Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, Marriage, relationships > When Love Hurts: The Emotionally Abused Man

When Love Hurts: The Emotionally Abused Man

Does your relationship with your girlfriend or wife leave you feeling bad about yourself? Do you frequently feel misunderstood, rejected, vilified and devalued in your relationship? Do you feel trapped or stuck? Do you believe it’s possible for men to be emotionally abused by women?

Believe it. It happens all the time. The stereotype of an abusive relationship is that of a man physically beating a woman. Society has yet to acknowledge the vast number of women who emotionally abuse men.

In fact, the men who are being abused oftentimes don’t realize that their wife’s or girlfriend’s behavior is abusive.

2569321033_221a5b6a20-copy-2They use different terms to describe this behavior like nagging, bossy, difficult, strong-willed, tough, harsh, argumentative, “passionate,” or aggressive, which they always follow up with some excuse such as, “She had a really tough childhood. She was abused.” Lots of people have had less than ideal beginnings, but they don’t take it out on others in their adult relationships.

Men have been brainwashed into believing that it’s normal for women to be irrational, moody, emotional, and demanding.

Most men accept these behaviors under the guise that a woman is ‘just expressing her feelings’ and men are uncomfortable with because ‘men aren’t good at expressing their feelings.’ This is ridiculous.  This behavior makes men uncomfortable, just as it would make most women on the receiving end of it uncomfortable because it’s abusive.

Men, you need to wake up and stop blinding yourself to the obvious.

If you walk on eggshells around your partner because you’re afraid she’ll flip out on you for minor transgressions or simply because she’s in a bad mood, you’re experiencing emotional abuse. If nothing you do, no matter how hard you try pleases her, you’re experiencing emotional abuse. If she regularly puts you down, criticizes or demeans you through name-calling and humiliation, you’re experiencing emotional abuse. If she shuts you out, gives you the cold shoulder or refuses to have sex with you in order to control your behavior, you’re experiencing emotional abuse.

There’s no shame in admitting this. In fact, it’s your wife or girlfriend who ought to be ashamed.

Emotional abuse is like a cancer that eats away at your psyche until you’re left feeling powerless, worthless, anxious and/or depressed. Most of the time it happens so gradually that you don’t notice it. You explain away the first few tantrums, emotional outbursts and rage episodes. You take her criticisms to heart because you want to please her.

You’d give anything for her to go back to the way she was during the honeymoon phase of your relationship when she was fun, sweet and loving and therein lies the problem.

2569321033_221a5b6a20-copy-2-copyShe’s not abusive all the time. Sometimes she’s nice. Now and again, she’ll even make a grand loving gesture and you convince yourself that the relationship isn’t that bad. Abusive personality types frequently have a very charismatic and seductive side. If she was all bad all the time, you’d have never become involved with her, right? Their charming side is how they suck people in. Over time, the charm wears thin and their abusive traits dominate.

You can’t fix this. You can’t make her stop. You can’t make your relationship better. You can go to all the therapy sessions in the world and read all the How to Understand Women books on Amazon, but you won’t be able to change her behavior. Why?

First, it’s highly unlikely that your girlfriend or wife will see her behavior as abusive because “everything’s your fault” and, most importantly, her abusive behaviors are how she gets what she wants. It’s a learned and highly effective behavioral technique, which, even if she gains awareness about it, will be terribly difficult (if not impossible) for her to break.

The goal of an abuser is control and the way they control you is through emotional abuse.

Don’t want to admit you’re being controlled or abused? Ok. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you spending more and more time at work because you don’t want to go home?
  • Have you dropped out of touch with friends and family? When you communicate periodically, do you smile and tell them everything’s great as you feel the knot in your stomach tighten and the lump in your throat harden?
  • Do you feel like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop?
  • Have you withdrawn from life while retreating into alternate realities, e.g., books, films or the Internet?
  • Are you experiencing feelings of shame, worthlessness, low self-esteem or emotional numbness?
  • Are you experiencing physical symptoms like chronic stomach pain, nausea, headaches, digestive problems, insomnia or fatigue that your doctor can’t diagnose beyond “may be stress-related?”
  • Are you drinking more or using recreational drugs more than you used to? Are you using them to escape from or numb yourself to the unhappiness of your situation?
  • Do you feel unlovable? Like something’s “wrong” with you or that you’re “bad” or “crazy?” Do you worry that if you left your partner that no one else would want you?
  • Do you experience symptoms of depression, including thoughts of suicide?
  • Do you engage in risky behaviors in which your death would be considered “accidental” like reckless driving, riding your bike alone through rough terrain, going into dangerous neighborhoods,or walking into traffic without looking?

If you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions it’s highly likely that you’re suffering the effects of emotional abuse. Most often women (and men) with these traits either have Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and/or Narcissistic Personality Disorder characteristics, if not full blown personality disorders. These psychiatric conditions are extremely difficult to treat.

All four can be extremely emotionally abusive types who are incapable of feeling empathy or holding themselves accountable, which does not bode well for you.

You need to decide if you want to spend the rest of your life being treated like this or if you want a chance at real love and happiness. You should probably seek some form of formal support to:

  1. Help resurrect your feelings of self-esteem and worth.
  2. Understand why you were attracted to this woman in the first place so you don’t end up in another abusive relationship again.
  3. Learn some behavioral techniques to deal and cope with these behaviors.
  4. Help you decide if you want to end this relationship and, if so, support you through it.


Dr Tara J Palmatier_Shrink4Men_02Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.

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Photo credits: Jekyll and Hyde by That Damned Redhead on flickr.

  1. Joyce
    October 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I just finished reading your article and I am convinced that my son is being emotionally abused by his wife. She has convinced him that I am the enemy and has succeeded in separating him from everyone who has ever loved him. He only has his wife and their child now. Since I am not allowed to communicate with him or even to see their child due to her demands, how do I go about helping him? I am so worried for him and heartbroken that my family has had to endure her wrath to the point of losing one most dear to us. I would appreciate any advice or information that you could possible give me.

    Thank you,

    • Ian
      March 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      Hi all. To be totally honest after reading all the posts I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the startling familiarity of what has been said so I don’t feel I can contribute as I’d wish with clarity right now I simple don’t have the words. I didn’t want to leave this page without registering my respect, empathy and thanks to all who posted. I shall do my best to post soon. To the originator/s of the site also many thanks!

    • Sandra
      November 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Hello, I just finished reading your article, and I am the mother of a son who is in an abusive relationship, everything and I mean eveything you discussed my grown son has admitted to me when he left his abusive wife, for the second time. Unfortunately, as they always do they go back to them, because when he left he came here, and she would not leave him alone and began to try to make him feel guilty for leaving him, using the kids and all.
      I have watched the abuse over the years, and my son refuses to see it and of course makes excuses for it, or pretty much get upset with me, because I wont go along with things that he wants us to do. Everything, when discussing the issue is, she has no family, can you give her a break, its always “poor so and so”, and as a counselor, i see exactly whats happening and have always seen the type of person his wife is.

      The exact same situation described by another mother, is she has convinced him that I am the enemy and has succeeded also in seperating him from everyone who has ever loved him. She has him right where she wants him now, just her him and their children. We do not see or hear from him, unless, we run into him in the store, or when he desperately needs something from us, Which im sure she’s behind, and will not even let me talk to the babies over the phone. I asked myself the question, also How do i go about helping him, before his health begins to deteriate because of the stress of these types of relationships.
      We too, have had to endure her wrath, and she openly admitted that she has issues, but he is still with her and i guess this is better than nothing to him. It feels like i have lost a son, and grandchildren. It is very difficult, although I try to go on I cant help but think about how their self-esteem will get worst the longer he is in this marriage.

      I feel the mothers on here, who wonder how we can help our kind,, gentle, loving sons who have become a victim of these type of BPD or NPD women. They fiind it hard to break loose and cause the whole family so much pain!


    • Maria
      April 17, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Joyce, my son has a partner who is abusive to him. I’ve never seen such cruelty. He’s in his early 30s, they have a child between them…He has been banished from the house. He has been with her ten years. He won’t leave her, presumably because of their child. It’s too painful to write about fully. M.x

  2. Matt
    October 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Anonymous coward-thank you so much, your comments have given me the wake up call I nneded, I never even considered the listed possiblities as possible! It’s really quite scary-I’m assuming your ex hit you like this?
    I am writing a journal/diary as you asked me to, highlighting her behaviour of all types from the beginning, this will be very helpful to the court.Am seeing my solicitor in the morning,so hopefully I will get some info regarding the barrister etc.
    She has been attacking me again.(yesterday,Oct 24) We have a mutual friend on Facebook, to be honest,as with a lot of Facebook ‘friends’ you hardly ever contact them. On this occasion, our mutual friend, a girl, commented about someone had been annoying her, and she stated that whatever two faced people do, it will come back and bite them in the ass one day.

