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. John
    October 27, 2009 at 6:56 am

    I need some help with this.
    My ex-wife is an alcoholic with a diagnosable personality disorder. She followed the path that her mother took and subtly drove a wedge between my daughter and I from the moment that my daughter could talk until emotionally I was shut out. Just as happened with her father. I felt that I was never allowed to bond with my daughter and as she grew my parental position was constantly undermined. Any attempt to impose even the mildest form of boundary was undermined and met with over-indulgence from my wife. Also my wife had a perverse nature that required anything good to be spoiled and eventually destroyed. By the time my daughter was 11 years old she and I had become strangers under the same roof. The situation became intolerable and when my wife realised that our family was likely to break up she then instigated emotional blackmail that instead of resolving the situation, actually made it worse.
    After the split (2003) I tried to share my daughter but was thwarted at every turn. After 3 years of being treated like a leper I left the UK and now reside in Europe. I have not seen my daughter for over 4 years. I have constantly sent messages of love and encouragement with at best no response, at worse to have my advances rebuked.
    I have no help from my family as my childless sister pays lip-service to me ex-wife to ensure access to the ‘child she never had’ and her misplaced surrogate motherhood has had devastating consequences.
    So to sum up.
    1, A daughter who I understand is difficult to control and experimenting perhaps too much with alcohol. She has a history of self harming, prescription drug overdoses, and treatment for depression (She is now 17 yrs).
    2,An alcoholic supine mother with no control over my daughter. I know she has poisoned my daughter against me but is in total denial and convinced friends and family that the difficulties between my daughter and I are nothing to do with her.
    3, A sister who even my parents (My Mother has since died) as long as 15 years ago described as behaving in a peculiar manner due to never having had children. (She knew 18 months before I did that my daughter was self harming but entered a pact of silence with my ex-wife to ensure that my wife didn’t cut off access).
    4, Me. I’m now 61 years and in torment with this hurt that never goes away. I liken it to an endless bereavement.
    I feel that I’ve done everything I can to resolve or at least improve the situation and have run dry of hope and ideas. What do I do now or where can I go to for help?

    • shrink4men
      October 27, 2009 at 6:46 pm

      Hi John,

      I’m very sorry to read what you’ve gone through with your ex and your daughter. I don’t know what to tell you. Since she’s almost an adult, it would be hard to try to enlist the courts to intercede on your behalf. Do you know if she’s receiving therapy? Perhaps you can reach out to her therapist, doctor, school headmaster or social services to express your serious concerns and wish to be involved and help your daughter.

      I realize it’s cold comfort, but keep sending your daughter messages. Tell her that you love her no matter what her mother and aunt tell her. Offer to pay for her to come see you in Europe (she’ll be 18 soon and her mother won’t be able to stop her). Hopefully, someday she’ll see through these two hateful poisonous women and seek a relationship with you.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  2. Bill
    October 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    You’re doing an admirable thing here. The next time I meet a man who is suffering as I did over these last several years, I will make him aware of your site.

    I was married to one of these people for over 19-1/2 years. My divorce became final in March, 2009. Best move I could have made. I am now the man I was on my to becoming before my life took a very shabby detour. My children have a new and far better example of “normal” family behavior set before them.

    Appreciative best wishes,

    Bill

  3. October 16, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Except for finding my way to this exact spot (i.e., this empty field so I can jot some thoughts), I will probably write more words here, right now, than I’ve ever read on your site (that’s because I just found you).

    Cart before the horse? I don’t think so. Instinct, very good possibility.

    The fact is I’m not sure which path (literally) I took to get here, but I already know that I’m very glad I accidentally found *you* … *you* as in *credentialed* … *you* as in one with an obvious abundance of a charismatic personality (I think I read [no pun] that from the red hair, mirror and professional business photo). That image carries a lot about who you are … but you know that.

    I can be the poster child for sociopath victims.

    Being in my mid-50s, I just finally discovered why my oldest sister continually beat the crap out of me, before I out-grew her, when I was about 15 years old. My dad would beat me up, too, but only when he drank, and thank goodness he didn’t start drinking until 5PM … everyday. My sister was his favorite. I always figured that because he beat the crap out of me, she just joined in, knowing she’d never get in trouble.

    But I recently discovered that I needed to re-write my history — it was my sister who sabotaged my childhood, manipulated my dad, and what was her driving force? Simple jealousy. For three years before I joined the world, even with another sister between us, she got *all* the attention. Old family photos hold secrets.

    And I would guess from her point of view, mom’s going to have another baby, so we know how that tune plays out, life goes on, and she knows she’ll still be the *one.*

    Except, if my folks didn’t have a boy, that would put an end to any future generations of our family name. I do not believe anyone could be younger than I was when I was set-up for failure.

    It’s a boy! Namesake, even. Photos being held by every distant relative (possibly some unknown bystanders, too), many who had not appeared in any previous family photos, and virtually no sign of my sister in any of the photos. Photos of my dad holding me, clearly show the pride in his face, and occasionally a sister with a stern, glaring stare.

    By the time I began storing memories, though, I have no recollection of ever seeing that pride in my dad’s face. Never. The abuse was physical and emotional, if being continually called “stupid” and “will never amount to anything” would be considered emotional, then yes.

