Relationship problems

[color=green]Mod Note: Split from Anti-Nagging Tactics, due to “nagging”. Change title as you see fit, Pulpwriter![/color]

(Apologies for the length of what follows, I’d intended this to be quite a short thing, but sometimes the words won’t stop coming. I’d meant to stick to nagging specifically, but the need to vent was overwhelming.)

Reading some of the posts here, I’m beginning to think I’ve been lucky - until now.

A quick bio; I’m living with my TW girlfriend in Taiwan, after having met her back in my home country where she was living and studying. I’ve been with her here for a few months. Much of that time has been marked by constant arguments, or complaints about my failings, or sullen silences, or constant nagging. Frankly, I’m not used to that kind of treatment on the basis of previous relationships.

And yet from when I met her up to recently it was sweetness and light, really, it was. It was utterly lovely. My friends couldn’t get enough of her. They thought I’d be nuts to let her slip away. A few months after we met she returned to Taiwan to start a job, so I came over for a couple of weeks to stay with her and, to be frank, make sure she was reasonably sane before committing myself further. Again, sweetness and light.

So I decided to come over here semi-permanently to be with her (with a view to us going back overseas at some eventual point).

Instead, it’s been getting bad enough I’ve developed a kind of fantasy of escape; it involves me getting on a jet back home, walking into a shop and walking out with an X-box 360, returning to my flat (never mind it’s actually currently rented out to an ex-girlfriend for at least the next couple of months), plugging the machine in and playing games and drinking beer effectively non-stop for the next 72 hours. Oh, and eating all that food that’s really really bad for me.

Let’s be clear, I have my failings. I could be more hygienic. My diet needs improving. I can be grumpy. I could pick things up more. I don’t mind having these things pointed out to me by her, because I figured this relationship would help me change; and I have. I wash things more, I do the dishes every night, I eat a lot more veg and fruit, whatever. All good, all thanks to her.

She’s had some terrible past experiences with relationships, and I mean terrible. It makes me careful to be as understanding as possible. I don’t hit her (anyone who does hit a woman deserves to go straight to hell), like at least one ex frequently did. I don’t play games with her head and tell her what a terrible person she is, like some have. I tell her how nice she looks, how proud I am of her, how happy she makes me.

Yet the reality appears to be that nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever apparently make that woman happy. Hence the nagging.

Here’s an example. She has a basketball. I am not a sporty person. I have no great interest in watching or participating in sports. She is, by contrast, reasonably sporty, likes rugby, used to go to a gym. By the way of getting out and having some fun of an evening, I suggested we take the basketball down to a local park and, I don’t know, just bounce it around and have some fun or something since I spend most of my day in an office chair in front of a monitor.

We went to the park. Over the next hour, I was loudly berated, lambasted and shouted at for:

• Not being able to dribble a basketball properly (despite my having a bad back and having never played basketball);

• For not wanting to stand and watch a bunch of other people playing basketball (because I just wanted to fuck around with a ball with my gf, for christ’s sakes, not ‘get tips on proper technique’;

• For not wanting to use a hoop in a court otherwise occupied by lean and strong kids in order to treat them to the sight of a balding shortsighted forty-something with a bad back attempting to put a ball through a hoop, a task which, I might add, I couldn’t manage when I was fifteen yet alone the age I am now;

• For not knowing who the hell somebody-else-or-other-is (a famous rugby player apparently);

• For ‘drifting along in life’ when in fact I’m a highly motivated, skilled and ambitious person working in the arts who’s been nominated for related awards;

• And so on and so forth. And let’s not forget the ‘piece de resistance’, that she ‘should have been going out with someone sporty’.

Which she has, by the way - gone out with someone sporty, that is - except he used to pick her up and throw her at the wall for looking at him funny, whereas I make her cups of tea, buy her flowers and rub her feet when she gets back after work.

Sometimes I’m the ‘best boyfriend she’s ever had’, other times I get hours of angry, pregnant silence. Then when I finally dig out what it’s about, it’s some statement I made I can barely remember. Oh, and let’s not forget the several occasions when arguments - some of them bad enough to make me feel physically sick - have wound up with her admitting she feels the need to destroy things when she feels too happy.

