Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, Marriage, relationships > 10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully

10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully


mood-swingsDoes your girlfriend or wife yell, scream, and swear at you? Do you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your relationship because they just wouldn’t understand? Is your relationship making you feel like you’re slowly going crazy?

If so, you’re probably involved with a woman who is an emotionally abusive bully. Most men don’t want to admit that they’re in an abusive relationship. They describe the relationship and their girlfriend/wife using other terms like crazy, emotional, controlling, bossy, domineering, constant conflict, or volatile. If you use words like this to describe your relationship, odds are you’re being emotionally abused.

Do you recognize any of the following behaviors?

1) Bullying. If she doesn’t get her way, there’s hell to pay. She wants to control you and resorts to emotional intimidation to do it. She uses verbal assaults and threats in order to get you to do what she wants. It makes her feel powerful to make you feel bad. People with a Narcissistic personality are often bullies.

Result: You lose your self-respect and feel outnumbered, sad, and alone. You develop a case of Stockholm Syndrome, in which you identify with the aggressor and actually defend her behavior to others.

2) Unreasonable expectations. No matter how hard you try and how much you give, it’s never enough. She expects you to drop whatever you’re doing and attend to her needs. No matter the inconvenience, she comes first. She has an endless list of demands that no one mere mortal could ever fulfill.

Common complaints include: You’re not romantic enough, you don’t spend enough time with me, you’re not sensitive enough, you’re not smart enough to figure out my needs, you’re not making enough money, you’re not FILL IN THE BLANK enough. Basically, you’re not enough, because there’s no pleasing this woman. No one will ever be enough for her, so don’t take it to heart.

Result: You’re constantly criticized because you’re not able to meet her needs and experience a sense of learned helplessness. You feel powerless and defeated because she puts you in no-win situations.

3) Verbal attacks.This is self-explanatory. She employs schoolyard name calling, pathologizing (e.g., armed with a superficial knowledge of psychology she uses diagnostic terms like labile, paranoid, narcissistic, etc. for a 50-cent version of name calling), criticizing, threatening, screaming, yelling, swearing, sarcasm, humiliation, exaggerating your flaws, and making fun of you in front of others, including your children and other people she’s not intimidated by. Verbal assault is another form of bullying, and bullies only act like this in front of those whom they don’t fear or people who let them get away with their bad behavior.

Result: Your self-confidence and sense of self-worth all but disappear. You may even begin to believe the horrible things she says to you.

4) Gaslighting. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say that. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It wasn’t that bad. You’re imagining things. Stop making things up.” If the woman you’re involved with is prone to Borderline or Narcissistic rage episodes, in which she spirals into outer orbit, she may very well not remember things she’s said and done. However, don’t doubt your perception and memory of events. They happened and they are that bad.

Result: Her gaslighting behavior may cause you to doubt your own sanity. It’s crazy-making behavior that leaves you feeling confused, bewildered, and helpless.

5) Unpredictable responses. Round and round and round she goes. Where she’ll stop, nobody knows. She reacts differently to you on different days or at different times. For example, on Monday, it’s ok for you to Blackberry work email in front of her. On Wednesday, the same behavior is “disrespectful, insensitive, you don’t love me, you’re a self-important jerk, you’re a workaholic.” By Friday, it could be okay for you to Blackberry again.

Telling you one day that something’s alright and the next day that it’s not is emotionally abusive behavior. It’s like walking through a landmine in which the mines shift location.

Result: You’re constantly on edge, walking on eggshells, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is a trauma response. You’re being traumatized by her behavior. Because you can’t predict her responses, you become hypervigilant to any change in her mood or potential outburst, which leaves you in a perpetual state of anxiety and possibly fear. It’s a healthy sign to be afraid of this behavior. It’s scary. Don’t feel ashamed to admit it.

6) Constant Chaos. She’s addicted to conflict. She gets a charge from the adrenaline and drama. She may deliberately start arguments and conflict as a way to avoid intimacy, to avoid being called on her bullshit, to avoid feeling inferior or, bewilderingly, as an attempt to avoid being abandoned. She may also pick fights to keep you engaged or as a way to get you to react to her with hostility, so that she can accuse you of being abusive and she can play the victim. This maneuver is a defense mechanism called projective identification.

Result: You become emotionally punch drunk. You’re left feeling dazed and confused, not knowing which end is up. This is highly stressful because it also requires you to be hypervigilant and in a constant state of defense for incoming attacks.

7) Emotional Blackmail. She threatens to abandon you, to end the relationship, or give you the cold shoulder if you don’t play by her rules. She plays on your fears, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, shame, values, sympathy, compassion, and other “buttons” to control you and get what she wants.

Result: You feel manipulated, used, and controlled.

8 Rejection. She ignores you, won’t look at you when you’re in the same room, gives you the cold shoulder, withholds affection, withholds sex, declines or puts down your ideas, invitations, suggestions, and pushes you away when you try to be close. After she pushes you as hard and as far away as she can, she’ll try to be affectionate with you. You’re still hurting from her previous rebuff or attack and don’t respond. Then she accuses you of being cold and rejecting, which she’ll use as an excuse to push you away again in the future.

Result: You feel undesirable, unwanted, and unlovable. You believe no one else would want you and cling to this abusive woman, grateful for whatever scraps of infrequent affection she shows you.

9) Withholding affection and sex. This is another form of rejection and emotional blackmail. It’s not just about sex, it’s about withholding physical, psychological, and emotional nurturing. It includes a lack of interest in what’s important to you–your job, family, friends, hobbies, activities–and being uninvolved, emotionally detached or shut down with you.

Result: You have a transactional relationship in which you have to perform tasks, buy her things, “be nice to her,” or give into her demands in order to receive love and affection from her. You don’t feel loved and appreciated for who you are, but for what you do for her or buy her.

10) Isolating. She demands or acts in ways that cause you to distance yourself from your family, friends, or anyone that would be concerned for your well-being or a source of support. This typically involves verbally trashing your friends and family, being overtly hostile to your family and friends, or acting out and starting arguments in front of others to make it as unpleasant as possible for them to be around the two of you.