    I replied that there must be a lot of bitten asses in this world! (humour)

    My ex then saw an opportunity to have a pop at me, I have copied and pasted it below, removing just names etc. but otherwise as it was written. I have added explanatory comments bracketed.

    “Hi *****, sounds like your not having fun a moment honey what is going on. I have just got back from Malta, kids are great our little man (my 7 month old son) crawling all over the place and starting to talk, (my 2 year old daughter) is so funny but very naughty and (new lover) well is bliss. Hoping to go away to Africa before xmas mum agreed to have babies HELLLLO what is that all about? (her mother refused to look after our kids when we were together,and admits she is not maternal) cannot wait. got text from (mutual female friend) other day all seems good there well take care send my love to (girl’s husband) and the kids for me love (my soon to be ex wife’s name here)) xxx”

    Now, I think I can see why she made these comments, pretending they are for her friend, but clearly meant for me,as this comment was added in reponse to my post.

    I expect these cruel vile comments to worsen over the coming days/weeks, so am saving them as evidence for my solicitor. I have not,and do not intend to react to them in ANY way.

    Do you think this is another sympotonm of her disorder?

    Waiting patiently for answers please.


    • jham123
      October 28, 2009 at 3:59 pm

      Oh yes it is part of the disorder…..NEVER any closure. You must be doing a good job at cutting her off from any contact with you. She is definitely trying to push your buttons with that post…..a post that she is guaranteed you’ll see.

      This is her way of getting your attention again. Stay focused and keep up the good fight. The post is proof that what you are doing (no contact)is having an effect.

    • chris kiley
      April 2, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Yes, definitely agree with jham123. Most importantly though, for your well being, do not give this type of behavior any energy -mentally or emotionally. When healthy folks are so “blissfully” happy with everything, they do not feel the need to broadcast the details of their life (esp. to their ex). These people lie constantly to create their “story”.

  3. Matt
    October 22, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Hi Dr.Tara,Jham,and MeLove, it’s been a while since I have been on here,and want to thank you so much for your kind words and advice.
    I am starting counselling tomorrow (at last!) I am left with the feeling of having no closure,and I know I will never achieve it, but still I have no contact with my kids.
    During the ‘marriage’ she left me 5 times,usually returning to me the next day.

    Her behaviour was always in the main,very abusive,and of the ‘gaslighting’ type.
    Her insecurites were profound. Her past relationships as she described them to me,were all abusive (she being the ‘poor me’ victim.) She claimed there was violence inflicted upon her,in both preceding relationships,and both were apparently, unfaithful! Her ex husband is supposed to have slept with three of her friends,alarmingly,she still maintains friendships with these women, but excuses them by saying ‘I didn’t love him’!!
    I did explain it was unhealthy to keep these ‘friends’ even if she felt their actions were ‘ok’ as,like i mentioned, she didn’t love him.
    She has since tried to keep my friends close,and all report I was abusive,and has generally bad mouthed me.
    During our marriage (she has 2 older kids from the previous partner) he ex husband,the kid’s dad would call our house and ask to speak to the kids, but was anxious to deal with that process very quickly so he could ask them to ‘put mum on’
    Then a 20-30 minute conversation would follow,and she’d be laughing and joking with him,and generally persuing a friendship with him.
    He has a new partner,and had told her once he still has feelings for his ex, after putting up with this for so long )the chats were 4-5 times a week- I indicated that I wasn’t comfortable as I was aware he still longed for her back, and it wasn’t fair on his partner or myself. I have no problem with the kid’s dad calling, but the frequency was a little excessive.
    She then made sure she actualy INCREASED the call durations subsequentley..

    She would flirt with my friends,my brother etc. One time,she was busy cranking my brother up by pushing her bottom into his groin, and eventually he called her bluff and said ‘ok —- let’s go upstairs and I’ll give you what you want!’ She immediately backed off,and became contrite.One of my friends was present and he verified this to be true.

    My brother spoke to her recently by email,and he was asking her to resume child access.She became nasty, and said ‘ Yeah? And did you tell Matt you wanted to f**k me? Bet you didn’t, so don’t tell me I’m being deliberately difficult,when you display no loyalty to your own brother!’

    The day we finally split, she threatened to invoke a restraining order upon myself, I said that is crazy,I have never hit you,although some arguments were very heated in the past. She told me this at my father’s empty home – he passed in June,and I cared for him during his last 2 weeks at home,with my ex.
    I dismissed her threat, as there wasn’t ever any violence.
    She also had asked me to meet her there as she wanted to talk to me in person,had asked if I were alone,using text messages, I replied in the affirmative, and she said she’d meet me there. There she delivered her intention to take a restraining order,and in the next breath to tell me she is seeing someone else!
    I merely replied ‘ok, but isn’t that a bit soon?’ She smiled and left.

    True to her threat, next week saw some big guy at my door delivering the court order,I was amazed, and very stunned to read inside the alleged physical asssaults I had allegedley commited.It was very painful to read the contents of fallacious lies, knowing it was designed to hurt me.
    The worst,was the allegation I had ‘kicked her in the abdomen’ whist 5 month’s pregnant.
    I had already expressed my concerns over her ability to care for the babies properly,as she had let an 11 year old girl walk around with my infant son in her arms, and she had dropped him accidentally onto a concrete surface from about 3 feet already- thank heavens he was ok, I arrived at the house just as the event occured,and as I am an RN at the local emergency dept. was able to ascertain there was no neourlogical deficit,I stayed over all night to keep an eye on him,thankfully he was fine. I actually witnessed one of her ‘friends’ trying to feed my baby boy with beer directly from a can at a BBQ in the summer-I had gone to relieve my bladder- when I raised some obvios serious concern, she replied ‘Don’t be silly, he is not actually let him drink it’, she just poured scorn over my concern,and dismissed the event like it wasn’t a problem!!

    After she had moved to the new house she lives in, I was obviously concerned over my kid’s welfare and was advised to call Social Services. They visited, wife was sweet and charming, won the S.S. team over, tried to make ME look like a lunatic, they left, happy there were no perceievable issues.
    So, my situation got worse with her stopping contact, so now am trying to put a case together through the courts and am amassing evidence against her,and will be pushing for a mental health assessment. She also bulemic, and has various OCD’s, so fingers crossed I will get access soon.

    She has cleverly used the system to manipulate me,and dupe everyone else into thinking I am the person with the problems, it is so frustrating…

    She always wanted more attention than I was able to give, and like I said before, accused me of so many things, infidelity etc etc it did make me lose confidence and left me feeling very low, and almost shamed.

    She has behaved so badly, she has no remorse,particularly since she imported her lates victim into her profoundly dysfunctional life and mind, I really think she truly couldn’t care less if I were dead!
    I will fight her for those children, they don’t need to be around a mother who smokes 40 cigarettes a day, never mind her 4 litre a day diet coke habit!

    I intially rose to the challenge of being her care giver, tried in vain to fix her issues to no avail,and am left feeling worthless and abused.
    I am steadfastly trying to get myself back on the level, and I need to, if I’m hoping to see those beautiful children of mine once more.

    I’m sorry for the long diatribe,and do thankyou all for reading,and best of luck to all of you other poor guys out there who fell victim to this crazy illogical disorder.

    There is so much to tell about her demeanour, but rest assured, she fits the BPD/NPD profile perfectly!

    Incidentally, she wants to get the divorce finalised ASAP so she may marry her new beau…I wish him the very best of luck, because his life is about to spiral, and I will welcome him to this board one day when he gets around to seeking out the answers..
    Thanks everyone for your valued,and greatly appreciated input.

    Matt (yes Tara,well spotted, a UK visitor :-) )

    • jham123
      October 22, 2009 at 4:04 am

      Matt, you have a doozie on your hands. Know that I am with you in thoughts.

    • Anonymous Coward
      October 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm


      I’m going to assume that walking away from your kids isn’t an option for you.

      Reading your post made me double-take half a dozen times, we were both involved with twins, so take some advice from someone further down the line.

      1/ Take the next 2 months and write an autobiography / diary from the day you met her until today, use any and all sources, if you have specific dates use them, if you don’t then put the month down, most important, it is not possible to put down too much detail… computers are great for this, because you can just put stuff in anywhere as and when it occurs, but start every entry with a DD/MM/YYYY date.