    I had no relationship with my dad, and during my 20s, there would be periods of 2-3 years with no contact.

    In my early-30s (mid-1980s), I decided to make peace with him. My efforts began to show results sometime in the mid to late-90s, as we began to talk weekly, often more than weekly, living on opposite coasts. But in 2003, I caught my sister lying to me over what I thought was a fairly benign question, sort of like a pothole in the road. That was no pothole, though, as it was already a bottomless pit. I was late.

    She was not about to let me get between her and my dad. When dad died in 2006, she kidnapped my mom, and while laughing on the phone, told me I’d never speak with her again. Laughing. My mom and I were the closest. She died a year later.

    Now imagine in the middle of all that, I was married for 12 years, to a woman I knew had “issues”. I also knew she had a psychological evaluation which I was never privy to. When she walked out in 1995, I found the evaluation. Bipolar, borderline schizophrenic, paranoid, pathological liar, sees and hears non-existing people, claims to have evil spirits … I bet you can get the idea. I was awarded full custody of my 4 year old son (now in pre-law) and 2 year old daughter (senior in high school).

    My sister and ex-wife, who began working together, were very successful in destroying my character. Even my relatives will not speak with me.

    I had a passion for life, but now I struggle to maintain just the will.

    When you can’t see a future, it makes for another lousy day.

    I just recently started this …

    http://Country-of-Liars.com

    (sorry, I didn’t mean to use up so much space … you are welcome to use that much, or more, on my site ; )

    Also, nice to meet you.

  4. jp
    October 11, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Love the new interface but I’m gonna miss the Magritte! As Lebowski would say, It really tied the blog together. Mais ceci n’est pas une plainte.

    JP

  5. October 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    you are awesome dr. t. my mom was super emotionally abuse in our household. she broke down everyone’s spirit, especially my dad’s. i wish he read your site. whenever i try to hint to him there’s something wrong with my mom, he says your mom is always right. ahhh! crazy! anyways, i’ve moved on with my life, that’s all i can do. i’m so glad you have this blog. you’re probably helping so many people. =)

  6. Kevin
    October 4, 2009 at 1:05 am

    This is the greatest sight on the web and hey its a damn big web, 25 years with a narcissist. Devalued disgarded and abandon. Her kids family and friends will have nothing to do with her. She is all alone. But I guess thats the way they wind up. Divorce is final on Oct 5. Im heartbroke and sad but, I have my kids, family pets and friends. Her last email , she told me That I needed to take some responsibility for the family breakdown. What the hell…… Do you have a book ? Please tell me you a book!
    Ps: Will you marry me

  7. Glen
    September 21, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Hi
    Just to say I’m really enjoying your website.
    Four years ago I went though a terrible family breakup with almost no support and eventually ended up coming close to being sectioned due to the fact that the behaviour of my partner was pushing me close to suicide. Four years on and I see from your site exactly where I should have been going instead of where I went. I only wish I had this site available to me back then and perhaps it would have given me some tips in self defence, physically and emotionally.
    There were kids involved and they were used as weapons against me and this made it incredibly hard to stand up for myself ( and them in a way) and I gave into the abuse just to be near them. The conflict of interest drove me full tilt to self harm and eventually the sectioning route.
    Thankfully I managed to pluck up the courage to walk away from her ( not them) and save myself and my family from a complete meltdown.
    To this day, I still find it hard to understand the cruelty shown by her and her family and the utter lack of empathy to me and our childre and I still find it incredbly hard to talk to here when getting my kids etc, to the point of tears even now.
    Such was the force of the matter.
    However, I am heartened to see there is a resource to refer to here, that I can analyse and perhaps understand some of what happened and why although I dont think it’s ever going to be expainable.
    My friend is now going through a similar ( but less violent) situation and I thank God he has this tool to use in his defence.

    Thanks for the site.

  8. Groundy
    September 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Dr T.
    I was married to a jerk that screwed my head up so bad that my doctor called him the problem in my life after speaking with him for just a few minutes said he was ‘probably’ NPD. I have been reading your site and just in amazement. Some of the things you say, have actually happened in my life. The drama,choas and dysfunction. The mind games and projection.
    Once I was able to free myself of him and be able to continue in intense therapy has helped. I Believe these personaily trait people to be dangerous.
    I realize this is a site geared towards men, but I just role revurse.
    Thanks for some insite.

  9. wife
    September 14, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    To paraphrase:
    Pop psychology has created a great deal of harm in both men and women

    You have trite/easy answers that don’t hold up. I’m speaking from a wife who’s husband feels like I’m the bitch. I won’t go into the lies and deception he has engaged in over our long marriage. After a while the credibility isn’t there. But he only sees that he isn’t respected. He wants the credibility first then maybe he will perform to that level. Things don’t work that way. Then you come along and say that the wife is just a big bitch. These are not easy answers that can be solved by telling a man how great he is when he doing what needs to be done such as behave with openness, honesty and integrity. Everyone suffers when you just pile on without understanding the complexity.

    • shrink4men
      September 14, 2009 at 11:20 pm

      Hi wife,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I haven’t said “the wife is just a big bitch” anywhere in my posts nor do I think the topic of emotional abuse perpetrated by women or men who possibly have narcissistic and/or borderline personality disorder is trite or easy. There are many levels, which I try to dig into with each successive post.