And let’s be even more clear; most of these arguments end with her apologising to me for her behaviour.

And then there’s the time she demanded access to my email in order to find out if I was cheating on her. Let’s be absolutely clear, this came flying out of the blue. There was NO reason for her to think this, and I do. Not. Mess around. I was berated and nagged over a 24 hour period into giving her my user details for my facebook account, something I still regret giving in to, so that she could then scan the contents of my mail for evidence of wrongdoing - none of which was present. And then she suggested I must have - wait for it - deleted the proof of screwing around before giving her my user details. Which is impressive, coming from a girl who just before she met me used to get off with her married Professor on a regular basis (this was okay, apparently, since she didn’t actually go to bed with him).

So when I read some of the statements here about nagging partners I wonder if I’m just too sensitive or stuck with a lunatic. I apologise when I’m in the wrong; I hang the washing up; I try and treat her well; I’m open to my own admitted innumerable failings; I came halfway around the world to be with her, far from all my friends; yet every couple of days something kicks her off again, some mild sign of irritation on my part, whatever, that leads to one of those interminable angry silences that always leads to some seemingly endless list of my faults.

So why do I stick around? Poor sap that I am, I’m in love with her, and I came this far because I believed I’d found someone I really did want to spend the rest of my life with. But there are limits, and maybe I’m reaching mine, even if the idea of returning home alone and without her feels like an absolute, gigantic admission of personal failure. I wanted to think finally I’d found someone I could be happy with, and we were - until I moved into her flat, and the mindboggling nagging began in earnest. So right now I wonder if it can really possibly work, or if I’m a bad person for wondering if she might really need to speak to a shrink about her self-confessed destructive tendencies.

All right. Sorry for venting quite so much, but after a morning kicked off by an angry several-hours-long silence and her hard, angry stares following a brief, half-awake exchange concerning what I should or shouldn’t be wearing that day (I can dress myself all on my own, thanks), I feel tired, wrung-out, emotionally distraught, when I should be feeling happy at sharing my life with a woman who can at her best be kind, sweet-natured, loving, and enormous fun. Maybe you can handle the nagging, but I wonder if I can.

  • PW

Ditch her.

There’s usually no right or wrong, good or bad. There is no failure. It just isn’t right.

Your situation sounds terrible. Whatever is good about the relationship seems to be cancelled by what is bad about it. You probably deserve better than that.

There are lots of girls/women on this planet. Find yourself another one.

Pulpwriter, I feel for you.

I am, like you, in a very difficult relationship, with much of the same woes as you.

Tricky.

Most folks say ‘walk’, all the more difficult when you love this person, and hope for better things.

Life is too short to put up with such nonsense.

Think about it.

There are plenty of other people to love.

PW, what you’re talking about is not nagging. Or at least, not all nagging. You’re talking about being a hostage to her emotional instability. My advice is, if you’re not going to end it outright, to move out. Get your own place. This will give you a chance for some peace and for living life on your own with your own privacy. It will help her see how destructive her bahavior really is and that you will not allow yourself to be manipulated. Trust me, if she finds that she can whip you whenever she’s feeling bad or irrational, and you’ll just come running back to sooth her, then she’ll lose all respect for you anyway.

If she agrees to get some real help for her distructive compulsions–perfectly normal for many Taiwanese and especially since she’s had such hurtful relationships before–then stick with the relationship. If she will not do this, and many Taiwanese will not because there is huge stigma attached to any kind of mental or emotional health issues, then move on–which will be easier if you’ve already moved out.

She phoned to apologise, which was nice. Then came home and started complaining when I wasn’t sufficiently quick to have a chat about her long day at work (I was reading a book and still somewhat wound up). Eh. Cue an hour and a half of questions about where I want the relationship to go, what am I here for, should we split up, etc, after which I gave up even responding and she stormed off.

I’ll let you know how it pans out.

Yeah, next time my wife tells me I’m driving too fast or reminds me to cover the pot when I’m cooking tomato sauce, I’ll be sure and divorce her right away :laughing: . Come on now, let’s not lump a clear case of emotional abuse in with a person having the gumption to make a suggestion once in a while. Nagging once in a while, something that many people do, and attacking someone’s character on a regular basis, something that far fewer people do, are two very different situations.

