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5 Ways to Avoid Becoming Involved with Another Crazy, Emotionally Abusive Woman

May 20, 2009 35 comments

beautiful woman maskMany men have a long established pattern of dating and/or marrying crazy, emotionally and/or physically abusive women. If you’re one of them and have managed to end your most recent abusive relationship, here are some warning signs and ways you can avoid becoming involved with another one of these highly destructive women:

1) Dig, baby, dig. Do a little gentle digging (i.e., no police interrogation tactics) about her past relationships and why they didn’t work out. Does she blame all of her exes and make them out to be bastards? If so, steer clear. You want to hear a potential love interest take some of the responsibility about the demise of her past relationships. “I was young and immature. I didn’t know what I wanted. I realize now that I…

Taking responsibility for her choices and holding herself accountable is a good indication that you’re probably dealing with a grown-up. However, don’t confuse self-blame and responsibility. If she trashes herself, puts herself down, blames herself for her failed relationships, actually admits how crazy she is and drove the other men away, get out while the getting’s good.

If she tells you up front how crazy she is don’t minimize, ignore it or explain it away; look for the nearest exit sign. People will give you warning signs very early on in a relationship, so pay close attention.

2) Beware of an inexplicable, instant, powerful and overwhelming attraction to a woman or if you feel like you “already know her” because of an “instant connection.” Odds are you do already know her. She’s probably just another embodiment of your old issues. Yes, instant chemistry exists and this new woman might be as wonderful as she appears to be, but go slowly.

The charming, but illusory façade of abusive woman begins to crack fairly soon into the relationship, but gradually, which is why so many men minimize, overlook, deny and/or excuse the abusive behaviors. She seems amazing and then there’s an attack “out of nowhere.” She goes back to “normal” for a few weeks and then there’s another incident and another and another and another. In most cases, the period of time between abusive episodes becomes shorter and shorter. Don’t wait that long to get out.

For example, the two of you meet and she’s great. Two weeks go by and she has her first rage episode in which she accuses you of being “insensitive” or “selfish” in the absence of any selfish or insensitive behaviors on your part. You’re bewildered and left wondering, “What just happened?” This is when you should go on high alert and pay very close attention to what she does next:

a) Does she pretend like it didn’t happen? Does she minimize or deny that it happened? This is called gaslighting and it’s abusive.

b) Does she apologize prettily, cry and say she was having a bad day at work and her boss was being mean to her and then you didn’t call her at the exact minute she was expecting you to call and she just couldn’t take it anymore and snapped? Don’t fall for it. This isn’t really an apology. She’s not taking responsibility for her bad behavior. Rather, she’s blaming her boss and you. Everyone has a bad day from time to time and maybe you want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Ok, but when it happens a second and a third time, she’s not “just having a bad day,” this is who she is.

c) Does she blatantly blame you for her bad behavior without even feigning an empty apology? There’s no gray area here. She’s an abusive personality and you should probably walk away.

d) Does she cry and beg you not to leave her, flushed with high drama, saying things like “I don’t know what I’ll do if you leave me. No one has ever made me feel this way. I don’t want to go on without you. Please don’t leave me!? Get a restraining order, change your phone number and get a new email account. This is probably full throttle BPD.

3) Beware of grand gestures or extreme selfishness. If she gives you an extravagant gift or orchestrates some incredible fantasy date within a few weeks of knowing her, be alarmed. If she expects you to take care of everything, make all the plans, entertain her, pay for everything and doesn’t reciprocate, be alarmed.

The former shows inappropriate boundaries and she’s probably working from the angle of “now he’ll owe me” and the latter indicates you will always “do” for her and get nothing in return except complaints and criticism. Nothing will ever be “good enough” for this kind of woman. Abusive types sometimes do very nice things or show empathy, but it’s on the condition that you will be available to them on demand.

4) BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES—Getting too close, too fast. Another warning sign is if she tries to insinuate herself into your other relationships and personal space too quickly. For example, you’ve been dating for two weeks, she finds out it’s your dad’s birthday that weekend and buys him a gift. Or she has roommate troubles and could she stay at your place “temporarily” after only knowing you a month. Or she wants to introduce you to her family in record time. This is evidence that she has poor or zero boundaries and it only goes downhill from here.

