However, sometimes she treats me poorly on account of how she feels. She’ll make catty remarks, snap at me, etc. I know she doesn’t mean any of it, but it’s hurtful and unfair. I don’t know what to say or how to act. I tell her that she’s gorgeous and I’m proud of her, but that makes about as much difference as a raindrop to the ocean. I have this weird mixture of sympathy and resentment that she doesn’t see herself, me, or our relationship the way I do. I feel like it’s easy for me to talk, because I’m satisfied with my life. And then I get upset that I feel guilty for being content. It’s a losing game.
Complicating all of this is the fact that I have a chronic, progressive disease. My golden years are already over, and knowing that I’m heading downhill gives me a good perspective when it comes to appreciating what I have. Sometimes I’m tempted — I mean REALLY tempted — to bring up my impending decline when she’s being mean, but that wouldn’t help either of us.
What the heck should I do? — Green-Eyed Monster Bait
No, don’t bring up your health when she’s being mean, but you could bring it up when she’s not being mean. Like, maybe when things are going well, you could open a dialogue about appreciating all the good things you have going for you, including your relationship, because your illness has given you perspective you may not otherwise have and you know how quickly things can change. You could then remind her that, while on the outside your life may look perfect and may incite envy, you still have to deal with things — like a chronic, progressive disease — that most other people your age don’t.
I also wonder if perhaps your girlfriend is more aware than you think she is about your condition and she’s feeling anxious about the thought of losing you/ seeing you suffer. If she’s in love with you, the idea of watching you decline is probably something very scary to think about. It’s possible that this envy is displaced emotion. Maybe it’s easier to envy you or even be angry with you than it is to fully embrace the thought of missing you.
Regardless, it’s time for you to have a heart-to-heart with her about the way she’s behaving. If your golden years truly are behind you — and I’m so sorry to hear that that’s the case — then you deserve to spend what time you have left living to the fullest, not nursing someone’s low self-esteem. If your girlfriend is treating you poorly, you need to let her know that that has to stop. She needs to quit making you pay for her inability to get a grip on her own emotions. It’s not right.
And if she can’t stop, you should probably MOA. I know you care about her and you say you have a loving relationship. But the resentment you describe will only build up over time and chip away at whatever happiness and love you feel toward your girlfriend. There are probably better ways you could spend you limited time than dealing with an emotionally-draining relationship.
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Sunshine Brite February 4, 2013, 9:13 am
WWS. I wouldn’t give her much of any time to turn around though, especially since you say you’ve lived most of your life already. Spend your time with people who provide positive energy. You don’t need to hold onto something that doesn’t necessarily work. I never like to hear about the jealousy component in relationships, it makes me think that some form of control is taking place. This includes that self-imposed control where you might stop telling her the good things and play up how stressed you’ve are which is something I’ve seen friends do.
kerrycontrary February 4, 2013, 9:21 am
WWS, but I think your girlfriend sounds a little insecure and immature. If you only have another 20 years on this planet, do you want to waste one minute with someone who is making you feel bad about your success? Spend time with those who lift you up.
katie February 4, 2013, 9:31 am
WWS, but i have to say i highly doubt that she is a jerk sometimes because of mis-placed emotion… i bet she is just insecure, doesnt know how to be proud of anything less then “perfect”, doesnt know how to handle those emotions, and doesnt know how to be happy for someone else who has the things she wants. pretty immature, if you ask me.
zombeyonce February 4, 2013, 11:57 am
I agree that it doesn’t seem like misplace emotions but insecurity. The girlfriend sounds like a great candidate for therapy to help her accept herself and not compare herself to LW in ways the LW doesn’t care about.
Lemongrass February 4, 2013, 9:44 am
WWS. I’d leave sooner though, spend your time with those that will show you their love for you in a clear and affectionate manner. That applies to everyone but it is even more important in your case. I’m sorry about your disease.
Fabelle February 4, 2013, 9:46 am
If you & your girlfriend are not, on a basic level, viewing the relationship the same way (you see it as healthy & loving; she sees it as an imbalance that highlights her perceived flaws), then I’d normally say to just move on.
However, this is a unique situation, & I think Wendy may be right that your girlfriend is misplacing her emotions. How long have you two been dating? You seem to imply this is a recent development, right? What kinds of snappish remarks does she make (like, is the content super harsh?)—& does she apologize after? The relationship might be worth saving, depending on what the answers are for those questions.
