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Please help me ATS - I can't understand/help my girlfriend

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posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 11:31 AM
I can completely relate to how she is feeling, because when I was younger, I felt the same way.

One doesn't get this way overnight. The destruction of one's self-esteem happens over time, usually as a result of childhood abuse (emotional or physical or both), teasing and bullying, and lack of support, typically from one's family.

The reason why you're seeing this behavior now is that, not only is the "newness" of the relationship worn off, but because you guys have been together long enough, she is having a hard time believing that you could love her just as she is. This is the curse of low self-esteem and the resultant depression: One will end up pushing away the very people who could help them.

You are in a no-win situation, because you can tell her that she's beautiful and that you love her 'til the cows come home, but since she sees it herself as unlovable, it doesn't ring true inside her head and so she cannot take it to heart.

What has taken a whole childhood to develop will not disappear overnight. In fact, it will probably never completely disappear. As somebody who not only has had to deal with this, but has also worked in the mental health field for years, I recommend that she gets some counseling to get at the root of her self-hatred. A good counselor is like a mirror, that helps the client to see the real issues.

Your girlfriend is quite lovely, but only she can fix herself. All you can do is suggest counseling and give her love and support. If she can't afford it, many counseling centers offer a sliding scale of fees based on what she can afford. She might also do well with books that deal with the subject if she resists talking about it with a professional.

Best of luck to you and her both.

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 11:33 AM

Originally posted by gatorboi117
reply to post by hotel1
All the replies about joining the gym are sound advice, also get the right amount of sleep, and eat healthy.

Were you medically retired because of a mental health issue? Do you both work full/part time

We've been together as a couple for 7 months, but we've known each other for years. We were friends first, before developing a romantic interest.

I always knew she was quiet and shy, but these issues with her self-image didn't really come around until after I returned from the Air Force. I was in the USAF for 3 months before being medically retired. Upon getting out, I noticed a significant change in her.

I honestly can't think of any reason why this was caused.

reply to post by rick004

She isolates herself. She has a few very good girlfriends that love her to death, but she seems to forget this and thinks everybody hates her at times.

reply to post by alldaylong

Thanks for the link! I'll look into it.

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 11:46 AM
Is the person in question a girl or a woman?
If a girl, I'd say dump her and say, NEXT!
If it is a woman, maybe she needs some help, not meds but some talking to.
Girl drama is something none of us need, but women can have justifiable problems.

Hope it helps

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 11:47 AM
reply to post by hotel1

The gym idea sounds great! We may have to try that soon, I love working out ... even though she hates it.

I was medically retired because they found a history of asthma on my medical records. I'm not effected by it, but nonetheless, I was disqualified. She still lives at home with her parents while she finishes her education, and I'm attending the community college in town while I work two part-time jobs.

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 12:12 PM
There is no way to really know without meeting her what her real problem is. I can personally only understand so much about a person by looking at them. Body language, voice inflection and other subtle things can't be picked up over a forum.

The best advice is to encourage her to seek professional counseling. The reason being that even though I could describe the method you should use to approach this issue, without a deep understanding of how the human mind works and what her specific problems might be you could really just cause more harm than good, possibly destroying your relationship. No matter what you do it very well might end, because she is clearly not emotionally stable. Its really an issue that whatever course of action one would take to help this girl its going to reach a breaking point, and when it does if you don't know what you're doing it can be far more detrimental than positive despite your best intentions.

One piece of advice is not to disagree with her though. Don't argue about what beauty is or isn't. Just listen to her attentively and with sympathy, and then tell her gently that you disagree and think shes very beautiful, and leave it at that. Then try to change the subject and do something fun or intimate like watching a movie. Cultivate the attitude that you not only know better, but are completely content in this knowing. You have nothing to prove because you are so sure of it, that it doesn't even matter what she says. You don't want to seem arrogant about it, and you don't want to try to convert her to your side.

