Dear Blunt BFF
How do I know why my girlfriend is angry at me? We haven’t been getting along so well lately, we haven’t had sex in forever, and it’s very tense between us. I recognise it’s not great and I’ve tried talking about it. She keeps saying that everything is fine.
I know it’s not fine. I’m not fine with our constant fighting and our diminished physical relationship. We need to sort it out or break up. But if I can’t get even get her to say anything more than ‘I’m fine’, then I don’t know what’s next.
Is fine really not fine? Is it code for something worse?
Please decode this for me!
Peter, scared of losing the girl
Women using the word ‘fine’ when things aren’t fine is a cliche. The world has accused us of masking hurt, anger and frustration with ‘fine’. Hollywood films and romance novels accuse us of using passive-aggressive communication. Phrases that leave men scratching their heads.
This stereotype is hurtful and untrue. Ok, not completely untrue. Alright fine, us women do it all the time. But we have our reasons.
I’m sure you want me to reassure you that you’re not losing the girl, and everything is fine. But everything isn’t fine. Not even close.
Though I don’t know the specific reasons why she is angry with you, the anger is there. It may be about you, your relationship, or something unrelated to the two of you.
As you aren’t a mind reader, you will need ways of breaking down the walls of this communication barrier. The following are the ways you can approach your girlfriend’s concerns without the usual frustration or confusion:
Remember, you’ve already won
Thanks to the code word ‘fine’, you’ve already got a red flag when things are turning sour. She is telling you she’s not happy. Instead of hanging your head in misery about it, think of it as a positive.
Some partners would happily accept this as an indicator. But there are far better strategies than this, I have to admit.
Consider the immediate past
This style of anger is pertinent to event situations. Something that’s happened in the last twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Reflection over what has transpired in the last few days will benefit you.
What happened in your latest fight? Did you have a fight? Did something happen outside of your relationship?
If there wasn’t an argument with you, don’t rule out an argument with someone else. Your listening skills as a partner will be truly tested during this time.
Look to the calendar
Don’t be the idiot who has forgotten a birthday or an anniversary. Check the calendar and make sure you haven’t missed an important celebration. Don’t dismiss the anti-celebration. Perhaps a significant death anniversary is upcoming or passed. Maybe this time of year is challenging, for certain reasons, and you’ve missed it.
Don’t look at the calendar
That time of the month is not a valid reason for your partner to be angry at you, and nor should they take it out on you. Yet, most women don’t withdraw or present this style of anger you’re experiencing because of their period.
Blaming this time of the month won’t help your cause either. This approach may only strengthen their resolve not to open up to you.
Schedule a sit-down
Most angry people want to be heard. They want to know they’re being listened to and respected. Asking if she’s ok when she’s on her way out the door, or during the middle of her favourite television show, doesn’t show respect.
Set aside time to talk with no distractions. And maybe a glass of wine, too. A little liquid courage helps.
You should know by the way
Your sit down may not go the way you think. Your partner might declare that ‘you should know’ what is wrong. And maybe that’s true. You should have worked it out by now, especially after the fight you had, or the birthday you forgot.
But don’t walk away from the conversation not knowing what is going on. Keep asking, keep listening, keep assuring your partner that communication is best.
Don’t fight defiance with defiance. If you walk off in a huff and so do they, ‘fine’ will escalate.
Change the communication
When the dust settles, and you’re in a better place, work on better strategies of communication than ‘fine’. It drives you up the wall and it isn’t helpful to growing as a couple. It doesn’t serve her either.
You need to be receptive to ensure she doesn’t need to use this style of communication. If you’re willing to talk, she will be too.
You aren’t screwed, by the way. If she wanted to break up with you, she will have by now.
Unless you’ve really stuffed up. Then ‘fine’ might just be the iceberg.
Your Blunt BFF
If you’re going through, more than likely I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt!
I’m Ellen McRae, your Blunt BFF, offering relationship lessons from my own chaotic experiences with love and friendship.
I’m a writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. My want is for a better opportunity for writers, especially fictional, in an increasingly technology dominant world. I write about figuring about love and relationships through fictional-reality.
The anecdotes might not always be true, but the lessons learned sure are!