Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Psychology, relationships > Sex and Control: How Men Get Screwed by Emotionally Abusive Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are 5 prerequisites for love and great sex:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It all comes down to control and bolstering her ego.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shame and sex don’t mix.

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

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

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

Screwed, but not in the good way.

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

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

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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Giant screw by horobin on Picasa.

  1. trapped
    February 7, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    “She expects you to perform a thousand and one feats of devotion before she takes the lid off the cookie jar…”

    I’ve told my wife numerous times that its like trying to launch the space shuttle – perfect conditions and tower permission still don’t guarantee launch. Houston, we have a problem.

  2. Help
    December 13, 2011 at 8:09 am

    im about to get married, i have started to botice some of the symptoms mentioned in all the articles, cn you please tell me if this problem for the women is curable… or is it just me? ots wil tell me leave now but i would appreciate a more informative comment. regards

    • danielle
      December 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      If she’s willing to acknowledge there are problems and go to couples counseling, then maybe there’s hope. If she’s not, then run run run as fast as you can and get the hell out of dodge. You’re already willing to blame yourself, don’t let her get her hooks into you deeper by marrying the crazy.

    • Zibot
      December 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      I agree with Danielle, O N L Y IF she’s willing to acknowledge … and even then, that’s still far, far away from anything like a guarantee the results of said therapy will be positive. And false acceptance of blame/responsibility just to expedite the marriage is a real possibility.

      For women suffering from these mental disorders, any results require REAL effort (individual therapy, group therapy) and REAL sustained commitment – for years.

      After reading more on this site, if you feel you are seeing a lot of markers in her behavior, I would postpone and revisit the idea of marriage months from now, after seeing if real changes and real commitments to therapy play out – after discussing your concerns.

      If you have hesitations, I would also check out this article from a few months ago:


      I believe the individual in question in the above post ended up changing his mind. Don’t go along with peer-pressure, or public pressure to get married if you are uncertain. Inform yourself by reading extensively here (and gettinbetter.com) before you decide to continue.

      Getting married, buying a house, moving to another country for a job/relationship, etc. – there are a few big moments in one’s life.

      Barring remarkable, honest acceptance of responsibility for her behavior (exceptionally rare) you want to be sure you’re not getting involved with one of the type of women being discussed on this website – Absolutely Not! Read and be careful!

  3. John B
    November 8, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    You are so correct that they always find a way not to have sex. I can remember that mine wanted a new Volvo XC wagon and I wanted to buy a USA product. I finally gave in, but I said if I buy you the car — I want sex in it — oral sex to be precise. We had been married for about 15 years in a largely non-sexual marriage. She got the car and “said” “SHE” never agreed to that. $40,000 and nothing. The promise was always — “if you do this, then maybe I will do ______ ” Maybe means no.

    Then when I told her I was divorcing her — a few years later based on much workse behavior by her — she stated earnestly — “I know you value our vows like I do” — the Gods wept then laughed!

  4. KJ
    November 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Dr. T.
    Everything of course, what you are saying is true. To me having sex with the woman I love is an enjoying experience that I intend on making for the both of us. This woman I was in a short relationship with used to shame me by saying, “Your different from what I am used to.” I picked up negative vibes from this. And one time I grabbed my clothes and went home because she told me another time, “If I can’t please you sexually, i will be mentally f%&##$^ up! All of a sudden, Linda Blair from the Exorcist came to mind.

  5. jase
    July 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Reading this article was a totally accurate description of my ex. It was the most bizarre association I have ever had. 18 months and virtually a break up every month or two.
    It’s like the “S” was missing from the word sex when we were “separately” together.

    She always claimed there was little wrong with her, just some anxiety issues and her religious family were always there to “brush off” her mental problems by suggesting it was depression. Eventually of course, it became all my fault and I started to believe it.

    The experience was like a nightmare, the biggest mistake/learning curve I have ever made and I do take responsibility for not seeing the red flags clearly. I also came from a past of loving, trusting and amicable relationships and break ups that were never hostile.