Pulpwriter, I don’t think anyone who reads your post will finish it without a sick feeling in the stomach. You sound miserable. What’s going on is emotional abuse, in my opinion. I think your girlfriend needs some professional help.

I’d invite you to consider that can actually break up with someone without losing your love for them, i.e. you don’t have to hate someone to make breaking up a good thing. I don’t see how you can contribute positively to any kind of healing process for your girlfriend when she’s got you on the defensive all of the time. You’re probably so drained by all of this that it’s hard to keep your own sense of well being afloat. It’s very sad that she’s this way, but there is probably not a lot you can do to help her, unless she’d be willing to go to a counselor openly and honestly, with you as a supporter.

You’ll decide what’s best for you and she in the end. What I’ve written here is just what Dr. Tomas recommends.

Pulpwriter,
It seems that housecat and a few others are giving some pretty good advice. No matter what your SO needs some professional help, and you just sticking around and taking it isn’t really going to help resolve her problems. Fair enough she’s had a horrible time from the sounds of it, but she needs to take some responsibility for her actions, just apologising and repeating is not enough. Have you checked out the community services centre’s web site? http://www.community.com.tw ? They have some excellent articles on such problems, which could be a start to you both talking this through with a view to getting her some help. They also seem to have some excellent counseling services, maybe you could go, together or individually to try these out. Perhaps the fact that it is a ‘foreign’ place might help if there are feelings of stigma. I believe that you just make donations in return. Anyway, all the info is on the website, I hope that it can be of help, and whatever your decision in the long term, at least you’ll know that you tried to get her some help.
I second that moving to a different place might be best for you, although she’ll be mad as hell, at least she’ll realise that you really won’t accept things the way they are, and maybe that will give her the push she needs to get to a counselor. Plus it will give you some time to really consider what you want/need to do.
Best of luck,
Kitkat

Well, I’ve had time to have a bit of a think. I’m going to stick around for a while, at least until, say, sometime in June/July and see if things improve or not. If they don’t, I can say I’ve given things a fair run for six months and go home. I did suggest the counselling thing as incredibly tactfully and gently as I could put it and gosh, didn’t that go down well.

(edited)

Concerning the idea of moving into another place in the meantime, or getting another room somewhere; it’s a possibility, but I need to watch my finances, and right now I’m not sure I could comfortably stretch them quite so far, unfortunately. Otherwise I would indeed do exactly that.

My approach right now is this; she’s been disastrously hurt in the past, and I think she might just be the perfect example of what happens when you don’t deal with things and pretend everything’s okay. I believe her actions are attempts to push me away in order to ‘prove’ I don’t really love her. Frankly my feelings have been put through the mill, so I’m going to just go for a)ignoring the complaints, and b)give her a hug and a kiss anyway like I never heard a damn thing, and simply not react. Let’s see how that pans out. I tried it last night, and it seemed surprisingly effective.

I’m always aware I can get on a plane and be back home within 48 or 72 hours if I really want to. I’ll do it if there’s no significant change between now and then, but not until June if possible at the earliest. I have this obstinate and possibly irrational need to see things through to an end, as it were.

To the poster who suggested you can break up with someone without losing your feelings for them; actually, I know what you mean. My last serious gf is renting my flat back home along with her fiancee. She had ‘issues’ too, in the form of a mild breakdown due to family issues and a whole range of problems arising from that including agoraphobia and other conditions that stopped her working for years. I went from being her boyfriend to her full-time unpaid carer and amateur counsellor in under six months. After that, the love was well and truly gone: our break up was subsequently stunningly amicable, and initiated by me, and I get on fine with her and her new guy.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as things develop. Even if I end up typing that post in several thousand miles from Taiwan …

I wouldn’t be too quick to make that assumption.

I can only speak for one Taiwanese woman… indeed, when Taiwanese taxi drivers discover that i am married to a Taiwanese gal, and they exclaim, “Taiwanese women make great wives! right?”, I always respond that I have no idea… I have only married one… …anyway, speaking of my Taiwanese wife, she is human and has her moments of anger with me, usually for good reason… but she was sweet as honey when I met her and she still is now, after 19 years of marriage.