      2/ Get as many records as you can, ask your doctor for copies of all your medical records, only costs a tenner, ask for copies of all telephone bills and call records, copies of all bank statements and credit card statements, it all helps ENORMOUSLY with point #1

      3/ Get as many statements from friends and aquaintances and family members as you can, also helps with point #1

      4/ CHANGE YOUR LOCKS, change ALL your passwords on EVERYTHING, from ebanking on down to email and computers.

      5/ Once a week, burn a copy of all this data from your computer to a USB stick, have two of these, one always lives somewhere else, NOT your property at home or your locker at work, swap then sticks every week.

      6/ Make all communication, if possible, in text, eg email or phone text.

      7/ If you simply cannot avoid some voice messages, FIRST buy one of those £50 digital voice recorders from Maplin etc, and then USE IT, and copy files to your computer. (If you don’t have your own computer, beg, borrow, buy or steal a laptop)

      8/ Start looking for a solicitor NOW, get a GOOD one, eg ask around MAKE SURE THEY ARE BLOODY GOOD, do this NOW and make sure she has not used them, a common tactic is women having free 30 minute interviews at every solictor in town, thus blocking you from using them (conflict of interest) ASK your solictor who they use as a Barrister, make sure the Barrister also has a good name and record.

      9/ When you get all this done, give copies to your solicitor.

      10/ ONLY NOW can you afford to have your ex find out what you are doing.

      Matt, sit down now, calm down, and take a deep breath.

      11/ Expect the retaliation, expect to be accused of rape, domestic voilence, sexual abuse, posession of extreme pornography, and child abuse.

      12/ Expect the Police to effectively burgle your house seizing evidence, for starters ALL your computer equipment will be taken (hence points #5 and #9) so a good idea to put a laptop elsewhere.

      13/ DO NOT EVER speak to the Police without a solictor present, If you are arrested for rape, MAKE SURE your solictor is a specialist in sex crimes, ask #8 to recommend one, and start carrying his card in your wallet at all times.

      14/ The Police are NOT looking for evidence / facts, they are looking to get a conviction.

      15/ DO NOT EVER tell a lie to the Police, not even an “Oh, you meant X, I thought you meant Y”, because if you do you will not be bailed… being free on police bail is VITAL to how you present yourself on the day in Court.

      16/ Get tutored in how to appear and act in Court, consider it a TV X factor personality contest, if you project the right image AND have all the facts to hand it will go well for you.

      17/ Expect this process to take a year. You are out to win the WAR, not individual battles.

      18/ If she gets injunctions against you, (dead easy for her to do) no matter what they are, OBEY THEM, and make sure your friends and family obey them too, if your mate from work calls her a bitch YOU will get arrested.

      Above all, hang tough.

      Best of luck.

    • Toni
      October 15, 2014 at 4:52 am

      I pray that it works out great for you and the kids…never give up. I started reading everyone’s comments to see how common this situation is for men. I’m lookin for assistance or advice on trying to help my Brother with this same type of relationship. Just one sad thing is He doesn’t even see what myself and the rest of the family sees. He keeps taking up for Her even when she is very abusive to Him while the kids are in the house. They know what’s going on! And my niece is even aggressive at 3 years old to get her way. It hurts the family to see their household go through this chaos but I don’t know how to get involved to help. We had a bad falling out and I wouldn’t speak to them for months but I could tell my brother niece and nephew missed me as much as I missed them. I’m not scared of his wife but I don’t trust her. She fights dirty. She has police officers as friends and ex military family members that are all in her favor. Our side of the family is small. I don’t want to make trouble for my brother. She has threw him out before and kept him away from the kids. She’s even cheated on him. He will not take legal action against her. I don’t know my place in this situation but I’m not giving up.

  4. MikeSixDee
    October 13, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Dr. T.
    I recently stumbled upon your website and have found it very insightful. I feel that I am now in an abusive relationship with my wife of 22 years. I feel that she possesses many symptoms of BPD but also lacks many of these symptoms as well.

    What she has: An overpowering fear that I am going to leave her. 100% convinced I have had an affair and even knows with whom and when (completely untrue). 100% convinced that I am gaslighting HER to prove that she is crazy so that I can blame a failed relationship on her thus executing my plan to leave her. At times, I even believe she has hallucinated about events that have happened in our house and specifically in our bedroom at night (taking pictures at night, rifling through her purse while she sleeps, making telephone calls at night for starters). These events are all a part of the gaslighting she says. Many times, we get along great as if nothing really ever happened. And then other times, I get the 3rd degree over stupid things like playing golf or working late.

    What she doesn’t have: For 19 years, our marriage was perfect. None of these fears existed (at least not visually). All these fears and “delusions” happened suddenly 3 years ago following a short stint of taking care of her mother (stroke victim) and the departure of our oldest child (son) to college. I only mention these because I theorize that they had some type of triggering effect for her.

    Over the course of the last 3 years, my wife has steadily started to question my commitment to her and our family. Over time, these questions continued to amplify. She stated that my “behavior” led her to these questions and subsequent conclusions. Never has she had any facts supporting her claims, just my “behavior”. From my perspective, many of these “behaviors” are twisted facsimiles of what really happened or what was really said.

    Then, just over 1 year ago, I believe she had a breakdown. She was convinced that I had the house wired and was surveilling her from afar. The reasoning was so that I would know where she was at all times so that I could partake in my nefarious activities. She asked me to leave the house and then called the police to have me arrested for unauthorized surveillance. I begged her to seek some help but she refused and instead assured me that she was working with “all the right people” including an attorney. This scared me enough to seek an attorney myself who convinced me to file separation papers in an attempt to block her from doing the same (1st to file has control). This only made things worse and for the past year, I’ve been begging and appeasing in an attempt to regain her trust. We have also been in counseling this entire year but I feel like that is being used as a hammer to beat me over the head and have since refused to participate without some type of objective to accomplish.

    We are still in a very bad place. She continues to assert my guilt for having an affair and my plans to leave her. And she continues to declare that I am gaslighting her when little things occur around the house such as when a remote control stops working or a light goes out. The bottom line is that she really believes that I am trying to leave and that I am counting the days when our youngest turns 18 (in a few months). She is convinced that is when my plan to leave will spring into action. She no longer sleeps in our bedroom and instead locks herself into our guest room each night. We have a security system that she arms and will share the code with everyone else in the family but me. She has other locked rooms and cabinets that I am not allowed to enter any more. She has also swiped a substantial amount of our family savings to cushion her blow when I leave. I told her that all these things hurt me deeply but she just says that I am lying. Her denial of my feelings is what I think is most abusive.

    I cannot get our counselor to recommend another therapist and I cannot convince my wife that we should seek another counselor. I am at a point however where I am going to stop appeasing her behaviors and I am going to declare my “demands” for what I need from our marriage going forward. I really expect those declarations to meet with great resistance and have resigned myself that this could be the end of our marriage.

    Thanks for letting me feedback and thanks for the website.

    • Mr. E
      October 13, 2009 at 8:28 pm

      Mike – That sounds like Hell! You have my sympathy and support

      Can I assume the “SixDee” in your username means you’re around 60? And the previous 19 years were perfect? If so, it’s possible your wife has dementia/alzheimers.

      An older relative of mine had a complete personality change. She used to be a sweet, kind woman, and is now an abusive witch who gloats (openly) when she bamboozles the people trying to help her. She also became paranoid and decided her kids were trying to steal her money and possessions. She heaps abuse on the people who are genuinely trying to help her. She lies well enough that social workers didn’t believe she needed help. Her kids call her by a nickname now, because she is NOT the same person anymore.

      I don’t have any real advice I can give, except to try and get her screened for Alzheimer’s. If you’ve made your counselor aware of her behavior, and he/she doesn’t see the problem, can you stop going? Because it doesn’t appear the counselling is helping you in any way.

      • MikeSixDee
        October 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm

        Thanks for the Replies Mr. E and melove54. There is so much I could add but I tried to be as brief as possible. We are both in our mid to late 40’s. Menopause is possible because it has started (surgically for a cyst within the past year but after breakdown). There is a history of Alzheimer’s (aunt’s & uncles) as well as a history of bi-polar with her Mom. Her younger Sister is being treated for issues stemming from their Mom but my wife doesn’t think the same issues apply to her. Unfortunately, our marriage counselor endorsed that position. Sister is convinced that my wife has all the same symptoms. Their Mom would often “check out” and I think the Sister (youngest) felt the largest brunt of that (my wife is 4 of 5 kids). Their Mom wouldn’t leave or anything, she would just sit in the room often times with migraines or feeling sick and their Dad would have to take over. He covered a lot for his wife. She has been under therapy recently and was diagnosed as bi-polar.

