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I really love my girlfriend. Out of all the girlfriends that I've had, she's the best. We get along very well on most matters and I have almost no complaints about her.

But, she has only one problem: jealousy!

I am considered to be good company by most people, especially at work and in my family. I really like to talk, laugh, and maintain a fun environment for everybody around me.

But she really doesn't like it when I laugh with other women. In respect, I like to avoid talking with other girls or women, just to not make her sad (or mad at me). She doesn't talk with any other guys either, in respect for me.

But things get serious when she gets upset even if I talk about anything with my family (aunts and cousins). I have to force myself to be serious and show that I do not want to talk to them because otherwise she gets very angry and we start to argue.

I have never given her any reason to distrust me, since I am very transparent in what I do, in what I feel, and in what I think, and I let her have access to everything in my life. She does the same too. We think that if there is nothing to hide there is nothing to worry about.

I can't go to take a ride on my motorcycle without telling her all the time where I am. If I stay about 1 or a half hour without sending any feedback, she get's very angry. She does the same if she goes to any place: She sends me photos and always tells where she is and with whom.

There's an important point: I'm the first boyfriend of her life. I don't know if this has an influence on something.

Is there a good way to start a conversation to solve this with her? I really like her a lot.

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    Did you ever try to talk to her about this? Does she know that you don't like this behavior from her? – josephine Feb 6 '18 at 14:30
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    Is there any chance she is cheating? Sometimes people try to shift the blame when they're feeling guilty for something they've done, perhaps she is projecting? – Lio Elbammalf Feb 6 '18 at 16:28
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    Please do not take pictures while driving your motorcycle, that would be dangerous. – Pete B. Feb 6 '18 at 19:59
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    Your girlfriend must be absolutely fantastic in some sense to make up for such a disastrous personality. If she is anything less than fantastic - get out while you can. – Stian Yttervik Feb 7 '18 at 9:59
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    Why did you remove the "brazil" tag? If it is the wrong location, can you please add the correct tag? This information helps answerers understand the context of the situation and give advice appropriate for the local culture. – Em C Feb 7 '18 at 15:42
156

This behavior should be a big, Big, BIG warning sign for you. Whether she simply likes to be in control, has insecurities due to bad previous experiences with other partners, etc. you should work to set boundaries in your relationship.

It is not at all acceptable that you should be reporting on your every coming and going. It is also completely unacceptable that she would give you any sort of attitude when you're simply speaking to other women (especially female relatives - that is incredibly alarming).

You may think that acquiescing to her requests is simply keeping the peace, and will help to build trust, but in my own experience, if you give in in these situations, her behavior will likely only escalate. How long before she demands access to text messages, chats, or emails? Where would you draw the line when you've previously only ever given in to her demands? The second you refuse her it will constitute - in her eyes - proof of something nefarious, and she will double down on her efforts (likely starting a fight).

Instead, have a very honest conversation with her. Here are the rules of the conversation, as it were:

  • Initiate the conversation at a time when you are both calm, and in a good mood. Do not broach the topic for the first time when she's just demonstrated poor behavior, as you'll likely be upset, or vice versa, and that will not go well.
  • Maintain a level tone of voice
  • Keep your calm at all cost
  • If she starts getting loud, angry, or otherwise aggressive, call her on it immediately:

There's no need to get upset. Let's keep calm and discuss this like adults.

  • If things get out of hand, walk away. Do not try to comfort her as you were simply trying to discuss a problem you're experiencing in your relationship, and did nothing wrong. In a relationship you should be able to broach difficult or uncomfortable topics and expect to have an honest and calm conversation about it:

I'd like for us to have the sort of relationship where either of us can broach a topic, and expect the other to honestly, and calmly listen. Neither of us is perfect; there are bound to be other difficult conversation in our future, and I'd like to know that we can get through them like adults. I'd like to take this up again when you've calmed down, and I hope that you'll be a little more willing to engage with me. (then walk away)

Now that we've established that, bring up everything that's been troubling you. Don't accuse her of anything. Simply be factual:

  • Tell her that you're both adults, and that as such you will not always be in touch throughout a given day.
  • Explain that it demonstrates a severe lack of trust when she demands that you inform her of your whereabouts at all times, and that you have done nothing to deserve such treatment. Her sending you messages and pictures of who she's hanging out with may be her style of communication, but it's not yours, and she should not expect you to reciprocate. Heck, in my opinion it's incredibly unhealthy to keep constant tabs on the other person, but you should find your own way to express this.
  • Discuss her attitude when she sees you speaking to other women. Make it clear that her behavior is not something that you're willing to tolerate. That sort of attitude is not "cute".
  • Honestly engage with her and ask where all these feelings are coming from. Acknowledge them, but do not allow her to use them as an excuse for her behavior.