      To be honest, I can’t make sense of the rest of your comment.

      Best,
      Dr Tara

    • Danielle
      September 15, 2009 at 1:52 am

      Hello,

      I am writing in response to the comment placed by “The Wife.”

      I have followed this site for nearly six months and have never once witnessed Dr. Tara offer trite and/or easy answers. She gives detailed answers from an educated and compassionate point of view. She is also insightful, experienced and honest enough to “call a spade a spade”–or, if necessary, a bitch a bitch. As a woman, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      In fact, I think that far too many women get away with being bitches and I am tired of it. I am also tired of seeing good men bullied and belittled by needy, nasty women that justify cheating, stealing or lying. That behavior is not OK — no matter whether a person is male, female, transsexual or hermaphroditic.

      With that said, Dr T is providing a much-needed platform for men who have endured the predictably unpredictable abuse of borderline and narcissistic women. This is her specialty and she is damn good at it. She isn’t addressing your average disagreement between two healthy people or even the occasional outburst that can happen during trying times within a relationship. She is addressing is a pattern of abuse that harms an underrepresented group. This group happens to be heterosexual men. Her advice gives men the information that they need to free themselves and heal from these relationships. What’s so wrong with that?

      Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people were in healthy relationships? Think of the residual effect just one abusive relationship has on a community. (Multiply that by thousands or millions and then you’ll begin to comprehend the importance of her work.)

      I appreciate her work so much, I will probably share this site with the next man that I seriously date. Why? Because I will want to know about his relationship history and if he has ever been in an abusive relationship. It is important to me to know and share these sorts of things. It is also important to me that I don’t emulate the worst behavior of women and hurt my partner. (Even though women’s bad behavior is actually encouraged or often considered “cute” within our culture.)

      The only reason a woman would view this site as threatening is if she was already ashamed of her behavior. It really is that simple, despite the supposed “complexity” that “The Wife” is mentioning in her confusing post.

      (It almost seems like she is saying that openness, honesty and integrity are not enough for her. She wants the man to somehow react/respond perfectly within a gray area that she designs and controls according to her “complex” interpretation of past transgressions. Hmm… no wonder she doesn’t care for a site that gives her husband something consistent to hold onto!)

      Last thing: I would like to mention a family friend that recently committed suicide after enduring many years of abuse from his second wife. Her last words to him included, “I never really loved you” and “Being with you has made the last three and a half years of my life absolutely miserable.” His parents and three children didn’t even want her at his funeral, but she showed up looking flashy like she was ready for a night on the town. If I’d known what he was going though, I would have directed him to this site. I am thinking of him and his children today. The residual effect of her abuse will reverberate for generations, as his children move forward without a father and his grandchildren never know what it is like to sit on their grandpa’s lap. From now on, I will continue to think of Tom whenever people minimize the effects of abuse on men.

      Kind Regards,
      Danielle

  10. Andrew Johnson
    September 12, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Thank you!

    Your insight is priceless. I have found it very helpful in my recovery from the abuse I endured at the hands of a BPD/NPD monster. It has been an uphill battle but I’m slowly making it out of the cluster.

    Your straight-from-the-hip style is a much-needed break from the feel-good touchy-feely sugar-coated nonsense that poses as self-help.

    Thank you thank you thank you!

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

    • shrink4men
      September 12, 2009 at 1:02 am

      You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome!

      Thank you, Andrew. It’s always good to receive positive feedback. Congratulations on getting out, btw.

      I’m with you. I don’t like the touchy-feely, feel-good, sugar-coated stuff either. One of the best billboards I think I’ve ever seen was an advert for the Boston Herald newspaper II think it was the Herald). The caption read: “If you want something sugar-coated, buy a doughnut.” It made me chuckle, anyway.

      I wish you the best in reclaiming your life.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  11. Lis
    September 11, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Dear Dr T,

    My father was emotionally abused by my mother. She belittled my father constantly and compared him to other men who she thought were better providers. She would do this in private and in public. Our home life was in constant uproar waiting for the next shoe to drop and it was like walking on egg shells.

    I know its wrong for anybody to hit anyone but my father hit my mother in the beginning of their marriage because he couldn’t stand her put downs and humilations. I don’t think he hit her because he wanted to control my mother…he just wanted some peace.

    He did stop being physical abusive towards my mother because she got the authorities on him and she played victim. So he would sit in his easy chair and let the verbal abuse float over his head. After my mother smashed her dishes and slapped the door to the bedroom crying my father said to me…”I know you love your mother very much but she has something wrong with her.”

    After my father died…she turned on me. I became the next victim of her abuse. .

    So guys…women can be brutal and they can be deadly with their lethal words.

    I have empathy for you guys who have to go through that. It’s no fun..

    • shrink4men
      September 11, 2009 at 1:11 am

      Hi Lis,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m very sorry for to read what both you and your father have endured from your mother. When you were a child, did you realize something wasn’t right between your parents? Did you ever wish your father would leave and take you with him? Were you aware of the difference between what went on in your home and what went on in your parents’ home?

