Manipulative girlfriend's ultimatum!!! Help!
I am in a relationship with a girl that I am truly in love with. Our relationship (like all relationships) is fairly complicated. There was 1 instance 5 or so months into dating, she broke up with me for a week or so. In that week, I slept with my ex in which I genuinely regret and it's a mistake I'd never make again. I ended up telling her what I did and she asked for details. I told her much of the details but left out other details and kept denying them. Eventually she got my ex's number and she found out the truth. She then (in anger) told me that she had sex with her ex while we were split up as well but I instantly forgave her in attemp to salvage the relationship. As you'd expect, our relationship was barely hanging on and we've come pretty far since then. We're a year and a half into the relationship. After that incident, I gave into everything she wanted. I removed all my social media, gave up hanging with friends, everything. So in her defense, I was the 1 that provoked the controlling behavior. I didn't notice it before but recently I've been catching onto her tactics. She guilts me, she always brings back that mistake I made, tells me I don't love her, and always gives me ultimatums. "Do this or we're over" usually I do it until recentlly. Anyway, I've been standing my ground and telling her no and things like that to get this on a level playing field. The amount of fights we've had have increased and she layed an ultimatum on me today. I'm in love with a particularly artist and I asked her if I could go to their concert. She insisted no that I cannot go (I've missed 2 non important concerts for her). But this is my favorite artist and she won't budge. She eventually came to say "it's me or the concert"
I'm not sure what to do with this woman. I love her and I want this relationship to straighten out but she's just so stubborn sometimes. I know it's my fault for provoking the manipulative behavior but what should I do?
How long have you been in this relationship? What led to the breakup for that one week 5 months ago? What did you lie about that was so important to your girlfriend she called your ex to get the whole story? Do you often conceal things from your girlfriend that she feels is important if/when she finds out about them? What are the reasons she gives for not wanting you to go to these concerts? Has anything happened at past concerts or parties that damaged your relationship with her?
She doesn't trust you. Why do you think that is?
You've said you are "truly in love with" this girl. She's told you that she doesn't believe you love her. You call her manipulative and controlling, giving you ultimatums. You really really want to go see a particular artist that you are also "in love with" and she just needs to accept that and stop trying to control you. You talk about "this woman" you profess to love in a very condescending judgmental way without saying much of anything about why you think she feels the way she does. Almost like you haven't taken much interest in understanding how she feels.
I suggest you try very hard to listen to her and truly understand why she's saying no to these concerts. Listen as if your continued relationship with the woman you are in love with depends on it. Because it does.
Okay so.. Let's get a bit deeper shall we. I want to paint the most unbiased picture in your head of our whole situation. We've been dating for about a year and a half (off and on). What lead to this break up, was about her thinking that I am childish. I am not entirely sure what lead up to that accusation but she has already broken up with me a few times before that incident. I have not once broken things off with this woman. She always does it.
Anyway, as I have explained, during that breakup I slept with my ex and I sort of realized that I had made a terrible mistake and that I really did not want to lose my gf but I did not text her until the next day. We talk as if nothing happens and we get back together. What lead to her getting my ex's number was me lying about the details that she wanted to know. I told her the incident happened and she just wanted to know specifics that I was scared to give you know? So I tried covering some stuff up but it eventually all came down. From that point on in our relationship, things changed.
I no longer hangout with my friends. (She says they bring out the worst in me) I no longer have any social media. She has asked me to change my number and Ihave. I deleted all my contacts except for family. I'm truly faithful. I do not text any other woman, I don't see any woman, nothing. I just focus on my classes and her. She told me she didn't want me to go to the concert because I was going to get 2nd hand smoke from marijuana. I calmly explained to her that it is harmless and its not like cigarette smoke but she refuses to believe anything but her own opinion. After given the ultimatum, I told her I didn't want to choose. I told her that for 1 day of the year, for 3 hours, I'd enjoy seeing my favorite artist preform. I asked her politely over and over and she would not budge thus leading to the ultimatum.
