How can I get my GF to understand a relationship problem without hurting her?
January 29, 2010 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm having major problems with my girlfriend of 2 years. I want to work through my share of issues but I'm afraid that she won't see or do her part. Is there a way to explain these issues to her without hurting her?

So for some time we've been arguing a lot. I finally realized that I was intentionally hurting her and I committed to stopping, but I also know that, intentionally or not, she did things that hurt me. In the past I haven't been so clear about my pain; I've acted pretty immature without fully realizing it, like instead of just telling her I was hurt I would hurt her (Now that I realized this I'm fully committed to fixing it). But then when I finally explain my POV to her, she says that she thinks I will never be satisfied with her and that I will always think she needs to change.

Here's a recent example: We live an hour apart and she doesn't drive. She has a license but no car and she's never really driven. So I must drive an hour to go see her, which I typically did 75% of weekends. And when I arrived, sick of sitting in a car for so long, she would invite me in and never even mention the fact that I just spent the last hour getting to her. After a while, I realized this was bothering me and I told her that it would be nice if she at least asked me how the drive was and helped me unwind so that we could better enjoy our time together. She said that if felt as if I was making it out like she owed me something. She said that her philosophy is that if you love someone you shouldn't need to worry about the person "paying you back," that they would do it themselves. The problem is, this driving thing had been that way for over a year and she never gave me the impression that she cared.

So what can I do to get her to understand? Am I being unreasonable? I really love her and imagined spending the rest of my life with her but things like this make me feel like she just doesn't understand me.
posted by cman to Human Relations (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would say if you argue that much do you really match ? My last gf we argued a lot and i thought i would marry her. then shelied to me and moved down to south carolina.

My current gf and fiance (getting married in May) we hardly fight at all and we have been together for 5 years.

So with my experience iwould say take a big step back and seriously look at if this person is the right one.

Arguing all the time is not healthy.
posted by majortom1981 at 10:35 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

With the example you gave, it sounds like you are keeping score of who does what in your relationship. This is not good for the relationship.
posted by kellyblah at 10:37 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

You're not being unreasonable to want to be heard and listened to. Expecting people to miraculously divine your needs/wants/desires through telepathy is a pretty good way to always be unsatisfied. Perhaps you can talk about how you talk about your needs? If it can be an opportunity for you to tell her how you feel, and her to be able to figure out something about you and what would make you happy, maybe it might feel different than it is now.

Is she feeling criticized? Could you explain it the way you do here?

Also: start driving 50% of the weekends. Unless you live somewhere really unusual, there is a bus service connecting your towns. Offer to pick her up at the bus station when she comes to you, 50% of the weekends. Don't pay her bus fare, but when you pick her up try "modeling" your desired behavior to her- show her and tell her how appreciative you are that she took an hour-long bus ride just to see you.

It's all about communication. If you are both committed to improving your communication, you can see this as a path, rather than a switch (e.g., making progress, rather than fixing something immediately).
posted by arnicae at 10:38 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with kellyblah: from that one example, I would definitely say that's ridiculous. If she's happy to see you, why on earth would she need to specifically do something in regards to the driving?

You also seem to be saying "I'll change but only if she changes too!" If you think it's ok to hurt her -- regardless of what she's done to you -- then you have serious problems. Not to mention that not asking you how your drive went is not HER hurting YOU, it's you being overly sensitive to a very minor thing. What she said to you about "paying you back" is 100% correct.
posted by brainmouse at 10:42 AM on January 29, 2010

To someone who doesn't drive, driving an hour probably doesn't seem like much of a (for lack of a better word) sacrifice. In fact, I doubt it would seem like that big of a deal to most people. An hour? So what? For a lot of people, that's just a normal commute. However, you have an expectation that she should react to that a certain way, and she's not, so it becomes a problem. That she doesn't perform your expected "script" is not proof that she doesn't understand you.
posted by sageleaf at 10:44 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Am I being unreasonable?