    This girl now has a restraining order on me and she also got one on her ex husband to break it off with him a year or two earlier. We both have a couple of things in common. Children to this abusive woman. He has two and went through the court system and dealings with her family to see them, I can’t imagine how it all played out. He must have suffered when he left her but I was never able to speak to him. The girl controls the environment around her with rigidity. You can’t even go to her house to surprise her, you have to call ahead.

    She is very convincing. Her eyes are sad and she is pathetic and frowns when she speaks so it’s hard not to feel sorry for her. The other side of the coin was just how much she bragged about her hatred of the ex. She never called him by name, just a nickname.

    I really have concerns about my sons future as what I have seen of her parenting skills was very indifferent and age inappropriate. She claims “mother of the year” but while I was in her life, there were occasions where the older two didn’t make it to school on time. Not to mention the suicide attempts I’d heard about from her mum and the time she took a box of pills while I was on the way to her house, the effects of this kicked in and I found myself reassuring her children that “mummy is ok, she is just tired” as she began to slump over on the floor. I took her to the emergency room that day and stayed with her until she was cleared.

    It was hard to understand why there was such a double standard. She was allowed to act like a self mutilating victim and take it out on others, as long as she could explain it rationally or “gaslight” it but if I ever did anything she didn’t like, she would break up with me or play strange games and there was hell to pay.

    The sexual side of our association was bizarre. After a while and many a break up fuelled bitch session on the phone, her religious friends and family were blaming me for making her into my sex slave. These were bizarre and unwarranted remarks but totally in keeping with their narrow perceptions of their innocent “victim” daughter. She would play up to them to keep them happy and behind their back entertain at least two guys I knew of before me. Once she broke up with me, told me she loved me, bought me an expensive gift and was sleeping in the same bed as another guy that she dangled under my nose regularly. She said that she never had relations with him but it was still rotten.

    If I were her sex slave, why did we have sex so rarely? And why did she tell me to go back to my ex half way through it? Why would she start really strange conversations when we were in the act or try to bait me with questions to test me after climaxing? Not to mention the times she would tell me she needed “servicing” and then upon arrival I would do or say something wrong or she would just not want to be close and there would be strange silences. When I used to try and talk about the issues, she would give me an nasty look and ask “what are you going on about?” as if she had no interest in the contents of what I was saying. There were also many occasions when she would open the door and walk away from it, no greeting, no warmth.

    Needless to say that after 18 months, I was left abandoned, alone and very physically sick. Our second last break up was also strange because it was longer than the standard 21 days and she seemed more convincing. She had probably moved on by then, but how was I to know what went on behind closed doors?

    She came back five weeks later and instructed me to buy her flowers and surprise her regularly and it was back on again. By that time, I was a mental and physical wreck and it was not long before I lost it. I became worked up and starting telling her how her treatment of me feels. It was animated and she immediate threatened to call the police. I then told her that doing that summed up how heartless she was and that people were disposable to her. I eventually calmed down and she left a while later.

    There were several more phone conversations where I tried to understand her point of view and reason with her but she had already told me a totally fabricated story about our
    discussion and within three weeks I was served with a restraining order. My son was around seven months old at the time. He will be two in a few months and it has been over a year since I have spoken to her or seen her. I did see a lawyer about the order but I am also pleased to be away from such a destructive person. Courts give her power and I am
    not about to play her games.

    It’s impossible to imagine how the future will play out for her because she is so strange and her circumstances indifferent. If she is with someone else, I feel for them because they will be abused beyond recognition.

    While I continue to take back my power and see this experience for what it really was, I can’t help wanting to reach out to others who are going through this and wonder if I will
    ever see my son in the future.

