Saturday, June 23, 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: Dad despairs at state of gender relations

Q: Day after day, we have new news of a famous man who has done unspeakably stupid and offensive things to women ... for decades. Society is, somewhat belatedly, starting to take these accusations seriously.But change is needed at the opposite end of...
Published: 06/22/18

Tell Me About It: Future in-laws are insisting on an open bar

Q: My fiance and I are getting married in my familyís hometown and my parents are hosting (and paying for) the wedding. My family are minimal drinkers. My fianceís large extended family is accustomed to weddings with full open bars.My parentsí initia...
Published: 06/21/18
Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Rainbow connection Pride weekend: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend in St. Petersburg, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coc...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanItís been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But heís about to make up for lost time. On Saturday heíll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18
Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Tyler Henry: Hollywood MediumTyler Henry, the so-called Hollywood Medium who stars in an eponymous E! hit show, is coming to town with a live show called "Life Lessons I Have Learned From the Departed." The soft-spoken 22-year-old has done readings f...
Published: 06/20/18
5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

1 Summer Plant Festival: If you think you canít get anything to thrive in Floridaís brutal summers, check out the vendors with fruit trees and advice on how to grow them, along with hundreds of blooming butterfly plants, herbs and tropical and exotic...
Published: 06/20/18

Tell Me About It: Wife punished after being victimized

Q: At a work happy hour, a male co-worker groped me. He later "apologized" with the qualification that I had been sending him mixed signals.Iím married, he has met my husband, Iíve never led him on. And when it happened I was incredibly clear that it...
Published: 06/20/18
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg Friday with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that ga...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Mom/daughter dynamic feels controlling

Q: I am afraid I may be a controlling mom of my young adult daughter, but we have a dynamic in which she seeks me out often, solicits my advice, and makes me too important in her life. I admit to offering that advice because it is hard for me to draw...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Regretting staying too long in bad romance

Q: I recently broke up with someone after two years. Even though there were things that bothered me while we were together, I would convince myself I was overreacting, he didnít really mean it, etc.Now that itís over, I feel like a fool for not havin...
Published: 06/18/18