ask you to think about the future and seriousness of your relationship if this kind of thinking doesn't come naturally to you, but remember that she is 100% more uncomfortable.

    Good luck!

    Also, therapy might not be a bad idea.

    Posted by Kate February 19, 09 12:52 PM
  1. Maybe she's psychic? I know that I had no worries and one night I had a nightmare of the inevitable and never said nothing and a week later - seeya!!!! My x-ole man left.....

    Posted by yaneverknow February 19, 09 12:54 PM
  1. If you were my son, I'd advise you to get out of this relationship. I'm surprised you haven't already; you don't owe this person anything.

    Posted by Boston Kate February 19, 09 01:03 PM
  1. I'm sure you recognize that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy and that her abandonment issues will ultimately make you leave her. She probably doesn't understand that and will regard your distancing yourself and leaving as proof of her suspicions. It also sounds like those issues are not just related to a romantic relationship - witness the roommate and ex drama going on, with you as the knight in shining armor. If you are serious about this relationship, you need to deal with this right now. You need to tell her that her constant insecurity will destroy the relationship; tell her what it does to you. And tell her what it does to her - that it makes her sad and desperate. Then ask her what Meredith said - What can I do to convince you...? Asking that question may make her see that there is nothing you can do or that you've already done those things. Then I think you need to help her to seek out the help that she needs; She can't fix this alone and you can't fix it for her.

    Posted by Nancy G February 19, 09 01:06 PM
  1. She is insecure and yet it seems as if you feed into her ability to change that around by doing things for her.She has roommate issues; you come to the rescue and let her move in. Instead of seeking an attorney, you jump into the legal frey between her and her ex. While very admirable, I think she needs to handle some of these things solo with your support on the periphery. Let her know you are there, but don't do those things for you. I think her insecurity - which has already been observed by you as a stumbling block - will not improve until she believes she can do things on her own.

    Posted by Anonymous February 19, 09 01:18 PM
  1. Your girlfriend has problems with anxiety, which should be treated medically. At minimum she should be speaking with a professional counselor/therapist. There is nothing you can say or do that can help someone in the midst of an anxiety attack. This does not mean she is a bad person or not worthy of dating at all. She just needs to learn to relax & trust which can be extremely difficult for some people.

    Posted by hot pancake February 19, 09 01:21 PM
  1. This sounds so much like my marriage that's in the divorce process now. My STBX was convinced for over 15 years that I was going to leave -- because everyone left. I told both her and our marriage counselor that I wouldn't leave because I wasn't going to give her the pleasure of saying that. Nevertheless, it ended, and I think it was for the best.

    She had abandonment issues, but I had issues too. Her issues motivated me to save her, to protect her -- all insidious parts of codependency. My free advice -- consider therapy yourself, or at least ask yourself the question "what I am getting out of helping her, of promising not to leave?"

    Posted by P February 19, 09 01:22 PM
  1. This will get much worse before it gets better - if it ever does get better. I'm afraid I agree with many of my fellow posters - this young woman is not capable of a healthy, adult relationship at this time. She needs help figuring out her own issues before she can be a true partner to you, or to anyone for that matter. You clearly love her...now do her a tremendous favor and allow her to seek help and figure herself out ON HER OWN. If your love is meant to be, you can resume where you left off when she is in a better place. Time to put this relationship on the back burner for both of yours' sake. You'll be so happy that you did, and eventually, she will be grateful, too.

    Posted by Jetta February 19, 09 01:24 PM
  1. Surely Unsure - If you want some answers to your situation, I hope you will read "Stop Walking on Eggshells," by Paul Mason, MS & Randi Kreger. I believe you will see your girlfriend's behavior mirrored in this book and how it will effect you and your emotional well being if you pursue a long term relationship with her. I talk from experience - 10 years of living with a BPD spouse. It is emotionally exhausting, the ups and downs, and soon it will be the consuming aspect your relationship. You will find yourself sensoring everything you do and say as you strive to not set off another episode of her insecurity. Good luck.

    Posted by beenthere February 19, 09 01:24 PM
  1. Send your girlfriend to a counselor. You are her boyfriend not her therapist!

    Posted by Situation February 19, 09 01:28 PM
  1. "If you were my son, I'd advise you to get out of this relationship. I'm surprised you haven't already; you don't owe this person anything."

    What a weird thing to say. It's a love relationship, not a business transaction, we're talking about here. It's not about whether he owes her anything, it's about whether he can help her overcome her insecurities so they can have a healthy relationship.