  6. Alreadylost
    June 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    When it comes to sex I think Jackson Browne said it all. “Rosie you’re alright”. But of course that is insulting and threatening to She Who Must Be Obeyed

  7. Brian Sullinger
    June 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Wow, I stumbled across this site and this is GREAT!!! I can tell that Dr Tara, you are a truly caring person/woman who really truly cares about men’s issues and problems with the opposite sex. In today’s modern world, with feminism having a strong grip on our society, I really think alot of men feel hopeless and uncared for and disposable. There is no where for us to turn to. As many men posted above, psychiatrists can be no help at all and are sometimes BPD or NPD themselves. I am all for equality between the sexes, but unfortunately the pendulum has swung too far the other way, and men are starting to be treated like second class citizens who are here only to please the almighty female, and if we’re lucky, we MIGHT get something in return. It’s really sad to me how many good men I see who are frustrated and fed up with trying their hardest and getting treated like utter crap, and having nowhere to turn for support or help. As you know, Dr Tara, men have a much harder time that women opening up and talking about their problems and feelings, so it’s super important that they have a safe place to go if they feel they need to open up and talk. And in this day and age, it’s so hard to find women who will sympathize and empathize with men and their problems. Men are just supposed to “suck it up” and “deal with it like a man.” Of course the next day they will complain that “you never want to talk about feelings.”

    Anyway, it’s really refreshing and nice to see a woman that actually cares about men’s problems, and helps them deal with them in a truly professional caring manner. Dr Tara, you are a special person, and thank you for your support. Keep up the good work!!!

  8. Alreadylost
    December 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Funny thing is she wants me to ” get help for my problems”. I am going to do exactly that just as soon as I figure out how. Little does she know that my ” problem” is her. For the longest time I thought it was just me. Maybe I was the one that was screwed up. The night I was lying in bed at 4 AM trying to sleep through yet another tirade and made the mistake of saying I hated it when she got that way and she came in and backhanded me across the face kinda crystallized things for me. When I called her on it she said “if I had really wanted to hurt you I would have”. She has never said she is sorry and the last time I brought it up at first denied it ever happened. I put together a list after that and it’s amazing how much it all fits together. I just hope I can get up enough strength to actually get out

  9. Alreadylost
    December 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Transactional is exactly the word for it. She wants to go shopping or wants to go to an event or wants something done she won’t ( not can’t but won’t) do herself and her exact words are ” what’s this going to cost me” meaning what sex act will we be doing in exchange for this. When we did have sex she would lay there petting the dog and not responding at all. Gee wonder why I’m not interested any more and looking outside? Any guesses?

  10. MM
    December 10, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Holy God – I’m sitting here reading through this article and everyone’s comments and I am floored with the striking similarities to my own experience over these 11 years – we waited until our marriage night to have s-x and it was horrible – she was “too tired”, then it was hurting, then she just laid there and told me to get it over with – it’s been down hill from there to the present – we’ve had s-x once in the past three years – she’s 1) not interested and 2) doesn’t want to get pregnant again.

    But she will occasionally initiate mutual touching, but it is all about her pleasure – the human vibrator comment is so true – it’s all about pleasing her, on her own terms, when she wants – she has her eyes closed the entire time, and with not much prolonged kissing – when she’s done she’s done, even if I indicate I want more – I refuse to beg though – her physical touch has no love or genuine warth of affection, it’s either about performing a chore, or pleasing her – it is cheap, and cheapening – I feel like an object, not a human being – and sometimes not even a man.

    She’s made comments about me being “such a girl” when I’m combing my hair in the mirror, or taking longer than she deems needed for a shower and getting ready – I actually find a long warm shower alone very peaceful, since I’m away from her.

    And the undermining of my manhood goes on if I don’t make comments about her appearance, or if I’m not being romantic – true romantic feelings for her died long ago after the waves of successive rages and shrieking and cussing and criticism and degrading comments over the years – I have backed away from her, I actually avoid her if I can even though we live in the same house – and I love love love life when I’m not with her – at home with her is stifling, oppressive – I avoid her like I would anything that causes me pain.

    She makes my heart leap only when I hear her voice rising in criticism of one of my unperceived faults or shortcomings – never out of fond affection – not anymore.

    I can relate totally with lying in bed feeling like a prisoner, fearful of moving too much, or breathing too loud – I am confined to the edge of the bed while she gets 3/4s of it – heaven forbid my hand or knee touch her body.

    I love to read, but sometimes I dare not in her presence – even if she’s been staring mindlessly at the TV for an hour – she’ll sometimes turn to me in disgust, ask me what I’m reading, and insunuate disapproval – sometimes alluding to if I want to read something, read about how to be a good parent.

