Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, bullying, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Parental Alienation, Psychology, relationships > How Emotionally Abusive Women Control You: The Fear of Loss and the Need for Approval

How Emotionally Abusive Women Control You: The Fear of Loss and the Need for Approval


Why is it so difficult for men who are being controlled by narcissistic, borderline, histrionic and other abusive women to end the relationship? What keeps them tethered to these abusive personalities sometimes even after the relationship has ended?

There are two basic hooks this kind of woman uses to keep men on a readily yank-able chain: the fear of loss and the need for approval. These are the two most powerful control devices in their arsenal. The worst part is that, in many cases, men unwittingly play right into their hands.

The Fear of Loss

The fear of loss is an especially powerful mechanism. It could be the fear of losing the relationship, fear of losing your children, your reputation or your money and other assets. Inducing fear, guilt, shame and a sense of obligation are how abusive women control you. If you’re afraid of loss and your wife/girlfriend/ex knows it, you’re basically at her mercy.

Abusive women will:

  • Threaten you with abandonment. “If you don’t ‘shape up,’ I’m leaving.”
  • Threaten to alienate your children from you or deny you access to them. “If you don’t do as I say, I’m going to tell your son what a bastard you are” or “If you leave you’ll never see your kids again.”
  • Threaten to destroy your career. “I’m going to tell everyone at your office what a sick pervert you are.”
  • Threaten to take all your money. “You owe me. I’m entitled.”

Many of these women will implicitly or explicitly communicate that you’ll never meet anyone else like them. Let’s hope not. The resulting fear is that no other women will want you or find you attractive, which is nonsense. The reality is that emotionally abusive women are a dime a dozen. There’s nothing special about them—except for their highly dysfunctional and toxic characterological traits. You need to change your mindset. Perhaps by “losing” the relationship, you will, ultimately, “win.”

There are far better woman in the world who will treat you with kindness, respect, generosity and mutual consideration. You’re not lucky this woman “puts up with you;” she’s lucky that you put up with her. Being alone is better than being in an abusive relationship. If being on your own is too difficult at first; get a dog or a goldfish.

As for losing your assets, your children and your reputation, these are very real losses. However, if you’re persistent, you can regain and rebuild anything you lose. It won’t be exactly the same, but the longer you stay with this woman, the more you’ll lose—financially and emotionally. It’s confounding. Men are punished by the courts (i.e., spousal support) for staying in the marriage longer in an effort to work things out. You think you’re doing the right thing by hanging in there, but you’re actually giving your wife more power to hurt you when you finally divorce. Therefore, it’s better to get out sooner than later when you notice how lopsided, hurtful and inequitable your relationship is.

Kids are a tough one. You may well lose time with and access to your child(ren). On the other hand, consider what you’re modeling by staying in an abusive relationship. It’s better for a child to have one healthy and strong parent than two dysfunctional ones.

Exactly what are you afraid of losing? The abuse? The emotional withdrawal and rejection? Being made to feel less than? If this were anyone other than your wife/girlfriend/ex, would you want to even know this person? Have you challenged these fears with your intellect or are you being led by your “gut?”

When you fear loss, you need to stop “listening to your gut” and use your mind to reality test your fears. Abusive women are master manipulators who employ emotional reasoning that has very little to do with the facts of a situation. The emotionally based attacks also serve to confuse you and cloud your judgment. Therefore, when you’re afraid, stop listening to your gut and start reasoning with your brain.

Don’t just succumb to your fears; CHALLENGE THEM with your intellect, not the emotional reasoning that only reinforces them. More often than not, your fears are just distorted, self-limiting beliefs sown by your wife/gf/ex. By giving into your fear, you’re voluntarily walking into a cage and handing her the key. The truth is you have the power to release yourself. You will love again. You will find happiness. But you will only do so without this woman.

The Need for Approval

Another highly effective device abusive women use to control you is denying approval and acceptance. It’s natural to want to be liked and admired—especially by the person you love. Being criticized, demeaned, rejected and told repeatedly, “not good enough,” “you don’t measure up,” or that you’ve “failed again” is demoralizing. It also spurs you on to try even harder to please her and herein lies the problem: These women are never satisfied. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. She will never bestow upon you the kind of love and acceptance you seek.

Why does your wife’s/girlfriend’s/ex’s approval mean so much to you? Do you actually respect her and the way she conducts herself? A woman like this is an abusive, entitled and incredibly self-serving bully, so why do you care what she thinks?  Seeking approval from someone who takes pleasure in cutting you down is a recipe for disappointment and pain.

You’re perpetuating a sick dynamic by seeking approval from someone who’ll never give it to you. Why? Because these women experience giving approval to others as a psychological and visceral loss. To tell you, “nice job” or “I appreciate you” somehow makes her feel less than and, as you well know, these women won’t tolerate that for a second.

The Way Out

Don’t let her solicited and unsolicited opinions get to you anymore. Recognize them for what they are: Abusive control tactics. Your overall goal is emotional detachment, which means you’re not invested in the outcome of this relationship. Once you’re no longer afraid of “losing” or care about receiving her approval, you’ll see the balance of power in the relationship shift.

She will be less able to “get to you,” which is a good thing. You’ll begin to care less, which is psychologically freeing. You’ll become more immune to the traps she sets and she won’t be able to figure out what the hell is happening. As you step out of this dysfunctional emotional dynamic, she’ll escalate her nasty behaviors as she frantically tries to maintain control and bully you back into place. She’ll be uncharacteristically speechless when her tried and true control devices no longer work.

Just remember, the more you commit to taking care of yourself, the more embittered she’ll grow. She’ll accuse you of being “selfish,” “inconsiderate” and “uncaring.” This is a good sign—for you. Abusive women view any attempt you make at self-care and growth as a grave betrayal. How dare you do something positive for yourself? How dare you not let her make you feel bad?

The more you put your needs first, the stronger and healthier you’ll become and your attraction to this supremely unhealthy woman should diminish. Abusive women remain in control by keeping you disoriented, hurting and in a psychologically weakened state. This is why she becomes alarmed when she sees you taking care of yourself.

Even if you don’t initially believe it, the freedom from abuse you’ll gain by ending this relationship will eventually outweigh any material losses you incur. You need to realize that you don’t have an actual relationship with this woman; it’s an autocracy in which she’s the petty tyrant and you live to serve. Furthermore, a woman like this isn’t capable of true intimacy and empathy, which are prerequisites for a healthy relationship.Your happiness lies in the future with someone else; not her.

Sadly, you may well see your children less or suffer through watching your ex turn them into her human shields, protectors and weapons to hurt you. However, by staying in an abusive relationship you’re exposing your children to a very unhealthy model of adult relationships. Nevertheless, this is a heartbreaking choice for many fathers. It may cost you money and potentially damage your relationship with your children, but what’s the cost of happiness, sanity and freedom from abuse?

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

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Please keep your man on a leash by rick on flickr.

  1. JT
    March 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I can say nothing but thanks for that article it has helped in so many ways it almost seems untrue.

  2. Closure, at last
    March 25, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I am SO glad I found this site….and writing here to vent out finally has been so therapeutic. Due to my profession, I had to always put a brave front. And being a woman in a profession where there are only 10% women, I had become like a tough guy myself. I was a tomboy growing up and had an incredibly narcissistic (now I know) and bullying older sister, who was always creating dramas, which in turn had made me later into an introvert & a ‘fix-it’ type.

    I can relate to the stories of many of the men here – and Dr.Tara, thank you, thank you for being so brave and perhaps even to be wrongly called an anti-feminist to speak out the truth about abusive women – but for doing what is right. And ethical. Last year I went through a period of extreme soul-searching and tried to understand topics on psychology after having a painful incident with a friend – who is a shrink himself – but had a history of relations with BP and NP women. Since I work in the field of engineering, I had a very technical brain and didn’t really understand manipulative women too well. My sister was a very attention seeking and conniving girl. Right from my college days whenever any guy would be interested in me, she would seduce him and even bad-mouth me to him. I loved her incredibly and liked keeping a low profile so she could get attention and so I wasn’t a ‘threat’ to her. My parents had spoiled her and practised what I call now ‘emotional socialism’, i.e. since I was getting good grades, awards, was the Lisa Simpson of the family, her bad behaviour was always blindly excused by my mother as her ‘needing help.’ And her tantrums ‘rewarded’. I realize now how this enabling made me put up with bad behaviour later in my relations too.

