About Dr Tara


Dr TDr Tara J.Palmatier began Shrink4Men because she recognized that men who are in abusive relationships in which the perpetrator is a woman do not have the same support resources as their female counterparts. Much of society and support organizations refuse to recognize that men comprise approximately 50% of relational abuse targets or, worse yet, ridicule men who seek help for this reason.

Many men in relationships with abusive women don’t even recognize that what they’re experiencing from their nearest and dearest is abuse. There are many double standards in our society when it come to what is acceptable behavior for men and what is acceptable behavior for women.

Dr Tara holds a PsyD in Clinical Psychology and an MSc in Counseling Psychology. She has over 15 years of experience delivering direct services to diverse populations in a variety of settings. Dr Tara completed and successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, Ce ci n’est pas une these: An applied psychoanalysis of Rene Magritte, in 2004. It examines unresolved childhood bereavement, the effects of a mentally ill mother and creative outcomes in an adult artist. She continues to have an interest in psychology and the arts.

Dr Tara currently publishes the Shrink4Men website, wordpress blog and forum. She specializes in helping men who are trying to end relationships or seeking coping strategies for dealing with their abusive wives, girlfriends or exes, many of whom have been diagnosed with personality disorder or whom they suspect have personality disorders or traits.

The philosophy of Shrink4Men is as follows:

  • Abuse is unacceptable from either sex.
  • Abuse is unacceptable even when the perpetrator has a personality disorder or other mental illness.
  • Tolerating abuse from your wife or girlfriend doesn’t make you a good guy; it makes you a victim. If you remain in the relationship or don’t take steps to stop the abuse once  you recognize you’re being abused, manipulated, controlled or terrorized you are enabling your own mistreatment.
  • Ending a relationship or a marriage in which you’re actively being emotionally and/or physically abused doesn’t make you a “bad guy”—even if you have children.
  • Double standards and inequities in relationships are unhealthy and unacceptable. You shouldn’t have to “take it” or shoulder the entire financial burden because you’re a man.
  • Both partners’ needs and feelings are equally important. Both partners come first in a relationship. Both partners need to compromise.
  • Allowing yourself to be devalued in a relationship is not okay. Relationships should ultimately be a source of comfort and support not a series of endless hostilities, psychological castration, no-win situations, hoop jumping, emotional withdrawal, transactions and resignation.

When a man is abusive, he’s designated a jerk and we encourage his wife or girlfriend to end the relationship. Abusive men are publicly humiliated, vilified and often imprisoned for their violent behavior. When a woman is abusive, we advise her male target that she’s just emotional, she was abused as child, so he needs to  be patient and sensitive to her feelings and stick with her no matter the personal cost. When a woman is violent toward a man in the context of an intimate relationship, it’s still the man who usually gets carted off to jail even when he’s the one with the cuts and bruises.

Dr Tara J. Palmatier is in no way minimizing the legitimate abuse many women suffer in their intimate relationships from men. She is, however, trying to shine the spotlight on the abuse suffered by men who are targets of their female intimate partners and exes, which is just as real and just as painful, if not worse, due to the lack of ready social and personal support.

Private Consultation and Coaching

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting 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.

Donations

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

 

  1. Tye
    August 9, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Great blog.

    Everything everyone wrote applies to me. But, here’s an added twist. I’ve always known what was going on, so none of this is a surprise to me. I’ve always had hope until recently. I just wasn’t smart enough to package her up as BPD/NPD until, after 25 years of a living heaven and hell, I forced her to get psychological testing. Of course, she only agreed to do so if I would also get tested since I was the crazy one who created all the problems. We agreed that we would have a joint meeting with the psychologist to discuss the results.

    I found a highly recommended forensic psychologist who tested us separately using several MMPI and Rorschach tests as well as interviews.

    My wife could hardly wait to meet with the psychologist to prove to me just how crazy I am. Well, there were no surprises for me. I have seen shrinks off and on since I was 8 years old and had been seeing one for over a year (at my wife’s demand, not her suggestion). I still have an over-sized ego and suffer from a grandiosity complex. I’m still overly sensitive and slightly paranoid, and have trouble making intimate relationships. I’m just your average neurotic pain-in-the ass. Oh, how the words change but the tune remains the same.

    My wife was thrilled to hear all this since it confirmed everything she “knew” and believed. But, she stared at the psychologist with an expression of disbelief when she was told that she might have BPD/NPD as well as Dissociative Identity Disorder (AKA Multiple Personality Disorder). She looked straight at the psychologist and said “You must have made a mistake. That’s not me.” Well, right then and there I told her if she did not accept the results of $3,800 worth of testing and do something about it, I’d file for divorce the next day.

    That was about two months ago. Since then she has been in therapy with this psychologist every week. And, she has been beating my brains out and loving me off and on ever since as well as insisting that the test results don’t say what they say even when we read them to each other. That’s why, finally, I am writing to you and all those “smart” guys out there on my laptop in the furnished studio apartment I just rented instead of being in our big house overlooking the city and begging to be forgiven for all the pain I’ve given my wife for 25 years.

    I do love her and always will. But, as a man has to give up those other things he loves like booze, drugs and fatty foods when he finally accepts that they are diminishing the quality of his life, it’s time to move on.

    Thanks for being there, in your own way, for all of us.

    • shrink4men
      August 10, 2009 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Tye,

      Dueling Rorschach’s and MMPI’s? Good grief. That’s an expensive Pyrrhic victory. Even when you have proof, black and white proof, these women still deny reality and make up their own distorted version of it. It’s truly like banging your head against a wall. Congratulations on finding your way out of the insanity, Tye. You can’t put a price on peace of mind. Have you ever considered that your “neurosis” and “trouble making intimate relationships” is related to the fact that you were with an abusive woman for the last 25 years? It’s impossible to establish trust and intimacy with someone who is continuously cutting you down and emotionally sucker punching you when you make yourself vulnerable to them.

      The next step is to redefine what you consider love and realize that what you had with this woman was not love, but a rigid and unhealthy pattern of control, submission and repetition compulsion. When you believe you’re “still in love” with them, they’ll continue to hold you captive. That’s another chain to break…when you’re ready. Enjoy the peace and quiet.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  2. JSH
    August 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Your blog is the best information I have come across in my search to understand NPD and the abuse a man suffers having been married to a woman with this disorder.

    I am in love with this man–and I want to help him heal and show him what a relationship can be like with a “normal” loving woman who is free of this terrible disorder.

    Reading your blog has helped him understand that indeed he is a victim of abuse and was not to blame.

    I can’t thank you enough, and I look forward to reading more.

    • shrink4men
      August 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm

      Hi JSH,

      Thanks for the positive feedback. I appreciate it!

      Best wishes to you and your boyfriend. Identifying and understanding what he went through is an important first step.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  3. August 3, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Hi S4M

    I’d like to give you a heartfelt bout of thanks for this website!

    I’ve a past riddled with dysfunctional female relationships, the most recent- despite having ended well over a year ago- still taxing and befuddling me.

    I only had a chance so far to read five of your entries but absolutely first class. Very helpful.

    Will be going through the rest over the coming period.

