Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder > The Emotionally Abusive Personality: Is She a Borderline or a Narcissist?

The Emotionally Abusive Personality: Is She a Borderline or a Narcissist?


Two Face WomanIf you’re involved with an emotionally abusive woman, at first you probably wondered, “What’s wrong with her?” If you’ve been with her for a significant length of time, you probably now wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why does she treat me so bad?”

Emotional abuse grinds you down over time and leaves you feeling depressed, anxious, helpless, and worthless. You don’t deserve to be treated badly. You’re not the one with the problem. People who are emotionally abusive typically fall into specific personality types and in extreme cases, personality disorders.

The Cluster B disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) are often abusers in their relationships. These disorders lie on a continuum. Depending on the day, hour, minute, or second, your wife or girlfriend may exhibit different characteristics of these disorders. They’re all similar flavors of crazy.

So how can you tell if your emotionally abusive girlfriend or wife has Borderline or Narcissistic traits? The following are general rules of thumb I use when trying to tease out the difference.

How do they approach relationships?

The Narcissistic Woman: “Love me–or else.” If you don’t unconditionally accept the NPD and all of her horrible behaviors, you are, as one of my readers describes it, “unforgiving and mean.” At first, many of them charm you and then they often try to bully you into loving them. If you reject her or she thinks that you’re criticizing her, you’re treated to a narcissistic rage episode or cold sullen withdrawal and the death stare.

Every now and again a narcissist will be nice to you, even affectionate. This is because she is

  1. about to manipulate you into doing something for her;
  2. making a public display in order to be seen by others as magnanimous or loving;
  3. celebrating because she’s duped or tricked you about something; and/or
  4. lulling you into a false sense of security because she’s about to clobber you again

In other words, if she’s being nice to you, be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Borderline Woman: “Please love me. I didn’t mean it. Don’t leave me.” Initially, the BPD will mutate into the woman she thinks you want her to be. This ideal fantasy woman has nothing to do with who she is in reality. She’ll do everything in her power to please you in order to make you love her and then the mask starts to crumble.

Can you feel sympathy for her?

The Narcissistic Woman: The NPD woman is a very unsympathetic creature. It’s damned near impossible to feel sorry for her. If she manipulates you into feeling sympathy for her, it’s to get you to let down your guard so she can steamroll you again. They invented the term crocodile tears for NPDs. She cries when she’s terrified of losing control over her half dead mouse–that would be you–or of having her true self exposed.

The Borderline Woman: Even when she’s off the charts crazy, there’s still something sort of pitiful about her. It’s easier to feel sympathy for a BPD, but pity and guilt shouldn’t be the glue that holds a relationship together. It doesn’t negate the consequences of her emotionally abusive behavior, whether the hurt she inflicts is intentional or unintentional.

Is she capable of accepting personal responsibility?

The Narcissistic Woman: She rarely, if ever, admits she was wrong unless it’s to zing you with a thinly veiled insult. For example, “I thought you were a kind and generous man. I see now that I was wrong.” She rarely if ever takes responsibility for her hurtful actions. If you call her on her bad behaviors, she claims it was your fault for pushing her into it (in other words, you deserved it) and you’re a bad man to make a good woman like her act that way. You should be ashamed of yourself!

Alternatively, she’ll use dime store psychology, dogmatic religion or false consensus building to justify her inexcusable behaviors. For example, “A true christian practices forgiveness” or “You have unresolved issues with your mother” or “My therapist said I should do what my gut tells me to do” or “I told my family and friends about this and they think I’m right and you’re wrong.” These are nothing more than tactics for deflecting responsibility.

The Borderline Woman: The BPD will admit what she did was wrong, BUT she’ll follow it up by blaming you for triggering her. That’s not real personal responsibility. It’s what a 5-year old says when they get caught doing something wrong. “Yes, what I did was wrong, but it wasn’t my fault” or “I was really hurt and angry, but I didn’t mean to say all of the horrible things I did, so you have to forgive me.” The NPD usually won’t acknowledge any wrong-doing unless you really have her on the ropes or you’re about to end the relationship–that’s the difference. Most NPDs believes she was right to hurt you; some BPDs might feel bad about hurting you, but she was hurting, so she had to hurt you and ‘couldn’t help [herself].’

Is she capable of empathy?

The Narcissistic Woman: The NPD is virtually incapable of feeling empathy for others. She is 100% ENTITLED, which means other people’s feelings don’t really matter.  There is one exception. If someone else is giving you a hard time, the NPD will say, “Well I never had a problem with ‘Joe.’ He’s always been nice to me. He must be really stressed. You’re probably bringing this on yourself.” The NPD woman shows empathy for others at your expense.

