Archive

Posts Tagged ‘emotionally abused men’

You Are Not a Princess! 25 Points for Women and Men to Consider


I’ve been writing this blog for almost a year now. In that time, I’ve noticed many double standards and gender inequities in relationships that are culturally acceptable. Here are some of my observations for women to consider in terms of their own behavior and for men to consider in terms of their own enlightenment when it comes to women and relationships. The following points don’t apply to all women, however, they apply to enough of them that they’re part of our faulty cultural belief system. Hey ladies (and you know who you are):

1. You are not a princess. You do not deserve to be treated like royalty just by virtue of your sex. You deserve to be treated no better or worse than you treat others.

2. You are not any more “special” nor any more “entitled” than anyone else. You don’t deserve special privileges and nobody “owes” you anything by virtue of who you are or because of your gender.

3. You are just as “lucky” to have found your husband/boyfriend as he was to find you. Have you ever considered that there are times when you are lucky that he puts up with and tolerates you?

4. Men have feelings, too. They hurt just as much as you do when you criticize, reject, dismiss, ignore, make fun of, disrespect, invalidate and/or mock them. In fact, they may hurt more because they don’t have as many emotional outlets as you—especially if you tell him his feelings “don’t count” or to “be a man” when he expresses his feelings that you mistakenly claim he doesn’t have and/or is “wrong” for having. He has feelings and he has a right to them even when they’re not the same as yours and/or are expressed differently than you express yours.

5. If it’s okay for you to have male friends and maintain friendships with your exes, it’s also okay for your husband/boyfriend to have female friends and maintain friendships with his exes. It is not different for you because “you’re a woman.” It’s faulty logic to suppose women are inherently more trustworthy than men. This is called a double standard and it’s not okay. Otherwise, the culturally acceptable pronouncement, “Men are all dogs” should be met with “Women are all bitches” (i.e., female dogs) and should be equally culturally acceptable.

6. A father is just as important in a child’s life as a mother. Period. Just because you have a uterus doesn’t make you the better parent by default.

7. Children are not “hers” and “his” objects. The correct possessive pronoun is “ours.”

8. Your husband/boyfriend does not “owe” you. He shouldn’t be expected to financially support you and shower you with gifts unless you’re willing to reciprocate and equally support him without question or complaint. You’re neither his child nor his dependent. You’re supposed to be his equal partner.

9. Your husband’s/boyfriend’s desires, needs, wishes, feelings, likes and dislikes are just as important as yours. It’s not all about you all the time. You’re supposedly in a mutual and reciprocal relationship; not a service industry/client-vendor relationship.

10. If you’re not willing to make changes in yourself and your behavior,  you’ve no right to demand that your husband/boyfriend do so. Nor is it reasonable to demand or expect your husband/boyfriend to make all the changes you want first before you’re willing to do your own work.

11. You are not a better human being by virtue of being a woman. You’re not a goddess. You’re not a sacred cow. You don’t “rule.” You’re a person, just like your husband/boyfriend is a person. You both deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect when you act and treat each other with dignity and respect.

12. It’s a lie and a manipulation to say you “sacrificed” your career when you never really wanted to work in the first place. If you see your husband/boyfriend as your ticket to freedom from being a wage slave, be honest with yourself and your husband/boyfriend and most important of all, BE GRATEFUL. Having another person pay your way through life is not an inalienable right; it’s an enormous gift for which you should express gratitude on a regular basis.

13. It is wrong to use your child(ren) to hurt, control or extort money from your husband/boyfriend/ex. In fact, it borders on child abuse. Children are not pawns or human shields to be used for your own selfish reasons. They’re people who will later grow to resent you for using them in this fashion and will likely develop psychological problems of their own as a result.

14. It is wrong to expect or demand that your ex continue to financially support you after the relationship ends. The children are entitled to support until they become adults at the age of 18. You’re already an adult and, as such, you’re capable of and should legally be expected to take care of yourself— unless you’re willing to continue to support your ex by doing his grocery shopping, cooking cleaning, errands, etc. If your obligations to your husband are finished after a divorce, his obligations to you should also be finished.

15. Your husband/boyfriend is not responsible for your happiness. It isn’t his job to make you happy; that’s your job. Just as he is responsible for his own happiness. He’s supposed to be your equal partner, not your emotional wet nurse.

16. The desire for sex in a committed, loving relationship is healthy and natural. Using sex to control, shame or hurt your husband/boyfriend by withholding affection or making sex transactional is unhealthy and wrong.