    She often wakes me up at night either poking or hitting me or screaming in the most hateful fashion (like she does in waking hours) to roll over, I’m snoring – she frequently wakes me up to get up and go adjust the heat or air because she’s uncomfortable and can’t sleep – wakes me up to do this, when she was already awake! – I get sent to the guest room if she’s not feeling well, or if I’m sick and snoring louder than usual – or if she just wants a good nights sleep, she says she doesn’t get one when I’m in the bed with her – and she says that’s why she’s so cranky, and tired, and can’t get anything done during the day.

    I feel like I’m her servant (or slave)- I cook her meals, clean the house, take care of the children in the evenings and on weekends, scratch her back or scalp, rub her feet, take purchases she’s made and doesn’t want anymore back to the store etc etc – I try to think what she offers me in return, how I benefit from living with her, and I come up empty –

    I used to regret ever meeting her, and certainly ever marrying her – but I can’t honestly say that now, since if I hadn’t married her I wouldn’t have my two dear children – I don’t believe in divorce, or murder – but in all honesty I have fantasized about her suddenly dying, in a car wreck, or with some disease – that’s really really horrible – but the thought lifts my heart – I may yet outlive her and get to enjoy life in this world again, and be free.

    I’m afraid the only tears I would shed if she did die would be out of sorrow for the years of torment I wasted living with her.

    I could truly walk away from her and never look back – Actually I would run run run and never ever wish to see her again. I stay to be close to my children, to live with my children.

    These are terrible things to think about one’s spouse – yet even with these thoughts I choose to be calm and respectful to her, to not point out her glaring faults, to let things slide, to cater to her, to do what I can to maintain the marriage – mainly at this point to avoid her hoisting a nuclear bomb on my head in front of the children.

    She is the only one ever to bring up separation or divorce, asking me why I don’t just get an apartment of my own? or why are we together?, or maybe we need some time away from each other – I point out to her that she’s the only one who ever brings this up, that I am committed to making it work – she says that she can’t tell, that I don’t care about her, that I’m totally insensitive to her needs, I don’t understand her, and she sees no hope.

    I think she wants to convince me to be the one to leave so that she can save face and be the victim – so that she will get sympathy from all her friends who think she’s so so sweet, because I was the one who left her.

    • sm
      December 14, 2010 at 1:21 am

      This page really hit home with me. I am in the midst of a “live in” divorce and it’s brutal. My STBXW has not shared a bed with me in 6 YEARS, 6 YEARS!! For years she told me she needs a TV on to sleep (all night) and when I tried to compromise and ask her to spend a night or two it was met with much resistance…never did get her back into the bedroom…I gave up trying. I wanted her back in the bedroom for the intimacy I feel is the foundation of a sound relationship…good sex is the result of strong intimacy, right? For years she told me it had nothing to do with me to which I replied “if it has nothing to do with me why can’t we compromise?” After she handed me divorce papers she informed me that she left the bedroom because she was angry with me….6 years she held on to anger. Why was she angry you ask? Because previous to that I had lost a well paying job and had a developmentally disabled child who required much attention. Since I was home his care fell to me (up to 16 therapies a week). She was angry she was having to support the family while I “stayed home” wondering what I did all day. Meanwhile, I was a stay at home dad raising my two sons during their most formative years, maintaining the home, inside and out, laundry, cleaning, etc, etc. while successfully going to school night and day for a career change. If I were a female accomplishing all this I would be on the Oprah Winfrey show being asked by Oprah and her audience how I did it all. But what did I get? As Ralph Kramden would say “aggravation.” Her lack of intimacy was peppered with comments like “what do you do all day” or “I (her) support the family all these years” or “you don’t know how to be in a relationship” on and on. I have no value to the family. The double standards never cease to amaze! I don’t dare call her on it though! I’d be met with “these are your issues” blah, blah. We went to her therapist and when I told the therapist during a session that we haven’t shared a bed in 6 years I was told by the therapist that “I should respect her sleeping habits!!!” I high tailed it out of there so fast that I left a vapor trail in the office. For years, I tried to change her perception of my value to the family and was dismissed and never acknowledged. Over time I wore out and I ended up in the hospital with anxiety and panic attacks..something I had never experienced before. She has told my family that I have a mental illness…I’m still recovering while living together during a divorce. Am I perfect? Far from it…but I am an excellent father and thought I was at the very least an adequate husband. The rejection is hard to bear. I could go on and on…this is just the tip of the iceberg. The divorce process has been tough sledding…trying to keep me from my children…and so on…