Result: This makes you completely dependent upon her. She takes away your outside sources of support and/or controls the amount of interaction you have with them. You’re left feeling trapped and alone, afraid to tell anyone what really goes on in your relationship because you don’t think they’ll believe you.

You don’t have to accept emotional abuse in your relationship. You can get help or you can end it. Most emotionally abusive women don’t want help. They don’t think they need it. They are the professional victims, bullies, narcissists, and borderlines. They’re abusive personality types and don’t know any other way to act in relationships.

Life is too short to spend one more second in this kind of relationship. If your partner won’t admit she has a problem and agree to get help, real help, then it’s in your best interest to get support, get out, and stay out.

READ MORE ARTICLES ON WWW.SHRINK4MEN.COM

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.

Say Goodbye to CrazyWant to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.

Donations

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

Photo credits: Mood swings on ccmbuzz.

  1. Dan
    March 26, 2019 at 5:04 am

    Wow. Its like I just read my biography. Married over 20 years and see this played out daily, hourly in my life. The “result” description highlights exactly the emotions and feeling I have all the time.

  2. Not Proud
    March 16, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Dear Dr. T and Fellow Readers – I was an avid reader and sometimes poster in this forum and found it to be great help. My wife was a 10 out of 10 on the list – and I was dying a death of a thousand cuts. I am proud to say there is light at the end of the tunnel if you really want it. I am now at the 1 year mark of being free and divorced of my professional victim and narcissist. I know it takes two people to dance, so the past year has been spent with me making tremendous growth both mentally, spiritually and physically. I am also off anti-depressents and am taking time to heal. One sweet moment of each and every day now is when I turn off the light at night in bed. I actually thank God out loud for the peace, the quiet and no criticism about breathing (yes I breath, I do not snore)….I was sleeping with a four year old in an adult’s body, and my former life was filled with tantrums, endless criticisms and “what can you do for me now” moments. So the purpose of message is to say there is life after the pain of divorce. I honestly thank God each and every night for the peace I now enjoy. I feel your pain, have been there and in the depths, and am here at the other side. You can do it to!

  3. Jay
    March 14, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Thank you Dr Palmatier. After reading 10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully. I now know what I am going through and why I feel the way I do. You are amazing!!

  4. Mike
    December 29, 2018 at 6:47 am

    I have courage to run into automatic fire yet my 5 foot 2 wife has beaten me down so much I feel pathetic…….i’ve had her friends ask why I put up with her.

    Her abuse is tearing me apart never allowed to have a friend or activity without her inspection
    been waking up from a nightmare or my love meter died…….she spends the money like a drunken sailor even taking a four month vacation …..which thank the heavens woke up to the insanity she claims im abusive using the domestic violence shelter to frame me as a villain…I admit I yelled about the uneven life of only her goals…..coming back as a scared kitten saying she will be better……the dragon comes out soon the she calls cops when i try to fix the relationship like mutual goals and even money………im desperate to leave I fear she will kill me or my son.

  5. Joshua
    October 19, 2018 at 4:42 am

    This page and some of the other one’s linked to it have been very helpful to me the last few years. My ex-wife and mother to my daughter is everything you’ve written here. Unfortunately, she is a master at being nice and keeping up her cover. As is the rest of her family. They all are masters at being stealth bullies. She is educated, holds down a full-time job, comes across as genuinely caring, and speaks in a soft “victim” voice….most of the time. I’ve found that voice to disappear whenever I stand up for myself and call her out.

    Nobody believed me when I tried to talk about it because she was such a master at hiding things, but all the signs were there. I was a trained DV counselor working with abuse victims and yet I fell pray to the very things I taught them to avoid. It was actually working at this job and helping these people that eventually began to open my eyes to my situation. My extensive amounts of patience, giving nature, and flexibility have been my downfall in this relationship. I have to literally go against my default nature to be able to stand up for myself. We’ve been separated for 3 years and divorced for 2 but her reign of terror in my life has not ended.

    She became pregnant during the process of the divorce and our beautiful little girl was born 9 months later. Since then she has accused me of being a Battering Pedophile….taken me through a DV case and then tried to get full custody of our daughter. The nature of things has taken me through an emotional torture ride that has tested the very limits of my character.
    After 16 months of delays and he’ll we finally were given the initial custody decision for our daughter. God knows, I would have walked away and never seen or spoken to this woman again if my daughter wasn’t in the mix, but there is no way in heaven or hell im gonna let that woman raise my baby girl without me.

    I cannot even begin to explain the depth the emotional abuse goes….even with her lies, false testimonies and witness and hundreds of pages issues to the court the investigation determined I wasn’t an abuser, a pedohpile, or a risk to my daughter. Even with that decision the court has still made me jump through hoops and given her ridiculous amounts of power. I don’t want to get into the backward nature of the court system in my county, despite being in California, and the clear prejudice against men that exists regarding children. The downside is that this prejudice coupled with some seriously backward/borderline illegal policies has played completely into her abusive nature.

    I was finally free after the divorce, which she initiated and completed unsigned by me, while somehow I’m her warped world determined that I divorced us……However, the court gave her so much power over me with an emergency temporary restraining order that lasted 6 months along with so much control over our daughter that she continuously forced me to make hard choices.

    To be in my daughter’s life I had to quite my job, move into a new home, stay employed part time with extremely flexible hours and use the full extent of my support system. The positive out of all this is that she couldn’t hide her behavior anymore because it was beginning to come out in court papers, at de. Appointments, with family members wanting to see my daughter….and so on.
    My mother has told me to write my story and show the incredible things I’ve had to go through so I could be a Father to my daughter.
    I’m educated. I have the cleanest record you can find. I’ve been worked with children for over 15 years. I’m a pastor and a teacher. My support system is extensive….
    The part that I hate the most out of all this is that I still struggle to get past her…to get back to being healthy emotionally. Having to deal with her on a daily basis doesn’t help. I still suffer from so many of things that conditioned me when we were together. I don’t have my power or sense of worth back. My emotional stability is still lacking. I struggle at processing healthy relationships with other women because I am so emotionally Punch drunk from the highs and lows of dealing with her. I still haven’t really arrived at the place of where I can ignore her crazy. She has me so programmed that I have to talk myself into what is true and talk myself out of the crazy things she says, even now.