Then you express this by OCCASIONALLY complimenting things she does or wears. You don't want to constantly be reciting a litany of why shes beautiful because it will lose its impact and meaning. Also while its certainly OK To tell her shes beautiful during sex it doesn't help her because every guy can say that while having sex. Compliment weird things "I like those shoes". You don't even have to tell her why you like them. Try to notice any small changes such as differences in hair style, or different nail polish color, and just state you like it, or it looks good on her, or whatever. Leave it at that. Remember YOU KNOW BEAUTY, you are the arbiter of whats beautiful and whats not, the God who created Beauty. You don't need to explain it to anyone, and you don't need to convince her to be on your side. Gods don't care what other people think!

The reason you take this attitude is to sow doubt on an unconscious level. When people argue about something it doesn't sow doubt but only animosity, also trying to convince people appears weak, but when people are "completely sure" about something, it not only appears strong but it seems like they really know what they are talking about, the image of strength in ones convictions without argument or debate can sometimes be the most powerful way to convert someone to your side.

Yet its impossible to ultimately say what the problem is. From the picture I saw of her what I saw in her eyes was someone who has experienced some kind of abuse that has effected her deeply. I could be wrong because its just a picture, but shes actually very beautiful.

What I saw in her was that she is a normal girl by appearances and also her family probably seems rather normal too. But there is something dark there in her past that needs addressed, and most likely you either can't or should not try to address it yourself. Attempting to do so could very well result in a catastrophic event, she might even try to hurt herself.

Don't ask her to get help when the issue is really bothering her, she can't see clearly then. When she seems to be in a normal state of mind go to her with your heartfelt and loving concern, and ask her to seek professional counseling. Tell her that you will be there to support her, to help her find a counselor she can trust, to even help pay for it if you really care about her that much. It might even help to get her friends on your side, but just be careful that its not a us vs. her situation, you don't want her to feel threatened but loved.

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 12:31 PM
Get a puppy. For YOU. Loyal,can be house trained,appreciates everything you do, and won't whine.

No engagement ring required either. Will also sleep at the foot of the bed,thus addtional covers for you.

No fancy restaruants,no monthly mood swings either.

I could go on and on.

Hope I helped. That's what we do on ATS,help each other.

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 12:35 PM
reply to post by gatorboi117

Would this have anything to do with intimacy issues?

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 12:56 PM
reply to post by Seventhdoor

I like the idea of hinting at her beauty subtly like that. I've done it many times, I'll just have to get better at it.
On the note of telling her she's beautiful during sex: we're waiting for marriage to have sex, so that opportunity is moot.

Now, this is just the stubborn male side of me, but I feel like seeking professional help will make things worse. Maybe I'm just stupid, but it feels like acknowledging that there is such an issue that she needs professionals to help her will make it worse. Am I wrong?

reply to post by bluemirage5

You may be onto something. She doesn't like doing intimate things. She claims it's because it makes her feel dirty, and she's waiting for marriage for that. But it's gotten to the point where MANY physical things she is not comfortable with.

posted on Nov, 6 2011 @ 02:34 PM

Originally posted by gatorboi117
reply to post by Seventhdoor

I like the idea of hinting at her beauty subtly like that. I've done it many times, I'll just have to get better at it.
On the note of telling her she's beautiful during sex: we're waiting for marriage to have sex, so that opportunity is moot.

Now, this is just the stubborn male side of me, but I feel like seeking professional help will make things worse. Maybe I'm just stupid, but it feels like acknowledging that there is such an issue that she needs professionals to help her will make it worse. Am I wrong?

Really it depends, you can't help those who don't want to help themselves. Being depressed, feeling self loathing and thinking you are ugly are not normal. So either she needs to work on figuring out why she feels that way or she needs to talk to someone who can help her do just that. Allowing it to continue will only result in prolonged suffering and possibly begin to culminate in other issues which would stem from seeking to ignore the constant pain. Yet you can't force her to get help. Suggesting it in a loving sense out of concern might result in her freaking out, but the freaking out itself will be indicative that there is a real and serious problem. Or she might agree, and seek help. She might just simply deny she needs help though, in which case you can't force it on her.