      I’m asking these questions because many men on this site stay in incredibly abusive and unhappy situations for the sake of their children. Of course, you’re under no obligation to answer these questions and I apologize if I’ve overstepped a boundary.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Lis
        September 11, 2009 at 11:30 pm

        Dear Dr Tara,

        My father and mother would fight constantly. They never divorced. They never went to a marriage counselor because my mother would always blame my dad for everything. When I was a kid I thought the problem was because my mother came from a city and my dad was a country boy. I was born in 1957. It was my mother who said my father was the abusive one but as the years went by and how she treated me afterwards; I wonder if there was something wrong with her. I noticed a pattern with my mother; she never got along with my father’s relatives, she never got along with one of her sisters back in England and she never liked my brother’s wife and her family.

        I adored my father because he never made judgements about me. He accepted me as who I was. I was bit of a tomboy before I reach puberty and he got a kick out of that. He liked me being a individual and being an outspoken little kid. I always enjoyed watching him shave before he went to work and he enjoyed it when I sat at the cellar stairs watching him work on wood or auto projects. I never ask a dumb question to my dad. He always enjoyed explaining how things worked and he would break things apart to see how a engine worked for me.

        My mother didn’t like me being a tomboy. It became a big issue for her. I think because of her nutty behavior who wanted to imitate a nut case who was so self absorbed? My mother thought she was Marilyn Monroe and she bleach her hair. She was a good looker and she loved the attention. She always told people that was her nature hair color which was a lie and dyed my hair too…a mother and daughter thing. I hated dresses because she never picked out anything that was comfortable. I got outfits that look like Lucy’s in the Peanuts and they were always tight around the arm pits. It was so bad they would rip. She never ask if the outfit was comfortable. She was concerned about making an impression. She was upset that I didn’t want to play with dolls and play dress up because why should I torture little innocent dolls? I prefer hanging around with my brother, dad and taking care of our farm animals.

        School counselors came around to talked to me at school. When my mother found out I was told not to talk to them. I would keep family problems a secret. Maybe they knew my mother was disturbed and needed some intervention but back in those days they thought my mother was just eccentric.

        My father developed emphysema during the early 60’s and progessively got worst during the seventies when I went through puberty. My mother wouldn’t sleep with my father when they got into a fight especially after they both start drinking. I think they were having bedroom problems and both became frustrated. We had a guest room in our house but my mother refused to sleep there and I spent my early teens having her in my room. I guess she thought it bonding with her daughter but I think it would of been preferable if we picked berries in garden and make some jam.

        When she went into a real snit with my father she would run away from home and I was dragged along for moral support for our three day adventure away from bad old daddy and the brother who sided with him. It was against the boys against the girls. When her snit faded and her welcome worn out because she would drive her friends up the wall with the constant complaining about my dad; they would give my father a call to pick her up. The host would calm her down and it was kiss and make up with my dad. It made me feel good to see them happy again. Everything was lovey dovey until my mother went into another snit and the same drama repeated itself again. Holidays were especially disasterous. My mother would complain about what she got for Christmas and my mother would start comparing my father to other husbands who were much better providers.

        If you want more detail please ask! I don’t mind helping out the gentlemen out there. I had to go through therapy too. I developed bipolar disorder from all the stress I went through after my father died because I wasn’t allowed to morn for him and had to attend to my mother self absorbed drama. She always felt life dealt her a bad hand…I wonder why?

        I am married now to a wonderful man for twenty three years. My husband came from a emotionally abusive household and his father was the alcoholic abuser. We have a healthy relationship because we wanted to make a difference and raise our children in a stable household. His parents passed away a long time ago but my mother is still alive and I keep my distance from her for our sanity.

      • shrink4men
        September 12, 2009 at 2:30 am

        Dear Lis,

        It’s a testament to human resiliency that both you and your husband made the conscious choice not to replicate your parents’ relationships and mindlessly perpetuate the cycle of abuse. I wish you both every happiness.

        Thank you so very much for sharing what must be painful childhood memories here. Many of the fathers who visit and post on this site wrestle with the question if it’s better for their child(ren) to stay in their abusive relationships or leave.

        I think your story illustrates that staying in the relationship doesn’t protect your child from the other abusive parent. While it doesn’t necessarily answer the question is it better to stay or leave, but it certainly sheds new light on it.

        I hope you’re taking steps to distance yourself from your mother’s ongoing abuse. No one deserves to be treated that way, especially not after what you experienced as a child.

        Thank you again for sharing your experiences, Lis. I appreciate it and I’m sure the fathers and soon-to-be fathers who participate on this site appreciate it.

        Kindest Regards,
        Dr Tara

      • Lis
        September 13, 2009 at 1:08 am

        Dr. Tara

        “When you were a child, did you realize something wasn’t right between your parents? Did you ever wish your father would leave and take you with him?…

        I’m asking these questions because many men on this site stay in incredibly abusive and unhappy situations for the sake of their children.”

        I don’t know anything is different except there’s more resources out there to help individuals to get out of abusive relationships especially for guys. It’s coming out of the closet now about women who treat men poorly. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect by others.

        Times are changing.

        I grew up during 60’s and 70’s. Laws were set up to protect the mother. The children usually go with their mothers. Fathers basically had no rights except pay
        alimony and child support . That’s what they did in my parents generation. Maybe my father didn’t want a divorce from my mother because he worry about the emotional abuse she might dish out for me and my brother if left in her care.. Better be home to take the blunt of the punishment than seeing your kids being bullied to bits.