    I guess I have to accept that it took years to get me so messed up and it will probably take more years to get me straitened out. Two days ago I was finally able to say that she was being intentionally malicious. I’ve been giving her the benefit of the doubt even when others weren’t inclined to do so. I struggle the most with the fact that there is seemingly really nice and caring person in her that she can turn on and off at will. I know this person is really just another extension of her abusive manipulations but I also believe there was a sweet, caring, beautiful little girl in there at some point.

    I am going to be ok. I just have to be patient with myself and celebrate the growth and healing that has occurred.

  6. Jaco
    September 12, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    “Unconditional” is not the right word for solid love. It’s one word that works, but no one adjective seems to be around that’s best.

    My memory seems to be full of vignettes. The good ones are her kind WORDS. Regarding the bad ones, I seem to picture the settings. Can’t every human say nice words? They are usually common phrases, but if they’re meant…you remember them with that particular soul’s tone. No other soul could do that tone. That was the normal persona, the persona closest to the “original face.” A phrase from Zen Buddhism, but in my interpretation: even before human birth one’s original face is unique…after the Great Spirit created it [an incomprehensible moment itself…before human birth IMO, and possibly before many, many ages] it was a REAL and unique entity on its own (not a bunch of fragments knit loosely together and falsely believing it was real). I may be right and I might be wrong, so please forgive this presumptuous, inappropriate, and doctrinaire digression. Unfortunately, it seems I can’t vent at all honestly unless I explain my viewpoint on this. Seems that way at the moment–forgive this moment of mine.

    Yes, I suppose it’s somewhat like an addiction. But, perhaps on another important level, it was that you loved steadfastly. If she was just a mild narcissist, there were breaches in her love (if full blown, it was a greater percent play-acted?). You should be thankful there weren’t breaches in yours, but the horror of the withdrawals is what haunts your memory. The unjustness of it. Somewhere in their hearts they know what we mean by love, and they don’t know that their own “love” will end up inconsistent? Can’t they bother to warn us? When I go back in memory to these withdrawals…yes, I must admit I should have exited after experiencing the very first one. If they withdraw and their demeanor isn’t angry, you’re gaslit…confused beyond belief…like, no, I did not just fart, so what is the matter?? If they’re the disciplinarian and tell you you’re too sentimental (but still not overtly angry)…you’re gaslit again, because when you got into the car the conversation was lite and pleasant…or at least just a neutral sharing of events and observations (nearing the destination, though, it changed).

    It’s a funny thing. A parent dies and you think a partner is a good idea. The partner ends up (maybe part unconsciously on her part) mounting what becomes, over time, a war of psyche against psyche; and, over a series of weeks, you come to see the cumulative trauma thus far is all you can take. You go back to the parent…the memory of the parent. But you suspect (at least I suspect) that they didn’t have a parent that gave what you think of as solid love, or words to that effect. That solid gift without any “best” adjective. At first, at least for me now, the memory is just a wee bit harder to retrieve. That for sure is a cost of the whole thing. It was some years (less than 5) after the parent’s death the thing happened, but the “good idea” could have at least been prayed over a little more.

  7. Jaco
    September 2, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    What I’m about to lay down here is, I recognize, only the way I see things. Some of the causes and effects don’t seem quite plausibe to me as I read back over’em, or at least I sense something is missing. Some of the chains of developments I have described Tara has described with fewer words and with more “punch.” But it seems I had to use my own words as I approached certain things that dawned on me, a couple of which I do believe right now are correct. I’m open to anything anyone has to say regarding where I might have gotten off the track.

    We know ONE THING about our partners’ problems, and some of us can assume that even a “tendency”…or merely to exhibit the problem intermittently…or that having only some “narcissistic streak”…can on occasion bring about the same results a partner sees who’s paired up with the full blown problem. Yes, we know one thing: Theirs is a divided existence. They at one point have enthusiasm for us. But then at another point their “problem” or unconscious contents kick in. The problem suddenly colors everything about their prior enthusiasm…their endorsement. We know this means, as Tara’s “10 signs” also point out, that after they slip into a curbed enthusiasm moment they have to employ their uncanny ability to re-cast what we did they supposedly reacted to. “Rightly” and “justly” reacted to of course.

    A SECOND THING I know from my reading is that these episodes will “drain” the partner. And the draining will cause us to flag. It’ll cause us to fail to do things, or at least to do them in a manner worse than we would have done them before. At this point, even in the “normal” world, they do have a legitimate gripe. So, let’s imagine that you’ve heard these “legitimate” gripes for years. Well, it looks to me like, in hearing all these complaints, on some level one begins to believe there is some such inherent original flaw in oneself [“projective identification”?]. We lose a sense of that old self we had…yes, the one we were in days when we never thought for a moment we carried such a thing along in our personal baggage (not that our baggage contained NO flaws). One day recenly I woke up and realized the THIRD THING, which I will try to describe. Our partner’s normal side will develop some real weariness in regard to the acquired [in the relationship] flaw; plus if she loses some of her original enthusiasm almost-in-normal-fashion…she might I suppose end up jerked around by three modalities: what she once felt, a diminished what-she-once-felt [which allows her to string partner along], and weariness with our acquired flaw. That’s just part of the THIRD THING, a part which AFAICS is two thirds normal (not normal to not see we didn’t have the acquired flaw to begin with).