The Borderline Woman: BPDs can be guided to feel empathy by reminding them of specific instances when they felt bad, but it’s usually pretty fleeting. Bottom line: A BPD’s emotional distress takes precedence over everything and everyone else, no matter how empathic she may seem to be from time to time. Furthermore, empathy from a BPD often comes with strings attached.

Is she capable of giving?

The Narcissistic Woman: That would be no, no and no. NPDs are primarily takers. It’s definitely a one-way street when you’re involved with a narcissistic woman. She may make a show of being kind and generous in front of others, but that’s only because she wants to protect her highly controlled public image. Alternatively, if she does something “generous” it’s because she believes “those are the rules” of etiquette, society or her religion. NPDs are big rules and regs types. She will then expect to be lavishly acknowledged and praised for her act of generosity (or something as minor as cleaning up after herself in the kitchen) and never lets you forget it.

The Borderline Woman: BPDs are givers, but it comes with a price. It’s part of what I mentioned earlier about doing anything to please you to get you to love them.

Most of the behaviors I’m describing are entirely unconscious. These behaviors are learned at an early age and some of them may be hardwired. Whether she’s more NPD or BPD, both traits are extremely painful and damaging to the people who love them.

Counseling, 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 or send an email to shrink4men@gmail.com.

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Photo credits:

Two Face Woman by matthew manuel puentes on flickr.

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  1. Sue Howard
    July 22, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    If someone asked me to describe my husband’s mother, I would struggle to find anything positive to say about her. I had never come across anyone quite like her. The description of NPD does seem to match.
    This lady was a totally spoilt and indulged child who never grew up.
    Her children, my husband and his sister pretty much raised themselves as she opted out and they had to take care of her needs instead. There was no care, love, support, praise or empathy. There was a great deal of criticism and guilt heaped upon them and they were never good enough. Although it was never said outright, it was made clear in other ways, she considered that her son had married beneath him. She caused the split of up of her daughter’s first marriage for the same reason.
    I think because I am quite an assertive person, she avoided challenging me directly, but made her feelings known by, amongst other things, making up stories about things I had allegedly done or said to upset her and used those she could manipulate to confront me with it. It caused quite a few rows in our marriage until my husband realised what she was doing. He was shocked to fine he had been so easily controlled.
    I can see that his mother is a very lonely, isolated person, but despite having tried to establish a relationship with her, she cannot resist causing trouble for me and the family so I avoid contact with her now.
    My husband has said he will not cry when she dies. He has been shocked to find that sometimes he acts like her and he is not happy with this. He can see that he did not have much of a childhood. When he once confronted her about it and asked her did she love him her response was that she had given him gifts of money, wasn’t that enough.
    As someone who had an asset poor/love rich childhood, it all seems very sad to me. If this is the result of a personality disorder, it is a good thing that more is understood about it now

    • shrink4men
      July 24, 2009 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate your participation. NPD/BPD parents can cause a lot of damage to their children. Good for you for standing up to her and not taking her guff. Bullies like easy targets, however, it doesn’t stop them from making covert attacks and enlisting others to do their dirty work for them. This is evidence of their basic cowardice because she’s afraid to go after you directly.

      I have a former patient who confronted her father about his hurtful NPD behavior when she was a child. His response was, “What do you mean I wasn’t a good father? I didn’t beat you or molest you.” Sadly, these people just never get it. Not breaking the law doesn’t make you father of the year. My patient’s father’s response reminds me of what your mother-in-law said. These people are all cut from the same cloth.

      Minimizing contact is the best way to deal with toxic people like your mother-in-law. So is trying to develop a sense of gallows humor about it. Her behavior is tragic, but also absurd. Try not to take her seriously, she’s a pathetic creature after all, and laugh your way out of her attacks. They’ll pack less punch that way.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  2. rob
    July 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I hate the idea that these women seem to get away with it and they get rewarded for it.

  3. Bill
    July 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Doc, I was curious. Obvously “these abusive women” understand the cause and affect through playing games, but why do they not channel this in a positive way versus sabotaging the relationship? Don’t they crave love too or is it the ideal of love, or ideal love. It’s so confusing, because on one hand you’re the night in shining armor, but on the other hand you’re not the guy from “pretty Women” Essentially, you’re never good enough, even if you’re great. Then you go from hero to zero. So is she in love with the fantasy she turns you into or more in love with the fantasy she sees herself as?

    • shrink4men
      July 23, 2009 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Bill,

      Setting you up for failure and putting you on a pedestal only to knock you down is one of the ways they control you. They use the tactics to confuse and disorient you, which puts you in a weakened state in which you’re susceptible to more of their nonsense.

