My girlfriend and I find ourselves hitting an uncomfortable pattern in our relationship where I end up raising my voice (due to anger, frustration, exhaustion, etc) and she immediately plays the “hurt victim” and shames me for ‘hurting’ her.
It often tends to be a never ending UNCONSCIOUS dynamic where I only get more angry (due to not feeling heard or seen) and she only gets more hurt and/or sad.
This dynamic showed up (again) last night after I had a long 3 hour drive home from a meditation event.
The drive was frustrating and uncomfortable for many reasons. 1) the traffic was absolutely horrible, 2) I wanted to go to an Authentic Relating event but the traffic got in the way of me attending, 3) I wanted to eat dinner at a nearby Chipotle but every single one had no parking nearby. Anyways, it was just a shitty trip back home. So, I was still holding exhaustion and frustration when I got back home last night.
When I got home, completely ready to relax and “take a load off,” my girlfriend was unexpectedly high on weed and immediately began talking my ear off about her new (random) idea on a different direction I should take my career / life purpose.
She kept telling me her ideas, and meanwhile I’m thinking, 1) “what the hell is she talking about, 2) I just need some peace and quiet. I hope she stops talking at some point, 3) she’s not stopping. This is becoming unbearable, 4) can’t she see that I’m exhausted and I don’t care?? 5) nope she’s not going to stop taking, 6) I need quiet!” So I basically built up unconscious anger and said, “okay, okay, okay! I get it!”
Then, she of course went into her pain and said that I’m being mean and need to talk to her in a respectful voice.
In the moment, this only had me feeling MORE angry because I felt like she, 1) never acknowledged me when I came home, 2) didn’t notice that I’m exhausted, 3) didn’t check in with me to see if I was even interested in what she was talking about, 4) and now she’s saying I’m a terrible person for raising my voice. Anyways, I felt like raising my voice was justified in that moment, given my circumstances.
But, she didn’t let it go and kept shaming me for being angry and mean…
So, knowing that this uncomfortable dynamic goes absolutely no where, I left the house and said that I need peace and quiet.
Then, I came back after 35 minutes or so and we apologized to each other.
The only thing I’m still afraid of is that this dynamic will never end. It’s come up many, many times in our 1.5 year relationship, and I’ve worked a lot on ‘managing’ my anger (which I personally don’t think is even that bad). Still, in weak moments my angry will get the best of me, as I tend to be thin skinned, and she’ll immediately go into the hurt victim. Then I feel demonized and unloved which only has me feeling worse, and more angry.
My questions for you all (men and women) are, have you dealt with dynamics like this in your life? Have you found solutions? Do you believe its possible to sustain a life-long relationship that has dynamics like this?
I wish my partner could handle my anger without shaming me for it… But in our track record so far it doesn’t appear like she can as she’s extremely sensitive.
No, I don’t believe that there is possible to change something. Why? Because it’s you who is trying to help this relationship, but both need to change something not only you (at least from the text sounds like she doesn’t give a shit, as just playing theater in front of you by showing that she is the victim here) + you are trying to find the peace – you’re seeking for person who asks how was your day, not a teacher who teaches how to live like would be the best. In my opinion, in ‘healthy’ relationship people accept each others interests and activities not trying to push them to change your aims and goals, because they think what’s better for you. No. In normal relationship, each of you have to focus on your own works and just give an emotional support to each other to believe in one another and support to keep going and believe in yourself on what you’re doing. What’s about your relationship between – you focus only on relationship goals. Sorry for being so straight with my words, but that’s my point of view, if you ask an opinion. P.S. Why does she gets high and teach you how to live? What does she does for living? Firstly, have to think about yourself, before ‘teaching’ something to others..
Hello. First of all, thank you for sharing your thoughts. This shows that you are willing to work towards improving your relationship.
After reading your post, I feel the major reason for this pattern that you described is actually due to a lack of communication or a communication breakdown. At least that is how it appears to me.
What if you try to actually discuss this with your girlfriend ? I mean, if the two of you can sit down and express your respective thoughts and then consider the other person’s feelings, I think you will be able to avoid misunderstandings. Such an activity will have two benefits. One would be that you know what the other person is thinking. The second being the fact that this saves both of you from assuming things and expecting certain things from the other person. This helps you both to understand the other person’s mindset at that particular instant of time and then to react accordingly. So this won’t make you very angry and she will not feel like a victim whenever this happens.
You’ll basically end up saving so much time and effort assuming or expecting things. I would recommend you make it a habit of expressing your thoughts to each other. It’ll help you understand your partner and will also enrich your relationship.
These are just my suggestions based on my observations and also by imagining both of your standpoints. I sadly do not have much experience with relationships, so I would also suggest you only take my advice after you have given it some thought and think of it to have some credence. You can get in touch with me anytime. I’m interested to get to know your thoughts on this.
Finally, I hope you manage to break free from these patterns. I wish the two of you the best!
I think males view this pattern often as the woman manipulating him with her victimization and its often a much more unconscious and wounded place that it’s coming from. Reasoning with what you’re considering an overreaction doesn’t help, because feelings aren’t to be reasoned with. And anger comes a lot from people not understanding why another person doesn’t share their reason.
Maybe try reversing the emotional identities and sharing with her the ways that you feel ashamed In situations and ask her to look for how she may feel angry. I think males are generally conditioned to be outwardly aggressive and females as inwardly aggressive, which perpetuates the whole “you’re a mean man and I’m a sweet lady” dynamic.