    It seems to me that, regarding folks with a “mild case,” their original feeling for whomever is not wholly whacked (only conjecture; I’m no expert). And further, that on the days when the narcissist, or half-narcissist, or quarter-narcissist, or tenth-narcissist…on the days when the weariness [I just described] on the part of any such folk is coloring most of their perceptions of their partners, then we may hear the re-casting from them…about, say, one event. But in a later phase (after years) it transmutes over into a series of re-castings of the whole saga. Yep, at such times the re-casting ability/skill will come into play but on a GENERAL level; and you’ll think HOW CAN SHE BADMOUTH THE WHOLE THING LIKE THIS?? :( But perhaps this re-casting isn’t completely a defense for her partner’s sake…for him to hear. If it’s only a mild case, maybe she’s trying to form up words for her own mind in regard to her “legitimate” weariness. But another part to “my realization” does take cognizance of standard accounts: There’s a ploy to CONVINCE the partner that this [weariness of the flaw] is her main feeling …not simply that the “you” she saw at the beginning is not there in her mind any longer, or has become boring. And this effort to CONVINCE is a “control” thing. To CONVINCE you she is tired of of your fault when really she is just tired of…you.

    I’ll describe it another way. Each time you try to make up for all your failings and the fall out, the put-on-act on their part attempts to convey an impression that: Despite my best efforts and how I would wish to forgive now, your last failing was so disappointing…so heinous this last time that I must forgive less this time. That’s the impression they act out in terms of how they supposedly feel. [Anyone else get that impression?] That’s the ACT, and I’m sorry I have to come to this conclusion, but it is IMO 99% ACT, if not closer to 100%. Yes, each time the forgiving’s a little less, and later when another COMPLAINT emerges quasi-angrily, which in turn gets us riled up……another part of the act is—> that last time they HAD (despite the difficulty in doing so) ended up forgiving you completely. No they hadn’t.

    When you think for an instant it might be she’s tired of YOU…you wonder WHY?? Why–why is she didn’t understand enough of you in the first place. She didn’t have a capacity concept where you’d fit. She knew only partly the you that you knew. There was a critical amount of empathy lacking on her part to discover WHAT you were. If I had had weaknesses here or there, would it have been so bad? No, they won’t go there with us. A given place and associated memories of a parent? Too much melancholy; won’t go there. Each time you didn’t sacrifice in the way her fantasy imagined you should have, she X’d out of her mind one way in which you did actually sacrifice. So, she knew you only partly at the beginning, and after a given number of years the knowing began growing less?? To me this is a tragedy beyond belief…right now. There’s another divided-existence-topic, though, to talk about…because what I believe is that in each of us there are a number of “selves”…personas to be more correct. However much the external entities suffer in a relationship, IMO there’s gotta be between’em at least two selves/personas that keep getting closer in proportion to time (and I also believe the soul does sense what’s going on between the two…pretty DIRECT sensation; hence “soul loss” later, etc). Yeah, I’m laying everything out bare :D You’d think your s.o. would have some concern over the fact that you’re being crushed and at the same time are unsure you are being crushed. A good crushing + near TOTAL CONFUSION about what is happening. But no, that doesn’t happen. The imperative is to CONVINCE.

    Anyway, in the exiting…we won’t necessarily just get “dumped” quickly as is sometimes written about in summaries (quickly dumped after drawn out struggles (when the “narcissitic supply” is depleted)).

    Instead there will be one day “legitimate” weariness with our acquired flaw [the cause of the flaw of course never acknowledged], and on another day the old REAL feelings will express REAL regret over the arguments and troubles (as if she wants to mend things). And this back-and-forth can be drawn out. So, no…the dumping won’t always be some short period of extreme pain. It could instead see-saw in this manner over a protracted period.

    When any of us fail at something our partner wanted, attainable or impossible, I think we will regretfully try to form up an “argument” for our own minds that that “something” was too difficult, expecting too much, or…downright impossible. Nevertheless, when our partners “badmouth” the whole long saga, and the badmouthing starts to mix in blatant lies [even when one’s hot one can tell when they get sweeping and outlandish], then the badmouthing is very painful in our ears. But as way off base the distorting can get…at the same time, in dealing with a “mild case” partner, we can’t look back and say, “Her feelings for me at the beginning were completely a phantasm in her mind…some fling or escape from the get-go.” That’s what sometimes seems to me to make an experience with just a “streak” of the thing, or with a “mild case,” in some ways more tragic. No, it wasn’t totally just a fling; but I suppose we should always be on the look out for even a “partial” desire for something like that on the part of another. Be on the look out for another’s desire for a fling, and be on the lookout for some such inclination on the part of ourselves.

  8. Rob ClRkson
    August 12, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    I don’t know how to thank you. You have provided clarity in what is going on in my life. This article could have been written specifically for me. I actually do not know what else to say. Because there is so much to say, I don’t know where or how to start. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  9. Matt wells
    May 12, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    This has helped me through four difficult years, thank you.

  10. The Art of Jerald Blackstock
    May 12, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    I read this through several times. I don’t think I’m even close to done yet. Each time another aha! From my Mothers knee through to similar relationships in a lifetime.
    Finally, finally got it in my head its not my fault. Neither is the self put downs and the consequences of shame and embarrassment. As I deal with the procrastination, from teeth to taxes, I focus on, this is a consequence and I’m dealing with it.
    Life is not always fair, As Albert Ellis famously said, shitty things happen to nice people and nice things happen to shitty people so accept, accept, accept. This is done through dealing with the situation as best I can, getting all the help I can too, then ignoring it and focus on something more satisfying.
    Once again, Tara, many many thanks for this information.

  11. Jaco
    May 12, 2018 at 3:38 am

    Yes, you’re right. It helps to write it out.

    I’ve been like you. Even today I had the thought, I’ll go back and read The Art of Loving, and maybe it’ll still be as profound as it was when I first read it 40 years ago, and then maybe she could read it and…

    Maybe such suggestions would have made a dent (I say maybe) if we had been simply devoted friends. But we weren’t that. We envisioned that the relationship could survive the manipulation, and…beyond that…that we could be the agents of change. People that assume such things (2 such things at the same time) are perhaps the least knowledgeable in terms of capacity to help make any difference [I have read that it happens though]. Anyway, when I read about the cognitive approach, seems like it would take the patience of Job.

    I don’t have the kids, but I’m not gonna say to my way of thinking kids make it more difficult. I’m not gonna say it, cause at least you have kids!