    CHEERS

    • shrink4men
      August 4, 2009 at 2:53 am

      Hi Robster,

      You’re very welcome! I always appreciate positive feedback. I wish you well in understanding what attracts you to these women and relationships and then break the pattern. It can be done.

      Cheers,
      Dr T

  4. August 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Wow you are a woman! Amazing, I love you. Your words chime true like you are reading my mind. This made me feel a lot more secure about my stance on all these issues.

    |THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU||THANK YOU|

    :D

    • shrink4men
      August 4, 2009 at 2:39 am

      I am woman. Hear me blog.

      Thank you, dmbb. I appreciate it!

      Cheers,
      Dr Tara

  5. Tom
    July 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Dr. T,
    Thanks for your website and the clarity it brings to these murky relationships, mine included. Any thoughts on this thought?

    The relationships described on your site are often extreme: abuse, humiliation, alienation, etc. They have my full sympathy! I think that emotional abuse/bullying can also happen at a subtler level with just as devastating effects. If the one you love sends the message of contempt and disrespect, it’s just as painful and damaging whether she shouts, talks or whispers.

    From my experience, it feels that the emotional pain is also pretty bad in a relationship where the behavior is not as outrageous but the emotional climate is about the same as what you describe so well. It’s not a good thing whenever you find anger and contempt in the main relationship where you look for love and acceptance. It makes me wonder if this emotional/relationship pattern is even more widespread than the really blatant cases.
    Thanks!

    • Mr. E
      July 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm

      I’d also like to see your take on what another site called “covert abuse.”

    • shrink4men
      July 30, 2009 at 10:47 pm

      Hi Tom & Mr E,

      Covert abuse is just as bad as overt abuse, if not worse. At least with the over the top abusive behaviors, you pretty much know what you’re dealing with. Covert abuse is far more subtle and, therefore, insidious. You’re never quite sure what just happened. Did she just zing me? Was that a diss? What did she just say?

      Covert abuse will cause you to begin to question your own sanity. Additionally, when you try to explain what’s going on to friends and family, you end up sounding like the crazy one. For example, your wife tells you after getting lost in the car, “You’re a real genius.” You ‘re hurt and explain you’re in a new city and Google maps wasn’t up to date. She counters with, “What’re you upset about? I told you you’re a genius. You’re so touchy. You take everything the wrong way.” HUH?

      Or the classic, “What do you want for dinner? Chicken? Pasta? Lamb chops?” You reply, “I’d love some lamb chops. It’s my favorite and it’s been a while since we had it.” She tells you, “Well, I’m making chicken.”

      Over time, repeated mindf-cks like this can grind you down and drive you mad. I think this form of abuse is probably far more widespread than the super severe overt kinds. Hope this answers your question.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • jp
        July 31, 2009 at 2:06 am

        Guys,

        Negative body language is my favorite form of covert abuse. The content of her comment could be harmless enough but if she delivers it with a contemptuous, disdainful expression designed to bully, silence, shame, confuse, or manipulate you, she’s being abusive.

        If she does it in the middle of a harmless or fun, light-hearted conversation when your guard is down and you’re feeling connected, she gets extra points for sandbagging you.

        JP

      • Tom
        August 4, 2009 at 3:07 am

        Dr. T.,
        Thanks for your answer. Sometimes the negativity/contempt/etc. exchanges are so minor that I feel weak for not being able to cope with them. But pile them on over many years and it’s deadening–a slow death by 1000 cuts ends in the same place as as few big blows. When you call these small things what they are–mindf—s, it brings that reality into sharper focus.

        There’s a YouTube video interview of Dr. Steven Stosny that’s worth checking out. It fits well with what you cover here.

        One really interesting point in his interview is the difference between the NPD/BPD and the partner. Both parties are hurt by the relationship and feel like a victim. Here’s the distinction: The partner also sees the other person’s perspective; in contrast, the NPD/BPD sees only their POV and for that reason continues to feel justified in demanding more and more compensation (in all its many forms) from the person they have been hurting all along.

        Another point is to minimize how much you identify with your weaknesses; this just reinforces the victim mentality which is a huge roadblock to growth. Instead, identify with your strengths–this is the road to growth. The guys on this site have many strengths, most especially perseverance in emotionally trying situations, that could go a long way in creating a healthy relationship with a healthier partner.

        Many thanks for all you put into this site,
        Tom

        • shrink4men
          August 4, 2009 at 4:06 am

          Hi Tom,

          Thanks for the link and reading and posting. You make some very good points about the differences between the NPD/BPD and non and focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Furthermore, weaknesses can become strengths if you turn them around. I would also encourage everyone to really consider what they think of as their “weaknesses.” Perhaps they’re actually strengths and talents that their exes tried to diminish out of jealousy and their own inadequacies/deficiencies.

          Thanks again,
          Dr Tara

          • Tom
            August 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm

            Dr. Tara,
            One more voice I found helpful in understanding what is weak and what is strong…

            Mary Pipher (another psychologist I respect a lot) recently wrote a book, Seeking Peace, that reflects on her career of helping people and growing as a person. One of her final thoughts on where we will go (i.e., how we will see relationships when we have a better perspective) is that a lot of behaviors called codependent today may later be considered kind, loving behaviors (well, sometimes they might be).

            What makes a behavior codependent is part our intentions (more neediness than love) and part how the person receives our behaviors (more “Cool, I’ve got a sucker on the line!” than appreciation). And teasing apart those pieces is plenty hard, but made clearer and a bit easier with some outside perspective. Thanks for helping with that!

            • shrink4men
              August 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm

              Thanks for the recommendation, Tom. I’ll check it out.

              Best,
              Dr T

  6. thom
    July 14, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Where to begin…

    I have yet to read a blog or a post where someone hates or disparages women in any way shape or form on DR Ts site. It seems most people here are trying to gain a better understanding of what they have been through or what they are going through – trying to figure out why and what they did to deserve the treatment they are receiving…

    In response to labels/labeling: Labels are an important part of life. If I go to the doctor with an illness I want to know what I have and how to treat it. I don’t go in and ask him to diagnose me so I feel better emotionally or give me a fake diagnosis of my disease or ignore my symptoms completely…I want to get better so he/she usually runs tests, looks at my medical history, gets results, and usually prescribes medicine/antibiotics/rehab of some sort SO MY CONDITION IMPROVES and I can function at a normal healthy level.

    As I have mentioned I am a teacher (with a Masters Degree and an Administrative license) and labels help me teach each student at “the appropriate rate and level” to ensure individual success of each and every student. If a student just arrived from a refugee camp from another country then I don’t expect them to be able to follow technical procedural instructions about microscopes or using graduated cylinders. I don’t expect them to write at a 6th grade level…my instruction must be modified so they can learn “at the appropriate rate and level” and they are instructed and assessed accordingly.

    If a student has learning/social difficulties then I look back at past state test scores, I review teacher reports, contact former teachers/counselors, have meetings with the teaching team, parents, and current administration and the student and we (as a group) determine the best course of action to help the student succeed. Often times the student is often referred to doctors to do specific tests for dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, as well as a myriad of other issues.

