Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, relationships > 8 Red Flag Dating Phrases that Should Send Men Running

8 Red Flag Dating Phrases that Should Send Men Running

man runningI came across a website called YourTango and saw an article titled 6 Red Flag Phrases That Should Send You Running: If a man tells you he’s not boyfriend material, believe him. Plus 5 other verbal red flags. It piqued my morbid curiosity, so I read the post. It was the standard fare on how to avoid men who are jerks. The article never once gives equal time to female verbal red flags, therefore, I’m going to take a crack at it.

The following are 8 phrases that should send you running for the hills when dating:

1. “What woman doesn’t go a little crazy now and then?” If a date utters this rhetorical question or some variation of it, my advice is, “Run, Forrest, Run!” Get while the getting is good and don’t look back. Otherwise, ask for an operational definition of “a little crazy” and then decide if it’s a deal-breaker.

There’s a certain kind of woman who believes that acting out, extreme selfishness, entitlement, throwing tantrums, pathological jealousy and having narcissistic rages are normal and acceptable female behavior. They’re not. She will try to minimize the severity of her craziness by sugarcoating it or glossing over it as a natural occurrence, tell you to make your peace with it and imply or explicitly state that you are the one with the problem if you don’t accept her unacceptable behavior.

For example, the blogger in the YourTango article cites the following red flag if a man isn’t willing to put up with a little crazy female behavior:

“All the girls I’ve dated were just too much.” Translation: He isn’t willing to compromise. We know our kind can overreact. Overanalyze. Cry at the wrong times and get all worked up over things that, perhaps, were nothing. But beware the man who says all the girls (but not you, of course!) he’s dated were crazy. You may initially delude yourself into thinking you’re cooler then the average chick and have the ability to melt that steely exterior with your no-frills stylings, but sooner or later you too are likely to have demands that are just going to be “too much” for him.

This is pretty frightening. Basically, the author of the above quote states that if a man is unwilling to put up with crazy, hurtful, irrational behaviors from his girlfriend/wife it means he is “unwilling to compromise.” Damn straight. No one, man or woman, should have to “compromise” on crazy hurtful behaviors.

crazy princess2. “I expect to be treated like a princess (or a queen, empress, czarina, etc.) Unless she’s some long lost member of the Hapsburg, Romanov or Plantagenet family, I don’t think so. Even then, who cares? She’s a person just like everyone else. When a woman fancies herself royalty, it denotes a level of entitlement, one-sided-ness and probably an incredible lack of empathy. She’s basically stating, “I expect you to be subservient to me. My needs and wishes trump all others.” Do you want to be a lover and equal partner or a manservant?

3. “I expect my man to put me first.” Here’s the unspoken second half of this phrase: “at the expense of his own best interests” or “just like I put myself first.” If she puts herself first and you put her first, who takes care of your needs? Who is looking out for your best interests? Not her, that’s for sure.

If you marry this woman and later divorce, this mentality morphs into, “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine. In fact, everything is mine. Gimmee. Gimmee. Gimmee.” A healthy relationship between two equal partners is reciprocal. Furthermore, when you truly love someone you don’t expect or demand that he or she neglect or harm themselves in order to make you happy. Each person is responsible for his or her own happiness and needs. You’re dating to find a partner, not an autocratic dependent.

4. “I like the finer things in life.” Your response to this statement should be, “So what do you do for a living?” If she’s not an attorney, doctor, executive or in some other high paying profession, guess who’ll be on the hook to pay for the finer things she professes to like so much? That’s right; YOU or any other poor sucker who’s willing to let her pimp him out. Also, take note if she’s obsessed with designer labels, expensive cars and other bling. Does she read a lot of celebrity and fashion mags? Is she a reality TV junkie? These are other potential red flags.

5. “I’m a drama queen” or “My friends think I’m a drama queen.” Drama is something better left to the professionals like Meryl Streep and “reality stars.” Self-proclaimed drama queens are draining, toxic and probably have a touch of Histrionic Personality Disorder. If you want to spend your life wading through disproportionate reactions to minor events, that’s you’re prerogative. However, pushing the broom behind the bejeweled elephant in the room eventually becomes tiresome.