    Though we are full of faults (like taking this crap for so long), we should be thankful for one thing we realize that they don’t. We have some little measure better comprehension that partners need to maintain [not to every random character that comes across their paths in all situations, but AT LEAST those in partnerships one to the other] a relatively steady/reliable little flow of gratitude…to the other for the other. Maybe not for some big lavish dinner…maybe for just some squeezed-in moments parked outside McDonalds. People can tell me…authors can tell me…whatever in the world they think is “existential.” What I think is existential is that our significant others DON”T have the above comprehension. It’s a good word for it, but in another sense it isn’t…since on their end it must be a kind of non-existence.

    It occurred to me the other day [what I 1st wrote about it I can’t find now] that regarding my hopes of demonstrating what love could be…that that crusade became a part of me. Maybe this “great” mission of mine is what hurts when it’s yanked away. I know the absence of her soul…the absence of the evidence of her soul in the space around me…hurts. I have no doubt about that. Yes well, the end goal of that crusade-part-of-me will not be reached. It’s sliding over into the realm of the-never-to-have-been. Perhaps the only thing left of what I thought we might achieve in these brief lives of ours, and a number more if they come about, will end up some thin little thread that’s the karmic/spiritual equivalent of “quantum entanglement.” They say it flies when you’re having fun, but five years seems to fly just as fast when you’re chasing homeostasis-with-the-partner. Godspeed her anyhow on her path to get’n off the wheel.

  12. Bassanio
    May 8, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I like many others on this page am a victim of emotional abuse. I write this as an escape, as a means to stand in my truth, and let others know that they are not alone, as I am not alone. We are suffering together, and I hope one day to fly. I’ll try to keep it short and to the point. I’ve been with my now wife for about 6 years. We started out very strong…we talked about everything, all day-everyday. My wife was nurturing, she cooked special dinners all the time, thoughtful, generous, giving, attractive, smart, witty, and seemed to always have the right words. We built a strong emotional connection early on…but sad for me I was already sucked into the addictive vortex of love before realizing that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship.
    In the blink of an eye, as appealing as my wife can be, she can be just as skillfully cunning and vindictive. Whenever we experienced an issue, at 1st I thought my wife’s icy cold silence was just her being a woman, until I realized that her anger and silence lasted much longer than anything I’ve ever experienced. My attempts to resolve the problem with my wife only seemed to make matters worse. My wife would actually accuse me of doing and saying things that SHE actually did, making me the aggressor and herself the victim. She damaged my belongings, she has verbally demoralized family and friends to change my view toward them-if I had any dealings with them she has accused me of not supporting her and her view, leaving me to feel isolated or like I needed to change to please her and avoid arguments, she withheld sex for extended periods of time, she constantly threatened divorce unless I made changes, but it was never enough. She threatened my life when in moments of rage, she used the legal system to her advantage (control/manipulation tactics) to get me to comply with her demands. Then, when she would see me withdrawing emotionally due to the verbal abuse, she would encourage and build me up again by doing those kind things i mentioned in the beginning of the text. My wife would appease me by not combating decisions I made on behalf of the family so she could make me feel like more of a man. Once she regained my attention, only for the cycle repeat itself.
    My wife recently filed for divorce stating she has not been able to let go of all the damage I’ve done, but interestingly enough has refused to tell her friends and family about her filing because she is afraid of what they will think of her, knowing that I was never the type of guy she has painted me out to be. Even though my wife separated from me after filing for divorce, for many months she has carried on a relationship with me as if the filing never happened. I found myself trying to hold on to any attention I could get from her. It wasn’t until recent that she ceased communication with me, once again misreading my kind words and intentions as a means to fuel her decisions. I’m embarrassed to let friends know what I’m going through, I feel like no one understands unless they are going through it, I hate the thought of being alone and starting over, and I’m doing my best to remain loyal to my wife despite advances from other women (never cheated).

    Sadly I believe my wife is a victim of an emotional disorder. My heart goes out to her because if she got the medical treatment necessary, this could all be managed. It seems simple in most relationships, we love, forgive and move on…but it doesn’t work that way for her disorder. It’s night and day, Jekyll and Hyde, an emotional roller-coaster- and I’ve been left at the peak of the hill. I know that I’ve been emotionally abused, but I don’t want a divorce. As a victim I still try to figure out what I can do better, and how I can make my wife happy etc. It’s denial in a sense, because thus far nothing has pleased her to a long lasting degree. The truth is, there is nothing that I can do, except hope for a miracle. Trying not to be provoked or responding in anger can help for anyone else going through this, but we are all human and mean no harm to the ones we love. I guess I just needed to get this off of my chest. This is all still fresh for me so right now I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m hoping for better days in the future. All I can say is that through every struggle, there is growth. Thank you doc for the article and my heart is with all those affected and adversely impacted by this.
    Stay positive and hold your head, even if that’s all we have left.

  13. Anon
    May 5, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I feel every one of those categories listed daily and for going on 6 years now, have a child together, and is the main and only reason I continue to stay with her, I’ve tried and pleaded, there is no way to ask her to just look at her own actions instead of. Pointing fingers sitting doing nothing and being a narcissistic hypocrite, I do everything, I work I run arrands I get baby supplies I get her needs we go to her family events and I have to cringe at the thought I may have something coming up and don’t know how to say hey I’m going. To see my family and so is OUR child. I’ve taken in her family I’ve done endless things for her family since we’ve been a thing and I’ve done almost virtually nothing with mine, I have nothing no Facebook no friends no life nothing, if she had it her way we’d all be trapped in a cave screaming at each other for the end of our days, I am emotionally wrecked, I already have my own issues I battle and I truly feel insane and the limits of my thoughts are finding new distances.

  14. zigzagcatt
    April 18, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    It is so reassuring yet so sad yo know i am not alone. 15 yrs of marriage and slowly got worse. Now totally trapped in verbally abusive loveless marriage …every one of the abusive behaviour traits mentioned are present daily. Withheld sex last 3 yrs . I do everything….and I mean everything..yet am lazy and it’s never good enough.
    So what if I leave. Lose my home…my kids..hslf my pension. Either way am ruined.