        I agree most likely not BPD but the methods suggested for dealing with a BPD person have been very helpful (boundaries, realizing the person will never take responsibility, etc.). The suddenness is what has me most baffled. Thus the “triggers” I alluded to in my previous post seem to be related because everything happened at exactly the same time. From my perspective, we had 1 shot to see a counselor and we picked a dud.

        It’s been very therapeutic just to write this all down and read it back. In reading my posts, the situation looks much more dire and tragic than it feels (and it feels really bad). I have talked with a counselor myself but I’m just one of those guys that hates to shell out $$ to talk with someone. And for the most part, I don’t share intimate details like this with friends. So being able to share on this website is very helpful.

        Thanks to all that read and reply.

        • melove54
          October 14, 2009 at 3:50 pm

          My mother was an absolute perfect personality until the age of 49 and she did a 180 when her menopause kicked in, much like you described your wife. She got balanced out and was fine thereafter. What a change though!!! They’ll do things very untypical, paranoia sets in, and nothing will change until such time their balance is restored. Like I said before, just a thought. Best wishes to you.

    • melove54
      October 13, 2009 at 8:29 pm

      Jmho, the key here is , “for 19 years our marriage was perfect.” I don’t believe we’re talking NPD/BPD or personality disorder in general. You ever thought about menopause? Some women go through it and never know it happened(exception of absence of period), and others, it’s extremely severe, having similar symptoms as your wife, paranoia,etc. A woman’s chemistry is complex and any imbalance can cause some pretty strange mental responses. Maybe she should see her GYN rather than a shrink. Just a thought.

    • Mike91163
      October 14, 2009 at 6:39 pm

      Dr. Tara:

      I read MikeSixDee’s post with great interest…as I’ve described prior, my wife also had a “triggering” event (her mother’s death) which ramped up her bizarre behavior. She also had polycystic ovarian syndrome for years, which went undiagnosed until she was 39 (or so I’m told by her), and then had a complete hysterectomy (ovaries included) 6 yrs ago at age 43. It’s known that PCOS continues even after the ovaries are removed, as it’s a disorder of the endocrine system. It’s also known that PCOS is caused by overactivity in the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis.

      I have read, in what limited literature exists, that BPD patients also tend to have an overactive HPA axis…but there is much debate on this. From a psych’s standpoint, what do you know of this? Also, since my wife has the history from her childhood of a BPD/NPD mother, is it possible or even probable that a malfunction in the HPA axis was caused by BPD factors, which then led to the PCOS?

      Sorry to throw these tough questions at you, Doc, but I’m trying to figure out if there is a “chicken and egg” debate here…or if they’re simply unrelated co-morbid disorders.

      Thanks in advance!

      • Mr. E
        October 14, 2009 at 7:25 pm

        Wow, had never considered my wife’s PCOS as a possible cause of her behavior. A few minutes on google revealed a correlation (not necessarily causation, of course) between PCOS and BPD.

        Saw a forum post where some woman hauled off and hit her BF for no reason. Too bad the person responding said “he knows you didn’t mean it.”


        Anyway, I found THIS thread on another forum, and it was kind of revealing:

        My wife refuses to take the meds for her PCOS, as hasn’t taken them for years. I can’t make her take them, nor is that really my job. Now that I think about it, though, her behavior was pretty awful while still on her meds.

        • Mike91163
          October 14, 2009 at 8:02 pm

          Mr. E:

          Good point re: “…didn’t mean it”. Yeah, I can see the judge now when YOU say you didn’t “mean” to hit your wife…ugh.

          And, ain’t it true about the meds? My wife frequently forgets to take hers as well…I don’t know if that’s a gender thing, or what…she wanted NO part of hormone replacement therapy, NO mood “levelers”, no antidepressants-although SHE insisted that I needed them! Nor does she follow the doctor’s advice re: exercise and diet…the stationary recumbent bicycle we paid $400 for a few years ago sits in the basement, collecting dust…her latest cholesterol number was 253, yet she won’t take a prescription for it, nor change her diet…

          Whether it’s the PCOS or BPD, doesn’t matter to me-she simply REFUSES to take care of herself or follow doctor’s orders…which certainly makes me believe that counseling or therapy options are out the window, since…everything is MY fault!

          • jham123
            October 15, 2009 at 1:26 am

            Good point. My Wife simply refuses to discuss the possibility that she may have hormone imbalance……refuses. But I should go get checked.

  5. melove54
    October 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    You not only have to open your eyes my friend, you have to let those visuals make an impression on the brain as well! See this person in your life for whom she really is, not your lover, your wife, your confidant, but a truly vile and emotional predator. You have been and from what I read, are still submissive to her, and you can no longer tolerate her actions. For a lack of better words, you need to grow some balls and stand up to her for your childrens sake. It’s better to have one parent with their head together rather than two totally dysfunctional people in a relationship that will inevitably set a poor future precedence for you kids. Dr. T knows how many times I’ve stated this and I will state it once more,.. you must take care of self first and foremost for the childrens sake. If you are emotionally and mentally distraught, continue to cater to the mother, etc.., you will lose all that is precious to you. Those kids are more aware than you believe and the last thing you need is to allow the mother to have control. Do what it takes despite the financial burden, because that will all work out in the end. Research a good attorney in family law, consultations are cheap and you will at least know where you stand and can begin to move forward. Last but not least, truly resolve yourself to the fact, this woman will NEVER change!! According to what you have written, she’s simply pushing the knife in deeper, wounding you as much as she possibly can, she’s bleeding you out to weaken you even more. Stand up for yourself and for the sake of those kids. Don’t worry about what the family thinks, unless they are being supportive of your actions. Show her you will tolerate her behavior no longer and let the law take care of your rights as a father. Best wishes and good fortune in your new life.

    • shrink4men
      October 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

      Very well stated, melove. Thank you and it’s good to see you back . I value your thoughts and participation, as always.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  6. Matt
    October 1, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Hi, I’ve been reading this with great interest.

    I have recently split with my wife of 3 years.She was wonderful at first,friendly,charming,loving,and a lot of fun…3 years on,and I’m left feeling totally beaten and defeated by her. She continually wanted attention,kept saying ‘you don’t love me’ and turned my own father against me. Her mother hated me,it turns out,on information fed back by her daughter.

    My confidence diminished,and I became stressed and depressed by her hurtful and manipulative behaviour. Everytime we were out together, she’d be hit on by guys, (she is extremely attractive,and wore a lot of make up/sexy outfits) she was always checking to see my response. ‘I can’t make you jealous’ was the oft heard statement from her. I was upset, but` was used to her attention seeking by now, and I felt less inclined to make love to her, because of her hostility. We have 2 lovely kids,aged 6 months and 2 years.

    She then got all her friends to hate me, also tried with my friends. I told her I didn’t love her anymore.

    She met another guy, left me in tons of debt, and now won’t let me see my kids at all!

    Now she goes on Facebook, putting pics of her and the new guy cuddling, and there are pics of him feeding my baby etc.

    She has formally been with the new guy for 1 month and wants to change my kids surnames! (I know she can’t do this) She was phoning my mother and saying stuff like ‘He treats me like a lady’ ‘I have a coil fitted’ ‘He buys me presents’ ‘He’s moved in’.

    Meanwhile, I say nothing. I tried and tried to show her I loved her (and I did once), to no avail. I had to phone her from work every night, if I didn’t she would sulk like hell in the morning when I finished my shift. She used to go down my phone looking for girl’s numbers and read my text messages, and check my email.

    I would never be unfaithful, as I believe in marriage vows, but seems it was ok for her to do this to me!

    I’m trying to get over all this now, but this article has opened my eyes, thank you so much!

    • jp
      October 2, 2009 at 1:11 am


      What do you mean she won’t let you see your kids?!

      Are you divorced? Did you give up legal and physical custody?

      What does your lawyer say?

      She can’t keep your children from you just because wants to.