    If a students scores and ability show too much of a discrepancy then they are usually placed on what is called and IEP (individualized Education Program). Yes the students are labeled but teachers make modifications to instructions/assignments/tests and the parents/students/and teachers agree on a program that helps the child learn…supposedly.

    NOW

    The label helps me, the teacher, understand what “issue”I am dealing with in a classroom setting and it outlines what I must do to help ensure student success. I know what I am dealing with in regards to helping the student learn (from a pedagogical and theoretical standpoint) but it rarely outlines what the parent and student must do on their end to help ensure success as well.

    AND HERES THE RUB

    In about 90% of all special education cases (in my experience) the student and the parent use the label as an excuse for the student not working at all. Instead of working harder (before or after school tutoring, classes, clubs, etc) to catch up with their peers they fall back on the fact that they have been diagnosed with a “learning disorder” as an excuse to do no work at all. I actually had a student (with a 7% and 34 missing assignments) say to me “You can’t fail me – I get a C no matter what – I’m on an IEP”. The parents and the students blame the teacher for the continued learning problems even though the student has done nothing to improve and the parents have done little or nothing to help the student. It is easier to blame, and sue the school, the teachers, and the school district and point fingers than it is to take away the McDonalds, the Sugar, and the PS3 form the student and have them actually work at improving their intelligence through hard work and dedication.

    To come full circle – a psychologist using the MMPI and MCMI tests diagnosed my ex with HPD. Our marriage counselor spoke to the custody evaluator four times during our 4-month evaluation and suggested that my ex exhibited BPD/NPD traits on many occasions. But my ex fails to see any problem with her actions and behaviors whatsoever. She claims that the tests were rigged and that our counselor didn’t like her because they had different views on vaccinations/health care. The evaluator wrote a whole paragraph suggesting that my ex enter an intensive counseling program to deal with her issues but since her family and 4 new boyfriends “think she is just fine” her behaviors continue and actually they have been galvanized due by the fact that the evaluation went in her favor…

    Now she is running a distortion/smear campaign against me and has even lied on the witness stand in front of the judge. She had he sister (who is a social worker) lie to the evaluator. She faked tears and told an hour worth of BS stories to the evaluator claiming I was the abuser and that I did all of the things she was guilty of and what we had talked about her doing to me at our numerous counseling sessions. She stopped just short of accusing me of child abuse using the words neglectful and uncaring in regards to my daughter and me. These are the labels I have a problem with. Labels that aren’t true. Labels that are fabricated. Labels that are used to punish another person…

    Being unjustly labeled a child abuser by my vindictive ex could cost me my child, my job, and my future plans for a career in politics…

    I am bald (shaved thank you very much), my lawyer is really short, the judge is old, and the opposing counsel is a horrible dresser (she wore 70s pant suits?wtf?)…Stating those facts doesn’t change what they are…and not stating them doesn’t make them any less true. Calling my ex HPD/BPD/NPD doesn’t make her any more or less of any of those things…she is what she is. To put it simply…if you have a problem with a label (ie you are a murderer, a racist, a sexist, a terrorist, or have been diagnosed with BPD) maybe you should look at your actions and behaviors and uncover why people have labeled you as such…

    The problem isn’t with the labeling, its with the actions/behaviors of the people who continue to behave and act in such ways….

    If my ex has a problem with being labeled HPD/BPD/HPD maybe she shouldn’t lie, be overly dramatic, gaslight, threaten, give ultimatums, cheat, steal, punish, back stab, abuse, engage in PAS/HAP, sleep with married men, teach my daughter to say mean things to me, violate court orders, etc.

    My ex has HPD/BPD/NPD and what she chooses to do with that “label” is now up to her. If she would have entered counseling and embraced the fact that she has problems and has destroyed every relationship she has ever been a part of I would have stood by her side and helped her – not because I am looking for pain or to be a hero or white knight, but because I took a vow of marriage, to have and to hold and all that…but she chose not to – she chose the easy way out. And “The prize (her) wasn’t worth the price (my heart, mind, body, and soul) being abused, discarded, and disregarded at every turn.

    The sad thing is that my daughter is witness to her outbursts and erratic behaviors – and that’s what I am fighting for…my beautiful, innocent, pure, happy 2-year-old daughter.

    Why did I stay? When I was born, my dad (who just recently was inducted into the college football hall of fame) said I was going to be “even a better football player than he was”…Unfortunately I didn’t go through puberty until I was a junior in high school so sports passed my by for the time being (I dominate now☺). I would score a 98% on my AP Science exams and my mother would ask why I missed 2% points…I was always trying to be perfect…to make others happy…and that’s what I did with my ex.

    She said every thing I did wasn’t good enough and I tried and tried and tried some more to be better…but no matter what I did and no matter how good I was I fell short in her eyes so I tried even harder, cut off my friends and family to be with her more, worked more hours so she didn’t have to work, stopped talking to girls (that were only ever friends) that made her jealous, but excused her behaviors when she emailed or texted guys she hooked up with at one time or another, dressed how she wanted, followed her schedule, stopped going to the gym, etc…

    She did come from a poor family and there is suspected abuse and I tried to show her the good life (and for a time I tried to save her), I introduced her to my friends, encouraged her to make new friends (mom groups, yoga groups, etc) but she was always saying her unhappiness was my fault and that she missed how her life was, that I changed, that I wasn’t good enough, so I tried harder…after some individual counseling sessions I stopped acquiescing to her every wanton need and desire. I started going to the gym, setting aside some time for my friends/family and she ran off with my child (like her mother and sisters did before her) …”because I didn’t want to be a father”

    It has been a 3-year, $30,000 battle ever since. A battle in which all I wanted was 50% of the time with my daughter and I wanted her to assume 50% of our brief marital debt (less than a year and $10,000). Which is generous seeing as she took every piece of baby furniture, clothes, accessory, etc…and I am forced to pay 700$ a month in child support.

    I will discuss my take on my ex and her working/not working at a later time…

    Once again – sorry to ramble.

    I hope everyone is doing well and getting stronger each and every day!

    T

    Thanks again for this site DR T!

    • shrink4men
      July 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks for this, Thom. I understand full well what you’re describing re:psychology and diagnostic labels being using to avoid taking responsibility and not making the effort to overcome a challenge—whether it’s a learning disability or a difficult personality trait. Currently, mainstream Psychology has become a perversion of what it once was.

      Traditionally, analysis/therapy was used to help people explore their past in order to understand their pain in the present. Then, it was the individual’s responsibility to use that awareness to make different choices, change self-limiting behaviors and free themselves from the past and unconscious forces that controlled them. Today, Psychology has become a big cop out/blame game. “It’s not my fault because my parents did x, y, and z to me, so you have to excuse and put up with my bad behavior. I can’t help it.” Ugh.

      Or worse yet, women like your ex and other predators use Psychology to control others by taking a superficial knowledge and combining it with an enabling therapist who colludes with them. Instead of working on their issues, these women use Psychology to erroneously pathologize and control their targets. This makes me very angry.

