READER QUESTION #1: GIRLFRIEND SMOTHERS ME
I love my girlfriend, I really do. But ever since she moved in 6 months ago, I feel like I can't breathe. She wants to be with me all the time and frowns if I want to hang out with my friends.
She even gets offended if I say I want some alone time. How can I get her to understand that I need my personal space without starting a "you just don't understand me" argument? I'm starting to resent her for taking up all my time.
STEVE NAKAMOTOS ANSWER:
This is a common problem for young people with very little experience in love relationships. A woman feels like she's showing love by wanting to be with her man as much as possible. But a man rarely thinks the same way.
The man counts the entire amount of time that he's with a woman and then wants to fulfill other needs - space, variety, and being around other people.
Over the longer term, your girlfriend has to raise her own awareness about her insecurities and other emotional needs. There are many books written on this topic of human needs which would be helpful for both of you to study and know. You'll both soon discover that true happiness in relationships and life requires a balance.
But over the short term, you'll have to play the game a little more to her liking. What I'd suggest is making sure that whenever you make a request for time with your friends or to be by yourself, that you also state what you'll do on the positive side in exchange.
One way to think of this is through a point system. For example, you will lose one point for every time you state to her that you'd like to be with your friends or by yourself.
On the other hand, you gain one point for every thoughtful act (example: a planned date night or surprise gift of flowers) on your part. This means that it's a one-of-one exchange.
You can't, however, make one grand gesture (example: buying her an expensive gift) and expect it to count for more than one point. One thoughtful gesture is worth one point regardless of the amount of money spent.
You also get penalized for verbalizing a desire to be with friends or to have space. It's "the thought that counts" in a negative way. So in the meantime, it might be wise for you to refrain from expressing your desire to be with other friends or to have more space unless you truly want or plan to do so.
Another method for you to consider using is what is called a "bad news sandwich." You make this verbal sandwich by telling or showing her that you love her (the bread), state your wishes (the meat), and then repeat that you love her (the bread).
The core issue that you'll need to work on together is the mutually building of each other's self-esteem. If you both possess true self-esteem then these types of minor issues can be resolved easily.
But in her present state of low self-esteem, she's probably going to take a lot of what you say in the wrong way.
Suggested free e-books to read:Michael Hall - Mind To Muscle
Michael Hall - Meta States Model
Dr Peter Davies - Grendel Mother
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