Maybe she's right that she shouldn't feel forced to "pay you back" with gratitude but I don't think it's unreasonable for you to wish she wanted to. Then again, maybe she wishes you wanted so badly to drive to see her that you didn't look at that act as something deserving her gratitude.

I told her that it would be nice if she at least asked me how the drive was ... she says that she thinks I will never be satisfied with her and that I will always think she needs to change

It's odd that she is so reluctant to even ask you how your drive went. It seems like you two might be using solveable problems to reenact the larger battles in your relationship.
posted by sallybrown at 10:44 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are not being unreasonable. It does not sound to me as if you are intentionally hurting her. She understands you, but is playing you like a fish. The balance is off, and unless she changes, this will be the script for the rest of your life.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:46 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I really love her and imagined spending the rest of my life with her but things like this make me feel like she just doesn't understand me.

And it's quite probable that you don't understand her.

How do you communicate? What is it that you need to feel loved? Do you need her to comment, verbally, on when you do something? Do you need her to shout "my hero!" when you kill a big bug in her house? Do you need her to express, verbally, that she understands that by your doing something you see as difficult, you're showing that you love her?

What is she doing to communicate that she cares for you? Does she cook for you? Does she come up with date ideas? Does she let you stay over at her house? Does she hug you or kiss you or tell you she loves you? You don't describe, in anyway, how she communicates, how she talks, and how she shows affection in your relationship. It's quite possible that you both speak to each other in different ways but it's also quite possible that you both suck at communication in general.

When you talk to her again about the driving, don't say "I wish you would do this". Instead, say, "After a long drive, I need to do this". If she, again, says that it sounds like you want pay back for doing something, tell her that it has nothing to do with that but it's how you best handle affection (or whatever - you need to figure what you need yourself). If you two are compatible, you'll both come out and compromise in the ways you need to be together. If you two aren't, it'll become obvious very soon and then you should cut it loose.

Also, be aware and make sure that you are capable of saying "I need this". If you're not, there's no way she's going to read your mind and adapt to what you need. If you need someone to be upfront with you, ask you, and be very frank about what you need, be honest that's what you need and go find that person. Basically, learn to be okay wanting things and expressing it. If you won't, then there's no relationship out there that you'll be happy in.
posted by Stynxno at 10:46 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far and those to come. I really appreciate the honesty here.
posted by cman at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2010

Is this really about driving, or has driving become a Symbol of the Relationship?

You aren't driving up there as a favor to her, are you? You ARE getting something from it? Enjoyment? Sex? Companionship? So it could seem to her a little weird that after a year you suddenly expect her to see your coming to see her as a sacrifice she needs to be grateful for.

An hour seems like nothing to me. And it sounds like you've been okay with it for a year, or at least let her think so, and now you're feeling martyred. It also sounds a like you have a script of what you're expecting from your girlfriend and she's not playing the part you've given her. Expectations are resentments under construction, as they say.

If you don't want to make the drive, then don't. That way when you DO want to do it, you'll both be happy. In other words, give out of abundance, not substance. If you don't have it in you to make the drive, it's completely reasonable not to do it. If you need 45 minutes to unwind after your drive, tell your gf ahead of time. If she's not up for it, don't make the drive. Make your needs known and if she can't meet them, plan accordingly.

But don't come up with expectations for her behavior and then get annoyed when she doesn't behave as directed. You can (and should) only control you.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:48 AM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

and on preview... everyone else said it better. I'm a slow typer this time of day.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:49 AM on January 29, 2010

I'm afraid that she won't see or do her part.
Assuming you are both at fault, this will tell you how much she values the relationship.