      I believe that at it’s best, Psychology’s ultimate benefit (if used properly) is personal freedom. I don’t mean free to run around doing whatever you want and hurting others. I mean it should be used to help a person become more aware of how he/she is affected by and affects others, making clear conscious choices, to be able to say “no” to unhealthy/abusive situations, people and relationships and to set an example for others to become fully developed, conscious individuals. Instead, we now have a few generations of feminized, psychologized people who take little to no personal responsibility for their own unhappiness and are professional victims who blame everyone but themselves for their difficulties and misfortunes. That’s enough of my soapbox.

      Thanks again for your continued participation here, Thom. I appreciate it!

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  7. Jen
    July 12, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    oops! In the last paragraph I meant, borderline women and narcissistic men are attracted to each other like bees to honey (although my previous statement may be true as well).

    Also, I must add that as a women who has suffered at the hands of a borderline/narcissistic mother I know , firsthand the pain BPDs inflict. I have also had to struggle with my own borderline demons. I have worked extremely hard in therapy and self reflection to overcome my BPD tendencies (but it hasn’t been easy and it has hurt like hell to look inward).

    It hurts me and angers me when I see generalizations made about borderlines. Not all borderlines are evil, demonic, crazy bitches. Some borderlines are capable of recovery or remission. BPDs deserve some small bit of empathy and compassion despite their crazy behavior at times. But I also understand the need for men to run like hell to get away from the abusive and crazymaking behavior. It’s toxic and unhealthy to stay in a relationship with any BPD.

    • shrink4men
      July 12, 2009 at 7:25 pm

      Hi Jen,

      First, thank you for leaving such a thoughtful and honest comment. I appreciate and welcome your participation. I empathize with your experience with your mother and admire that you’re doing what must be, at times, some very painful personal work. However, for every individual like yourself who is making the conscious choice to face down his or her daemons, there are many, many more who blindly act out and abuse others.

      I agree with you, in theory, that labeling people can be harmful, if done in an all-or-nothing way. We make our way through life by assigning labels and making judgments about them. For example: hazardous vs. nonhazardous; toxic vs. non-toxic; flammable vs. non-flammable. I understand why some women bristle at the label “pathological bitch;” however, for many men who have been on the receiving end of the typical emotional, psychological and sometimes physical abuse many BPD/NPD women mete out, the phrase “pathological bitch” aptly describes their experience.

      Oftentimes, the first step in recovering from abuse is recognizing that what you went through was, in fact, abuse and then to reclaim and feel your anger. I neither encourage nor condone responding to a NPD/BPD woman in kind with name calling, demeaning or belittling. Anger usually involves strong language. To me, this is part of the 5 stages of mourning/grief/loss and healing. If a man or woman gets stuck at this stage, it’s a problem, but I think it’s healthy for a person to get out the bile in a safe supportive forum. We don’t tell women who have suffered abuse they shouldn’t label the men who harmed them as “monsters” or “sick, psychotic a$$holes,” but rather to consider the emotional pain and psychological demons they’re abusers are wrestling with and have empathy. That would minimize and invalidate what they suffered in the initial stages of healing.

      I don’t know how deep you went into my blog, but there are many posts and comments here in which readers and I encourage men who’ve been involved with BPD/NPD women to examine their role in the relationship, why they were drawn to this kind of person, and what it was they were getting out of the relationship. Throughout my writing, I stress the importance of personal responsibility and the power of choice.

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, Jen.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  8. Jen
    July 12, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    This is a great blog with practical information for any of us involved with NPD/BPD individuals. I’m glad there is a supportive forum where men can feel safe to share their experiences. I agree with the notion that too often we sympathize with women as victims of men’s abuse but we fail to recognize the suffering of men.

    However, I do have a problem with the general tone of many of the postings here. BPD women are characterized as pathological bitches by both the doctor and the men posting. While I can see why they can be perceived that way, the truth is that BPD suffer greatly – they suffer a pathology that they did not choose since it often is a result of childhood trauma. At the same time, this does not absolve BPDs of responsibility.

    The catch however, for those who are misfortunate enough to be with them however, is that BPD (and NPD) don’t often have the insight or motivation to change. This is a choice I believe that they have as an adult. Any man that choose to be with them cannot force them to change.

    However, the man in a relationship with a BPD, also has an opportunity to change. Labelling the BPD as a “pathological bitch” seems to be a way to avoid the responsibility for one’s on behavior. Why did the man get involved in the relationship with the crazy bitch in the first place, what inside him is crazy too? Growth comes with self reflection and examining the aspects of ourselves that are difficult to face. Pointing fingers does not help. Many men who are attracted to borderlines are narcissists themselves. I would not be surprised if many men in this forum are narcissists. It’s easier to label your partner a crazy bitch than to examine why you would possibly be attracted to her in the first place.

    The truth is that borderline women and narcissistic women are attracted to each other like bees to honey. If you want to understand the narcissistic/borderline dance, you need to understand how you lead. It’s easier and less painful to recognize the narcissistic elements in others rather than ourselves.

  9. Gerald
    July 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks Dr. T.,
    I unfortunately married and had a child with a BPD/NPD woman. I finally realized there was a profile for her personality and that it had been studied and well-documented a few weeks after she left with our 2 year-old daughter and refused to allow her back to stay with me until I filed for divorce and got the court system involved. My jaw has been on the floor over the past 20+ months as I have slowly unravelled what it was that I experienced in that horrible marriage. There are still too few resources for men who have experienced such trauma, so I applaud you for your work and your commitment to a more balanced discussion. I am now on a journey to recover from the chaos that I volunteered for while I work diligently to maintain a long-distance relationship with my now 4 year-old daughter. I was able to work through the system to obtain a generous exchange schedule even though we live 4 hours apart by car. I have her for 90-100 overnights/year and continue to keep tabs on Mom’s continuing erratic behavior. Eight months have passed since the divorce was finalized and she is already very pregnant and has moved back in with her parents/family. All I can say is I am glad to be living away from her nonsense. I just hurt so much for what my daughter has to endure.
    Thank you for all you do and please keep your voice strong and LOUD!!

    Thanks,
    Gerald

    • shrink4men
      July 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Gerald,

      I’m sorry to read about your experiences with your ex—especially re: how it’s affecting your daughter. I can only imagine the pain that must cause you. Unfortunately, once children are involved, there’s no way to extricate oneself from a relationship with a NPD/BPD “scott free.”

      They treat their children as other objects for them to manipulate and control to get their needs met, validation for their distorted thinking and as weapons to hurt their exes. Sadly, this usually transmits the craziness to the next generation. You have my deepest sympathy and my best wishes for yourself and your relationship with your daughter.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  10. Jeff
    June 29, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Dr. T

    I sure wish I’d known about your topics four years ago, but it’s informative and educational now since I’m still single. Your next topic: “I had the affair because I was insane”.

    In spite of that I wanted her to stay so we could work through it. She left anyway. Thank God. I’m W-A-A-A-A-Y better off.

    tanx. Jeff

    • shrink4men
      June 29, 2009 at 3:15 am

      Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate the feedback.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  11. Ed
    June 27, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    “if I blogged on similar topics that I wrote for their site was a bit of a deterrent. I’m a Psychologist. I write about…hmm, let’s see–Psychology, relationships, communication, etc. I didn’t realize one person could own all the topics in the world.”