      These women don’t understand what love is. To them, love is “do exactly as I say and never challenge me.” Love is control, not mutuality, sharing and acceptance. They would rather cut off their arms than be vulnerable to someone. In a true love relationship you share yourself. That’s intimacy. The problem is, these women have no true core sense of self to share. It’s all smoke, mirrors and appearances with them. They play at being people. There’s no “there” there.

      My advice is stop torturing yourself with the “why’s” and begin the process of letting go.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  4. July 17, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I have read alot about narcissism, sociopath behavior and I have a question. How much time goes on before the woman goes from being nice to “crazy”. I was friends with my ex before we got serious, but it seems that my ex started to get angry with me after I said I thought it was wrong she cheated, and should feel remorse because I was afraid she could do it to me. We chatted on the internet, and she has changed every story to make her look innocent and me to be crazy. Unfortunately she is winning because I feel like I am the crazy one. How do you get over the guilt of feeling like you failed the woman you loved? I think I am a good man, but this is the second time this has happened to me and all I get is that I am a bad guy for standing up for myself when they treat me badly. I am asking because I am dating again, but I dont feel like me. I feel like I am going to get yelled at for anything I do. Thanks.

    • shrink4men
      July 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Brian,

      The answer to your question, “How much time goes before the woman goes from being nice to crazy?” is: It depends. The Jekyll and Hyde switch usually occurs for the first time after:
      1) She feels comfortable enough in the relationship (i.e., she’s really got you) to hit you with it.
      2) You challenge, criticize or disagree with her about something.
      3) You set off one of her abandonment/inferiority/sensitivity to rejection buttons.

      As you meet new women, pay very close attention to how they handle conflict, disappointment and if they’re able to take personal responsibility for their behavior or if they blame others when things don’t go their way.

      Best Wishes,
      Dr Tara

  5. Sean
    July 15, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    I found this site a couple of days ago and have had such an urge to reveal it to my wife, but then I thought of your safety and I’ve restrained myself. But the serious truth there is that she would be furious that at 1) Me: She reserves the sole right to identify my psychological weakness du jour with proper nouns furnished via third parties. To do the same to her would be a breach of loyalty of the highest order. 2) You: How dare you put uppity thoughts into the head of her vulnerable failure of a husband. Indeed, you are a woman-hating man in the guise of woman’s physique.

    Seriously, when faced with women who are accepting, non-victimized, independently serene and respectful of their husbands’ “otherness”, my wife’s standard comment is “she’s more like a man than a real woman.” Several months ago, I simply stopped getting sucked in. I chose to be polite and not “fight back.” I started telling her that I would subject myself to unacceptable behavior. I started telling her that I was truly sorry that, in the past, I robbed her of her dignity by treating her as a “wild card” that needed to be “handled” for the peace of our home and our children. I told her that I love her enough to allow her to be responsible for all of the outrageous actions and verbal communications she perpetrates as an adult.

    Of course, this has resulted in all hell breaking loose with her trying to “up the ante” at every turn. She has started to threaten separation in front of our small children (we have 6) for the simple reason that she knows how deeply it hurts me to see my children’s sense of security shaken. She justifies this inappropriate verbal poison in the presence of our children with the words, “You would teach our kids to hide and ignore reality because you are always looking to ‘escape.’ Well, I love them enough to tell them the truth.” My kids ages are 3, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 13. When I ask on what grounds she would consider hurting our kids in such a way (breaking up the family), she rants in vague terms about my inability to have an “intimate” relationship.

    She’s determined that my twisted childhood and sick family are the origins of that nasty fact which has in turn to make her life one of endless martyrdom. I have not said these things to anyone because it has the feel of “betrayal.” But I appreciate very much your perspective, which I just haven’t found anywhere else. Do you know of other sites/resources that focus specifically on this issue (borderline/narcissistic WIFE issues). Lord knows and I know from years of marriage counselling that the onus is squarely on the male to prove that he is NOT an emotionally abusive, unavailable, uncommunicative, insensitive lout. Thanks again.

    • shrink4men
      July 17, 2009 at 1:00 am

      Hi Sean,

      Thanks for the positive feedback regarding my site. Sorry to read about your wife. She seems awful from your description. It’s not surprising that she uses your children as leverage to hurt and control you. Abusers often view speaking the truth as an act of betrayal as one of their greatest fears is being exposed and held accountable for their nasty behaviors.