I understand that you were cheated on in the past, but I am not the person who did that to you, and I would like to not be treated as if I were.

Here's an analogy for you: would it be OK for her to hit you simply because she's upset or angry? What about the other way around? Not cool, right? Using our feelings as an excuse for poor behavior is OK when you're 7, but unacceptable as an adult. It doesn't fly in a court of law, and it shouldn't fly in a relationship.

But what it all really comes down to is what are you willing to do in order to enforce these boundaries in your relationship? And that's the rub.

If she gets very upset and gives you grief because you didn't "check in" while you were out one evening, trying to appease her would send the wrong message. Instead, you should tell her that she has no reason to be upset, and let her come out of her funk on her own. This will likely lead to accusations of you not caring about her, the relationship, or her feelings to which you should calmly reply:

On the contrary, I care about you, and our relationship very much. I want it to be based on a foundation of mutual respect, honesty and trust, and I'm afraid that you're not behaving as if you trust me at all. If you want us to last, you have to stop trying to control me, or shame me into feeling guilty because I don't do exactly as you please. That is dishonest and manipulative. (then walk away)

This will likely be a long and arduous journey, and will involve not one, but likely many heated conversations (or full out fights). If your relationship survives these, then it will be much stronger and healthier for it.

However, if she continues to try and exert dominance over you in this manner, you would be much, much better off finding someone else.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Catija Feb 8 '18 at 20:53
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    I understand that you were cheated on in the past, but I am not the person who did that to you, and I would like to not be treated as if I were. - Although I like your wording here, OP mentioned that he is her first boyfriend. Maybe some rephrasing could help adjusting it to OPs situation while still keeping the meaning of the sentence: I would like to not be treated as if I were going to cheat on you, because I would never ever do that. – Kaspar Scherrer Feb 9 '18 at 13:58
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    This is a great logical answer. I might just add some spice of kindness to it. Or instead of makings direct statements, I'd ask them through questions. Some people are very responsive to logic, others are more responsive to your tone, kindness, structure of sentence. Likely she's the later, because her actions don't seem logical. Perhaps a nice intimate tone will give the confidence she needs. Last but not least, she needs a few months of professional help. I personally don't think it can be solved this easily. What you're saying makes total sense. But likely not to her mind. – Honey Feb 9 '18 at 17:41
  • @Honey - good points all around. I'm only offering guidelines, and expect the OP to adapt those statements however he feels is needed. – AndreiROM Feb 9 '18 at 17:45
  • Small point but one I feel is worth noting. Telling someone they have "no reason" to feel any particular way pretty much always ends badly. Obviously they have a reason, though it may be inappropriate or misplaced. I try to always make sure to say "no need" rather than "no reason". It's just one word, but it totally alters the energy of the comment. Nobody would likely agree that they "need" to be jealous, but they certainly will insist they have a "reason" to be! – Jonathan van Clute Feb 10 '18 at 21:07
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What is it that you like about this person? Does she have many things to offer in other areas?

As a woman, I can tell you that this behavior is very alarming and not normal. Your GF has some major issues to work out and is very insecure with herself. She is also manipulating you into getting her way by saying things like "how would you like it if i was flirting with another guy..." etc. That isn't what you are doing. You are talking to friends and family.

I would advise her that she needs to work on her issues with a therapist or that the relationship is pretty much doomed. This isn't a problem you can fix! She probably has no business dating anyone, unless they are also very insecure and willing to put up with that silliness. Sorry you are in that position!

I also agree with the poster who mentioned she might be cheating. People who are cheaters are often very suspicious of their partners doing the same thing. But it sounds more likely to me that she was probably cheated on in the past or just had a number of other things happen to get to this place of being very insecure. Being insecure isn't a dealbreaker, we all have some of this. But jealousy and manipulation to that extent definitely are!