  15. Col
    April 1, 2018 at 2:13 am

    This sounds like my relationship.

  16. Anon1
    February 14, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Hello,

    Warning: Long post alert! But please bear with me.

    TL;DR – She’s a bully. She needs a target. That target is currently me. If I leave she’ll target our children instead, who are too young and innocent to defend themselves. That is, of course, until the next unfortunate victim comes along; then it all starts over, with the kids yet again caught in the middle. What should I do?

    Full version:

    What you describe in this blog is exactly my partner; it’s like you know her personally! I’ve read an awful lot of articles like this on the internet (I’m talking tens, if not hundreds of hours devoted to it, looking for answers), but this one absolutely nails it in the most succinct, eloquent, accurate way (unlike my ensuing ramble). The fact it’s written by a woman makes it even more credible and comforting. Your various articles have actually made me laugh out loud because of how spot on they are! Virtually every sentence makes me go ‘YESSSS!!’

    For one thing it’s one of the few websites I’ve seen that challenges the widely-held perception of what narcissism actually is (or can be), i.e. that it’s only ever about showy, boastful, extroverted individuals – it’s not. Also the notion that only MEN can be narcissists, and that men are just expected to be resilient enough to never fall victim to a female bully in the first place (the shame and embarrassment of it!). In a world where, quite rightly so, the man’s physical size and strength is not a factor, we are all therefore on equal footing, so I don’t see the logic of this reasoning at all. From what I understand, the only criteria you need to become a victim is to be a decent, conscientious human being – a good egg, and to spend time behind closed doors with them, away from the view of others.

    Side note: From the extensive research I’ve done, I’ve gleaned that the words ‘bully’ and ‘narcissist’ are practically interchangeable. The trouble is, though, anyone can call someone a bully, but it seems you need to be a qualified psychologist to be able to legitimately label them a narcissist. However, I would argue that in many ways I’m even better qualified in this specific area than someone who has spent years studying and passing exams in the subject; I’m actually living the reality 24/7!

    My predicament:

    We have been together (unmarried) for eight years (cohabiting for seven of those), and have two young children of early school age.

    The trouble I have is that the only real advice I see on here (and elsewhere) is to leave her. However, it’s not always that simple and there’s often lots at stake, especially when kids are involved (as is my case). Indeed, even your own website tagline is ‘Helping Men Break Free from Abusive Relationships…’

    Others may ask why on earth I got/stayed with her in the first place – good question! Hindsight is a wonderful thing. There are many reasons, but that’s another (long) story! Basically I had my head buried in the sand; I saw a lot of red flags but painted them green. Truth is, though, if I’d have read your website beforehand, I’d have got out early on, and, as harsh as it might sound, never would’ve had kids with her. Needless to say I love them to bits now and wouldn’t change them for the world, as cliché as it sounds. Anyhow, it’s irrelevant now, because here I am, trapped, seeking help from you good people!

    Essentially she is a chronic, serial bully (of the cunning, covert variety). I say covert, but she also has some major impulsiveness and unbridled rage issues too (but only ever in private) – mainly when called on her behaviour, or when she perceives she has criticised or doubted in any way. As already mentioned, she is just like your article in virtually every way. Explaining or qualifying these assertions is yet another lengthy document, so for now I’m just asking you to trust me and take them as read.

    Although it’d do wonders for my own sanity, I have several reasons why I don’t want to just pack up and leave:

    1) Bullies NEED a target. Fact. That target just happens to be me at the moment, purely because I was unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (and maybe I’m just the right sort of target material). If I’m not around to be her punch bag, I think it will inevitably be the kids that will bear the brunt of her behaviour, and to me this doesn’t bear thinking about. I’m certain she doesn’t have anywhere near enough morality to draw the line at abusing them – she needs her bully fix, and will get it by ANY means. I feel a huge sense of duty/responsibility to stick around and protect them from this outcome. They’re a lot more vulnerable and less able to stand up for themselves than I am. It is unrealistic and facile to reason that if I’m no longer around then all the conflict disappears, so therefore the kids will be in a much calmer, happier environment. This simply isn’t what will actually happen. Anyone who truly knows her personality type will know that’s not the case. Also, as soon as the next guy comes along, history will just repeat itself with him; possibly even worse, but certainly not any better.

    2) I’m a firm believer that kids are better off with two parents. The binary argument always goes ‘ah, but kids are better off with one parent in a calm environment than they are with both in a volatile one.’ I understand this, but a) see point 1, and b) the oft-ignored third option (albeit it probably wishful thinking) is to work our sh*t out like grownups for their benefit.

    3) Without me around as a more positive example and counter-influence to her conduct, the kids will grow up thinking behaviour like hers is normal and acceptable, which obviously it isn’t. I fear they will end up being just the same, and the world definitely does not need two more bullies! What’s most scary is that I can already see aspects of her personality coming through in them (inevitable really). When I try to teach them otherwise, she sees it as an indirect, underhand swipe at her, so she attacks and seeks to immediately undermine and belittle me in front of them, followed by a punishment of some sort. This confuses the heck out of them and, in turn, just makes them even worse! It breaks my heart that their minds are already being corrupted in this way.

    4) As with all bullies, she is also highly vindictive, spiteful and vengeful. I therefore have no doubt in my mind that she will set out to poison their minds (and everyone else’s for that matter) against me, painting me as the cowardly father who abandoned his children, just because her and me used to ‘argue a bit’ and I obviously had thin skin. Or Label ME as the real trouble maker who SHE had to kick out. This is as unfair on the kids as it is on me.

    5) Last, and certainly least importantly (but still a frustration nonetheless), she will be the ‘cat that got the cream’. She’ll stay in the house and be awarded main custody of the kids (it seems this is the default position of the family law system, and there’s very little us guys can do about it). Cheats should never prosper, and she would be prospering in this instance – rewarded for appalling treatment of others. “This shouldn’t matter, it’s all about what’s best for the kids” I hear you say, and I agree, which I why I refer you back to the first four points!