    Which, by the way, I think he can, if she is willing to seek some professional help. Abandonment issues are not insurmountable if they are willing to work on it.

    Posted by jenny February 19, 09 01:36 PM
  1. I can talk from personal experiences 'This will get much worse before it gets better'. A while i got out of a relationship where my now "x" was obsessed with the idea that i would break up with him. This went into him self medicating himself, and from there is was a rollercoster that lasted to long! It started to effect me and my relationships.
    If you have stuck with her this long, and you really love her, no if ands or buts, then help her get the help she needs. If she can't do that to help you and her then you need to let her go. It sounds mean and it sounds heartless but you can't not help or be responsible for another person who does not want you to help themself.

    Posted by been there done that February 19, 09 01:41 PM
  1. I suggest therapy. I had many of the same issues but when it started destroying my relationship, therapy made a huge difference. If you love her, I would suggest that she try therapy and explain that you do not want to leave her now, but it is starting to be a problem and that you foresee her insecurity negatively affecting your relationship. The problem is that if you do leave her, especially suddenly, you will just make her issues worse. Whatever you do, do not promise to be there and then dump her. Only promise what you can realistically give, and then follow through. Follow through is going to be the most important gift you can give. Consistency, patience, but also not biting off more than you can chew.

    I think her getting counseling, though, is a non-negotiable.

    Posted by StillTime February 19, 09 01:51 PM
  1. If someone has abandonment issues since they were very young and that person has never sought out counseling, I think that no matter how much counseling a person gets, sometimes it does not take away all of the fears associated with abandonment, whether it is by family member, i.e. parents, siblings, relatives. Counseling can help put things in perspective but when the person goes home, it is still there. It does not go away completely, however; counseling could certainly lessen the impact of the issues to a certain degree. So if this girl has abandonment issues since she was an infant and she has been this way all this time assuming that she has not had any counseling, counseling is not going to eradicate all of her abandonment fears overnight. It takes a long time to slowly wean off the emotional implications that involved with the abandonment, especially if the father left first and then the mother abandoned her.

    Posted by Sandy February 19, 09 01:53 PM
  1. abandonment issues don't go away they get worse as time goes on. Counseling, therapy are not going to fix it and could make it worse. Trust me, consider yourself lucky that you aren't into this 3 or 5 years or more. I just went through a similar situation and you are better off without the baggage and issues, especially x boyfriend drama. I guarantee there are more issues hidden behind daddy leaving. Hopefully she doesn't numb her pain with booze and drugs because then you're done-zo!. Trust me bro, get out now.

    Posted by rockhard February 19, 09 02:19 PM
  1. beentheredonethat is right on. stay in it and you're a crutch, you can't change people.

    Posted by rockhard February 19, 09 02:22 PM
  1. Get out before it gets worse...run fast and far, change your number, where you live and don't leave a trace of yourself anywhere. Use Spam block on email and make sure your friends don't help her find you. Move out of the country for a while if need, just make sure she never finds you.

    There are so many fish in the sea so just drop a line and find a better one to reel in. This one is NOT A KEEPER, throw her back.

    Fact that you wrote in is enough to realize you are obviously in a no win situation. The only reason you stay with her is your own issues with not wanting to be alone, being a caretaker, great sex. Those are not good reasons, although great sex can be hard to leave behind. Just move on and fast before you wind up totally screwed.

    Posted by Freddy February 19, 09 02:36 PM
  1. beenthere - You definitely seem to be the most on point with what's been going on in my situation plus you say you speak from experience. I appreciate the advice and book suggestion. I'll take a gander at it and see if it might help.

    Posted by Surely Unsure aka DI$CO February 19, 09 02:45 PM
  1. i've been there too and people with abandonment issues are not as defective or hopeless as you guys all make it sound. it gets worse before it gets better IF you don't do anything about it. If you do seek help and really want to get help, YOU can find ways to cope with your fears and have healthy, productive relationships.

    I get the impression that some of you out there expect to find the perfect partner and advise people to run away from anyone who seems to have a problem. Get a clue -- we ALL have issues. This is not the worst issue anyone could have.

    Posted by another been there February 19, 09 02:57 PM
  1. I dunno, sometimes abandonment issues really fall under the “lack of self-esteem” category.