She said that if felt as if I was making it out like she owed me something.
I think you were letting her know a way she could make you feel better when you were down/grumpy. It is a healthy thing to tell others what we need especially if we expect to get it from them.
Maybe she thought you were accusing her of being wrong when you told her this? Explain that you weren't trying to say she was wrong, just pointing out something you want.
posted by soelo at 10:52 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think her reaction has more to do with things that have happened in the past than what's going on now. It's possible that because of how you reacted to pain in the past, she thinks you're just saying these things because you're attempting to hurt her.

You're not being unreasonable, but you want to vary your approach. Try talking about the drive unsolicited, asking her to give you a backrub/whatever helps you feel more relaxed, without mentioning that you want her to because you feel she doesn't care. You could also lend her the money to take the train to come see you (assuming she doesn't because she can't afford it.)

I've been in the exact same situation (right down to the license but no car, which is really freaking eerie), and IMO she -does- owe you, at least as far as showing appreciation goes. I was always hyper-aware of the fact that while he was spending gas money and the time to drive down to see me, I was putting in absolutely no effort to see him, so I tried to do little things to show my appreciation in other ways.
posted by biochemist at 10:55 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm just gonna toss in something possibly from her perspective: when you're there, things are they way they should be. Maybe she'd rather the distance didn't exist or something, but it's just that once you arrive, nothing else matters because, y'know, things are right with the world again.

For you, I can see it as well: you want to be acknowledged to have put your own effort into getting there. "Hi honey, how was work?" in a way. You could lead the conversation once you get there, though. "Man the drive sucked," "There's a new Hardee's in Mt. Pilot," "I'm stoked, no traffic tonight!" ...stuff like that.

That "paying back" comes into the arguments leads me to think there's more instances of this kind of static, though.
posted by rhizome at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Perhaps don't wait until you are super-frustrated to tell her what you would like.

1 minute into visit: "Whew that was a long drive, do you want to hear about a crazy thing that happened?"


40 minutes into visit: "Why the hell don't you ever ask me how my drive was?"

Seriously. Don't let yourself get so worked up that you're in a fighting mood. Just be forward about how you're feeling early and often.

Other people out there might get you more than this girl and vice versa; But no one will ever read your mind.
posted by French Fry at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2010 [15 favorites]

To someone who doesn't drive, driving an hour probably doesn't seem like much of a (for lack of a better word) sacrifice.

This is really, really not true. I don't drive, and I'd completely understand the sacrifice of someone making a two-hour round trip for me when I don't have to. She is being cold by never mentioning how grateful she is for you to make the trip. I'm not buying her explanation that you shouldn't have to "pay" each other back, since that doesn't seem to be what you're saying. Asking to be appreciated isn't the same thing as asking to be paid. But yeah, if you want something to come up more often in conversation, then you should bring it up yourself.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:08 AM on January 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

She said that her philosophy is that if you love someone you shouldn't need to worry about the person "paying you back," that they would do it themselves.

Look. Out.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:16 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sometimes it's not just the hour drive, it's doing the hour drive over and over, when you'd really rather being relaxing for the weekend at your own house. Early in a relationship, you don't mind, but later the eagerness to travel wears off. And it's also spending the weekend at someone else's place, meanwhile feeling like you are never getting any downtime at home.
Just because you love someone and want to see them, doesn't mean that you don't also feel this way.

Please tell her that you need to feel appreciated. It's okay to need this. I've been married for several years, and I still remind my husband from time to time that I need acknowledgement for things. I try to remember to do the same for him.

A simple, "Thanks for making that long drive" goes a long way toward feeling goodwill toward each other. And so does, "Thanks for preparing such a nice dinner while I was in the car." If she truly doesn't appreciate what you do, well, there ya go.
posted by Knowyournuts at 11:18 AM on January 29, 2010 [12 favorites]

I do the same thing every weekend, with the exception of my drive is an hour and a half. It can be frustrating, especially when it doesn't feel like the other person realizes how draining sitting in traffic can be. I would imagine it's not just about the driving, but also about who is doing more "work" in the relationship. It might feel like you're the one putting all the effort into seeing her, whereas she gets to sit in her comfy home and wait for you to get there.

