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My and my gf have been together for about 3 months now and everything has been pretty good. But recently we have spent some time apart since she is at home (we live at college and she's home for the summer) and we've been running into some problems.

It normally happens when I try to ask her about things that I do which bother her. For example, one of the things that I had a problem with was that during the school year I felt like I was the person in the relationship who always planned everything. Whether it be simply to get lunch, or to hang out that night, or plan for a trip, I would always be the one to ask to spend time with her. Not that she doesn't like spending time with me, I just felt that our relationship was a bit one-sided where I was the one always asking to be in her company and she would agree. I didn't mind doing the planning, I just feared sometimes I was being too intrusive and wasn't giving her enough space, and she was too scared to ask me to give her some.

The problem occurred when I tried hinting at this issue I saw and explained to her how I was feeling about always being the one to ask. She said she didn't mind spending all that time with me, but her body language said otherwise and I could sense she wasn't telling me all her thoughts. But I let it go and moved the conversation to something different, to avoid the uncomfortable situation.

After two weeks I had a long conversation with her about the usual stuff, but I attempted to try to ask her again why she didn't like sharing all her thoughts with me. And I had asked this unsuccessfully before a couple of times but she always answers with "I don't know" or "I don't know what you want me to say" (as if I am expecting an answer that I want her to say to make me feel happy), but it still seems she is trying to avoid the problem and not tell me what she really thinks.

And just this week I tried asking her again, and she finally opened up a bit more since she could tell I was frustrated. I was partly frustrated because I thought she didn't want to tell me her feelings, but also that I couldn't find the right way to phrase my questions so that she would feel more comfortable answering them. But during this argument, she did tell me something different and said that she didn't like when we argued in this manner because she thinks she'll lose me. For context: she's been in other relationships before me and has told me that she always ends up getting hurt, and when she met me she felt so happy since I seemed so much different and that I truly cared for her. So I feel that because of that she is afraid that I will leave her or something, which I won't, simply because we are having a bit of trouble communicating.

So to make this brief. Basically, I come here for advice on how to phrase my questions better or be able to understand my girlfriend's point of view more clearly. And why she gets upset/closes off to me when I try to find out more about her feelings.

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    Can you provide/recall verbatim questions you were asking her? It's difficult to provide advice to phrase questions better when examples are not given – BFG95 Jul 18 '18 at 5:49
  • Sure @BFG95. So I would ask things like: - "Do you not feel comfortable telling me when you are mad?" - "Why is it that you won't tell me or show me that you're angry/annoyed with something I do until it truly upsets you and then we start arguing?" - "Why don't you like sharing your feelings with me?" - She would normally respond "I don't know" or "I don't know what you want me to say" to these type of questions. I thought that maybe it was me not asking the questions correctly and that's why she couldn't understand. OR that she actually doesn't feel comfortable discussing that w/me. – Oscar Jul 19 '18 at 2:40
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Any answer you receive here should be taken with caution as nobody on this website actually knows the person involved and we are largely speculating and giving a second opinion.

I think if she actually needs more space or she isn't happy in the relationship there is little you'd find here that would actually help and you will soon find out about it anyway, so I will explore a different option that might explain this behavior.

To me it looks like your girlfriend is trying to avoid a confrontation. There might be a lot of reasons for that. She might have experienced/witnessed a lot of confrontations in the past and it might be an issue for her. She might be afraid that a possible confrontation will push you away and will compromise your relationship which would explain letting you plan everything as she wants to keep you happy, and to her, doing whatever you want to do all the time is her chance to do that.

I will say again, there might be million other things too and you really need to address it with her.

The hard part is how to actually do that because in general people that try to avoid a confrontation wouldn't be open to talk about the issue (as you have experienced).

My suggestion is to reassure her as much as you can. A 3 month relationship is a fickle thing. Show her that you can have fun and enjoy doing activities she likes too. Reassure her in your commitment, show her that you are not going to run away with the first encountered issue and you are willing to build on the relationship. This might give her more confidence to actually open up and address what is bothering her.