    There is a time limit of such prohibitions. It comes under the heading of “restriction of competition” and is designed solely to protect your previous employer. Find a good lawyer and they will be able to restrict the length of the competition clause.

    You are doing good work. I anticipate seeing your books as soon as you are out from under the cloud.

    • shrink4men
      June 29, 2009 at 3:16 am

      Thanks, Ed!

  12. Gerry
    June 24, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Great Blog! I’ve been an emotionally “free man” for 4 years now. When turning 40, I had to sit myself down to examine the black hole I was swimming in for 20 years.
    I still have one more child, who is ten, to bring up as a sane and rational person after raising the first two into successful adults. Then I will live out the physical freedom as well as the emotional freedom I now enjoy.

    How validating it is to hear from others who have “walked a mile in my shoes” and a professional who really “gets it”. I do not express much to people since I have the most sensitive caring spouse in public… who turns out to be very different in private.
    I also have to say that I am a much better person today because of the trials I have been through. I stopped blaming my misery on her, and focused on building a better me. The best “revenge” is to live well no matter what difficult circumstances surround you.
    Clearly, she sees the end game surfacing…. I have had more respect and attention in a positive way since our youngest child is growing up. I do forgive her… I forgive myself. But I will make changes to my life when it suits my timetable not hers.
    Cheers all!

    PS … one more chuckle with a crazy story. We dropped off a pick up truck load of junk at the local landfill Saturday…. I even threw out the trash incorrectly…. she said I did it “wrong”. I did not pile it up correctly. I managed to laugh at what depth of insanity and pettiness that is. What is really sad, is the statement that makes on her poor little miserable life. I have more crazy stories… but, I know we have all lived in them personally and all know the scripts well.

    • shrink4men
      June 24, 2009 at 5:07 am

      Congratulations and good for you for finding the light at the end of the tunnel! Heaven knows it isn’t easy. Being able to laugh through the pain and absurdity of it all certainly helps.

      Best wishes to you and your children, Gerry.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  13. June 22, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Dr T said: “The courts and the satellite professions need some serious education on spotting these personalities and holding them accountable rather than re-victimizing the targeted spouse in family court.”

    We’ve helped a few harried clients develop strategy and manage the relentless, ruthless shenanigans of narcissistic spouses during their divorce process with quite a measure of success, I’m happy to report.

    We also have raised the awareness of nature of this problem with the family law attorneys we refer our clients to, but as you mention, serious education is needed. Most prefer to just get a Guardian Ad Litem and the Court Psychologist involved, drop back ten yards and punt rather than learn anything about psychology, in our experience.

    In a way, I guess I can’t blame them at times, because there’s only so much they can do within the law without evidence and the client’s retainer often dwindles away quickly with these types, but we feel that if we were attorneys we’d want to know how to defeat or at least defend against these types of people so it’s frustrating for us.

    What’s that saying: “It’s hard to get a man to believe something, when his paycheck depends on him not believing it”? Lawyers, on the whole couldn’t care less about their clients’ misery to this degree, because most of them bought their vacation homes with money from billable hours generated by either defending against or litigating on behalf of NPD/BPD clients.

    I have heard of the author you mentioned and the book he wrote about high conflict, NPD/BPD people and divorce, and though it’s on my summer reading list, the title escapes me at the moment.

    Trapped In The Mirror by Elan Golumb (?) was one book we learned a lot from.

    • shrink4men
      June 22, 2009 at 3:10 pm

      Many mental health therapists are the same when it comes to counseling NPD/BPD types. Many men I know were dragged to couples therapy year after year only to have it become another opportunity for their BPD/NPD to beat up on them with the collusion of a passive therapist. Or, worse yet, the therapists who allow men and women to attend therapy indefinitely in which they complain week after week about other people’s problems and are never held accountable for their own behavior.

      I applaud the work you and your wife do. Divorce is complicated and painful enough as it is. When you throw one of these personalities into the mix, it’s horrific. I would love if you’d share some of your strategies to manage narcissistic spouses. You’re right; they’re relentless.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  14. June 21, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Kudos for having the guts and wherewithal to tackle this topic and put up this site. It is sorely needed! My wife and I operate a divorce mediation facility in Rhode Island (she’s a certified Divorce Mediator) and we are always looking for new sources of information to improve what we do and help our clients deal with this problems these disorders create. We see it all to often lead to messy, expensive divorces and both men and women are devastated from it. I will be back and will send new visitors in the future.

    Well done, Dr. T.

    • shrink4men
      June 21, 2009 at 5:19 pm

      Hi Fulcanelli,

      Thanks! I appreciate your support, kind words and offer to send new visitors. I think Psychology is a wonderful discipline and can really help people change their lives. Unfortunately, the field doesn’t do a very good job in this area. There’s a lot of gender bias, suppression of contradictory data re: gender violence (psychological and physical) and a HUGE double standard. Have you read the books William Eddy has written on high conflict personalities in the court systems. I find it useful, however, like much of psychology (although he’s an attorney and LICSW), it still puts most of the responsibility on the targets of the abusive behavior and not the perpetrators.

      The courts and the satellite professions need some serious education on spotting these personalities and holding them accountable rather than re-victimizing the targeted spouse in family court.

      Thanks again for reading and posting.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  15. May 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Dr. T:

    Thanks so much for making the effort to create and maintain this site!

    I read and could relate to almost each and every one of the postings on it. The only thing I feel compelled to add is the message of hope.

    My personal journey in dealing with BPD/NPD women began over 30 years ago, long before the diagnosis had been completely formulated or some of the basic primers like “I Hate You/Don’t Leave Me” were published.

    Since then I have gotten progressively smarter, stronger and more resilient. But like anything we learn in life, if we don’t “practice what we preach”, you can relapse. My latest relapse, with a BPD who abandoned me 24 years ago, only to re-appear after that extended period to do it again!

    This is a cautionary tale for all who read it. Be scared, be very scared. These people are the epitome of evil. Evil will creep back into your life when you susceptible to it, and attack you in your weakest moment. Thankfully, by the grace of God (or whatever higher power you subscribe to), I had all of my previous wisdom earned via research, therapy and reading to fall back on.

    The net of this is my recovery from this latest episode will be swift(er), and I will go on to love again without any residual effect of this latest re-encounter with the Devil. In some ways I am thankful for having had this latest opportunity with my 2 times ex BPD; it has finally put to rest that silly, crazy “unrequited love” I once felt for her. In its place is understanding, pity and the relief I don’t have to allow her and her behaviors negatively impact my life every again!

    • shrink4men
      May 28, 2009 at 6:06 pm

      Hi Der Dane,

      And thank you for the positive feedback. I agree. Hope is a very important message. Men (and women) who are or have been involved with emotionally abusive, BPD/NPD women need to be hopeful that they can get through the nightmare of their relationships and recover instead of being hopeful that their tormenters will change.

      I’m relieved to read you were able to break free of your ex a second time. Life will present us with the same challenges over and over until “we get it.”

      Thanks again for reading and posting about your experiences.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  16. kenneth
    May 19, 2009 at 1:03 am

    I just finished ending a 6 month on again / off again relationship with a woman who I think fits your description.