I imagine that the same is true for as many other women, Taiwanese or otherwise, as it is not. I think its best, at any rate, to deal with your SO as an individual rather than as some sort of cultural phenomenon.

Anyway, good luck with your SO and with your situation. Hoping for the best for you.

Actually, you’re right. If I’d thought about it a little more before posting I wouldn’t have phrased it that way.

You think you have it bad? Try living in MY shoes for a while. I get nagged ALL the TIME by tash, and we’re not even in a relationship!

Seriously, I really hope you find your way through this one. There but for the grace of god, as they say. Stay true to yourself.

Actually, you’re right. If I’d thought about it a little more before posting I wouldn’t have phrased it that way.[/quote]
Yeah, women “change” when they get married in probably every culture.
And Tigerman is right to suggest to treat her as an individual (judging from your posts, you already are the kind of person who does that, so no worries there).

However, considering some cultural phenomena could be useful to avoid problems, or at least be prepared for the worst (which is not the same as expecting the worst in a person).
What I’m talking about is that in general (yes, I dare to generalize), Taiwanese women experience breaking up differently than we do. Based on the emotional instability you’ve already described, plus her backgroud with boyfrieds, her possible self-destructiveness in this relationship, your possible role in this as her “knight”… these all could set up the stage for something very painful and ugly down the line if/when you decide to break up.

I’m talking from personal, quite painful experience that has lasted for two and a half years and moving to the other side of the world has not ensured the end of it.

You could do a search on the term “psycho xiaojie”, which I hate to use because it’s derrogatory, but that happens to be the term that all the earlier references are filed under. I feel sorry for these women, they need help, but most of the time they can’t be helped and breaking away is the only thing to do.

You seem like a decent guy. It’s the decent guys that get in the worst mess because they can’t break away when things get bad for them.

I am an optimist and a positive person, so I am not in any way trying to think worst thing will happen to you and your girlfriend. I believe that a sensible, caring person like you can benefit from knowing what might happen, be aware of the cultural factor that might come into play, and use it to both your benefits.

Feel free to PM me any time, now or in the future, if you think I can help more.

Moderators, will you give this guy his own thread, already? Seriously, this stuff has been quite OT and he’s staying with us till July :slight_smile:

Pulpwriter:
Everyone changes when they get married or move in with someone. It’s a fact of being human. The question remains:
Is it a matter of degree or of actual substance, i.e. harmful personal tendencies.
I think you’re a brave chap to see it thru to the summer. I would no doubt do the same, if I felt so strongly as you seem to do. Listen to your heart, but in the end the brain knows: one must go with the gut.
If one is to live to fight another day, that it.
:uhhuh:
Best of luck, PW!

[quote=“pulpwriter”]Well, I’ve had time to have a bit of a think. I’m going to stick around for a while, at least until, say, sometime in June/July and see if things improve or not. If they don’t, I can say I’ve given things a fair run for six months and go home. I did suggest the counselling thing as incredibly tactfully and gently as I could put it and gosh, didn’t that go down well.

(edited)

Concerning the idea of moving into another place in the meantime, or getting another room somewhere; it’s a possibility, but I need to watch my finances, and right now I’m not sure I could comfortably stretch them quite so far, unfortunately. Otherwise I would indeed do exactly that.

My approach right now is this; she’s been disastrously hurt in the past, and I think she might just be the perfect example of what happens when you don’t deal with things and pretend everything’s okay. I believe her actions are attempts to push me away in order to ‘prove’ I don’t really love her. Frankly my feelings have been put through the mill, so I’m going to just go for a)ignoring the complaints, and b)give her a hug and a kiss anyway like I never heard a damn thing, and simply not react. Let’s see how that pans out. I tried it last night, and it seemed surprisingly effective.

I’m always aware I can get on a plane and be back home within 48 or 72 hours if I really want to. I’ll do it if there’s no significant change between now and then, but not until June if possible at the earliest. I have this obstinate and possibly irrational need to see things through to an end, as it were.

