By Baila Sebrow

 

Question

I am dating this gal who always thinks that I am cheating on her. I am getting sick and tired of having to defend myself by telling her where I am, how long it took me to get there, who I talked to, what I talked about, what I ate, what, what, what, what… That is what I always hear.

You would not believe some of the questions she asks me. For example, if I tell her I have some emails to answer, she wants to know how many emails. I don’t count them! She wants to know who they are from and how I answered them. It’s ridiculous. If I get a call in the middle of our conversation, she goes loco because she thinks it is a woman calling me, especially if I don’t want to tell her who is calling me. I would tell her, but then she asks me a million questions about that person, and she never forgets anything! Then what happens right after she hears the person’s name is that this person suddenly becomes a big topic of our conversations. She will start asking tons of questions about that person’s life and it becomes like the biggest deal in her life. She also wants me to give up my social media accounts. I could give up Facebook, Instagram, and maybe Twitter, but I need my LinkedIn account for work. She is driving me nuts!

We know each other for a long time, and we plan to get engaged, so please don’t think that I am asking you if I should break up with her. I am not breaking up with her. My question is how I can get her to lay off me. Do you think that as soon as I get her a ring, she will get better?

Response

Are you asking if a ring can overcome or heal insecurities and idiosyncrasies? Absolutely not! On the contrary, such personalities feel more entitled and become empowered to continue their behavior. Once she has that ring on her finger, you can expect that whatever you feel is driving you “nuts” now will only be exacerbated when you declare your relationship officially permanent.

Since you do not express any endearing feelings about her, I am not sure if you are smitten by this woman or if you just want her in your life for whatever emotional needs she is otherwise fulfilling. My understanding is that you are complacent and accepting of this woman’s character, but you want to find a way to make whatever you have with her bearable for your nerves. For starters, it sounds like your lady friend might have too much time on her hands. You don’t say whether she works or is in school, but it is clear that she is not busy enough if she finds so much extra time to focus on other people. However, that is not the issue here.

You are in a relationship with a woman who possesses a jealous nature. Sure, you could try to reassure her, which I am hoping you made the effort to do. There are many people who are married to a jealous spouse, and it is not easy to live with somebody like that. Such people (victims) are subjected to interrogations every day of their lives. In most cases, even with all the proof in the world that their spouse is not cheating or doing anything else that might be bad behind their back, they still feel that they are being cheated on. Oftentimes, as in your situation, the jealousy extends further, to the point where she is so envious of whoever she hears about that she cannot move past it and needs to continuously turn that person into a main character in her life.

This woman cannot stomach anyone else that you associate with to the extent that she takes it many steps further and insists on gossiping with you about people you likely have little to do with. While people like this woman are plentiful in society, they are not the most attractive type of character to associate with. If you were just like her in personality, perhaps such a relationship could work well. There are couples where each feels insecure about the other, and somehow, as they feed off each other, they are emotionally satisfied. Regarding the gossiping, couples who are compatible that way can also fare well, if they are both big gossipers. You see that among friends who get along specifically because of their shared appeal for gossip.

The question you need to ask yourself is why you think that you are compatible with her. If she has any positive attributes, you failed to share that information in your letter. That makes me wonder whether you think she is a nice person to begin with.

It is not unheard of for a person to want to continue being in a relationship with somebody who is not nice or good to them. There are numerous cases where one spouse is nice and the other is difficult in many ways. Not only that, but as much as you protest that she is driving you “nuts,” does a part of you enjoy her feelings of jealousy where she makes you prove to her that you are not cheating on her? Does it give you a feeling of power? Let’s take it one step further. Is it possible that you are giving her cause for her behavior?

You are asking for advice on how to get her to “lay off” you. Unless you can find a way for her to recognize that her behavior is unacceptable and that you will no longer tolerate it, she will likely continue to do what she is doing, and you might as well expect that whatever is going on now will increase in intensity.

First, you need to ascertain beyond a shadow of doubt that you are not giving her cause for feeling insecure. If you inadvertently compliment another woman or if you compare her to somebody she feels inferior to, you must immediately stop. It is possible that she has low self-esteem and she may be fishing for approval that she is not getting from you. It’s also possible that she is not able to efficiently vocalize what she is feeling, so she reacts with extreme jealousy. Since you know her for a long time, you must be aware of what her life has been like in the past, and you might even have some clues as to why she acts the way she does.

If you want to help her, try to look at it from her perspective. No one enjoys feeling jealous. Although they typically do not show it, jealous people are in a lot of pain. They lash out because they do not have the ability to control their feelings of inadequacy and it overpowers them. In their effort to cope, such people will not just seek reassurance, but they will judge the person they are jealous of in order to highlight some negative characteristic. It sounds like that is what might be happening here.

From the way you describe your relationship, I do not think she feels that you are on her side. You might assuage her fears for a few minutes, but that is like putting a bandage on a gaping wound instead of stitching it up.

Try the following approach. The next time you communicate with the woman you are dating, tell her how you feel about her in positive tones. Praise her for whatever she is doing and has accomplished in her life. Make the effort to help her understand that whatever she is achieving or the way she looks is perfect to you, and that is why you are considering getting engaged and spending the rest of your life with her. Be firm in explaining that being loyal and committed in a relationship does not mean feeling as though you are defending yourself every day of your life. You both have the right to speak to people and utilize any social media platform, especially if it relates to work. Emphasize to her that she is putting you through extreme stress by questioning you the way she does, and that as much as you care about her, you refuse to live under such circumstances for the rest of your life.

She might get defensive and turn it around by claiming that you are the problem, and she might bring up situations that have happened in the past where she feels you deliberately tried to get her jealous. Again, all you can do is apologize for any inadvertent incident that has hurt her and promise to be more sensitive in the future. If the problem continues to persist, reach out to a therapist you can both see at the same time, who will not only delve into whatever other issues might be going on, but will also have the expertise to coach her on how to deal with her feelings. This professional should also help the woman you plan to marry to attain emotional maturity that will assist her in coping with jealousy by learning how to overcome her reactions.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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