17. Your husband/boyfriend should be more important to you than your child(ren) just as you should be more important to your husband than the child(ren). In other words, you should be each others’ first priorities; children second. You don’t need a husband if your sole desire is to have children—unless you see the man as a source of income for yourself and the children. If you can’t support yourself, you probably shouldn’t be having children. Marriage is a bond between two grown adults; not a bond between parent and child (Marc Rudov, 2008). You vow to honor your spouse and put him or her before all others, this includes your children. Children eventually fly the coop. If you make them the focus and raison d’être of your marriage, don’t be surprised when you no longer have much of a marriage as the years pass.

18. You are only entitled to what you earn or produce. Men are neither beasts of burden nor “working boys” to be pimped out in the service of their partners or ex-partners. No one owes you a living. As an adult, you’re not entitled to be taken care of by another party unless you have documented cognitive or physical disabilities that prohibit you from working. Last time I checked, being a wife, ex-wife, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, mistress, ex-mistress, mother and/or simply a woman wasn’t considered a disability.

19. It is just as ABUSIVE when a woman slaps, kicks, hits, spits at, scratches, shoves, pushes, punches, pulls hair, uses a weapon, swings a golf club at or throws objects at a man. It isn’t funny, cute, justifiable or deserved. It is indefensible, inexcusable, criminal and just as prosecutable as when a man acts violently toward a woman. Period.

20. The same goes for emotional abuse. It is unacceptable.

21. It is neither “normal” nor “acceptable” adult female behavior to throw temper tantrums, withhold sex, cry, rage, pout, have disproportionate reactions to events or be unable to control emotions and behaviors. At the very least, these are signs of emotional lability and poor impulse control; at worst, these are indicators of serious pathology and quite possibly some kind of personality disorder.

22. It is not okay to divert money from your joint checking/savings account(s) or open credit cards in your husband’s/boyfriend’s name without his knowledge and explicit permission. The first instance is stealing and the second is considered identity theft and fraud. Signing your husband’s/boyfriend’s signature to financial and legal documents is forgery. All of these actions are illegal.

23. It is irresponsible to live beyond your means and abusive to expect your husband/boyfriend to foot the bill or go into debt to cover your expenses. If you can’t responsibly use a credit/debit card then, much like a child, you shouldn’t have one.

24. It is never acceptable or permissible to threaten to deny your husband/boyfriend/ex access to the children you share. It is not okay to make up abuse allegations because you’re feeling angry, hurt or out of control. This is an act of slander (spoken) or libel (written) and if you swear to it in court, it’s also an act of perjury.

25. It is not fair to commit to or marry a man and then try to change him. If you don’t accept him as he is, just like you expect him to accept you and your faults, then you have no business being with him. Everyone has a right to feel accepted for who he or she is in a relationship. If he’s “not good enough” for you from the get go; keep looking and cut him loose so he can be with a woman who appreciates him.

All of these observations seem self-evident to me, which leads me to ponder how did we get here?

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

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

Donations

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

Photo credits:

Princess syndrome 1 by anagley on flickr.

Princess syndrome 2 on lavalife.

Brat child on turnbacktogod.

Emotional Detachment: When the No Contact Rule Is Not an Option


The No Contact Rule is always the best policy when ending an abusive relationship, however, many people don’t have that option. For example, if you share a child(ren) or if you both work for the same company and can’t afford to transfer or find a new job. In these cases, it’s vital that you learn how to emotionally detach and let the verbal jabs, criticisms, eye rolls, dirty looks, sighs and other passive-aggressive and/or just plain aggressive behaviors bounce right off of you.

What is emotional detachment?

There are two schools of thought on emotional detachment. Eastern-based, meditation types define emotional detachment as the ability to:

  • allow another person the freedom to be themselves
  • accept that you can’t change or control them
  • be compassionate and caring toward the other person while calmly accepting whatever happens

They explain that detachment is not indifference because indifference means you’re neither present nor caring toward the other person.

This is all well and good, but when it comes to an emotionally abusive spouse, partner or colleague, it’s not safe to be compassionate and caring in response to their abuse because it makes you a good target for more abuse. It’s only safe to exercise compassion and caring toward an abusive individual from a very safe distance — psychologically and/or physically. I don’t think it’s possible to develop compassionate emotional detachment until you’ve had time to heal from the abuse.