Your appreciative, laid-back sort of perspective definitely comes through in your letter, which is great, but just make sure you’re not being walked all over.
Oldie February 4, 2013, 10:15 am
What Wendy and the others have said makes sense. One other thing to consider is whether your gf’s jealousy is the result of an imbalance of control in your relationship. Do you and your gf have a relationship of equals or does she feel like she is the second banana and you make most of the decisions. If so, the jealousy is a reaction to your positive attributes which put her in the secondary position of needing to constantly prove herself worthy of your love and esteem. You say that you are totally happy with her, apart from the jealousy, but if you don’t act as though she is an equal partner in the relationship, then she is naturally going to have issues and insecurities which translate into jealousy.
katie February 4, 2013, 10:25 am
oh yes- and i would take this into consideration especially with money. people do crazy stuff when they feel weird about money…
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 10:48 am
This is a really good point. I was with a guy a few years ago who was really well-to-do thanks to a massive trust fund, and while some of the tension was due to insecurity and unhappiness on my part (I was in a really bad place), some of it had to do with the fact that I felt like I couldn’t make any of the decisions about where we went and what we did, because I couldn’t pay for any of it. And on top of that, he didn’t really get what it was like to be broke – he whined about staying over at my place because it was shitty, so I had to stay over at his place if I wanted to spend the night with him…and even then he would whine about how early my alarm went off because well, really honey, I just prefer to sleep till 10 everyday…as if I was getting up at 5:30 to get to my shitty $11/hr job just to make his life difficult. And it just made sense – his stuff was nicer, he slept better in his own bed, he didn’t have to get up and leave to go home…except I missed my tiny apartment, didn’t sleep well in his bed, and had to get up half an hour earlier to get to work from his place.
I doubt you’re that much of an asshole, but think about how many decisions you make based on what you want (is she afraid to ask to eat someplace new because she can’t pay?) or what’s convenient for you, or whose stuff is nicer, because that might be where some of this is coming from. But even so, don’t let her treat you like shit, rather than say something straightforward about it.
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 10:24 am
I get so tired of insecure people who use their inability to cope with their insecurities like adults as a way to make things all about them. Because your girlfriend cannot trust you enough to believe that you’re with her because you want to be, you spend your time talking her down and reassuring her. She gets ego strokes, and you spend your time apologizing for being successful. She gets a free pass for being thoroughly unpleasant, sounds like, and isn’t held accountable due to how badly she feels about herself. Even if this is about how worried she is about you, I’m not really sure why you’re required to put up with her bad behavior – you’re the one who’s dealing with the direct effects of your condition. You’re not sick just to spite her – that is so massively unfair.
My boyfriend has done some similar stuff – he has neglected to do something around the house or done something thoughtlessly hurtful (like you inevitably do at some point in any relationship), and when I pointed it out, especially when we first started dating, he would get all “Woe is me, such a bad boyfriend, piece of shit, asshole, blah blah, wahhhh,” and of course when someone you love talks about themselves like that, the natural response is to tell them no you’re not, you’re wonderful, etc. But then I realized I was comforting him for something he’d done that had been damaging in some way to me. I finally had to tell him, “Look, it’s not fair that I have to deal with your being a thoughtless jerk AND your guilt. Your guilt is your own responsibility, and if you can’t deal with it yourself, talk to someone who isn’t screwed over by this.” I felt like an asshole, but only because he’d shuffled his guilt off on me. Don’t let your girlfriend make you responsible for what she sees as her inadequacy.
Christy February 4, 2013, 10:28 am
Oh, painted_lady, you’re the best.
