Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Psychology, relationships > 5 Stages of Letting Go of a Relationship with an Emotionally Abusive Woman

5 Stages of Letting Go of a Relationship with an Emotionally Abusive Woman


still rainingMany of my readers have expressed how difficult it is for them to let go of their relationships with emotionally abusive, Borderline and/or Narcissistic Personality Disorder wives and girlfriends. Several men who were involved with these women refer to them as “monsters.” One man in particular (Run4TheHills) writes that he prays to get cancer everyday because his marriage is so bad. It goes to show how terrifying these women can be when the prospect of a terminal illness is more appealing than another 15 years of marriage or a cutthroat divorce process.

There seems to be two categories men with abusive exes fall into:

  1. Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty I am free at last! These men are able to recognize that their relationship wasn’t based on love, but upon control tactics (fear, shame, guilt), unmet emotional needs, dysfunctional dependency and projection. Once they work through any lingering trust issues and why they were attracted to this kind of woman, they’ll move on and be just fine.
  2. Just can’t get enough of your “love,” babe. These men appear to have bought into the lies their exes told them, such as: “No one will ever love you as much as me.” “You’ll never find anyone as wonderful as me.” “You’re crazy if you think anyone else would want you.” “You don’t know how lucky you are that I put up with you.” “You owe me after I sacrificed everything for you.” They swallow these lies hook, line and sinker and pair them with a handful of good memories. The result is a powerful, distorted belief, which keeps them from moving on and makes it difficult to have a happy, healthy relationship with someone new.

Despite the relentless abuse, rage episodes, mind games, projection, gaslighting and demoralization, these men believe they’re still in love with these women “on some level” and/or “will always love” them. They continuously remind themselves how bad the relationship was so they don’t fall into an illusory, sentimental nostalgia for their ex and get back together. This attitude is evidence of how emotionally abusive women brainwash or program their targets.

It takes time to grieve the loss of a significant relationship. No matter how awful your ex is, you still need to mourn the loss. This may be confusing because ending a relationship with an abuser should ultimately feel like an act of liberation, but for many, it’s also experienced as a loss. Not the loss of the “monster” she is in reality, but the loss of the ideal, fantasy image you constructed in your head and the relationship you wished you could’ve had with her. This fantasy image of the great sex and fleeting moments of sanity is not her true self; the abusive bully is her true self. The woman and the relationship you love and miss exist solely in the Land of If Only.

In other words, “if only she weren’t so crazy…” “If only she weren’t so cruel…” “If only she wasn’t such a liar…Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed the five stages of grief (On Death and Dying, 1969) to explain how people “deal with grief and tragedy, especially when diagnosed with a terminal illness or catastrophic loss.” You have to go through this process in order to get through it, let go and move on. The five stages include:

1. Denial. You were in denial when you were with her and you are in denial whenever you consider getting back together with her. When you catch yourself thinking, “She’s not that bad. She really does love me. I’m not perfect either . . .” you’re diving headlong into an ocean of denial. She is that bad. She doesn’t love you. She’s not capable of loving you or anyone else because deep down she loathes herself. She views you as an object to control and to bolster her false image. To BPD/NPD women, people are props to use in their distorted, twisted fantasy world in which they’re special, entitled, above reproach and not subject to the rules of civility and decency most of us abide by.

If you think you can help the NPD/BPD woman to see the truth about herself, the way she treats you and the relationship in order to get her to change; you’re also in denial. Even when this woman is hurling the most abusive bile at you, in her mind, she believes she’s being magnanimous for pointing out the error of your ways, so you can improve yourself and be the kind of man she “deserves.” In her mind, you should be grateful she takes time from her “busy” schedule to criticize, abuse and condescend to you.

2. Anger. This is a good stage. Hold onto it for awhile. It’s what keeps you from going back. Try not to get stuck here, however. Feel the anger and then let it go. This is when you’re aware of how badly she’s treated you. You’re angry with her for treating you the way she did and angry with yourself for putting up with it. It’s natural to feel anger when someone is deliberately cruel, dishonest or treats you unfairly. You had to stuff your anger when you were with her because expressing it would’ve led to more conflict and nastiness. You have a right to feel angry. Just express it in a productive manner (i.e., don’t hurt yourself or others), create boundaries for yourself and channel the energy into something healthy like sports, exercise or a project.

3. Bargaining. This stage has a little bit of denial mixed in with it. You deny the reality of the situation (or the severity of it) and make deals with yourself. For example, “She said she’s really sorry and that it’ll be different if we get back together. I’ll give her one more chance and if she starts acting crazy again, I’m out of there.” “Maybe if I’m a little more patient and am very careful and avoid pushing her buttons, it can work.” Or this old chestnut, “I’m just going to have sex with her, but not get emotionally involved.

You can’t bargain with someone to treat you well. Being treated with kindness, common decency, consideration, respect and acceptance should be a prerequisite for an intimate relationship; not something you’re rewarded with for meeting one of her unreasonable demands or if she’s trying to manipulate you into doing or buying something for her. Either she’s capable of a reciprocal relationship or she’s not. It doesn’t matter what you do or how nice, patient and understanding you are with her. She is what she is; a controlling, cruel, abusive, emotional predator and bully. You can’t appease a bully or persuade them to be nice to you. If you do, she’ll see you as weak and bulldoze you all the more.

4. Depression. This is when it sinks in there’s no going back to this woman and that the woman you loved never existed. You mourn the loss of time and the abuse you tolerated. You direct the anger at yourself and feel stupid for being with her and fear getting into another relationship, lest you become involved with another woman just like her.

Like the Anger stage, you don’t want to get stuck here either. Feeling sadness over this relationship is natural, but don’t let your experience with this woman distort how you view all relationships. Not all women are like her and, if you can feel the painful and difficult feelings that ending this relationship brings up, you’ll get through it.

5. Acceptance. While you’re not ok with what happened, you accept the reality of who this woman is and chalk it up to a learning experience. You’ve let go of the anger and sadness and are ready to move on in your life. You may always feel a little pang when you think of this woman, like when a combat veteran remembers some wartime atrocity, but it won’t control you anymore. Eventually, that little pang will turn into a “What was I thinking?” attitude when you remember this woman, followed quickly by murmuring to yourself, “nutjob.”

These five stages aren’t always a lock-step, linear process. You may bounce back between a few of the stages and cycle through them a few times before you reach acceptance. You can expedite grieving for and healing form this relationship if you:

  • Maintain a strict NO CONTACT policy.
  • Disabuse yourself of the notion that you can “be friends” with your ex (“being friends” translates to “not ready to let go”).
  • Understand why you were attracted to this woman and resolve these issues.
  • Focus on taking care of yourself, reconnecting with who you are and rediscovering what makes you happy.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

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I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.

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Related content:

Photo credits:

  • Still raining by azli jamil on flickr.
  • Defense mechanism by Ray Fenwick on flickr.
  1. Tim
    January 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    WOW! I love this site; it’s helped me alot. My ex was also a lawyer. Coincidence? All of her female lawyer friends are all mid 30’s and single! They all have stories of how pathetic their ex’s were. YEAH RIGHT! She clearly fits NPD/ BPD she must always control and manipulate. always. She blamed me for everything that ever went wrong in her life. I was never ever ever EVER right about anything. Everything I read on this site hits home. Thank you so much for all of this. I too will be using this site as a support crutch for my healing stages. I Thank God I found it. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

    • george
      July 13, 2013 at 4:45 am

      Read psychology today magazine. The article is called in the mind of a sociopath…she was a lawyer also

  2. petrushkaml
    January 6, 2010 at 12:43 am

    This is a great website. As I was reading along, a lot of things became so clear to me! Thank you! It’s good to read about other people’s experiences; as you see that you’re not alone in this, and I even laughed at some repetitive behaviour I thought abnormal but she always denied…

    I have been involved with a BPD woman for almost two years now, and we also had a long-distance relationship so it was twice as worse… the constant phone calls, even in the middle of the night, obsessive text messaging, even cruel status on Facebook she’d later claim were not directed at me, or vivid profile pictures a few seconds after we fought.