    When you are not confident that you are worthy of love, you worry constantly that your boyfriend will eventually figure it out. And it does become a self-fulfilling prophecy, since your actions start becoming more erratic in order to keep what you see as the “truth” hidden from him: the fact that you are not lovable. Then you start ticking off all the people in your life who have left you because they “discovered the truth”: your father, your mother, ex-boyfriends…rational or not, it’s the thought process that keeps rolling around in the head. You know its just a matter of time before your current boyfriend discovers the truth and leaves you. Fear of abandonment can translate into “I can’t stand myself” and “I need to validate my own worthiness by showing that I am loveable.”

    That being said, the hard part is getting someone to learn to love themselves…to give them self-confidence, which in turn will give them self-esteem. Therapy is probably the best answer…or, as crazy at this may sound, taking a good martial arts class. Not the belt producing kind, but a good dojo that teaches more traditional stuff. You’d be amazed at how much self-confidence you can get from a martial arts class. I’m sure there are many readers now rolling their eyes at this, but a martial arts class did wonders for my own self-confidence and self-esteem. The value of a traditional dojo (not this mixed martial arts crap) goes beyond just learning how to break someone’s arm, and some of the philosophies written by the masters of the craft are superior to any self-help book on the market.

    Posted by yoshimi February 19, 09 03:12 PM
  1. She will continue to fear abandonment until it gets so unbearable for you, you break up with her. Sorry for the downer but it doesn't look like I am alone in this opinion.

    Posted by sad February 19, 09 03:14 PM
  1. smackymomma - I didn't want to leave you out since I liked what you had to say also. Thanks a lot for putting the time into posting a nice and helpful response.

    Posted by DI$CO February 19, 09 03:28 PM
  1. Ha!
    I always laugh at guys like this. Any man that would put up with this type of behavior needs to go to therapy himself. I would guess that this guy has never been in a relationship with a normal girl. Normal girls do not have court cases with ex-boyfriends or move out of their apartments because of fights with roommates. Granted, you may be a man with no frame of reference so you don't know any better. If you want to be miseable for the rest of your life you should definitely stay with her. If this girl see something in you that is so great that she obsesses about being with you, than another girl will see that too. Go out with her.
    My Mom used to say that "love shouldn't have to be that hard". You know you've found your match if that person makes your life happier... not harder.

    Posted by Ha! February 19, 09 03:36 PM
  1. Run for you life! What are you getting out of this relationship except maybe the feeling that you aren't doing enough to meet her needs? A relationship works both ways. Also, as some have already pointed out, she is having court drama and roommate problems? This girl has issues that you will never be able to solve and she can not have a healthy relationship until she begins working these things out --you do not have to be there while she does this (God only knows how long it will take her since she sounds like a train wreck).

    Posted by SoNotADramaQueen February 19, 09 03:37 PM
  1. yoshimi - I liked your response a lot too and I definitely agree with you. It boils down to a lacking self esteem as far as deeming herself worthy to be my girlfriend is concerned. I like correcting her whenever she says she's so lucky by saying WE'RE so lucky to have each other. This relationship is built from the ground up with us as equals and I plan to keep that as a constant.

    The martial arts idea is great and we actually already have a few things that we do. She's big into yoga and I suggested she do that when in an undesirable state of mind. I call things like that "stressbusters" since it helps you calm down. We also go to the gym and play basketball together which helps a lot. Overall I think staying active helps relieve the mind and puts things in better perspective once you sweat it out.

    Posted by Surely Unsure aka DI$CO February 19, 09 03:42 PM
  1. Unsure, as several others have posted, I've been through this too. And I was thinking even as I read the post about all the mouth-breathers who would fall all over themselves posting that your GF is a loser and you should dump her right away... you sound smarter than to listen to them. My girlfriend definitely had kind of irrational fears that I would leave. Probably for the first year or a little more. It just took time for her heart to tell her what her brain already knew. She wasn't a "psycho" or a "drama queen", it was just a hang-up that we got through... and everybody has SOME kind of issue...

    Posted by sidewinder1 February 19, 09 03:42 PM
  1. 2 words:
    GET OUT!!!

    Posted by Agentfostergrant February 19, 09 04:18 PM
  1. sidewinder - Thanks, at some point you learn to filter out the trash when you grow accustomed to internet message boards lol. I appreciate the support and you sharing a bit of your story as well. It shines some confidence and hope into my situation. More power to you my brother.

