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Help with a problem about arguments.

(12 Posts)
TasEdin Mon 13-Jul-15 18:51:24

Hello all, first post here, so a brief introduction. I am actually a man, posting here for primarily female advice (although I welcome all constructive posts, regardless of the poster) on the recommendation of a friend.

The issue is as follows:
I have been with my girlfriend for about 10 months now, and moved countries for her (so it's a serious deal). Pretty much everything is fine, except her temper sometimes causes problems. If I make a mistake of some sort, unless it is totally minor, and she is in anything but the perfect mood, she will immediately start shouting at me, and essentially not listen to anything for some time. Apologies can help, sometimes, explanations do not, and suggestions on how to fix the problem do not.
At times the arguments end with her sitting grumpy for a little while, and then being fine. Sometimes she needs to go and drink with friends, and then is fine. Usually while this is happening I worry myself sick (although each time she comes back fine, or generally fine, makes it easier to cope). However, after these episodes she is invariably regretful and remorseful and beats herself up about being an evil person who hurts me, sometimes having a panic attack over it.
The arguments are getting to be a bit of a problem, as the after effects can last into the next day. She really does hate hurting me in any way, it's just that her temper stops her thinking.

I want to talk to her, to try to see if she can, when she gets angry, take a breath and ask herself how important this thing is. Can it be solved by pointing out what I did wrong, making sure I know it, and checking that I will fix it? The big problem is that asking her this straight out will likely send her into a panic attack about being a bad person.

If something is unclear, I can try to clarify it.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to approach this situation?

CheersMedea Mon 13-Jul-15 19:11:22

Well if this is an extreme pattern that features panic attacks, it's possible she may have some kind of personality disorder. Have a look at this and see if anything fits her:

www.sevencounties.org/poc/view_doc.php?id=564

If not, she could just be emotionally manipulative and abusive. In either situation, things won't just change because "she wants to", it's likely she'll need some external help like counselling or therapy.

GnomeDePlume Mon 13-Jul-15 19:12:54

Does she have temper tantrums with other people or just you? Does she work? Does she lose her temper at work?

If it is just with you or mainly with you then in some way she is giving herself permission to lose it with you.

If that is the case then tackle that. Why is it okay for her to tantrum with you but not others?

If it is a more general problem then she should seek counselling because tantruming adults are not acceptable and at some point she may get herself into some serious trouble.

Push through those 'panic attacks'. Behaving like a toddler is not acceptable.

pocketsaviour Mon 13-Jul-15 19:18:56

Can you give an example of the type of "mistake" that you are making, that sets her off?

AlfAlf Mon 13-Jul-15 19:52:48

She sounds emotionally abusive. The panic attacks are manipulative; she has just mistreated you but wants to feel that she's the victim.

She sounds like someone I know, who I suspect has borderline personality disorder. This person has been married for years and years, and they definitely still love eachother, but I feel enormously sorry for their spouse. I personally could not sustain a relationship like that.
This person has never had/sought any professional help, perhaps if they had been prepared/been forced to their behaviour might be better by now..

Your options are a) leave; b) stay and accept this is how it will be c) issue an ultimatum demanding she addresses her behaviour and hope for the best.

TasEdin Mon 13-Jul-15 20:06:22

I evidently wasn't clear about the panic attacks - they are not deliberately manipulative. She cheated on a previous partner and has serious anxiety issues regarding that and related things, and they cause her to panic, fearing that everything will fall apart (and the panic includes things like not being able to breathe). It doesn't match the personality disorders there, I think it is a combination of short temper and anxiety - the temper takes over when something goes wrong, then the anxiety takes over and the anxiety voices tell her she is evil.
They don't seem quite like temper tantrums, but I do believe she only has them with me, probably because I am a 'safe space' that she doesn't have to put on a 'public face' for - and she really does not want to be seen to break down in public.