To the poster who suggested you can break up with someone without losing your feelings for them; actually, I know what you mean. My last serious gf is renting my flat back home along with her fiancee. She had ‘issues’ too, in the form of a mild breakdown due to family issues and a whole range of problems arising from that including agoraphobia and other conditions that stopped her working for years. I went from being her boyfriend to her full-time unpaid carer and amateur counsellor in under six months. After that, the love was well and truly gone: our break up was subsequently stunningly amicable, and initiated by me, and I get on fine with her and her new guy.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as things develop. Even if I end up typing that post in several thousand miles from Taiwan …[/quote]

There may be another thing at play here; she may be testing you or pushing you. I’ve had a lot of naggy and non-naggy (unnaggy?) moments in my history, too, and as many people here have said, it seems to be a way to deal with insecurity. It’s usually easier to deal with others’ faults if you’re feeling down to begin with…

After I broke up with an ex in a bad relationship, I found myself in another relationship before I was ready. (I later went on to marry the guy and we lived happily ever after, or something like that.) In the beginning, I was terrified of getting hurt again and in retrospect, most of my nagging and drama was probably intended to drive him away early enough that it wouldn’t be so painful later on. His response was to be firm with me (not abusive, but not taking any abuse, either) and to tell me to stop my shit. He would tell me that he loved me and that this was not achieving anything except to make both of us feel bad; if I wanted to discuss it rationally later, I was welcome to, but he refused to be a scapegoat for something unrelated to the topic at hand. Most of our fights in the early days were about my insecurities; how selfish!

It may not work for everyone, and I understand that this woman has issues and that you feel for her, and probably love her, but allowing her to emotionally blackmail you is not adding anything to either of your lives. If there is a future for you, she needs to get help before she drives you away for good.

Just my two cents.

best of luck you.

Pulp,

I’m trying to get my mind around the dating/relationship scene here in Taipei and it’s hurting my brain. A lot. Maybe I can try to fill in some cross-cultural observations.

The average relationship here in greater China (defined as Han Chinese areas of the 1949 diaspora) is pretty nasty for women. Men do not have a concept of emotional discourse and interaction with their girlfriends/wives. After the inital honeymoon period, most relationships devolve into a very pragmatic working relationship nearly devoid of any romantic interest. And this is if the woman is farily lucky. If she isn’t, her husband will cheat on her, abuse her and basically treat her like crap.

[quote]…And yet from when I met her up to recently it was sweetness and light, really, it was. It was utterly lovely. My friends couldn’t get enough of her. They thought I’d be nuts to let her slip away…
…I’ve been with her here for a few months. Much of that time has been marked by constant arguments, or complaints about my failings, or sullen silences, or constant nagging. Frankly, I’m not used to that kind of treatment on the basis of previous relationships… [/quote]

This is a big place where Chinese culture differs markedly from western culture. You’re going to have to give me some latitude here because I’m painting in massive strokes of generalizations. Chinese culture has an external, public face. It’s called mianzi. This public face has nothing to do with the real person underneath. For example, the genial, polite gentleman in public can be hiding a wife/child beater with 3 girlfriends underneath. The Chinese have two personalities. There is a public personality and a private personality. The public personality is very wrapped up with appearances (mianzi). Another mass generalization is that passive-agressive behavior is considered rude in the west. Here in greater China, it’s considered a polite form of social interaction the allows the presevation of face (mianzi). In contrast, westerners have a much more homogenous personality and think passive-agressive people need therapy.

The average guy here isn’t exactly a model of masculine hotness. However, if you’re girlfriend has a deep-seated urge for the hotness, you’re going to have to get in shape. Again, let me talk about mianzi. Your appearance directly affects her mianzi. When she’s seen with you, it affects the public image she wants to portray. You’re going to have to figure out how important this is to her and how you’re going to deal with it.

She seems to really value the sportiness, or good-looking things. Even enough to tolerate getting beat on for awhile. A lot of women here are very pragmatic. The want certain material possesions and social standing (again, mianzi). As for the sporty guy, I really think there’s a lot of roid-use here. I run into guys in the gym who are more ripped than me and they admit to doing nearly no exercise (I used to put in 3-4 hours of cardio and weights and sparring a day) but they are so much more cut and built, roid-rage kinda makes sense with the domestic violence, but the violence may just be par for the culture.