    My first boyfriend – and I was incredibly naive at the time, a late bloomer to boot, at 25 was an exceptionally brilliant musician and math prof. who told me he was bipolar, but I later found out only last year that he had BPD. His mother had had a very unhealthy relation with him since his adoloscence. He had crazy mood swings, would often threaten suicide (it ran in his family) and would verbally abuse me and often even break my things. He behaved exactly like a BP woman. I was naive and very giving and kept giving and giving and trying to make things work. He also had a series of ex BP girlfriends who were hovering around even during our relationship and keeping in touch and he would yell at me to be understanding. After he did something particularly painful,(so painful, it’s hard for me to write without crying) I left.

    In my new realtion, that BP ex tried to ‘win’ me back – but though my heart strings tug, my brain reminded me of some of his abuses and held me back from contacting. I did once yield to my heart to tell him maybe I would go back with him – and of course, in BP fashion he lost interest then. I stayed in my second relation for 6 years. It was calm but boring. Now as I read these posts, I wonder to what extent I’d related drama and fear to ‘love’. In 2008, I met a doctor who reminded me a lot of my first crazy boyfriend – and I fell hard for him. He was much more saner though. But before we went further – though we had a great connection, that doctor’s own crazy BPD ex-girlfriend, the minute she found out he was dating me, came over to see him, seduced and he ended up sleeping with her, breaking my heart. It was then I began to see a pattern of the way these women operated – almost as though they deliberately wanted to hurt other women, especially if those women were kind and naive and had connected with the men they were after.

    I had a soft nature towards caring for animals, trees and did not understand politics too well. I could relate better with geeky men. I’d crave for affection from women because my sister was so cold and manipulative and my mother had mild-asperger’s – but most women would scare me with their back stabbing. I found out only last year after taking some tests that my persoanlity type was of an INTJ, my IQ was very high and my brain was very ‘male’ in its systematization. Last year, again I met a wonderful, brilliant resarcher at an Ivy League school. We hit it off so well, went out and started dating. I thought he was ‘the one’. Imagine my horror when I found out 2 months into the relation that his ex-girlfreind was not only writing mushy, ‘rescue-me’ e-mails to him and when he had told her he was in a new relation, she had actually climbed on a bus to see him over a weekend and had had crazy sex with him!!! He had confessed out of guilt, but it broke my heart intensely. Not only that, she was actually dating someone else at that time, and had managed to make him feel guilty that her cheating with him had been some form of ‘sacrifice’ on her part!!!!! He was feeling sorry for her rather than understanding the devastating heartbreak I was going through! Can you believe it, Dr. Tara?

    When he realized his mistake and stupidity, he apologized profusly and tried so hard to win me back, even proposed to me, but I just found it so painful – trying to understand why these women DELIBERATELY did such hurtful things and why the men repeatedly hurt the kind ones for the evil?

    I was devastated and it was then I understood there was a difference between women like that and women who thought in a more gentle uncomplicated way. I understood women in technical fields, and men, are at a huge disadvantage in understanding manipulative women because topics like psychology and personality disorders are not taught. These ex-BPs started sounding more and more similar to the wives and girlfriends of my own engineer male buddies, and to an extent my own sister. After extensive web search, I found about these women. I understood my first boyfriend. I understood the seduction and blame-shame-guilt game that these vampire women did and how they actually enjoyed hurting good people. I felt that the ‘mean girls’ in school who bully the geeky girls never really give up. They ‘practise’ their skills early on on the good girls and hone them to bully men later. I decided that never again would I let ignorance cause me so much pain. It has taken a year and reading and philosophizing has helped a lot. I also cut contact with my sister. I don’t want to waste space here telling the horrible and mean things she did to me all through my life. It was most liberating – and I found myself being more open to healthy men too. I realized my own mistake was being too submissive to abuse and being an eternal optimist -that mean girls would ‘change’ and somehow become good. They don’t. They have pathological problems. And pathological jealousy.

    I began to notice a pattern in these mean girls – and made sure my closest girl friends were kind and truly good-hearted. To my surprise, when we discussed, we found even they had had a manipulative bullying sibling. And they had also been in relations where they naively trusted a man only to find that his borderline ex was seducing in the back and doing all kinds of things to sabotage the relation.

    I think your site is wonderful, Dr. Tara. I mean it in the most heartfelt way – and it is the best resource out there. My privacy does not allow me to reveal my true identity, but I do hope you carry on your work in a much bigger way. My travels have taken me in many places and in many extreme male-environments – i.e. amongst marines, high-profile corporate men and of course tons of engineers. I would hear their stories on relations and was surprised how many abused men ended up joining the marines, or working for doctors without borders, or were introverted good hearted geeks who had been deeply deeply hurt. They would confide in me and I’d do my best – I wish I’d found this site early last year, or that this resource existed to educate men way before. So they didn’t give up their youth, passion and devotion to these awful, manipulative, cunning women. Really.
    I am SO sick of many of these women holding out their ‘wounds’ and pain as claim checks to pity. What about the pain of the healthy women, who went through heartbreak and abuse too, but used their own strength to find themselves and not lose their kindness?! What about the nights we have cried in sadness as our boyfriends left us to ‘rescue’ their ex-BPs and we had to always stay smiling, strong and drama- free?

    I can understand the predicament of many of the men on this site – because I’ve done the same too. Tried to ‘fix’, ‘solve’, give uncondtional love and not complained in case it showed weakness. My ‘male brain’ understands it only too well. I’ve given and given and given till I could give no more. I have also seen many male friends, who go around the world in stoic, strong poses break down and cry in my arms as their unintended and unofficial ‘free shrink’ and revealed just how hurt they have been by these crazy women; how their dreams were lost; their children taken; their careers destroyed by sabotage; their self-esteem stripped; their sanity lost. NO GOOD MAN SHOULD HAVE TO FACE THIS ABUSE!! ABUSE, SHAME-BLAME, GUILT IS NOT ‘LOVE!’ Real loves accepts, heals, helps and is joyous freedom.

    I have only recently learnt how to be vulnerable and understand my own needs. I cried reading your article on ‘healthy love.’ While my profession still entails that I put up a tough exterior, inside, at last I feel, my inner woman has been awakened after years of being really more like a man with balls-of-steel stoicism.I am okay with being vulnerable now. I am okay with crying and accepting that I had been in an abusive relation and not trying to rationalize or mistakenly think that those hoops or one-sided giving was ‘love.’

    I like your site because it doesn’t have those sappy, overtly-emotional chicks as some female-support sites have. It is witty, sharp, exhaustive without being exhausting. I embrace my own male-brainness and have had enough of facing the manipulations of bitchy women myself. At a time, I even became weary of confiding in women because most of them are so unpredicatable. Even my own sister was not my well-wisher. I thought I should campaign for women’s rights in my field, till I realized in our western world women’s rights have been taken to the point of ‘male-abuse.’ I don’t care for these bitchy women any more. I’d rather care for women who are only rational, kind and good-hearted. And they seem a minority or are in hiding – having been bullied back in high school. Reading your writings Dr. Tara, gives me hope that some genuinely wonderful women exist.
    I have been myself called names by the BP ex-wives of some of my male friends when I gave them rational advice. I say that not only am I NOT a betrayer to my gender, these psychopathic women tarnish the name of what it is to be a true, good woman.

    You are strong, and brave and wonderful. Reading your posts have helped me understand my sister and those BPs many men get involved in and then end up punishing the innocent girls too. I was naive before and hurt intensely in my ignorance. But knowledge IS power. And I can finally get closure on many unsolved behaviours I saw. Keep up the good work! I hope this site helps many many men out there who are hurting and confused. There is hope, and good women doctors like you do exist who have actually turned their own experience and wisdom to help others in turn.