As for sex she actually looked like the type that was waiting for marriage to me, don't ask me how I know these things but I just do. People bear the marks of their experiences and beliefs, its in their eyes, in their style, in the energy they present to the world. After awhile you've seen enough to be able to spot these things right away. At any rate that being the case the problems might go far deeper. There are only a handful of reasons why a person waits in this society.

1) Extreme abuse. Sex = fear and pain so once they are no longer being abused they fear sex and so tell their lovers they are waiting for marriage. In reality they are afraid of any sex before or after marriage and this only comes up on the wedding night. Worse yet, it might not come up at all and the person might just bear the nearly unbearable psychological pain of having sex without having worked through these issues first, and it might go on for years depending on how deeply rooted they are.

2) Horrible body image. They fear rejection. They think they are disgusting and horrible and nobody would actually want them sexually. This usually stems from deeper issues as well, things rooted into them during childhood.

3) Indoctrination with an extreme religious view. Anyone in our society who really adheres to a view like this has been raised in a way that is in opposition with the societal trend. This means that they don't fit in and are basically outcasts from their peers. Hence low self esteem and such. They can't connect because all their friends are losing their virginity, but they are waiting for marriage. They can't interact with most men (or women) because most people want sex within a short period of time, a few weeks max. Furthermore most people who have been indoctrinated with these views have not been raised by balanced, healthy people. Usually one extreme view comes with a number of other extreme views, and some kind of emotional, mental or physical abuse. We need only look at the constant child abuse scandals of the church to see what such extreme views really result in. It doesn't result in God.

Of course from the point of view of the individual its not like this at all. Indoctrination is just a religious belief, and its completely moral to do so. Yet despite this fact, the reality of feeling different and separate will exist, a sort of social alienation can set in which is detrimental if not recognized and dealt with properly. I'm also not judging, I'm celibate and won't even enter into a relationship, though have had a few relationships and much sex before, I now follow (or do my best to follow!) some very intense spiritual precepts which are far beyond what most people will even do in a Biblical context.

The reason I make a distinction between this and indoctrination is that I consciously chose of my own free will to adhere to these things. Whereas indoctrination starts at birth and is more or less forced on a person by their family and other authority figures even if later they choose to keep following it. The choice was never really theirs so it can cause problems, especially in a world like ours.

posted on Nov, 7 2011 @ 09:59 AM
I often deal with this issue with my wife.

I generally just do something nice and romantic for her, for no real reason, to let her know how much I love and appreciate her, and that seems to help.

Flowers for no reason...a nice dinner for no reason...a card for no reason, etc.

Also helps to get out and do things with friends, have fun, and just not think about the bad stuff. Even minor escapism like TV, movies, or video games together can help.

posted on Nov, 9 2011 @ 08:35 PM
I don't think I can be much help on the body image side of things, but I may have a helpful suggestion when it comes to the lack of self-esteem.

You might consider creating a set of circumstances where she can 'win' each day and, without being patronising, praise her for doing well or just point out that she did something good, in case she didn't notice it herself.

Gradually she will get into the habit of succeeding at things or of noticing her successes. She may be very good at doing a lot of things but not put enough value on her achievements.

Some people take what they do for granted without fully realising how much they achieve in life and it takes someone else to mention it before they can say 'yes, I did good'.

It's about helping someone to get into a more positive frame of mind and helping them to focus on what's good about themselves.

I'm not sure that I've explained it very well, I'm trying to describe something that I've needed to do for myself because I can get a bit despondent. I need, sometimes, to look back over my life and pinpoint the good bits instead of wallowing in the bad bits. Occasionally my friend will thank me for doing something and I'll sort of brush it off 'that's ok' and probably change the subject. He'll look straight at me and repeat his thanks so it gets through.

I realise that I'm not addressing some of the issues that you are worried about, I think you're getting good advice from other people, but I'm hoping I can help with this aspect of her problem.

I notice you said something about having a typical male attitude to a problem in that if you address it that means you have to admit it exists and I totally understand that. This is, though, her problem and I'd ask you to support her if she shows any interest in getting professional help. She might need all your strength and support just to get her through the therapist's door. It really can be that difficult for some people to take the steps to get the help they need.