      Perhaps it’s inappropriate for me to ask, but given your wife’s personality/disposition, however did you manage to have 6 kids? Just curious.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  6. June 18, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I have read alot lately on the victims of this behavior and its pretty dead on with everything that happened. As you stated, I am trying to work on me, and I feel I am having PTSD from the shock in all this. I am trying to take care of myself but I feel I need a counselor, or meds to calm my nerves. I guess I want to ask something that sounds redundant at this point, but what is it that caused this woman to be so kind in the beginning and just go crazy in the next? I am trying to move on but I am truly afraid of people now because I feel like everyone will be like this and it is hurting me inside because I am walking around fearing everybody that says hello. How do I move past this and get back to where I was before her?

    • shrink4men
      June 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Brian,

      It’s the Jekyl and Hyde personality that allows them to draw people in. Once you fall for the wonderful, but false facade, they blindside you with their true, nasty nature. While you sit there wondering what the hell just happened and considering ending the relationship, presto-change-o, she’s sweet again and you chalk it up to her having a bad day.

      These women know how to turn on the charm when there’s something or someone they want, but it’s an illusion, just a tool for them.

      Get a therapist. Surround yourself with family and friends. Focus on doing what you enjoy and rebuild your confidence. You can get through this, Brian.

  7. Brandon
    June 16, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I just “got out” of an abusive relationship with a BPD. Well I don’t know if that was it, but after reading 13 signs your wife or girlfriend is a borderline or a narcissist, she is one of them, as I could relate to all 13 signs.

    My question is this. I don’t feel like I’m not me, I don’t think I’ve changed, and I’ve only known this girl for about 8 months and we’ve been dating for 5. However, friends, family and co-workers have all seen a change. So obviously there was some sub-conscious handiwork going on. I know I did the right thing by getting out, and I know it’s what is going to be best for me and for her, but why do I feel bad? Part of me is so relieved and glad I can get back to the things that make me…well me. I feel sad but know I can’t continue down this path without going absolutely insane.

    Is this part of what they do? Was my psyche so damaged by her that I just don’t realize it?

    • shrink4men
      June 17, 2009 at 6:17 pm

      Hi Brandon,

      First, congratulations on getting out of the relationship. These women live in a distorted reality of their own making. When you become involved with one of them, they suck you into their crazy, twisted world. Up is down. Left is right. Night is day, Black is white. Right is wrong. And guess what, you’re the one who’s always wrong in Crazy Town.

      You probably bought into her world while you were together and believed the usual drivel these women feed men like, “No one will ever love you like I love you” or “You’ll never meet another woman like me” (if you’re really lucky you won’t, but these women are a dime a dozen, cut from the same cloth and they can pop up anywhere—usually when you least expect it) or “You’ll never find another woman who can make you happy” or “No one will ever put up with what I put up with” or “You’ll never be able to forget me” (this one’s probably true because it’s awfully hard to forget being hit by a runaway bus).

      Statements like this are part of how these women program you, just like a cult leader programs his or her followers. They say it over and over again until you begin to believe it and start to parrot it like a mantra. Part of getting back to “being you” involves deprogramming yourself from the lies and distortions she told you.

      You will get over her. You will find love again. You will meet a woman who will love you and treat you right. You will always remember her, but in a “what-was-I-thinking-boy-did-I-dodge-a-bullet-next-time-I-meet-a-woman-like-her-I’m-heading-for-the-nearest-exit kind of way.

      You did the right thing for yourself. Surround yourself with your friends and family. Let them support you through this. They can remind you of who you still are, that there was life before this woman and that there is a much better life in store for you after this woman.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  8. June 15, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I never wanted to “win”, and I never thought it was a competition. the part I am dealing with inside is that everything was fine, she was caring, friendly, and then BOOM! She started in on me for everything. When I asked her why she is acting this way she told me that she wanted me to plan everything so that she knew she was going to have fun before we walked out the door because her personality didnt allow her just to go out and go with the flow. Again, this was the BOOM after 2 years of friendship and dating. I dont compete with women, never have never will. I give 100% and want to let them know I care. My self esteem is in the toilet because I was doing everything “right’ having fun, loving on each other, and then one day-she just started to hate me. I obviously didnt know what to do other than ask what is going on. but it al stems from that conversation about her affairs and how she treated her exhusband. I never yelled, never put her down, I just said that she is acting like the victim but the truth is she is the guilty one cheating and should recognize it because I didnt want her to cheat on me. Then BOOM! I wish I never said anything, gave her time to settle down inside. Its eating me up inside.