      • K.O
        October 4, 2012 at 2:17 am

        Yeah i been though the same thing.I went through it for 20 years now. I have two boys different moms.I had my first son at 16.Child support kept taking half my income.My just now getting my life back.Im 37 now.Back to your situation.Sorry about that.
        Both moms would not let me see my kids.I had to do supervised visits in a room at the court house the size of a apartment size bathroom.With a two way mirror.The dam court people watch my son play with broke toys while they watched my with my son cause his mom said i was going to kidnap my son.
        I took them to court for custody visitation there moms came to court wit attorneys.I called around the attorneys then it was $5000.00 down plus $500.00 a month.
        I was making $10.00 a hour back then.Child support took 25% of every job i worked at.I always worked two to three jobs.No matter how many jobs i had it never was enough to live.Man i went through so much shit for my kids after all that.The moms have my sons brainwashed.I the deadbeat no good man laz.
        Im a licensed Barber i have all kind of certs.From trying to better my life for my boys.
        Now when my oldest son turned 18 he called me finally there moms changed phone number moved so i never know if they were ok are needed my.The court kept there info confidential.Cause they said i was going to take my son.I couldnt even take care of myself.Doing this whole process i was homeless sleeping in my car.I worked at labor ready some times i made enough to get a hotel room for shower and a bed.I couldnt get a apartment didnt make enough.Its not eazy boy do i know.
        I know its fucked up but i looked at it this way i got asecond chance in life single with no kids they lived with there moms i got to run free.OOO that bitch was mad at me.She wanted my son all to her self.I gave her what she wanted i had no choice.Court controlled it all.

      • K.O
        October 4, 2012 at 2:22 am

        Women are a trip the court system give women to much dam control over men life.Child support office nothing but bitter women.Every court judge i had was a women.

    • jham123
      October 2, 2009 at 2:54 pm

      I’m glad you found this blog. it will help you heal yourself. Keep reading….read everyday

    • shrink4men
      October 2, 2009 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Matt,

      I have the same questions as JP. Do you have an attorney and, if so, is he doing enough to advocate for you? Are you officially divorce or separated? If you don’t have an attorney, you need to get one.

      Also, I notice that you’re probably in the UK or one of the Commonwealth countries (behaviour with a “u”) and realize that custody laws may be different, but still, you have rights. You need to find out what they are and get an attorney to fight for them.

      Calling your mother and the Facebook photos are just her way of torturing you. Try to ignore it. Save any hostile emails, texts etc. for evidence if you need to go to court.

      Do you have any support? A therapist? Friends or family you can talk to? You need as much support as you can find right now. You need to tell people what this woman is doing as a preventative measure to her lies, distortions and smear campaigns in case you have to go to court for your children.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  7. Hurt Guy's Friend
    October 1, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Great that you’ve created this site. I hope it saves many good men from falling into the hands of cruel lovers!

    Okay. I’m a woman. I have a male friend whom I’ve known since we were babies. We grew up next door to each other and are of the same age. Decades later we’ve reconnected as adults. Ironically, we’re both reeling from the trauma of emotionally abusive relationships. Thankfully we’re safe from those individuals but the damage has been done. We’re now slowly healing…

    We’ve had the opportunity to confide in each other, offer support and essentially come to see our relationships as unhealthy and abusive.

    I’m still quite concerned about my childhood friend. I’ve seen and heard so many abusive women either in action or bragging to other women about their actions. It’s amazing that one person could take a strong-willed and happy individual and through a perfected routine of playing the professinal victim, leave him empty, filled with pain and blaming himself. He tells me of the awful things she’s done but follows with something like, “Maybe I deserved that…”.

    I know he’s at risk of returning to the relationship and I don’t feel it’s my place to judge him or put him down for doing so. He’s already been through enough of that.

    My questions: What are the most important ways I can help him as he is recovering himself? As a friend, how can I help him stay strong and on course?

    I’d like to offer him hope that not all women are cruel and to help him recognize and steer clear of the vultures when he’s ready to get back into the dating scene. I don’t understand men though. I can only tell him how to recognize bad patterns in certain women.

    He really is a good person. Unfortunately there are a lot of predators out there, We both need to be whole before we trust and date people again. We’re fortunate to have each other for “Mars/Venice” adivce!

    • shrink4men
      October 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Hurt Guy’s Friend,

      Both you and your friend have by best wishes to heal from your past relationships and move forward with your lives.

      How can you help him? Focus on the future and the kind of relationships and lives you both want. When he begins to doubt himself and say things like, “maybe I deserved it,” gently challenge him. Ask him why he thinks he deserved it. Present the facts that counter the emotional reasoning and self-blame he caught like a virus from his ex.

      Engage in healthy and fun activities together. Go hiking, kayaking, join a book club, go bowling—whatever you like to do. Once he starts to enjoy his life independently–free from his abuser–he’s unlikely to willingly go back into that cage.

      If he truly seems stuck, encourage him to get professional help. Offer to go with him. Better yet, get him into group therapy so he can see that other people have walked in both of your shoes and it’s not his fault.

      Make jokes about your exes. Use humor to illustrate just how crazy they are, how bad the relationships were and how lucky you both are to be out.

      Unfortunately, he may elect to take another trip through the emotional meat grinder before it sinks in that his ex is toxic. If he does, support him without judgment and remind him that he can have a happy, healthy life if he chooses to “suck out the poison.”

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  8. jham123
    September 21, 2009 at 4:09 am

    “You’d do anything for her to go back to the way she was during the honeymoon phase of your relationship when she was fun, loving, and sweet AND THEREIN LIES THE MINDF–K.”

    Yes…….absolutely…..my life for the past 18.5 years….

  9. September 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Guys, you’ve really helped me. Stumbled on this site by searching for a friend in sub-denial yet searching for answers and a solution that I (singly and not being a professional) can’t readily provide. Guess it’s difficult for a male to get this kind of interaction. A female from an abusive background, I recognise signs/behaviours etc. Applaud you all for looking for answers and I guess the key in the inital stages is support from people you trust (often, by nature, difficult to find or trust…) – once you’re able to get to that stage… Please feel free and forthcoming to comment on that – just my thoughts… I know you can’t force people but it’s hard to watch a friend especially males. This guy doesn’t relish any macho tendancies but I think he’s so secluded, that part of his ‘training’ is to think that he isn’t a ‘real man’ and doesn’t have the right… Hope you don’t think I’m intruding – any advice welcome… Nfriend

    • shrink4men
      October 2, 2009 at 4:45 pm

      Hi Nfriend,

      Sorry for my delayed reply. It’s hard to keep up with everything sometimes. Could you be a little more specific about what your friend is going through. I don’t understand what you’re asking. Are you looking for advice on how to get your friend to open up so you can hep him?

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  10. James
    September 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    One Saturday night I told my now ex-girlfriend, by phone, that I would be staying at home to finish up some important design work that I had been trying my hardest to finish. I felt bad because I loved being around her and it was the weekend so I asked her if she had some homework to work on so she wouldn’t be completely bored and lonely. I also added that my friends were all at the house so I was going to finish the work and spend some time with my buddies. I hadn’t hung out with them all in a while and they were feeling a little left out. Later I got an angry e-mail from her telling me that if I didn’t want to see her I could have just been honest and she accused me of spending all my time with my friends and not caring about her. It was a hurtful letter, painful and unfair and ruined my otherwise fun night of working and having fun with my friends. The next day she came over and I confronted her about the letter. She stood by her feelings and said that I was trying to hurt and deceive her. We tried to have a nice dinner together but I could not let it go. I tried to tell her how much I cared about her and that I just needed to finish my work and see my friends that night. But she would not meet me half way or accept anything I was saying. It was terribly frustrating and like talking to a stubborn child. No matter what I said she accused me of being a bad boyfriend.

    Later on in our relationship she was unemployed and looking for a job while still going to school. I would often drop anything I was doing and help her with her homework. In fact, because I just enjoyed my time with her I would even ASK her if she had any homework she needed help with. We were living together at this point and once again I didn’t see my friends much because of my work and home life. Then one weekend I started a game of RISK with my friends. It’s a long and very involved game. It took us two days to finish the game. On the first night everything was fine. She watched us play for a few minutes and I explained the game to her a little bit then she went to work on homework and look for a job while I played. The next night was a disaster and I was completely caught off guard. My friends came over again to finish the game but while we were playing she came and asked me for some help with her job search. As in chess, turns take a long time in Risk so I was able to help her a bit and then run back to the game when I was called for my turn. She asked me to help her a couple of more times and the last time, as I was about to leave her for the game she burst into tears and accused me of never being there for her. She said she never asked me for anything and that I was terrible for not being there for her the one time she needed it most. Her well being was always on my mind and I never thought of anyone more than her so again, being accused of those things was frustrating and hurtful. I tried to calm her down but she jumped into the bed and refused to talk to me. I sat next to the bed and asked her to listen to me. She told me to get out of her face because she was so mad at me. My friends weren’t oblivious to what was going on in the room and I walked back to the game feeling a bit ashamed.

