Hurt and attacked

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Male
I am a 23 year old male about to graduate college. I have been dating my 22 year old girlfriend for almost a year and a half and living with her for about a year. Arguments and disagreements have been progressively more frequent. I know there is no simple solution and I really need some help because I don't know what to do. I love her very much, but sometimes I feel like she makes it hard to love her sometimes.
I know that as humans we are not without fault. I realize that I play just as much a role in our disagreements and conflicts as she does. At the end of our usually unproductive disputes, I feel like I have been on the receiving end of harsh remarks, neglect, and I of course feel heart broken. I try to tell her that it hurts me but she either expresses apathy towards my feelings or fires some more ammunition. To make matters worse, I have no clue about how she really feels because I can't decipher all her harsh words, nor can I figure out why I deserved the treatment.
I always try to talk things out with her. On the contrary, my girlfriend will get frustrated or annoyed that I want to discuss matters, eventually leading to an angry attitude. After my self esteem feels almost destroyed, I still feel like I love her much. I am searching for answers. Sometimes she will make comments that trash our relationship. The next day, she seems like nothing has ever happened. While I trudge through my day glum and hurt, she will give the vibe of that she wants me to make amends even while my emotional wounds are still fresh and bleeding.
Arguments start most of the time over really small things. She seems already very agitated like a ticking time bomb. Lately, I feel like I am walking on egg shells when I talk to her. I am not sure if she is frustrated about her long days at work and school or if she is acting out some behavior learned from or due to her family issues. I used to feel like I could tell her anything and that she cared deeply about me.
Some chief points of conflict have been equality in the relationship, finances, and expectations. I'll just start with what I have gathered about my girlfriend. It appears that my girlfriend comes from a type of culture that believes that the man should be the sole provider of life's necessities, luxuries, entertainment, and emotional support. Although our relationship has not been this one sided, it feels like she is always pushing for this ideal that I can't seem to attain. So of course when she compares me to the men that her materialistic friends date, I seem to pale in comparison because I don't take her on expensive trips? and support her so she doesn't have to work? I'm 23 and in school for crying out loud. I believe that relationships are about compassion, equal commitment, and dedication. I am completely aware that a man and a woman can bring totally different things to the table or even the same things but the effort should come out the same. Compliment each other right? Some how this reasoning doesn't seem to click with her. Am I wrong for loving this kind of person? I want her to be happy and know that I love her, at the same time I want her to show me the level of respect and caring that I deserve.
I canít seem to get her to realize that every great long lasting relationship involves constant open mutual communication, void of insults, sarcasm, and blame. She blames me for being the root of all the problems in the relationship, even though I try really hard to be sensitive to her. Am I wrong about all this, because she seems to think that I am crazy? She tells me that life is not fair, guys arenít the same as girls. I just donít understand. Should she support me the way that I support her?
Sometimes we argue about feelings, this usually follows a provocation resulting in hurtful comments directed towards me. I will feel ripped apart by the things that she says. Then I will ask her if she cares about my feelings. Or I will ask her why she doesnít care. More arguing follows.
I am wondering why she says the things she does. Oh, I love this woman so much. She has so much greatness inside and we have shared tons of wonderful memories together. But every time we get into an argument, I just don't know what to think. What advice can I give her to help this situation? How can I approach this situation to turn it into a productive one? How can I stop myself from feeling hurt and attacked, while saving the love that we have?
Sorry about the length of this inquiry. Please help me! Thank you very much Advice
The only way to stop feeling hurt and attacked is to stop arguing with her. She is hurting you and attacking you. She will probably never change her behavior except through counseling. She will relax some after the stress of school/work lessen, but her style of arguing will remain the same.

Try to not talk everything through with her. It seems that you two have differeng arguing styles. You sound like you are the more reasonable one and that probably makes her strike out trying to get you to fight her style.

Next time an argument gets started say "I'm just too tired to argue, let's talk about it tomorrow."

Is it possible that you two spend time arguing about how to argue rather than dealing directly with the issues? Make sure you deal with issues and not drag each other's personalities into it.

Finally, I think you are right that things will get better when both of you are out of school. University seems to engender an argumentative style of behavior compared to regular life.

I am sorry you are in such a situation and hope my thoughts have helped a little.

Best wishes,

-- from George
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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