Home > Uncategorized > How to Love a Woman Who Has Been to Hell and Back: Look for the Nearest Exit

How to Love a Woman Who Has Been to Hell and Back: Look for the Nearest Exit


S4Meme_Red Flag_At My WorstRecently a Shrink4Men Forum member shared a link to an article that’s been making the rounds on social media. Ordinarily, I mock the use of Trigger Warnings. That being said, I feel obligated to issue both a Trigger Warning and a Ridiculous Bullshit Warning as many of my readers, both men and women, are or have been victims of narcissists, borderlines, histrionics, psychopaths, sociopaths and other abusive and predatory personality types. Therefore, consider yourselves warned:

How to Love a Woman Who Has Been to Hell and Back by Kathy Parker.

Oof. Where to begin?

This article could easily be titled, How to Allow Yourself to Be Abused by a Female Narcissist, Borderline or Psychopath and Like It! And If You Don’t Like It, You’re a Heartless, Selfish Jerk! The behaviors of the “hell and back woman” are classic examples of abuse commonly perpetrated by narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths and the like. READ MORE.

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

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

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides services to help individuals work through their relationship issues via telephone or Skype, particularly men and women who 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, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. alfonso
    April 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I started dating a woman who had divorced her husband of 23 years and lost her father all within a year. I wasn’t intending to be a knight in shining armour but I was keen to listen to her, gradually build trust as the relationship developed and show empathy for her loss. It quickly became apparent that she had positioned herself as the heroine as far as the breakup of her marriage was concerned and unnervingly painted her ex as the complete villain thereby taking no personal responsibility. Worse still, she used this as an excuse to constantly keep me at bay and test me to the limit. Nothing I did was ever good enough or satisfied her expectations. The work I did was blah. Places I’d travelled to were blah. Opinions or values I had were blah. Whereas I was keen to spend quality time with her, she started to allocate specific slots when her children weren’t around. God forbid I engaged with them! I wasn’t their father and they were too young at 14 and 17 to know that we were sleeping together in the marital bed! Eventually these became after 9:30pm on Tuesday and on Thursday afternoons before she picked up the children from school and the odd weekend if she wasn’t working or visiting her Mum. I was well down the list of priorities in her life. On top of this, she would regularly thump me and then berate herself out loud for doing it. If I reciprocated in a playful way she’d squeal and say she was too fragile, too girly for rough stuff. And, you never knew where you were. Sometimes you’d get a call to say goodnight, sometimes you’d wait 48 hours to get a response to a ‘how’s your day?’ kind of text. Power games no doubt. So, what am I saying? I can’t see that she was a narcissist or BPD just someone lacking in maturity who didn’t want to face up to responsibility of their actions. It was evident that she didn’t want to engage with me as a fellow human being which was draining and demeaning. She saw herself as a victim and constantly on guard against me (and perhaps all men?) even though I bent over backwards to be kind and treat her with respect. Ultimately, I came to my senses and realised that I was being used until someone more deserving of her came along. I think Tara is so right in attacking the article because it’s clear to me that if you have a sense of self worth you can’t continue to put up with this kind of behaviour no matter what someone has been through. It’s soul destroying.

  2. Rick
    April 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    YEP. Been there. Done that. Didn’t work. Never again. That kind of “love” sounds noble. It only enables the abuser (the woman in this case) to continue her abuse AND get rewarded for it. Only after I STOPPED doing what the article says to do, did I finally see my wife begin acting in a more respectful way. (Not at first. At first, she doubled down on her rage and abuse.) MEN- DON’T do what is in that article. It will destroy your self esteem and will make her worse. WHAT IF THE ARTICLE was reversed? And every time it said “her” instead, you replaced it with “him.”
    EVERY feminist on the planet would go into a hellish rage condemning the article as advice to allow a husband to abuse you. SO it’s clearly a double standard.
    It doesn’t work. And the writer is a bonehead.

    • shrink4men
      April 10, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Or substitute “her” for “your toddler.” It’s bad advice all around. Tolerating abuse and ridiculous acting out only gets you more of the same. Even with setting and boundary enforcing, has she become a new person or does she grudgingly restrain herself to avoid unwanted consequences like divorce? Sometimes people with these issues will heed the boundary, but they don’t like it and typically become sullen and resentful about it. Or has she started working on the personality issues underlying the ridiculous behavior?

      • Rick
        April 10, 2017 at 3:58 pm

        Not sure if that question was for me BUT I will answer: She has GRADUALLY started to work on her issues. But mainly, the change has been in me. After years of tolerating her abuse (and being the “loving, sweet husband- the naive article suggested) I said “ENOUGH.” I had to get counseling just to get back to some mental health of my own- after YEARS of the abuse (that the article said to “love her through.) SO the main change in her: The abuse, rage and insults have decreased a LOT since I stopped “loving her regardless” and all that crap. I simply leave her alone in her anger and rage. I am happy and tell her my life is a “drama free zone.” She still has not admitted to any wrong BUT the abuse, games, insults etc. have been replaced by more seething silence. (on her part) So it’s just another game BUT that is better than the relentless abuse I got when I was the “sweet loving husband”
        Not so much any more.

    • MK
      April 12, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Actually, Rick, emotionally healthy feminists also think this is bullshit when it comes from women. We want to be treated as adults and partners, not infants and abusers.

      • shrink4men
        April 12, 2017 at 4:45 pm

        Hi MK,

        That’s great that you find the advice and beliefs expressed by Ms Parker in the Hell & Back article to be bullshit, but many mainstream feminists do agree or quietly condone such nonsense. I think if you are a person who cares about oppression, abuse, exploitation, hypocrisy, double standards, genocide, etc., and recognize that women, men, boys and girls can be victims of such crimes and social maladies, why call yourself a feminist at this time in history? Call yourself an emotionally healthy egalitarian.

    • Mick
      April 18, 2017 at 3:21 am

      God this sounds so familiar to me….my ex left her her partner after 18 years of living as man and wife without ever having been married. They had two boys one that was 10 and it became very quickly apparent that he was in fact the little parentified “man of the house” and was as selfish and self centered as a person could be, he was (and i hate to say this) a very unlikable boy who monopolized all of his mothers time, having her run errands for him, rent videos and games at inappropriate times of the evening. She even had to run his bath water and stand outside the bathroom door while he used it. I also learned that he simply refused to use the toilets at school. His older brother was another story, and after witnessing some very strange behavior, like temper tantrums when the computer was shut off. He’d go ballistic, run to the bathroom and spray deodorant in his eyes. I later discovered he had Aspergers Syndrome which presented some unique challenges, he was also 15 and a very big boy. as is usually common but not definitively diagnosable until adulthood, he also exhibited obsessive compulsive behavior to the extreme, lacked empathy and compassion for others and also exhibited signs of an extreme conduct disorder. But mostly he was just vacant. But since i had immigrated to be with her in the relationship I already had a lot invested, but mostly, and i didnt know it then, my own pride and ego were at stake. I couldn’t walk away, i could’nt admit that i was in over my head. I was an nice guy, a caring man, I would just dig in and work harder. Really all i did was dig myself a deepening hole.

      She never had the conversation she promised to have with the boys, explaining my presence, the changes that were being made or why she was no longer with their father. I was just moved in and expected to sort it all out. The youngest boy made it clear from the start he was going to be trouble, and going to sabotage any efforts I made to create any distance between him and his mother. Their’s was an extremely strange bond indeed and at times it really creeped me out but it just became another one of those things in a family that happens. But i couldn’t get past it!

      Then she became pregnant with out first child a boy and at first it was great, I mean we were working as a Team, But after 1.5 years in the new country i was having trouble finding work, more trouble than I ever experienced in the USA and things at home deteriorated until i finally found work that allowed me to make enough money to live comfortably and still be able to be at home to help out with the new baby etc. Being home more also gave me the chance to watch how everyone interacted with the baby. The 10 year old was resentful and angry and constantly tried to insert himself between me and my son, the 15 year old with aspergers was generally just annoyed and sullen and withdrawn because of the noise and would periodically explode in a violent outburst. My (then) wife was clearly out of her depth and had no idea how to manage. She has never ever created or set boundaries for her two boys or her dog, that she insisted sleep with us. Aside from that her 10 year old never learned how to knock and would just burst in and throw himself on the bed between us as if i didnt exist. He didnt care about my feelings, in fact, the only time he bothered about me is whem we started to work together to address his conduct/behavior issues. At one point he got in trouble at school because he called a younger female class mate a “Whore”.

      This relationship was from the beginning, even before we had our 2 children together a real mess. What’s worse is that my (then) wife had some major secrets that she had never disclosed before. Things I found out only after having lived with and been intimate with her. For example I learned that the reason she gave for the “unusual bond” she had with her 10 year old was a result of guilt and shame about an incident that took place while she was at a friends home. They were talking in a different room, laughing and drinking wine, while her 10 year old (much younger at the time) was being molested by her friends older son in another room. Apparently, she was aware of the incident, but never mentioned it to the boys father, discussed it with the boy, or the police, or a counselor.

      I also discovered that her adopted brother was living in another state and on the run from the police and bike gang over an incident that involved sexual abuse. It turned out after being together for 3 years my (then wife) had never been to counseling in her life and shuttered at the suggestion of it. She disclosed that she had been abandoned as a baby and later adopted by the woman i knew as her mother and was a difficult child and grew into a difficult adult, drinking and abusing drugs and cutting herself until she met her previous partner and became pregnant with her 15 year old with Aspergers.

      We had another child together, a girl bought a house, moved got settled in and thats when the dynamic in our dysfunctional family unit got really strange, and really marked the beginning of the end and a very slow and gradual end of our relationship. After 7 years and the complete and total loss of any shred of of self esteem or dignity I had, in desperation and to save my own life and sanity i left the family home.

  3. Mick
    April 10, 2017 at 4:59 am

    The article you refer to is absolute and total crap. In essence the author is suggesting that if you haven’t been enough of a doormat and lowered yourself enough already then try a bit harder, try so hard that eventually any shred of self esteem you may have has been extinguished. Women like this are bottomless insatiable pits incapable of reciprocating genuine care concern or empathy so no amount of love or medication or intense psychotherapy can fix that which is broken and missing within them. They are far from the victims they appear to be, in fact, they are nothing like what they may appear to be at any given moment because they can change at a moments notice.

    I’ve been involved with many women like this and although they all appeared to be different they were all basically the same. Upon physical and emotion intimacy they all shared the same type of damaged and abused family history and they all shared the same symptoms of severe personality disorders and long lasting and continuing emotional damage, They all struggled with self image issues, all struggled with weight gain and loss, all had experienced sexual abuse to varying degrees, one woman was in her late 20’s early 30’s and having a sexual relationship with her sister and still sleeping with her father, whom at one point she asked me to kill.

    So there is no amount of affection, no amount of love and no amount of devotion that is enough to fix what is wrong with women like the author describes Suggesting there is only reinforces dysfunctional cultural beliefs among men, placing them in even more danger.

    • Mick
      April 11, 2017 at 2:43 am

      sorry Rick, you even make your own attempts to appease your partner sound noble, when in my view they are just as naive and only delaying the inevitable and in all likelihood postponing a major upheaval. In my experience the most loving thing, the most selfless thing to do was to leave. Regretfully, this meant my children would either become pawns, weapons and tools to be used against me in an effort to manipulate or punish me or a means for her to demonstrate her superiority over me as a parent. Unfortunately, the latter has been the case, in my case my ex (now) simply loved to fight and ignorantly my reactions only gave her more info, she repeatedly set me up to look bad, and i repeatedly fell for the bait until i finally left and drew a line in the sand. Something she thought I would never do.

      Good luck my friend but i believe your attempts to maintain what sounds like a loveless relationship will only prove fruitless. Been There Done That, Bought The T Shirt to.

  4. Sufferer of the BPD Sufferer
    April 10, 2017 at 1:39 am

    Well, I’m loving my girlfriend who is probable BPD. For almost three years I have hoped MY love would over-come the insane periods of screeching over the most trivial of things, the sudden stomping out the door and dropping me, normally for a few days before coming back with weak apologies. But the issues are sure to come up down the road, distorted and focused on me being the guy who is “right all the time” and her the victim. My love has cost me a lot, financially, emotionally, and physically. Since meeting her, I am being treated for HBP, worsening diabetics symptoms, and most recently two auto-immune disorders. I won’t blame her, but just saying my expenditure of providing her MY love when only a fraction is returned has it’s costs. The referred to article is likely written by a BPD narcissist, certainly not by anyone who has tried to live and love one! I continue to follow and re-read Dr. Tara’s articles as I try to reason with myself why I am where I am in life, and why I’ve allowed it to continue.

    • shrink4men
      April 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      It can all stop when you decide you want it to stop. Sounds like the pain of staying will need to become greater than the pain of leaving. You’re confusing the poison (staying) with the antidote (leaving). It will hurt if you leave, but if you do your healing work the pain will subside and you will move on. Staying means endless pain.

    • Beenthere
      April 10, 2017 at 11:02 pm

      Please leave before you waste over 20 years of your life like I did, holding out hope my BPD husband would change and finally become the man I thought he had potential to be. Unless they are willing to put in some intense individual work with a counselor that actually can see through their facade, they will never change. And the more I read from other people that have been the victims of BPD abuse, the chances of that happening are so infinitesimal, that it is not worth wasting another day of your life waiting on any long term change.

      • shrink4men
        April 10, 2017 at 11:13 pm

        In order for anyone to change, she or he has to recognize the need to change. If they have a personality disorder, the odds are, as you say, infinitesimal. One of the things that makes a person disordered is a persistent, lifelong pattern of blaming others for their problems. Even when it is obvious to objective observers that the disordered person’s problems are self-inflicted. What this means is that the disordered person sees no reason to change their behavior, even if she or he can admit that it is causing them and those around them problems. The disordered person expects everyone else to change, even expects the laws of physics to change, to accommodate their distortions, ego, sensitivities and other pathologies.

  5. April 10, 2017 at 1:14 am

    I followed the link to the article. Ugh… I understand that people need special care through their rough times. However, assuming that it’s supposed to look like *that* is horrible! A wife who is “loving with one foot out the door” isn’t loving! It’s not just “unfun”.

    Funny enough, one of the “related articles” that was listed at the bottom was called something like “All I Really Need is your Consistency”. Really? I wonder if that street runs both directions?

    • shrink4men
      April 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      I haven’t read the Consistency article, but I would guess not. People who espouse these beliefs tend to live on one way streets paved with double standards. Unless maybe the woman who has been to hell and back will consistently abuse and her victim must consistently take it?

  6. Mike
    April 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Dear Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, you couldn’t be so right..I’ve read the article and have been through the ringer with a Narcissist woman that was soul destroying..it’s an abomination that anyone writes such a BSS article to empower a narcissist because this is the type of pop rubbish that encourages abuse and staying in abusive relationships. Emotional abuse is not exclusive to either gender, but I’ve yet to see a narc woman own up to her deluded and abusive behavior or the destruction and havoc she brings to the lives of others. I have great respect for the work you do having read and identified with many of your publications that related to my experience and you have no idea how understood I felt in identifying with your insights. Please continue to grown the awareness – life is too short to be stuck in a relationship to be made feel a lesser and unloved human being in such a manipulative way. A sincere Thank you, Mike

    • shrink4men
      April 10, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      You’re welcome, Mike. Narc men don’t own up to their bullshit either. However, as a society, we tend to call them out on their crap instead of normalizing and romanticizing it.

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