        I was basically confused especially dealing with a mentally unstable mother. A child always love their mother even if they’re half insane.

        I wanted my parents to be happy but I thought fighting was normal part of a marriage.

        I know now that mental illness were not treated back then especially for bipolars and those suffering with with histrionic or narcissist personalitiy disorders. If my school contacted family services maybe they could of intervene to help our family and treated my mother. I noticed they do that now but back in my parents generation intervention was very hard to do by outside authorities.

        Also having a mental ill parent was very shameful stigma and you kept those facts hidden from people who could of helped you.

        Basically my parents lived in ignorance and didn’t know . Plus my mother refuse to admit she created some of the problems in her marriage. It was always my father’s fault and bad upbringing.

        My mother never left my father because she wanted to keep up her appearance to her family back in the UK. This is right after WWII and the standard of living was lower back then because they were still recovery from the war. Going to America was a big thing for a young woman because you live in a land of prosperity. When she complained to ther brothers about her “horrid living conditions” and didn’t find roads paved with gold they told her come back home to the UK but she never went back because that would mean she failed.

        It was just a crazy childhood.

        My brother was first to distance himself from his mother because he wanted to perserve his marriage but I took longer. I didn’t start distancing myself until I got treated for my bipolar back in 1994. As I got well I was able to see that my mother wasn’t quite right especially when she tried to take control of my marriage, my children and my illness.

  12. Lori
    September 8, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Hi Dr. Tara,
    As a woman with BPD I must say your website is eye opening and spot on. It’s kinda hard and hurtful to read but I can see better what my soon-to-be-ex husband has been going through all this time. We’ve been separated for 9 months while I’ve been in therapy and I’m actually still nowhere near ready to be in a relationship (much less a marriage). Oh well, hopefully this site can help more good guys steer clear of women with these kinds of disorders. It never works until the woman has been successfully treated and no longer has BPD/NPD which can take years and years apparently.

    L

  13. Barry
    September 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Dr.T,

    Just wanted to thank you for the website and the immense amount of help it has been!!! My situation was not nearly as bad it could of been because of your site!!

    I met what I now understand to be a NPD woman about two months ago. I was very attracted to her physically but from the start sensed that something was just off. Then, during the course of a brief dating experinece she:

    1. Repeatedly went hot and cold on me sometimes during the course of a single date.

    2. Would ask me to tell her my feelings and then later flip out on me for opening up too much.

    3. Ask me to get closer to her then tell me she was angry at me for getting too close.

    4. Repeatedly talked about her male friends who wanted to have sex with her.

    5. Told me she could only have sex if she was drunk and that she got drunk and had sex with another man and it was my fault…because she was angry at me for getting too close?

    This psycho rollercoaster hell ride finally ended two weeks ago and I know it was for the best. It ended after I verbally confronted another man that was hitting on her and she accussed me of being unstable and dangerous? I told her I was sick of the abuse and that she treated me like crap. Her response was “Quit your crying”!

    I have not heard from her for two weeks. My question is based on your expertise will she just go away and get her attention elsewhere or should I expect “round two”. I have my fingers crossed that I escaped but my friends are telling me I better expect new contact?

    I had no idea this sort of person was out there! Once again, thank you for helping me better understand this problem and the steps to get away!

  14. Peter
    September 4, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Hi Tara,

    where was your web site all those years? This is SO SPOT ON that I can’t believe it! How did you know my ex-wife and my (also now ex-) girlfriend at such a detail? If your blog was a list with boxes to tick, there would be tick-marks all over the place. After been through a marriage with an NPD/BPD woman (one child for extra blackmailing bonus) that cost me amongst others a great deal of money (to say she financially ruined me would not be far from the truth) I fell straight away for another one of the same caliber and I have only just recently (with the help of a psychologist) managed to break free from that one.

    Reading through some of your articles (Sex & Control, How EAWs control you, Divorce & Break-Ups) is like you have been looking over my shoulder all the time: yes to this, yes to that, done that, got this reply, the works. I’ve just got one word: unbelievable.

    This is like somebody cleaned my glasses and put them on my nose where they haven’t been for a long time AND switched the lights on! My ‘shrink’ did her best to convince me that indeed I was the ‘normal’ one and my girlfriend wasn’t (and I’ll gladly tell her about this website) but this is so much more analytical and down to a T that it’s a joy and relief reading it.

    Your statement “Men have been devalued by women and pop psychology for being who they are. The pendulum has swung to the other extreme in that women, who were once oppressed, have become the oppressors. Equality of the sexes can’t be legitimately achieved by denigrating one group in favor of the other. ” rings so true.

    For years it annoyed me watching TV-ads where men were depicted as being the dumb one while their spouse excelled as the smart one. This has been rampant in England for a long time and nobody seems to bother. Anything on TV where the woman would be the slower one and the man the smart one would immediately cause an uproar.

    I shall study your posts with great interest (particularly the sections about how to get out of that unhealthy relationship pattern).

    In the meantime: Kudos to you for this marvel!

    best regards,

    Peter

    • shrink4men
      September 5, 2009 at 6:41 pm

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your very kind feedback re: my site. I’m glad it’s been helpful to you. Congratulations on recognizing your old unhealthy relationship pattern. Once you understand what you’ve been doing, you can break the pattern and move onto something healthier. It can be a very liberating experience.