  9. June 15, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    my self esteem was fine, I was having problems with my company and she was my accountant. She told me she is tired of feeling like she couldnt order off a menu without feeling guilty. I never told her to worry, I always asked her out and always paid. She just threw that at me and said she wants me to support her financially if she needed it but has no intention of supporting me emotionally or financially, which put my self esteem in the toilet. She said $60K wasnt enough. I made more than her ex which is not the issue. Just trying to understand why she is so in love already. to be honest, I was the alpha guy telling her to stop when she tried hurting me. She said she doesnt like the way I fight because I am always right and she is always wrong. The only fight we ever had is her putting me down after dates. I told her she was hurting my feelings, and I wanted her to stop. Now this guy gets her like overnight. I wont write her again, but everything she wrote was a complete fabrication of what happened. How do you win when someone doesnt make sense? You cant. But now she is normal again. That is my problem, how is she normal again?

    • jp
      June 15, 2009 at 9:43 pm

      Brian,

      Your self-esteem was stronger than it was when she left you, but it wasn’t strong enough to prevent her from causing that damage.

      Look at your choice of words: “How do you win…”

      Did you feel like you were in a contest with her when you were dating? If so, you should know that’s not what it’s supposed to feel like. A woman who has you defending yourself all the time, verbally or in your own head, is a threat to your well-being. Period.

      It sounds like she was putting you down throughout the relationship and that you were working hard to justify yourself. Maybe you felt you had to “win”–and convince her she was wrong–or her criticisms of you would be true.

      This is why I think your self esteem was shaky before the break-up too. Most guys might last a date or two with a woman who puts them down, but then they’d say, scr*w this, and move on.

      But not you. Why not? That, and others, are the questions to ask…not, how can she be normal? She isn’t. Now focus on you.

      JP

  10. June 15, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Can you help me with this? Do these women really change the truth to make us look bad and make it so they dont have to feel bad? Also, how do they move so fast to the next person without even looking back, will the next guy have the same problems or did I do something to trigger this? I am feeling so guilty inside because I got really upset when she told me she cheated on her exhusband for 8 years and didnt think it was that bad. She says I judged her past, which I wasnt, I was concerned that she would cheat on me so I asked. Now 40 days later she is in love again. after 2.5 years with me. I dont know how to pick up the pieces knowing this guy gets her. After everything I did in our friendship and relationship, he gets all the glory and I am left in the cold. Will this happen again or did I really hurt her with my concerns of cheating?

    • jp
      June 15, 2009 at 8:35 pm

      Brian,

      Here are you answers (inline):

      Can you help me with this?

      – Yes

      Do these women really change the truth to make us look bad and make it so they dont have to feel bad?

      – Yes. It’s real, and it’s happened to you.

      Also, how do they move so fast to the next person without even looking back…

      – I don’t know how, but they do. Knowing how they do it won’t change anything.

      …will the next guy have the same problems…

      – 90% certain he will. If he doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure or he’s a better man. IMHO, these women work with two types of men: total hand-puppet or abusive Alpha dog from hell. You’d have to become one of these types to hold on to her. Wouldn’t you rather be you?

      …or did I do something to trigger this?

      – 90% certain that you did not

      I am feeling so guilty inside because I got really upset when she told me she cheated on her exhusband for 8 years and didnt think it was that bad.

      – You feel guilty because you expressed your own opinion? That’s hand-puppet talk. Listen, in a normal relationship you are free to express virtually any thought or feeling without fear of being tossed on the dead boyfriend pile. In fact, in a normal relationship you can even act like a complete jackass from time to time and still be accepted. She took you out because that’s what she does, and she’s making up bullsh*t reasons probably just to say anything to make you shut up and go away. She could also be doing it to further torment you. Doesn’t matter because it’s all bullsh*t and the real issue here is YOU and how you’re going to prevail.

      She says I judged…left in the cold. Will this happen again….

      – Probably, unless you figure out what makes you vulnerable to this kind of woman and her treatment and make different choices in the future. Clue: you’re self-esteem is in the toilet. Was it that bad before you met here? Think about you! Analyze YOU!

      …or did I really hurt her with my concerns of cheating?

      – no, you did not.

      JP

      • mike
        June 22, 2015 at 6:12 pm

        “…total hand-puppet or abusive Alpha dog from hell”. Very few words have ever been put into text, with such succinct wisdom, quite like that line! Beside Dr. T’s professional opinions and her own brilliance, I look forward to your non-professional but wise, no-bullshit answers. You, sir, are a keen observer of the crazy female.

  11. Ralph
    June 10, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Doc T. Giving you an update. I did talk to the “ex” today. Told her I was not interested in continuing. No tears, no emotion from her. Just an “ok and I understand why, cause I do have issues”. I’m happy with that answer. I’m sure it’s not the end but I’m making progress.

    My question now is this. I have had several opportunities to date. Should I do that or not? I really don’t have the desire to date right now, but should I?