Mistakes can be things like putting the wrong load of washing on (minor, 2 minute argument, then she went back to work and was fine quite soon) to not treating a dance performance seriously when it was a major thing for her, and then making a mistake in the final move of it. (major fight and her drinking with friends to vent).

I would prefer option d: find a way to help her with it and be supportive.

CycleChic Mon 13-Jul-15 20:14:19

You can't control someone else's behaviour. Nobody can control another person's behaviour.

Frankly, I think option a is the way to go, mate. What happened that HER cheating makes it OK for her to freak out like that? !?

TasEdin Mon 13-Jul-15 20:26:55

She had serious self esteem issues growing up, and became convinced she didn't deserve good things. When she does something at all bad, it gives her anxiety ammunition and it can then attack her. In a similar way, I have depression episodes where I am convinced people do not like me or want me around, and the slightest bit of semi-evidence can give that ammunition. Being tired, stressed, hungover, or other things that make us more fragile make both of us much more susceptible to our problems.

Option a is not going to happen, sorry - things are really good apart from this one blip, and I am not going to give up. I have mental health issues, and I know they can cause problems for people I love, and she is worth putting the effort into to help her.

What I really want is a way to address the issue without causing her to have an anxiety attack. I also would like tips on how to not feed my depression with 'she hates me and is leaving me' if she ever needs a bit of time to vent.

ImpatientGriselda2 Mon 13-Jul-15 20:44:04

Slightly roundabout ways of raising it:
leaving a relevant book lying around - especially if it's one that could plausibly cover both your and her worries in this situation.
talking about someone you know who has a similar problem

Finding a way to tactfully frame it as an issue of interaction, not just her - put it as you did here that both of you have things to work on, and emphasise you value the relationship.

It's not that unusual for people to want a bit of time to themselves after a disagreement, less angry ones included (and the 'time out' system for kids makes it seem more of a norm.) And the other party often feels worried at these times. You want to try and worry less, and can she try and be less explosive in the way she expresses her anger? Perhaps go out of the room earlier?

Have you read much on attachment styles?
This sounds like that's a relevant issue here - it takes a lot more than a couple of forum posts to seriously work out people's attachment styles,, but the general impression here is that you are the more anxious and she the more dismissing, it's a common pairing as they complement one another and the tensions also cause a certain amount of chemistry, but can become increasingly stressful as time goes on.

Would you consider couples' counselling, so you've both got someone to bounce these things off, who knows a lot about relevant dynamics?
It doesn't have to be a crisis thing, it can be to stop it getting to a crisis in the first place.

AlfAlf Mon 13-Jul-15 20:48:38

I'm sorry if I came across a bit harsh. I thought long and hard and was trying to give good objective advice.
If a man was treating your sister the way you are being treated, how would you feel? What would you advise her?

You are clearly in love, but I can't help but feel that your gf has done a bit of a number on you. She chose to cheat on her ex, it wasn't something that just happened to her; yet you think she was a victim in that situation.
The person I know's spouse thought they were going for option d too, but ended up with option b. Every situation is unique of course, and I hope the outcome is much better in your's.
I do genuinely hope it works out for you.

AmeliaNeedsHelp Mon 13-Jul-15 20:54:40

Tas, she is emotionally abusive (intentionally or not). You are only 10 months in. How long before you start to avoid doing things so as not to set her off? Before you start living in fear of her outbursts? Before she moves on from verbal attacks and becomes violent? The remorse means nothing if she continues to behave in the same way, without seeking help.

If you are determined to stick with her, could you look at anger management counselling for her?

DoesItReallyMatter Mon 13-Jul-15 21:13:52

It sounds bad to me. sad
If you are only ten months in and it's already causing this these issues then it doesn't hold out much hope for the future. If you have mental health issues yourself then doesn't it make more sense to surround yourself with calm, loving and STABLE people.
Regardless of how much you love each other it doesn't sound like you are good for each other. The reasons why she behaves like she does are interesting but it doesn't sound like a problem that's easy to solve.

Wouldn't you prefer to be in a relationship where you didn't get screamed at?

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