LW, read this tough love for you and your gf. It’s spot-on.
theattack February 4, 2013, 10:49 am
I think your advice to the LW is really good. But I have to ask: Do you think your boyfriend could possibly be looking for forgiveness when he acts like that? I behave the exact same way as your bf whenever my fiance points out something I’ve done wrong, I then try to fix it, and he doesn’t say anything about it. It almost feels like he’s still mad at me even if he shouldn’t be, and I would just like some acknowledgment that he’s not mad about it anymore, or that I’ve done enough and the ordeal is over. I act that way because I care about whether or not I’m a shitty fiance, and I want to make things right – not make it all about me. Does that make sense at all?
katie February 4, 2013, 10:55 am
i think the difference comes in a conversation framed as “are we ok? i am sorry i did what i did, are we past this?”, ect vs. “omg im the worst boyfriend/girlfriend/person in the world, you must hate me, you should just leave me because im worthless”, ect. one is all about you, one is about the relationship, and so if your end game is to fix what went wrong, that is about the relationship, not you.
i would respond much better to the first conversation then the second. but, i hear you on wanting “closure” or whatever after something happens- just something to acknowledge that you did something shitty, you are sorry, and that your partner forgives you and still loves you.
theattack February 4, 2013, 11:04 am
Good point. That’s really interesting. I think I get too emotional to respond in a reasonable way like what you said. I definitely like your approach better, but my response comes off more as the shitty way. haha I didn’t even realize I had a problem, but thanks for solving it, katie!
MMcG February 4, 2013, 3:46 pm
Yes, the hyperbole to make you/impulse you to be reassuring… which then puts the focus back on them. Instead of just some honest “I sucked doing X” it becomes “I’m a terrible person… WAAA” — it’s a nice passive aggressive dodge when you really look at.
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 11:00 am
He does ask for forgiveness. But most of the time, I’m actually like, “Dude. It happens. No big deal!” but then he does just go on…and on…and on…and half an hour later I’m still reassuring him that he’s not the Worst Boyfriend Ever for leaving the pantry door open and oh my god, why are we still talking about this, let it go.
And there was one particular incident of rather supreme shittiness where I was nothing short of traumatized, and yet he was so busy beating himself up he had nothing left to actually reassure me and make me feel better while I was crying and unbelievably hurt. There was nothing available for me, even though I was really hurt, because he was so busy making it about him.
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 11:05 am
Btw, leaving the pantry door open is only a big deal because bad dog + open pantry = trip to the grocery store to replace all the food.
Taylor February 4, 2013, 11:30 am
This sounds so much like the dynamic I have with my husband. I just twitch whenever he says something like “I get it, I am a terrible husband”, which, btw, I NEVER say. I am going to try and memorize this: “Look, it’s not fair that I have to deal with your being a thoughtless jerk AND your guilt. Your guilt is your own responsibility, and if you can’t deal with it yourself, talk to someone who isn’t screwed over by this”.
sobriquet February 4, 2013, 1:48 pm
“And there was one particular incident of rather supreme shittiness where I was nothing short of traumatized, and yet he was so busy beating himself up he had nothing left to actually reassure me and make me feel better while I was crying and unbelievably hurt. There was nothing available for me, even though I was really hurt, because he was so busy making it about him.”
I really hope you’re able to address this with him, because that is not okay! It immediately reminded me of my ex. In the beginning of our relationship, whenever we got into a fight, he made such a BIG DEAL about it and how I was going to break up with him and how he was such a shitty boyfriend, that I wasn’t allowed to be upset anymore- I had to refocus my energy on making him feel better. It’s exhausting. Of course, the last (and worst) time that happened was after the assault… he immediately made it about himself. How he needed help. How he didn’t know what was wrong with him. Gross.
Boyfriend’s are not shitty for leaving pantry doors open, but they ARE shitty for making their girlfriend’s feel bad for things that THEY did.
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 2:06 pm
Oh, trust me, it was most definitely addressed. It wasn’t anything remotely abusive, but I let him know in no uncertain terms that when he said he was a piece of shit, in the moment he was pretty accurate, if he was worried I was going to break up with him, he was absolutely right to worry because if it ever happened again I would, and then instead of wallowing in self-pity and passive aggressively seeking comfort from the one who was hurt, he’d do better to get his shit together, take responsibility for it, attend to the one he hurt and make damn sure he never did it again. That was two years ago, and it hasn’t happened again. He will occasionally do some low-grade wallowing, but it’s become much more rare and doesnt last nearly as long because he knows it doesn’t work, and if he starts berating himself, I just generally agree that he gets to feel like that if he wants, but he doesn’t get to make me responsible for it.
Taylor February 4, 2013, 2:10 pm
I need to borrow your voice, Is there a name for that kind of behavior?