    Posted by Surely Unsure aka DI$CO February 19, 09 04:24 PM
  1. Some people have suggested that you get out before you get "screwed" or that you should leave; you owe this person nothing. Sounds like those folks have their own issues. You have invested 14 months in a relationship which apparently adds a lot of value to your life. You don't just discard that if you are a normal human being. Everyone has issues. We can all work on them. Wouldn't you rather be the person who sticks by those close to you and helps them to a better place? She'll need to go there willingly, and if she doesn't, well then you know better where you stand.

    Acknowledge her fear, but perhaps explain that you are not contributing to her fear and that it is causing a problem in the relationship and that she should seek help. And that would be therapy for co-dependancy, not martial arts as yoshimi suggests. Help specific to the problem. Not eastern religion or ancient philosophy or board breaking.

    My girlfriend had abandonment issues. She may still grapple with that at times. But she has gone to therapy and she is a great girlfriend. She has a wisdom and clarity about herself that few possess. The other side of having issues is being incredibly happy knowing what challenges you've overcome. Your girlfriend can get there. Give it a shot if you feel the relationship is worth the effort and steer her to the help she needs.

    Posted by not so simple February 19, 09 04:46 PM
  1. Unsure,
    I am reading your responses to people's comments and I think you are missing a very important point. While there are lots of things that you can do to support her (yoga, martial arts, staying active, etc.), fear of abandonment is a very serious issue that is tied inextricably to self-esteem and self-worth - this is not a self-help issue. Her deep, dark secret is that she is inherently and irrevocably unworthy of love; that's why even her parents left her. She lives in a constant state of fear that people will figure this out and leave. This is a very serious personal problem that requires professional help. Several posters have said it will get worse before it gets better. That's probably true, but it really can get better if you get her the right help. I can guarantee you that it will get worse, much worse, if you do nothing. Everyone has baggage and issues, and it sounds like she does bring joy to your life. If you love her, don't give up, but don't try to fix this yourselves. BTW, you might get some counseling yourself, even if she doesn't go, to take a look at just what you get out of this skewed relationship and how you might be enabling her.

    Posted by Ritan1 February 19, 09 04:52 PM
  1. True. Everyone has issues. When someone pretends they don't - then 9 x out of 10 they are in denial and have alot of very scarey issues. Most women are unsure until they get "the ring/diamond" and then they usually feel mighty sure.....and as for guys???? Well, alot of em have some seriously scarey issues that one might never know - until it's too late......

    Posted by Spooky February 19, 09 05:07 PM
  1. I think you should leave her.

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants February 19, 09 09:05 PM
  1. I loved my wife for 14 years before we finally married, I would do anything for her, and that ended up being a problem. you are a kind person, but you need to understand that you cannot rescue her. (this a statement that you probably won't buy into, because, like me at the time, you think you can.) that's fine.

    be warned, however, that she needs a great deal of therapy - beyond what you and she can attend together. if she is that important to you, press her in that direction, but remember, some relationships aren't meant to be forever.


    my wife finally gave in to her deam

    Posted by achap2k8 February 19, 09 09:59 PM
  1. cont.

    I buried my wife 10 years ago this year. her body finally gave in to the stressors that plague somewhat psychotically needy people like her, and I suspect your romantic interest.

    best of luck to you and yours, I hope that your relationship is the exception and not the rule.

    Posted by achap2k8 February 19, 09 10:03 PM
  1. I recommend a book that is (surprisingly) out of print. The guy who wrote it IMO is a great psychologist, but his ideas about relationship imbalances are probably not main stream. Check it out on Amazon. The book's title is "Passion Paradox". I remember giving it to my kid after his first painful breakup during freshman year in college. Looks like he learned the lesson and knows now how to build a relationship based on equality, without too much dependence and clinging.

    Posted by sofrudgu February 20, 09 07:35 AM
  1. My husband has been left four times by three wives and one girlfriend he had planned to marry. he has been arrested fro domestic abuse on his fourth wife me. I am happy for this man and women who have shown love and commitment to each other. When we were to marry he show refusal to plan and got a truck I suspect he rented becuase of it's price he wound up pushing and shouving my stuff till it broke into this truck....My roomate was extreamly beligerant and always wanted her way and I was in therapy. What I am trying to say here is sometimes the healing takes time I am glade to see you have helped and emotionally saported.