    She controlled me through music too – we broke up many times (and now I understand this is a vicious circle that makes me the perfect ‘weak’ target for more abuse) and while being broken up she’d send me very angry songs, and then sad depressing ‘take me back’ kind of songs.

    She would do something for me, then hold it over my head.

    She would run away in the middle of the night because we were parting again (we live in different countries) and i’d patiently stay up until early morning trying to find her, or consoling her. That’s what she was after, to make sure that i’d be faithful.

    She got overly jealous of people around me and made me believe it was my fault they were hitting on me. She told me not to speak to some of them, because it made her feel uncomfortable and as her partner I should respect that.

    She complained I wasn’t sending her enough stuff, and she once lent me money – which she held over my head every time we fought. And we fought a lot!

    The last fight was definitive in my mind and I cut any sort of communication – didn’t answer her phone calls, didn’t reply to her emails… it was interesting to see her go on Twitter and Facebook, one minute hating my guts, blaming me for everything and claiming how fabulous she is… the next acting like a poor heartbroken victim so vulnerable…

    She asked back for the ring she gave me as a birthday present and her jersey. I took my time so she became obsessive with text messages such as “WHERE IS MY STUFF” and voicemails in a low voice trembling with anger.

    As soon as I sent it back, she had nothing left to control me so she became sad again, calling a million times and begging me to take her back. Suddenly I wasn’t the bad guy who broke her heart anymore; she was apologizing! I was so good!

    And then I broke the promise to myself.

    I started feeling sorry for her.

    Telling myself she wasn’t so bad after all, and I had my share of responsibility too.

    It was the best sex I had ever had so I selfishly started to miss her for her body as well. And her sexy foreign accent. Other women seemed so… gross to me, because she had manipulated me so well! she would always say how she was only turned on by ME, that everyone else disgusted her, etc.

    She also said she wanted to be my wife (at 21 years old! I’m 26), that i’m the love of her life and she is mine, etc.

    Long story short, I went on vacation with my parents and felt lonely. I got drunk a couple of times and started missing her – the image of her she had me believed. The endoctrination had been done so well, I could barely remember why we fought, and I blamed it all on me.

    It’s like I needed her to make me feel good again about myself. To forgive myself. I went back to that place where I’m the idiot that no one will ever love as much as her.

    One of my best friends, who had listened to me and talked to me after our many breakups, didn’T quite understand where I was at – because now, I wanted her, but I didn’t want a relationship. I loved her, but I didn’t want to be with her.

    I guess this is one of the steps, right?

    Only problem is that I got drunk and sent her an email asking her to fly to where I was – which is 5 hours away by plane.

    At first she said no.

    Gave me an ultimatum that I, and ONLY I, had the responsibility to go and meet HER because I broke her heart. That if I didn’t, she would know i wasn’t worth it and cry no more tears over me.

    I told her I couldn’t so she sent me another ice cold email asking for her money back and saying this was definitely over.

    Finally, I thought. Then I started feeling sad again.

    But I didn’t reply.

    The next day I got a forwarded message from a travel agency: she was flying over here! After that ice cold email, she was now saying how much she loved and needed me! To convince me to leave my job and go back with her to Australia (I’m from Canada) – which is what she wanted all along; to have me with her so she could control me.

    And that’s where I’m at.

    I sent her an email telling her it was over and that I didn’t want her here.
    Then I caved again and said I missed and loved her.

    What is wrong with me? Am I so blind? Stupid? Needy? Sadistic???? Addicted? Brain washed?????

    Her plane lands tonight and I have to leave in 3 days.

    I am afraid she will play mind games, trick me with sex, manipulate me with tears, running away in the middle of the night, etc.

    What scares me the most is what if she decides to chase me? Harass my parents? My co-workers? ! My mom and dad were so MAD when they heard she was coming, and so sad that I was going to get her at the airport! They know she’s bad news and now I feel also terribly guilty for putting them through this because they are so worried for me!!

    But what I am supposed to do?

    Letting her there alone would be heartless.

    I know you said we can’t be kind with them because it’s a sign of weakness, but she knows where I live and she would have hired a car and driven down there to disturb my whole family. Isn’t it also a sign of BDP, when they have an incredibly amazing (but selective) memory? She wanted to know EVERYTHING about me, and always remembered everything I said!

    Somehow I hope that we can talk about this calmly and that this face-to-face interaction will give her and I some kind of closure we both need (as opposed to ending this over the internet/phone). I know you said you can’t get closure from a relationship with a BDP, but I hope so.

    Right now I’m in the hotel room, with a wounded leg and completely exhausted but I can’t sleep. I am scared. Scared of what she might do, but mostly of what mistake I might make again. I need to trust myself. My stomach is like a knot. I just want to go back to mom and dad and hear them say it’ll be ok.

    Writing this sure helped me see things clearer. It’s insane how facts get out of sight sometimes.

    Thank you for this website.

  3. Jon
    November 24, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Somewhere around here I have a list of all 9 of the DSM criteria for BPD, with references for each in various songs by Pink! Seriously, multiple references for every last one of them. It’s not a solid diagnosis, but it is fascinating.

    She’s just a few months younger than my wife and they grew up about 20 minutes from each other. Maybe there was something in the water? (Maybe my wife’s grandfather also abused Pink as a child?)

  4. alan
    November 16, 2009 at 4:44 am

    I just broke it off with my girl of two years after looking at this site. i am considering going back but keep reading this site for support not to. i find myself dwelling in the denial stage. I am concerned with her well being and am sure on some level she does care for me but I can’t take the guilt trips anymore.I can’t take the anger over trivial issues. I have never been “right” once in this relationship when i have always insisted we probably are both a little to blame and she takes that as ” it’s all her fault” She actually slapped me.

    • Mike91163
      November 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

      Alan:

      1–There’s plenty of people for whom “I am concerned about their well-being”, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend the rest of my life living with them!

      2–I’m sure there are plenty of people who “do care for me”; again, same answer as above.

      3–Guilt trips? Alan, I’ve been getting them thrown my way for 20 years from my wife; consider yourself lucky that you only endured them for 2.

      4–Anger over trivial issues? Yep, lived/living with that.

      5–Never been right? Yeah, me neither…I’m debating trademarking “The Fonzie Syndrome” as a name to describe it. Back when the TV show “Happy Days” was on, The Fonz (Henry Winkler’s character) could not/would not EVER admit he was wrong. I was trying to find a clip of the scene where he tries to spit out the phrase “I was wrong” and all that comes out is “wrrr…”, but I haven’t been able to locate it. It was hysterically funny at the time, but once you’ve lived through it for 20 years, it ain’t so funny anymore.

      6–“It’s all her fault”…yeah, don’t you just love the sarcastic, worthless “apologies”???

      7–She slapped you? Buddy, that’s a deal-breaker, right there, period, no excuses for physical violence. It’s a “slap” today, tomorrow it’ll be a “smack”, next week a punch, then things will get thrown at you…in my book, that’s an unforgivable transgression, barring self-defense-which, of course, makes splitting up a given.

      Don’t look back, Alan-yes, you may be in denial, but this will pass…trust me, you do NOT want to spend your life like that.

  5. Lynsi
    November 9, 2009 at 1:41 am

    I was with an emotionally abusive man and have been having a difficult time leaving him. I hope you don’t mind but I changed all the feminine words in the article to masculine and was able to find understanding with my own relationship and the stages of letting go. Thank You.