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 2:22 pm
I don’t know what it’s called – I’ve just always refer to it as “That passive-aggressive bullshit.”
Taylor February 4, 2013, 4:09 pm
MMcG February 4, 2013, 3:52 pm
MY NICE GUY!!! I discovered it a few weeks ago… it’s been eye opening.
sobriquet February 4, 2013, 2:10 pm
That’s awesome. I would give anything to go back 3 years and say those things to my ex the first time he ever wallowed in self pity!
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 2:28 pm
It was pretty hard-earned – I dated a guy at 19 who was emotionally abusive and pulled this kind of bullshit constantly, and then I realized my dad had been doing it to my mom and I most of my life as well. So at 27 or 28 I finally started confronting it. I’m sure you’re going to be far more attuned to that happening to you from now on. It sucks to have to go through it, but then you can see it a mile away and not fall for it.
MMcG February 4, 2013, 3:47 pm
PL – have you checked out the “no more mr nice guy” book and website? I’m sensing some similarities with my husband and this perspective has been very helpful.
lets_be_honest February 4, 2013, 3:58 pm
Haha, just tried to google the book, but only put in Mr Nice Guy. Apparently its fake weed.
MMcG February 4, 2013, 4:01 pm
Tee hee… I swear that is not what I was getting at (though it could be helpful in certain circumstances I’m sure!! here the link to Amazon: and there is a website that I found the whole book on 😉
Rachel February 4, 2013, 11:21 am
That is SUCH a good point. My relationship with my ex had a lot of this. Any time he would screw up it would be “oh I’m not good enough for you blah blah” and I had to make him feel better. It was exhausting. And the anger I felt for those little things always built up until we had mean drunk fights. Not a good way to deal with things.
Addie Pray February 4, 2013, 11:22 am
That’s some good stuff, PL. And this is very applicable to me right now, awesome! Except it’s so hard to walk away. LW, dearwendiers know what they are talking about so just listen to them. (Easier said than done, I know.)
lets_be_honest February 4, 2013, 12:29 pm
Addie, I just had a great idea! DW Home Tours – Addie’s New Place!
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 2:34 pm
You’re probably thinking of this as a far classier thing than I am, but I would want to caption stuff as, “Here’s the home theatre Texty Von Fuckwad objected to because it meant fewer free dinners for him. Here’s the bed I kicked him out of. Here’s the wine I bought myself with the money I saved by taking the bus, which he thought was stupid but damn was that wine tasty.”
I might be a little bit angry still on AP’s behalf.
Addie Pray February 4, 2013, 4:35 pm
You are so sweet, PL. I wish I were as angry as I should be. I’m very… up and down. But there’s a little problem, and that is: he cried. CRIED! I can’t say no to tears. I’m really easy, it turns out. It kind of sounded just like you described above: “he would get all ‘Woe is me, such a bad boyfriend, piece of shit, asshole, blah blah, wahhhh,’ and of course when someone you love talks about themselves like that, the natural response is to tell them no you’re not, you’re wonderful, etc.” I’m starting to think my current situation is TEXT BOOK MOA.
lets_be_honest February 4, 2013, 4:41 pm
Hmm, seems like this letter was perfect timing then. Sorry you’re still up and down, hopefully not much longer.
painted_lady February 4, 2013, 4:58 pm
I think the key in all of this is, if he’s all, “I’m a terrible boyfriend and you deserve better!” is that being used as a jumping off point to BECOME the better you supposedly deserve, or is it just a statement that “better” is something some mysterious something out in the ether that a mysterious someone should give you but OH MY GOD NOT HIM!!! I get the feeling that he’s not saying you deserve better FROM HIM. And if he’s not acknowledging that he’s the problem but rather blindly fumbling for some reassurance, then you need to go.
MMcG February 4, 2013, 5:29 pm
AP – Lots of hugs!! I’m not saying I am there yet, working on it because I leap to the reassurance and trying to fix things steps as well, which isn’t the greatest… but IF there is a next time and there is crying and he’s a piece of shit… agree with him and ask what he intends to do about it. That’s where the actions start lining up, or not, and if it’s all talk well then he’s right. He is a shitty boyfriend and since he can’t come up with one thing to do about it… well your time is valuable and he’s not your project to fix. Mind you this is a HELLUVA lot easier to type out then actually practice, but I’m wishing you luck!
lets_be_honest February 4, 2013, 11:43 am
Damn, great reply PL.