      I wish you a speedy recovery and much future happiness and fulfillment. You can get there.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  15. Dave
    September 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Hello Dr. T.
    Wow. I have only read a small part of what is on this web site, but oh so much hits spot on. 16 months ago I packed my stuff and left a note on the bed explaining I was leaving and had filed for divorce because I knew that this was the only way to escape. I have found some help and support from another social networking site Experience Project and I am forever thankful to the people there that gave me the strength to move on. What you talk about here is so true. I will be reading more as time permits because with kids in the mix I will have interaction with this person for a long time. Would you allow a link posted on Experience Project to allow others to easily access this site?

    • shrink4men
      September 5, 2009 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Dave,

      I think you already plugged Experience Project by mentioning it here, but if you want to post a specific link, that’s fine. It’s nice to see they’ve moved beyond the often tawdry true confessions they were doing a little over a year ago. That always seemed more gratuitously voyeuristic than helpful to me, sort of like the web version of really bad daytime talk shows.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Dr Tara

  16. Danielle
    August 30, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Hi Dr T and everyone here,

    Thank you so much for the nice comments. I get a lot out of this site and I am happy to contribute when and where I can. In fact, finding this site was one of the best things that I “took away” from my last relationship. Thank you, Dr T! (I just cracked myself up as I wrote that, because it is totally true!)

    Frank: I hate that your ex did that whole secretive trip with the girls thing. It makes me think of those Vegas commercials, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” My response to the TV whenever those commercials air is, “Not if it’s an STD!” I’m not prude at all, but I do think that it is pretty sick that our culture condones vacations that are all about cheating on your partner. All that does is perpetuate hurt and broken hearts.

    The bottom line for me is that those types of women are users and opportunists. They use nice guys for stability and sleazy dudes for attention. The relationships that they have with other women are competitive, impulsive and shallow. Then again, these women trust each other with deep, dark secrets (and there are many), because they all have something(s) on each other. It’s like they operate on a calculated tit for tat scheme.

    For instance, my brother’s ex would go on trips to Vegas with her girlfriends and they would all screw around on their husbands or boyfriends there. When my brother would ask her about the trip (that he paid for!!!), she would leave out *a lot* of details and lie to him. Everyone around my brother and his ex felt as though she was up to no good, but we couldn’t prove it. She also had an advantage because, after many years of being degraded and put-down, my brother no longer trusted his gut instincts and so he rarely challenged her. When we said something to him about her behavior, he would say that she was just “flirtatious” with other men. As I stated before, that definitely was not the case.

    I have many good female friends. Some of them have been in my life for more than twenty years and some of them are new (within the past couple of years). A lot of them are in long-term relationships. None of them have ever hinted that they want some sort of seedy vacation away from their partners. If anything, they wish that they had more time with them. I’m the same way when I am in a relationship.

    I’m not saying that couples have to spend all of their time together, but there is a difference between distance and betrayal. These types of women lean toward betrayal, because they believe that they are entitled to loads of attention (and so they will go out and find it). A healthy woman does not let her need for attention from people outside the relationship outweigh her commitment. Also, when you love someone, you don’t want to hurt them or give them reason to be concerned.

    All the best,
    Danielle

    • shrink4men
      August 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for your positive feedback and continued support. I think you’re description of the serial infidelity of BPD and/or NPD women is probably pretty accurate. It doesn’t apply to all of them—some are so scared of intimacy that they also avoid sex at all costs and treat it as a “break glass in case of emergency” resource.

      Your brother’s wife sounds awful. He has my sympathy. I can’t even imagine how painful that must be. Let’s hope he eventually wakes up and comes to his senses. Many guys do—even after 20 or 30 years—and it’s better late than never.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  17. Stressed
    August 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I forgot to mention she has threatened divorce at least a dozen times, broke up with me at least 4 times in college and will at least so far, come back saying she would be crazy to leave me and I am a wonderful man. She feels bad for putting me through it, but rationalizes her behavior somehow so that it was my fault she left.

  18. Stressed
    August 28, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Dr T.

    Reading the blogs was like reading my life with my wife. She wants a divorce now, I guess I should be thankful right? I still love her though, I must be sick. She actually calls me abusive/manipulative/controlling. I almost have to laugh to keep from going crazy. Looking back, I find it hard to remember her doing kind things for me, and if she did, they would be used against me or god forbid if I didn’t say thank you, I would get the silent treatment. It is amazing what I have put up with. I am not perfect, but no one deserves to be treated poorly. A few weeks ago she got mad at me for something and called me some choice words. I bit my tongue and the next day told her I wanted to be respected in the relationship and not swore at and called names. She immediately tells me I tear her down and don’t build her up enough. So then we dealt with her issues without mine being addressed. I can’t tell you how many times she has twisted my words and then stabbed me with them. I can never seem to do enough, and she never seems to appreciate me. She will want one thing and then want another, never seeming to be happy. I have suspected she has bipolar or possibly boarderline but she has only been diagnosed depressed. She binge eats and talks of eating until her body becomes so unhealthy that she dies. She remembers how I “wronged” her and continuously brings them up to make me feel bad. These things could be from when we were in college 12 years ago. The list isn’t that long so I must be doing alright :) I have apologized for stuff dozens of times, but still never hear the end of it. She is unhappy and I am the cause of it. Recently a month ago she wanted to go back to school and become a physical therapist. Now this is after she fought and emotionally abused me because she didn’t want our kids in daycare when they were in it. I didn’t make enough money and it was my fault. We moved to a cheaper location and she has finally stopped working, but money is tight. Now she wants to go back to school and start working. That would mean we would have to put the kids in daycare. I was OK with it, but worried how she would handle putting them in daycare again. So now she is living with her mom and dad and took the kids 180 miles away and is planning on going back to school and her mom can watch the kids. She says I tried to stop her from working. ???

    You are saying that there is no hope for someone who is like this?

  19. melove54
    August 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Ref: Danielle- August 13th comment
    You are spot on Danielle,.. My X had only 2 close friends, and they lived out of state. They were much like her (N types). They were her sorority sisters. Promiscuity would not be beyond comprehension with any one of these 3 women, based upon my knowledge of their history. Each year since college(past 20 years), these three would plan a week long trip somewhere. I can assure you this, when that time of year came around, there was so much elusive, evasive, and deceptive behavior from my X. And when the trip was over, for me to even enquire about “did you have a good time” or “what did you guys do” was extremely brief,.basics if you will. I had to let it go at that, or else I caught hell. Never saw any pics of these vacations, except once. She made the mistake of leaving a package of pics she received in the mail earlier that day on the kitchen counter. It was full of pics of the same men they apparently hung out with the entire trip. I left this package where I found them and when she arrived home, I intentionally left the room and they were gone when I came back a minute later.I played dumb and asked where the pics were? Long story short, she had hid them in the pantry. The wheels and cogs of her mind turned, and the BS began to flow!

    In every social event we attended, she rarely conversed with women, and she would especially avoid me, roaming from group to group. If I were to approach a group she was in, she would move o within a minute or two to avoid me once again.

    We had a bit of a long distance relationship, however, the gist of my business was in her region, so I spent 4-5 days a week with her. Most activities we shared were by ourselves, because she wanted it that way. We never associated closely with anyone except some neighborhood gatherings. Other than tailgate(football season), we never, not once in 5+ years, had associations outside the season with any of her colleagues. Although she considered them to be her close friends.

    Introductions to people she knew via her business was nothing short of rude. Each and every time, I would have to introduce myself. “oh, I’m sorry, yeah, this is Frank!” Whatever!

    For all you guys out there, recognize these signs for what they are! You may view such acts as subtle, in essence, they are self-serving ploys, and there are always ulterior motives relating to their actions and words. Everything I described above were acts of control. She limited my knowledge of her girl-friend trips. She controlled who I should know. She even controlled my presence with her in social environments! Many did not even know we were a couple, much less being engaged!

    Take heed as well to what Danielle stated about her brother’s significant other, that she was highly promiscuous. This is a common trait of a NPD/BPD disordered individuals. If you are in a relationship with a NPD/BPD, understand this, “this is not their first rodeo!” They are slick and convincing, so don’t bury your head in the sand like I did so many times.

    Read Dr. T’s latest article on the 10 lies men tell themselves,..each of these 10 lies we tell ourselves is how and why we bury our heads in the sand!! It is what it is gentlemen!

    Sorry Doc, got carried away again!

  20. Jeffrey Ernest
    August 13, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Dr T,
    I have been seeing this woman who has been really nice and shown no signs of NPD/BPD that I have experienced before and read about on your sight. Early on I shared my fears of being with anyone abusive and a little of hell that I was in during a previous relationship. Around 45 days into dating and hanging out she shares a story with me that has be concerned. I feel like running but I wonder if I am being premature with my thoughts and not giving her a chance.

    I have backed away and she has not come chasing or calling. The story goes like this. Her x husband was abusive in a lot of ways and physically sometimes. 10 years ago she called the police and he was arrested for domestic violence. 3 years ago during a heated discussion about divorce after they had been separated he said, “you threw me in jail and if your still mad at me for what I did, than just hit me”. SO she said she punched him in the face with no regret to this day and drew blood. Than knew she could be thrown in jail for domestic so she spent the night with him.

    Is there any excuse for another human being to hit another human being. My gut reaction says no, even if they deserved it. I am answering my own questions as I type this but I would really like your response.

    Thanks
    Jeff

    • shrink4men
      August 13, 2009 at 8:08 pm

      Hi Jeffrey,

      Yikes. I don’t know. It’s a definite red flag, but who knows, it could’ve been one of those moments when bad judgment and anger collide to create the perfect storm. On the other hand, it’s better to be safe than sorry given both of your relationship histories. This is a judgment call. I think the only time it’s okay to commit physical violence is in self-defense. I’d go with my gut on this one. Believe it or not, there are women out there who don’t have this kind of baggage—just run of the mill emotional scrapes and bruises that they’ve learned from; not actual black eyes.

      I’m not saying having been in an abusive relationship makes you a bad person or unworthy of a relationship, but she hit the guy and then she slept with him… At the very least, it’s poor judgment on her part; at worst, she’s got some real issues and you’re right to worry about them.

      Have you had any conflict with her yet? How does she handle disappointment with you? How does she describe her other relationships, i.e., does she blame others for her problems?

