I do so much for my selfish girlfriend that she no longer respects me

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male civil servant in my 20s, and I am proud to say that I am someone who takes relationships seriously. I think it’s important to express to my girlfriend how much I love her.

I was always taught to be kind to women by my grandmother and mother, who raised me, so I let my girlfriend be as selfish as she wants and do everything for her.

For example, when she’s on her period, I buy her painkillers and warm her stomach. When she comes over to my house, I cook for her and make sure she’s comfortable. Since she seems to have low self-esteem and requires a lot of validation, she gets extremely depressed if I can’t meet her needs. Because of this, I generally tell her she’s right, even when she is wrong.

But maybe because I have done so much for her, she has lost all respect for me and now acts spoiled and does whatever she wants.

There are days when I can barely sleep because she stresses me out so much. Is it possible to build our relationship back as equals? I want to be in a serious relationship with someone and completely devote myself to them. I want to be in a relationship based on mutual respect in which two people care for each other.

However, since I’ve had selfish girlfriends in the past, including my current one, I’m worried that I’ll never be able to find a decent partner.

—A, Tokyo

Dear Mr. A:

Let me first answer your question about your current girlfriend. Once you start analyzing her, I don’t think you can say you’re in love with her.

In your head, you think you should be kind to women and love one woman for the rest of your life, but you don’t seem to be quite there emotionally. In your letter, you never mention anything about being happy or satisfied in your relationship.

Why don’t you try being more honest with yourself? Instead of thinking about how to build your relationship back as equals, ask yourself if you are truly happy with her. If you’re happy just being with her, I won’t say anything, but she’s causing you stress, right?

I recommend immediately distancing yourself from her and breaking up. Even if she tries to make you stay, don’t start negotiating with her.

I think you’re the type of person who takes pride in being in a relationship. Take a break from dating and find something you enjoy doing alone.

Eventually, you’ll find someone you truly enjoy being with.

—Masahiro Yamada, university professor