Northern Mermaid February 4, 2013, 1:59 pm
I had an ex who sent me into a full sensory flashback (yay PTSD), and after I came out of my flashback, I ended up spending the rest of the night comforting him because he got all hysterical about being the worst person in the world, instead of taking care of myself.
I am not much of a grudge holder, but I am still mad about that. I hate that behavior.
Trixy Minx February 4, 2013, 2:26 pm
Holy moses, Painted Lady. I love this >>>>>>I get so tired of insecure people who use their inability to cope with their insecurities like adults as a way to make things all about them. Because your girlfriend cannot trust you enough to believe that you’re with her because you want to be, you spend your time talking her down and reassuring her. She gets ego strokes, and you spend your time apologizing for being successful. She gets a free pass for being thoroughly unpleasant, <<<<<<<<< <3
MMcG February 4, 2013, 3:44 pm
I’m taking your line PL (“Look, it’s not fair that I have to deal with your being a thoughtless jerk AND your guilt. Your guilt is your own responsibility, and if you can’t deal with it yourself, talk to someone who isn’t screwed over by this.”) and will be using it in the future. AMAZING!!! Thank you 🙂
Christy February 4, 2013, 10:26 am
It sounds like it’s mostly incredible insecurity that she’s taking out on you. It’s great that she talked to you about her insecurity, but it’s not OK to treat you poorly. I agree with Wendy that you should talk to her about how she’s treating you. It’s not ok, and she needs to realize that.
And as a 24 year old in a lesbian relationship who is occasionally insecure about rand-o things, it’s really great when your gf reminds you how great/attractive you are. Especially when it’s out of the blue. So I think you’re doing a great job as a girlfriend, fwiw.
SuzyQ February 4, 2013, 10:30 am
I am in a lesbian relationship for the first time in my life (in my 40s) and I have been shocked at how much competition there is between women who are together. My partner and I are in love, but there is a huge amount of back and forth between us like “you’re thinner!” “No, you’re thinner!”. “You’re more popular – no, you are!”. I find the same with our lesbian friends. It’s exhausting. Women’s propensity for insecurity, comparison and competition really gets magnified in relationships.
But the relationship itself needs to feed your self-esteem, not destroy it. If it’s not a positive in your life, you really need to consider how you want to spend the years you do have. There are many wonderful people out there who will lift you up, and you should really focus your time and energy on positive, healthy relationships. Maybe you can take Wendy’s advice and make this relationship work for you. But if not, hopefully you still have time to find a better match, or value the time you spend with your friends and family.
Lindsay February 4, 2013, 10:42 am
Generally, a person’s jealousy is not about the person they’re jealous of. It’s about them. If she doesn’t like herself, you can’t really change that. And you, as an individual, thinking and telling her that she’s attractive and a great person is not going to change someone’s self-esteem on its own. I realize that there are many reasons for someone to act out other than being a jerk, but when an adult is being petty and rude, it’s hard for me to excuse their behavior. The fact is, she’s an adult and is fully capable of being kind to you, but she’s not. It’s not really our problem what that reason is.
Honestly, I just don’t think that you are going to be able to fix her to the extent that it’s going to save your relationship. If she’s really treating you poorly because of how she sees herself, then it’s not going to resolve itself that easily. You obviously know that life is short, so you have to consider whether you want to spend your time with someone who doesn’t treat you well and can’t appreciate what you two have.
WatersEdge February 4, 2013, 10:55 am
I have been there. I have dated guys who were intimidated by me. It is not fun. People like that will try to tear you down, in order to make things feel more equal. I have never seen it get better in any way other than a breakup. I mean, try the serious talk first, but be prepared for it not to work.
The sad truth is, you make her feel bad about herself just by being you. And then she makes you feel bad for being you to retaliate. This is a bad scene.
bittergaymark February 4, 2013, 1:02 pm
Painted Lady said it best. So WPLS.