    • ncstarbuck
      October 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Omg, I know I’m pretty late to the party, but this particular quote stroke me deeply, because I had the exact same thoughts/feelings:
      “I don’t believe in divorce, or murder – but in all honesty I have fantasized about her suddenly dying, in a car wreck, or with some disease – that’s really really horrible – but the thought lifts my heart”

      For me it went like this: When she came home later than usually (like an hour and a half later) from her training, I got worried back in the day. But one evening, a realization manifested in my head: If she really did in a car crash, you wouldn’t even be overly sad, like “oh I lost the love of my life in a car crash, how can I continue?”
      The only thought I had was “raising the kids without her mother would be a lot more difficult” but shortly after I said to myself “well at least than you can prove what you are capable of and don’t have to follow her directions all the time. You would be free”

      After the breakup I realized I should have ended it right then…

  11. Stefano
    July 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I’m a little confused about this side of my Ex. She was always so over the top with sex and wanted it constantly. She would grab me at inappropriate times or when say I was washing up she would just walk up and fondle me for a few seconds, then call me big boy and walk off. She would make me feel like a sex toy.
    Sex was always to her needs and if she “didn’t get off” she would start the questions about was I seeing someone else and that is why I was not as good!

    I guess the one thing that has always pulled me back was the fact I knew I would get sex on a very regular basis. I have always thought she had an odd sex drive and it was some mis calculated cry for intimacy and love she craved.

    So I guess what I am trying to say is that she showed all the traits of a BPD with the abuse and mood swings but the sex was completely the other way and was too much even for 21 year old. I fully appreciate that some BPD’s can use it as weapon by withdrawing sex but in my case she used as a weapon by demanding it very often. Which was obviously a result of her broken mind.

    • MM
      December 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm

      you wrote:
      “I guess the one thing that has always pulled me back was the fact I knew I would get sex on a very regular basis.”

      That’s the whole point isn’t it? She’s using s-x to control you, in this case by pouring it on.

  12. chris
    July 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

    I think that this is one of your most insightful articles. I know that your a psychologist, but you also seem to have preternatural insight into these women. Did they actually teach the sexual behavior of NPD’s in school?

    My ex was the insatiable sexual virtuoso type.

    She claimed to like it “hard” to be truly satisfied. The entire force of my 220 lb body, for twenty minute periods, didn’t seem enough. I had never been physically exhausted, from sheer sexual exertion, before this woman. Sometimes I would lose my erection solely because the cardio was too much for me, and I’m not out of shape. I would have to lie on the bed and catch my breath for ten minutes at a time. No woman I have ever known needed rough sex such as this.

    I would give her at least 1-2 orgasms EVERY session (both from oral and vaginal sex), but would still would only receive critical feedback about my lovemaking skills.

    She would frequently demand oral sex, and become extremely petulant when she didn’t get it when and where she wanted.

    She enjoyed voyeur clubs. I never capitulated, although i was curious.

    She offered me anal the first time we had sex (after two dates), but no vaginal because she was on her period. I didn’t take her up on it.

    You are exactly right when you describe the nature of the sex after some time. Your last two paragraphs are especially on-point. The intimacy wasn’t present. It was reduced to an act.

    I cant wait to find a woman who I can again enjoy true intimacy with. Thats whats important to me. Sex without intimacy is boring and unfulfilling.

  13. torn and frayed
    May 15, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    i have never read more true words to describe the relationship i was just in. It was hell. Thank you for this website. It is a god send. The last time i saw my ex, we had sex, but it felt so forced and mechanical that it actually made me wonder what she was trying to accomplish by being so distant. Very scary stuff. I thank god I got out.

  14. Nick 55
    March 14, 2010 at 11:53 am

    When I was bemoaning the end of the brief relationship with my BPD girlfriend, I told my therapist that “she had a body like a Ferrari”.