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    Agreed, the way she has twisted his actions into “flirting” and then weaponized it against him is manipulation bordering on abuse. – Bradd Szonye Feb 7 '18 at 1:28
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    Mm, I think if she would be cheated on, she wouldn't be this mistrusting tbh. Not talking to your family would take it a bit far, maybe except if her ex boyfriend cheated on her with his own aunt or something. But let's be honest, this is more on the controlling level of jealousy instead of the insecure level of jealousy. I think the chance that she is cheating or that she has an abusive personality is a lot higher. – josephine Feb 7 '18 at 9:03
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    An alternative to "insecurity" is that she herself is not particularly trustworthy around the opposite sex, and is assuming you are the same. – T.E.D. Feb 7 '18 at 22:50
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I agree with setting the boundaries, that's your initial defense mechanism to start with.

But I'm seeing a lot of hostility towards jealousy in the thread, but jealousy is a completely natural emotion. In her case it's very strong obviously, but what that means is that she needs to learn to manage her jealousy, and she might actually need some help. Her behavior looks to me inadvertent and non-malicious, but more one of a lack of maturity on the topic.

Now that you've set the boundaries, you can choose your role in her self-help process. One way is to remain on the sideline and leave her on her own to figure it out, and just continue doing what you're doing. That's the easier way for you.

The other way, is to have compassion, and realize that she needs some help. If you are willing to spend the time and energy for it, then you can assist her by searching into the matter, finding books regarding how to manage your jealousy, seeking professional help like therapy videos and sessions, and guiding her to get through these professional sources.

Judging from you saying that you really like her a lot, I think you might side with the second way.

Your question was:

Is there a good way to start a conversation to solve this with her? I really like her a lot.

Yes. Here are some steps I recommend to start with:

Step 1 - clearly identify the issue with her first to pass the denial phase

The first step is for her to acknowledge the problem at hand - e.g. that she's very jealous. If she's in denial, then you need to first get her to acknowledge it by using examples of her past behavior, until she realizes something's "off".

Honey, I'm noticing that you have very strong reactions when I'm with other girls, I feel like I'm suffocating sometimes, but I know that deep down inside you trust my judgement and I trust yours. I think it's normal to feel jealousy, but in your case I think you're feeling a little bit too much of it. Would you like to work together to find a solution and learn to manage your jealousy?

Step 2 - She agrees to it, now it's time to help her equip herself with tools to manage her jealousy

You're not a psychologist, and you must understand that you might not be the best person to assist her. However, as her boyfriend, you can definitely help her seek some professional help, therapy, books she can read on that subject, videos.

There are tons of respectable videos by professionals where the subject is discussed, with exercises, perspective, solutions, ideas.

So without being a psychologist yourself, you can still assist her in helping her to equip herself with tools to manage her jealousy.

Step 3 - meet on a regular basis to discuss if there was an improvement

A good practice is to have follow up meetings, and discuss progress. What happened the previous week, month? Does she feels better and more in control? Do you feel better? Are things getting better overall? Take some notes of what you guys discussed. And re-read them next time to see the progression, as being under the influence of emotions can distort things a lot.

Conclusion:

Emotions are a fact of life and can't be ignored, but we can learn to manage them through therapy and life perspective. You're not a professional therapist, but you can take on the role of her guide to try and help her learn to manage her own jealousy, so it doesn't annoy you in the future.

And bonus:

She will respect you for the rest of her life for having spent the time to help her understand and manage her jealousy.

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    Well said. 1. She needs help. 2. help comes from professionals, not your aunt! 3. giving it time, and not expecting it to work out immediately. – Honey Feb 9 '18 at 17:37
  • +1, but I suggest elaborating more on the transition between steps 1 and 2, if only by citing resources that can serve as further reading. Often people with such issues do not have an easy time transitioning to actively wanting to improve on this matter (though I think your example wording is about as good of a start as you can get within a single statement). Anyway, I find people are often under-equipped to handle the challenges of getting through a person's potentially negative initial reaction to having such an issue pointed out, or how to optimally engender a want for such improvements. – mtraceur Feb 10 '18 at 0:14
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Some elements of your situation remind me of Dr. Joseph M. Carver’s Loser archetype, “a type of partner that creates much social, emotional and psychological damage in a relationship.” This remark by your girlfriend was a big red flag for me:

But she says “So, would you like to see me laughing and talking a lot with other guys? And they wanting to touch me, to flirt with me and to calling me everytime ‘to talk’?”