    What a healthy ray of sunshine! And an island of peace.

  3. finallywokeup
    February 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Strong post, Dr. Burachynsky. Thank you. Proverbs 1:8-33.

    But knowing this is so common does serve a purpose, it adds to the wisdom needed to recognize and break this cycle, whether in an individual man’s life or in society. These women are criminal, and yet society does seem to condone and encourage their abusive, entitled, destructive behavior. I weary of hearing how, having suffered at the hands of one of these NPD creatures, one must excuse them, continue to associate with and tolerate them, and essentially pretend that nothing happened. In the meantime they are unrepentant, as convinced of their own righteousness as ever, and continue to blaze a path of selfish destruction and subtly rotten example in the lives of others. It is unjust.

    Other women seem to be the worst in terms of creating an atmosphere of acceptance of these behaviors (Dr. T being a notable exception), along with many men who seem to be afraid, like ostriches, of pulling their heads out of the sand because their turn might be next. The advice to ignore, forgive, pretend, not be angry, blame oneself as much as the abuser, etc. is irritating and wrong. I have begun to feel as though I am being read a script. Something is off on a large scale, although this blog, insightful nonconformist voices such as Dr. T’s, and posts such as yours might help tilt things in the long term.

    Thank you again for the post, and for the reminder of the value of wisdom and self-discipline versus the fleeting pleasure that one can derive from such relationships.

  4. Vladimyr Burachynsky
    February 26, 2010 at 12:51 am

    What good luck to finally understand the background of my life.
    I tried so hard to understand and without success.

    She took everything possible away from me and grew angrier and angrier. There was no end to her appetitite for damage. She was never happy unless I was in trouble and asked for help to overcome the damage she created.

    It took me 35 years to understand that she could not adapt or behave rationally. It was a never ending loop. I admit that for the most part I was so powerful that mostly I just ignored her silly attacks with sarcasm and ridicule. I was physically powerful and academically gifted. She was neither.

    My father warned me at the time of my marriage that as men get older the women grow stronger. He always talked in riddles.

    My wife got her power from me and controlling me made her feel superior. By thwarting my ambitions she gained a sense of power. When often she tried to do something for herself she faied because she misunderstood power. She thought it was the ability to control externalities when in fact it is first and foremost the ability to control oneself first and then the outside world.

    She gained much power when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my life became hell coping with her, my business and health. She postured about her suffering to take care of me when she was denying me food and clean clothes. She forced me to look after more and more as the disease progressed and resented even to bring me medicine.

    I struggled to understand how any human being could intentionally do themselves so much damage. A little help and she would have gained more from me than she could ever do for herself yet she was obsessed with control. The more I gave her the more she destroyed. I could repair her damage faster than her neglect could destroy things for decades. When our children grew in stature they too pursued the same philosophy. Why create for yourself if it was so easy to take from another? My son actually failed uiversity because he believed in some bizarre way that he would inherit my skill and degrees and my power. Now he has nothing. To accept a gift from me would be to acknowledge that I am not always evil.

    I am now trying to start over with the MS and the lingerig defamation she generated. I have 4 aadvanced degrees and a shambled business. But surprisigly my friends have reappeared. The female workers dominating my MS treatments seem to share the same attitude of my wife so I have begun to distance myself from them as well. As long as I can keep women away from my affairs I no longer fear accusations.

    Women may not all be on secret mission of abuse but many take full advantage of accusation and struggle to remain victims. I confuse these women now by accusing them of abuse befoe they can. It is funny watching them struggle to deny it while rampinng up their ager for being outwitted. They despise intelligence and then claim they have a right to accuse me of abuse.

    Society has simply become a battlleground for the secret power agenda of superficial sincerity manifest by the normal women with Narcissitic personality disorders.

    I lived with my jail keeper this long because she was slow in developing her skills, and I was very powerful for a lonng time. Health turned the cards in her favor. She began to beat me futilely, I still was powerful even at half tank. Even then I was simply amused at the outrageous nature of her acts. She simply escalated and learned to use heavier objects, eventuallly she backed a car over me. If I could have maintained my power I may never have noticed her effort or imply lughed them off. What a miserble life she leads, not competat enough to be taken seriouly nd having to resort to secret sabotage to gain a perverse secret sense of superiority. There is no greater punishment to her than to let her live out her life alone with her dirty secret.

    When the police investigated one episode she accused me of being crazy and jumping under the moving car. She used as proof of my craziness the fact that I was a scientist with 4 degrees and that MS is a mental illness as is an education. That is the defense of the cunning, they turn a good thing into an evil, every gift is considered to be poisoned in their minds. When asked what she wanted she always detailed the things she did not want, he could never admit that she wanted power and to hurt people was the only way she could tell if she had enough.

    I was a boxer, travelled the world, had guns stuck in my face repeatedly and am well aware of the illusion of power. My ex wife believes power is real and it is her right to have as much as possible. No crime of her’s could not be dismissed as an accident or my fault. No accident of mine could ever be anything but proof of my evil.

    I let her take everythinng knowing if I got my health back it could all be replaced, then she understood that she needed to keep me sick and in pain.

    I understood stealing for profit but could not conceive of vandalism of life to become a destroyer.

    Some people are creative and others are simply destructive.

    I have suffered much reduction in self esteem but the Blog Site is the best medicine I have seen in years.

    How is it possible that such behavior actually has any survival benefit? It is so destructive that inevitably it becomes indirectly suicidal. I suspect that this form of exploitation goes back to before cvilization. It may underline many of the human rights abuses that seem to occur without explanation. The secretive application of this strategy is so widespread that I wonder if men were not selected for blindnness to women’s abuse. Sex may be the bait used to extort assets from men. My own experience is that my ex used her own children as part of the sham, my wife has no real friends nor sense of humor. If men learn to be secret abusers from women ,Their mothers, then the whole of mankind becomes poisoned.

    Corruption of this form is so insidious and the next stage of human evolution is to free women from the disorder. There is no way to take mankind into a future with the legacy of secret abuse lurking in the fears of women’s imagination. They are so consumed by fear that they commit horrors. Perhaps they keep their fears because it gains them sympathy nd exonerates them from application of justice.

    I thought for years that there was a means of correcting my ex’s behavior and preventing my children from becoming infected. I failed and they actually convinced themselves that I deserved to die and took advantage of my disease.

    My body survived but my heart and head took most of the damage.I considered suicide as an alternative to destroying a family tht in fact she had allready destroyed trough infection. She coulld ever have a conversation unless she prevented me from speaking, she was obsessed with argument to control ideas. She interrogated my incestly annd denied me the opportunity to respond. She declared that I never gave her aa chance to speak and when I was completely silent she was unable to say a word except that my silennce was abusive. She spoke over me to drown out my words and then claimed that I said something entirely different. When she asked a questionn near the end i just responded with, ” Make up your own answers as you always do” “You tell me what answer you will substitute for my own”

    She condemed thinking as a waste of time, she hated details, she despised connsequences, she would never tell the truth because I could ot take it, she lied because I forced her. She blamed me for having fathered two children. I never used violece or coersion. I was a trained fighter and women are beneath my dignity and a challenge from a woman is an insult to my upbringing. I can not bring myself to fight with an inferior even drunk. If I said this to her she felt abused. SE FELT DENIGRATED BECAUSE I had four degrees ad she barely made it with one. She felt abused because I was well over 6′ and a heavy weight both intellectully and physically. She felt abused because she considered me superior. Not because I stted it. No she knew I was more and hated me for it. My son hated me for ot throwing him easy victories when he was learning chess. My son aand daughter hated racing me on bicycle and losing knowing that I could not actually walk but could still ride. Power is a disease. If you can not take power from a dying old man then you must turn him into a monster and dethrone him without ssuspicion, help him move on and die with dignity.

    I was angry and insulted but now realize that these people inevitably destroy rather than create. They despise creators as being defiant and out of their control.

    Let them have what they they can steal, we will simply keep out of their way and evenntually they will be eliminated by themselves. Such people should never be allowed to reproduce and even my children are my crime. If I would have known none of them should existed.