  6. Taras
    November 3, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Thank you Dr. Palmatier for establishing this blog, I sure could have used it when I realized my marriage was never going to go anywhere but take me down with it. It would have helped me avoid my generally bad experiences with the opposite sex had it been available when I was a young guy who really didn’t understand women or what constituted a healthy relationship in general. I was naive and vulnerable then, and I was a very troubled young man. That is something predatory individuals of both sexes look for, and I had that tattooed on my forehead. It lead to a long pattern of misery that amazingly did not result in becoming an substance abuser, jail or both. I just wish I could read some of these articles then, it would have helped me avoid several pit traps I stepped into. I filed for and got a divorce for her and never looked back. I was so incredibly angry at her and myself too that I felt sick and depressed. The aftermath made me feel like I was going to a funeral for weeks on end. How could I have put up with the treatment I got at her and other women’s hands too? I still can’t live that one down. It took this horrible marriage and then divorce to wake me up to the fact relationships are not supposed to make you feel terrible. I just accepted there is nothing I could do to fix the situation, and got off the sinking ship before it pulled me down with it. It took months for me to start to feel human and like myself again. Until then I literally looked and felt like a zombie. However, the damage has been done to both my physical health and my psyche, both of which will go with me to my grave. I will never trust a woman implicitly ever again unless she demonstrates she deserves that sort of trust. If something in my gut tells me there’s something not right about her or her behavior, I will run, not walk away from her. I now see just how many women with BPD or NPD are out there, and it motivates me to keep my distance from women in general. I came to realize that I bear some of the blame for my misfortune with the opposite sex, and came to realize that a woman who’s normal, sane and truly cares about me would not go out of her way to keep me angry, tense or stressed 24/7. I am not responsible for someone else’s crazy or abusive behavior and I neither have to tolerate it nor reciprocate which is what many abuse women secretly crave because it validates their insanity. I consider it a blessing I never had children with my ex or any other woman, because I would not have been able to make a clean break with her. I’ll probably never know firsthand what a romantic relationship with a non-abusive woman is about, but at least I know now what I want from life, which is spiritual peace. I thank you for your most helpful blog.

  7. Jeff
    October 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you Dr T for replying. Actually this the second time we have been separated. I was only married to her for 83 days and I filed for a divorce, due to the same issues (controlling, jealousy etc etc). Six months later (right before our divorce was going to be finalized) she swore to me that she got help and she no longer has her trust issues and controlling issues etc with me. I believed her and we got back together in Oct 05. Approx 3 months later and after I bought a house for us HELL all started again. So as of now the only thing she has done to me was send me a pic of my dogs saying “we miss you daddy”. Obviously trying to make me feel bad. The other that she had just recently done was I was in the hosp in icu for a severe head injury. When she found out I was there she came into the room, grabbed my cell phone and began looking through it. When I told her to give it back to me she did but unplugged the fan that was cooling me off. She then walked out. Nice huh.
    I know I had to leave her and this time it will be for good but at times I miss my previous life. I miss going to my home, greeting my dog and even having a wife. I’m just taking it one day at a time. I remind myself how much she controlled me, her jealousy, her trust issues and changing me as a person who enjoyed life. It has been the last six years of my life. Attempting to find myself again is very hard. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you

  8. Jeff
    October 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Dr T,
    I am amazed about everything your website says. It fits my soon to be x wife. Her parents went through a very better divorce when she was only 7. During that time, one of her parents told her over and over again “the reason your daddy left was because he didn’t love you”. There were many RED flags during the time we were dating but I wanted to help her and I loved her so I married her. The entire time I was with her she was VERY jealous and controlling for no reason. She would look at my phone, get my ph
    one bill, smell me when I came home etc etc. She kept me away from my friends. I couldn’t even receive a text message from a male friend without reading it to her. We have been through 3 different counselors and some kind of way I was told by them “how to react to her when she has one of her insecurity moments”. I would say this is bs. Why do I have to take this when she has the problem not me. I was then told “its going to take time to get her better”. At no time did any therapists say she has bpd or anything. It was always about me and how I should deal with her when these things occur. She would also curse me out like a rabid dog. At times I would crack and curseh
    Her back and she would all of a sudden she would become the victim. It was amazing. I decided three months ago I had to leave now. I took my clothes and a few other items and left the house I put down all the money on.
    Thank God we don’t have any children but we do have two dogs that we are taking turns getting them.
    My question is do you believe that she is BPD. Can her jealousy and controlling ways be from this.
    Also I was not allowed to hang out with my friends. I went straight to work and came straight home and she still complained about me somehow..
    Thank you so much.

    • shrink4men
      October 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Jeff,

      I can’t diagnose someone I’ve never met, but the behaviors you describe meet many of the criteria for BPD. The therapists’ responses to and advice on how to handle her behavior are “code” for BPD as well. It’s what therapists usually tell men to do when they have an abusive, personality disordered spouse. “Be patient.” “Try not to react.” “listen and make her feel heard.” Ugh.

      These women will use children, dogs, goldfish—it doesn’t matter—anything to hold on. How is she reacting to the separation? Is she terrorizing you? Guilt trips and tears? How do you feel now that you have some distance?

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • Mike91163
      October 15, 2009 at 4:41 pm

      Jeff:

      As I read your story, I saw lots of deja vu, especially with the therapist bits.

      However, I read this with great interest: “Thank God we don’t have any children but we do have two dogs that we are taking turns getting them.” I am in the exact same boat, except we have only one dog…judging by this comment, you have a special bond with them, as I do with mine. I have to say that at times, he’s the one thing that gets me through the day, as he gives my completely unconditional love, unlike my wife…

      That said, you need to terminate contact in ALL forms with your ex. YES, it will break your heart, losing your buddies…BUT, if you are in a position to do so, get a rescue dog, get a puppy, whatever, to start over. The MUTUAL devotion you will have to each other will help you move on from this experience.

      Maybe you will get lucky, though…perhaps she will no longer want to handle the responsibility of caring for your “joint” pets, and you will have the opportunity to be with them 24/7 again…

      Good luck, from one dog lover to another!

      • Jeff
        October 20, 2009 at 5:10 pm

        Mike,
        I cannot thank you enough for your advice.. Just like you, my dogs are the only things that get me through certain days.. I do thank you for your input.
        I’m doing my best to deal with the heartache, shatter dreams etc etc, that is now my everyday reality. I have come to a conclussion that she is just an evil and heartless indivdual. (read my below post to see how mean she really is).
        I know I didn’t make her this way and I know she will never change, but for some odd reason I feel guilty for leaving her.
        Its weird because I should be HAPPY for not having to deal with her controlling issues and ways everyday. Having to answer her daily numerous phone calls, explaining where I am at, who am I with, why am I there, etc etc.. Be advised this is while I am at work.. I’m also not tired of being cursed out, blamed for everything wrong in her life and being accused of having an affair, which I NEVER did.
        With all of this being said..WHY AND THE HELL AM I NOT OVER THE PAIN AND HAPPY I AM NO LONGER WITH HER!!!

        • Mr. E
          October 20, 2009 at 5:27 pm

          Elsewhere on the site is a post about grieving the relationship – you will go through the stages of grieving.

          These relationships are entirely confusing. Obviously there were times when she acted charming and wonderful, otherwise you wouldn’t have married her.

          You’ve been through a psychological war, on YOU. Of course you’re in pain! It’s OK! Feel your emotions, identify them, and then try to let them go.

          The thing you posted about her unplugging the fan in the hospital blows my mind. It amazes, and angers, me that someone can claim to love a person, then do something casually cruel like that.

          • Jeff
            October 20, 2009 at 5:50 pm

            Thank you Mr. E..
            This website has seriously helped me.. Dr. T and all the other poor guys on here really help me each and everyday.. Esp. when I began to second guess myself,(which is daily), for leaving her and filing for a divorce. This website and everyone on here are AWESOME.. THANK YOU ALL..

        • jham123
          October 20, 2009 at 5:50 pm

          Mike, you are still under the spell…the illusion that your life is now complete since you found a lovely girl to spend it with.

