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Sex and Control: How Men Get Screwed by Emotionally Abusive Women

August 17, 2009 118 comments

giant screwSex is a very important part of a healthy and loving relationship. If you’re involved with an emotionally abusive narcissistic and/or borderline woman, the sex has probably become bad for your self-esteem and general well-being, just like everything else in your relationship.

NPD/BPD women basically have three behaviors toward sex: hyper-sexuality, hot and cold, or frigidity. Sometimes, the same woman can alternate between all three behaviors.

[Note: Sex drives may vary greatly from person to person and aren't necessarily an irresolvable issue in an otherwise loving and compatible relationship. This post focuses on the unhealthy attitudes and behaviors these women have toward sex.]

First, let’s explore the essential elements for love and a fulfilling sex life.

Vulnerability, trust, intimacy, empathy, and  respect — or the lack thereof.

There are 5 prerequisites for love and great sex:

  1. Vulnerability. This means taking a risk, exposing your true self, your needs and desires. It’s risky because you could be rejected or ridiculed. It’s impossible for an NPD/BPD woman to make herself vulnerable because she’s invested most of her life in crafting an elaborate and rigid false self to hide her highly damaged true self.
  2. Trust. You trust your partner to accept you and to not deliberately hurt you. This woman trusts no one. She believes everyone is out for themselves and trying to “get one over” on her. This is an example of projection. She’s out for herself and tries to constantly get one over on you.
  3. Intimacy. This is about sharing and getting close physically, psychologically and emotionally.
  4. Empathy. This requires being in tune with the other person and being able to experience how they feel and what they want and need.
  5. Respect. This woman treats her husband or boyfriend like an object; not an equal partner whose feelings and needs are just as important as her own. Bottom line: She doesn’t respect you.

An emotionally abusive NPD/BPD woman is incapable of empathy. She’s incapable of seeing any viewpoint other than her own and only cares about her needs and feelings. She’d rather stick bamboo splinters under her fingernails than feel vulnerable and she cannot, cannot tolerate emotional and psychological intimacy. She can tolerate some physical intimacy, as long as it doesn’t lead to the other forms of intimacy. Basically, in order to avoid emotional and psychological intimacy, she either engages in hyper-sexuality or avoids sex altogether. But why?

True intimacy means sharing your good qualities as well as your faults and insecurities with your partner, which this woman will never do. Not only does this woman not let down her guard, she ‘s constantly attacking you or pushing your buttons in order to keep her vulnerabilities from being exposed. Consequently, you feel unsafe and on your guard, even though a love partner is the one person with whom you should feel safe enough to let down your guard. This doesn’t bode well for a mutually satisfying sex life.

So why is she even in a relationship if she doesn’t trust, respect or love you?

1. You’re her normalcy prop. Being married or in a committed relationship gives her the appearance of normalcy to the outside world. You play an integral role in maintaining her false self. “See. Someone wants me. There’s nothing wrong with me. Normal people get married. Therefore, I’m normal because I’m married.

2. She can’t exist without attention. Good attention, bad attention; it doesn’t matter. For her purposes, you could be anybody. She likes the idea of having a boyfriend or husband in the abstract, but the reality of being in a relationship is filled with frustration and disappointment for her because you’re not “perfect” or “good enough” for her highly inflated false sense of self. She soon grows to resent you and then the covert and overt abuse and rage attacks begin. Conversely, you try to hold her accountable and point out her imperfections. She can’t have that.

As a result of not living up to her lofty and unrealistic expectations (by the way, no one is capable of doing so), she doesn’t really like you very much. She plays the role of martyr to the hilt, professing her love for you in one breath and cutting you down and shutting you out with the next. You can’t have a satisfying emotional and physical connection with  someone who doesn’t like you and sees you as a “disappointment.” This is another example of projection. In reality, she’s the disappointment and failure as a life partner.

It all comes down to control and bolstering her ego.

Sex isn’t about expressing love, lust, intimacy, passion, affection or mutual pleasure. Instead, many of these women use sex to lure you into the relationship. Once she feels confident that she’s hooked you, sex becomes one of the ways she controls you—either by sexing you up or by withholding it. There are two primary ways of doing this.