So sorry to hear about your illness. But for that reason alone, I would most definitely move on already… Your GF sounds resentful. Perhaps, its just her nature, I dunno. But if she presently resents your success, she will undoubtedly one day resent your illness. MOA… Find somebody whom you can rely on in both good times and bad. Its painfully obvious to me that this GF is simply not somebody you can count on as it seems she is only thinking of herself far, far too often. I know its hard to hear that — but its something you need to hear and its something you need to do something about. Its something you need to do something about right now. Before its too late…
Christy February 4, 2013, 1:09 pm
Oh, I love when I agree with you, BGM. Resentfulness is one of those relationship problems that you just can’t shake.
cdobbs February 4, 2013, 1:04 pm
LW I feel for you…it sounds like your girlfriend tears you down to make herself feel better and that is just not cool at all…in most relationships there is going to be one partner who is somewhat more successful (better looking, in better shape, etc) than the other partner…if your girlfriend truly loved you she would be happy for you and proud of you…and she should not be lashing out at you, especially if you have an illness (this will just stress you out and stress is the worst thing for your health)…you may want to think long and hard about this relationship…if this behaviour continued i would personally move on
Skyblossom February 4, 2013, 1:04 pm
I doubt you can solve jealousy in your relationship because that would require to change on the inside.
One thing my husband and I do is stop things as they begin to happen. My husband raises his voice when he gets angry and when that happens I say “No need to shout.”
Over the weekend I got annoyed when we were talking and he said, “No need to get annoyed.”
This works for us. It stops things from escalating and we drop back down into a calmer discussion.
So you can try the No need to…insult, snap, be catty, etc. See if you can stop it in the moment as it begins to happen.
Skyblossom February 4, 2013, 1:06 pm
Meant to say that it would require her to change on the inside.
MissSally February 4, 2013, 2:52 pm
What Wendy said is really good, and I think it’s probably correct, but is there any chance that part of it could be that the girlfriend could use some help actualizing her goals for her own life? Sometimes people don’t know where to start.
jenny February 7, 2013, 4:56 pm
I think we see chronological age and maturity age here and they’ve finally come to a head.
A 24 yr old whose golden years are behind her, who’s grounded and mature, the old soul with a 24 (?) yr old gf who is immature and needs to be coddled.
Sounds like a 34 yr old with a 14 yr old.
To be diagnosed with a chronic disease matures you far beyond your years, but to be with a girl acting like most spoiled 24 yr olds nowadays, who’ve had everything handed to them, hidden from adversity and always made the winners. I am surprised you’ve lasted this long.
I agree with the others, find someone who accepts you for you, isn’t jealous of what you’ve accomplished at such a young age, and live out those remaining years with the love and support you deserve.
Cali February 9, 2013, 2:54 pm
It is unfortunate that she is so insecure but at the same time, that does not make it alright for her to mistreat you, or make rude remarks. You’re her girlfriend, not her punching bag. We’re all human, and we all have our own issues, and so yes, snapping at you once or twice is forgivable, but when it becomes a habit, that’s unacceptable.
My suggestion would be to have a heart-to-heart with her, discuss how you feel calmly (leave your disease out of it – healthy or not, your success or looks does not give her the right to be mean towards you) and then give her some time to adjust her behavior. But be clear that her attitude is not acceptable, and that if she cannot find a way to handle her insecurities without lashing out on you, you’ll walk away.
And if she can’t stop her behavior, then it is time for you to leave and find someone who won’t resent you for your success, good looks, or anything else, but will instead celebrate all of your great qualities!
Randi April 10, 2017, 12:44 pm
This is a classic example of why we should always hook up with people who are equal to us. (Doctors with doctors, lawyers with lawyers, actors with actors) because if you hook up with losers, like you have, this is exactly what happens. You’ll spend the rest of your short time here trying to make a loser not a loser.
Give it up. Find someone who appreciates you and lifts you up for the wonderful person that you are. Been there. Done that. Life is sooooo much better now!
Chrid August 8, 2021, 7:59 am
Full stop. You need to stand up for yourself. You’re being emotionally battered by a narcissist. 100 percent call her out, and do not allow for any continued abuse to continue. Her snipes are her immaturity. Are you dating a woman or a baby? You need to put her in her place and tell her that the time was the last time or it’s over. Never hesitate to leave am abusive relationship that is hurting you. You also do not need to walk on egg shells about your condition or any other aspect of your life. Partners are suppost to support us and uplift us. If she’s doing the opposite, consider that she might not be the best relationship you could have.