If you’re not quite ready to don saffron robes, the less “enlightened” form of detachment may be the best option for you. I define emotional detachment as the conscious choice to not allow another person push your buttons and hurt, anger, frustrate or annoy you. The easiest way to do this is to develop indifference. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference. While it’s natural to hate someone who has hurt you repeatedly; hate still gives her power over you. Indifference removes your psychological stake in her, her behaviors and the relationship.

It can take a while to develop indifference and emotional detachment. Until you reach the point where you no longer care what she says or does, my advice is to fake it ’til you make it. Here are some tips for cultivating practical emotional detachment:

1. Downsize her. Reduce the importance you give your abusive spouse or partner and increase positive influences in your life. Shrink her influence over you by:

  • Making new social contacts or reconnecting with old ones. The more time you spend with healthy, positive people; the less exposure you’ll have to her toxicity. This has the added bonus of reminding you that there are happy, kind people in the world which makes it more difficult for you to minimize or rationalize her hurtful behaviors and less likely to believe her lies that you’re a jerk who nobody likes.
  • Replacing bad habits with good habits. Instead of sulking, simmering in mute rage or flying off the handle, take up jogging, join a basketball league, etc. Making yourself physically and psychologically stronger will make you more immune to her nonsense.

2. When she says, “Jump,” stop saying “How high?” Tell her, “I’m working on something important. I can’t do x, y and z right now.” When she comes to you with a problem she wants you to fix or wants you to do something she’s capable of doing herself, respond by saying, “Wow, what are you going to do about that?” or “I’m sure someone as smart and capable as you will be able to handle that very easily. Let me know how it goes.”  When she rages; tell her you’re going out until she regains control of herself. If she gives you the cold shoulder; go for a walk or meet a friend at the gym. Create consequences for her bad behaviors, just like you would with a 5-year old.

3. Make yourself your first priority — especially if you have children. It is so very important to take care of yourself when you’re involved with an abusive woman. She’ll drain you and eat up all of your energy, resources and attention until you’ve nothing left for yourself if you let her. In this respect, this kind of woman is a parasite and you’re the host. If you don’t take care of yourself and maintain your physical and mental health, you won’t be able to be there for your children when they need you. This is the same reason airline safety regulations instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting your child.

4. Observe; don’t react. Everything your wife, girlfriend or ex does that drives you up a wall is purposefully designed to hurt and get a reaction from you. She controls you like a puppet on a string by getting you to engage in the content of her verbal attacks, silent treatment and/or passive-aggressive jabs (e.g., saying something cruel in a sweet tone of voice and then accusing you of being oversensitive). Therefore, take a mental step back when she starts the fun and games and simply observe her machinations for what they are.

Her covert and overt attacks are the adult equivalent of a 5-year old who calls a grown-up a “doody-head,” pouting, saying a bad word or tormenting you by saying the same stupid phrase over and over again; “I know you are, but what am I? I know you are, but what am I? I know you are, but what am I?” When you show a 5-year old that they’re getting to you, they escalate the behavior—just like your abusive wife, girlfriend or ex.

5. Observe and reframe. Think of her as a 2-dimensional TV sitcom or melodrama character and stop taking her seriously. Oh boy! It’s time for “The Susan Show” again. What crazy things will Susan say and do this week? Stay tuned to find out! The reality is that abusive borderline, narcissistic and/or histrionic women don’t have any depth. They’re very 2-, if not 1-dimensional beings. There isn’t any “there” there. If you continue to search for some deep meaning in her behavior and why she does the things she does, you’ll only continue to frustrate and disappoint yourself. What you’re looking for simply doesn’t exist.

Alternatively, think of her as a lab animal who has learned which levers to push to get her reward pellet. When you stop rewarding her with the reaction she seeks, sit back and watch her go into overdrive. She’ll push even harder on your buttons and levers and try to find new ways to get a rise out of you. All you have to so is sit back, observe and smile until she gives up in confusion and despair.

Next week, I’ll continue to explore other ways to emotionally detach from your partner and her abusive behavior. Thanks for your patience.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

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

Photo credit:

Iron man by freakscity on flickr.


The No Contact Rule: Committing to It and Making It Work


The Power of No

Whether you’re a man or a woman who’s been on the receiving end of an abusive relationship, here’s why the No Contact Rule is the best policy after breaking up.