That's legitimate. It's okay to feel that way.

What helped for me was realizing what was at the root of the problem. Yes, I wanted to see my boyfriend. He also wanted to see me, but because I was the one coming to him, it felt like I wanted to see him more. It felt unbalanced. We discussed this, and he reminded me (and still does) that he is always excited to see me, and he appreciates me making the drive out to visit.

French Fry offers a good solution of bringing up your frustration right when you get there, but your partner needs to meet you halfway. There needs to be some semblance of balance or equity, which can be as simple as, "Hey babe! (Kiss) Thanks for coming to see me. (Another kiss)"

Another thing that helps me make the drive is instead of getting into a negative headspace where I am thinking for an hour and a half about how I'm using gas, wasting time, there's nothing good on the radio, etc, I try to psych myself up to see my boyfriend. I listen to good music, I try to think about the sexy times we are going to have, or I think about what I want for dinner when I get to his apartment. This does wonders for my mood when I finally arrive at his place.

Good luck...there is hope, and this situation can get resolved! :)
posted by too bad you're not me at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I can't find a link to this study, but there seems to be evidence that the "honeymoon phase" of a relationship lasts about 18 months. After that, the infatuation wears off, and you have to decide whether you love this person deeply and want to stay in it for the long haul.
So, is it about 6 months that you've been arguing and feeling resentful? That would be the 18 month mark. Pretty normal.
posted by Knowyournuts at 11:29 AM on January 29, 2010

when I arrived, sick of sitting in a car for so long, she would invite me in and never even mention the fact that I just spent the last hour getting to her

I hate driving--I find it scary and stressful. In many instances, people have acted like it was really weird that I don't like driving and so I began to assume that my experience of driving must be wildly different from others' experience of it. In other words, I figured that I wouldn't like to drive all over the city, but that my date/boyfriend/husband would be fine with it, especially since no one ever said anything to me like, "Hey, can you drive tonight?" So I sat in the passenger seat for a good year or so before my boyfriend (now husband) said something about how much he disliked driving. Whaaaat? I had no idea it was any kind of issue for him. I couldn't know it was any kind of issue for him because both he and others repeatedly emphasized how unusual it was for me to avoid driving. Why say it's unusual for me to dislike it if you dislike it, too?

On the other hand, there are things I do for our household that my husband is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. There have been one or two situations in which he's said something like "she just looooves shoveling snow" and I'm like, no, I don't love shoveling snow--in fact, I dislike it, but I do it because it needs to be done. (Snow shoveling is not actually a point of tension in our relationship.) In those situations I've realized that my choice to do a given thing can communicate that I don't mind or dislike doing it. If I dislike doing it and/or want my partner to acknowledge my efforts or contribute his own, I need to say so out loud in words.

It's really easy to know how much effort you're making. You know whether or not you like a given task, whether or not you find it hard, whether or not you'd prefer to do it yourself or split the responsibility with your partner. It's a lot harder to know one's partner's mind unless the partner says "When you do X, I feel Y" or "I love it when you..." or "I feel really frustrated because..."

Something that struck me about your question is that you seem to be making a lot of assumptions about your girlfriend--up to assuming that she "won't see or do her part." Stop assuming and start talking in human terms. You will never have a 100% mutually "fair" relationship: relationships aren't about accumulating points and making sure you're even. This isn't about fixing a machine. It's about making each other's lives better through your relationship than they would be apart.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:14 PM on January 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

She said that her philosophy is that if you love someone you shouldn't need to worry about the person "paying you back," that they would do it themselves.

Interpreted literally, this is not a great message to hear, but I don't think you should take it at face value. Instead of focusing on the judgy, "you shouldn't..." part of her statement, examine the meanings and feelings she's responding to: "If you love someone..."