    • shrink4men
      June 12, 2009 at 4:39 am

      Hi Ralph,

      It’s probably wise to take a break from dating right now and focus on yourself. Take time to understand the relationship with your ex, why you were attracted to her, what you were getting out of it (i.e., what old childhood relationships and unmet needs were you trying to master), and heal yourself. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a woman just as bad as the last one.

      If you can’t make sense of this on your own, you may want to find a therapist in your area. I offer services as well.

      Hang in there,
      Dr Tara

  12. June 9, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Why do I feel like I am dreaming all this? I want to call her, and try to reason with her. I just cant believe there was this friendship that I didnt think could be broken, and she just walked away like I am yesterdays news. How do you move on and heal knowing its not your fault? How has being selfish become a disease? If anyone could chat, I would appreciate it. bkkabri100 on yahoo. If this is not legal sorry I asked to chat.

  13. joey
    June 9, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you Doc. I am doing therapy now and this is still so hard letting go even though it seems so clear what was and is the better thing to do.

    • shrink4men
      June 9, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      You’re welcome, Joey. I know it’s tough. It really is a mourning process. If you face the pain and just feel it, you’ll get through it. It might mean admitting or seeing some things you’d rather not acknowledge, but it’s the only way through.

      Best wishes,
      Dr Tara

  14. joey
    June 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I would like to share an example of what I think Doctor T refers to as a BPD or Narcissistic type and I would like for her to tell me if I am truly mixed up and confused about her. Right now I honestly do feel I have set myself crazy believing in her and her ability to change.

    I met this lady when we were both working on one of the islands in our island nation and she was “separated” at the time from her husband, separated being relocated and not legally. When I met her she was only there for about 4 months and had already slept with 2 guys, by her own admittance. And after a short period, I had just come out of a relationship, we agreed to have a sexual relationship, being committed only to each other, considering all of the diseases around. Shortly after this commitment, she went to a nearby cay for the weekend with her most recent ex-fp and a mutual friend, and the whole time sending me insulting, accusatory texts, as if I was the one abusing our agreement. I lied to her after this that I had a vasectomy, because it seemed that she was not going to comply with our commitment, but the sex was good and I wasn’t sure. The lie was to create doubt if she happened to get pregnant from sleeping around. I regret this and I am sorry I did. She came back telling me how they were all going skinny-dippy but the guy got too drunk.

    As fate would have it, one morning her husband came over unannounced as I was at her place. I managed to get out but my personal belongings were left behind. To qualm his concerns, she had sex with him and in turn invited me and my son to join them at the beach. I complied not knowing she had already slept with him and assuming that he was aware that it was over between them. Of course that was not the case. A couple of months later we returned to the island we originally moved from and she got real sick. When she went to the doctor, she was having a miscarriage and then proceeded to move back in her husband’s place. She convinced her husband it was for him and blames me for her uncertainty. I was wrong for lying YES, but if she fulfilled our agreement there would be no doubt. She got upset because my lie ran the risk of her getting pregnant and I say her own actions ran the risk of her getting pregnant and of me getting a std. We were both wrong.

    Despite all of this, through our conversations and spending time with each other, “we” fell in love and wanted to pursue something more. She was very intelligent, witty and beautiful, outwardly. So we decided to have a relationship, while she had already moved back in with her husband and slept next to him every night. It was like pulling teeth just to get her to let him know it was over, STRAIGHT UP, and whenever I brought it up, how unfair it was to him and myself, she said it was how she was doing it and I could leave. Several times I did and she begged me to come back, only to deal with the same mentality.

    And this is the mentality, the reasoning in her own words.”I know what I am doing is inconsiderate, I know it is hurting you, and I would not accept it in reverse but I am doing it anyway”. After she did it, whatever it may have been, the logic changed to, “if you would just relax, if you were more trusting, it would not be a problem”. This is the kind of mind fuck I think Dr. T refers to. It became like I was running behind her not to leave when she was abusing constantly. I tried to “adjust” but what was I adjusting to? When I met her I saw she was weak and had issues but after I fell in love with her, I saw potential and I didn’t want to leave her in that state. She admitted when she met me she saw a strong person. So why did I even allow myself to get together with her? And I was adjusting to be more like her, think more like her, which was a weak, insecure and abusive. I allowed this and now I am full of regret. I have done this once before in my life, and I don’t understand why. Why do good men sacrifice everything about themselves, their self-respect, self-love, and if we stay long enough self control believing in the potential of someone?