She has turned something innocent into an attack on your honesty that makes you look like a bad guy and isolates you from your own family. That, plus her demands to always check in, echoes several traits of the classic Loser:

Killing Your Self-Confidence: “The Loser” repeatedly puts you down. They constantly correct your slight mistakes, making you feel “on guard,” unintelligent, and leaving you with the feeling that you are always doing something wrong....

Cutting Off Your Support: In order to control someone completely, you must cut off their supportive friends – sometimes even their family....

It’s Always Your Fault: “The Loser” blames you for their anger as well as any other behavior that is incorrect. When they cheat on you, yell at you, treat you badly, damage your property, or embarrass you publicly – it’s somehow your fault....

No Outside Interests: “The Loser” will encourage you to drop your hobbies, interests, and involvement with others....

Paranoid Control: “The Loser” will check up on you and keep track of where you are and who you are with....

The way you describe your own responses to her behavior remind me of the frazzled state that losers eventually drive you to:

They Make You “Crazy”: “The Loser” operates in such a damaging way that you find yourself doing “crazy” things in self-defense. If “The Loser” is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 pm – you call Time & Temperature to cover the redial, check your garbage for anything that might get you in trouble, and call your family and friends to tell them not to call you that night....

While she doesn’t sound like one of the more dangerous versions of the Loser, Dr. Carver recommends detachment, separation, and self-protection when dealing with Losers, because they do make you crazy. I recommend reading Carver’s full advice, but first start with these key points:

The Detachment

In many cases, "The Loser" has isolated their partner from others.... During the detachment phase you should...

– Observe the way you are treated. Watch for the methods listed above and see how “The Loser” works.

– Quietly contact your family and supportive others. Determine what help they might be – a place to stay, protection, financial help, etc.

– If “The Loser” is destructive, slowly move your valuables from the home if together, or try to recover valuables if in their possession. In many cases, you may lose some personal items during your detachment – a small price to pay to get rid of “The Loser”.

– Stop arguing, debating or discussing issues. Stop defending and explaining yourself....

In short, your interpersonal efforts should emphasize connecting with your friends and family while detaching from the manipulative girlfriend until you can approach the situation with a clearer head and with the support that you will need.

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    She has turned something innocent into an attack on your honesty that makes you look like a bad guy and isolates you from your own family. That's a bit harsh don't you think? Her behavior really looks like she's doing it inadvertently and non-maliciously. She just doesn't know how to manage her emotions better just yet, and it's coming out all wrong. – Wadih M. Feb 8 '18 at 0:06
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    She “gets upset even if I talk about anything with my ... aunts,” trying to isolate him from his family, and her idea of fair turnabout is not talking to men but flirting with them and letting them touch her. She is thus insinuating that he is flirting and touching. Deliberate or not, that’s manipulative and abusive. – Bradd Szonye Feb 8 '18 at 0:09
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    Right I agree with you it is, which is why he definitely needs to put defend himself by setting healthy boundaries until she matures about it. But I'm just giving another perspective for a more compassionate judgement. Maybe she's having that hugely annoying behavior because she doesn't know better just yet and her defense mechanism is going haywire and taking all the wrong decisions. But if she doesn't recognize the issue and is being stubborn and wants to stay this way and rejects help, then by all means that's a big warning sign. – Wadih M. Feb 8 '18 at 0:20
  • I think this answer brings to valuable attention to concerns/red-flags to be aware of, but should we be so certain to conclude that OP's GF is toxic/damaging so as to make the relationship unsalvageable? To me this answer feels like it's focusing entirely on a condemning conclusion about OP's GF and doesn't really put any focus on the how-to-tell-if-your-relationship/partner-can-improve, and how-to-do-said-improvement-if-deemed-possible aspects of the problem. – mtraceur Feb 8 '18 at 0:21
  • @mtraceur My advice in this answer is not to judge, or to cut off all contact, but rather to 1. reinforce the relationships that the girlfriend has been trying to sabotage, 2. detach from the girlfriend at least to the extent of not diving deeper into the “make you crazy” stuff, and 3. read the rest of Carver’s article to see if any other red flags apply. – Bradd Szonye Feb 9 '18 at 19:37
3

Simplistic answer:

Ask yourself if is there any point in keeping this relationship. As pointed by others, this does not seem to be a thing that can easily be changed and is very possible to get worse as time passes. This is a pretty screwed up situation. Instead of a partnership, you are in a dictatorship.