5) Mine! Mine! Mine! Extreme possessiveness. If she’s resentful early on about how and with whom you spend your time, this is a bad sign. Abusers feel jealous and threatened when you spend time with your family and friends—even talking on the phone with your sister who’s having a health crisis will set these women off. If she becomes nasty and berates you about having outside interests and hobbies, then, in the words of the Apollo 13 crew, “Houston, we have a problem.”

This is an early warning sign that this woman will use any means necessary to isolate you from your friends and family—the people who care about you and your well-being. If a woman like this can effectively isolate you, then you’re basically under her control and at her mercy without any outside support to tell you that she’s nuts and you deserve to be treated better.

When you meet a kind, loving and healthy woman, it’ll probably feel a little strange to you at first. That’s normal. Ride it out. Remind yourself this is what you want and let yourself enjoy it. Consciously make the decision to be open to it and you’ll get there. Relationships really can be that mutually rewarding and satisfying.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

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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Beautiful woman mask on LogoDesignMadeEasy.

15 Warning Signs She’s a Psycho Chick

February 6, 2009 66 comments

crazy for love1) She’s waiting for you outside your apartment door, uninvited, when you arrive from an evening out.

2) She owns more than 2 cats. (I’m being generous here. I think cats are reincarnated crazy women who committed suicide in their previous life. Two cats are a danger sign. I won’t date men who own cat(s); they’re crazier than their female counterparts–especially if they practice yoga).

3) Her previous boyfriends issued restraining warrants against her.

4) She invites you home to meet her family in under 30 days.

5) She shows up at all your favorite hangouts and pretends it’s a coincidence.

6) She systematically has sex with all your friends.

7) She contacts your ex-girlfriends to pump them for information.

8. She utters phrases like, “I don’t know what I’d do if we broke up,” “I wouldn’t want to live without you” or “the third time I was admitted to the ER for a suicide attempt.”

love overdrive9) Suicide Hotline is one of her T-Mo Faves.

10) Her medicine cabinet contains bottles of Lexepro, Abilify, and Zyprexa. They only prescribe Zyprexa to the really crazy ones.

11) She professes “No one’s ever understood me like you do” and “I’ve never felt this way with a man before” on the first date.

12) You wake up the morning after you have sex with her to discover that she’s carved her name onto your arm with a knife. THIS IS A TRUE STORY.

13) When you meet her parents, they look at you with sympathy and gratitude.

14) All of her ex-boyfriends have moved to other cities since ending the relationship–a kind of Ex-Boyfriend Protection Program.

15) SHE SAYS SHE JUST WANTS TO HAVE SEX, DOESN’T WANT A COMMITMENT AND YOU CAN CONTINUE TO SEE OTHER WOMEN. “I just want to be with you tonight. I don’t care about tomorrow.” Get your attorney on speed dial. Game over.

For a humorous, but scary male perspective, check out Dean Weigand’s piece on The Onion, I’m a F–ked Up Chick Magnet.

Updated on 02/06/09: Women who behave like this may be suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Since first publishing this post, I’ve received some incensed emails from BPD activists. BPD is a serious condition. However, for people who are coping with their girlfriend’s, wife’s, family member’s or friend’s hurtful and crazy behaviors, gallows humor is often a coping mechanism. If they can’t find an outlet or some humor in the situation, it makes the reality of their lives unbearable.

Furthermore, for all of you with BPD who want sympathy and support for your problems, I am writing this blog for men who are on the receiving end of the emotionally abusive aspects of your diagnosis. They’re entitled to help, understanding, and commiseration just like you. You have your online forums and chat rooms. These guys deserve equal time. These blogs aren’t for the “assholes who just use you for sex” (quote from a comment that hasn’t been approved yet). It’s for the men who are good guys who don’t deserve to be subjected to emotional abuse.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

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.

Donations

If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.

Photo credits:

Crazy in love by Season Moore on flickr.

Love overdrive by Jill Greenseth on flickr.

13 Signs Your Wife or Girlfriend is a Borderline or a Narcissist

January 21, 2009 1,125 comments

BPD-1My girlfriend / wife doesn’t have a personality disorder. She’s just emotional. Maybe, maybe not. Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t as mainstream in public awareness as other psychiatric diagnoses, but it’s a very real problem that affects many individuals and the people who are in ongoing relationships with them or trying to end relationships with them.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a kissing cousin of BPD. There is usually some overlap between the two. Most people think being a narcissist means that you’re conceited or vain–there’s a lot more to it.