I think you have somehow touched a sensitive spot of hers. She is afraid that your unhappiness with her indicates that you either don't love her, or that you doubt her love for you. She's all but saying, "I believe that people who love each other avoid behavior X. Since you're doing X, you must not love me." That, or some similar fear, is what I'm guessing is getting in the way and preventing her from being kind to you in the way you'd like. She's probably not fully aware of it herself. She's probably trying very hard not to be aware of it, because it's scary.

I think the reasonableness or non-reasonableness of your feelings about the drive are not very important here. What's important is that the trust between you is frayed. You can't patch it up by being critical and demanding. Be open to her feelings, whatever they are. You and your feelings are perfectly legitimate, regardless of whether your girlfriend agrees with you, feels the same way or is willing to change her behavior. Hold onto that knowledge that you are already okay, because it will help you hear her point of view without criticizing it. If you can do that, then she might start to feel safer with you, and eventually be able to hear your feelings too.

Forget about who's right. Be kind. Build trust.
posted by jon1270 at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think that most people like to be both respected and shown expressions of love. Although this isn't true across the board, it seems to be that men more often want to hear expression of respect and admiration than they do expressions of love. I've met a lot of women who don't get this part, as it feels weird to them.

You want to be appreciated for your contributions to the relationship, and this is as natural as your girlfriend wanting you to say, "I love you" or any of the other things that express love to her (time, doing things for her, cuddling her when she's feeling lonely). You want those things too, but I would venture a guess that you want respect and appreciation more.

When my wife and I figured this out, it was pretty much a revolutionary thing for our marriage. I love hearing that my wife loves me. But I really, REALLY, love it when she says, "I love that you worked hard for our family today," or "I really respect that you choose to do this that benefits our family/relationship, instead of that other thing that might seem more fun," or "I love how committed you are to being a good teacher," or "you are a great husband for going way out of your way to buy me ice cream when I didn't even ask." Those things get me out of bed in the morning and keep me moving. I don't demand them, but they really help me to continue being the best husband and father that I can be.

The problem is that for my wife is that it's hard for her to express these things. Partly because of her upbringing, but partly because inside, she felt that when I told her I needed those things, it felt like I was fishing for compliments, or that it wouldn't be genuine if she started saying those things just because I asked. When we figured out that expressions of respect and appreciation were as vital to me (and most men, I would gather) as hugs and expressions of love were to her (which, you have to admit, we should do even if we don't always feel like it), it became easier for her, and it's changed the dynamic in our marriage. It's easier for me to show love when I feel respected, and when I show her love, it's much easier for her to show me her appreciation for my sacrifices for and contributions to the relationship. It's a reciprocal relationship, so whatever you do, keep showing her you love her by making sacrifices for her. (Now, my wife makes sacrifices to our relationship as well, of course, which I do acknowledge as often as I can; but in the end, she doesn't want acknowledgement of that fact as much as she wants someone to love her after a long day of work.)

We all have to express what we need to thrive emotionally, and we need to trust that the other person can do this without worrying that they are coming across as manipulative. I'd start by talking with her about it on this level; namely, that expressions of appreciation are to you what expressions of love are to her.*

*disclaimer: respect and love go hand in hand, of course, and respecting someone is about loving someone. But the way that we define "love" in our culture isn't always what we are looking for when we want to be respected and acknowledged for our sacrifices and contributions to a relationship. Although men and women are often different, any stereotypes expressed here do not apply to 100% of all cases.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:22 PM on January 29, 2010 [7 favorites]

I notice a couple of things in your question:

The first is that it sounds like you are feeling the urge to tally up who makes what sacrifices and who does what for the other person. This is a bad sign. It's a pretty clear indicator that you feel that the relationship is unbalanced and that your needs are not getting met in some significant way.

My second observation is that neither your nor your gf's communications skills about these things are very good. It sounds like there's a lot of blaming and "you shoulds" getting thrown around.

Taking ownership and assertive communication skills are key to a lasting relationship. If you can fix the communication issue, the first problem (getting your needs met) will fix itself.