          Once you break the spell (and thank god you don’t have kids) you then move to felling Angry…..Angry that she duped you for so long. Angry that you were taken advantage of…Angry at yourself for letting it occur in the first place.

          Angry is where I am now….It’s part of healing. I, however, am using the energy from that anger to “act” in my own best interest.

  9. Araboo
    October 13, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Hi Dr.

    Well, firstly thank you for a very informative piece on how to view the end of a very emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. I have no real opinion on myself anymore but would certainly say that I am a very understanding man with a strong and ethical character, I seldom, if ever, hurt people around me without being seriously and constantly provoked. I am a successful financial planner by profession and am under quite a bit of pressure to deliver which may result in me becoming quiet or distracted or serious at times, but not controlling or aggressive. The girl that I left about a month ago I had been dating for about 18 Months (with a 3 month breakup last year so that she could sleep with her ‘troll’ of an ex). I felt sorry for her, I did not want her to associate with that scum. I fought tooth and nail to get her back, which I did. My offering was attractive, I would always talk about a healthy, faithful and supporting role in her life, and walk the talk, and so much wanted a peaceful life with her and was convinced that I wanted to grow old with her. The feelings I felt for her and still do, are, needless to say, intense! I would only ever ask of her two things (i) be nice and love me, if you say you do then surely it cant be that hard just to control your rage and (ii) if you are out late please let me know if you are ok at certain intervals and where you are.

    I cannot explain to you the constant chaos before and after social events, constant running out on me, excessive drinking, absolutely filthy name calling, derogatory comments about my work, friends and no understanding about issues that I had with my family about not seeing them regularly enough. Basically this is the tip of the iceburg. When I say it was extreme I mean it was extreme and very aggressive. She literally pushed me down the staris at my home and on another occasion struck me on the top of my head. What if I had reacted to this?

    I swallowed most of this up and forgave her each time until I started reacting back and subscribing to the same pattern. I could not contain myself and one day offlaoded on her, everything came out (verbally). I am not proud but could not take it anymore. This woman took my self-respect, my kind heart, passion for the future and almost every shred of my dignity. I had to leave her.

    Letting go of all this emotianal conflict is difficult, I am battling. I am embarrased, feel rejected and consider myself a fool for wanting this woman. She too is an attorney. I provided her with emotional support when she needed it, inspired her during tough times at work and was with her when she called for me. Apart from the all this support through sickness and stress that she went through, the gifts I gave her and the loyalty and faithfulness. She blasted everything.

    I am very concerned that I doubt myself so much, that I will return to this chaos and I do miss her very much. I know there is better, I am young, healthy and successful. Why do I want this sickness in my life? Why do I feel like I have lost something and feel rejected? Why am I feeling like I am the one that caused her to go to such extremes?

    I dont like this drawn out process of thinking and reclcling my thoughts of anger and depression. I was the best that I could be. I was perfect for her in her family and friends eyes. I could do nothing to make her see that.

    Sorry for the negative post but you seem to understand this topic very well.

    • jham123
      October 13, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      @ Araboo, read the article from April 1st titled “Traumatic Love”

      http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/traumatic-love-is-your-narcissistic-or-borderline-wife-or-girlfriend-making-you-sick/#comment-2549

      What’s the difference between PTSD and Betrayal Trauma?

      The primary difference between PTSD and betrayal trauma is fear vs. anger. Historically, PTSD is considered to be caused by extreme fear; betrayal trauma is thought to be caused by anger. Both evoke a fight or flight response.

      However, prolonged repetitive emotional abuse can create a third response. If you can’t fight (i.e., because the NPD/BPD twists reality, blames you for everything and puts you in no-win situations) or, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t take flight (i.e., dump her warped ass) you default to the third response. You numb out, shut down and experience a pervasive sense of profound helplessness.

    • Keith
      October 30, 2009 at 9:57 pm

      I can tell you this… Yes you were perfect ! Thats what they want ! The perfect man ! You were it ! Remember there is nothing , absolutely nothing wrong with you ! These women could be handed a Gold bar and would somehow turn it into a worthless piece of tin ! She wouldnt have ever approached if you werent a decent man . Be proud of who you are and without her in your life you will be the same man again ! You will give it time to heal those wounds she gave you . You didnt ask for it or give them to yourself. She did it.

  10. Jon
    September 30, 2009 at 3:15 am

    Sorry if this has already been mentioned in the comments, but I wanted to point out that you can be “friendly” with an ex without being friends. You can get along and have superficial conversations when necessary, but you don’t go on dates or spend time together.

    This is a crucial distinction for those of us who have children with BPD/NPD women. There will always be a relationship there (even if the Borderline/Narc tries to destroy what’s left) and it’s possible for it to be a civil one, but not if you are exhibiting the same splitting behavior of your ex. (ie, married or enemies, no possibility of being friends or even friendly.)

    The key to being friendly is the arms-length rule mentioned here. Tricks like a one-arm hug with a newspaper or something cleverly placed between the bodies can keep things friendly without getting sucked back in.

    Fortunately for me my wife has taken all of the steps predicted by Bill Eddy in “Splitting”, and has had notarized several particularly insane accusations about me. I gave copies to my family with the charge to show them to me again if I ever appear to be walking back into that trap. Thanks, “Sweetheart”! I’m glad you finally did something to help me move on!

    And thanks as always, Dr. T!

    – Jon

    • AnonymousT
      September 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      Jon, thanks for the perspective. I also have children with my ex. But at this point I am finding that erring further on the side of “no contact” as Dr. Tara urges is better for me. I don’t view my ex as an enemy, exactly, but more as a source of emotional pain, and too great a risk to trust. She did a lot of surprising and hurtful and dishonest things at the end before she left, but seemed to keep pushing for contact afterward, which was extremely confusing and upsettting. She would always be dressed up at these occasions, usually on her way to or from some event, party, trip, etc., with a tan or a new outfit.

      Someone else gave excellent advice on this site earlier: limit communication to email to the extent possible, and keep it simple, kind, courteous, and direct.

      I do feel though, that when kids give you feedback that the NPD ex is running you down, blaming you for what happened, telling them how much better life is now without you, you need to respond to this and let them know it’s not true. Defend your reputation, correct the false statements, but without hostility or counterattack.

      Probably the best antidote is to set a different and better example for them.

      • Nick
        October 12, 2009 at 4:58 pm

        Annonymous…very dangerous. When I texted to “set the record straight” it ended with her on my porch and then in bed. The same sick cycle of abuse started over for the 30th time. Just one man’s experience. kids are a different situation. What i found the hard way..is the best that i can do is be the best man possible…a pillar of success in all areas of my life. My “revenge” will be in a life well lived. One that SHE can look at…while it fills her tortured soul with regret. I’m guessing this MAY happen long about husband number 6.

  11. Karen
    August 27, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I just love this site, I come back to it every few days.
    There is a popular song on the radio right now by Pink, called “Please don’t leave me” it sounds just like an NPD/BPD chick! lyrics below-

    I don’t know if I can yell any louder
    How many time I’ve kicked you outta here?
    Or said something insulting?
    Da da da, da da

    I can be so mean when I wanna be
    I am capable of really anything
    I can cut you into pieces
    But my heart is broken
    Da da da, da da

    Please don’t leave me
    Please don’t leave me
    I always say how I don’t need you
    But it’s always gonna come right back to this
    Please, don’t leave me

    How did I become so obnoxious?
    What is it with you that makes me act like this?
    I’ve never been this nasty
    Da da da, da da

    Can’t you tell that this is all just a contest?
    The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest
    But baby I don’t mean it
    I mean it, I promise
    Da da da, da da

    Please don’t leave me
    Oh please don’t leave me
    I always say how I don’t need you
    But it’s always gonna come right back to this
    Please, don’t leave me

    I forgot to say out loud how beautiful you really are to me
    I cannot be without, you’re my perfect little punching bag
    And I need you, I’m sorry
    Da da da, da da

    Da da da da, da da da da
    Da da da, da da
    Please, please don’t leave me
    (Da da da, da da)

    Baby please don’t leave me
    (Da da da, da da)
    No, don’t leave me
    Please don’t leave me no no no

    You say I don’t need you
    But it’s always gonna come right back
    It’s gonna come right back to this
    Please, don’t leave me

    Please don’t leave me, oh no no no.
    I always say how I don’t need you
    But it’s always gonna come right back to this

    Please don’t leave me
    Baby, please, please don’t leave me

    • shrink4men
      August 27, 2009 at 6:05 pm

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks! I agree, these lyrics definitely appear to be written by or about a relationship with a NPD/BPD. Not exactly what I’d call a “love” song.

