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Bragging in Relationships: How Insecurity Pushes us Over the top

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Oh my God it's so great that you have a boyfriend, but I mean, can you please just stop showing off the necklace, the ring, the stories of so much great sex, the cozy romantic nights, etc, etc? I was happy for you but now I just want you to break up so I can feel good again.

O.K., this is extreme. But many of us have been in a situation where we are being subjected to a ruminating, perseverating girlfriend regaling us over and over with story after anecdote of how amazing her partner is, how loving, how attentive, how wonderful. Which is, at first, wonderful. The bragging, in-your-face showing off quality of this can really become grating to the point of angering you out of your happiness for her in a very short period of time.

How about you? Have you done it yourself? Why do you do it? Have you found someone finally who treats you with respect, with love, even admiration? Does it make you want to shout about it from the rooftops and then, once you do, to grab everyone you see and tell them about it for the rest of the day?

Showing some restraint in all things, whether it is complaining or boasting, is a very good quality to have. Not only does it save your friends from having to wish you the worst, it also keeps some of that glee and joyful gratitude where it belongs; in your heart. Venting or complaining to friends helps us through difficult times, but too much is not okay, it's dumping. Likewise, sharing your joy and your passion with your friends is also the beauty of life and increases your happiness but too much doesn't smack of celebration, it smacks of insecurity.

The whole modern idea of the woman's engagement ring being the ultimate symbol of her achievement in her relationship embodies, for me, this bragging, conceit, this almost narcissistic desire to be envied, to be catapulted into the upper stratosphere of demi-goddesses on pedestals. With the engagement ring now being the center of the woman's accessories, she shoves it in people's faces on television, in gossip magazines, and, horribly, in real life. Her girlfriends are supposed to giggle and bow, or curtsey, or something; ladies-in-waiting blushing for the queen.

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EmpowHER Guest

My best friend constantly brags about her "sexbuddies" and her out of town visits with another of her "special friends". She and I are both single and not involved in a LTR. I broke up with my fiance in 2012 and, to be honest, have not had a sexual encounter since we split up. I don't want a sexbuddy or an occasional encounter out of town. I want a real relationship. I am a sexual person but it's just not what I want. I get tired of hearing her brag about it. I am happy for her (or used to be) if that is what SHE wants but I get tired of hearing it. It's almost like she is trying to make me feel jealousy or that there is something wrong with me for holding out for a meaningful, connected relationship with sex being a part of that. Am I being unreasonable???? We are both in our late 40's...........

November 14, 2014 - 12:39pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for your articles. I stumbled upon this because I was trying to find a way out of my annoyance with people who do this. Am I being "bitter" or "jealous" for feeling this way? I'm not sure why I get targeted as a single person to have to listen to the bragging. It's like they hone in on me! The ones who are insecure and have had really bad past relationships seem to want to prove it to everyone the most.
Sometimes it's like TMI--too much information. Being told the first time they slept with each other, showing all the love notes, and gifts, the lovey dovey phone calls on speaker phone--I've had it! lol!
I try to feel happy for my friends and family in relationships, but it withers away when I see bragging is done deliberately anytime that person feels an inkling of insecurity. I'm trying to figure out a peaceful way to deal with my emotions. I've mostly distanced myself trying not to make it so obvious. It's testing my ability to say "No" to this behavior and salvage my self-esteem.

August 14, 2012 - 7:26am

Dear reader,
You are so welcome for the comment... it's readers like you that empower writers like me, as well. I love hearing about your issues and if there's any way I can be of help it is wonderful.

I know what you mean about living paycheck to paycheck and counseling, unfortunately is not free... but if there's any way you could get some health insurance to cover some of the expense, that would be so important.

Your insights about marriage and the age difference felt very truthful to me. While he may not KNOW that this is why he's pulling away, it really may be the whole truth.

Good luck to you and it sounds like you have a very good head on your shoulders.

Take care.