1. The insatiable sexual virtuoso. The sex starts off with a bang. The sheer intensity of it is mind blowing, but deceiving. The intensity is actually a symptom of the severity of her pathology. What seems like intense passion to you, is really her intense need to control and dominate you into submission. I repeat, it’s about controlling you, not pleasing you.

You’re also her sex prop. She treats you like a mechanical object/scratching post/human vibrator and/or a way to make herself feel desirable, sexy or “the best.” Roger Melton, M.A. explains: “I love you” means “I need you to love me.” “That was the best ever for me” means “Tell me it was the best ever for you. Show me that I have you.” Sex isn’t an act of true intimacy, but rather another way for her to feel admired and in control. Eventually, this will cause you to feel used and distant instead of loved and emotionally connected. This form of sexuality may be constant or blow hot and cold. It depends upon how often she needs this kind of validation and/or how great her need for control is.

2. The withholding welcher. Alternately, an emotionally abusive, NPD/BPD woman lures you into a relationship with the unspoken promise of passionate sex once you’ve “proven” yourself and she “feels” she can “trust you.” Alexander Lowen, M.D. explains this kind of seduction as “a false statement or promise to get another person to do what he or she would not otherwise do. The promise can be explicitly stated, or it can be implied. Psychopathic swindlers openly promise something they have no intention of giving. But most seductive ploys involve promises that are not clearly stated” (Narcissism: Denial of the True Self, p. 102).

This is a trap because the passionate sex never materializes. You have to keep proving yourself “worthy” of her and, as many of my readers know, nothing is ever enough for these women. You can never be nice enough, do enough or meet any of her other ill-defined, diffuse, shifting rules and requirements enough for her to “reward” you with sex. Sex is a chore for this woman, an obligation or a “favor” she begrudgingly bestows with growing infrequency and ultimately becomes a transaction.

A transactional relationship is one in which person A provides a service in exchange for person B providing a service. Prostitution is a kind of transactional relationship and so is sex with this kind of NPD/BPD woman. In other words, if you want to get laid, then you have to give her something she wants or behave how she wants you to behave. This is another way she controls you.

There’s always an agenda, even if it’s having sex so you won’t end the relationship. It’s still a transaction. “You owe me because I let you have sex with me. I did my ‘duty,’ so now you can’t leave.” Most men are so grateful for even the smallest scrap of affection that they ignore the perfunctory and disinterested way in which their wife or girlfriend treats sex. Like a man who’s been wandering through the desert views a thimble full of water; you’re grateful for what little you get.

No matter the scenario, you’re not her beloved, equal partner; you’re either a to-do list item, a human vibrator, and/or a way for her to feel like she’s still “got it.”

Shame and sex don’t mix.

This kind of woman may also increase her control by combining sex with shame. For example, she labels you as “perverse,”  “sick” or “abnormal” for wanting sex, when she’s the one who has a perverse, twisted sexuality and relationship beliefs—this is more projection. Typical statements include: “There’s something wrong with you. You’re a sex addict. You’re a pervert. All you want is sex.” Shaming you for the very natural desire of  physical intimacy in your committed relationship is incredibly abusive and can leave emotional scars.

The NPD/BPD woman will only have sex when she wants it, which is usually after you’ve been so beaten down that you no longer have any interest in touching her. Contrary to what she believes, criticism, rages, and the cold shoulder do not make for great aphrodisiacs. When you tell her that you’re not in the mood (go figure), she insults your manhood, accuses you of infidelity, of not loving her and so on and so forth.

She expects you to perform a thousand and one feats of devotion before she takes the lid off the cookie jar, yet expects you to perform on demand whether you want to or not. This is another example of her utter lack of empathy. Sex is about what she needs in that given moment and has nothing to do with you. You’re nothing more than object who exists to service her every whim, need and insecurity.

Screwed, but not in the good way.

In the end, a Narcissistic-Borderline woman tends to make a poor lover. Even if she’s mastered a range of techniques, sex is ultimately a mechanical act devoid of true intimacy. If you view sex as simply a mechanistic, impersonal stimulus/release interaction, this may be enough. If you view sex as a medium of expression in which you share love, lust, playfulness, raw animal passion, desire, tenderness and mutual fantasies, sex with this kind of woman will never be enough. Sex becomes just another empty and dissatisfying exchange with your partner.