    To which my therapist replied, “yeah, but the engine is blown”.

    I have this saying hanging on my refrigerator.

  15. Troubled but Supported
    February 23, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I knew I was in real trouble when my ex came up with this one. We hadn’t been having sex much at all since she moved in with me and she blamed it on being depressed and unhappy in her job.

    One night she seemed in a really good mood and we were getting on well so I suggested we go to bed early and fool around. She said she wasn’t in the mood. I was disappointed and showed it on my face but I accepted the situation and went back to a book I’d been reading. But she got furious that I was disappointed and I was in a “huff” with her. She said and I quote. Me being disappointed “meant” that I would rather she just spread her legs and did it even if she didn’t want to. She ended up ringing up her best friend and telling her I ws pressurizing her to have sex with her. I’m still reading my book by the way!! So basically, me being disappointed that my girlfriend doesn’t want to have sex with her “means” I’m a rapist.

    Boy did I was in trouble then!!

  16. akn
    February 6, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Fidelity really is a cruncher for me. I put up with all sorts of nonsense and even forgave (never fully disclosed) infidelity. But after that I moved out and sustained a relationship for years while not living together. I was very naive. After I moved out I was able to get some mental space and realised that one of the clear patterns to her infidelity was the eruption of a horrible, nonsensical argument from her in which she would whip herself into a towering rage over nuthin’. This provided a moral justification for her (immediately past or planned upcoming) infidelity. No wonder I became shaky while residing with her.

    Then, of course, there are the myriad lies, deception, evasions and manipulations that don’t add up when the same person is telling you that you are the love of her life. People feel the dissonance in their bodies and in the way that their lover relates to their body.

    Intuition, which is always to be trusted at least as a starting point for possible boundary breaches, is one thing but downright lies is another. The last time we ‘made up’ it went really well for a few months and then the following occurred: the dropout, lack phone calls,, conversational tail-off (not talking about eveything anymore) and then sexual rejection blamed on a poor meal. Then, to cap it all, she came to my bed three weeks later with a mouth shaped bruise high on the external aspect of her left butt. I stopped making love when I saw it and said “Hell, that looks like a hickie” whereon she accused me of accusing her of gettin’ it on with someone else. Which is not what I said. I said it looked like, not that it was. We’d made love a week prior and the bruise wasn’t there then and I hadn’t put it there because I never, ever bruise anyone with my mouth because I think it is crude.

    so, there it was. Now I know that bruises are odd things and people acquire them in many ways but I was a health care worker for more than twenty years and know a lot about bruises. Front of the body, lower forearms and legs is where accidental bruises mostly happen while moving forward. The colour as well (which is not a very accurate rating) indicated a bruise of well less than seven days, I’d say about 2-3 days tops. I knew her body very well and the color changes of her bruises. Intimacy is like that.

    So she raged and it was too much, too defensive. I conceded that it may not be, that other actions could have left it other than a ‘love bite’, that I may have been the cause of it after all a week earlier. She went into a very strange silence and refused point blank to talk about it. Nothing. At that point I simply felt that her track record for deception was so significant (at least one lover while we were living together and my young children were staying in our house from time to time in that period) that I didn’t trust the situation and, morever, that I couldn’t trust her. Just could not trust her.

    At which point farewell a ten year relationship. I’d spent a long time preparing emotionally for that moment. Years in fact – detaching, listening to her words and observing the discontinuity between them and her actions, feeling sick in the stomach at her rages, devaluing and verbal abuse. I’d also been previously gaslighted to the degree of causing serious depression and disorientation. I’d decided ‘never again’ to that and clearly told her that if she behaved in a way as to give me reason to doubt her fidelity then I’d walk.

    I think exposing me to a love bruise in a place that only a mouth could put it was testing me. It was a case of “well, how low do you wanna go with this?” or “let’s see if I can really trash your self respect”. They really are strange predators. Love is not enough for them and it was no weakness on my part that failed that relationship. This particular variant on the narcissistic predator really wanted to do my head in and infidelity and confounding the evidence of my own senses was the doorway to doing that. Bending the other’s reality, causing them to doubt themselves and even, like I said, to doubt what they hear, feel, see with their own senses.