      Best,
      Dr T

    • Keith
      October 30, 2009 at 9:32 pm

      WOW !Karen that is amazing !! I just TODAY listened closely to that song and came to the same conclusion !!Borderline all the way !! Remember madonna’s Boderline ? Keep on pushing my love over the Borderline ?? Funny Maybe in some strange way all borderlines are related in some way . Then again I think they are Aliens from another universe and we dont fit into their universe!!

    • Kent
      November 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm

      Karen, I agree. This song really hits home. The first time i heard it, my mouth fell open. I felt like I was listening to a song written by my fiancee. Oddly enough, she turned up the radio when it came on and said “I love this song.” I even quoted a line form it in our last knock-down drag-out. “The one who wins will be the one who hits the hardest.” Usually in our fights I stand incredulous at the barrage of verbal abuse, or try to defend myself. This time I vowed to give as good as I got. I’m not proud of behaving like that, but I finally feel like I at least stood up for myself. I didn’t want to be the “perfect little punching bag.” I look back and think ‘if only I had left in the midst of it.’ Instead I stayed, and the aftermath was all softness and sweetness from her. And I stand waiting once again for the next time the pressure builds to breaking and we explode.

  12. melove54
    August 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Over the weekend, while reading and responding to posts on your blog, I had a “Big Mac Attack!” It was an overwhelming feeling of internalized anger that seemed to interpret as a need for closure. Maybe I’m misinterpreting this, but what I seemed to feel was the need to confront my abuser with all her inadequacies, yet, at the same time, there is no way in hell I would ever contact her in any way shape or form. I know she wouldn’t give a damn about what I have to say, however, with the knowledge of intricasies about her condition, I feel like I’m well armed to attack her egocentric core, it’s like a payback. Again, I would never contact her, so it seems more of a fantasy thought than anything. I haven’t had this feeling for some time now, maybe 3months or so, which is why I wonder, “why now almost nine months later?” Is this a phase all us men go through? The need to tell her, “let me tell you something about yourself you don’t know!!”

    • jp
      August 24, 2009 at 3:44 pm

      Guys,

      I was married for 13 years and have been separated for 3 (finalizing the divorce now) to a woman who’s absolutely convinced I’m the crazy one.

      We have two small children so I deal with her constantly, and every time we talk I still get beat up on some level. No matter how carefully I bring something up, no matter how precisely I choose my words, she is going to respond in a way designed to put me down. I finally figured out…thanks largely to this site…that she’s basically just punishing me for talking to her.

      She will always…

      – be condescending and superior

      – gaslight me by challenging my memory to make me feel crazy (“Don’t you remember…we talked about that?” when she knows full well that I remember)

      – mindf*ck me by ignoring the obviously key point I’m making and respond instead to something tangential in the conversation

      – infantalize me by responding to the brain-dead obvious version of what I’m saying when she knows I’m trying to address something at a more sophisticated level. (e.g., the day before I’m supposed to pick up the kids for the weekend I’ll email and say “what’s up this weekend” [by which I mean is there anything special I need to know about the kids' mood, health, clothes, etc.] and she’ll just reply, “you’ve got the kids”).

      My point is don’t waste time analyzing why. And don’t think you’ll get anywhere pointing out these behaviors to her. She’ll just accuse you of doing the very same things.

      JP

      • Frank
        August 24, 2009 at 6:00 pm

        I realize, as I previously stated, my X wouldn’t give a shit about what I have to say about her. However, I believe we all deserve to know why certain feelings come over us. It helps us deal with those thoughts and emotions in a future sense. In my case over the weekend, I dwelled and mulled, and the feeling literally became overwhelming. Kind of like it was in the beginning, right after the breakup.Could be too that this had something to do with these thoughts: I began dating for the first time approx. 2 months ago, and I did not feel an emotional connection in this new relationship. The good aspect of this relationship was, we never experienced adversity between us. One thing I did find highly unusual was, she had a very unemotional, stone like personality. She did not give or receive affection well at all, and sex was for her satisfaction, not mine. Skip all that foreplay non-sense, just “f” me good! She had this strange sense of obligation about money too. As a for instance, prefacing that I’ve paid for everything we’ve ever done together, with the exception of asking her for two dollars once, as I was short to give the waitress a decent cash tip. The next day she approach me with serious tone and body language, asking for her two dollars back. I can assure you, she could afford it! She owns a $50k+ Lexus (paid for!) She had a mindset that the man will pay for everything if they are dating her. Hell, she wouldn’t even drive over to my house because she didn’t want to use her own gas! Twice in two months she visited my home.

        So anyhow, lack of connection, some analyzing of other areas integral to further pursuit, did not add up for me personally. So I severed the relationship. This just happened last wednesday. I’m glad that I took the time to rationalize the relationship fit and where it was truly going. As well, I was agitated she was using me in such ways. So maybe, this recent “Big Mac Attack” had something to do with the recent breakup and feeling used again. Maybe I was going through a sterotype of women? Maybe it’s just part of the recovery process? It seemed to be somewhat of an unconscious process though. Just looking for some answers that make sense.

      • shrink4men
        August 24, 2009 at 7:18 pm

        You’re absolutely right, JP. The only way to “win” with this kind of woman is to distance yourself, avoid these types of traps and get on with your life.

        Best,
        Dr T

    • shrink4men
      August 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm

      Hi melove54,

      Yes, I think it’s a phase many people go through. Wanting to tell of the person who hurt you so very badly exactly what you think of them and how they wronged you is a natural impulse. However, with personality disordered emotional abusers, it just doesn’t work. Even if they can recognize the truth in what you say, it only lasts for a second and then the wheels in their head start spinning and they go into DEFEND mode. They twist everything around again on you and you’re left in a WTF just happened to me again state.

      The best closure to have with a person like your ex is to move on in your life, not give her a second thought and find true happiness.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  13. Jim
    August 24, 2009 at 6:51 am

    My crazy relationship with my ex ended last spring. When it did she blamed everything on me even though she was the cheater/liar/manipulator/etc. I was utterly confused as to what had happened. After researching I found that her actions and what i knew of her past fit the BPD profile perfectly. Too bad I learned all of this in hindsight – the splitting, projecting, gaslighting, endless lying and blaming. She broke up with me saying that she needed space but then I found out she had another couple of guys waiting in the wings.

    I was in the denial stage big time at first. I thought everything was my fault and I believed her when she blamed me! When it fell through with the other couple of guys she begged me to talk to her and I did. When i did she just manipulated me more and said lets be friends. She kept doing this for about a month until she found another guy who shes no serious with.

    I finally went no contact but it took me way too long. I thought I’d get closure with her or that she would resolve and admit to her wrongdoings. I’ve been NC now for two months – changed #, etc. Now i’m in the depression stage. How long is this expected to last? I realize everyone is different but I’m just curious. I don’t miss work or anything but I’ve been sleeping a lot. I’m trying to regain my motivation. Any suggections?

    • Derek
      August 24, 2009 at 8:27 am

      Jim,

      I’ve been through similar except we were married for a year and there’s a child involved. It took me 5 months of emotional hell before I could get a healthy perspective on what happened.