As to how to address the questions - make it about her. Saying

"I feel like I am the only one planning everything in our relationship"

sounds like an accusation. If you phrase it like

"Hey last weekend we did this and this that I liked, lets do something that you like this weekend, what would you suggest?"

sounds much better and accomplishes the same goal.

If I am right in my speculation about the situation, getting frustrated with her would just reaffirm her position that she is losing you and she will close up even more. If you show her that you actually care and you are afraid of the same thing, she should open up more.

That's my 2 cents, use it with caution.

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I waited to give an answer before receiving specific questions you've asked her, so I appreciate the details. Regarding your examples:

"Do you not feel comfortable telling me when you are mad?"

"Why is it that you won't tell me or show me that you're angry/annoyed with something I do until it truly upsets you and then we start arguing?"

"Why don't you like sharing your feelings with me?"

One thing I noticed with these examples is that you're making yourself the focus of the question. Sure, you may want to know why she's upset with you, but framing it as you being the victim can lead to her feeling a couple emotions:

She feels like you're not listening: Clearly you care about her and want to make the situation right. However, this can come across as you only wanting her to no longer be mad, rather than the listening and understanding what she's actually feeling.

She feels like you're purposefully trying to get her to frame you: She may just have a tendency not to express emotions in general. It's tough being vulnerable to people, even those with whom you have mutual love/care/respect. Placing you as the focus can make it seem like you want her to blame you for the issues, thus further shifting the focus onto you.

Frankly, I understand why she is confused about how she should respond to these questions.

On a personal note, my previous girlfriend had a reluctance with communication; I'd notice she was upset, asked "What's wrong?" and receive the typical "It's nothing", "I'm fine", etc. and try to brush off the issue. I empathize with you that this is incredibly frustrating, especially if your goal is conflict resolution and to make her feel like she's heard. However, you can't force someone to open to you, it has to be her own choice. So instead, you can rephrase the three example questions as assertions, something along the lines of:

"I just want you to know that you can always talk to me about issues regarding our relationship"

"If you ever need to talk, I'm here to listen"

"I care about us and our relationship and if I ever hurt you, just know I want to make it right"

And then leave it at that. Don't press on.

One of my tricks to get my previous girlfriend to feel comfortable communicating was to ask her, "Do you want to talk about it or do you want some space?" This showed her that I was not only willing to discuss and communicate with her, but I respected her space and time to process feelings and emotions.

Just remember, it's not you vs. her, it's you two together vs. the problem. I wish you the best of luck with your relationship and hope your conflicts are resolved.

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Very much like @Ilia L says, its hard to give specific advice. Every couple has to find out what works for them - and we all don´t know your girlfriend as well as you do. I will tell you what worked for me, maybe you can apply some of that in your situation. As always, use at your own Risk.

I´m one who cant live very well with uncertainty in a relationship - like you, seemingly. I am also of the opinion a relationship can only be successful if one is able to discuss problems freely and openly.

What worked for me, with my wife, was to establish these values early on - at around the 3 month mark.

So these are my points/boundaries:

  • I don´t like to play any games. I think they have no place in a grown-up relationship and I will not tolerate them.
  • I don´t think any relationship can survive long term without an effective means for conflict solution.
  • I don´t think two people can reach a good compromise if one of them is not honest about his/her wishes.
  • If I argue, its about the matter, not the person. I can still love the person.
  • If you have something that bothers you, don´t keep me guessing.
  • Trust is the basis of the relationship. Truth can hurt, but pain goes away. Mistrust is permanent, so please tell me everything.
  • Most importantly: I am not your ex-boyfriend. While I´m sympathetic to your bad experience, I will not suffer for his sins!

Maybe there´s something in there for you? I think it is important to discuss and establish these values at some point. You´ll see if you have a fundamental mismatch in your value set, or if you can settle on some common ground.

I also think it is important for her to understand, that in the long run, she will not loose you over an argument you have, but rather over one you don´t have.

Then, reflect upon your own discussion culture: Do you stay calm, objective and on-topic? Do you give her enough space for replies? - some people take a little bit longer to formulate their thoughts than others. Do you want to win the argument, or do you just present the problem and search for a solution together?

Being a good speaker can have its drawbacks in these situations - you win the battle but loose the war, so to say.

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