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Balancing my emotions with my girlfriend's?

Discussion in 'Family, Friends, and Relationships' started by amylase, May 27, 2018.

  1. amylase

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    Hey, I need some advice, and this is my first thought on where to go.
    I've been with my girfriend for over a year, we're in high school, and we've both helped each other through some rocky things (divorce, being outed, etc). it's a good relationship and we're not awkward and very open and honest. i always want her to tell me her feelings, because i'm a blunt person so of course I do the same. because of her mother's lack of parenting skills, she feels scared to share her feelings (even pretty harmless ones) in fear of anger being directed towards her. we made it over this obstacle, by me reassuring her many times that not everyone treats people like that, and that it's wrong to feel like you should constantly be silenced.

    but as of recently, she's been venting about everything. her parents are going through a messy divorce, she is forced into doing many things she doesn't enjoy, that take away from time for sleep/studying (her parents want it to look good for college), and her brother conflicts with her. although i'd love to be here for her, and just let her express everything she needs to say to vent, i can't. my brother's stepfather committed suicide thursday and i'm finding it hard to be happy in general. her venting is frequent and it is emotionally draining to me, i feel like i am drowning in my problems and her problems just weigh me down more.

    i don't want to shut her down due to the fact that we are working on her being comfortable with being open, but how can i handle my problems and at the same time hear her out/help her?

    (and also she is being a good sport about all of this, she is not forcing me to take on her problems, but i just want a good solution for us)

    tldr; my girlfriend vents to me so much that i can't process my own issues as well as hers, yet i don't want to deny her feelings because she has trouble feeling comfortable expressing them anyways.

    thank you guys for any advice :slight_smile:
     
  2. Loves books

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    If you want things to be open in your relationship shouldn't you be open to her about your feelings. Tell her that her venting on you is making you feel so bad and suggest she vent online. Loads of people do it.
     
    #2 Loves books, May 27, 2018
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
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  3. PatrickUK

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    Venting is good, isn't it? Well...not necessarily.

    It's great that you have worked on communication with your girlfriend and she is now more open with her feelings, and from time to time it's healthy to just vent off and let go of all of the angst, but venting and venting and venting will achieve nothing in itself. Alongside the venting needs to be some thought and consideration about moving forward. For example, I used to vent a lot about my old job. I felt overworked and underpaid and I would moan about it incessantly without actually doing anything to change it. It's only when I vented myself into action (changing jobs) that there was purpose to it.

    I think you maybe need to steer girlfriend into venting with purpose. You hear what she is saying, so what does she intend to do about it? In your desire to achieve more openness with her, you perhaps failed to understand that she might just end up... moaning. Obviously, you shouldn't tell her she is moaning because that would unravel the good work that you have both put in over the last year, but you need to get her to use the venting in a productive way - as a step to action.
     
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  4. amylase

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    thank you both <3. i kind of hit a brick wall as far as my solutions went because i was just emotionally drained. this helped a lot. i'll try talking to her.
     
  5. smurf

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    I usually would agree with everyone above, but the thing about people like your girlfriend is that is hard to not "scare them" back into silence. You have to learn how to set your own boundaries while also making sure she knows how to tell when she is being too much.

    So for example, she might think "SEEE I knew I shouldn't tell you anything because I'm just a burden". What you can do is to be completely honest with her (including the part that you are afraid she will stop communicating with you) AND then come up with ways that you will let her know when its too much but that otherwise you will be there to listen to her vent.

    A thing that I have done with friends is "Hey, I hear you and I'm also going through a lot. So much in fact that I think we need to stop talking about it and come up with ways to get rid of this pent up emotions" That way you can make her part of the solution while teaching her (and yourself) that is okay to vent and also at one point we must take action to either solve the problem or learn to cope with it in healthy ways.

    An idea that seems to work is get together and write all your thoughts into a letter. After that make a fire and burn your letters together with the intention of letting those things go

    Have you thought that maybe you aren't good at relying on other people for emotional comfort?

    A thing that you can do is express to her in how much pain you are right now and that you need her to help you soothe. Tell her that you need her to help you handle your emotions. Make her part of the solution. Tell her that you are in so much pain that you can't handle thinking about anything else. I can almost guarantee you that she will stop telling you her own problems until you feel better. If she doesn't then let her know what you need.
     
  6. amylase

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    this is exactly what she said to me when i brought this up. thank you for also pointing this out, i think i could definitely work on this myself. i have a lot of walls up around my parents for various reasons and sometimes i translate that into our relationship, because i feel insecure when i can't handle my own emotions and not bother anyone else.

    does anyone know good ways to start handling the issue of being emotionally trusting? i think it'll do me good to work on this.
     
  7. smurf

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    So usually this happens not because of a lack of trust, usually, but because we have built our self-wroth on being able to be the friend/brother/son that people can rely on. We like to feel needed, being helpful, and making sure people around us are being taken care of. And all of that is great, but when your self-esteem is completely tied to that fact then asking for help and letting people know you can't help them starts feeling like failure. That is where it gets tricky.

    You have to find what works for you. For me, complete and honest communication is crucial. I have to push myself to tell someone "I need help...somehow". It also helps if you training yourself to see your worth as a given rather than something that you get only when you are being helpful. I would suggest starting with getting familiar with the work of Brene Brown. Watch a TED Talk of hers. If you like it and it hits home at some point, I would highly suggest you check out her work and books. She is really good and walking you through learning how to be vulnerable and training yourself on how to feel worthy without hustling for it. She is a researcher by trade and shes rally good at taking all that research and making it easily accessible to other people so its less your usual self-help crap.

    To start with, share with your girlfriend your struggle. Let her know that you know this is a problem, that you want to fix it and that a long the way you will need her help. Try to be as upfront with your emotions as you can and trust her to show up for you.