    She was often demanding and verbally abusive. If I made a mistake or didn’t know something she thought that I should know she would criticize me. When I told her she was being unfair and hurtful she would call me overly sensitive. I could not win. Ever. If I tried to help too much I was clingy. If I tried to be my own man I was a bad and inattentive boyfriend.

    It’s been about a year since the breakup and I still feel the frustration of not being able to make her happy. She has gone off and seems happy these days and I feel like the failure.

    • mike91163
      September 10, 2009 at 8:00 pm

      James my man, you came here and shared with us your all-too-common tale of woe…and your last paragraph shows that you’re going through what many others here have experienced.

      Let me, and others, tell you that YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!! PERIOD!! James, your description of your ex fits that of a BPD…and you cannot be happy with them no matter what!

      FORGET HER, buddy! Who gives a rat’s ass what she’s doing now…if anything, feel sorry for the poor guy she’s hooked up with now! On the other hand, I’m gonna guess by the content of your post that you’re young, maybe in your 20s? If so, dude, you’ve got your WHOLE LIFE ahead of you! Hell, I’m looking to escape from a 19 year marriage to a BPD/NPD within the next year or two, and even at age 46, I’m downright PSYCHED about what the world has in store for me once I’m FREE!

      Don’t look down, James…look ahead, and look UP–there’s blue sky and sunshine!

      • shrink4men
        September 11, 2009 at 1:29 am

        Great advice, James! Thanks for your continued participation. I appreciate it.

        Dr T

    • shrink4men
      September 11, 2009 at 1:28 am

      Hi James,

      I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated and like you failed. You’re not a failure. By your description, your ex seems to be the failure. She had a guy who, by your description, was very giving and attentive to her needs and destroyed the relationship with her impossible and mercurial needs.

      I encourage you to stop beating yourself up. These women are like sharks. They go from one prey to the next, chewing you up and spitting you out with neither remorse nor accountability.

      The way you’re feeling is normal after ending an abusive relationship. Focus on taking care of yourself, hanging out with your friends and doing whatever it is you enjoy.

      And the next you meet a woman who behaves the way your ex did, don’t work harder to try and please her; RUN FOR THE NEAREST EXIT.

      Please check back and let me know how you’re doing.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • Fred
      December 18, 2009 at 11:36 pm

      James, I just read your story, and thought it could have been written by me. The exact same thing is CURRENTLY going on, “you’re never there for me”, a refusal to talk to me followed by storming off, calls me stupid, nothing is ever done right, should have known to do this, etc…

      I never thought anything about it. I thought it was how women were?
      I recently got in a car accident, and now I am fully dependent on her to get me to work. This morning she accused me of hiding things from her and talking to other women. She stormed off and told me I F’d it all up now and that I’d have to find another way to work. I realized that this was not normal.

      I’m not perfect and I’m sure I do stuff that probably isn’t good. But, I just know that with all the love that I have for her, I would never have just left like that.

      My google search started with, “Girlfriend is always Upset” and eventually landed me to the emotionally and verbally abusive relationships. Unfortunately, most forums use the term “he” instead of “she”. Thank God for this place.

    • alotbetternow
      April 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      James, I have read many of your escalades, to sadness and almost horror, of it all. So much, of everything you do not deserve, seems to have been unjustfiably “heaped” all over you. I am very sorry for not only you, for her, too. She seems to be extremely troubled and/or damaged herself. Maybe all someone can do, for the tragically broken, is pray.

      I have pulled in men in my life in the way past, very similar. One man, I lived with for over a year, would pick a fight every Thursday or so, so that by Friday night, it had erupted to “so bad”, that I would pack up and go back to my own home, or he would have kicked me out. Of course, he already had a “weekend date” set-up. Didn’t threaten to be a cheater, WAS a cheater. (it’s a terrible feeling to walk into your own room, where your SO and “another” is in bed together). This man also turned into a physical abuser, to the point of hospitilizing me, and almost “blowing my brains out”, as he had me in position (to die, more or less). I finally escpaed, thinking so much was wrong with me, not only, why would I put myself into that kind of relationship, but, why would I stay, what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I fix all this, I must be a failure. What was I lacking and seeking out? Why? So many head-thoughts……

      I sought extensive counseling through the Women in Distress program, and private counseling. That was almost 26 yrs ago. This site is so very helpful, as was my past counseling, I keep learning everyday. I may have my faults, tendencies, and/or triggers, but I am aware, wiser, and more intuitive toay. I have to maintain keeping myself in check, that I am not a person, who seeks to manipulate, control, or ever abuse anyone. Even if subconsciously unintended. Games we learn to play throughout life can be buried so deep within us, we don’t even see them. Many people seem to be taught very warped views of love.

      In reading a lot of everyones stories here, I can very honestly say, I see, I have been a good person. I can love properly, be nice and kind, for the right reasons. How can people be so cruel to others? It so boggles my mind. For me, being kind, considerate, loving, helpful, enjoyable, giving, sharing, all the good things, just have great rewards. I’ve learned to get past perceived hurts, I feel that some (unintentionally, unknowingly) may inflict on me. I also, for many years, have been able to recognize mean, bully, abusive people, too(men and women alike). How you act towards others and how you treat them is so important. If everyone could just practice and put into reality, all we learn here, and help each other correct our errors of ways and thinking, we could all maybe, hopefully learn to live without these loops and patterns of relationships. I know we have to correct ourselves, but it’s also important, I feel, to correct another, if they are trying to intrude or be abusive to me. Not in a mean way, but call it for what it is, if it is understood, then it can be gotten over, agreed upon, corrected, and laid aside. Some are just not at a place, where for them, this is possible and that is sad. If it’s gonna be a 3 year drawn out drama session, move on, life is just too short.

      Good luck to everyone. Be good and kind to yourself, you really do deserve it.

  11. Jon
    September 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Hey Dr T:

    Do you think that having relationships with these types of disordered women can actually drive a man to become co-dependent?
    I’m the first to admit that I have a ‘fixer-complex’ – however, I was always pretty good at maintaining my boundaries during these situations. ( I’ve developed this through practice since i work in the health care industry)
    Though, in the aftermath of this relationship, I’m finding myself suffering with symptoms typical of someone with codependency.

    Are men who are attracted to these women typically co-dependent to begin with? Or is it something that develops as a result of being with an abusive personality? I’m kinda confused by this.

    Curious of your thoughts….


    • shrink4men
      September 5, 2009 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Jon,

      Yes, being involved with an emotional abuser is usually a co-dependent relationship. Oftentimes individuals are prime targets for abusers because they already have a codependent nature. It’s also possible to develop codependency as a result of being with an emotional abuser. Part of the abuse is to make you believe you can’t survive without the other person, which keeps you “dependent” upi the abuser no matter how bad she treats you and no matter how obvious it is that the relationship is toxic and you need to get out.

      Dr Tara

  12. melove54
    August 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I was in the military myself (Navy) deployed on board ship(aircraft carrier). Although I was not married at the time, I had friends that were and witnessed a variety of relationship debacles along the way(suicides,etc). It is one of the toughest livelihoods for a relationship to thrive. Relationship circumstances are far different than the civilian population, especially where it concerns fidelity, communication, emotional support, and most difficult is caring for children. It takes a lot of internal fortitude for all to endure this lifestyle. Skills in couples communication especially have to be done with the utmost maturity. More so than the civilian counterparts, due to the rotation of absence and presence in the relationship.

    There is a higher degree of responsibility placed upon the non-miltary mate (taking care of the homefront, children, etc.) It’s like being married, divorced, married, divorced. Yet, if there is emotional maturity, mature communication, mutual understanding of each person’s role in the marriage, streamlining the responsibilities and efforts, then you have a viable marriage. For a woman to endure this lifestyle and do it for the sake of your needs to serve your country, to recognize that you aspire to be a good husband and good father, is a woman that truly loves you. One that makes these sacrifices for that love.

    You as well have to reciprocate, to recognize, and show your appreciation to your wife by virtue of what she positively shows you. Is this the kind of woman you are married to? What I take from this is she blames you for placing her in the position of being responsible for the homefront.She is stressed and it’s your fault. If this is truly the case, she has not “walked in your shoes”, she refuses to understand what your job is and what you endure. She has reached a stage of regret and resentment towards you. This is not your fault. She has chosen her own emotional position in the relationship. In your absence, she has taken an individualistic stance or position. Question I would ask you is this, “what was the relationship like before you left? Did she have the same demeanor in your presence as she does in your absence?” In other words, did she have the propensity to be selfish, self-centered, to criticize you, to criticize others such as your immediate family, was she controlling? Did you find that when you were courting her, she was the love of your life, and when you got married, this all went down hill afterwards?