March 8, 2010 - 2:48pm

Dear Aimee,

I want to thank you very much for getting back to me so quickly and giving me a kind and honest response. About ur insights on my friend, I think its very interesting what you said about her trying to stand up for me. I think ur right because she is an amazing friend, we have been best friends since preschool (no joke) and she would never do anything to hurt me. Im sure that is what she was trying do although I dont agree with the way she tried to do it at all.

About my boyfriend,
1 he is cheating- I thought about that and this scares me but I can honestly say without any doubt in my mind that I dont believe he would cheat on me. I know many women would say that im in denial or dont want to believe that but he has never given me any reason to believe he would cheat on me, and I trust him. Also as I said before he is a very very blunt person and he would tell me its over before he would cheat on me.

2. He is angry about something- This could be a possibility. I cant think for the life of me anything that he might be upset about.

3. Fear of commitment this one made the most sense to me. our relationship is different then the normal. I'm 20 years old and my boyfriend is 37. So there is a quite large age gap. I wanted to ask you if you think his age could also have something to do with it?? He knows that I would like to get married and have children someday. He on the other hand does not EVER want children, in fact he has had a vesectomy. He also has said that he is unsure about marriage, in the past he never saw himself getting married and that this could change and he is open to the possibility of marriage but is still unsure. He has told me that he feels marriage ruins every relationship and that what him and I have now is almost the same thing as marriage. Basically the only difference he see's between marriage and what we have is a piece of paper, so whats the point. I think he may think he is holding me back from something, and possibly that I deserve better then him. However, although I do want marriage and children in the future, I am very young and I want to enjoy my youth. I dont see myself settling down with any of that stuff for another 7-10 years and he knows that. I just feel that even though we may want different things in the future, If I have found someone that I love deeply then why would I throw away what we have because things might not work out in the future. I just want to live in the moment and enjoy what we have together now.

About the counseling idea, I do think this is a good idea however we are currently living pay check to pay check and I dont have any extra cash to be spending on counseling. I also have some medical problems and my parents have been helping pay for all of that so first priority is paying them back and unfortunatley I just cant spend the money on counseling currently. Which is why I seeked out this website and I am very glad I found it. Your help and the help of other women has helped alot. It helps me know that I am not the only one going through this.

March 3, 2010 - 3:20pm

Dear Lovely Reader,

First of all, I can't tell you how much I admire your honesty and willingness to open up about this very touchy and painful issue. I also can't tell you how many times I HAVE BEEN THERE and it always amazes me that women can be so incredibly insensitive toward one another. I think your friend is being ridiculous but I also think she's just parading her new relationship around because, as you said, it's been awhile since things worked out well for her. Most likely she made that comment to your boyfriend because she was feeling a little bold and actually, although it may have seemed the opposite, wanted to stick up for you!? Crazy as this seems, with alcohol, sometimes women go overboard in their desire to let out the truth, or speak up .... misplaced and crude, maybe, but just to make you feel her support - my guess is she's probably trying to get your man to man up.
On to the boyfriend issue - this is, as you say, a real blow to your self esteem. So much so, that I'm afraid this type of rejection will potentially destroy your relationship if something doesn't change. Sexual rejection is by far one of the most painful experiences any person can have, particularly when its done by someone you deeply care about.
There are a few thoughts I have about this
1 - he's cheating. One sign of cheating is a lower interest in sex or intimacy with a current partner.
2 - He's angry about something between the two of you that is resolved for you, but not for him. Holding on to anger and resentment can lead to a cold feeling for intimacy.
3 - He's getting closer to you than he's ever been to anyone and is shutting down. Maybe he thinks he should be proposing or is worried about the issue of commitment. Perhaps he feels he wants to or you want to, but he's just not ready. Either way, he needs to figure it out and talk with you so you're not left out of this relationship.
Being lonely INSIDE of a relationship is a form of emotional agony, almost worse than being alone without a partner (far worse in many ways).
The constant rejection is not something you should live with for much longer.
My advice -
Tell him, without being loud, pushy, aggressive or coming on to him in any way, that you love him, that you want him, and that your feelings about yourself and the relationship are being deeply hurt and wounded every time he pushes you away. Tell him that actions speak louder than words and if he truly still wants you and finds you sexy, he needs to show you rather than just tell you.
Tell him that if he can't open up to you on his own, then you would like to seek counseling.
If he doesn't want to talk or go to a counselor, YOU SHOULD GO ALONE ANYWAY!!!!