    In the end it appears that she was a genuine psychological sadist. This was all only a few months ago now and I’m well out. No contact allowed by me despite a few tries on her part. I figure that means that there was another man for her to move onto. She would have kept me dangling if I been prepared to live as an insecure and anxious wreck which is what happened before. That is what they enjoy. I hope the other guy, and I’m sure he had no idea I existed, keeps her away from me forever.

  17. Mellaril
    February 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Another great nugget! In my case, we negotiated intimacy up front and she tried to use it as a hook at the end of the relationship.

    We were sitting in a restaurant after dating about a month:

    Her: “If I don’t sleep with you, is that the end of the relationship?”
    Me: “Probably, but not for the reason you think.”
    Her: “What do you mean?
    Me: “I’m looking for a physical relationship. I’m going to keep looking until
    I find it. When I do, that’s where I’ll spend my time.”
    Her: “That has to be the coldest, most callous answer I could have heard. On
    the other hand, it’s also the most honest answer I could have heard.”

    The relationship moved on. She had attachment issues that came across as “push-pull.” Compared to the things other people experienced, my experiences were pretty tame. Because of the nature of our jobs, we had a tolerable “orbit of intimacy” for two years. It was acceptable, I was getting what I felt I wanted, but the relationship seemed to plateau after two years. The trouble started when I got out of the Navy and tried to move the relationship forward. I tried to shift the boundaries. I asked her to marry me and she declined. She then took a job that took her out of town but we were together in name for another year. When she said she wasn’t coming back, I decided to end the relationship. That’e when the real weirdness started. She was never anything but consistent in saying she didn’t want to get back together but repeatedly told me I was her best friend and “she wasn’t ready to give me up”. She actually used that phrase on the guy who came after me. At the time we broke up initially, I wasn’t really angry with her. I chalked it up to experiencs. After one episode where she came back, assessed my availablity and took off again, I went “no contact.” She called me 4 months later and wanted to get together. My curiosity gor the better of me so I agreed to it and watched her try it again but this time I was ready. After a few months in which I was being played off against two other suitors, I met the woman who became my current wife. My ex picked up on it almost immediately even though I didn’t tell her I was seeing someone. She asked me directly, I gave her a straight answer and even though we hadn’t slept together in over a year, she came on to me and said, “If I sleep with you now, you’ll own me again.” Another transaction. I declined the offer.

  18. swaggerback
    November 17, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    My first post, it is definitely time, since these stories seem to have pieces of my experiences weaved in.

    I constantly get the “All you want me for is sex.” and in my mind as she says this all I can think is how I would take a touch on the shoulder, a hug or a kiss that was initiated by her. Even when she initiates a kiss (may be once every couple of weeks) she always says “you look like you need that”. I have been through the “lets go to be early tonight and make love” only to wait and wait and wait and finally at mid night go to bed since, she clearly has no plans to go to bed.

    If I say anything, she acts like she must complete all the things she is working on before she can go to bed. Yes, she stays home and works part time on our own business, but most of what “has” to be done before bed could be done earlier or the next day.

  19. Ron
    November 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Very familiar stuuf, guys. I lost all desire after I realized i was not safe with her. I never knew when the next cruel remark would come.
    I can also relate to the passivity, the never materializing arranged date/times for sex and the intolerance for normal bodily noises like breathing. God forbid I ever cleared my throat, softly. It disgusted her(better not ever get a chest cold).
    I ended up sleeping in another room, as well. I can vividly remeber feeling afe for the first time in ages when I started doing this. I would be so happy to be away from her with a lock on the door.
    It was the worst time of my life.

  20. Ron
    October 14, 2009 at 1:20 am

    I think this whole thing may have permanently damaged me with performance anxiety, Mike. I still cannot believe i went through this. Yes , things work fine away from her.