    Posted by marie March 14, 09 11:26 AM
  1. I started dating a girl 2.5 years ago. Within the first month she admitted that she'd been burned alot in the past and was hesitant to use the term boyfriend/girlfriend. This girl was raised in a Korean orphanage until the age of 4 and then adopted by her American parents. Her American dad left the mother for another woman when she was 12. She is not close to her father to this day and only sees him on holidays, even though he lives less than five miles from their house. During our 2.5 year relationship there were tons of times where she would accuse me of looking at girls, or denying her calls, or basically being dishonest about little silly things. Most all of these issues were created in her head and were simply not true. It drove me nuts, always trying to make sure she didn't get upset. If I didn't email her first in the morning, she would send a nasty email claiming that I didn't care about her and that she was putting in more effort. We live in Colorado. When I asked her to fly back to Indiana to meet my family, she claimed that I only asked her out of guilt and that I should have asked her earlier in our relationship. She refused my offer to come home, and actually never met my family. It got to the point where I was always having to avoid a fight. I made the mistake of lying to her about some stuff, to avoid fights. For example, while home for Thanksgiving (the same holiday she refused to join me for), I grabbed beers with some friends til 1am. I told her I went to bed early to avoid her freaking out about me having beers with friends. There were a few other times where I did lie to avoid fights, she found out, and got infuriated. She'd dump me every month but I'd beg her back. Dumping me each month became the norm. I feel like she fed off the attention of me begging her back. It made her see how much I cared or something... I stopped djing because she could not handle me being at the club. djing was my favorite hobby at the time, and an exgtra source of income. BTW, she worked at all the major clubs in college but could not be with me if I worked at the same clubs. She claimed it was okay that she worked in the clubs because it was years ago and now she's more mature and I should be too. We're now 28. I mentioned going back to school to get my masters and she started crying and wouldn't talk to me for three days. She told me I needed to put more effort into our relationship instead of school. This coming from a girl who is currently getting a masters herself. She made the comment, that "we will never see each other if we both are getting our masters" That really bugged me that she could go to school but I could not. I resented her for it and it eventually ate me alive. One more example for you. My buddy was getting married back in Indiana and I was in the wedding. I wanted her to come but did not want any drama. I told her of the wedding but warned her that I was in the wedding and could not hold her hand 100% of the time. She told me that if it were her, she would not sit with the wedding party, she would sit with me. I told her that was ridiculous, and I didn't want to ruin my friend's wedding. She then dumpe me claiming that I didn't want her at the wedding and I did not ask her properly to be my guest. Talk about frustrating. For that same friend's bachelor party, she flipped a lid, and went with her friends to Chicago and stayed out all night because she had to get even with me. I told her we'd just be hanging out at home for the party. Bbqing and hanging out with just the guys. No strippers, no nothing. She refused to belevie me and spent the whole weeknd out til 3am both nights just despite me.

    After drama like this every month, we moved in together at 1 year. I gave up everything about myself that she didn't like or accept. I stopped hanging out with friends. She ended up dumping me for good 1.5 yr's later, claiming I was not capable of being a good boyfriend.

    I gave it all up for her but could never win. I'm devestated now and based on what I've been reading here, it's all because I lost myself through this whole relationship. She became the only thing that could make me happy. Even with all the drama, I relied on her for my happiness. She'd dump me time and time again, and I would beg her back. Each time I had to beg her back, for what I thought was her being immature, I started to resent her more and more.

    It's been 3 weeks and I've followed the no conotact rule until today. I lost it. I texted her and begged her back. She won't return my calls or texts. She sent me a few texts basically saying, I was an awful boyfriend and I'm the reason for all her insecurities and trust issues. I've been to therapy to help deal with this but she refuses to do the same. She is extremely thick headed and refuses to admit the fact that some of her insecurities are NOT from me. They're from the stuff that happened to her as a child, her other 3 cheating boyfriends, or other factors that she could work on with the help of a counselor.

    What do I do? I love her but know I can't keep her happy. She'll always find something to get mad about or point out something I'm not doing well enough. If I stay with her, I'll never be able to dj again, I can't go back to school, and I can't ever have a guy's night out. Sadly enough, at this point in my life, I'd give up all that stuff to be with her. I think it's due to my current low self esteem but keep questioning it. I keep asking myself, i don't want to be alone forever, should I just sacrifice all this stuff to keep the girl?

    I'm really dying without her in my life. I feel like I'll never get over this. Please offer some advice. Thanks.!