For those of you who think you’ve lucked out because you’re with the sexual performer, think again. It may be more difficult to end your relationship because you’re also confusing sex with intimacy and can fall back on the lie, “at least the sex is good.” Is it really? Or is it making it more difficult for you to recognize the degree to which you’re being abused, to end the relationship and to find a woman who’s capable of true emotional and physical intimacy?

Shrink4Men Counseling, Coaching and Consulting Services

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides confidential, fee-for-service, counseling, consultation and coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.

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Giant screw by horobin on Picasa.

6 Signs Not to Propose to your Girlfriend on Valentine’s Day

February 6, 2009 7 comments

bridezillaDo you and your girlfriend fight like cats and dogs? Are you always the one who initiates sex? Does it seem like you’re in a state of constant conflict? Does she put a lot of undue pressure on you? Does she expect you to make her happy? Are you considering proposing to her on Valentine’s Day?

This time of year can put a lot of pressure on men to “pop the question.” If the above questions ring true for you, then you probably shouldn’t buy that ring she’s been hinting, nagging and/or threatening you about.

Here are some signs you shouldn’t marry the woman you’re dating, no matter how much pressure she’s applying. In fact, if the following scenarios apply to your relationship, the two of you probably shouldn’t even be dating.

1) You have incompatible sex drives. SEX IS IMPORTANT. It’s just as important to a relationship as mutual respect, kindness, and emotional support. Too many people minimize the importance of having compatible sexual attitudes and sex drives.

If your girlfriend just isn’t that into sex or you have to beg for it or you have buy her presents or behave in specific ways to be “rewarded” with sex or she’s not open to talking about and exploring what’s mutually enjoyable, you’re probably not going to be happy with this woman no matter how wonderful her other qualities may be. A grown man who’s in a healthy, loving relationship shouldn’t have to beg for a blow-job.

2) You’re a case of opposites attract. This old cliche is a myth. Opposites may initially attract, but once the novelty wears off, research (Buston and Emlen, 2003) indicates they don’t stand the test of time. Familiarity in the way we communicate and express love and affection is comforting and a strong foundation for a lasting and loving relationship.

3) You have to constantly work at the relationship. Yes, you need to put some effort into relationship maintenance, but it shouldn’t be a constant, uphill struggle. If you’re stressed out and exhausted from the daily grind of your relationship, you’re probably not in the right relationship for you. You just can’t fix some problems. It’s ok to admit this and end it.

4) You just don’t have anything in common. You don’t have to like all the same things, people, places, foods, and music, but you should have some shared basic interests. Additionally, shared values are more important than common interests. It’s great that you both enjoy skiing and watching football, but do you want the same things in life? Do you have complementary temperaments and styles of relating? Do you have compatible views on child rearing?

5) You have constant conflict. Conflict is a natural part of relationships. However, there’s healthy conflict that results from minor disagreements and misunderstandings and there’s toxic, never ending, irresolvable conflict that results from unbridgeable individual differences and/or individual pathology. Signs that you’re dealing with the latter include:

  • Having the same argument over and over again.
  • Getting stuck in a cycle of mutual blame and resentment.
  • Bringing up hurts or arguments from the past in the present.
  • Name calling.
  • Not being able to move past the conflict once the fighting subsides.

6) You feel responsible for her happiness. If her happiness depends on things you say or do, it’s not a good sign. It’s a set-up for mutually assured unhappiness. If you’re responsible for making her happy, you’ll also be the person that gets blamed for her unhappiness, frustration, and the rest of life’s petite traumata. True happiness, satisfaction, and contentment come from within. It’s not dependent upon what you do or don’t do for her.

It can be difficult not getting worn down when some women begin the big push toward the altar. It’s natural to have some doubts and feel resistance to marriage. However, there’s a difference between simply having a case of cold feet and having legitimate concerns because of the issues cited above.

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:

Bridezilla on Poor Richard’s Printshop.

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