The sooner begun, the sooner it’s done. The sooner you make a clean break and stick with it, the sooner the healing process can begin. It’s natural to sentimentalize an ex after a break up, however, you’re playing with fire when you wax nostalgic for an abusive ex.

She may have been nice from time to time and occasionally very sweet, sexy, etc., but these fleeting moments don’t make up for the pain and damage she caused you. Each time you initiate contact or respond to her overtures, you have to start the healing process all over again.

Re-initiating contact only prolongs your pain. It’s the difference between ripping a band-aid off quickly and all at once or peeling off the adhesive very slowly, one arm hair at a time. Ouch.

Do not apply salt to an open wound. Engaging in contact with your ex, even a little bit, is like rubbing salt into an open wound. Some men maintain no contact for a year or more, run into their ex and Bam! They’re caught up in all the old painful feelings again. This is why it’s just as important to really explore why you were in that relationship while maintaining No Contact so that you’re not susceptible to your ex or others like her in the future.

If you give her an inch, she’ll make a grab for your kidneys. You may think you’re being nice by accepting her calls and responding to texts and emails, but you’re not. You’re giving her permission to keep yanking your chain. If you give an abusive ex an inch, she’ll take a mile.

This woman interprets your willingness to maintain contact as interest in rekindling the relationship or that she still has you on a string — and if you respond to her, she does indeed still have you on a tether. She’ll continue to be possessive and intrusive. All she needs is the smallest bit of attention — negative or positive — to keep her going.  If you want her to move on and find another target, you must starve the beast. That means no contact and no attention.

How to do it:

1. No calls, no texts, no emails, no smoke signals, no carrier pigeons. Make a list of every nasty hurtful thing she said and did to you and keep a copy near every communication device you own.

2. No “accidental” meetings (if you can help it). Change your routine. Go to the gym at a different time or on different days. Find an alternate sports pub. Go to a different grocery store. Yes, it’s unfair that you have to change your lifestyle for the moment, but time and distance is how you’ll heal. Alternatively, even if you have to have your best friend lock you in your apartment/house, do not go to places you know she’s likely to be. Even if you think you’re doing this to show you how happy you are without her, this will backfire on you. Don’t do it.

3. Avoid places that remind you of her. If it makes you turn into a sentimental mess to go to the restaurant the two of you went to every Friday night; don’t go.

4. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Ask your friends, family and associates not to tell you news of your ex or act as her intermediary. For example, when a woman like your ex can’t reach you because you’ve gone No Contact, she’ll often enlist others to contact you for her.

Alternatively, some people think they’re being helpful by telling you about your ex’s latest crazy antics or newest boyfriend. Nip this is the bud and explain that you prefer not to hear about your ex. Tell them that you know they mean well, but for the time being, you don’t want to know what she’s doing, who she’s dating or what her Facebook status is, etc.

5. Don’t keep a foot in the door. This applies to your foot as well as hers. Whether it’s leaving a few things behind at your place or negotiating visitation with a pet, you must cut your losses. When you break up, get all of her stuff out of your home asap. Pack it up yourself and drop it off at her new place when you know she won’t be home or have it delivered.

If you’re the one who moved out, do your best to get all of your belongings at once. Don’t leave anything behind that you can’t live without. Do not allow her or yourself an excuse to resume contact. If you adopted a pet while you were together, I know it’s painful, but just let her have the dog, cat, ferret, etc., and be grateful you only shared a quadruped and not a child.

6. Don’t take the bait. Many of these women send cruel, demeaning and often obscene emails, texts and voicemails. Your initial impulse may be to defend yourself or be “right.” Don’t fall for this. If you do, you’re taking her bait to keep you engaged. The only way you can “win” with a woman like this is not to play her sick games and get on with your life without her.

7. The eternal sunshine of a spotless mind. Pack away photos, gifts, notes, etc. that remind you of her and “the good times” — all 2 or 3 of them.

8. Delete her from your life. Delete her name and number from your phones. Delete her email addresses. Delete her from MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and every other website on which you’re currently connected. Block her incoming numbers, texts and emails.

Do not answer calls from unknown or private callers. An abusive, crazy ex is the reason Caller ID was invented. Exception: If she is physically threatening you, blackmailing you or threatening to lie about you, save these communications and contact an attorney. You may need them for a restraining order and/or to press cyberstalking charges.

9. Avoid alcohol and other inhibition reducing substances. Drinking and dialing is generally always a big mistake. You don’t want to let this woman back into your life because you had one too many gin and tonics. Plus, if you’re feeling down or depressed about the break-up/divorce, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and will only make you feel worse.