In our relationship, I've spoiled her. I have given into her every request. If there's something that I tell her I want to do, like go out with some friends, she says no like automatically. I try to say I need time out and that I can't be stuck at home for weeks and weeks but she will then say things like "you can go but you'll be single" "you can go but don't talk to me anymore"
She knows how much she means to me and she knows I love her for I tell her everyday. But she tells me she doesn't think I really do so I'm constantly reassuring her. It got to a point where she was going to leave a few months back because she claimed that she wasn't important enough so I had went and got her name tattooed. Yeah. I know. Save it.
Anyway, that kept her for a week or 2 and then she would break up with me again and again and get back together. These breakups are over little fights and she'll say goodbye and all of this but she goes right back to talking to me a day later.
I truly know that I'm faithful to this girl. I want to go far with this girl I really do because when we aren't fighting, things are awesome. And it's just so frustrating that I know how trustworthy I am being and giving up friends and everything but she still uses my mistakes against me to the point where I've been starting to feel like she's using them to get what she wants. To make me feel guilty and give into her demand.
Thanks SMILESUPSIDEDOWN for the reply!
Ok. Thanks for the extra information, Motmii. I'm glad you didn't give up. It does change the picture. Let me try again...
Does she constantly accuse you, even inventing accusations? Do you consistently respond by defending yourself and reassuring her how her accusations are not true? Does she feel better and reassured afterwards? Are there times when you have a complaint and she turns it around to be about her and how you make her feel instead? And then you're somehow the one reassuring her again?
If this is the cycle that keeps repeating itself, I can only think of one thing you can try to do in those moments. Absolutely Stop reassuring her. The moment she makes an accusation, complaint or threat, Don't reassure her. Stop and think. If you need time to regain your calm, take that time. Your reassurance is reinforcing her behavior. When you can, point out her behavior. Point out that she accuses you just to provoke reassurance from you. Point out that she even makes false accusations just to get that from you. Point out that her behavior is abuse and you don't deserve it. You can tell her you love her if you really think it's appropriate (and not when it's just another type of reassurance!) but don't get defensive and don't try to disagree with her accusations or threats, just reject them, refuse them.
It's a habit for both of you and it'll take effort to break it. It might feel bad to you, you might feel guilty not offering that reassurance but accusations like these aren't about her genuinely feeling mistreated. She's doing this to get the comfort of your reaction to them. You may start feeling like a broken record repeating the same things to her every time she starts up this reassurance-seeking behavior. But you need it to stop. It might get worse before it gets better but if you keep communicating I think there's hope for improvement.
If there are things you want to do that are reasonable, don't ask for her permission. Tell her what you want to do, tell her why if that seems appropriate to you. But remember that doing something reasonable just because it would make you happy and for no other reason at all is a good enough reason all by itself no matter what she says. Invite her to join you if that feels right. Make scheduling compromises when it's appropriate or necessary but don't just do everything she says when you don't believe it's reasonable. If/when she makes accusations, keep telling her you don't deserve them and won't keep reinforcing that abusive behavior from her. The calmer you can be when you tell her the better the message will be received but don't beat yourself up (or accept her beating you up, verbally or otherwise) if you don't manage it calmly. It's still important to say these things. Then go do what you said you'd do.
Basically, you have to call her bluff. You don't have to acknowledge any unreasonable things she says as legitimate. When she's not behaving like that, you can offer affection and reassurance. Make her feel good when she makes you feel good. Say nice things when she says nice things, or at least wait until she's not saying mean things. In fact, if you can anticipate her concerns and acknowledge them before they become a problem it may help her learn to feel more secure in a positive way. And finally, if at some point her behavior doesn't improve or you get to a point where you can't deal with it anymore, don't let it destroy you. You need to maintain friendships and connections to other people because no one should have that much power over your well-being.
Was that more on the mark?
What you described is pretty accurate. She always thinks I'm doing stuff that I'm not and she gets screenshots of my messages, my location, who I'm with, the whole works. Sometimes even when I provide all of that, she still thinks I'm trying to hide stuff from her and I have to reassure her that I'm not going to hurt her. I've told her at least a million times but nothing clicks. Currently, we aren't on speaking terms since she made the ultimatum and assumed "i didn't love" her since I wouldn't give up a concert for her (As I've already given up 2).
So I guess my next question would be, how do i deal with her threats? I'm sure she will come back but when she does, how should I handle her. Should I give her an ultimatum right back? Ive asked her before if we could be equal and put in the same effort. If she's allowed to have a social media app then I should too. But her response was "No. I don't trust you and if you don't like it then leave."
