The other day, I was watching a TED Talk by Katie Hood called “The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Love.” The wants to bring awareness to early signs of unhealthy love that could, with time, turn into abuse.
In her talk, Hood did refer to the “unhealthy” or abusive person as “he or she” because of course both women and men can fall into that category. Now, it’s no secret that men are responsible for the majority of abuse in romantic relationships… but a “baby thought” that I have had for a long time, doing what I do, did grow up a little while listening to this 12-minute presentation.
The unhealthy love of a grumpy girlfriend
To illustrate the difference between healthy love and unhealthy love, Katie Hood shows the viewers two animated blob characters. And with each of these examples, it became more and more clear to me that grumpy girlfriends 100% fall into the unhealthy love category.
Grumpy girlfriends often experience that insecure, obsessive, controlling kind of love that stems from a fear of being rejected, lied to, and abandoned. Some examples were:
Healthy love: Oh I haven’t seen you in a while, I missed you!
Unhealthy love: I haven’t seen you in like 5 minutes, it feels like a lifetime!
Healthy love: She just started following me on Instagram, yay!
Unhealthy love: She just started following me… everywhere…
Healthy love: I’d be sad if we broke up. Me too.
Unhealthy love: I’d be so depressed if we broke up that I’d throw myself off this step!
Are grumpy girlfriends abusive?
While watching this talk, I repeatedly asked myself if grumpy girlfriends would be considered abusive in their relationships… And I came up with two answers:
- I believe grumpy girlfriends can engage in abusive behaviors or do things that would be considered abusive if done repeatedly or would get worse over time. Like silent treatment, stonewalling, accusing the partner of things they haven’t done, etc. I think a lot of people can engage in abusive behaviors from time to time without “being abusive” across the board.
- This TED Talk is about unhealthy love. Unhealthy love that can often turn into dangerous “love”, or abuse. I definitely believe that grumpy girlfriends suffer from unhealthy love in a lot of ways, but an important factor is that they don’t always take it out on their partner. A lot of the time it’s an internal battle that just manifests as a lot of anxiety and negative emotions. The clients I work with don’t turn to violence, but they do have a lot of unhealthy behaviors.
Grumpy girlfriends deserve help, too
It’s so important to get help when you are struggling in your relationship. Needless to say, it’s important to get help if your partner is being abusive towards you or showing signs of unhealthy love… but what if you’re the unhealthy one? What if you’re the one bordering on abusive behavior in your relationship? What resources are available to you?
When I just started working with grumpy girlfriends, I got a lot of criticism for “always blaming the woman.” Everything was her fault, according to me, and I was letting the partner off the hook for everything wrong in the relationship. Or so they said.
Early on, I didn’t have the right words to explain why this just isn’t the truth of it. I just had my own experience as a grumpy girlfriend and the stories of my clients as proof that there is a category of relationships where the partner just isn’t the problem and doesn’t have the power to solve it…
I understand that people, especially those who have suffered abuse in their relationships, view all relationships through those lenses. That is normal. But there is this widespread struggle for people to wrap their heads around the fact that girlfriends can be the unhealthy ones in relationships. Perhaps because they don’t always engage in physically unhealthy/abusive behavior…
But they deserve help, too!
What can you do to change?
If you are engaging in unhealthy behavior in your relationship and you know you’re not treating your partner well due to your anxiety, jealousy, and fear… there is help to be had! I know it’s uncomfortable and shameful to admit it, especially to someone else. But I want you to know that I’ve been there. I have been the unhealthy one. I have been that girlfriend that would probably be referred to as “crazy” or “psycho” from time to time. And if I can change, so can you.
If you don’t believe me of the hundreds of girlfriends I’ve worked with, let me prove it to you using some basic logic about how your brain and body work.
- Why we become grumpy girlfriends, to begin with (and some just don’t??)
- Why it’s so hard to stop and why all your attempts so far have been unsuccessful
- How to actually stop without using force, willpower, or “faking it”