I hope things work out for you.

posted on Nov, 10 2011 @ 01:16 AM
reply to post by gatorboi117

I think I've kinda figured it out.

Go have a quiet chat with her father, man to man. I think he will give you some very good advice. Thats on the assumption your girlfriend has a normal loving relationship with her parents.

posted on Nov, 10 2011 @ 01:34 AM
I hope I'm going to help you here as I've suffered for many years on and off from low self esteem. Self esteem issues develop from a past experience or a build up of experiences. It comes from being hurt from comments, actions and sensitivity. And many women will develop low self esteem at some point in their life due to media pressure to look good, finding a partner and wanting to be attractive enough to keep him and self expectations on how you would like to look.
Many women do not see themselves in 3d. When looking in the mirror they see 2 dimensional and critique what they see.
Many women will look at a recently taken photo and go uhh! that's horrible, even though to us it's probably beautiful. We don't allow ourselves to look at our image in the same way others do because it is so sensitive to our feelings.
Your girlfriend is going through reassurance problems due to her relationship with you. Yes her friends will give her compliments but it's you she aiming her low self esteem at. And this may go on for a long period until in her mind she feels safe and secure.
It's taken me 5 years with my partner to realize I could look like a bag of pooh and he will still love me.
The conflicting self image feelings are uncontrollable at times, even though you know you are pretty and are told by many people, it's only when you have a feeling of security can it abate somewhat.
I bet she spends time looking nice and being nice and all this is for your approval.
In the end my loving partner made me dress in the worst clothes, wouldn't let me put makeup on or wash my hair, then he playfully straddled me on the bed, pinned my arms and went through every little imperfections on my body and spelt out in many words how it has never bothered him, how men don't notice on a scale like women do and then he told me all the things he loved about me and what little things turned him on and things about my personality that I wasn't aware of.I didn't know I had a lovely neck lol, I knew I had other good points but my neck? lol
See where I'm going with this.
She will turn her head away when your talking about her attractiveness, we are conditioned to do it as we are actually shy of our power to attract.
Give it a go, do it sensitively, little things, then work up and tell her things she might not know about herself.
Good luck sweety

edit on 10-11-2011 by sussy because: cus I'm a numpty

posted on Nov, 10 2011 @ 06:22 AM
It seems were now getting quite deep into this.
You said that she does not believe in/want intimacy before marriage.
I realise this is pretty unusual today, but if it is a deeply held belief I would consider it healthy. If you are planning to marry her I would advise you to cherrish her untill then, and not put any pressure on her. If however you believe it to be an excuse to avoid sexual relations examine your actions carefully to see if you are guilting her about it in anyway. I completely understand that as a young guy there seems to be a real big hurry for sex, but if you are honestly planning to stay together give her some time. Women, and girls find strength of character in a man very attractive you can demonstrate this in a number of ways, a good one is to arrange enjoyable things for you to do together resturaunts/movies/days out/ or home cooked meals for two, and then lead her by the hand both figuratively, and literally. Be very clean, and tidy, dress smartly, and keep working hard at your job, and studies. It is also true that women, and girls are often attracted to cads but I would suggest you try the gentlemanly approach properly first. If that fails then you can try the other option but remember it will involve doing things that are counter-intuative to everything you have ever read, or been told.

Best wishes

posted on Nov, 10 2011 @ 07:45 AM
reply to post by hotel1

You took the words right out of mouth

posted on Nov, 12 2011 @ 09:24 PM
Dunno if it's been asked or answered but has she got a history of mental illness?

I only ask because depression can do that to people, hits at random times and makes you wonder why anyone would even wanna know you and find it hard to listen when people try to help because it feels false.

Ask her mother if she's noticed your girlfriend acting like this before and if so, and if it does turn out she has depression, then I think it's all up to you and her mother because even as someone who suffers it myself quite a lot, even I don't know what would make her feel better because I haven't even figured out what could help me during an episode.

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