    Posted by ryan March 15, 09 04:04 AM
  1. I believe that everyone has issuess, men and women. And this woman does sound like she does from her past experiences. BUT you have to consider the good times and I'm sure there are. She is capable of loving and being loved, it just may take some time---you've already put in some time. To all those who said, end it, leave her and run --- you have no idea you nor I are in that relationship to be able to give this sort of advice. Be loving and be there for her and get some counselling that will surely help. She will come around.

    Posted by Nina March 25, 09 02:35 PM
  1. Thanks Nina, I appreciate your support but I really don't think she wil come around. Over the past few weeks I've asked my ex to seek counseling together. I cannot bring up the fact that I think she has some deep insecurities and abaondonment issues because she will snap. She has a very short temper and she is 100% positive that all of her insecurities are due to me. Throughout our relationship I noticed that she was hypersensitive to a lot of issues which most people would never get upset about. Rather than confront those issues head on as they occured in our relationship, I made the mistake of avoiding any situations that would trigger her insecurities. As time went on her triggers got easier to trip and she would get more and more upset about even smaller things. I told her that there were many topics I avoided over the past two years in order to avoid arguments and that I should not have done that. She took that comment and responded by saying that I kept things from her because I'm a liar and I'm not proud of her. Any advice for this one?

    Posted by Anonymous April 3, 09 01:10 AM
  1. Thanks Nina, I appreciate your support but I really don't think she wil come around. Over the past few weeks I've asked my ex to seek counseling together. I cannot bring up the fact that I think she has some deep insecurities and abaondonment issues because she will snap. She has a very short temper and she is 100% positive that all of her insecurities are due to me. Throughout our relationship I noticed that she was hypersensitive to a lot of issues which most people would never get upset about. Rather than confront those issues head on as they occured in our relationship, I made the mistake of avoiding any situations that would trigger her insecurities. As time went on her triggers got easier to trip and she would get more and more upset about even smaller things. I told her that there were many topics I avoided over the past two years in order to avoid arguments and that I should not have done that. She took that comment and responded by saying that I kept things from her because I'm a liar and I'm not proud of her. Any advice for this one?

    Posted by ryan April 3, 09 01:11 AM
  1. Ryan... look up Borderline Personality Disorder. You will find some very very similar stories. Mine is one of them. The problem is, like most guys, you are programmed to be a Fixer, a Rescuer. This disorder causes a sick symbiotic relationship where you're always rescuing and fixing, and she's always breaking or in distress. It's emotionally exhausting, and to be honest by 1.5 years I was still pretty much who I always was. I had learned to keep my eyes down at all times in case she was thinking I was checking out girls, I had ceased watching movies with topless scenes because they would set her off, that kind of thing, but it wasn't anywhere near the bad part yet. Eventually I would look at myself in the mirror, realize I was losing weight by the truckload, not sleeping right, and that I had basically gotten to a point in my life where I was never off guard, always on eggshells in fear of facing her raging fury yet again.

    This is information I wish I had known about before I got together with her. Unfortunately, their courtship dance is designed to completely hook you, total compliments, she basically becomes everything you could possibly want. The constant, unreasonable accusations of fooling around are a very solid sign that you're dealing with aberrant behaviour, but since everything is SO amazing it is easily overlooked.

    I don't blame her anymore for much of it, the disorder is what it is, much of it she actually couldn't help. The adultery I blame her for, and her inability to take any blame for anything will always chap my hide. There were times when I would bring something up that she did to make me feel horrible, those were the times she resurrected as her own complaints to convince many around us that I was the monster at the end.

    Do not confront her. They don't process this information the same way non-BP's do. Confrontation will just lead to more derision, more accusations, more bad.

    I hope you haven't taken her back unless you're willing to dedicate everything to supporting her. If you have, and you're in a good phase, convince her to go to therapy. Talk to the therapist beforehand, because your girl will assume you're going to fix you. And watch out... because the real trouble hits when you're alone, she's probably quite vibrant and very charming when out in the company of strangers, but hell on wheels in the comfort of your home.

    Posted by recovering non June 18, 09 10:42 PM
  1. Does anybody have any compassion anymore?
    People in our culture are now using "insecure" as
    a cope out. Take some responsibility for yourselves.
    Women in this culture stand little chance in feelings of
    the oh so coveted "security" because of the twisted mind
    set that, men and women alike, are allowing to become
    common place. First of all, a women that struggles in trusting
    is not a "nut job." If anything she is street savvy or hurting. Our culture pits women
    against eachother and it is sad. Loving is accepting.

    Posted by sam July 12, 09 03:21 PM
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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