    I am resigned to live in a world where the ambitions of some women are to exploit annd destroy that is why they can nnever be satiated. Their fear is bottomless and therefore their crimes are limitless.

    The women’s movement needs some self examination and women need to accept responibilty. The delusion of men is that there is a reward for compromising with women.

    My ex wife still offers profusely to help me, and now I realize that is her way of being able to get close enough to do harm. I admit I need help but the price she extorts is too high. Even my MS nurses use the same strategy. They will oly help if I first humiliate myself and stop insisting on being treated as a human being.

    My own Doctors refuse to acknowledge that I am a Doctor. When they call me mister I have learned never to correct them.

    The tyrany of the ignorant, on the delusionary quest, for personal power.The ignorant believe money will free them from fear and if money is not handy then power over others that they believe have skill. They deprive themselves of skill and education because extortion seems so much easier than making a personal effort.Getting sympathy from the others is worth more than fixing the leaking roof yourself. I was condemned for not being a normal man, being abnormal justified her crimes against me. Her logic was always self capitulating, I was not normal because I was extraordinary and because I was not normal I was therefore inferior inspite of my triumphs. My victories were my crimes. I was a criminal and therefore she could abuse me freely.

    I wasted by life trying to teach people to conquer fear of effort, fear of the imaginary. Self discipline hurts less than self deception. There is no excuse for moral compromises and doing nothing is as evil as doing harm. When I taught strangers to see the world without fear I was respected , but villified when I attempted to instruct my children. Strangers still approch me for the lessons I can teach but my family rejected me because it was the only way to maintin the fiction that I am evil which justifies the crimes they committed against me.

    It is difficult to make the decision to cut off an infected limb. But when your own family has been corrupted as is sick what is to be done?

    Genetics is powerful and subtle. In the end we live by those rules or we choose to live by intellect and escape the mindless torment of a mindless master without humor.
    We will all die in the end and lose everything. Our fear gives these women the power to control us. They are ashamed of what they do and then blame us. There is much in my life that I regret and much I have apologized for but being duped so easily ws a tough one to acknowledge.

    Thanks for the Blog. Knowing it is so common is sad and serves no purpose. But what was stolen can be replaced. New dreams can replace the old delusions.
    Wisdom is very costly.

  5. Recovering Alpha
    February 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    “Even if you don’t initially believe it, the freedom from abuse you’ll gain by ending this relationship will eventually outweigh any material losses you incur.”

    I’m out for 8 months now. Divorce went quick and ended unexpectedly well: I got 2 eldest boys 100%, 2 youngest 50%, house, car, NO ALIMONY, and she pays ME child support — but I did give her approximately 60% of our net worth in a BIG check payout.

    So I want to state that Dr T’s quote (at top of this blog entry) is RIGHT ON THE MONEY! At first the pain of loss of THE ADDICTION to her abuse was excruciating. But eventually REALITY intervened and I now realize I AM HAPPIER AND PHYSICALLY HEALTHIER THAN I’VE BEEN IN NEARLY 20 YEARS!

    So men, don’t wait to get out. Take the pain up front rather than “sucking it up” and then once it is over you will be FREE!

    Regards

  6. Jay
    December 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Just found your site – really appreciate the unique and much needed perspective. I have never read anything like this before that speaks so clearly about the problems I am having. Both of these points here are so true for me – although basically an introvert I am quietly and effectively sociable at heart but have let almost all my contacts slip or atrophy, through shame and exhaustion over the false front, my inability to be truthful with them and the fact that the tone of any social interaction involving me and my partner is always set and dominated by her. This then spirals into guilt and feelings of failure and attacking myself for being such a social loser, meanwhile she maintains all her previous friendship and takes over all of mine. To socialize without her is such a breath of fresh air. Writing like this, the solution seems obvious….

    shrink4men :
    This is another good point, JP. I don’t know if men get lazy over time or if they just get tired of having to defend why they want to spend time with their friends. There’s a double standard often at play here as well. Married/coupled women are allowed to hang out with their single gal pals and talk about what idiots the men in their live are. Yet, they only seem to like their men to hang out with the husbands/bf’s of their girlfriends. Lots of men are made to feel like they’re committing a war crime if they want to hang out with their single friends or a male friend that isn’t also a friend of their wife/gf.
    I think sometimes what gets termed “laziness” is just men being tired of getting crap for wanting to hang out with their own friends. Lots of gf’s/wives hate their bf’s/husband’s friends and make it as unpleasant as possible to spend time with them. It’s much easier to just socialize with people to whom their gf’s/wives have given their stamp of approval. Also, I think when most guys are in an emotionally abusive relationship, there’s a certain degree of shame involved, which may lead to letting friendships slide and/or because it’s exhausting to continually put on a false front that everything’s a-ok.
    Also, most women are socialized to sit around and talk, while men are socialized to go “do” something. For many women, talking is the “activity.” They get together just to talk. While guys are more likely to talk as part of an actual physical activity such as golfing, shooting hoops, having a beer, playing pool, working out, boating, etc. I have plenty of guy friends whom I talk with, but we don’t get together to “just talk.” We hike, bike ride, and go have some beers and play darts.
    Nevertheless, you make a good point, JP. Fellas, don’t let yourself become isolated. You don’t have to have 500 “Facebook friends;” just a couple of people you know have your back.
    Best,
    Dr Tara

  7. nicky
    October 26, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Hey guys ah man I´m so scared I´m planning to leave my wife
    I havent a single person to support me in this,(in actuality I dont mean the internet like this great site)um my gut is just twisting and turning I
    don´t know why despite the facts I´m being emotionaly abused by this woman,ah (sighing alot) this site is great the best and have gotten alot of encouragment by reading the stuff here but can someone give me a personal cheer on like encouragment to do it I dont know I guess something anything to give me a little push through this pain I really need it would apreciate it my friends thanks.

    • jham123
      October 26, 2009 at 5:12 pm

      Nicky, You don’t say if you have any kids or not. I’m going to assume no. If in fact no…..then…why wait another moment?

      The week my wife and I had a major blow out, I was looking for a place to rent. I found a 1600 sq ft warehouse with all amenities and bills paid for $1300 per month.

      I could open the Roll top door and pull my Vette into the living room right next to the couch……It was going to be great….and with that much space and the high ceilings (with two skylights…perfect) I had picked out the trampoline I was going to buy and put in there for the kids…

      Life would have been so grand….

      OR!! buy a sailboat….one big enough to live aboard. There are old ones that folks are practically giving away….

      Life can be so much better…..both of those arrangements would have been temporary for me….but really fun for a few years while the Divorce takes place.

      Think Big….Think “ULTIMATE MANCAVE!!!” versus sleeping on the couch another night. Think Big Screen!!! Think about getting your entire paycheck and it being all yours for once….to spend how you please.

      Trust me, you enact any of this and you’ll have plenty of females around to make you forget about your current blood sucker.

      • Mr. E
        October 26, 2009 at 6:11 pm

        Yeah, daydreaming about how great life will be when you don’t have to deal with her B.S. will help. I read an article that suggested writing a current-tense description of yourself as you WILL be.

        For example “I live in an awesome warehouse with my car and trampoline. I have a projector I use to play video games on the 20 foot wall. I eat steak and bacon, or bacon cheeseburgers for every meal with tacos for dessert. I pawned my wedding ring for a box of Popular Mechanics back issues.”

        You can even go simple: “I can make a mistake without being called a name. I only have to do MY laundry.”

        • jham123
          October 26, 2009 at 7:10 pm

          Perfect…LOL…I DID think about a projection TV with Surround sound!!!

    • Mike91163
      October 26, 2009 at 9:00 pm

      Nicky:

      As jham123 and Mr E have written, it’s very important to daydream about what life will be like once your divorce is all said and done…gee, it might just look like how life was BEFORE you met your STBX! However…you must prepare yourself for the worst when you file the papers. Expect to be excoriated, villified, stabbed in the back, accused of things that Charles Manson would consider horrific, and other lovely things. Hell, my wife even told me once that if I ever divorced her, she would have her brother (not exactly “normal” himself) beat me up…now, if THAT’S not a childish statement, I don’t know what is! So, get your ducks in a row…in my case, when I do file, I will also file restraining orders against both my wife AND her brother, just to be safe. Also, slowly and as quietly as you can, begin removing personal items of importance from your residence-get a small “public storage” place…store all important papers or documents in a fireproof lockbox.