10. Reconnect with yourself, your family, your friends and your life. Get in touch with the people you weren’t allowed to see because your ex threw a fit if you did. Start doing the things you used to enjoy. Pursue your interests again. Make a commitment to exercise/working out if that’s one of the things that fell by the wayside while you were with your abusive ex. The goal is to make yourself healthy and strong in body, spirit and mind.

One of my readers refers to No Contact as “living in the bunker.” Here’s a list he shared with me on how to be a successful “bunker dweller.” Everything on this list may not be feasible for everyone, but I think it’s a good example of the level of personal commitment No Contact requires:

  • Ability to give up personal comforts and not care at all.
  • Refusal to be influenced in any way by threats, further intimidation, or bad consequences.
  • Ability to change residences quickly and frequently. I have moved three times, soon to be four.
  • Decisive severance of any residual communication links–mutual friends, Facebook, etc.
  • Absolute refusal to feel shame or be put on the defensive–especially in your own mind.
  • Insistence that any discussion of the facts begin with the words “abuse,” “destruction,” and “control”
  • Refusal to negotiate until there is absolute capitulation (*he’s in the process of divorcing).
  • Satisfaction that she picked the wrong guy to F*** with
  • Accept collateral damage philosophically as the cost of freedom and further evidence of the rightness of your cause
  • Extreme patience–don’t be worn down by any reversal, surprise, or consequence. Stay in the bunker as long as it takes

Next week, I’ll post the third piece in the No Contact series about developing emotional distance for those of you who can’t go No Contact because you share a child(ren), work in the same office or some other reason.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

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

Donations

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

Photo credit:

Caller ID made at signgenerator.org

The No Contact Rule: Ending an Abusive Relationship


man looking at phone1But she keeps texting me. . . But she keeps showing up at my gym. . . But she’s emailing to say she still loves me even though she’s dating a new guy. . . But what if I just text to tell her to stop texting me. . . But she keeps calling me. . .

No buts. No what ifs. No bargaining with yourself. No Contact.

If you’re fortunate enough not to have had a child or children with a controlling, emotionally abusive woman or man of the Cluster B variety (narcissistic, borderline, histrionic, anti-social), the very best thing you can do for your emotional and physical well-being is to institute a strict No Contact Rule.

No Contact doesn’t mean No Contact except for x, y and z. By No Contact, I mean NO — zero, nada, zilch — Contact. To use Freshmen Orientation parlance: No means no.

[This is the first of a series of posts I’m writing about no contact and gaining emotional distance from an abusive ex. If you share a child, you can’t cut off contact entirely, but you can establish strict boundaries and emotional distance, which I’ll address in the coming weeks.]

Breaking Up Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic or Sociopathic Style

There are primarily five ways a break up with an abusive individual plays out:

1. You end the relationship and want nothing more to do with her, but she won’t leave you alone. Individuals who are more BPD or HPD tend to behave this way. Most NPDs won’t chase after you or grovel to get you back—they’ll bully and threaten, but not grovel.

2. She ends the relationship, cuts you out of her life and begins dating other men immediately. You wonder if you ever meant anything to her at all. You convince yourself that you’re still in love (Stockholm Syndrome) with her and contact her only to be ignored or emotionally smacked down. Most forms of Crazy are capable of this behavior. They view people as objects to use, therefore, everyone is replaceable after they suck them dry.

3. She breaks up with you and then begs you to take her back or “magnanimously” offers you another chance. You reunite, she breaks up with you again and a pattern of her jerking your chain develops. A BPD is more likely to beg and plead, while a NPD will make it seem like she’s doing you a favor by reconciling.

4. She breaks up with you/you break up with her and you receive a flurry of angry, hurtful, conciliatory, desperate and/or seductive emails, texts, calls and/or voicemails. She spews the most vile things at you—insulting your manhood and threatening “revenge” for the audacity of not wanting to further subject yourself to her abuse—or tries to lure you back in with her crisis du jour (e.g., my car broke down, someone threatened her, someone’s being “mean” to her) or explicit sexual come-on’s. The more you ask her to leave you alone or try to reason with her, the more she amps up her stalking-harassing behavior.