    A lying, manipulative, crying, snivelling, deceptive, and above all self righteous human being.

    First off. I am no saint Ok and second I have always believed that woman could never set out to intentionally be selfish and abusive (probably comes from being raised by an physically abusive BPD step mother and henpecked dad ) so excuse me for looking like a dumbass for not leaving this witch sooner.

    I met her at first through work and by all accounts it seemed like the most normal relationship I ever had. We went for walks in the park, had coffee together, spent hours on the phone talking about everything. We both had very rough childhoods and shared that with each other. She seemed to struggle or just not want to forgive and let go of the past though and I found that disturbing. She had a lot of hatred towards her mother and all her past BF’s seemed to be bastards. Every one was out to get her it seemed and the world never gave her a fair shake. These were warning bells to me but Ignored them because I thought I shared some thing deep and meaningful and hey Ill admit it THE SEX WAS THE BEST I EVER HAD.

    Then the lies started. Ill shorten it by saying she told me one night after I believe she knew she had my affections (and we gotten a little physical by this point. kissing, touching etc etc ) that she was seeing a guy who was with her friend and it was just sexual nothing else . She wasn’t going to end it so I did ( I should told her to go to hell but I was trying to be open minded . Don’t wanna be branded as a red neck you know ). Long storey short once she knows I was hitting the high road she ended it with this guy and that’s when things got fun.

    Turns out it was an affair she was in but was more than just sex. He was in Love with her. She lied to me every step of the way about this guy. Long storey short it was a drama filled 2 months. Of the hot and cold you’ve referred to. I got blamed for everything for a 400 utility bill because of the nights I was over (it was 14 degrees centigrade in the house. I asked for it to be up to at least 18 so I could sleep and I was only over 6 times that month) and her gaining ten extra pounds (she said her eating habits changed when she was with me LOL what a load of shit). I mention those things cause they are ridiculous but there is much more.

    The first melt down was lovely. It was her screaming and yelling that she didn’t have time to comb her hair and it was my fault. It ended with me grabbing her hands as she was tearing her hair out in the car with a pick comb. The next day was my birthday. She called me and said sorry and seemed to sincerely apologize and invited me over to her place for dinner and she said she bought me gifts. I said some thing innocent that set off the pathological jealousy you referred to and she went off the deep end again screaming and yelling making outlandish paranoid accusations involving lying and infidelity ending it with me. I was not ready for that .Worst birthday ever

    Then it was two month hiatus. I changed my number and my shifts (we’re tech support) and did everything to avoid her .I got blamed for going through her purse and for hacking her machine (computer). I was starting to get scared cause this was nuts. She even went to my manager accusing me of this. I found this out later.

    Here is where I am a dumbass. She wrote me out of the blue two months later giving me the affirmation that I so desperately wanted and needed noting everything I had done for her and how I made her feel so good. I cried. I called her. The next day we’re in bed together. 2 weeks later more accusations of being a bastard when everything I had done had indicated I am not and her history puts her in no place to stand in judgement of me.

    Then her cat dies. Guess whose fault it is. Go ahead Guess, Your right! Mine. I stepped on it and caused internal damage to it. Talkes of when I told her of me stepping on the cats foot and twists it in to some thing else. She honestly believes this. Gets an autopsy done. Cat died of cancer. We are done ! ( I ENDED IT I HAD ENOUGH BY THIS POINTI) cant fit in all the other craziness in to this and I may very well have you in a psychotic rage for writing so much ( LOL ) but one question begs to be asked . What the hell is wrong with me. I know there is some thing cause I choose to be with this nut and I choose to allow myself to get close to her and that is some thing I have to deal with . I am going to make an apprt to see a therapist this week . I know my abusive background will have me with some one like this later on diown the road .

    I want to thank you for this site . I happened upon by doing a search on BPD girl friend laying blame and I found this . My world is starting to make sense again.

    • shrink4men
      May 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      I’m sorry to read you had such a painful experience with this woman. However, it looks like all the pain and craziness has finally pushed you to seek help to end the pattern of being attracted to crazy, emotionally abusive, BPD/NPD women. She was the “crazy straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.

      I wish you the best in sorting everything out and ending your attraction to these women for once and for all. You’ll get there.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  17. rebecca
    April 14, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Thank you so much, Dr. T!

    Your advice was awesome. You don’t know how badly I want to send him the link to this page! I won’t do that, though. That would probably somehow drag me into crazy bitch territory. (It is a bit annoying that the real crazy bitches have the ability to toss their nets, catch and drag us unsuspecting and fairly sane women into their territory now and again!)

    I forgot to mention that I immediately deleted all means of contact with her. I have zero interest in having her in my life and I REALLY don’t understand his fixation/codependancy with her.

    As far as the BPD diagnosis, that does sound about right. She probably also has issues from all of her drug use. Whatever it is, it sucks and I apologize for venting it here, but this is the only forum that seemed to fit with what I have experienced. Also, as a side note, I really enjoy your perspective on sexism in pop psychology. I am friends with many guys and I see how sad, alienated and burdened they feel because of our modern approach to gender roles. Hell, I am so bothered by it, I swear that I am probably the only 34 y.o. woman on the East Coast that has ever read and enjoyed, “Iron John!” I felt zero inclination to pick it apart (unlike all of my liberal arts professors!). Whatever strength, insight and growth men get from male-positive, non-sexist healing arts is not only great for them, but it is also better for me and the rest of the women out there looking for a healthy, kind and passionate man!

    Thanks again!
    Rebecca (sorry written on my phone, so it might be a little muddled)

  18. rebecca
    April 14, 2009 at 4:30 am

    Hello,

    Thank you for creating this site. It is very helpful for men, I am sure, but it is also helpful for me–a woman that just lost her romantic relationship largely because of the man’s on-going “friendship” with his abusive ex-wife. It is a very difficult and heart-breaking situation that I can’t quite reconcile. I was told that they were just friends, after being divorced for three years, and that she was supportive of him dating me. Although their divorce was very difficult, they both assured me that they had a sibling-type relationship. Maybe there was a little rivalry here and there, but they had worked through their problems in therapy and arrived at this sort of “platonic bliss” or whatever.

    I had a difficult time accepting this as the truth and even challenged the man early on, because it just seemed odd to me that she would still be so needy of him. She moved just a couple of blocks away from him over a year ago and depends on him for computer repair, moving, car trouble, spider killing, etc… (You get the picture.) This seemed strange to me from the very beginning. I wasn’t concerned about them having an ongoing romantic or sexual relationship (and I’m still not), but it seemed to me that he still wasn’t divorced from his role as her husband. I brought this up with him and he assured me that they were just friends and that, basically, they had healthy boundaries.

    When I met her on New Years Eve, she made an absurdly exaggerated effort in front of friends and family to make it seem like she was not just ok with me, but that she thought that I was “More beautiful than all of the pictures” she had seen of me. She also later joked to a waiter that I was her daughter. She is only 13 years older than me (and 5 years older than the man), but because of the seedy, drug addicted lifestyle that she led for so long, she has aged very poorly. Nevertheless, her attempts to overcompensate were outrageous and made me very uncomfortable. I don’t like it when people put themselves down, let alone do it in relation to me. The underlying suggestion is that I am responsible for how they feel at that moment and I feel obligated to compliment them or assuage their feelings of inadequacy. I won’t do it, though. I could tell that the man was very uncomfortable with her behavior. (In fact, his posture completely changes around her and he looks extremely stressed.)