    I sometimes wonder if the only way out of this is to leave her and then challenge her in court for custody, but nobody wants that; it’ll be damaging to everyone, not least the kids. From the research I’ve done, it’s also painfully apparent that I have little to no chance of succeeding. The courts are heavily weighted in favour of the mother in these cases, which needless to say I think is unfair. The woman has to literally be a dribbling drug addict or the like for custody to be awarded to anyone else. That and proving her behaviour seems near-impossible. From what I gather making audio recordings is illegal, or at least never admissible as evidence, but to me that’s the only real way you could ever unequivocally prove anything (anything else is just my word against hers), so I’m all out of options there. In a cruel irony, it also likely results in negative conclusions being drawn about the man’s character for recording her in the first place! But then no one would believe you unless they actually heard it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I think she knows all this, and that emboldens her to continue and ramp up the abuse.

    Anyways, I think I’ve shown a lot of patience, tolerance and resilience up to this point, and am prepared to do so forever if necessary to protect the kids from her malevolence and dastardly ways, even at the cost of my own wellbeing (not trying to sound like a martyr here).

    Call me over-ambitious, delusional, naïve, foolhardy, or whatever else I probably deserve, but my preferred option by far is that she somehow one day begins to see the error of her ways and seeks help. It would be a long, gradual process for sure, with no quick-fixes, but like I just said, I’m a patient kinda guy! I’m also pretty forgiving and don’t hold grudges, so I could look beyond her past conduct and just be grateful for a brighter future.

    We have discussed her getting help before, and when really, really backed into a corner, she’s half-heartedly agreed to change / get help, but in the weeks following always manages to wriggle out of it somehow. I always offer to be understanding, and to help and support her through it, but his makes no difference. To her I think agreeing to receive help amounts to admitting responsibility, which again, people like her just don’t do. I’m aware it’s a big no-no to try and help/nudge her to recognise herself for what she really is (a bully) by way of, for instance, showing her this website, but I can think of no other way.

    To be clear, my bar is set pretty low – I just want the conflict to stop. I’m not looking for the archetypal perfect partner. I’m realistic and pragmatic (if maybe a little naïve and delusional). Looking back, she never actually ‘love bombed’ me in the first place (that would be far too demeaning for her – as would begging for me back and promising to change if I ever left), so I’m not trying to get back to some idyllic halcyon days. I realise that all sounds a little cold and unromantic, I mean, where’s the love, right? But to be honest I think it’s probably beyond that now – it’s damage limitation at best. I just want us both to act like civil adults and do what’s right by the children by bringing them up the best we can and being good examples for them; more of a partnership. I believe that, despite everyday differences and disagreements, the best way to do that is together, especially given my aforementioned fears as to what will happen if I’m no longer around to protect them from her.

    As is usual with this personality type, she is completely closed to any sort of reasoning, or even pleading.

    Ultimatums simply won’t work; she has too much pride. She’d eat grass before admitting I hold any kind of influence over her (which realistically I don’t anyway!).

    So to sum up, my real question is: how can I get her to see the error of her ways and agree to seek help, preferably of her own accord and not just forced into or ‘going along’ with it?

    The crux of the problem and the main obstacle to achieving that end, is that the very essence of a narcissist means they’ll NEVER admit they’re anything less than perfect, and therefore would never think THEY need help – it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s a self-perpetuating problem. That’s how they get so bad in the first place – they have a closed feedback loop.

    All the advice and suggestions I’ve read don’t quite tackle my specific situation, and so I often feel completely alone and helpless. But I figure it can’t be that rare¬ – that unique, can it? I can’t be the only one with this exact set of circumstances and considerations, surely?

    I don’t want to come across as defeatist, but I suspect I’d have already tried anything that you come up with, because I think I’ve tried EVERYTHING! I’ll even reply and tell you the result of trying it and why it was ineffective, so hopefully others might avoid the same pitfalls. I’d list them all here, but that’d take way too long.

    But maybe I haven’t tried absolutely everything. Maybe someone will offer up a real nugget – and that’s why I’m here – I’m open to new ideas, however whacky they sound. Fingers crossed.

    If nothing else, it feels good just to have reached out and written this post. It’s the first time I’ve actually told anyone any of this – why not start with a bunch of strangers! I’m not a quitter, and I don’t want to believe that it’s utterly futile, however delusional that may sound.

    If the answer is simply ‘leave her’, my next question is ‘what about the kids?’ What if she’s free to do the same to them, completely unhindered and unchallenged. And them being totally unable to defend against it, or even know what’s happening and why? Makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

    If anyone does have any helpful, constructive, realistic advice, it would be very much appreciated. I’m not after sympathy of any sort, I just want to know what I can practically do. I’m usually a pretty good problem solver, but I’m all out of ideas on this one!

    Thanks (if you made it this far!)

    • Sim
      March 11, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Hi Anon1,

      I don’t have answers for you but i can tell you my experience of staying and this may help you (or may be no).

      it indeed difficult to leave and that’s why i stayed. I feared the same custody issues and that she will get the most of everything plus children and i would miss spending time with them. Plus kids would miss me and she will turn them against me. Fast forward 15 years. My daughter thinks we are both wrong! She doesn’t want to be involved in the arguments of who is right or wrong how so ever silly the cause of argument is. Son, too couldn’t be bothered. These are the people for whom i sacrificed my youth (so as to speak!). So don’t hold your breath that your kids will see what your wife is doing to you and that they will side with you.

      Secondly, i don’t think your wife is every going to change. You see, there will be no need for her to change. As time goes by you will give her more and more slack to keep her off your back to avoid arguments. This will embolden her more and for the next 10-15 years your life is likely to become pathetic just like mine.

    • zigzagcatt
      April 18, 2018 at 11:13 pm

      Good God.. .you are not alone…this is my situation exactly!!..except married to said person for 15 yrs. No way out..am here for the kids…sacrificing my life to do so.
      As soon as they are old enough am out of here…yes will lose everything and cat will have got cream…but I eill have some life I hope.
      Good luck. Hope find an answer.