6. “All of my ex-boyfriends/ex-husband(s) are jerks.” Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the problem is her. If you read this site regularly, you understand that a person can choose the wrong type of partner many times before they “get it” and make healthier romantic choices. This is usually because the individual is reenacting an unhealthy relationship pattern from childhood as an adult.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, you want to hear a potential mate take some accountability for their past relationships. For example, “I was immature. I didn’t know what I wanted. I was attracted to the wrong kind of guy for awhile, but I’ve grown up, etc.” At some point, the only common denominator in all your failed relationships is you. Whether it’s because you’re the one with the issues or because your issue is that you’re attracted to people with issues.

7. “I don’t speak to my father.” This is either a healthy choice, for example, if her father is an abusive NPD/BPD type, or a sign that she has a lot of issues that will make a romantic relationship with her a living hell. Beware of unresolved father issues and proceed with caution. You definitely have to do some detective work on this one. You also want to discover how her mother treats her father.

8. “I like it when the man makes the plans.” This is the flip side of another YourTango red flag. If a woman expects you to make all the plans and entertain her, it may mean that she is unwilling to take responsibility in a relationship. It’s another attitude that puts you into a subservient role and also sets you up for failure. For instance, she expects you to make all the plans and you inevitably choose something she doesn’t like. She then gets to tell you what a disappointment you are and you “never” do anything she likes.

This is another device by which to control you and undermine your confidence. She pretends she’s in the passive role when she’s actually the one pulling your puppet strings. Meanwhile, you’re doing all or most of the work. In a healthy relationship both partners contribute.

The dating world is like a jungle and there are a lot of predators out there. My advice is:

  • Pay attention to your instincts.
  • Know your deal-breakers and deal-makers.
  • Don’t minimize or ignore crazy or unsettling behaviors and conversations.
  • Remember that your needs and feeling are just as important as a potential mate’s needs and feelings.

Beauty fades, but crazy and abusive are forever.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

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


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Photo credits:

Man running by andreamisera on flickr.
Crazy princess by hairstyle on flickr.
  1. Recovering Alpha
    October 29, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    My ex when we were dating said, “I’m high maintenance.” I guess that should have been a warning sign of the “2. I expect to be treated like a princess” variety. She also had nothing good to say about ANY guy she’d ever dated before. I just figured she’d dated a bunch of jerks. I wish I had read these articles by Dr Tara when I was in my 20s getting ready for marriage and family. But now is better than never.

    • shrink4men
      October 30, 2009 at 3:53 pm

      “High-maintenance” is another good code word for “I enjoy the finer things in life.” Even if she doesn’t explicitly state it, watch for high maintenance behaviors.

      HM (high maintenance) behavior in a woman should be met by HM (hide money) behavior from you.

    • StillRecovering
      November 8, 2009 at 1:57 am

      My ex’s favorite thing to wear to bed was a pink nightgown that had the words “high maintenance” written across the chest. She treated it like it was a joke, but there is quite a bit of truth in humor. I just wish I’d heeded that big red flag early on.

  2. George
    October 29, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Dr. T,

    I like the fact that your articles help balance out some of the misinformation that guys receive regarding relationships. Many of the phrases that you have listed are quite often displayed on an average prime time television viewing night. There are typically plenty of drama queens, princesses, women behaving badly, etc. shown as if this is just “normal” behavior. The male role is typically one where he just puts up with this or does his best to support her needs/desires. I think over time guys get brainwashed. We don’t see this stuff for what it is, abuse. I like the fact that Dr. T’s articles are a little direct and to the point. She calls it like it is without any sugar coating. For guys like me that were in one of these relationships, it was so enlighting to find this site. It really helped me to understand the upside down world that I had been living in. Thank you Dr. T for helping me see the truth and understand that many of the BPD behaviors are truly abusive and not normal. It’s helped me enormously. Dr. T, thank you again.

    • nick
      November 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      e.g. “everybody loves Raymond”

      • nick
        November 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm

        “King of Queens” also…that wife would give me nightmares….

  3. Jack
    October 29, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    And yes, I totally understand that some relationships are the extreme. But I think that because of our shell shock, we can run from a potentially healthy relationship at the first scent of what we fear might be crazy but is really just, as Dr. T says, needing to iron out some fundamental communication styles with a new person who might express things differently than what we’re used to.

  4. Jack
    October 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Dr. T,

    Thanks for the carefully considered, and prompt response. I look forward to your future posts. Martha Wainwright rocks (as do her father, and brother)!