To master assertive communication in a relationship, you need to communication three pieces of information. Here's a little fill-in-the-blank script:

I feel (an emotion label).
When you do (the specific behavior which prompts your emotion).
I want (a proposed solution, which you believe will soothe your emotions).

When you're first starting to improve your communication using this method, it's easy to make mistakes.

Common mistake no. 1: Pasting "I feel" in front of blaming or "You shoulds". For instance, "I feel that you should appreciate my sacrifices more." This doesn't work. Make sure you are only labeling your own emotion with your "I feel" statement. "I feel sad," "I feel angry," "I feel lonely." In your situation, you don't want to say, "I feel unappreciated." Unappreciated is a judgement on her appreciation towards you, not your own emotion.

Common mistake no. 2: Interpreting the meaning of the other person's behavior instead of describing a specific behavior. For instance, "I feel sad when you ignore the fact that I always drive." This doesn't work. You're assuming that she's ignoring you. You don't know that. Instead you want to say, "I feel sad when you start dinner right after I get here." See the difference? In the first you're interpretting, in the second you're objectively describing her behavior.

So, putting it all together: "I feel sad when you start dinner right after I get here. I want some kisses and cuddle time after the long drive."

By using this assertive communication model, you are taking the responsiblity for managing your own feelings and asking to have your needs met. Will it fix everything? Hell, no. But it totally helps.
posted by dchrssyr at 1:03 PM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Seems as if the driving story is but one example of your arguments. There's always some confusion in relationships about the tit for tat issues but in my experience, it's not about equality like that; it's about feeling that there are reciprocal attitudes and actions that create balance. The surface is always shifting but you want to feel like someone has your back, that you're seen, heard and loved. Appreciation and generosity are imperatives. Just some thoughts...
posted by lois1950 at 1:20 PM on January 29, 2010

I definitely agree with dchrssyr's script for communication here.

From what you've said, it sounds like the issue is about you not feeling like your effort (driving) is being appreciated, but gf is feeling like you are saying you are being "owed" appreciation. I don't think anything is "owed" here - showing appreciation, at least once in a while, seems like the natural reaction to someone going out of their way again and again. Did something else in that conversation come up that made her think that you were asking for anything more than, "Yay! You're here! Thanks for coming to see me!!! How was your drive?"?

I think it's definitely ok to want to feel appreciated by your significant other. If that is the big issue, or one of a bunch of bigger issues, it'd be worth it to try to address the situation again. But if this other person isn't interested in working on these sorts of issues...that might be a red flag.
posted by violetish at 1:42 PM on January 29, 2010

It seems to me like the two of you are both decent, well-meaning people who have pretty big communication problems, and that this may be at the root of some of your more practically-oriented conflicts as well. In personal relationships, it's important to be able to express your own needs and desires (including times when you are unhappy with your partner) in ways that are honest and clear while not making your partner feel attacked or unloved. One part of this is giving your partner the benefit of the doubt - unless your partner is abusive, assume that if she hurt you, it was unintentionally. Assume that she wants to make you happy, but may not have all the information necessary to do so. If she didn't do something you wanted her to do, maybe she didn't know that was what you wanted. Maybe she was unable to do it for reasons you don't know. If you start the conversation with the assumption that she is a bad partner who is deliberately mean to you, things are unlikely to go well. Also, it's important to make it clear that while she did a thing that upset you, you still love her (you don't have to say this explicitly, but do keep it in mind when you decide how to express yourself).

You don't give us much information about what was said when you talked to her about your relationship concerns, but you do tell us she said that "she thinks I will never be satisfied with her and that I will always think she needs to change." While I obviously don't know what you told her, this response suggests that the communication did not go well. Feeling like your partner won't want to be with you unless you change is scary and threatening. It feels like maybe he doesn't really love who you are now at all. Sending this message is not a good way to build the trust you need to successfully improve your relationship. It needs to be clear that you love HER very much, but that you feel both of you need to work on changing some of the specific ways you communicate and act so you don't hurt each other in the future. Own up to your own mistakes, don't pin it all on her. Don't make it seem like the problem is who she is, but a few habits of behavior or speech or whatnot, and don't make assumptions about why she does those things. Just tell her how they make you feel, and what you want her to do instead to make you happy. Maybe it would help to ask her to explain why she does the things that bother you, so you can understand what's happening better - but ask in a friendly "I want us both to work on figuring this out together" way and not a "kindly explain your terrible behavior" judgmental way.

Also, if a conversation on one of these topics goes badly, check in with her about what you've actually communicated. You know what you're trying to say, but you don't know how she's heard it. Maybe you're trying to say "It would be nice if you helped me unwind after the long drive," but what she gets from whatever you said is "I do most of the work in this relationship and you're not properly appreciative." If she reacts in what you think is an unreasonable way, try to find out why - maybe she really hasn't understood what you meant, and you need to explain it a different way and clear up the misunderstanding. Talking past each other is very frustrating and a good way to make it feel like your relationship problems are insurmountable, but it can be fixed with attentive and open-minded discussion.
posted by unsub at 2:25 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

She sounds so selfish, from your example. Even if someone wasn't my SO, if they drive over 40 mins to get to me I ask them how their drive was, if they want water or anything. And all my friends do the same. I don't think you can spend the rest of your life with someone like that.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 4:31 PM on January 29, 2010

Why don't you get into a pattern where you shower or something right when you arrive? Not only does it give you time to cool down, it reminds her that you may be tired or in need of some pampering, and who knows, may lead to some extra sex-time.
posted by hermitosis at 6:21 PM on January 29, 2010

You know, I would have probably said something similar to what your girlfriend did. Acknowledgment and appreciation are normal desires and necessary. But "expectations" or wanting to be appreciated in a certain way is probably an unrealistic expectation. Match or no match, no one can read that! Just because she is not specifically saying to you that she appreciates you driving every weekend doesn't mean she doesn't notice it at all! Maybe she does appreciate the same thing in a different way? Different from the way you would rather have it appreciated? Maybe making you the focus of attention, keeping her schedule clear and doing things with the two of you in mind all day long is her way of making sure she is making a statement that she cares? Entertaining someone all day long also takes quite some energy. Making sure you do that well, without a car, get things to make sure the two of you, and especially you, are comfortable also takes effort. Possibly much more than you are appreciating. Maybe that is her way of appreciating your effort.
posted by xm at 9:06 PM on January 29, 2010

Another thing...

"I'm having major problems with my girlfriend of 2 years. I want to work through my share of issues but I'm afraid that she won't see or do her part. Is there a way to explain these issues to her without hurting her?.... I finally realized that I was intentionally hurting her and I committed to stopping, but I also know that, intentionally or not, she did things that hurt me. In the past I haven't been so clear about my pain; I've acted pretty immature without fully realizing it, like instead of just telling her I was hurt I would hurt her (Now that I realized this I'm fully committed to fixing it). But then when I finally explain my POV to her, she says that she thinks I will never be satisfied with her and that I will always think she needs to change."

From all of this, you sound like not only do you have communication problems and quite a bit of immaturity, you also seem to be undermining her on some level. You are committed to fixing things but you are never sure if she is going to do her part? Really? How do you really know for certain? Or is that she is not going to do her part like the way you would like her to do it? In which case, everything really comes back to you. Maybe you need to fix yourself before fixing anything/anyone else?
posted by xm at 9:18 PM on January 29, 2010

have you guys tried counseling? i have read that couples have different "love languages" and that sometimes we just have to figure out what each partner needs and how they need to be loved. i suggest counseling or checking up on love languages, there are tons of free tests and elaborate explanations available for you to understand one another.
posted by penguingrl at 1:03 AM on February 2, 2010

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