I am dating someone who is sending me mixed signals. One day she says she misses me all the time, and the next day she gets angry at something that makes no sense and refuses to answer my calls and texts.
We’ve known each other for a long time, and we get along. We always have a good time when we are together. When things are good, they are great. But I think she is too sensitive. She suffered through a bad marriage right before we met, so maybe she is scared that I will also hurt her.
We speak about marriage all the time. But I am scared that if we get engaged, she might back out when she gets angry. My friends think that I should have a short engagement, so she will be too busy planning the wedding.
She is a nice person and liked by everyone. People comment about how lucky I am to date such a woman. She is the first woman I’ve felt this way about since I got divorced. And that was a long time ago. How can I do this right?
By Baila Sebrow
Your question should really be: Can this woman acknowledge when I am doing right by her? Trying to reason with someone who thinks that everything she does is right while the other person is always wrong is like banging your head against a wall and expecting it to respond.
You sound downright frustrated. Who can blame you? You are dating someone who appears on the outside to be the perfect woman. People assume that you should be counting your blessings for being in this position. It is as though they are implying that this woman is somehow superior to you. So, you naturally accept full responsibility for her wrath against you whenever she fancies it. Your reaction of subservience serves to feed her behavior further.
Being blamed for things about which you are clueless has the potential to destroy the highest self-esteem. So when she feels slighted by something, whether rational or otherwise, she likely has no problem putting you down and making you feel bad about it. You then try harder, and somehow that might even put her off as well. These things then become a vicious pattern of unhealthy interactions.
As much as you talk about wanting to please her and do things right in her eyes, it is doubtful that you do not feel any resentment towards her. Who wants to spend their life walking on eggshells? How do you even feel comfortable telling her about your day or what you had for lunch? With people who have a short fuse, you can never know what sets them off in the wrong way. Moreover, argumentative people find their cause in the most innocent comment or occurrence.
Whatever you think you have going on in this relationship, it does not appear to be healthy. And here is why. You’ve known her for a long time, yet do not understand her signals. You say they are mixed. However, I believe this woman is giving you concrete signals. She knows exactly what she is doing. This woman has you exactly in the place she wants you to be.
No one misses someone one day and then wants nothing to do with him the next. There is something off about such extreme sentiments. If this woman is coming from a bad marriage, as you say, she may be testing you. She might even want to anger you on purpose in order to see what your temperament is like under duress. Since you are still with her, you must be doing something right in the eyes of this woman.
The other possibility is that she is scared to get married again, and she may deliberately be setting up roadblocks so that you will eventually terminate the relationship. I am not saying that is absolutely the case, but these things do happen. When people are afraid of relationships, they oftentimes create situations that will cause the other person to run off. This removes the burden of responsibility in reestablishing their life with someone. Being that she is newly divorced, we do not know if she has such a track record.
If it turns out that she is afraid of having a permanent relationship with you, then you have every reason to believe that she might end up backing out of an engagement. A ring on anyone’s finger is no guarantee of anything, especially when dealing with any sort of instability. Your friends are giving you poor advice about rushing to the chuppah by means of a short engagement. Remember, people who really want out of a marriage manage to find a way to do that too. And that is the one thing you do not need in your life.
The other thought that comes to my mind is: I wonder if you are actually irritating her. Not on purpose, but perhaps you may be doing that subconsciously. It could be that you might be the one creating scenarios that make her angry. You do indicate that you think that she is too sensitive. Are you calling her out on issues that she is sensitive about? You need to do some personal soul-searching to figure all that out.
The way things stand right now, neither of you has any business contemplating marriage with anyone, especially each other. The first thing you need to do is get in touch with your own feelings and possibly even make peace with something in your past. Look into your previous marriage and what went wrong there. You indicate that you have been divorced a long time. What were your other relationships, if any, like? Those questions—and there may be more—are not something you can answer on your own.
Going through a divorce is devastating and earth-shattering for the people experiencing it. There are so many issues and loose ends that need to be tended to. There is rarely a complete healing in the fracture of a marriage. The victims of such circumstances are oftentimes left with the scars to remind them of what they had endured. And it does not matter who was at fault. Each ex-spouse is left with emotional debris to clean up.
Whether or not you sought the assistance of a therapist before or after your divorce, I truly believe you can benefit greatly from one now. There is much to be examined with regard to your relationship with this woman. If you care that much about her, be fair to yourself. You need to give yourself the opportunity to explore what is really going on and why.
If you and the therapist deem this relationship worth continuing and improving, my advice is for you and this woman to both join therapy together. She may refuse. If she had previously gone through marriage therapy, it is unlikely she will be eager to go that route any time soon.
I gather it is not in your nature to do so, but you will have to stick to your guns and insist that if she expects any sort of future together with you that it is in her best interest to work with a therapist she is comfortable with. You must stress to her that the bottom line is that if she agrees to therapy, it will potentially save you both from future discord.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com.
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