5. You get caught in a sick dynamic in which you’re both breaking up with each other (sometimes several times in the same day) and hurl insults back and forth via text or email. Then you get back together or plan to get back together or have sex, everything blows up, you break up again, compete to see who can hurt the other more and create a sick and highly self-destructive cycle of mutual abuse. If you’re engaging in this particular dynamic, I urge you to take a step back, look at what you’re doing and get professional help to break the cycle. This dynamic is typical when both individuals have one or some variation of the Cluster B disorders or if one partner is extremely co-dependent and the other abusive.

Why no contact?

If any of the above scenarios apply, you must distance yourself physically and emotionally from your ex and that means No Contact. If you’re having difficulty implementing and/or maintaining the No Contact Rule, ask yourself why and be honest. For example:

  • Do you have hope you can work things out with your ex?
  • Are you caught up in the conflict and drama?
  • Does it give you a rush?
  • Do you need to have the last word?
  • Do you want her to acknowledge you’re “right?”
  • Are you still clinging to some rescuer-white knight fantasy?
  • Do you think you can’t live without her?

You’ll have a difficult time establishing and maintaining No Contact if you answered yes to any of these questions. If your ex has a personality disorder, the qualities and behaviors that drove you away, caused her to abuse you or discard you are highly unlikely to change. If  you’re easily sucked into the drama, want to save her or don’t think you can live and be happy without her, you need to do some work on yourself to understand why you’re so dependent upon your ex.

No one else can love you enough for you to be able to love yourself. True happiness is contingent upon you; not what someone else does or doesn’t do for you. You need to be able to do both of these things for yourself before you can find happiness and love with another person.

Think of No Contact as going cold turkey. In many ways, a relationship with an abusive woman (or man) is like an addiction. A heroin addict cannot have just a little heroin nor can you handle just a little contact with your ex. In the best of circumstances, two reasonably healthy and emotionally mature individuals can be friends after breaking up. The opposite is true if you were involved with a borderline, narcissist, histrionic, sociopath or some variation of all of the above. An abusive relationship is not a normal relationship, therefore, you cannot be friends afterward.

Do not view No Contact as a way to “win” your ex back. This is a losing strategy. No Contact is to help you gain emotional, psychological and physical distance in order to heal and move forward in your life. The goal isn’t to make her miss you or to punish her. The goal is to establish peace of mind and freedom from the pain your ex caused you. Your ex is the source of your pain. To stop hurting and mend, you need to avoid the source of the pain.

Next week, I’ll publish the second post in this series that explains why No Contact is so important to your overall well-being and physical and mental health.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

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

Donations

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

 

Dating Street Smarts: How to Spot Emotional Predators and Con Artists


educated eggdicator veruca saltThe dating world is full of predators who will take you for quite a ride if you’re not wise to them. Many men feel like they were sold a bill of goods or “suckered” by their respective spouses, partners or exes and, to a certain extent, they’re right. However, like most victims of a scam, they’ve been willing targets.

A scam artist and/or emotional predator can easily identify a potential mark in the crowd. Bullies, narcissists, borderlines, histrionics and sociopaths like easy targets. They go after people who are kind, generous, trusting, eager to please, self-reflective, competent, talented or “gifted” in some way and, most importantly, people who have a desire to cooperate or work things out and a non-confrontational personal style (Namie, 2003).

These are wonderful qualities, which make you a great catch—especially for an emotional predator (e.g., borderlines, narcissists, histrionics, sociopaths and their variants) because it makes you easier to steamroll. This means you have to learn to be more discerning and develop dating street smarts when it comes to new relationships. Here are some things to consider so you can sort the good eggs from the bad eggs:

1. Picture perfect. No matter how logical and intelligent we are, many of us still want to believe in Disney-fied fairy tale relationships. This is why so many people fall for the carefully crafted facade of predatory personalities. They uncannily intuit what you’re looking for and then pretend to give it to you until they’re confident you’ve developed an attachment to them. Then the mask comes off and the Jekyll and Hyde metamorphosis occurs.

Reality: If someone seems too good to be true, she or he probably is. No one’s perfect; everyone has flaws. A healthy individual acknowledges his or her personal short-comings and works on them. An emotional predator will do her or his best to hide their flaws, cruel streak and self-centered-ness (although, some of them put it all right out there from the get go and incredibly still attract mates).

Once a flaw is exposed, this type of individual will deny its existence or punish you for having witnessed it. Therefore, you need to pay closer attention. Look for the cracks in the exterior. Don’t ignore what initially seems like uncharacteristic outbursts, rudeness or coldness. Don’t let yourself be blamed for her deficits. Remember, no one is perfect. Ideally, you should be looking to meet someone whose flaws, personal quirks and issues don’t hurt you.