    My point is, if she is only acting this way now, in your absence and everything else was healthy in the marriage otherwise, then all you need to learn is to effectively communicate with her. If she turned on you directly after the marriage, despite your absence, then you are dealing with a whole different set of circumstances.

    Apparently you found Dr. T’s site keywording a search. In any case, what I would suggest is the best option for you is to learn and understand what emotional maturity is about. Key word that into your computer and read with diligence to self. As well, Dr.T’s prose are some of the most insightful and useful tools for understanding the egregious nature of personality disordered women, as well, it helps men understand their own nature.

    It is not important in my opinion to do some sort of “drug store diagnosis” about your wife, as much as it is to know that you are truly in an abusive situation. In other words, if there is abuse, that is all that matters. I’m not trying to convince you that based upon the lack of information you have provided constitutes abuse, you and Dr. T will have to decide that, however, I empathize with your position as being a soldier, and all that it encompasses. I have walked in your shoes, and know it’s difficult. You are a soldier and soldiers are tough, right? ,..actually you are human and I think you have discovered this recently. One thing I will say is this, when is comes to marriage counseling, the military has vast experience at this and it will not affect your career by utilizing the psych for such purposes. We all need help sometime in our lives. They would probably see more value in your efforts to seek help.

    When you have time read Dr. T’s articles and posts you will have a better idea of what your are really up against. It may also help you to honestly assess yourself as well. Keep your head up high, and I appreciate your service to our country. We need you and your children need you.

    • shrink4men
      August 24, 2009 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Jason,

      I think melove54 offers some great advice and raises some very good questions. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be a soldier, facing attacks and possible death in Iraq only to feel attacked when you come home.

      As melove writes, you need to determine if she is abusive (was she this way prior to your marriage) or is this due to the stress of being in the service. I wish you the very best and safety where ever you are.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  13. Jason Alatorre
    August 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I am a US Soldier currently depolied to Iraq and my wife treats me like I am at fault all the time. She plays games with my memeory and makes me question myself all the time. I lost interest in thing that are deem healthy to anyone who sees it, and now had my debit card cancelled, I have no way of gainin access to money and I am very upset all the time, some days i want my life to end so i do not have to live with this pain. and on top of this she blames me all the time for cheatting on her when I am not cheatting on her at all, I am a faithful husband and father, I wish someone will help me please, I cannot take it anymore i am afraid if i report her my army carrear will be over.

    • jp
      August 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm


      What do you mean by “if I report her”?

      Report her for what? and to whom would you report her? Is she in the service too? How would reporting her affect your career?


  14. Leaving one behind
    August 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    James: I still wonder this, coming out of a 7 year emotionally abusive relationship. Has she ever had feelings of empathy, sympathy, love, for me?

    Even after cutting it off/moving in w/another guy, I still maintained contact for two of most emotionally draining, and demeaning, months of my life. I would have to really try to be that emotionally cruel to someone as she’s been to me.

    Sure, someone with Bipolar-1 / BPD is going to have problems. And unmanageable problems without the meds. But that’s not my problem they don’t think they have a disease, that the medicine taken in the past never helped.

    MY PSA [Public Service Announcement] —
    Every day, you should

    Take the pills as prescribed, “agreed on” with your doctor.

    Put them in your mouth. Swallow.


    If what you’re taking isn’t working right, talk to your doctor instead of avoiding them. Stopping your meds one manic day is epic making in the destruction that ensues.


    Her Psychiatrist says “she’s going to end up in the hospital”, while shaking his head.

    Why do I need this again?

    Right. She’s reenacting something from her childhood that was screwed up relating to abandonment, and I’m responding to it in the way I taught by early childhood relationships equally, just differently messed up.

    Going to therapy so I don’t end up rejecting good, loving, ‘normal’ woman’. Wouldn’t commit to them because I have a thing for dangerous ones, who would screw up my lives.


    Isn’t the shared delusion of love grand?

  15. James
    July 27, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Is it the core trait of these abusers that even though they apply loads of affection and fun they have absolutely no real empathy and concern for your feelings? The confusion is intense. Is it me who is stuffed becuase of my own emotionally numbness or is she the cause of it?

    • Brad
      December 2, 2011 at 2:11 am

      @ james- you hit the nail on the head with regards to my experience. fun and affectionate to a truly addicting degree. trying to live without it is like coming off a drug. but at the same time, life with her was impossible and eroding to my self esteem as she was impervious to reason and deaf to my feelings. not a lot in the way of basic respect. I dated her for five years and to this day she couldn’t tell you anything about my favorite movies, books, bands… none of that really mattered to her. not that it’s anything to base a relationship on but after enough time has passed you start to feel like the person simply doesn’t value who you are. the disconnect between these two factors left me feeling empty and confused and dependent. it took all the strength I had to break away, and I’m still missing her and regaining myself a full year later.

  16. Dave Smith
    June 16, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    many thanks for writing these articles. It describes perfectly the last 12 years of my marriage to a Women I am now in the middle of a messy custody battle with. While staying with her mother over Easter she went from one day telling me “she missed me and wanted to come home” to “I am never coming home, I have taken the kids out of school, put the house on the market and left my job, I am sorry (tears) but I cant take your emotional abuse any longer”…the children (5 and 7) were told they would never go home again but I could visit them every day (they are 5 hours drive away)…. she was shocked to find I actually put up a battle to secure the House and get her and the kids back home and has since done everything in her power (she had toatl control of the finances) to put me out of business, leave me with only the cloths I wore and then state I could not provide for the children as I was destitute and an abusive parent…….fortunately for me I have a great group of friends where she maintains few relationships and will always choose to associate with others who them selves are in unhappy marriages and believe her poor me story’s. I had suggested we both get professional help but as you point out – she doesn’t have a problem…its all me…..thanks for the reality check…this makes moving on a little easier..somehow possible.

    • shrink4men
      June 17, 2009 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Dave,

      You have my sympathy. I know how heart wrenching custody issues can be when a woman with narcissistic and/or borderline traits uses your children to hurt you. The system is so messed up. There’s plenty of information about how these women operate and yet “justice” still continues to turn a blind eye.

      Has your attorney filed an injunction to freeze your joint assets? Did you file a charge for taking your children across state lines without knowledge or permission? I believe that’s called kidnapping. Has your attorney petitioned the court to require that she receive a psychiatric evaluation?

      I know she’s the mother of your children and you probably don’t want to go after her in the courts aggressively, but that is exactly what she is going to do to you if she hasn’t already. Your best defense is a strong offense.

      I wish you the best and hope you can resolve things as quickly and painlessly as possible.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  17. 2mv
    June 6, 2009 at 3:01 am

    I’m in one right now. I’m figuring out what to do. We have a child and that makes things complicated. I’m feeling worthless, all the criteria above fit. Although, also complicating matters, is that I, too have symptoms of BPD, although I know that BPD usually isn’t diagnosed in men, my psychiatrist seems to think I have it. Therefore, abuse has gone both ways, objectively, but, since I started DBT 6 months ago, I have gotten a lot better and the way I act out, I am always ashamed of it, and it hasn’t happened since. Although it’s rancid to compare levels of abuse, her always dwarfed mine. But, perhaps what I did was not abusive at all, I guess, I remember throughout the entire relationship her disparaging me, leading me to my paranoia, my “BPD” tendencies, I don’t know. She has confused me and I have confused myself but I know I need change and I need help, now. I can’t stand it anymore. Is there anyone I can call to talk about this?

    • ralph
      June 6, 2009 at 6:56 am


      I’m certainly not a qualified commentor, but if you even admit you may have BPD or whatever then you probably are a very mild case. My ex would NEVER confront her own shortcomings or even discuss on any level why she behaved the way she did. That’s another reason they are so evil. You keep thinking you can explore and fix things, and it’s impossible. If my GF had suggested to me I had certain tendencies, I would eargerly listen and if she was right I would agree and try to change. With these folks, it’s impossible. So I would guess you aren’t that screwed up it’s the other person!!


    • shrink4men
      June 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm

      Hi 2mv,

      How many times did you meet with the psychiatrist before he diagnosed you? Does he know about your wife’s abusive behavior? Did he discuss with you that you may instead have a severe trauma response to your wifes’s abuse and/or co-dependency issues?