The reason is: talking to a counselor will help you with the issues you are facing, help you determine whether or not to stay, break up, or work it through, and will keep you sane, safe and emotionally healthy in the face of this pain.

Be strong and believe in yourself.

Lots of peace, luck and happiness on your journey...

Take care,


March 2, 2010 - 6:03pm

I have read a few of your articles and I really enjoy ur insights. I think you have very good and logical advice. Which is why I am leaving this comment, in hopes for some advice from you. It is kind of similar to this topic.

The problem is that my boyfriend does not want to have sex with me anymore. We have been dating for 2 years now and in the beginning we had a great sex life. He made me feel like I was so sexy and desirable and now its like pulling teeth to get him to have sex with me. And its not even that im super horny or anything its just that I long to share that intimacy with the one I love. I have mentioned the problem to him and told him how him rejecting me all the time makes me feel like he isnt attracted to me anymore, like im undesirable and not sexy. It really cuts down my self esteem. He always assures me that it is not me at all and that he still finds me very sexy and that he loves me and its just because he is very stressed out and is not in the mood. I try and understand what he is going through too but no matter how much he tells me it isnt me, It doesnt make me feel any better about myself.

This article you wrote remided me of this problem because my best friend just got a new boyfriend and he is a great guy that me and another friend actually set her up with. She seems really happy and I am SOOOO happy for her. Especially because she has had a string of bad relationships. So im totally excited for her, however last week her and her new guy were over at me and my boyfriends place just hanging out drinking whatever. She starts talking about how her and her boyfriend are having all kinds of amazing animal sex constantly every night, which is great for her. However she knew that my boyfriend and I were having these problems and she just kept going on and on about it not even thinking about how it was making me feel. If that were the end of it I could deal with it, but then she turned to my boyfriend and straight up just asked him if he was going to f**k me that night. I dont know what would encourage her to say something like that to my boyfriend when she knew we were having problems in that area. It made me so mad because of course my boyfriend didnt know what to say so I just very quickly changed the subject thinking that would give her the hint. Well no such luck, as she left she made almost the same comment, saying to my boyfriend how he better be having sex with me that night. I confronted her and she said she wouldnt do it again but it just still makes me angry. Just because she is having all kinds of amazing sex doesnt mean she needs to put it in my face so much and especially not bring me and my relationship in it like she was comparing or something.

Anyways that was just a story relating to your article and my problem but the advice Im asking you for is what do I do about my boyfriend? Everytime I bring up the issue we talk about it and there is a nice change, we will start to have sex a little more often. However this only last for 1-2 weeks and then back to no sex. Its just starting to get me really down on myself and the other day I tried to give him a nice open mouth, tounges touching kiss and he pulls away from me. I asked him why he always does that, he said he didnt want to because he was too stressed???? Like really, sex I can understand a little more but now I cant even have a real kiss that doesnt feel like im kissing my brother because he is stressed?? Sometimes it really worries me like maybe he is cheating, but I honestly dont think he would do that. He loves me very much and I know that. Also he is a very blunt person and if he no longer had feelings for me or had feelings for someone else he wouldnt be afraid to tell me the relationship was over. Im just frustrated and it weighs on my mind all the time. I try not to bring it up too much because I do know that he is stressed and I dont want to be on his case all the time. I want him to want to have sex with me and not feel like he has to. I dont know what to do, can you please give me ur words of wisdom on this subject?

March 2, 2010 - 1:16pm
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