    • shrink4men
      October 29, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      I love, Love, LOVE Rufus Wainwright. He is my very favorite. I’m trying to figure how to go to his “Not So Silent Night.” I also want to see his opera, reviews be damned. I haven’t really got into Loudon’s stuff yet.

      Martha’s pretty damned fabulous, too. One of the coolest performances I’ve ever seen what as the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London for the Music Through Unconventional Means series with Martha, Teddy Thompson and Shlomo.

      Here’s a link to some of the performance:

  5. jham123
    October 29, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Jack :
    Hi Dr. T,
    Sometimes she has a bad day and snaps, and sometimes I do it to her. I am not proud of it and we try to apologize when it happens. We are human after all.

    Here is but one example of where your lack of understanding is displayed. You see, with ours, the apology never comes when they have a bad day…….as a matter of fact when our women snap at us, it is now our fault for not being more compassionate and “just knowing” by the look on their face that they have had a bad day……

    Normal people have bad days and may snap at others…but they realize that they have done something hurtful to the other person…they then make it up to the other by apologizing or whatever….

    That is what “normal” people do.

    Read more of the blog…..start in January and make sure to include all the comments made by the other men here. When you are done with every article, the revisit your post here.

    • shrink4men
      October 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm

      Hi jham,

      I think Jack understands this as he states his first marriage was of this ilk.

      I think he was asking for more articles on relatively healthy and stable relationships, which I think many of the men on this site can benefit from since they haven’t been in a healthy relationship for a very long time if ever.

      Dr T

  6. Jack
    October 29, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Dr. T,

    I really enjoy your blog and have been reading it for some time now. I have a few questions. Having been in a four year relationship with a woman that had some traits of BPD I can relate to many things. However, I have to say that since it ended I can certainly admit that I had my part in things. At the time (this was many years ago and I certainly have evolved since then, or would like to think I have), I was very self-involved. I was often leaving my Ex in real (or symbolic) ways with my self-involvement. I can understand how this would have kicked up her abandonment issues. And the reality is that I chose her, and I had to understand why before I could make a different and better choice in a partner.

    I find that many of the instances that you talk about on your site portray the most extreme situations where the woman is all bad (evil, diabolical, monstrous, certifiable) and the man is completely innocent (blindsided, innocent and victimized). I am not doubting that these scenarios exist but I wonder if more often, there are dynamics between two people that trigger one anothers’ insecurities and therefore create less than optimal behavior.

    While these red flags are funny, I’d love to see you cover some of the more gray areas in relationships–how we co-create these dynamics with our partners (obviously not in the situations when someone is mentally ill). And why? I’d love to see us, as men, take responsibility for our choices and our part in negative relationship cycles. Yes, I totally get that we need our experiences validated (particularly if we’ve been gaslighted by the women in our lives)and your site does a great job of that. But when the men who comment on this site simply blame exes — isn’t that what you’re warning us is a red flag when we see women doing that? (Red Flag #6)

    I consider my relationship with my wife to be healthy. There are moments when I treat her like a Queen (rubbing her feet after a hard day and serving her tea). I don’t consider myself her manslave in those moments. It’s just one of the ways that I love her. There are other days when she treats me like a King. Sometimes, I put her needs before my own. Sometimes she has a bad day and snaps, and sometimes I do it to her. I am not proud of it and we try to apologize when it happens. We are human after all.

    It would be helpful to hear you talk about appropriate ways to express discontent or ask for our needs to be met or to get angry. When you talk about things in such extremes is can feel like you are suggesting that any display of human emotion or need is a sign of something pathological.

    I am grateful for your blog but I’d love to see more gray areas addressed. By now, we know the problem. Now, I’d love for you to show us some models of what the solution looks like–healthy relationships between two imperfect human beings.

    Just my two cents.

    • shrink4men
      October 29, 2009 at 7:16 pm

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. You make some excellent observations.

      No one is entirely blameless in a relationship. Both partners are responsible, even in extreme abuse situations. If you’re in an abusive relationship and choose not to end it; you’re responsible for allowing the abuse to perpetuate by not getting out. This is not about blaming the “victim;” it’s about educating and empowering the target of emotional and physical violence to take charge of themselves and strive for something better.

      Each person is responsible for the partner he/she chooses, especially when it’s an unhealthy choice. It’s each person’s responsibility to examine and understand their choices in order to make better choices in the future.

      There are several posts and comment threads here which discuss possible reasons why men end up in these relationships and their responsibility for taking action to end the abuse. However, I agree with your comment that this needs to start taking equal focus. As I stated in a comment earlier today, there’s a time for commiseration and then there’s a time to take action; otherwise you fall prey to chronic complaining without resolving anything.

      Thus far, I have focused almost exclusively on the aspects of extremely unhealthy relationships in order to help people understand/realize that they’re in one. Many people who have been in an abusive/unhealthy/unhappy relationship for awhile begin to believe it’s normal and resign themselves to profoundly dissatisfying if not downright toxic relationships.

      First a person needs to recognize what he or she is dealing with, then make some choices, examine themselves and what got them there and ultimately move themselves forward—much like you’ve done in your own life, Jack.

      I’m actually working on a post that touches on these issues right now. We’ve been focusing on the pain points, but it’s time to focus on the healing and moving on. Basically, okay, so you’re unhappy. What are you going to do about it and what do you want in your future?

      In case it was unclear in this article, there’s nothing wrong with pampering and doing special things for the person you love because it makes you feel good and you’re expressing affection. My problem is that in an abusive relationship, it’s typically one-sided with one partner demanding and taking and never giving back; never reciprocating.

      In a healthy relationship, both partners give and receive rather than give and take. There’s a difference. The former is based on mutuality; the latter is transactional. In my own relationship—which I consider to be as good as it gets—there’s mutual consideration, a willingness to communicate without defensiveness, shame and blame, a willingness to take a step back when either of us are upset to understand what’s going on and quickly resolve it, neither of us bring up ancient history and we both do little things for each other just to express how happy and grateful we are to be together. If it doesn’t harm me, I put my partner’s desires/needs before my own and he does the same for me—just as you and your wife do for each other.

      For example, I tried mountain biking this summer because he loves it (I was white faced and white-knuckled by the time I got out of the woods and shaking like a leaf—he also loves me enough to never ask me to do this again!) and he went to a Martha Wainwright concert with me even though she’s not his favorite performer and had a good time once he was there. Both of us come first and we compromise on the things we don’t readily see eye to eye on. There is no “my way or the highway” or “me first; you last” as I describe in this article and others. Both partners’ needs, desires, feelings and well-being are equally important and respected.

      You’re right, everyone has a bad day from time to time in which we’re short-tempered and lose our patience. And yes, a well-functioning person recognizes, owns their behavior and makes amends and the bump in the road is forgiven and forgotten. However, in an emotionally abusive relationship, bad days outnumber the good, in fact, they’re the norm. Furthermore, any “transgression,” real or imagined, is never forgiven or forgotten by the abusive partner while the target must overlook and forgive all kinds of hurtful behaviors.

      In a healthy relationship between two reasonable adults, it’s fairly simple to express your feelings and get your needs met. You may need to iron out some communication techniques, improve listening skills, learn non-defensive communication, etc. We’re talking basic relationship mechanics that two committed loving people can adopt. Expressing your feelings and asking an abusive personality to meet your needs (even very minor ones) is typically an invitation for more abuse.

      There is no such thing as a “bad feeling.” Even anger and sadness are a legitimate and healthy emotions in response to being hurt, treated unfairly or disappointed. Emotionally abusive personalities don’t express healthy emotions; they lash out or withdraw. All of these things are on a continuum. I talk about these things in extremes because most abusive personalities are extreme.

      Having emotions and expressing them is both healthy and necessary. However, a person also needs to think about their emotions and see if they match the reality of situation and act accordingly. People with personality disorders either ignore or distort reality and then justify acting out their anger, etc.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting. I will be adding more healthy relationships post abusive relationship pieces in the near future. Please let me know if I have addressed you comment. I’m happy to discuss more on this topic.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • nick
      November 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm

      Good thoughts. Personally, i have been with some very good women…and only ONE bpd/npd/hpd…and the difference is, among others, is they do not apologize when they totally freak out! Rather, they come up with some variation of “you pushed my buttons.” That is of course on those rare occasions when they even acknowlege whacky behaviours. All the Alan Alda foot rubbing (which I have done habitually) in the world- will not fix “crazy.”

      • charlie
        December 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

        Well said nick! Reading posts by people who have experienced exactly the same thing is so healthy for our peace of mind.