    As it ended, I ended up doing a lot of regretful things and I don’t even recognised me anymore. I sacrificed absolutely everything I could and yet was still accused of sacrificing nothing. We were always around her friends and family and the times I invited her to my family’s gatherings she declined. Yet I got accused of isolating her. And not even only by her, her friends and family are convinced of this logic as well. The first new years we were together she lied and carried her husband to her hometown to be around her family and friends and I wrote her an email calling her a liar and she responded with I must have her mixed up with someone else, and this is while she was over there.

    She has been under the influence of alcohol and drugs on 4 occasions and allowed guys to feel her up in my presence. When I approach her about it the next day, she tries to convince me it is my perception. Early on in the relationship when her husband was hearing about us on his own and she must have felt her security blanket being pulled away, she was cursing and insulting me vehemently and slapped me with the back of her hand. THIS TOO SHE DENIES. Doc. I can go on and on with examples. I could probably right a book. But why does she always have this hysterical blindness about her actions? And why if a man reacts positively, they deny what they did or belittle the effects of their actions OR both? Why is it like pulling teeth to get an I’M SORRY? And if you acted in a negative way, your biggest mistake, TRUST ME, you then become the sole focus of the issues at hand or the sole reason for the relationship’s demise.

    I am done believing in her cause positive reactions don’t help, negative reactions make it worse or get you locked up, and talking is pointless. Its like you know the person is not ignorant but their own intelligence doesn’t help, only helps them to keep abusing. I would just like to know 2 things plz Doctor T. Does she seem to fit this personality type? And what can I do to prevent me from choosing such a twisted individual and even if I make that mistake again, staying so long that I lose myself completely and start abusing in return?

  15. June 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I guess what bothers me is how coherent she sounds when she wrote it. She admits she had an affair and definitely says she has no remorse for her actions. She said she was young and unhappy and although it was probably the wrong thing to do, she has no remorse. Her ex told me that she told him that she did it because he accused her of it so why not just do it. How do they sound so coherent, like everybody else, but behind closed doors she abused me? I guess my question is how did I get duped into believing her lies and how much she loved me when she obviously never loved me at all? What did she get from it? I thought I was sincere and truly bonding with her. What did she get from it?

  16. June 8, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I never got closure from my ex, but she responded to my letter with telling me how bad I was and how happy she was. I sent her a letter telling her the bad things she did to verbally assault me, and she wrote back saying good bye Brian. A few hours later, she emailed me back with answers that were all fabrications of what happened and of course she looks innocent and I am the crazy one. My question is did she write me back because she wanted to make her look good and me bad? I wont respond to her or write her anymore, but just wanted to know why she bothered.

    • shrink4men
      June 9, 2009 at 12:02 am

      Because she cannot tolerate being criticized. Even though you’re no longer together, she still wants to control your reality by enforcing her version of events. To acknowledge the truth of her behavior would mean admitting that she is severely flawed and that would begin a downward spiral into the abyss.

      Trying to get her to admit the truth of the situation is like locking horns with a 5 year old in a game of, “I know you are, but what am I?” It’s stupid, pointless and not going to get you anywhere. You will make yourself crazy trying to get her to admit what she’s done or that she has a problem.

      The only time they come close to being repentant or accepting responsibility is when they’re afraid of being punished, of losing control (over you) or if they are making a last ditch desperate attempt to keep you from ending the relationship.

  17. Brian
    June 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I went to church today for the first time in many years. I couldnt stop the flow of tears from my eyes as they spoke about how people are supposed to encourage others they care about. I think about the conversations she and i had and how she went from being my best friend and lover to putting me down. I guess what I realize she never loved me because I never treated her poorly and would never because I cared about her well being. The overwhelming guilt I have is that we spoke about her not having any remorse from her long term affairs. For the first time with her, I realized something was very wrong so I questioned it, not to put her down, but to see how she felt about cheating on others. I became upset at her answers, but I realize that I am more upset about her answers and the way she treated me like I wasnt doing anything right. Its hard to realize she used me. Its hard to realize there never was a realationship. I was a convenience to her away from her family for awhile.I guess that is what I have to heal. the feeling of knowing she never truly cared about me other than for a thrill for the moment. Its easy to say I love you, but if you do, then you can show it and I would know without you ever saying the words. I loved her, but its hard to continue loving her knowing she will never be happy with anything I did to make her happy. I reread her anwswers she sent and they dont even make sense so how can I have a raltional relationship with her. I prayed today, hoping God will help me thru this, but I also prayed she realized I wanted to be her best friend.