      I honestly don’t mean to scare you, but the philosophy is simple: Hope for the best, but expect AND prepare for the worst. But, “this too shall pass…” and you will be able to move on with your new life.

  8. Jon
    October 25, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Hello,

    I must admit that the diagnosis of borderline personality is very real, and this web site shed light on it in that it was a PERFECT match for my ex who was to become my wife.

    In the beginning, she was seemingly loving and sweet, but I knew something was wrong and I didn’t know what it was. She was very needy and clingy, and piece by piece she began to take control of my actions in the relationship. It all didn’t happen at once, but it did happen one piece at a time.

    She did weird things, like demand I go EVERYWHERE she went with her acquaintances (I can’t call them friends because she had a shallow relationship with them), and she also did desperate things to get attention from people.

    Nothing was ever her fault…as the relationship progressed, and I realized that she was undermining my confidence. If I wanted to keep her, I would have had to lose myself. And once she believed I loved her, she “switched” and started to demonstrate every single behavior (except hurting herself or cutting herself) that you have mentioned.

    If I’d object to her behavior or emotionally abusive expectations, she’d resort to emotional blackmail and wouldn’t even hug me. I had to beg her, apologize to her in almost humiliating ways, and tell her the argument was all my fault to obtain her so called forgiveness.

    She used the fear of loss to control the relationship, and after each confrontation, she gained more and more power. It was as if she were a conqueror gaining territory of my mind through each conflict she had–and this was a pattern. When I put a ring on her finger, she seemed to think the ring was a remote control to have power over me. If I objected to anything she said or did, she would on a few occasions take the ring off (a power move to control), and I would need to basically beg her to put it back on.

    I broke up with her, and as the pattern continued, I found this site and realized that I was involved with an extreme borderline (the kind that looks innocent and sweet on the outside). She did enlist her family…as a war recruiter would enlist soldiers for battle. And the same family that she forced me to meet and mingle with, she later used as a force to make me feel bad, guilty, and isolated from the world after the break-up. Because, after all, they all agreed with her and I was such a bad guy. She could do much better than me…they told her.

    She turned out to be the most crafty manipulator I’ve ever encountered, and it was all happening once piece at a time. Of course, I did love her…or so I thought. And for whatever reason I still miss her–or at least a few pieces of her that I dearly loved.

    We were together for 3 1/2 years, and the closer she got, the more covertly brutal she became. If you looked up borderline personality disorder, you should see a picture of this woman in the dictionary. She wasn’t very attractive, and it was this that made me trust her so much in the beginning. But in the end, she acted as though she were the most perfect/beautiful woman in the world. She had a twisted view of her self image, and her narcissism was a mere defense mechanism. But its been nearly three months and I still haven’t healed.

    She had to go, you know? But the process of living without her is in many ways worse than the process of living with her. I wish she’d come back sometimes (of course I’ve been banished from her Kingdom), and I refuse to beg her again or contact her to give her the power…so she can resort to her games and pain tactics. Yet, I figured her out, and this web site helped me to connect the missing pieces.

    In part I loathe her, and in part I miss her. We were so close…and yet so far away. And I noticed, before coming to this site, that she had issues with her mother (her mother was bi-polar and yet this woman was JUST like her mother).

    These women are monsters, and once looking at a picture of her, I thought of her as a monster who was smiling at me, all the while controlling my free time and personal space in ways I knew would destroy me if I stayed with her. She reminded me of a boa constrictor snake…it was wrapped around me (lovingly on the outside), but she was preventing me from breathing and so gradually destroying.

    I staged a HUGE fight and let her have it once we broke up. I always wanted her out of my life, but keep going back. So this time I sort of “let her have it” so that there was no possible way we could get back together. Of course, she wanted to be friends…and wanted to buy me gifts…and to give me a HUGE hug the next time she saw me. So I stuck even more “psychological knifes” into her so that she wouldn’t even want to do that.

    Otherwise, she would have somehow kept messing with my mind, thoughts, and self esteem. In the movie gremlins, the gremlins begin as cute little “gizmos”, but in the end they became self destructive creatures of every sort.

    These women are no different…at least not this version of a borderline woman. Now, I’m seeing them everywhere, and I really am. It’s not like I’m making them up…they are real and common beasts.

    Yikes!

    J

    • Keiichi
      October 25, 2009 at 5:12 am

      Hi Jon,

      Although the details may be different in our experiences, one thing that most if not all of us here can relate to is being manipulated and hurt by these women. Even when we wake up to what is happening, letting go isn’t any easier. It hurts because you freely, and honestly loved her. What she did to you in return wasn’t even close to what a loving, caring person would do.

      One thing that will help is being close to your family, and friends. Because you did love her, it’s normal that a part of you will miss her. That makes you a human being with healthy emotions. Your family, and friends will help you through this. The more time that you spend with people who truly love you, the more you will heal and recover.

      Keiichi

    • down not out
      October 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm

      I smiled when I read your saying you can see them everywhere now. I kinda keep thinking the same thing when i’m out. like the jaws movie ” just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water” I don’t mean to joke about it because I know how bad it can be but it dose feel like that.

      I am trying to not think it to much as I think I or any of us will understandably be abit over paranoid due to what happend befor.

      Its hard because i’m sure all of us would like to meet someone new but I know I am worried i’m going to over read into everything that someone might do or say next time. but at the same time I don’t want to fall into another trap like last time. aaahh !! gess its the legacy of being involved with someone like this.

  9. jham123
    October 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Need for approval:

    Since my Mother Died 4 years ago, there is not another woman on the planet that “Approves” of me.

    My daughters love me unconditionally, but that is really not the same is it? They are 6 and 8.

    I knew when My Mother passed that I was alone in the adult world. Where it not for my kids, I’d be completely lost.

  10. Andre Bertomeu
    October 1, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    It’s not so much that we get tired…its more like…EXHAUSTED.

    It’s EXHAUSTING! It leaves us drained. Thats one way they get control over us…a normal person against their never ending energy of abuse and polemic fights…..we end up doing thing just to avoid it. So we end up being the very thing that isolates us. Ultimately they are the one isolating us…but when we start doing it to ourselves just to avoid the inevitable fight that we can’t win…they feel even more guiltless..actually, I bet it’s exhilirating for them.

    Us broken husbands become like those monks that lash themselves until they bleed. We’d rather do it ourselves and please our gods. Its the same thing.

    Ugh…I’m so glad I’m out of it.

  11. Lynn Baker
    September 26, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    I have a son that I am very concerned with, My oldest son is living with a girl that has had me a little worried my mother’s intuition and previous experience with my brother’s wife who is a complete narcisstic , abusive and controlling individual. The girlfriend has been overly sweet but like my sisterinlaw who fooled me for a couple years, they have the same peronality at first soft spoken, sensitive over complementary and very needy. She is always telling me how smart I am, pretty etc. Our family my husband and my 2 sons and their respective girlfriends went on a trip to Baltimore. She was expressing how happy she was that my husband and her father were golfing together in a few weeks. ( this was no big deal my husband has known her father longer than she has) I told her that he( my husband )may have a scheduling conflict he was trying to resolve which may prevent him from golfing. We were at a restaurant sitting outside . Her face turned to stone she ran into the bathroom when she came back she would not speak to anyone, We were about to leave so I approached her and asked her what was bothering her she still would not talk. I then said Jack wants to golf with your dad but this schedule conflict may be unavoidable no response. We started walking to our destination and for 6 blocks she was yelling and screaming at my son . (who had nothing to do with the conversation)
    Her arms were flaling my husband and I stayed a distance behind . I have never seen anything like this.
    My other son finally intervened when she said she was being tortured by his family. This episode went on in public for what seemed to be forever. I tried to talk to her when she finally sat down on a wall near our destination and she then said that I didn’t know what she was going through and started accusing my son of all kinds of things in their relationship. She then said I was insensitive that her father would be so upset and hurt. This went on and on screaming crying making a spectacle of herself until she ran away got a cab and went to the airport at 12:30 am My other son told his brother not to go after her and told his brother that she was psychotic. My son told his father he was relieved and she has done this to him at hjis alumni reunion and again on a camping trip with his other friends. She came knocking on the door of the hotel at 5:00 am And is now deflecting the entire episode on me. We had to spend the next 2 days with her as this happened friday and we stayed till Sunday. It is now the following Saturday and my birthday “they” are comming here. I have wrote my son a long letter advising him to get out of the relationship and both my other son and husband have spoke to him. I have read many of the responses and I do not believe my son was brought up in an abusive household. He is 29 has a wondeful career his younger brother does also. My husband and I have been married for 30 years. I do have a stronger personality than my husband but we complement each other we both have our own space spend time with our own friends and together with family and friends. We respect each other and yes we do have our moments my youer son calls us the Costanzas from Seinfeld our family has a sense of humor and we can laugh at ouselves. I want to know how to get through to my son before this lunatic gets pregnant to keep him. I believe my son was emotionally abused by a childhood friend/ predator since 4th grade and it was a boy who was brought up in an home with emotional and physical abuse. They were in every class together played sports and this kid would make fun of my son infront of girls other team mates he would dare him to do things and if my son refused he would belittle him and if the friend got caught he would always drag my son down with him but my son never would rat out this predator. I tried my best to convince my son of the destructive relationship
    my son was smart popular captain of his football and lacrosse team and graduated 9th in his class and yet this kid took away his self esteem. I thought it was all in the past until this incident. My son has not been in contact with this person for years but the damage was done. This so called friend has been in jail for beating his girlfriend as has his 2 other brothers. His mother is still with the abusive father and is raising 2 grandchildren that have been taken away from the sons. In closing it is not always the parents relationship that is the precurser to being a victim. And yes his first love in high school broke his heart How can I help him? She is pitting him against me ?
    My concern is getting him help but I’m afraid he won’t listen
    worried
    Lynn

    • jp
      September 26, 2009 at 9:35 pm

      Hi Lynn,

      I don’t doubt your honesty or concern for your son (his girlfriend truly sounds psychotic), but if you’ll permit me I’m curious abour your statement, “I have a stronger personality than my husband…”

      What do you mean by that exactly? Do you think that that is how you are perceived by the rest of your family, and if so, is that the language they would use when comparing the two of you?

      I ask because my ex sees herself that way–someone who just can’t help having a big, strong personality–and not just with respect to me but compared to almost all the people she deals with. She’s definitely a leader, and to people who like to be led all the time, she’s a star.

      But if someone in her orbit–friend, sibling, spouse–decides he/she wants to take the lead on something, she tilts her head quizzically and looks at them like they’re a silly child who can’t understand what’s good for them and why are they wasting everybody’s time when clearly the sensible thing to do is let her and her stronger personality run the show.

      In face, as I write this she’s “doing the flowers’ at her cousins wedding, meaning bossing everyone around about everything, losing her cool, making everyone edgy, getting furious at people who don’t snap to quick enough when she gives them an instruction, making up pretend busy work to get out of the way other family members who want to help but whom she thinks are incompetent, (and then later bragging about it), and complaining to any sympathetic listener about how frustrating it is to have to bear the burden of being the only one who sees the ‘right way’ to do everything.

      And if we were still together I’d be one of those people, trying harder than the others perhaps to please her because I “love” her while at the same time getting furious or depressed or both at being treated impatiently and contemptuously everytime I failed to read her mind and excute her wishes at the exact moment and in the exact manner she’d envisioned.

      I’m not suggesting you’re like my ex, but your ‘stronger personality’ may not be perceived by others as the quirky-yet-lovable quality you think it is, and it’s entirely possible your son seeks out women with a ‘stronger personality’ because that is what his mother has and what he’s used to. And this woman, when not in full psychotic mode, may offer the same kind of ‘strength’.

      In any case, I wish you and your family the best in helping your son detach from this woman as soon as possible.

      JP

      • Chester
        October 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

        My ex was the same way. She’s in business and actually used to brag that she was rewarded for being “that way.”
        Like being an insufferable bitch-is a badge of honor.

  12. Allen
    September 18, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Sorry I didn’t include this initially, but may I get your contact information too?

    Thanks

  13. Allen
    September 18, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Dr. Tara,

    Thank you so much for publishing this information. I feel sane again, and I finally get it. When I first started reading I couldn’t believe that my wife is possibly NPD/BPD. I found your blog by searching for information on depression and difficulty sleeping. I fit all the risk factors like controlling parents, bad first relationship and etc. I had most if not all of the symptoms of stress response which counselors we have seen attributed to my job. I’m a paramedic. Not until I read several of your articles did I finally start to believe that my wife fits NPD/BPD. Not only is she a master at pulling my strings, she literally has two masters degrees in it. She just finished her masters degrees in marriage and family counseling and theology. She is an expert at shaming me into doing whatever she wants.

    We have gone to several counselors over the last thirteen years of marriage, and all but the last one basically said our relationship issues were my fault. I had a fear of intimacy and abandonment issues they said. I agreed because I didn’t want to lose her, and she was constantly dangling the treat of leaving me if I didn’t shape up. I also believed it because my mother died when I was 16. My relationship with her was enmeshed because she had untreated bipolar disorder and used me as her source of support.

    All of our counselors were “Christian” counselors that my wife chose and all female until the last one. She chose him because he specialized in male sexual addictions. I had an affair with a woman I worked with about three years ago. Our last counselor didn’t buy that I was solely responsible for all the relationship issues. After about 6 months of weekly individual and couples counseling he told me to divorce her. I was shocked to say the least. I told her what he said, and needless to say we never went back. Well, I’m starting to believe what he was telling me now.

    Since the counselor told me to divorce her I’ve been distancing myself from her emotionally. I avoid being at home as much as possible by working all the time. We stopped having sex a long time ago because I never could satisfy her, and she decided that eating was more important to her than trying to remain healthy. I know it is socially unacceptable for men to want their wives to stay thin, but she literally is twice the weight she was when we married.

    I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can not stay in this relationship. I am having issues now because I have an eight year old daughter that I love more than anything else. I’m afraid to end the relationship for fear of leaving her with her mother. We had an incident when my daughter was five where my wife left her alone at home while I was at work. The police and child protective services got involved. The police wanted to file felony child endangerment charges, but I begged them not to. CPS decided it wasn’t a real risk because our child was exceptionally mature for her age. Actually the female CPS person made quick friends with my wife because both of them had social work/counseling backgrounds, and my wife was working at a drug treatment center at the time. So, I don’t feel I will have much of a chance with custody because of my infidelity and her educational background. By the way my wife is no longer employed and refuses to go back to work.

    I’m still reading and learning. I’m trying to figure out how to leave in a way that minimizes the damage to my daughter. I’m seeking professional help. I’m seeing a psychiatrist, and will reestablish contact with my family. Again, thank you so much for your blog.

    Allen

    • shrink4men
      September 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Allen,

      I encourage you to find a good attorney who has experience with high conflict personalities. Yes, it will be difficult re: you daughter and your wife’s connections in social services, however, she did endanger your daughter and a good attorney should be able to make that point stick.

      The longer you stay in the marriage and the longer your wife allows her skill sets to whither, the more you’re going to be on the hook to her re: support later on. It’s always better to get out sooner than later and for more than financial reasons.

      Your wife will probably retain custody, but you’re not protecting your daughter by staying. You’re telegraphing that your relationship with your wife is normal and your daughter will learn from that. Be the strong, healthy parent/role model for your child. You can’t achieve that if you remain in an abusive relationship.

      Your wife’s behavior is unlikely to improve. I know you think you’re doing the right thing by hanging in there, but trust me, it will probably come back to bite you in the ass later. Any advice from other gentlemen on this thread who’ve had similar experiences?

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  14. Derek
    August 6, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Hi there,

    I’m busy divorcing my BDP wife at the moment and it’s an emotional rollercoaster – we were together for four years and she walked out with our 2 year old daughter six months ago claiming that I was emotionally abusing her after I confronted her about her behaviour (social isolation, alienation of friends/family, parental interference, lies, theft, fake illnesses, unwarranted criticism, withholding intimacy, refusing to go back to work, etc). She’s a very attractive and well qualified individual with an unstable career and relationship history and her condition was only diagnosed after I used legal action to get her to see a psychologist after she withheld access to my daughter – the mediating psychologist ruled in my favour and I now have reasonable access.

    I’ve also subsequently gone for counselling and got to understand the BDP cycle of control/manipulation and my reactions to it – this helped me to understand the relationship on an intellectual level, but the emotional side still needs work. With the divorce pending, she still cycles between running me down and telling me she loves me and unfortunately I have to have contact with her because of our daughter. Because of the nature of her disorder, she doesn’t understand that her behaviour is abnormal and I have to constantly monitor my reactions to her in order to avoid falling into the previous pattern of abuse.

    I’m very glad that the relationship is over, but it takes time to undo the damage a person with this disorder does to their partners. I’ve found that minimal contact and strong boundaries weakens their ability to do more damage and socialising with normal people helps to redefine your healthy reality.

    • shrink4men
      August 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Derek,

      Thanks for reading an commenting. You’re absolutely correct about having minimal contact and creating and maintaining strong boundaries. The way these women interact with others truly is an assault. They lay siege, look for cracks in the fortress wall and then work or blast their way in. You must remain firm in your resolve and not let down your guard as these women are always looking for ways to twist things around.

      When you have to have contact (because of shared children), keep it courteous, brief and simple. Thanks again for the helpful advice and I wish you the best in moving on in your life.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  15. Nick from Texas
    August 2, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Dr. Tara,
    Do you have a published book on these topics…
    your work is so spot on, it gave me shivers. Was
    involved in a fifteen year relationship with one
    of these nutbags (10 years mariage, 5 more,divorced,
    but hung on). I’ve been free for 60 days. She still
    dangles the insulting hook now and then…but I don’t
    respond….which i know sends her up a tree. It was
    a classic control through threat of abandonment nightmare. PLEASE KEEP THIS SITE ALIVE!!!!
    Thank you so much.

    • shrink4men
      August 4, 2009 at 12:07 am

      Hi Bill,

      No, I don’t have a published book at the moment. I once tried getting a book published, but it was a ridiculously difficult process and my proposal was rejected because I “didn’t have a platform” and I was an “unpublished author.” Most publishing houses will only publish authors who can sell x number of copies before the majority of the books end up at the discount table at CostCo. Plus, I think the material I write is a little too “controversial” for most mainstream publishers. They prefer yet another memoir by celbutante du jour. Go figure. (I freely admit I’m still a little bitter re: my brush with book agents and the publishing industry in 2006).

      Thanks for your positive feedback. I’m glad to read you got out and are standing strong. The insult hook is a tempting one. Don’t bite on it! Hmm, that would be a great title for a book now that I think about it, “Don’t bite on it! The Lies Emotionally Abusive Women Tell You.” The cover photo should be an apple with a worm in it. Any publishers out there reading this interested? Didn’t think so.

      Thanks again, Bill, and please check back and let me know how you’re doing.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • shrink4men
        August 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm

        Good for you, Bill. It can be difficult not to bite on the bait.

        Yeah, I think “I want you dead” is a strong sign you should probably end the relationship and all contact.

        Hang in there,
        Dr T

      • JustAnotherSorryGuy
        August 10, 2009 at 10:26 pm

        I’ll by a copy of the first edition!! You will certainly be gathering enough material worth reading here!

  16. James
    July 31, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Dr. T:

    Your site is fantastic. i was married for 17.5 years before filing for divorce. For years i thought i was the bad one, always being accussed of casuing everything, being uncaring, didnt love her, was cheating on her, had ice water running through my viens, had no empathy, was a self centered prick, was a cold hearted bastard, etc,etc. When the day before i was the greatest thing since sliced bread. About 5 years ago i started to withdraw, i couldnt deal with her anymore. I tried to figure out what was up, about this same time she started drinking, now she is up to a bottle of white wine a night, so there is no reasoning at all on those nights. In reading your blog of the triggers, family gathernings, vacations, stresses, having to get a job, etc and also the predatory time when they attack, hers is right before i have a big presentation the night before or just as i am crawling into bed before a biz flight the next day it was like you were watching my life the last 15 years. She comes off sweet on the first meeting but watch out after that, she has no friends, has isolated me from my family for over 15 years, i have recently reached out to all and told them and apologized, my family has been great and told me it wasnt me it was her, they knew all along and tried to tell me but i defended her, sounds familiar i guess. Now my biggest fear is the divorce and how she is alientating the kids, i filed for joint custody and she countered,filed for sole and wants to take them out of state, over 2500 miles away (i am requesting a custody evaluations which starts next week). This after i have been to every game, play, been a little league coach, scout leader, helped with homeworketc, etc, while she has not worked in over 14 years outside the home. Why am i surpised she threatend it for over 15 years. Your site and my family and therappist have convinced me im not the crazy one, im the guy who hung in there and tried to make it work. I would love to sked a phone consultation with you to get advice on the divorce and how to protect myself and my kids from this women now and in future.

    • shrink4men
      August 3, 2009 at 11:19 pm

      Hi James,

      I’m sorry to read about your difficulties, but am glad you’ve managed to find your way out of that abusive relationship. I’ll send you an email with the information re: consultation. Meanwhile, I encourage you to seek some local support with father’s rights groups.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • GWG
      January 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      Dude. I must say that I lived exactly what you are saying. I lived it. Just add a good amount of physical abuse along with the emotional stuff (like the time when she swung her fist at my face; I put up my arm to block it and she hurt her wrist – got a bruise and then said, “look what you did! This is abuse! I’m calling the cops!…). I was officially married for fourteen years. I REALLY wish I had a site like this when I was going through it – it is fantastic. I thought in was the only one. I have been divorced now for a year. She dragged the divorce out for a year-and-a-half. Don’t be surprised if this happens to you (actually, by this time you may be divorced already – hopefully). She repeatedly threatened to take the kids out of state. I was very busy in my work and my attorney told me that e courts would probably side with her because my job was so demanding. The kids come first. I switched jobs to a less demanding one so that I could better fight her ability to take my kids away from me. Her response is laughable now – she said she could not afford that kind of pay cut! She has not worked since our second child was born, 13 years ago. So, in the end, I gave up a job that I really liked; gave up 25% of my income; gave up my newly remodeled home; gave up an extended social network and suffered the scorn of all the neighborhood as she rallied everyone to her side – if they only knew what was going on behind those closed doors! In the end, I have my two girls about 40% time and my son, who is the oldest (14) was also supposed to be on the same schedule as the girls. But he said, basically, no way. He refuses to go to her house. He lives with me full time. I suspect that the girls may come over too when they get a little older. Importantly, I think I got the custody I did because she was afraid her behaviors would come out. I threatened her with it – she of course threatened everything including the kitchen sink in response and it took steely nerves to hold up to it. But in the end it paid dividends.

      Everything is much better now. There is hope. The kids, most importantly are doing much better. I still have to interact with the wretch, but I have distanced myself as much as possible – nanny picks up and drops off the girls ALWAYS. I text or email only. Will not answer phone calls from her. And I refuse all physical meetings with her unless they absolutely cannot be avoided.

      I guess I just wanted to say, be strong. Things will be okay. Give up the money if you must. Do whatever you can to get the kids as much as possible – their mother is bad for them. And above all, distance yourself in every way possible. I had to learn this stuff on my own. You have the benefit of this site. Take all the advice here seriously and implement it directly.

      I’m a happy man now. And if I told you what I allowed to happen to me it would make your skin crawl – though I suspect it would surprise no one at this site.

      Good luck.