  7. Steve
    October 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Wow. Wish I had read this 25 years ago. At least 6 of those Red Flags were there in abundance. The most telling was her relationship with both her parents, but particularly her father. He was controlling, as well as emotionally and verbally abusive. She learned from him very well, and so did her brother. I finally recognized, and got the courage to state that directly to her… that she learned very well from her father. She actually agreed… but now she’s defending her father where she used to criticize. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her grandfather was much the same and everyone lamented how “terrible” he treated his wife, and then after she died, his second wife. Bad family dynamic. I agree totally that the family dynamic doesn’t change without a lot of work and, most importantly, without recognizing the problem. Right now I’m just hoping that my own kids have not picked up any of these dynamics, although that’s probably too much to hope for. There’s a long road ahead. Thanks for the article Dr. T.

  8. Q
    October 29, 2009 at 8:27 am

    9. “I just wanted to hear you say that you would, I would NEVER really expect you to do it”.

    This serves to make you comfortable with saying yes – after all, if you don’t really need to follow through and it still makes her happy, why not? It also serves to make you feel bad about saying no – it’s denying her the joy of hearing you say yes to some unreasonable request from her out of “love”.

    This reeled me in to make “promises” I can’t keep, which of course later turned out to be ones she DID expect me to actually do. I wouldn’t have said yes to them without having been conditioned to do so by this trick.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that if SHE loves YOU, she won’t be making unreasonable requests that put you in a position like that where you have to choose whether to make her unhappy by saying no or set yourself up for possible (likely) failure by saying yes.

  9. jon
    October 29, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I have two simple rules now that I tell all of my single guy friends when it comes to dating women. It helps to rule out future abuse. And they’re rules that I’ve developed from my own experiential education through misfortune.

    Don’t date any woman who:

    1. Hates either of her parents
    2. Her parents hate each other

    Two simple rules.
    An answer of “YES” to either of these represents someone who grew up with a faulty relationship model either towards men or towards relationships between adults in general. I let it slide with my last GF because I met the step dad she grew up with and he was a really great guy. What I unfortunately decided to consciously overlook was the fact that she didn’t speak to her real father. When I asked her why she said: He thinks I’m the devil.

    ’nuff said?

    Two simple rules guys.

    • AnonymousT
      October 29, 2009 at 9:37 am

      Jon, I think those are good, but maybe not enough.

      The woman I married had a family that on the surface was ideal – they would have passed both of your two rules. But over the years I noticed other things: I was told no one “ever” argued or criticized in that family, yet I saw the mother routinely henpeck and berate the meek, smile-at-all-costs father in front of family and guests – there was no argument because he never said boo back. The kids were never corrected, were never required to do any chores, they said they were happy but they were lazy and spoiled and entitled. There was no physical affection or warmth on display between the parents, even minor stuff, despite the lack of arguments. And I was told that they all loved each other without conditions, and that in comparison I was abusive if I criticized her behavior – yet my wife increasinglyb complained that I was falling short of her expectations, not providing a proper life and income, and finally gave me a written list of conditions and told me if I didn’t meet them she would never live with me again.

      So, also beware if you’re told how absolutely perfect her family is – because you will never measure up to that carefully maintained fiction.

      • nick
        November 7, 2009 at 4:58 pm

        Big red flag i discovered 10 years too late…sitting at a barbecue listening to my mother inlaw yammering about something stupid. Her husband of 60 years, who usually sits in the corner saying nothing, looks at me and says “no sense trying to object, always been her way or the highway”……nuff said as to what my lot WOULD HAVE BEEN in my future mid 80’s.

    • October 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm


      Totality agree with these two rules and I for one live with them daily or should I say date with these in the back of my pocket of the long list of “red flags”

  10. George
    October 29, 2009 at 3:33 am

    One last note, just because they are socially acceptable doesn’t make them right.

    • shrink4men
      November 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      My point is that they’re not acceptable—FOR EITHER SEX! Don’t believe the self-serving propaganda of these types. Next, they’ll say it’s socially acceptable to kill your husband if he makes you really mad. Nip it in the bud as soons as you hear or see something like this and firmly state, “This is unacceptable behavior” just like you would to a small child.