      The trick is to see her selfish behaviour and lack of empathy for what it is. You’re not dealing with a person with a normal range of emotions, but rather with an adult with an emotional age of around 3 that’s learnt to project a changeable fake identify in order to be accepted by society and to lure unsuspecting men into her trap. The lies, blame, distorted history, infidelity, manipulation and control are all defence mechanisms she needs to maintain her fake identity and to coerce you into a supporting role. This is incredibly damaging to your self-esteem and sense of reality, because at the time you think you’re dealing with a rational person and you start questioning your own sanity, values, memory of events, etc.

      If she is a borderline, I can guarantee you that’s she’s not feeling true remorse and your pain and suffering is hurting nobody but yourself and those that care about you. Take a deep breath and let go – she’s mentally defective and you won’t get to rational closure until you realize that.

      • shrink4men
        August 24, 2009 at 6:41 pm

        Hi Derek,

        That’s excellent advice. Thank you for posting it here. The last paragraph is especially important.

        I’m glad to read you’ve found a way to let go and move on.

        Kind Regards,
        Dr Tara

    • shrink4men
      August 24, 2009 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Jim,

      A bout of depression can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. If it persists beyond that I recommend seeking some professional support. The thing to remember with depression is that it is temporary. It won’t last forever.

      Meanwhile, try to stick to the following:

      1. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule—no naps during the day.
      2. Avoid alcohol and other depressants.
      3. Eat well.
      4. Don’t isolate yourself. Even if you don’t feel like it, get together with friends.
      5. Stick to your routine.
      6. Exercise. It releases serotonin and other mood lifting neurochemicals.
      7. When you start to ruminate on the relationship, distract yourself with other things.
      8. Reconnect with people you’ve fallen out of touch with and resume doing the things you enjoy.

      Depression can make small things that ordinarily require zero effort seem like climbing Mt. Everest. If you can push through that and do what you know is good for you, the depression should start to lift.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Jim
        August 28, 2009 at 1:19 am

        Dr. T,

        I received an email from my ex’s dad a few days ago asking about some stuff that I have of hers in storage that she never picked up. She kept dragging me along after the relationship ended and before she could finally get the stuff I went no contact. I’m assuming she’s tried to email me but since I blocked her email I don’t receive them. I called her dad – who’s a really nice guy – and he’s going to pick the stuff up next week.

        Here’s the thing. Even seeing an email from her dad made me feel all of these intense emotions. I’ve had the strong urge to unblock her email and even have thoughts in the back of my mind about emailing her eventually. This is making me sick. I feel strongly that I should stay no contact indefinitely and never talk to her again. But i still have all of this ambivalence. Severe ambivalence i’d say. I can’t stop thinking there’s a chance that she will be nice with me and that we could be friends eventually. It’s like the same way I felt when we were still living together, after she had told me that she cheated on me with her co-worker and lied about a bunch of things. Just as I was then, I’m torn up inside thinking that this girl will change and that her good side with start to dominate. These feelings are even more intense because, now that she is gone and I haven’t seen her for a while, my guilt makes me feel that maybe I was the one who made her act out so much and that now she is better. Is this common? It seems pathetic that I could still be hooked to a person who has acted in these ways. it doesn’t make sense.

        • shrink4men
          August 28, 2009 at 1:52 am

          Jim,

          Hang tough and keep your no contact policy. Yes, these feelings are normal. Most importantly, if you initiate contact with this woman again, it will take you even longer to get over this relationship. You’ll reopen the wound. It’s highly unlikely this woman will ever change. You have no reason to feel guilty. You did not make her act out. You could’ve been the perfect boyfriend and she still would’ve treated you like garbage. You are not responsible for her behaviors.

          Please call a friend before you call this woman and have him or her talk you down. Stop paying attention to your feelings and listen to your intellect.

          Kind Regards,
          Dr Tara

  14. Freedom
    August 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I wish i had a dollar for every time i told my ex “you don’t want me… you want your version of me, which is someone you can control, spit on, and someone that NEEDS you, therefore will keep coming back for more because of that need… and trust me, you have the wrong guy”. i told her that i was with her because i loved her, never because i needed her. i’m a grown man and can take care of myself, been doing so quite successfully for many years. i wanted a companion, a lover, someone who can be my mate, my equal, my partner. i fully understand that sometimes relationships can be hard work. but it shouldn’t be a constant battle within the dynamic to “prove” to someone that you love them. they will either accept that love and kind and nurturing (as i tried to be) or, in the case of my ex, try to bastardize it into something that can be harnessed and controlled, like a beast of burden, to do their bidding at will.

    • shrink4men
      August 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm

      Well said, Freedom.

  15. melove54
    August 1, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Reflecting upon his own past behaviors,.. so it was like he was hearing his X making light of his profession as an encumbrance to the relationship. I hit the emotional chord of the former relationship primary and the lawyer thing was most likely secondary to it all. Wow, I really didn’t think about it that way!

    O.K. then, guess I’ll leave that topic alone from here on out!! Guess we all have our sore spots. Great call, it makes perfect sense. Thanks Dr. T, you just raised my awareness another notch!

    • shrink4men
      August 3, 2009 at 11:23 pm

      Hi melove54,

      You’re welcome. It’s just a hypothesis. Interpersonal communication happens on so many levels, there’s probably even more to it.

      Thanks for your continued participation. I appreciate it!

      Cheers,
      Dr T

  16. melove54
    July 27, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    This is a bit off topic here, however, I had an experience over the weekend that I need an opinion. I will preface that my disturbing discussion was with an old friend from Lousiana that came to visit me and he is an attorney. I also mentioned that my X-N was an attorney. I only mention this to see if you find a correlation in the end.

    Him and I were talking about an old friend that had a keen intelect about deriving definitions of words because of his knowledge of Latin. I then began another discussion about my X-N, being I thought he could relate to the topic, that she as a lawyer and a catholic, and she did not know that derivatives of law terms, as well, that the language used in portions of the catholic services was LATIN! Now I cannot fathom that she did not know this, it just seemed to me that a person in law and as a catholic would undeniably know this.

    My friend looked at me with this blank stare and said, “I don’t understand the correlation?” I was taken aback by his comment and I then stated, ” well, don’t you think that a person involved in law and as a catholic would know this?” He then proceeded to state that “we don’t speak latin in law and being catholic as well, the priest does not use Latin as a primary language to our services, so I cannot see the correlation.” I stated, “well, the point I’m making is how someone could go through law school, and grow up in a catholic church and not recognize “habeous corpus” and “dominus vobiscum” as Latin!? I further stated (a bit curtly) “So, my point is, a person is not paying attention to their life and/or their livelihood if they don’t recognize such simple things!”

    Long story short, he continued his side on the basis of “we don’t speak latin in law, and they don’t speak latin in church. I got frustrated, and told him that he was being rhetorical and condescending by virtue of acting as though he did not understand the correlation. His final statement was, “the point of this debate that I make is, that just because there is a difference of opinions doesn’t give you the right to attack someone.”

    Now, I surmise the following based upon his statements: First and foremost, I was making a comment about my X-N and something that I could not understand about her. He stated that he could not relate or find a correlation of how latin in the church and law had anything to do with anything. I consider my friend to be intelligent enough to relate to my comment. It almost seemed that by virtue of my X being an attorney and he being an attorney, was as though he was defending the “fraternity”, if you will. Or is this a case of me just being unreasonable, having a frustration attack due to my past abusive relationship?

    Secondly, I do not believe it was a debate at all, in that he chose to persue the topic in the sense of not understanding Vs relating to the topic at hand, which was “how can one be so oblivious to their life and livelihood.” Sure, I was being critical of my X-N, being it was of the past and I thought it to be strange she did not know such things. I know too that we as humans have the propensity to talk about others. Typically, I don’t criticize others, especially to their face. If is a case of another’s opinion, I view it as their right to have an opinion and avoid a debate. In this case, I perceived his words to be extremely condescending,.. it was almost as if he baited me into becoming frustrated with his so-called lack of understanding via my comments and I did call him down on it. It reminded me of the rhetoric I endured in my former relationship. We were in a restaurant and the gentlemen next to us overheard the comments I made, and even stated, “how could a lawyer not know that the derivatives of law terminology are Latin?”