  17. Kev
    July 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Shame does play a lot into it, as does the idea that sometimes it’s just easier to avoid the fight, and go with the pre-approved friends. Where it becomes tricky, too, is when your friends don’t want to hang out with you, because of her. Also, if you have any female friends (single, married, and/or not-even-heterosexual), forget it. You will be accused of sleeping with all of them.

    I sacrificed more than a few friendships. One thing I’ve found, post-breakup, however, is that in reaching out to some of the people I let slip away, they’re still there waiting to have me back as a friend.

    Don’t discount the people you let go. Chances are, they’ve missed you.

    • shrink4men
      July 31, 2009 at 12:20 am

      “Don’t discount the people you let go. Chances are, they’ve missed you.”

      This is a good point, Kev. It’s not unusual to feel a little sheepish about reaching out to old friends, but it’s definitely worth it.

  18. Mr. D
    July 29, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    So, is she psychologically broken and damaged from past abuse, lashing out because it’s the only thing that relieves her anguish? If so, isn’t she deserving of some level of understanding – on the way to counseling, of course…

    …or is she an emotional abuser who conciously and meticulously plans each step of control?

    Or a combination of both? Or is it really an either/or question?

    Even closer to the bottom line: do the ‘whys’ even matter?

    • shrink4men
      July 30, 2009 at 10:27 pm

      Hi Mr D,

      She is both. Lots of people had incredibly painful childhoods and don’t grow up to oppress and abuse others. Yes, you can have sympathy and compassion for these women, but from a safe distance. I don’t care how effed up your childhood was. It doesn’t give you a free “understanding pass” to steamroll people when you’re an adult.

      Furthermore, the plaintive wail, “You have to tolerate me because I had it rough” is a pretty lame one. These women will never even begin to get better until they can start holding themselves accountable. So yes, you can be understanding of her issues as long as it doesn’t mean painting a bulls eye on your backside. If she’s ever going to straighten out her issues, it will be with the help of a skilled and patient therapist across many years. It will not happen in the context of your relationship.

      I’ve reached the point where the “why’s” don’t matter. What matters is how you treat the people you love.

      Thanks for reading and posting.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  19. JustAnotherSorryGuy
    July 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Yip, guilty of this myself. I have been lazy, and let a number of friends drift. I have a big family and they keep me busy enough.

    Oh! Guess what! My wife attacks me for this also. I am emotionally stunted and “don’t know how to relate to people.” etc.

    Any stick to beat me with will do.

    JustAnotherSorryGuy. (Aka, Tony – changed my name ’cause I didn’t like all my posts being identifiable. Of course this kinda defeats the purpose. kinda dumb!)

    • Spencer
      October 14, 2009 at 3:28 am

      Hi yes i understand.
      i have been told by my wife “you don’t have any friends”
      well of course not she wouldn’t have it that way.
      And when i have had the opportunity to make a friend i dread the idea of bringing someone sane to meet her, and i shy off as too busy or something conveniant.
      I know this is a old post of yours, I just found this site yesterday and have read some others you put up, but i felt the need to add, Thanks!

  20. jp
    July 28, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Dr. T,

    You write: “Even if you don’t believe it at first, you’re not losing anything by losing this relationship.”

    That’s not always the case. A man in a long-term relationship or marriage might lose his entire social network when it ends. The wife’s friends and family dissappear, and even couple friends made when the relationshop was intact may run for the hills.

    Of course, that’s no reason to stay in an abusive relationship, but let’s face facts: to find yourself living in isolation after years or even decades enjoying a full social calendar can be devastating.

    An ounce of prevention…
    Guys, don’t neglect your own social network. Think of of your contacts like a portfolio…spread your social investment…don’t become dependent on your wife’s network.

    If you’ve become isolated, don’t wallow in it. Nobody is going to come knocking on your front door and invite you to join their network. Get out, get involved, be open and friendly (without being creepy) to everyone.

    For guys who by nature aren’t “joiners” rebuilding from scratch is especially difficult. But the stakes are high…social interaction is absolutely necessary for your health.

    JP

    • shrink4men
      July 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm

      As always, JP, great advice. Thanks for sharing it. You’re right. There are some very real potential losses related to ending the relationship. I didn’t make it as clear as I could have. I meant the relationship itself in the long run isn’t a loss, although the loss of your hopes and dreams for the relationship are.

      You may well lose friends and not hear from her side of the family anymore. On the other hand, if friends judge you for ending the relationship, you have to wonder if they were really your friends. Unfortunately, many people “take sides” in these situations.

      Super advice about not isolating, JP. Join a fantasy sports league or an actual sports club, book club—whatever you enjoy—and reconnect with people you fell out of contact with (probably due to being with your abusive partner). Social support is so very important, which is why emotionally abusive women usually try to cut you off from your friends and family.

      Best,
      Dr Tara

      • jp
        July 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm

        Thanks, Dr. T,

        Abusive women often cut you off from friends and family, true, but I think a lot of men also get lazy over time about maintaining there own circle. It takes work and planning, and it’s often easier to go along with the wife and her circle, especially if you’re the kind of guy who ‘goes along to get along.’

        Women seem to have an instinctive awareness of their social needs and make the effort to maintain their circle.

        If you’ve ever worked in restaurants you might have noticed, especially on nights early in the week, dining rooms full of tables of two, three and four women together, catching up, sharing photos of their recent vacations or kids, whatever, while in the same place not a single table of men out together.

        JP

        • shrink4men
          July 30, 2009 at 10:16 pm

          This is another good point, JP. I don’t know if men get lazy over time or if they just get tired of having to defend why they want to spend time with their friends. There’s a double standard often at play here as well. Married/coupled women are allowed to hang out with their single gal pals and talk about what idiots the men in their live are. Yet, they only seem to like their men to hang out with the husbands/bf’s of their girlfriends. Lots of men are made to feel like they’re committing a war crime if they want to hang out with their single friends or a male friend that isn’t also a friend of their wife/gf.

          I think sometimes what gets termed “laziness” is just men being tired of getting crap for wanting to hang out with their own friends. Lots of gf’s/wives hate their bf’s/husband’s friends and make it as unpleasant as possible to spend time with them. It’s much easier to just socialize with people to whom their gf’s/wives have given their stamp of approval. Also, I think when most guys are in an emotionally abusive relationship, there’s a certain degree of shame involved, which may lead to letting friendships slide and/or because it’s exhausting to continually put on a false front that everything’s a-ok.

          Also, most women are socialized to sit around and talk, while men are socialized to go “do” something. For many women, talking is the “activity.” They get together just to talk. While guys are more likely to talk as part of an actual physical activity such as golfing, shooting hoops, having a beer, playing pool, working out, boating, etc. I have plenty of guy friends whom I talk with, but we don’t get together to “just talk.” We hike, bike ride, and go have some beers and play darts.

          Nevertheless, you make a good point, JP. Fellas, don’t let yourself become isolated. You don’t have to have 500 “Facebook friends;” just a couple of people you know have your back.

          Best,
          Dr Tara

          • July 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

            I think you hit the nail on the head there…I’m worn out.

  21. June 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Dr, T,
    oh yes I have found out that trying to dish back to the future ex wife has done a lot of damage. I was married before to a serial cheater (16yrs), moved to insecure narcissistic wife, I’ve been told by a therapist to look in the mirror there is a reason that these women act/treat me this way.
    So then i wondered why in all my other relationships ie…family, friends, coworkers etc….are not as the same?
    I’ve open my social circle up (30-40 new friends), graduated form college, looking forward to new career (retired 21 yrs us army infantry). I’m visiting the family again, i haven’t argued with anyone in 6 months, Ive raised my voice once to be stern and show disappointment in my daughter’s decision (she gave a boy half naked pic of herself). I can’t begin to tell/explain how much stress has gone out of my life (only combat stress has put that amount stress on me). I put a stalking protection order against her (180 missed cell phone calls/26 texts/15 YIM texts/she threaten me and my family through email)!!! I’m grateful for finding this site and I hope to continue to educate, understand and choose to use some of these tools Dr T has graciously given us.

    gary

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