      If DBT is helping, that’s great. Keep going. I would also recommend you find a support group for men who have been emotionally abused. I don’t know if you have the disorder or not, but I do know that severe abuse can make you feel crazy, worthless, and confused. You have to distance yourself from the abuse in order to find out who you are again. Also, talk to your family and friends. Ask them about your behavior and their experience of you prior to this relationship to test out the BPD diagnosis. If you truly have BPD, odds are it developed in childhood or adolescence. If your friends and family don’t remember you that way, you may just be having an extreme reaction to the abuse.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • Thechap321
        August 1, 2015 at 2:38 pm

        I really admire you Dr Tara, taking time out to do this for us abused men. You are a diamond. And you have my total respect..

    • keith
      November 4, 2009 at 5:13 pm

      2MV I believe that fleas jump from these people onto us when we are around them to much . Kind of like a weird projection from them to us. Like a virus, I know that you can become infected by them.

    • Lois
      February 14, 2012 at 7:43 am

      Trying to help a friend trapped in an abusive relationship right now, made worse by the fact he was sexually abused as a child and very vulnerable. He’s in denial and trying desperately to hang on until his son’s graduation next year. But his health is breaking down and I’d like to get him out NOW-can’t watch your son graduate from the grave. And that is where he’ll be, already been sick several times in the last year and had a hernia op.

      I am getting counselling to be able to help him, plus we’ve been friends since we were kids and we have a good strong friendship.

      Good Luck to all of you


  18. Mike
    June 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks so much for the articles…they really hit the nail on the head for what I am currently going through. My wife and I have been going through marriage counseling for almost 6 months now. I initiated this after finally disclosing the verbal and emotional abuse I had been suffering from my wife for over 16 years to my parents and church leaders. We have 3 kids, which makes it even more difficult when they witness the abuse since, of course, my wife has no filter when it comes to when and where this occurs. Anyway, in the counseling sessions, lately I have been volunteering to work on changes I can make. My wife has twisted this all out of whack by saying that the counselor has been trying point out that our issues are 99% my fault. Crazy! I know that I need to get out, but have been staying for the sake of our kids…like your articles state, she can be wonderful at times and is usually a great mom. I just get so tired of hearing what a blankety-blank idiot I am all the time and how she hates being married to me, etc. I have really been trying on my end with absolutely no acknowledgment of that whatsoever from my wife.

    • Laura
      June 2, 2009 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Mike,

      I want to acknowledge you and your efforts. One day your kids might look back and appreciate it all too.

      Do you ever wonder sometimes if you put your all into a relationship with a partner who didn’t have B or N issues, just how much more you’d both get out of it?

      Sometimes I wonder if in certain situations the grass actually IS greener on the other side? Sounds like you have lots of great seeds to turn into strong sod, but the tough part is choosing where to lay that sod.

      I think the men in these situations really are strong men and are trying hard to fix the problems, but in these instances the only solution it seems is to realize that you can’t fix it like you want to, as you’re not the problem and she needs to fix a lot and likely can’t.

      Take your remaining strength and put it into healing yourself and continuing to father your children. Show them how to act in tough situations and come out on top. They’ll see it. They’ll learn from it as they are learning things now with your current efforts. That’s love. Focusing there will reap hudge rewards for you in the short AND long term. :)

      You can still love your wife, but remember to love yourself too, Mike :)

      • ricardo
        April 22, 2011 at 4:58 am

        have to say some more i know that i have responded to her out burst with some language..and after i found out she was dating someone already..that the next day …i felt that i stouped down to her level and feel ashamed about that..but have to say out of the 2 years with her..3%i lost my cool but 97% tryed to responded to her drunken rages with calmness…wich seems always make things worse..so i left the house for a long period of time wait till she passes out..she was famous for her 24hour drinking binges…but “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”…iam out but really feel so emotional drained..but PRAISE THE LORD..iam on the way up

    • shrink4men
      June 2, 2009 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Unfortunately, NPD/BPD women are extremely treatment resistant (i.e., therapy doesn’t help) and, in fact, often use couples’ counseling as an opportunity to further blame and attack their husbands/boyfriends.

      Witnessing their mother abuse you is definitely having an impact on your kids. They’re learning to devalue men and their role in a family. They’re also learning that it’s ok to bully, yell and intimidate others into doing what they want. I don’t believe it’s good or healthy to stay together “for the sake of the kids.” Basically, the only reason you’re staying in a miserable situation is because of your kids. That’s a pretty big responsibility to pin on them. It’s like having a baby to save a marriage. It’s ultimately unhealthy and doesn’t work. The only thing it effectively does is prolong your misery.

      Being a good parent doesn’t mean being a martyr. Do you want to teach your children that they have a right to take care of themselves and get out of an abusive situation or that they should remain in a relationship even when it’s hurting them? It’s a question only you can answer.

      I wish you the best in figuring out what to what’s best for you and your children, but I can assure you that it’s never “for the best” to stay in an abusive relationship and your children may not thank you for it later.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • Ian
        April 4, 2016 at 8:29 am

        Firstly, thank you for this site, and for the comments.

        I am in a position where I would leave if it were not for the kids.

        I could show them that it’s possible to leave an abusive relationship, but it would probably be the last thing I ever showed them.

        They are 2 and 4, both boys, and if I left, I’m sure they would take most of the abuse I get now. And their mother would take my departure as proof of everything bad about men in her victim mentality, and make sure I didn’t see them again, while quickly getting further out of control.

        I can’t abandon then to that.

        Fortunately my partner is never physically violent, and her most aggressive behaviour seems linked to the menstrual cycle, so it is “only” about 30% of the time.

        I plan to stay until both my kids are 16. If I’m lucky I will still be just young enough to have a chance of another relationship after that.

        Thanks for listening. Comments welcome.

  19. Ken
    June 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks for raising the awareness of this issue. I’ve been involved with an emotionally abusive woman, girlfriend, for five years. I totally concur with your descriptions and methods of dealing with these sorts of individuals. I felt shame, or a sense of worthlessness, about my reactionary behavior towards the emotional abuse. Over the years, through several break ups, I began to respond as you outline here by learning from my mistakes, taking full responsibility for may side of any conflict and giving 100% to the relationship. That was not enough. Like it states here it is simply impossible to satisfy these types of women. I have broken free from this negative relationship by rebuilding esteem, respect and love for myself while remaining assertive, honest, and understanding of her severe character limitations. i agree with the tactics are described here to remove one from these sorts of relationships. It is very hard to accept that these limitations exist in one so loved. The reality is that they do. The only feeling left is pity. I gain strength every day to stay away.

    • shrink4men
      June 1, 2009 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for the positive feedback. I’m sorry you were in such a painful relationship, but very happy that you’ve gotten out. It’s not easy and, sadly, not unusual to “relapse” and get sucked back in from time to time until you really do break free.

      Keep persevering. You’ve already taken the first difficult step.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

    • ricardo
      April 22, 2011 at 4:40 am

      was involved with a N for 2 years of and on always thought i could make i difference in her live….but when i said “enough is enough..got yelled at and called all sorts of names and ofcourse the big “COWARD”and that’s all you do is running away..you loser…after reading your article..feels much better..knowning that i did the right thing….would tell a lot men like me “US”..turn around close the door behind you and “RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN” thx

  20. Nate
    April 17, 2009 at 1:59 am

    I just finished reading your piece “When Love Hurts: EAM” and it was smashingly real for me. I appreciate you taking the time to create that. I really loved her you know, she was driven, she was intelligent and ever so breathe taking. And she loved me madly. I was immature, she was insecure. We loved each other continuously, passionately for years. Until I realized her abuse was tearing my friends, family and spirit apart. It came in all forms: emotional, physical and social happenings. However such as I am a man, my tendency to champion resilience, act recklessly and feel replaceable, left me to believe I could hold things out inevitably. It was love lust, it was the burning sensation. Blessed, I took a chance instead, on myself. This was hard. We must all hold our ground if we are to follow our path in life. My heart may never recover its broken shell, but burning within I feel a desire to see the future unfold before me. Most critically, I owe my strength to those who helped me accept the past, replace fear with love and live today for tomorrow…at the least, it’s my sure thing. Of course it’s good to know that I am not alone in this messy love, living or lost, of course. Thanks.

    • shrink4men
      April 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Nate,

      Your heart will recover. You’ve already taken the first step, which is extremely difficult. It takes a lot of courage to end an abusive relationship. The abusive woman will accuse you of being a coward and running away, but the opposite is true.

      It is a significant act of bravery to stand up to a woman who betrayed and violated your trust and say, “Enough is enough. I want something better for myself. I deserve better.” She couldn’t have made it easy for you.

      Best wishes to you and your friends and family.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

    • DARREN
      January 10, 2013 at 8:02 am

      I absolutely agree and am in the same situation and feel strength in all that you say and I have your back if you ever need it.

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