      Anyone else want to chime in on this one?

      Best,
      Dr T

      • Jeffrey Ernest
        August 13, 2009 at 9:11 pm

        The one conflict we have had over a miss read text sent her off to ponder ignoring me and a text for a day and a half. When I a day and a half later that I was done she said she was just getting ready to call and invite me to coffee. Coffee was quite and listening to her explain her actions. She kinda laughed and called me a runner if I was willing to just bail so quickly when she decided to ignore me without an explanation. That is when she decided to throw out the hitting story because she thought well lets see if he can get past this too at the same time.

        I have disappointed her a few other times and she has stayed quiet and just thinks with out yelling. I see how she is with her 12 and 8 year old boy. They are nice and very respectful to her and me. She heard her take blame for some relationships. And I have heard her explain that her X is not a bad Father just a lazy one. He doesn’t pay anything and she never yells or cusses him. She just says the clock is ticking and money is just adding up.
        She does not have many girl friends but does keep in contact with past boyfriends who may have lasted 10 to 32 days which is her joke. Her family is a disappointment to her. They live in Utah and Colorado. She says they have done some mean things to her and her family which makes her want to have nothing to do with them. She doesn’t believe she should put herself around mean people.

        When I have been with her she has always been sweet and caring. But I am concerned about investing time into a time bomb if this is what it is. Or is could just be me. Dating at this age really sucks because we all come with our own experiences or bagage.

      • Mr D
        August 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm

        I’ll take a stab at it, Dr T.

        Does she have any friends? Close friends? Long-term friends? People she has worked through stuff with?

        Does she have personal problems – can’t hold down a job, problems with family, ex’s she keeps around? Does she blame other people for her issues or does she bear responsibility well? Have you ever heard her genuinely say, “I’m sorry,” to you?

        The fact that you backed off and she didn’t hunt you down is probably an decent indicator but like Dr T said, she might have had a spell of bad judgement in that hitting situation. Who knows…I’m an engineer, not a doctor. That’s my two cents.

        • shrink4men
          August 19, 2009 at 6:20 pm

          These are all great questions, Mr D. Thanks for your 2-cents! They’re far more valuable than 2-cents.

          Dr Tara

      • Danielle
        August 13, 2009 at 9:52 pm

        Hi there,

        I think that it all depends on how and why she was telling you this story. Was she telling you, because she was reflecting on how unhealthy she was and how much she has changed/healed/grown since then? Or was she telling you this as a way to gain sympathy and set herself up as a victim for you to save?

        I have always felt that it is important to listen closely to people’s stories and observe how they “cast” themselves in the story of their life. Do they see life as something that is happening to them or do they see life as a series of choices that they make on a daily basis?

        It seems to me that healthy people reflect back on their life as a series of lessons and not an accumulation of injuries. Sure, bad things do happen to good people, BUT healthy people learn from those experiences. Healthy people become more compassionate from the experience of suffering and, with a few exceptions, more independent*. Unhealthy people become less compassionate and more needy.

        This doesn’t mean that needing a shoulder to cry on now and again is weak or unhealthy. Sometimes it takes a lot of strength to ask for help. However, healthy people get better and become, like I wrote above, more compassionate and independent because of their suffering.

        Going back to the subject of the woman that hit her ex-husband: In my opinion, if the woman did punch him after years of abuse during a heated debate and in the midst of a divorce, she was probably not acting as she would under normal (even normally stressful) conditions.

        I mean, if I beat a sweet dog enough, it wouldn’t be sweet anymore. it would eventually bite me as soon as it saw me coming. Does that mean it would continue to bite other people? Maybe. Maybe not. This could have been an isolated incident for this woman. The fact that she went to bed with him afterward is, in my opinion, a testament to the fact that they were indeed in an abusive relationship.

        It could be that she brought this up with you because it weighs heavily on her conscience. If she didn’t bring up the sex part, it could be that she was acting like a tough cookie saying, “Don’t ever abuse me, because I will hit you back!” Who knows?

        If I were you, I would take it slow, listen closely to what else she says about her life and go from there. I doubt that she is just another crazy bitch, based solely on this story, but I cannot be sure. My other advice is to go with your gut instinct.

        All the best,
        Danielle

        *I don’t mean for “independent” to mean that someone never needs other people and is distant or emotionally disengaged. I actually think that the ultimate goal in life is to arrive at being interdependent. As Wikipedia states, “Two states [independent and dependent] that cooperate with each other are said to be interdependent.” I think that the key word there is “cooperate.” I like the sound of that!

        • shrink4men
          August 19, 2009 at 6:32 pm

          Hi Danielle,

          It’s good to hear from you! Thanks for chiming in; you make some very good points, especially “taking it slow.”

          Best,
          Dr T

      • Danielle
        August 13, 2009 at 10:51 pm

        I don’t really like the fact that she makes a point of hanging on to past boyfriends and/or guys she has dated. This makes me think of my brother’s NPD ex who needs constant male attention and claims to be “friends” with lots of guys. She cheated on my brother with at least 36 guys during their marriage and is extremely manipulative.

        Now that I have read more about this woman, my recommendation is for you to to stop seeing her and move forward with your life. It seems to me that women who do not make or retain deep female friendships are too insecure to have a mutually-respectful and honest relationship with a man.

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