  11. George
    October 29, 2009 at 2:45 am

    Dr. T,

    O.K., now admit it, you’ve been secretly video taping my life, right? You’re eight for eight in describing my “in the process of becoming” ex-wife. When I got married in the Catholic church, we had to go to a couple of pre-marriage classes. I would have been much better served if I had just read through your website. You should be required reading for any man thinking about getting married. I was also interested to notice that each of the eight phrases are reasonably socially acceptable, if made by women. I also noticed that they wouldn’t be any where near as socially acceptable if they were made by men.

    • October 29, 2009 at 3:13 pm


      “I was also interested to notice that each of the eight phrases are reasonably socially acceptable, if made by women. I also noticed that they wouldn’t be any where near as socially acceptable if they were made by men.”

      I went back and reread them and you are right insomuch how society would in fact view these as acceptable if stated my a woman but not if by a man. Even acts like slapping a husband by a wife is view as “cute” and not an violence act yet it’s still physical abuse. Anyway thanks for pointing this out.

  12. October 29, 2009 at 1:36 am

    7. “I don’t speak to my father.” This is either a healthy choice, for example, if her father is an abusive NPD/BPD type, or a sign that she has a lot of issues that will make a romantic relationship with her a living hell. Beware of unresolved father issues and proceed with caution. You definitely have to do some detective work on this one. You also want to discover how her mother treats her father.

    While I have been studying and learning about these pathological traits i.e. people now for three years it never surprises me how I will learn yet more on the topic.

    While her mother would call her many times during the week (I believe they both shared many secrets and other dysfunctional ties) and use her own daughter for whatever anxiety or fear the mother was experiencing that week my exNPD never talked much about her father. Never in 17 years did she express any emotional ties between her parent and her other brothers and sisters. This was a family who never showed any affection or connection with each other. But for some reason she did have a strange type of relationship with her mother. The only way to describe it would be like two girlfriends then mother and daughter. But yes she never spoke or called her father yet I found him is be the most stable of all of them. The rest? Well to know them is to not know them or want too. Still it’s strange because I never gave that red flag (#7) much thought

  13. jham123
    October 28, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Let’s see if I can post a picture from facebook

    • jham123
      October 28, 2009 at 11:04 pm

      Well, it didn’t work but here is what it is

      “Marla took the What’s your geek level? quiz and the result is Drama Queen”

      And she comments “What girl isn’t…at least a little.”

  14. jham123
    October 28, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    #8, I have a digital recording where she spits this out verbatim. I just listened to it again on my iTunes. She “doesn’t like to plan it out”, “just ask her if she’d like to go and she’ll see if it fits in her schedule”

    Interesting huh?

  15. Kev
    October 28, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    “she expects you to make all the plans and you inevitably choose something she doesn’t like. She then gets to tell you what a disappoint you are and you “never” do anything she likes.

    This is another device by which to control you and undermine your confidence”


    Not only that, but she will find any number of ways to sabotage said plans, either with sudden rages, mysterious illnesses, silent treatments, accusations of infidelity, sleeping in, or telling you she never wanted to do [your plans] anyway.

    That’s what happened to me. Then I was taken to task for not planning something for us to do every weekend. Naturally the vacations I did plan and pay for that we somehow managed to actually go on, didn’t count, because I inevitably did something wrong to ruin it all for her.

    • Mike91163
      October 29, 2009 at 2:25 am

      Ditto, ditto, ditto!!! Doc and I discussed this before…it’s a classic “double bind”-either way, YOU LOSE!

  16. Damian
    October 28, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    I bet others have run into this: My BPD X never uttered those red-flag sayings aloud. No. 1, she has no clue how selfish and demanding she really is. No. 2, she would never call herself a princess because, deep down, she believes she is anything but. But that is how she behaves.

    And you could never convince her that her expectations were out of line. Taken case by case, they weren’t (usually). That’s the hell of it. She does not — cannot? — recognize patterns. Or cumulative effects.

    Without verbal clues, I had to discover her unrealistic expectations the hard way — by the Chinese water torture of collected experience. By the time I realized, “Hey, this ain’t quite right,” I was in deep and disoriented.

    I hadn’t realized the father thing could be so telling. She seldom spoke with her Dad, mostly because he had little interest in talking to her. He abandoned the family when she was 6.

    I should have known that her inability to say anything good about her exes was a bad sign. But let’s face it — guys can be pretty bad. Very few, however, are ALL bad.