When I started dating, I set the limits right away: no demanding passwords, no demanding to read texts or stuff like that. My stuff is mine and yours is yours. I want to go out with my friends and I will not be bothered if you want to go out with your friends without me. Each one has to have its own personal space. All in all, if one is to cheat, they will do it no matter what.

Edit 1:

We think that if there is nothing to hide there is nothing to worry about

is the same as

we don't want freedom of speech since we have nothing to say

0

Treat jealousy like a mental health issue: Do not take it seriously, but do take the person suffering from it and her needs seriously.

In a relationship, there is a reasonable amount of information flow, such as what you are doing and where you are. Then there is unreasonable control pressure bordering on abuse.

Provide the reasonable amount and refuse to become pressured into the unreasonable. Make it as simple as possible for you, because the more simple the less anyone can argue about it. So if you go out, inform your GF before where you go with whom and how long you will be. That is easy to do: "Hey love, I'm going bowling with the gang, back around 9." - then apply the Unix feedback principle - only inform if something out of the ordinary happens, e.g. you come back later than planned. If she bugs you, you can always point to the first information that you gave and that that exactly is what is going on. You don't give her a running commentary because there simply is nothing to comment on, everything has been said already.

One way to deal with her jealousy is to make fun about it. This might turn into a fight but then again it'll do that anyway sooner or later. Next time she asks where you were and with whom and what you did and why you didn't provide her with a live video stream, tell her you were too busy having a threesome with two hot lesbians, or maybe there were three? Take her fear and exaggerate it into the ridiculous. It must be really ridiculous, so that no mentally normal person would assume it actually happened.

Another way is to tell her everything afterwards. When you are just talking about the day, mention what happened at the bowling alley. Maybe she feels like you don't share enough. So do. But do it on your terms, not on hers.

Relationships are not just about making each other happy, they are also about finding that spot for yourself where you feel that everything is exactly as it should be.

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    Treat jealousy like a mental health issue I'm a bit concerned with that statement though. Jealousy is a human emotion, just like joy, shame, fear are. – Wadih M. Feb 7 '18 at 2:55
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    Language is limited. Jealousy, in the sense of feeling protective of your partner and concerned if he shows signs of betraying the relationship - is a result of a mix of emotion. In the sense of controlling behaviour, constant mistrust and spotting-competition-everywhere, it is much closer to several recognized illnesses than to normal emotions. Under no definition is jealousy an independent emotion by itself. It is a behaviour triggered by a mix of fear, possessiveness and uncertainty. – Tom Feb 7 '18 at 6:00
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    Your suggestion to take her suffering and needs seriously seems at odds with your suggestion to make fun of her worries. – Em C Feb 7 '18 at 13:46
  • @WadihM. Jealousy is a human emotion, yes, and much like fear and shame, they are symptoms of our minds perceiving or expecting some threat or harm from the world around us. I might be interpreting the answerer's remark too generously, but I interpreted it to mean that it is a valid human experience, but that ultimately, there is some underlying cause, and that needs to be understood and addressed in order to solve any problems with jealousy. – mtraceur Feb 7 '18 at 23:08
  • @Tom I would +1 this were it not for the paragraphs starting with "One way to deal with her jealousy is to make fun about it. This might turn into a fight but then again it'll do that anyway sooner or later." This method can be effective with some people, but in my experience, is not very helpful for most people who have deep-seated problems with jealousy, and could easily be hurtful. If you just don't want to deal with people like that, though, it is great for filtering out potential partners based on their reaction. Also, while a fight about this is very likely, is it really certain? – mtraceur Feb 7 '18 at 23:16

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