I’ve had to work late a lot the last few weeks. I felt like I was neglecting my girlfriend. To fix it, I came home after a late night at the factory with a bouquet of flowers that I bought at the supermarket.
She freaked out. She wanted to know what I’d done and who I’d slept with. I told her I just wanted to buy her flowers, but she didn’t believe me. She threw them in the trash, and she hasn’t talked to me for two days. This is crazy. What should I do?
Ha ha ha! I know I shouldn’t laugh at your predicament, but it’s kind of funny.
Okay, let’s break this down. I’m assuming you don’t buy your girl gifts/flowers very often? So now that you have, out of the blue, she thinks you’ve done something bad. She thinks you went guilt shopping.
It’s actually a common reaction to guilt. You see it all the time, not just in romantic relationships. Just a bit ago, my nephew stepped on his dog’s tail. The dog whimpered, and my nephew’s response was to drop down to the floor and love on his dog and play with him for the better part of an hour. Because he felt bad. Because he was sorry. It’s not just about getting the other person (or animal) to forgive you; it’s also about trying to make your own guilt go away. I’ve seen this reaction in parents who lose it and yell at their children, in children who lose it and yell at their pets, and, yes, I’ve seen it in men who’ve cheated.
Your knee-jerk reaction to this is probably, “She’s crazy. She’s paranoid.”
She’s wrong, but she’s not crazy in this case because remember why you bought her the flowers? You did feel guilty, not because you cheated but because, in your own words, “I was neglecting my girlfriend.”
When she asked you what you did to warrant giving her flowers, you told her you just wanted to buy her flowers, implying there was no reason whatsoever. Now she’s calling bullshit. How she knows that they’re guilt flowers, that it’s a guilt gift, who knows? Maybe it’s female intuition; maybe it’s just simple reasoning – You don’t buy her flowers. Now you have. Something’s up.
But why is she jumping to cheatery, you ask? Why do her thoughts go there?
You’ve been working late. It really is that simple.
Now that I’ve explained her reaction, let’s see what we can do to fix this. First, tell her the truth. “I didn’t cheat on you, but I didn’t buy you the flowers just because. I bought them because I felt bad about working all the time. I felt I wasn’t giving you enough attention.” Also, be sure to tell her about any other feelings you’re experiencing. Does it make you feel like shit that she’d automatically assume you cheated? Tell her that. I don’t know what you’re feeling, but if you’re holding on to any negative emotions about her reaction to your flowers, now’s the time to tell her. Get it out. Don’t let it simmer.
If she still doesn’t believe you, you can always give her proof that you’ve been working late. Have a co-worker talk to her. A boss. Show her a copy of your work schedule. You have a rock-solid alibi, and I guarantee you, once she realizes how off she was, she’s going to be the one buying you guilt gifts.