    Anyway, she made a point of befriending me during that visit and then online, via myspace, as well as regular email. When I saw her again at another group function, she made a point of asking me how I had lost weight since a picture that was taken of me 4 years ago. I shared my exercise routine with her and she seemed interested and receptive, although she kept making statement after statement about how fat she is and how she used to be thin and on and on… I have been heavier at different times in my life and so I felt for her. I also used to be a plus-sized model and worked for several years to help friends develop a plus-size clothing line. I think that it is important to be healthy and that means not being ashamed of your body, whatever weight you are in the moment. Anyway, I digress…

    That night she joined the man and me for another cocktail at a nice bar close to the group function we had attended. When we were there, she started tearing into the guy, calling him a “whiny little bitch” and then telling me, once he got up for the bathroom, that she has “ruined him for all women.” The situation was overwhelming, but I held it together until we got back to his place later and I told him how bothered I was by what she said to him. He downplayed everything, because, I know now, he was accustomed to that sort of talk.

    In the following weeks and then months, she sent me some childhood pictures of him and tried to get closer to me. Meanwhile, I knew from him that she was telling him that he was treating me poorly ( I realize now, so she could diminish his self esteem, which led him to be closer to her and pull away from me). She also threatened to commit suicide several times. Her life wasn’t worth living, because of this, that or the other. She was getting her will together and she didn’t want him to be surprised if she killed hersel. He could have the dog… Basically, it was threat, threat, threat… (I am in no way suggesting that suicide threats are something to take lightly, HOWEVER, in this case, it was quite obvious that she was doing this to manipulate him.) As this went on, he and I saw each other less and less. I wasn’t entirely aware of the extent of her behavior, but his distancing from me was quite obvious. Also, when and if he and I had a disagreement over something, he blew it out of proportion and was overly reactionary, like someone that is already stretched to the max. Meanwhile, I see her on Facebook all the time (even the same day that she is supposedly going to kill herself), having a gay old time sending messages and posting pictures and reminiscing over the good old days. It was all very strange and, because I didn’t stick to my gut feeling and suspicions from Day 1, I got sucked into the situation. As he continued to distance himself for somewhat mysterious reasons, she made a point of getting closer and writing me these really cryptic messages about how she has a friend that is dating a guy and he is a really big jerk and that the woman keeps taking him back. And so on… She was implying that was my situation, of course.

    He and I had dated for a short period of time more than a year earlier, but his father died and he was overcome with grief and not capable of dating. It was very hard for me to handle at the time, but I had always felt strongly about him and that we would eventually pick back up again. We did and it was going really well until she became part of the dynamic (although, I suspect now that she was always part of the dynamic, behind the scenes, anyway).

    She and I continued to correspond and I was very positive with her (mom always recommended killing people with kindness). However, to make a long story, even longer, she called the man up to say that I was sending her pictures of grossly overweight women and telling her the things that he had said to me about her privately. He then sent me a message saying that our dating situation had gotten out of hand and that he couldn’t believe that I would send her pictures of overweight women! I was stunned. He said that I should have known better than to do that, because she is sensitive about her weight!

    What I sent her (and later posted to FaceBook) was a front cover story about my friends that own a super cool boutique with cutting edge clothes in larger sizes. I was excited about my friends and had even noted in my email to her that I had worked and modeled for them! Still, she called the man up to go on about how he had betrayed her by talking about her weight issues with me and that I was basically a bitch that was calling her fat! I was really upset that he aligned himself with her before asking me about my intentions. He had NEVER taken that tone with me before. It was clear that he felt that he had to protect her from me. Also, I never disclosed anything to her that he privately told me. She told me everything that I was responding to.

    He and I talked immediately after I got that message from him and while we were in a heated discussion, I received an email from her THANKING me for the article! I told him that immediately and he was very confused and said, “That’s odd…”

    In a recent conversation with her that preceded this event, she had been ragging on him about some issues with me and I politely asked her not to criticize him and said that he and I would sort it out on our own. I think that really threw off her equilibrium. Also, she told me in the email where she was criticizing him, that she couldn’t talk about him with me anymore, because they were once MARRIED (she is the one that capitalized it) and it was basically too painful for her to have him dating someone. This is after going on and on about how they are just friends and how much she wishes that he would put more effort into making things work with me! What the hell?!?!

    After he and I finished talking, we agreed to stop dating, which really sucks, because things were so good before she came into the picture. i know that he is responsible for his role, but I also think that he has a lot of emotional issues after being married to her (I just got a taste of her craziness). I have had some of the best times of my life with him and it is very hard to let him go, especially so he can get sucked back into the clutches of this narcissistic and cruel woman who has already inflicted so much damage. (I didn’t list all of the other nasty things that she said about and to him in my company. The worst being how she ripped about how he grieved the death of his father, because SHE is the one that has a real reason to be sad, since she lost her dad, brother, etc…)

    My brother, who is a very sweet and kind man, was married for many years to an abusive, alcoholic and most-likely narcissistic, woman. I saw how it changed and diminished his self worth. It was (and still is) very sad.

    I hate that this has happened to the first man I ever really loved. It is very painful for me and yet I feel so helpless. The only thing that I could do was send him a message stating my clear feelings about the situation and how he needs to disconnect from her due to the ongoing abuse (which I am sure ended their marriage to begin with). I also emailed him pdf copies of my online conversations with her, so when and if he is ever ready, he can review them and get a better sense of how she played the situation.

    He wrote me back a couple of days after I sent him the message and told me that he is not ignoring me, but he needs time to absorb everything that I have told him. I told him that I wanted him to take his time. I don’t want him to rush to any decision or judgment of the situation.I don’t think that applying pressure will help at all. He needs time and space (and so do I!). In that time I hope that he will see the situation for what it is, but I can’t expect anything. I know that the cycle of abuse is seductive and he is fully entrenched in it.

    I suppose that my point of view is unusual for someone on here, but I thought that it was worth sharing, since it is yet another example of how abuse effects more than just the couple caught in the cycle. I am sure I will always wonder how much better things could have been without her influence on this situation. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t be into me, because I don’t have enough problems or need to be saved! Who knows…

    Thanks for reading,
    Rebecca

    • shrink4men
      April 14, 2009 at 5:01 am

      Hi Rebecca,

      Egads, she sounds like your typical BPD nightmare. I’m thinking she’s more on the BPD end of the continuum because of the drama, gross boundary violations, and manipulative suicide threats.

      Your ex sounds pretty co-dependent from your description. You’re right, emotional abuse effects more than the couple. For the men who can move on, if there are children involved from their former relationship, their new girlfriend/wife has to deal with the toxic ex and sometimes extended family members.

      There is no being friends with or being nice to women like this. The only answer is to minimize or avoid all contact if possible. No matter how good the good times were with this man, it doesn’t make up for the hurt you suffered by his continued ties with his crazy ex. He should have been protecting you from her—not the other way around. Definitely not good.