  17. Phil Webber
    January 20, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    I’m four years into my second marriage and about 75% of this article is happening in my marriage. Some days I leave for work thinking I’m a horrible human being after she lays into me, she accuses me of the worst narcissistic character traits and yet I know I am trying my best to be an attentive, caring husband to this woman and my stepdaughter. I’m at a loss on this, she has expectations, and I believe I’ve met most of them , yet it’s never good enough.

  18. JK
    January 1, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    This is totally my wife. I am so lost all of the time doing all of the dishes, cooking, laundry, and cleaning while taking care of all three of our children. She always has a headache or backache that’s my fault from stressing her or not massaging her enough. I’m frequently told I don’t do anything and I will never be as good as all that she does. We never have sex or cuddle. She’s always pissy and a ticking time bomb ready to explode on me or our poor kids. I’m financially screwed if I divorce her and have felt trapped for over a decade. I need help.

  19. Kevin
    December 27, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Hello everyone, thought I’d give my own update. 5 months ago my ex fiancé and I broke up, I went through the “absolutely destroyed discard phase” and nearly lost my business, my health, and my sanity. I wanted nothing more than to die. Well, most of those things were going downhill anyway I’ve the course of the relationship and thankfully I got out. It was hell. No other way to describe it and no way to put in as few words as possible. Fast forward to now and I’m finally getting glimmers of hope that are growing everyday. Still struggling but I’m at least calm now and the anxiety is starting to diminish. I thank God for this website and the community, support, and most of all a way to understand the nightmare of abuse. Like it says, she’s got problems…now we all have problems, but those of us on here tried to fix hers. Unfortunately those cant be fixed by us.
    One of the silver linings in recovery from an abuser is the ability to become far better and greater than we would have been had we not gone through this. Greater compassion, bigger hearts, greater capacity to love, and most importantly the ability to finally love ourselves for real. The abusers in our lives bring one positive thing to the table-they bring out our deepest wounds and force them to the surface. After the abuse it is literally impossible to deny those wounds. We can then heal. So, thank you to my abusive ex, I don’t hate you, often I think you are a f****** b**** who is nothing more than a drain for my soul. But I have compassion for you and I will forgive you. First I need to forgive me. To those of you who are just starting the road to recovery, it gets better, way better. There are women out there that will appreciate you and love you for being you. To those who are still in it….the chances of you changing her or showing her that she needs a change of heart and that she actually gets one are slim to none. Get out and save yourself before its too late and you lose your job, your mind, and/or your health. You deserve better. You can’t see it now because being in the “completely destroyed phase” sucks big time. But it will pass and life will be great again. You may never be the same, no, you’ll be better than ever.

    Thank you Doctor T!!! I owe you a great deal of gratitude.

    Kevin

    • Jaco
      August 29, 2018 at 2:00 am

      Very inspiring letter, Kevin! Glad you are making progress. Pretty sure I remember reading some long ones from you back there a ways. I may not have given advice. I don’t have the complications a lot of you have. No kids, no marriage. My s.o. even moved out a number of years ago. In a way yalls’ predicaments “read” more disastrous than mine. I haven’t felt qualified to say much of anything to anyone, for the break-ups involving me and my s.o. have all been temporary. Anyway, what little I have is not up for her to grab, and I don’t think she’d even try if it were. The thing that’s slipping away is 1) my heart, and 2) the hopes I had for a shared life. I don’t do well with that stuff slipping away!! What kills me is somewhat described IIRC at the late Joanna Ashmun’s memorial site–all the tables will be turned! If you are truly the altruist in the dyad, her mind will direct her words to pile up to the sky…rapid fire…to the effect that, no, she is [and, oh yeah, I’m sure when the dude’s the narcissist it’s his words that pile up to the sky, and the woman that has to be beat down by’em]. I’ll tell yall something else that makes my situation less severe (and therefore illuminates what a pushover I am). LATELY I BECAME CONVINCED OF A PERSPECTIVE ON ALL THIS…because of an MSN article of all things. If yall are like me, you stop reading about the subject when you shouldn’t. Then one day when you aren’t even try’n but still run smack dab into an article germane…it seems like an oracle’s talk’n. But this one did have its truths despite its otherwise general nature…shot out as it was to a MASS audience.

      Maybe what seemed like such a mind torquer to me all along through this whole thing [why the genuine niceness, and then the demeaning?] could be summed up simply by saying, “Some have a narcissist streak.” Of course, we read that everyone does have a little of it in’em. But a “streak” to me is not some little thread of a thing. It has some width to it. The problem is if you were brought up to be thoughtful of others and sometimes still succeed in being so…that streak won’t compute AT ALL to you. I’m traumatized by the fact that my s.o. now doesn’t apparently desire to give fundamental things any longer. She claims to feel pushed away, cause I don’t wanna contribute things more like “the icing.” I tell her “you don’t wanna contribute even fundamentals”; and, the way I hear it, she tells me “you contribute no icing.” Well, it appears that when the fundamentals are suddenly withdrawn, it’s hard for normal people to deal with same. In fact, nothing delivered in one dept might deaden desire for another thing in another dept…isn’t that true, Dr Tara?

      Anyway, my corollary to THIS PERSPECTIVE I BECAME CONVINCED OF is that the streak, if it targets the partner, may sometimes hardly require any other target…to project on…in the whole of the possessor’s life. From what I read, that’s really the same situation with a “full blown” narcissist. Only with a “full blown” narcissist there is less genuine niceness. By the same token, with the partner only having a streak of the thing…when you’re gaslighted, you could be gaslighted into deeper confusion. I suppose the amount of insight on the part of the target contributes also to the deepness of the confusion.

    • Jaco
      September 2, 2018 at 10:43 pm

      Kevin, you said, “The abusers in our lives bring one positive thing to the table-they bring out our deepest wounds and force them to the surface.”

      After over five years I read something that made me think the thing torqueing me out in my relationship might have been based on something that happened long ago…and doesn’t seem to me now at all that traumatic. It was when I was a kid. The “lack” of that moment or during those few days was more than made up for…truly. If that’s what erupted back up, it doesn’t excuse my s.o. triggering it.

Comment pages
  1. April 5, 2019 at 2:36 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: