Is it me or is it you?
February 23, 2008 4:41 PM Subscribe
I am having difficulty figuring out whether our arguments are normal in a relationship or whether they're poisonous.
posted by gadha to Human Relations (64 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in my late 20's in my second serious relationship with a girl, the relationship has been going for about six months so it's still fairly new. I have some questions regarding arguments/discussions/conflict resolvement in a relationship. These questions are very difficult to formulate clearly so I will try and use specific examples to illustrate my points. I am looking for general advice (any level) drawn from literature and/or personal experience.
We generally get on well, however, sometimes arguments are triggered on perceptions on her part of what I *might* be implying
Example: Last week where I went to see her for valentines -- we were sitting at a table in a restaurant and I had been with her for 2 days.
I asked her "how much have I spent in the last 2 days?" and went on to recount. The idea being (honestly) that as she was with me she would be able to plug any holes in the recount.
I then proceeded to total up (verbally) the amounts. Her reaction was a very sharp, spiteful "don't worry, I'll pay you back", at which point I reassured her this had nothing to do with me outlining my spending it was just me working out numbers so I have a rough idea of what's in my account.
While this is a specific example, I find myself having to defend myself on many similar to this -- where I have no ill intention and it seems to be perceived as a direct attack and/or accusation.
b) Actual arguments. There are some things about the arguments which I find a little bit insulting:
i. She will always call me to attention like I'm a schoolboy. "Come here right now, stand here and tell me what you meant about x,y,z".
I have talked to her about this but it doesn't change. My hackles rise considerably when I'm addressed like I'm a little kid. However, I'm open to the idea that this may actually be the way she initiates a discussion/argument. She says it's so.
ii. Arguments always seem cyclical and never-ending. I hate to say this but I sometimes feel like no matter what the starting issue I am going to end up hammered. Usually she starts off on something small and recent then progressively brings in things that happened longer and longer ago, some of which have been discussed and (allegedly) resolved long long ago.
It only ever stops when it turns into a blazing row where I take a time-out to go sit somewhere else as that changes the focus of the argument. Then, a regroup is called for, and things slowly sorted out.
iii. Nothing is ever let "go". I grew up in an environment where my parents would let small petty issues or arguments just go without discussion of every single detail. Example, a discussion/argument on the dinner table about my dad getting home late may end up in a change of subject and generally forgotten. With her she will bring up every single small issue for MAJOR discussion, sometimes weeks later. Again, I accept I have seen one p-o-v and other argument/resolvement models may work this way.
iv. In the argument she will attack me transitively. "Oh, you think because you went to XXX you are soooo clever" or "oh, you think you're the only one who can do ABC" etc... -- these attacks are SHARPLY attacking me as an individual and my character/personality.
Sometimes I take the bait (more out of frustration) and respond with "yes, yes I can -- so what?" which escalates things a lot.
v. The thing bothering me the most -- when we argue, she often ends up in a flood of tears and very very distraught when in actual fact the argument is NOWHERE as serious.
Case in point, the above example of the money count had her crying almost hysterically and me feeling really bad but not knowing why she was so upset about it. Even worse, sometimes she strikes out (half-heartedly) when upset. It's never intended to hurt so I'm not accusing her of being an abuser but I can't help feeling a little bit shocked at how upset she seems to get over seemingly not-so-serious things. Her response to this is that she is a very passionate person who feels deeply about things, which again, I am willing to accept because it seems plausible
I realise this is a long, open-ended question but I would ask for advice. Have other me-fites been with people who have exhibited this sort of behaviour? I would like to think yes, this is normal and she just comes from a different background/upbringing as myself. However, the reason I ask is because I'm not so sure anymore.