Men are typically accused of being insensitive and out of touch with their feelings. We rarely talk about women who emotionally abuse the men they claim to love. There are different reasons why this is a silent epidemic:

a) Society and psychology hold a reverse sexist attitude regarding the perpetrators and recipients of emotional abuse.

b) Men have been brainwashed into believing that “she’s just expressing her feelings” when she’s being abusive and that “he’s insensitive and doesn’t understand.” Unfortunately, many mental health professionals perpetuate this phenomenon through their own gender biases. Should these men enter into couples treatment, they often get tag teamed by their girlfriend/wife and the therapist into believing they’re the problem. Should this couple actually find a shrink worth his/her salt that tries to hold the Borderline/Narcissist accountable, said shrink is duly fired and vilified by the BPD/NPD.

c) Men are too embarrassed to talk about the hurt, pain and confusion they experience as a result of the way these women mistreat them.

Warning: Being involved with an abusive Borderline or Narcissist May Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

Here are some common side effects of being in an abusive relationship, whether the abusive individual has a personality disorder or not:

1) Censoring your thoughts and feelings. You edit it yourself because you’re afraid of her reactions. Swallowing the lump in your throat and your hurt and anger is easier than dealing with another fight or hurt feelings. In fact, you may have stuffed your own emotions for so long that you no longer know what you think or feel.

2) Everything is your fault. You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship and in general, even if it has no basis in reality.

3) Constant criticism. She criticizes nearly everything you do and nothing is ever good enough. No matter how hard you try, there’s no pleasing her or, if you do, it’s few and far between.

4) Control freak. She engages in manipulative behaviors, even lying, in an effort to control you.

3186177287_1423ed4f22_o5) Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde. One moment she’s kind and loving; the next she’s flipping out on you. She becomes so vicious, you wonder if she’s the same person. The first time it happens, you write it off. Now, it’s a regular pattern of behavior that induces feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness and/or despair within you.

6) Your feelings don’t count. Your needs and feelings, if you’re brave enough to express them, are ignored, ridiculed, minimized and/or dismissed. You’re told that you’re too demanding, that there’s something wrong with you and that you need to be in therapy. You’re denied the right to your feelings.

7) Questioning your own sanity. You’ve begun to wonder if you’re crazy because she puts down your point of view and/or denies things she says or does. If you actually confide these things to a friend or family member, they don’t believe you because she usually behaves herself around other people.

8) Say what? “But I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that.” Sure you did. Well, you did in her highly distorted version of reality. Her accusations run the gamut from infidelity to cruelty to being un-supportive (even when you’re the one paying all the bills) to repressing her and holding her back. It’s usually baseless, which leaves you feeling defensive and misunderstood.

9) Isolating yourself from friends and family. You distance yourself from your loved ones and colleagues because of her erratic behavior, moodiness and instability. You make excuses for her inexcusable behaviors to others in an effort to convince yourself that it’s normal.

10) Walking on landmines. One misstep and you could set her off. Some people refer to this as “walking on eggshells,” but eggs emit only a dull crunch when you step on them. Setting off a landmine is a far more descriptive simile.

11) What goes up, must come down. She places you on a pedestal only to knock it out from under your feet. You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread one minute and the next minute, you’re the devil incarnate.

12) Un-level playing field. Borderlines and Narcissists make the rules; they break the rules and they change the rules at will. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to give her what she wants, she changes her expectations and demands without warning. This sets you up for failure in no-win situations, leaving you feeling helpless and trapped.

13) You’re a loser, but don’t leave me. “You’re a jerk. You’re a creep. You’re a bastard. I love you. Don’t leave me.” When you finally reach the point where you just can’t take it anymore, the tears, bargaining and threats begin. She insists she really does love you. She can’t live without you. She promises to change. She promises it will get better, but things never change and they never get better.

When that doesn’t work, she blames you and anything and anyone else she can think of, never once taking responsibility for her own behaviors. She may even resort to threats. She threatens that you’ll never see the kids again. Or she threatens to bad mouth you to your friends and family.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a follow-up blog in which I explain why this emotional abuse and what you can do about it.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

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.

Donations

If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.

Related posts:

Photo credits:

BPD-1 byPushkia on flickr.

Spin-the-mood-wheel by MashGet on flickr.

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