Of course she knows I won't leave.
Thanks for all the info you're really helpful!
The idea is to stop these games, not for you both to play these games with equal time and effort. I don't think ultimatums ever work. Plus, ultimatums are threats and I don't believe it's ever appropriate to threaten someone you care about. Besides she's going to be better at that game than you are. What you don't want to do is learn to do what she does. You don't want to learn to return fire with more accusations and threats. Whether this relationship can be rehabilitated or not, you don't want those to be behaviors you keep for this or another relationship. And you're not going to be "handling" her because if there's going to be a change in her she's going to have to make it herself. But if you're really meant to ask how do you cope while she does all this stuff...
You need to decide who you want to be in this relationship (or out of it because it might come to that despite all your efforts) and then be that person. When she accuses or threatens, teach yourself to recognize what just happened. Teach yourself not to respond immediately with knee-jerk reassurance and appeasement. Instead try to make simple, direct observational statements about what she's doing or saying. For example, simply say, "that's a threat" or "that's another ultimatum" or "what you just said is a false accusation." You could even leave it at that. It's most important to point out her behavior first but you might add, "I don't deserve that" and "I've done nothing wrong here." Keeping it simple and direct will probably help, especially at first. Your main goal in those moments is to resist getting sucked into responding the way she's trying to provoke you to respond. She is trying to make you become defensive and then your reassurances and appeasement will follow. Every time you do that you're rewarding her bad behavior and it will continue. Tell her you won't respond to threats and accusations. Keep repeating the same simple statements. If she wants to know something tell her she can ask you respectfully. Don't answer until she does. If at any point it gets too ugly then immediately say, "this is too out of hand, I need to go calm down, I'll be back later" and leave the area. But whatever else, you absolutely need to learn to Not reassure her. Don't appease her.
What you're trying to do is break a habit that she probably doesn't even recognize in herself and it has become so automatic for her that whenever she starts feeling insecure about anything in her life these things will pop out of her mouth. You don't even have to be the reason she feels insecure, you are simply the one she has trained to respond with comforting, soothing responses whenever she pulls your string or pokes you the right way. So if you look at it that way, none of this abuse is really about you. Some people pig out on ice cream to sooth away a bad day. Your girlfriend tears into you until you say enough soothing things to restore her comfort level. That's not healthy for either of you.
You need to decide where your own boundaries are going to be. These are the choices you make for yourself. You don't negotiate with her over them, they are simply a necessity. It is how you want to live your life and how you need to be treated to feel ok in a relationship. Then strive to maintain those standards for yourself. When she tries to make you do something with threats, point her behavior out to her. Simple observational statements. Tell her it's not appropriate. If you're still feeling ok after that and think you can make more progress, you might try asking her if she knows why she's doing it. But you never try to provide those answers for her. If she only berates you some more, get some distance from her until things calm down. Tell her that's what you're doing and then do it.
Basically, you're doing two things. First you're retraining yourself to respond in a healthier way to someone who is emotionally abusive. And second, you're trying to help her see herself, see what she's doing. Just remember that you don't have the power to make that happen, that part's up to her. These are very difficult things for both of you to do and it takes time and practice if it works at all. So above all else, do what you need to do to keep your own balance emotionally. Draw those boundaries for yourself. Protect your own mental well-being.
Great advice! I'm going to do just this. I'm assuming she's going to hate it and throw a huge fit and leave, but if we are meant to be together, she will recognize this and try to work it out.
I couldn't thank you enough. I'm not much of an open (feelings wise) kind of person so I needed this. I try to be open to her about this sort of thing but she's soooo stubborn about it. It's like she thinks her way of thinking is the only way of thinking and anything else is just wrong. Very RARELY has she ever admitted that I was right. Maybe 1 or 2 times out of our relationship.
Glad I could help, Motmii. Habits can be very hard to break so don't beat yourself up while you teach yourself how to interact differently with her. You may even find there are other people you'll encounter in your life that have some similar behavior patterns so, whether she chooses to stay or go, learning how to stand up for yourself without becoming like the abusers yourself is a good skill to develop. You deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. Live your life the way you need to for your own peace and happiness. I wish you well. Good luck.