      Thanks for reading and posting a comment, Rebecca. I wish you all the best in moving on and meeting a man who is completely and totally available for just you. There are men out there who don’t have this kind of baggage, or, if they had baggage at one time, managed to throw the old bag out.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  19. anon
    April 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    post has been removed at the request of the OP

    • shrink4men
      April 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm

      Hi anon,

      You’re welcome. Asking your parents to read information about what you’re going through, whether it’s my blog or other resources, is smart and adaptive. Unless you’ve experienced what these women are like firsthand, it can be very difficult to describe it to others. Oftentimes, you’re met with disbelief and/or people think you’re the crazy one.

      Also, it’s a good way to prepare your parents. Many BPDs and NPDs begin vicious smear campaigns when jilted. They have no compunction about contacting your family and friends and making up the nastiest, crazy, lies about you. Some of these women even claim they were abused or that you harmed your kid(s). They’ll tell people you’re “losing your mind” or “having a mid-life crisis” or pathologize you by claiming you have a personality disorder. They’ve even been known to call their exes’ places of work. Giving your parents’ a head’s up will save you a lot of stress later.

      As for your mother’s question, it’s not at all unusual for a person’s personality to change when exposed to prolonged repetitive emotional and/or physical abuse. Any kind of abuse is a violation of trust and a betrayal. If you stay in the relationship after it happens the first time, you open the floodgates for future abuse. It doesn’t matter if they apologize for the hurtful things they do. If someone is truly sorry, they do everything in their power not to hurt you again (also, these women typically only feign remorse when they’re scared you’re going to leave—most of the time they blame you for the horrible things they do or deny it happened). These women are Olympic gymnasts when it comes to distorting reality.

      Staying in a relationship after being emotionally abused basically telegraphs to the NPD/BPD that her behavior is ok because she didn’t experience any negative consequences for treating you poorly. Being angry with her and conflict isn’t a deterrent; she feeds off negativity and making you feel bad. Once you decide to stay in the relationship and tolerate the abuse, these women slowly begin to erode your confidence, what you know to be fair and true, your self-esteem, your self worth, your belief that you deserve better, and a sense of your ability to take action in your life. You begin to doubt yourself, feel like you’re crazy, feel powerless and develop what’s called “learned helplessness.” This explains how a person who was once independent can become scared, confused and dependent.

      It’s sort of like what happens to a prisoner at a POW camp. A BPD/NPD woman basically brainwashes you into believing that she’s a saint, that she puts up with you, that she’s a victim and you’re the bad guy. If you receive these messages on an endless loop, eventually, you’re going to start to believe it. Also, her rages, tantrums,verbal attacks, cold shoulders and tear-filled “poor me” dramas are so convincing, you begin to wonder if maybe you are a jerk. THIS IS ALL PROJECTION and PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION.

      A BPD/NPD woman projects the wretched feelings she has about herself, but will never consciously admit to you or anyone else (including herself), and pins them on you. When she says, “You’re angry and unloving,” she’s actually describing herself. This is called projection. Projective identification is a much more insidious and primitive defense mechanism than projection. Projective identification is when a BPD/NPD woman takes her crazy, internal garbage and self-loathing and manipulates you into feeling what she feels. For instance, when she goads you into losing your temper—it’s because she’s the one who wants to explode. So you feel her inner rage for her and she gets the added bonus of playing the victim/martyr after she baits you into blowing your stack.

      Or, she shuts you off sexually, avoids intimacy, shows you no warmth or physical and emotional affection, you feel abandoned and seek comfort elsewhere. Then, you’re the bad guy for having an affair after having been starved of love and affection. She’ll also blame you for her frigidity by saying that “maybe” she would have wanted to have sex with you more often if you weren’t so—fill in the blank—“angry, hostile, distant, spent too much time at work (to support her, mind you), or were ‘nicer’ to her.” Projection, projection, projection.

      I know one NPD woman who actually taunted her ex-husband that if he wanted to have sex so badly, he should go out and have it, “Just use a condom.” This man wasn’t a crazed sex fiend, he just wanted to feel loved. After he had an affair and told his wife he wanted a divorce, she called him disgusting and portrayed him as a villain. When he reminded her she told him to go have sex with someone else, he had the fleeting satisfaction of rendering her speechless for a moment. You reap what you sow, which is why I have no sympathy for these women and neither should you. When you feel sorry for them you leave yourself open for more abuse.

      Wow, I’ve gone on quite a tangent. I hope I answered your parents’ question. Yes, it’s possible to undergo a significant personality change when in an emotionally abusive relationship. However, it’s also possible to recover who you once were prior to this relationship. You’re still that person. The strong, independent part of you had to go into hiding because a BPD/NPD woman can’t tolerate strength and independence in others—it means they’re not in control. So they break your spirit to control you and establish their distorted view of themselves and reality. It’s like being under a spell. You’ve broken the spell. You can put yourself back together.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  20. Mr. E.
    April 1, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I read your entire blog today and found it very helpful. The tone of the writing on some of the other sites concerning emotionally abused men can be panic-inducing (at least for me). I’ve actually felt relieved reading your posts. It’s also wonderful to find a site where I don’t have to mentally substitute in “woman” and “wife” and skim past the “men are scum” bits.

    One thing I’m struggling with right now is how to actually find a counsellor/therapist. My work does offer a few counselling sessions per year, but I have no idea if they’d have any expertise with this kind of situation. I’ve gathered that it’s hard to find support as a man. Can you offer any guidance in finding help?

    • shrink4men
      April 2, 2009 at 3:41 am

      First, thank you for the kind words about my blog. I’m writing this blog for the very reasons you mention about other sites that deal with emotional abuse. They’re heavily slanted toward men being abusers, which is perplexing since women perpetrate abuse just as much as men. Recent research shows that women are also equally likely to be violent. Guess the “men are scum” sites will need to rethink their stance…or continue to operate in denial.

      Second, I advise you not to use your managed care provider to pay for therapy. They don’t protect your confidentiality and may give information to your employer when they file your claim. As for finding a good therapist, I’d avoid female social workers as a general rule of thumb. Find a psychologist (PhD or PsyD) or a Masters level therapist whose degree is in Psychology. Call them and see if they’ll offer you a consultation (for free) before you decide to work with them. Ask him or her point blank if they’re experienced with helping men who have been emotionally abused by a woman with NPD or BPD. Ask if they believe it’s possible for a woman to emotionally abuse a man. There’s a lot of gender bias in the mental health professions, so I’d cut right to the chase.

      If they don’t have the expertise to treat you, ask if they can refer you to a colleague who has the right experience. Also, I don’t know your financial situation, but many therapists, especially in this economy, will offer a sliding scale. Oh yeah, almost forgot, I’d avoid Catholic, christian, pastoral, and/or new age/spiritual therapists. Some of them are great, but unless you’re specifically seeking faith based or “spiritual” counselling, you don’t need someone telling you to practice forgiveness when you’re actively being abused by your girlfriend or wife.

      Please check back and let me know how you’re doing. Thanks again for reading and writing.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

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