Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Frustrated partner must be honest in dealing with oversensitive girlfriend

Treat oversensitive girlfriend to a bracing dose of honesty

Q: How do you handle oversensitive people? I am about to break up with my girlfriend because I can't take it anymore. I can hear you asking if it's me — and believe me, it's not. I've never had to deal with this before, and everyone in her life feels she has a problem with this. It's even affecting her work; she got in a snit because her boss put her name last in an email chain a few times; she decided he hated her, and she acted in a passive-aggressive manner with him. He was (ticked). I was flabbergasted when she told me why she was upset.

Trying to gently discuss the issue leads to defensiveness and then a couple of days of moody pouting. I'm ready to bail, but is there any way someone like this can change? I know most of it stems from insecurity about growing up in a family of academics and struggling in school. I'd love to help her, even if we don't stay together. She's sweet and loyal, but this is causing problems in all aspects of her life, including keeping female friends.

Anonymous

A: The best way to handle oversensitive people is to do exactly what you least want to do: Be honest. Walk right through the pouty trip-wire.

For example (calm voice, not angry): "You acted out at work over your place in the address list of an email? If I were your boss, I'd be (ticked), too. This isn't a rhetorical question, because I genuinely want to know: What did you think you'd accomplish?"

And: "You think (Friend/Colleague) was being (something terrible), but I think it's at least possible she (alternate explanation). Do you think maybe you jumped to the worst-case conclusion?"

And: "When you respond to my concerns with pouting, I feel annoyed and frustrated. It's affecting the way I feel about you. It also acts as a deterrent: It's getting to the point where I'd rather not say anything than risk a three-day funk, and how is that good for either of us?"

And: Suggest she try therapy, please.

And: Realize these appeals to logic and self-awareness are a temporary strategy; you're not the outrage police.

Flip side, you can't keep doing what you'd rather do: tiptoeing, avoiding, editing everything you say, "trying to gently discuss," dodging, dodging, dodging. As you've seen for yourself, that merely wears you out and props her up — with false assurance at that.

Even breaking up at this point would be a dodge, since you won't have preceded it by addressing your frustration head-on. If it's time to break up, then by all means, do it soon — but tell your truth first.

"Helping" someone undergo a personality change is a nonstarter, but the idea of letting someone know that certain behaviors won't fly — and breaking up when nothing changes? That's well worth supporting, especially since you've already done the hardest part: You're ready to go.

So, first try those honest responses to her snits.

If you aren't happy with the result, then break up. Explain that the amount of time she spends upset about things — note the quantitative measure, much harder to dispute — affects your quality of life. Say you're sorry, you've appreciated her sweetness and loyalty — and let her suggest you stay friends.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Addressing the party no-show epidemic

Q: My family recently celebrated our son’s birthday. We had a number of guests RSVP "yes" to our invitation who not only didn’t show, but also didn’t even have the decency to contact us to let us know. It’s been a week since the party.This left us wi...
Published: 04/24/18

Tell Me About It: Sister’s remark is a teaching opportunity

My husband’s sister, "Kate," is expecting her second child. They have a 3-year-old girl. My husband and I have two girls, 8 and 6. At our house this week, Kate talked extensively about her hopes that this next baby is a boy. Some of her reasons are c...
Published: 04/23/18

Tell Me About It: Mom fears she has discussed sex too soon

Q: This week I was in a discussion with a bunch of other third-grade parents about what our kids know about sex. The vast majority of these parents said their children were "clueless" and they wanted to maintain their kids’ innocence. I was one of th...
Published: 04/22/18
Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — HGTV fanatic that he is, Spencer Chamberlain sees a metaphor for his band in the ever-evolving St. Petersburg skyline."When you go downtown and you look at the ONE, that used to be a dirt parking lot," said the singer, referring to a...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of April 23-29

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of April 23-29

St. Anthony’s Triathlon: World class athletes and Olympians race around St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park on Sunday ($160-$180), while kids and novices race Saturday in the Meek and Mighty. A free kick-off celebration Friday has a concert by co...
Published: 04/23/18

Tell Me About It: Family reconsiders taking group trips

Q: Should there be expectations about taking vacations/trips with other family members? We have two issues:(1) We have three kids, including teenagers, and my brother and wife have two kids. The younger is 6. My wife and I find it hard to plan someth...
Published: 04/20/18
On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

ORLANDO — When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened 20 years ago, it was light on thrills and heavy on conservation. On April 22, 1998, Earth Day, the Orlando park had a single thrill ride, Countdown to Extinction, and a handful of shows like ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Tell Me About It: How to deal with conversation dominators

Q: We have a few relatives, including a sibling, who we don’t see or hear from often, as we are busy or live far away. We meet over a meal or for an hour or so, or at family gatherings requiring a drive, and I am so frustrated that they dominate the ...
Published: 04/19/18
Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

PURE NIRVANA: Foo FightersDave Grohl may be America’s last unquestioned rock god. He’s played with Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Page, Tom Petty and Trent Reznor and St. Vincent, and he also leads a pretty decent group — perhaps you’ve heard of them — called...
Published: 04/18/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Plan your weekend: Kenny Chesney, ‘The Producers’ in the park, Mainsail Art Fest, Sugar Sand Fest, Earth Day

Plan your weekend: Kenny Chesney, ‘The Producers’ in the park, Mainsail Art Fest, Sugar Sand Fest, Earth Day

The top things to do April 20 to 22 in Tampa, St. Petersburg and the whole Tampa Bay area.
Published: 04/18/18