    I admit I was upset my friend acted as though he did not understand, that was my bad. It went away as quickly as it came on and we were fine. I was perplexed about the way in which he approached my comments. This was also one of my biggest problems I had with my X-N. She would go off on another tangent that was unrelated to the subject matter originally discussed and defend her view as if she was defending a case in court.

    I realize my wrong where it concerns being initially frustrated with my friend. It just seemed that he took insult to my comment as it related to her being a lawyer and defended(support of the fraternity of Lawyers) an unrelated correlation, JMO. If you could give me some insight/opinion about how these circumstances may relate to my previous abusive relationship, and was this truly a debate, argument as much as it was me continuing to convey a point that I believe he understood all along, but simply wanted to be difficult? I would greatly appreciate your take on this to settle my mindset about this situation.

    • jp
      July 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

      Based on what you write here, I don’t see any correlation to your previous relationship.

      It sounds to me like when you criticized your ex your friend felt criticized too, and so he became defensive which you describe as being ‘difficult’.

      Of course, being a lawyer he may be accustomed to argue points more persistently, and less likely to concede them for the sake of bonhomie. It could also be that you were coming on too strong and he was sticking to his point just to bust our balls and make a point.

      • jp
        July 30, 2009 at 2:45 pm

        sorry, that was supposed to be, “…your balls…”

      • melove54
        July 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm

        I really appreciate taking the time to answer this. After calmly restating my topic a couple of times and then, he attempting to negate that a correlation existed, well, I became a bit frustrated. Honestly, I felt the old “battlefield” mentality coming back due to the “oh so familiar” rhetoric he conveyed. It bothered me because I had not felt that way in many, many months. It was probably a lawyer thing.

        Interestingly enough, about 3 years ago, I had spoken to this same friend about the difficulties I was having with the same woman. In short, how she seemed to want to debate every little issue. His reply then was, “what do you expect, us lawyers are trained to argue and debate!” He also stated that was one of the reasons his marriage failed. As he quoted, “my X always felt she was always on trial. What did she expect, I’m a Lawyer!!”

        I of course, did some previous research on Lawyers and their relationship shortcomings and it is surprising how many Lawyers(specifically litigators) fit the Narcisisstic Profile. Law schools even admit there are disorders that result from their law school training. Where I was floored is that they really don’t want to deal with the psychological aspects, they simply feel doing so, will interfere with the quality of Lawyer they wish to produce. It’s sad to see how humans are puppeteered this way, to perform by the strings of others. So sad..

        Thanks again for being so kind to respond.

        • shrink4men
          July 30, 2009 at 10:36 pm

          Hi melove54,

          I used to work in a university counseling center and had my fair share of law school patients. In general, there was a lot of entitlement, difficulty being vulnerable and the need to be right. Not all lawyers are this way. I have plenty of attorney friends who are able to leave that behavior at the office (for the most part). Sounds like there’s some professional solidarity, but, on the other hand, the “what do you expect from me? I’m a lawyer” argument/defense is pretty weak. So because he’s a lawyer it precludes him from being an understanding friend? My guess is he was probably bristling because hearing you recount how bad things were with you ex-attorney was probably causing him to reflect on his own behaviors in his former marriage and divorce that irritated his sore spots.

          I have a friend who voted for George W. Bush not once, but twice. For the sake of our friendship, we agreed to not discuss politics for 8 years. It was better that way.

          Kind Regards,
          Dr Tara

  17. Bob
    July 24, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Your site is life changing thank you,Bob

    • shrink4men
      July 24, 2009 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Bob,

      Thank you for that. I really appreciate the positive feedback.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  18. Mr. E
    July 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    “Even when this woman is hurling the most abusive bile at you, in her mind, she believes she’s being magnanimous for pointing out the error of your ways, so you can improve yourself and be the kind of man she “deserves.” You should be grateful she takes time from her “busy” schedule to criticize, abuse and condescend to you.”

    Another light bulb just turned on for me too. Thanks!

    I just had an argument with her the other day after getting lectured about how I need to follow through with my plans and stop abandoning my goals. She conveniently left out the part where she goes out of her way to make sure I CAN’T follow through with my plans/achieve goals.

    For example, if I want to do some work which requires a computer, guess who’s suddenly on the computer all the time from the second we get home. If I need supplies she either tells me I can’t buy them, or gives me endless guilt trips about spending so much money. Oh, but she wants me to be able to do everything I want, and totally supports me in whatever I do.

    Anyway, after the lecture, I told her I felt like I was being criticized for just being me. Obviously, I was wrong for feeling that way, because she’s trying to help me, but if I don’t want any help then she’ll just shut up and let me squander my life.

    …It’s scary how her arguments seem rational until I write them down. She’s really good at making me the problem, at least in the moment.

    And I’m definitely not experiencing an orderly progression through the five stages – it seems more like one big, weird stage. I’m mostly out of denial, except when I get back into it (eg. “Maybe it’s me”). Plenty of alternating back and forth between anger and depression, with a bit of bargaining too. Whee!

    Thanks for blowing my mind again, Dr. T. I get something new out of your posts every time I (re)read them.

  19. melove54
    July 21, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Great stuff Dr.T! There is one comment you made that stood out for me and that abused men should understand implicitly about BPD or N’s is this, “the woman you love never existed.” What true existence these women have is based upon how the abused man sieves through the BS and they create this woman. She is in essence, a “figment of his imagination.” The epitome of denial. This is where many of us get “hung up” on these types.

    I also have to comment about one that really hits home with me, which is the magnanimous view of the BPD/N that conveys how “You should be grateful she takes the time from her “busy” schedule to criticize, abuse and condescend to you! ” My N was incessant about how stressed she was in her job (attorney) on a daily basis. Now I know that the average lawyer/litigator puts in around 60-70 hours a week, she only works in her own practice an average of 35 hours. After work, she would come home, lambaste me as if I should more appreciate her “busy” schedule. I did try over a four year period to understand, and then one day I said, “You have never worked over 35 hours a week in your 12 year career.” She was taken aback by this, almost speechless, and then replied, “Well, I never had to work more than 35 hours and that’s why I’m stressed!” Then came the barrage of verbal BS of how, by virtue of her existence, that I’m a better person because of it!?!?

    By virtue of this conversation, the proverbial “Light” came on and I realized then that love truly did not exist between us. I had to get out while I had a shred of dignity left. Life is good now and thank god, I came to my senses! Nothing worse than a female narcissistic litigator!

    Love your blog and the service you provide to those men that truly need a “wake up call.”

    • shrink4men
      July 23, 2009 at 8:33 pm

      Hi melove54,

      Thanks for the positive feedback. I once had a couple in counseling. The wife was clearly an off the charts NPD and her poor husband was just beaten down. She dominated most of their first and last session with me, controlling the discussion and talking down to him whenever he tried to express himself. Finally, near the end of the session, I said, “Johanna, thank you for sharing your perspectives on your marriage. It’s been very informative. However, I’d like to hear a little more from Ron.”

      Ron started to say something and his wife cut him off by saying, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. He’s so angry. How am I supposed to live with someone who’s so angry?” Meanwhile, this guy had barely opened his mouth during the course of 45 minutes and every time he did, she came down on him with some criticism. This time, I interrupted her and said, “Johanna, I’ve noticed an interesting dynamic the last hour. You stated repeatedly that Ron doesn’t express himself well and that he’s ‘so angry.’ Yet, each time he’s tried to say something, you cut him off and criticize him. Ron, I’m wondering if Johanna does this to you at home as well?”