A good potential mate can acknowledge things she doesn’t like about herself or would like to change and demonstrate that she is actively working on them. I’m not talking about superficial changes like, I wish my arms were more buff,” but something that would help her to grow as a person and improve her relationships. For example, “I have trouble letting down my guard and expressing my feelings when I’m upset about something, but I’m working on it. It would help if when you notice I’m quiet, clam up or seem like I’m upset if you would try to draw me out a little bit because I want to be able to talk about these things and resolve issues as they arise. I’m afraid you’ll reject me or get mad at me if I tell you how I’m really feeling.” However, if she lashes out at you when you reach out to her after she asked you to do so, let her go. It’s an indicator of a “no-win situation” dynamic that will slowly drive you mad.

2. Flattery will get you everywhere. Many predators drug you with praise and flatteryat first. Beware of statements like “No one’s ever made me feel this way before. I’ve never met anyone like you. I could really fall in love with you. No one has ever understood me like you. I’ve never felt this strong of a connection before.” Be especially skeptical of these statements if they’re made in the first few weeks or hours of dating. This is a con artist’s technique called, mirroring—“using flattering statements to lift a listener’s confidence in himself.”

Reality: It takes time to really get to know someone and build trust. “Instant intimacy” is typically a sign that someone’s stroking your ego into submission and/or that they neither possess nor respect personal boundaries—a hallmark of many a BPD /NPD/HPD/APD individual. It’s natural to want a love interest to notice how special and unique you are, however, this doesn’t happen overnight. Pace your new relationships and remember, the higher the pedestal she places you upon early in the relationship, the further you’ll crash down when she kicks it out from underneath you later. Once these women “catch you,” they almost immediately begin to devalue you, so don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

3. Act now while supplies last! This is a high-pressure sales/con technique that many emotional predators use. They exude supreme confidence and a “you should be so lucky to be with me” attitude. They “casually” mention other men who are interested in them and how their exes keep trying to win them back. This is a device used to trigger a sense of scarcity and competition within you. You then go to great lengths in order to “win” her and thereby set the precedent for a very one-sided relationship. This is a huge red flag. Only a narcissist or someone with equally toxic pathology makes a love interest continually jump through hoops like this. It’s another control device, so don’t bite on it.

Reality: There are other fish in the sea. What exactly are you trying to win? What is she doing to please you or win you over—aside from leading you on a merry chase and getting you to perform acts of service and devotion? What acts of service and devotion is she performing for you? Healthy relationships are reciprocal. Don’t just take her word about all of the things she claims she does for you. This kind of woman will make a grand spectacle of all the things, careers, relationships and opportunities she’s “sacrificing” for you. The reality is that an emotional predator doesn’t sacrifice anything for anyone and rarely does anything that’s in someone else’s best interests. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Additionally, examine why you’re working so hard to gain someone’s affection or prove yourself “worthy.” This is usually a sign that you have some residual relationship issues from childhood to explore and resolve.

4. All the right words; all the wrong moves. Emotional predators are skilled manipulators and often bald face liars. This kind of woman is well-practiced in telling you whatever it is you want to hear and then doing the complete opposite. When they’re not consciously lying, borderlines, narcissists and other predators are prone to confabulation. In other words, they believe their own BS, which makes it all the more difficult for you to sort the facts from their personal fictions.

Reality: We all employ a little self-deception from time to time. What lies do you tell yourself when you get involved with a woman like this? Do you tell yourself, “Things will get better. It’s not so bad. She must really love me to be acting this crazy. If only I work a little harder. . . ?” When dating, it’s important to pay close attention to your dates words, actions and your reactions. Many emotional predators know all the “right” things to say, but their actions frequently don’t match their “hype.” If you notice a discrepancy between the two, don’t ignore it and don’t lie to yourself about it by making excuses for her.

Spotting emotional predators in the dating pool is a necessary survival skill. Becoming involved with an abusive, entitled and pathology ridden individual is a personal disaster many people bring upon themselves that is easily avoidable if you approach relationships with equal amounts of passion and intelligence.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

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

Donations

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

Photo credit:

Veruca Salt and the educated eggdicator on alicia-logic.com

References:

Namie, G. (2003). Workplace bullying: Escalated incivility. Ivey Business Journal, 88, 1 -6.