This letter comes from the same series of letters I quoted from in a post the other day.
This guy wrote to Dear Abby saying:
• I am currently in a relationship that’s great except for one thing. She knows what “buttons” to push to make me angry, and she’ll continue to push them.
No matter what I do, she’s in my face. It just seems she wants to argue until I reach the point of exploding.
I try to walk away, go to another room, ignore her, tell her she’s making me angry — yet she continues. I’m all for being able to walk away and then talk about it later — and I have confronted her on this. What do I do?
— FRUSTRATED IN FLORIDA
• What do you do? You break up with this toxic individual who enjoys goading you to the point of exploding, and find a woman who is a lot more compatible.
I just wanted to say, the woman this man describes in his letter to Abby sounds a lot like my sister. I’ve written about my sister a time or two in the past on this blog.
I didn’t have anything resembling boundaries with my sister, or with anyone, until a few years ago.
Back when I lacked boundaries, though, I did end up sort of standing up to my sister a time or two.
Initially, I tried to avoid her rants (when we were visiting in person) by getting up and leaving the room, only she’d follow me room to room to keep yelling.
I love my sister, and she has her rare moments where she is pleasant, but…
But my sister is a button pusher. She enjoys pushing you to and over the edge, starting fights.
She will take what you have told her in the past – personal, painful (or embarrassing) details you’ve shared with her – and any time she gets angry at you, she will “fight dirty” by going for your soft sensitive areas – this means she will throw in your face any deeply private painful thing you’ve previously shared with her, and she does so on purpose to hurt you.
My sister will go after those few topics she knows you find sensitive, and she camps out on them, all to upset you.
I did learn from experience and after reading a slew of online magazine articles that people like this cannot change, nothing I can say or do can change them, and the only thing you can do is cut contact with them.
I wrote about some of this in this older post here:
I find it interesting that advice columnists, psychologists, and relationship experts all give the same advice: they tell someone who is dealing with someone like this to break things off, or to avoid the person, or only stay in minimal contact.
It’s very sad. I wanted to have a good relationship with my sister and be able to phone her once a week or month and chat with her, but she doesn’t make that possible.
Out of self-defense, I have to keep my distance from her and when I do talk to her, I’m careful not to share anything too deeply personal or intimate, usually.