      For the first time that session, a light flickered in Ron’s eyes and he seemed hopeful as he nodded his head “yes.” I added, “Furthermore, Ron doesn’t strike me as particularly angry. He’s sat here quietly through most of the session as you went into complaint after complaint about him.” Johanna interjected again and said, “That’s because he’s always trying to dominate me and tell me how to feel. If I didn’t criticize him he wouldn’t know what to change in order to be a good husband.” I asked, “Johanna, why do you think it’s your job to criticize Ron?” Johanna blinked several times and stammered, “I…well…I…you…he doesn’t…” Then she set her jaw, crossed her arms and stared at the wall. Shortly thereafter, she offered a terse “goodbye” and didn’t make eye contact.

      Needless to say, I never saw Johanna or Ron again. I hope the “lights” continued to go on for him and that he managed to get out of that toxic relationship.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, melove54,
      Dr Tara

  20. Kev
    July 20, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Once again, you’ve provided some of the most insightful, straightforward, and understanding material I’ve seen on the situation on the web. Thank you for this. I’ve been stuck in “depression,” and am trying to find my way out of it. Some days are easier than others, but I know there’s overall progress.

    It’s good to know there’s a road out of the Land of WTF.

    Thank you.

    • Brandon
      July 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm

      The best way I have found to deal with the depression stage is simply talk to someone who will listen. A friend or family member is ideal. I know my mother is sick of hearing me talk about it, and so are my friends, but they are supportive in helping me through the down times. I’ve also found that being extremely active is very beneficial. Go out there and do things you enjoy, if only for a few moments. Also listen to yourself when you talk about it…you will be amazed that you were even thinking of going back…

      • shrink4men
        July 23, 2009 at 8:35 pm

        Great advice, Brandon. Thanks for sharing it.

        Kind Regards,
        Dr Tara

    • shrink4men
      July 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm

      Wow, Kev, Thank you. I truly appreciate the feedback. Depression is a natural phenomenon. You went through a traumatic relationship. Of course it left you feeling bad. Feel the feelings as they come up. Observe them. Express them in a healthy way. And then let them go. Depression often arises when we avoid facing unpleasant things, thoughts, feelings that we’d rather ignore. Once you face them, you realize they’re not that bad and that lots of other people go through the very same thing. In fact, we often invest more energy in trying NOT to deal with these things than it would take to just deal with them.

      Hang in there. You’ll get through.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • Eric
      November 19, 2012 at 4:46 am

      I was married for almost a year. I never understood what was going on in the beginning but deep inside I knew something was not right with her, but knew I was constantly in trouble, put down, verbally abused, degraded, could not reason with her, compromise, communicate or apologize enough to her. She was unaccountable, controlling, unforgiving, heartless, manipulative, was not compassionate, empathetic, loving or caring most of the time, she has called me every name in the DEVILS BOOK and always selfish, walking on egg shells to always say the right thing that would not send her running and abandoning me, our marriage and my 5 year old son (not hers) for weeks or even months and completely moving out twice. As long as I was her “puppet on a string” agreeing and doing everything according to her way and to her schedule and ignoring all of my needs then everything would be fine with her and us. I constantly lived in fear where she over powers and dominates everything, completely controlling everything. If I did not live this way she would decide to freak out again and leave or threaten too! Some days I felt like I was going crazy, her description of the truth was always skewed, and sometimes just flat out wrong. Most of the time would blame me for all of our problems. It’s amazing she remembers every move I make but never can recall her behavior correctly. Sometimes I would sit silently when she talks and listen, waiting for my turn to respond, speak and whenever I begin to talk she always talks over me, a little louder to make sure to not hear anything I am saying. She always tried to SUCK ME IN TO HER TWISTED HEAD GAMES and when I did do this sometimes, I would get blamed for abuse when all I was doing was trying to defend myself. She projected everything back on me and unfortunately it has worked more than once. She gaslights me meaning she says something one day or promises to go or do something and then when that day comes, she denies that she ever said or agreed to this and tells me I’m crazy. When she did keep her commitment it always required her to change the time or the day. I finally decided not to appease her anymore as I only did this for a short time until I could figure out a better way to handle all of her abuse. She has hit me and pushed me more than once. Once I decided to start defending myself and explaining to her some of my needs, it just made things even worse. She was not affectionate to me at all and when we made love she would make feel guilty afterwards. She would use sex to control me or with hold it to punish me when I did something wrong in her eyes only of course which was all the time. Apparently I would express my needs, concerns or hurts and that completely pissed her off for days and even weeks at times. Her response was that I was too needy and insecure, that I need help and to see a therapist. I needed help alright but not because of my needs, but because of her behaviors, treatment and actions towards me and me being afraid of facing my fears of being alone. I found myself not knowing what to do or say but only to pull back and try to not engage in conversation because it is a no win situation. She was/is a Narcissist or was Borderline Personality disorder, but she always claimed she was Bi-polar but she did not fit all of those symptoms, but was being treated for it any way with no improvement to her ruthless behaviors. She has called the police three times, one time sending me to jail. I DID NOT HIT OR TRY TO HURT HER IN ANY WAY. I asked her why she was not wearing her wedding ring; her reply was rude, heartless and inconsiderate. I said if you don’t want to wear it then I will just take it back. The ring was on the night stand and I went to get it and she did too. Our hands touched when we both reached for the ring but that was it. An hour later she was still mad and called the police on me and I spent the night in jail on VALENTINES night for a DV charge. She told them I assaulted her which I didn’t. I admitted that our hands did touch and then they arrested me but not her. She then asked the police to not take me to jail but they did any way and hand cuffed me in front of my son. They let me call my mother to get my son because I was not leaving him with her. For the record I have never been arrested or in any other kind of trouble before this and I am 47. I am not a criminal but now I was to her because I went to jail. It was thrown up to me many times after whenever she seen fit to use this against me or anything else in her arsenal of past incidents. She has called over 60 times in a row at my work until they let me go for having marriage problems. There are times when I did feel a bit scared that she would snap and do something really crazy. Her dad enables her making things even worse. She has two beautiful daughters who will have nothing to do with her going on 6 years now and have completely written their mom out of their lives and grandchildren as well. She blames them and her ex for brainwashing them against her. I look at myself and try to figure out why I am in this situation and it is pretty easy to see now. I stayed because I was afraid of being alone and worried I would not be able to find anyone new, who was capable of loving me the way I needed to be loved. I did not want to lose making love to her or some of things that were good between us. Also, I take my marriage vows seriously and tried to except her through all the bad times. But there does come a time you should not do this anymore. You owe yourself some respect, you deserve better. If you do not respect yourself, why would you expect her too or anyone else? She is incapable of love anyway, completely void in her heart and mind of anything decent, moral, respectful, loving, caring or Godly most of the time. NPD/BPD’s our incapable of change I think but I’m not a doctor and if you think you can change this type of person then you are in complete denial. You will never win this game and will only lose if you choose to stay and play. But when you lose and trust me, you will, then be ready to pay. The only way you can win this game is to LEAVE her/him as quickly as you can. These people are unpredictable in every aspect of their being and you will never be able to figure them out or ever be able to change them, this is not your responsibility anyway to change anyone really. Turn them over and release them to GOD and pray for them. I know this sounds wrong or like you may be abandoning them but you are the one that will be hurt in the end. If you are not a strong person you could be in danger of losing yourself to the point of serious depression or something even worse, you feel in the blanks. If you don’t already have children with them but are planning too, FORGET ABOUT IT, MARRIAGE TO. I read once where a man prays everyday to get cancer because he is trapped and cannot leave his children to her or face a cut throat divorce. If your spouse is trying really hard to be better and is not getting you into legal trouble or hurting you physically, verbally or mentally then work through this with them but do this with professional help, not by yourself. I wish everyone the best in their journey through all of this. Life is not fair, but then again we already knew this right? Eric

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