    • Christophe
      November 10, 2009 at 11:28 pm

      Just want to briefly add my bit on this subject of sex in these (astonishingly similar!) abusive relationships.
      a) early on in the relationship (after I’d moved in!) there was day long condemnation, put downs, criticism etc etc from the person who said they loved me but at night they wanted sex. By then I was so angry at her words that it was absolutely impossible to perform. Eventually she ‘made me’ go to doctors for referral to a therapist. All along I knew it was to do with the anger and anxiety caused by her abuse but went along with it as already I knew there was no point in suggesting it may have been due to her. In fact she was terribly insulted by my lack of apparent interest in her. I was afraid of leaving incase she told all and sundry about ‘my problem’. I guess I eventually got used to the abuse as things did get better in that department.
      b) no-win situations; one day it would be, “you never say how sexy I look, you’re not very interested in sex are you, you don’t have much sex drive(are you gay?)”, another day she would say “no, no not now I don’t feel like”, I’d say “but the other day you said I never noticed you looking sexy, I’m noticing now!”
      c) She would hint that we should have an early night to make love but just as we were getting into bed she would throw me something like, “you’re getting really fat, you’re obese” or laughing at me “look at your skinny legs”. If not obvious insults when we were laying together it would be something like, “don’t breath in my face”, “your breathing is noisy”.
      d) when we did make ‘love’ I always felt cheated because there was no tenderness, opening up of the heart or joy. To please her I did more or less what she wanted which was largely me doing stuff to a very passive her. When I hinted I wanted a more participation (eg more touching) from her she made it pretty obvious that this would be a real turn off and anyway it would get me too excited.
      She never wanted to kiss much. It was more like mutual masturbation than making love. I always thought things would improve when she was less stressed but as you can guess that’s never happened.

      I sleep in the spare room now!

      • Peter
        November 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm

        I’ve gotten a few of those myself.

        “Maybe you’re gay” after I turned down her post breakup offer for sex with “no strings attached”.

        I’ve gotten the breathing thing as well. I felt like a prisoner in my own bed, body tense and facing the wall so not to upset her. Not exactly conducive to feeling loved and wanted. Good luck finding a mate that doesn’t breath, I’d suggest the local cemetery but I think they have laws against that sort of thing.

        Totally understand your last point as I went through the same thing with my ex. I remember bending over backwards at times to please her while there was nothing more than a half hearted effort on her part with her ultimately giving up. She sent me a few random text messages recently and her wording pretty much sums it up. “Do you miss #$%&ing me?” followed by “Cause I miss you #$%&ing me.”

        • Christophe
          November 12, 2009 at 2:11 am

          I guess it,s the extreme irritability of these people that makes even breathing hazardous for us.

          “Good luck finding a mate that doesn’t breath, I’d suggest the local cemetery but I think they have laws against that sort of thing.”

          All they want is a shell of a person anyway so maybe anyone from the living dead would provide a convenient loophole!

          “Do you miss #$%&ing me?” followed by “Cause I miss you #$%&ing me.”

          Took me a while to get my head around the wording but I think I see what you mean.

          These women seem to know all the tricks without even trying and use them without the slightest twinge of conscience at the manipulation. I’m glad it doesn’t look like your gonna get hooked again. Unfortunately when I did leave she bombarded me with phone calls and sob stories and I felt sorry for her again. After that when there was any hint of me leaving she casually mentioned some male interest, eg she’d been chatted up in the library. I guess that’s possible but on other occasions she said that there was some guy she’d known at school that she’d noticed looking at her everytime she went down town and then some other bloke called John who she seemed to be very friendly with but strange how these guys dissapeared off the face of the earth once I was back in harness. Won’t get fooled again. The other day, almost under her breath, she mumbled ‘finding someone else’. She probably could find someone else but because I have our 4 year old to consider I didn’t want that to happen.

      • Mr. E
        November 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm

        Hints about going to bed early to make love… yeah those don’t ever pan out.

        She’s asked me out of the blue if I’m gay on several occasions. She’s also said “You USED TO know what I like” (while making love). How about just, y’know, asking for what you want?

        Breathing… yep. I snore, and she’ll tell me to roll over multiple times per night in the nastiest tone. Or she’ll kick my legs (it’s more of a foot bump, but enough to wake me). One time she pinched my nose shut. I woke up panicked and gasping, and the first thing I saw was her looking down at me, all smug.

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