“My partner is selfish, needy and attention seeking”

Norman’s request for help with her relationship, and Elly’s advice

Well, my ex is a woman I love with all my heart, we have 2 children together, 8 months and 3 years. She suffered anxiety and depression since a kid and had suicide attempts before I met her. Had postnatal depression with both children and we have had a lot of other problems too, made homeless and money troubles. We moved into our new flat in June and things were going well.

When the baby was 4 months old my ex Hayley started to do modelling again, she totally changed. She was only ever happy when doing modelling, was doing it far too much. She wasn’t getting paid for it. She would do what she could to go out on a shoot and posted all her pics on Facebook. She ended up becoming addicted to Facebook and couldn’t put her phone down. She was constantly checking for comments and was getting loads of attention from men that only wanted 1 thing.

She started neglecting the kids, if they asked for juice, she wouldn’t answer them almost as if she didn’t hear them. Then when she did answer, she would shout and swear at them. She neglected the house, it was always a state. 

She hardly ever got dressed unless she was going out on a photo-shoot. She started making me suspicious about the way she was acting. She put her foot in it one day so I checked her mobile phone and found explicit texts to and from a bloke she had started to talk to on Facebook. She was supposed to be going on a shoot the day after I found these texts, but when I read the texts I realised it wasn’t a shoot at all, she was meeting this bloke. 

Things were already bad before I found the texts. She had been involved with another bloke who was at the shoots as I also see messages to her mate saying this bloke was getting obsessive and sending message after message.

She was sleeping in our 3 yr old’s bed at this time and had been for a few weeks because she said she had fallen out of love with me. I don’t believe that as it happened at the click of the fingers, just after she started modelling again. She started to turn nasty towards me when I put my foot down and told her modelling and Facebook was raking over her life. As I was starting to see through her and see what was happening, she just got angry with me and said she will give up Facebook and modelling and go back to the depressed and suicidal Hayley.

She kept saying she didn’t love me anymore, but I knew there was a lot more to it, Her mum and dad didn’t like the person she had become. However, her mum started believing her lies and started to really support her and stick up for her when everything she was doing was wrong. Her dad still sides with me. 

We went to Relate counselling after I found those texts because she changed again. Instead of trying to force me to leave, as she had been for a couple of months, I found the texts and she broke down. She said she will stay, admitted that she had put herself before the kids. She agreed to go counselling with me and try again. She gave up modelling and Facebook for a few days and was great with me. We had family days out etc. 

However, she then updated her Facebook status saying this, “my life is so boring, I need to start modelling again, my life is boring without it, I need it in my life, my life ain’t complete without it”. That upset me because my kids complete my life and by her saying that, she hasn’t even thought about the kids.

She started to arrange shoots again, and after staying in our bed with me for nearly 2 weeks, (without any love-making which we hadn’t had for about 3 months at this point) next day was our first relate session. In the session I was calm as usual but she erupted, we left the session and she moved out that night, moved to her mums with the kids and hasn’t been back since. She has got more and more angry with me and has turned evil. She is now waiting to finalise the rent agreement for her own private flat after her uncle agreed to be her guarantor. 

She is selfish, puts herself first, never considers anyone else, she is needy and an attention seeker. She has managed to get some of her family to support her, although most of them think I’m right. She desperately needs help, but the ones that support her think I’m the evil one. She keeps twisting the truth and lying to make me look evil. My Relate counsellor backs me, while she never bothered going back to our counsellor after the first session, even though it was made clear the reason we were going was for the kids’ sake. I kept going, but she never went again.

She never does anything for anyone else but expects everyone one does everything for her. Silly as it sounds, she wouldn’t even make me a cup of tea when I got in from work. I’d have to do it along with dinner and housework as she would have been sitting on her backside all day talking on Facebook.  In the evening she would disappear in the bath and leave me to do the housework and look after the kids. She would laugh and joke about that to her so-called mates on Facebook. So much more to tell you, I’ll leave it at that for now.

Mr scapegoat

You and me got a whole lot of history
There’s usually more to an intimate couple’s relationship problems than meets the eye

Elly’s advice

This all sounds like your partner has developed an addiction to all the attention she is getting from her modelling and her interactions with ‘friends’ on Facebook. No wonder you were having relationship problems. Our need for attention is so strong – it’s one of the human givens that we cannot do without.

What was happening in your relationship?

It sounds like you have quite an insight into her behaviour, in that indeed she seems very needy (bearing in mind that I only have your description of her). I wonder, though, what happened between the two of you for there to have been such a change in your relationship and her behaviour. I suspect that the two of you were having difficulties even before she started modelling again. You write too that she had been struggling with mental health problems for a long time.

Asking for help

In any case, I’m really sorry to say that there is little more that you can do for her right now. Unfortunately, until Hayley herself realises that she’s in real trouble, no-one will be able to help her. They can only start to do that when she asks for help. Even then, the road to recovery is likely to be a very rocky one and there will probably be times when she resorts to old unhelpful habits and behaviours.

You may find my Loving Communication Kit for Couples helpful in opening up the conversation and focusing on what’s positive. Learn the vital relationship skills necessary. Build a happy long-term relationship. Have fun together.

Invest in your relationship

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Helping yourself – time for reflection

What you can do in the meantime is to reflect on why you chose/needed to be with someone like her. Did her neediness perhaps distract you from your own traumas in life? When she was depressed, did you come into your own – did it help you to feel needed? If so, why would that be? What is/has been happening to your own self-esteem, not just now, but throughout your life?

I do recommend that you talk to an online professional, licensed therapist. He or she will help you to make sense of it all and find a way forward. For further information, see my page: Online relationship advice.

And, just in case, do also read my article on how to know your relationship is over.

Concern for the children

Also, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the children. I was particularly concerned about your description of her responses to the children (which I somewhat amended). You really flagged up a potential child protection issue for me!

I’m afraid I can’t help you any further here. Neither would it be appropriate for me to do so if you are already receiving counselling elsewhere. However, I’d strongly suggest that you talk about your concerns for the children with a local professional.

I wish you all the best and hope that over time things work out for you all.

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