  18. Brian
    June 6, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Doc,
    Your read my ex’s statements to me and I am baffled about how she turned them on me to act like I didnt want to take her out. I know its water under the bridge but all this crazy talk from her has me thinking I am insane. I asked her to a concert and she got in my face telling me that I wanted to go because I wanted to go. She then states that she told me week after week she said she wanted to do something and we fought. Enough Said. My question is does she really beleive that is how the events happened or does she want to make me think I am crazy? The reason I ask is because she tells me how happy she is not having to lie anymore to anyone, and these are all lies. I guess I am stuck on why she found somebody already after two years with me, and in a three month period beat me to shit and said I never wanted to take her out. It is killing me for her to say I am not the guy she met two years ago. She makes me feel like less than a man because I couldnt make her happy and she made sure I knew it. Thanks for listening and I appreciate your site.

  19. ralph
    June 6, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    WOW I think I am getting the jist of it!! It’s like blinking your eyes or telling your heart to stop beating. I think I got it now! You da bomb Doc! Thanks so much for putting up with me! And I am also going to follow your prescription and go have some fun!! ==R

  20. ralph
    June 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Dr. T, I enjoy reading every comment you make. I have a question relating to your last one. You said:

    “usually, the abusive partner will not acknowledge that their behavior is abusive and that they need help”.

    I agree with your comment. But why are they like that?
    Thanks…R

    • shrink4men
      June 6, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Ralph,

      I believe most abusive people have one or some combination of the Cluster B personality disorders (Histrionic, Borderline, Narcissistic, Anti-Social). These personalities can rarely, if ever, acknowledge any wrongdoing on their part nor will they admit that there’s any problem with them. Everything is someone else’s fault. The closest most of these people can get to taking responsibility for their behaviors and hold themselves accountable is by saying something like, “Maybe what I said to you was mean, but you made me do it because you did x, y and z.”

      The reason they can’t take responsibility for their abusive behavior is because it would mean admitting that they have a problem, that they’re not perfect, etc., and then their entire fragile house of cards would come crashing down. Despite their outward inflated and sometimes grandiose sense of self and their insistence that “it’s not me; it’s you,” these women hate themselves. This is why they react so ferociously to any perceived criticism. It’s also why they’re highly unlikely to admit that their behavior is abusive.

      If there’s a problem in the relationship, it’s all your fault and you’d better not forget it. How dare you imply that she’s done anything wrong! She could be with any man she wanted. Don’t you know how many men are interested in her? Don’t you know how lucky you are she puts up with you? You’d better watch it or she’ll dump your sorry ass and find a guy who will treat her the way she deserves to be treated, who has a real job and can afford to buy her things that you can’t, you loser. How dare you even hint that she’s not perfect and hey, maybe what she said was mean, but you drove her to it.

      Get it?

      • ralph
        June 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm

        I do get and have personally witnessed your “spot on” description of what happens.

        What I still don’t get however, is what’s going on in their melons. If someone came to me and presented me with evidence of something I did or do, I would examine it. I would consider it and ask myself if it is accurate. I would THINK about it in other words. If the shoe did fit, I would likely say “wow, you are so right. thanks for bringing this to my attention”. If I felt the shoe didn’t fit, I would say, “I think you’re wrong, and here’s why.” I would either accept or refute with reasons.

        What’s going on inside the head of these people when they just reject things out of hand with no thought? Do they actually know they have a problem and don’t want to face reality? Is it a forethought strategy to reject? I always try and put myself in the other person’s shoes for perspective. They can’t do that and that’s what I’m still confused about.

        Does that make sense? ==R

        • shrink4men
          June 6, 2009 at 5:42 pm

          As I have stated many times, logic, reason and rationality can’t be applied to what goes on in their heads. At the risk of being a broken record, you will make yourself crazy if you try to find logical solutions to their hurtful behavior and why they do what they do.

          You can play a video with her in one of her rages and she will still deny it. The denial is a primitive, reflexive defense mechanism, just like projection and projective identification. She uses projection and projective identification as a way to psychologically vomit all the bile and the toxic, crazy thoughts and feelings she has out of herself onto and into you. When this doesn’t work and you try to hold her accountable by pointing out her hurtful behaviors, she resorts to a knee jerk strategy of denial and/or tries to blame you for her bad behaviors.

          If they were to acknowledge even the tiniest bit of this, it would send them into a depression and/or cause them to withdraw because they would be faced with the bottomless black hole within themselves. They defend against this by directing their pain and rage outwards at you, you lucky boy! They are defending against ego (such as it is) preservation vs. annihilation. Psychologically speaking, admitting to any flaws or bad behavior is a matter of life or death to these women. This is why they rail against reality and insist upon forcing others into their distorted view of reality.

          You also forget, these women have little to zero empathy, which is a prerequisite for putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Alright, it’s Saturday, I suggest everyone on this thread go out and have some fun!

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