    Predictably, once we parted, she dogged me too. And the guys who followed as well.

    She is always the wronged party. The sane saint afflicted by crazy devils.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    October 28, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    CohabitatingWithANarcisSister :
    Oh sympathetic clinician,
    Could you collaborate with some X-files type scientist and create a meter capable of identifying AND quantifying these behaviors. You place the object of your evaluation inside the viewfinder and with a reassuring audible tone the device tabulates your “malice index” or your “empathy deficiency”. “Obnoxiousness” and “pretentiousness” factors would be undeniable via the calibrated sensors of the instrument. A linear-thinking, analytically inclined vagabond like myself would surely appreciate the clarity.

    Actually, this is so easy it will kill you.

    It is also an INFALLIBLE beauty detector.

    Don’t thank me, thank my grandfather, may he rest in peace.

    “Throw a bucket of water over them.”

    • Mike91163
      October 28, 2009 at 8:54 pm


      Your late grandfather was a GENIUS! Man oh man, how accurate that would be…

      –if she reacts by grabbing the bucket or a hose and soaking YOU, laughing all the while, I’d say you might just have a winner.

      –on the other hand, if she screams how you just ruined her clothes/hair/makeup, and storms off, and gives you shit or the cold shoulder for days, “Run Forrest, Run!”

      • Mr. E
        October 28, 2009 at 8:58 pm

        She might also melt while muttering “what a world, what a world”

        • Mike91163
          October 28, 2009 at 9:48 pm

          God I’m a freaking idiot! I completely missed the “Wizard of Oz” reference…DUH!

          But, I think my thought might work, too!

          • Mr. E
            October 28, 2009 at 9:57 pm

            No, no, my first thought was also “will she laugh or freak out?”

      • shrink4men
        October 29, 2009 at 1:54 am

        Actually this is key: Having a sense of humor about herself. Most NPD/BPD woman do NOT have the ability to laugh at themselves. This is a BIG red flag.

        • Phil
          October 31, 2009 at 1:20 am

          That is a very profound and accurate statement I agree.

    • shrink4men
      October 29, 2009 at 1:53 am

      Love the Wizard of Oz, but I don’t think that will work in reality. Does anyone know where I can find some flying monkeys?

  18. Mark
    October 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you for yet another article about my ex-wife!! I read this article and to be honest, there are 7 out the 8 that were used by her….ha ha ha and knowing what I do now, the only ending is divorce.

    Its easy to look back at things now – but I have learnt its not what words come out of their mouths…it what those words mean. If I had really thought about the early converstaions I could have avoided a truly abusive relationship which escalated to assault within a week or two of marriage.

    Thanks again for an insightful article.

    • shrink4men
      October 29, 2009 at 1:52 am

      Hi Mark,

      It’s the meaning of their words and paying close attention to their actions, which often belie their words. For instance, many will say one thing, do the opposite and then claim they did something entirely different. It’s crazy-making and, I repeat, this isn’t normal female behavior.

  19. Bill
    October 28, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    “…You also want to discover how her mother treats her father…”

    I’d like to tattoo this on the backs of my sons’ hands.

    • shrink4men
      October 29, 2009 at 1:50 am

      . . .or text it to him every day. . .

    • Recovering Alpha
      October 29, 2009 at 11:11 pm

      My ex’s wife’s mother was EXTREME passive aggressive to her father. Should have been a warning long ago. I didn’t understand it at the time, but it was the classic case of enabling wife and alcoholic husband. I too will repeatedly sound that one into my four sons minds.

  20. CohabitatingWithANarcisSister
    October 28, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Oh sympathetic clinician,
    Could you collaborate with some X-files type scientist and create a meter capable of identifying AND quantifying these behaviors. You place the object of your evaluation inside the viewfinder and with a reassuring audible tone the device tabulates your “malice index” or your “empathy deficiency”. “Obnoxiousness” and “pretentiousness” factors would be undeniable via the calibrated sensors of the instrument. A linear-thinking, analytically inclined vagabond like myself would surely appreciate the clarity.

    • shrink4men
      October 29, 2009 at 1:49 am

      Very funny, Cohabitating with a Narc Sister. Sorry, but I don’t quite have that technology yet. I guess it would be the opposite of beer goggles in that you would have preternatural vision.

      Dr T

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