Two things. First, the relationship isn’t going to change you. YOU are going to change you. Second, what I see is this. She deeply likes your emotional attachment. Her chances of finding someone so emotionally supportive and attentive to her needs is just about nil with the local male population. However, she doesn’t like what you’re doing to her public image for whatever reason. She can’t reconcile the two and is acting out. “Yet the reality appears to be that nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever apparently make that woman happy. Hence the nagging.”

Back to the material pragmatism and mianzi. If it don’t bring home the bacon, preferably in a very loud and obvious way that the neighbors can gawk at, it’s going to be a minus for you. This is not the west. A lot of the women here are very, very concerned with material items in a very pragmatic way. The security of a good income to raise the kids is what they’re going to be depending on when hubby is off cheating with younger women.

You’re in greater China now. The women here say that cheating isn’t bad. Only 50% or so. I personally feel it’s in the 70-80% range. But in anycase, men cheating on women is an endemic problem here. The women here are extremely huiyi (suspicious). A new girlfriend will ransack everything you own (often done so politely that you don’t notice) looking for evidence of other women. The cheating is endemic and the women have developed an incredible sense of suspicion as a result. It’s not a matter of trust. They simply can’t believe you’re NOT going to cheat on them.

I’d recommend a MMORPG if you really want to do something self-destructive. World of Warcraft is my first choice. But seriously, if you need a break, take it to get your head straight.

This is a completely different culture than the west. 4000 years of mutual isolation, 200 years of cultural inferiority (white guy with a local woman has ramifications beyond belief over here) and you’re jumping into the thick of it. I’m an ABC which gives me a primer into the inner workings, but the differences still make my brain hurt, especially when dealing with romantic relationships here.

Apologies to my brethern for any over generalizations and stereotyping. But Pulp’s girlfriend sounds like she’s on the extreme end of many cross-cultural differences between east and west.

The horror, the horror. I was in your shoes at one time. Ouch, sucks ass when you fly across the world to find out what we had to find out. I had no warning signs whatsoever. Shocked the piss out of me, my friends, etc, who told me the same thing your were told… No regrets here though, but it was and still is an exciting experience. Yee-haw.

Crap, there’s a lot to absorb here. I never realised my original post would get so many replies, or resonate in the way it clearly has with some. There are things people have said here that sound familiar. I’ve hardly been here for any time at all, and I don’t think I could really draw any generalisations based on my experience without being here for a long, long time. Nonetheless, I wonder if I recognise elements of my situation in what people are saying.

I’ve decided to just not kowtow to the way she wants things, even if it might make her incredibly difficult to live with, just on the offchance she might change or relax. If she doesn’t, and she becomes impossible to be around, then … well, maybe it’ll be all that much easier to call it quits in that case.

Here’s to being a guy; to leaving the dishes to the end of the night; for leaving my shoes lying around; for not getting caught up in ‘casual’ questions about whether it’s all right for her to email an ex of hers since, well, I’m getting emails from my ex even though she’s renting my freaking flat from me and has to contact me, and she’s been engaged for two years; here’s to slobbing around and watching tv; here’s to beer; to not picking up after yourself on demand. It’s great being a guy. I’m going to be one again, instead of some fucking whipping boy. Let’s see who breaks first.

I did the kowtowing thing for a couple of years cause I refused to carry the tradition of my, cannot keep a wife, father’s side of the family, but finally said f*ck it. I just couldn’t take the shiat anymore, and I guess I am now on my way to carry on my family tradition. 1 divorce down, 5 more to go in order to catch up with my grandad (79 and just got married for the 6th time to a women 30 years younger). Not a bad life I suppose, he is happy and healthier than most 40 year olds I meet. He credits beer, women, and chilis for this

But enough of the rant, my apologies, but back to the point: As for people with our situation happening, while I have met some such as Tigerman and Sandman who have great marriages, I have also met others who met the “soul mate” back home, but upon arrival on this island things start to go a little haywire as soon as you hop off the jet.

There is something about the change, not sure what it is therefore I will not try to analyze it, but in my case shit changed really quick when I got here. And I have heard this from quite a few guys and gals who met their ex’s back home and followed them here.