Tuesday 23 May 2017

Scared for my hostile girlfriend -- and of her

Patricia Redlich

QI am a mid-30s male in a relationship with a woman who has brought a contrast of enrichment and volatility into my life. We met at a dinner with mutual friends last year. Long before that, the litany of rejection I suffered at the hands of every woman I was ever attracted to had made me effectively abandon the notion of ever falling in love with a beautiful woman.

Yet that's exactly what happened to me a couple of weeks later when she asked me out on our first date. She's a few years older than me and, sensing my inexperience, she also initiated our first kiss and the sexual encounter in which she deflowered me. I get a warmth, intimacy and tenderness from her that has slowly but inexorably eroded the chip I had on my shoulder for so long. I absolutely adore her.

As a sexual partner she is lusty, wild, passionate and strong. But after sex, she's incredibly gentle, tender and affectionate. She also has film-actress good looks. I used to dream that I would make up for lost time by living out my fantasies of accumulating numerous sexual partners once I got off the mark, but I am so in love with my girlfriend that if she proposed to me tomorrow, I would gladly marry her and start a family.

However, there is a dark side to her personality, which could potentially sabotage what we've got. She can be territorial and possessive around me, and there was an incident in a bar recently where I was just talking to another woman, a stranger, while waiting for my girlfriend to show up.

When she did, she gave me a long, lingering kiss, then turned to the other woman and said: "I'm his girlfriend, who are you?"

She said it so menacingly that the woman just walked away, clearly taken aback. She listens to a lot of songs by female rock singers about infidelity, which she has suffered herself at the hands of several ex-boyfriends.

She also wears a lot of black leather, which I suspect might be a shield to make her look edgy and tough. But there is an aching vulnerability beneath the macho surface she tries to project, and I often wonder if my assurances that I love her are enough.

Sometimes when I tell her I love her, she snaps back "you'd better" with an edge of aggression, which can be quite jarring.

She also has a physically aggressive side to her, which came to light recently. I was helping someone I know only slightly to move house and he tried to molest me. When I told my girlfriend, she wanted to go over and kick the s*** out of him. I thought she was only joking, but we ran into him a couple of days later, he saluted me as if nothing had happened, and my girlfriend caught him by the throat and threatened to break his neck. I was mortified watching this, and scared, as a Garda car passed nearby, but thankfully didn't see anything and didn't stop.

The menace of my girlfriend's threat is that she's very fit, does a regular martial arts class and could really hurt someone. I'm paranoid about the possibility of this happening and her ending up in court, and in prison. But how can I restrain her?

She's essentially a good person, but the thought of things getting out of hand, and me then being without her, fill me with dread.

AI can see you are attached to your girlfriend, care for her, want to be with her. What you have to recognise is that you are also afraid of her. I imagine you're physically frightened of her. You are certainly frightened of her behaviour.

You are not just worried about what would happen to her -- as in ending up in jail. You are also worried about what could happen to you. And that's understandable.

Your girlfriend is aggressive. She reacts to conflict with anger and acting out -- both verbally and physically. And she has a low threshold for her anger. A stranger in a pub making polite conversation is seen as an enemy by her. She is trigger-happy with her rage.

Your girlfriend is, of course, responsible for her anger and for the way she behaves when she's upset. But there is also a problem in the dynamic of your relationship. She is the strong one. She is the one who does battle. She sees it as her role to defend you.

It seems to me you like that. Maybe you don't like exactly what she does, but you like the fact that she's the one who fights for you. In other words, it's not just that she has taken on this role, against your wishes. It's something you encourage, however unwittingly.

Like I said, you don't have the power to change her. You do have the power to change yourself. Check out why you tell her your woes. And check out the way you tell them. When you reported the sexual advances made by that acquaintance, did you let your girlfriend know that you had dealt with it? Or did you tell it like you were a helpless victim?

Did you appeal to her for help, even if only non-verbally. Did you sound weak, defenceless, scared?

You could also consider not telling your girlfriend about such situations at all. Do you understand? It sounds to me like you are playing with fire. Be careful.

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