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Posts Tagged ‘emotionally abusive relationships’

Extreme No Contact: Delete Your Ex from the Internet!


One of my clients sent me the following link for a web plugin for Firefox and Chrome browsers (sorry Explorer, Safari and Netscape users!) that allows you to “delete” your ex from your life—at least your online life. Here’s the link:

http://gizmodo.com/5585741/delete-your-ex-from-the-internet

It’s called the “Ex-Blocker,” and it’s rather like the web/non-brain damage version of the memory eraser depicted in one of my favorite films, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

According to the article on Gizmodo.com, the Ex-Blocker plugin “filters your ex out of the internet for you. Simply feed it their first and last names, their Twitter username, their Facebook profile info and their blog URL, and it takes care of the rest. Sure, photos can slip through the cracks, I’m sure. And you’ll have to set up an email filter yourself if you want to cut off contact completely.”

If you’ve made the decision to go No Contact, but are still getting Facebook, MySpace and Tweet updates from the ex-Twit about how “amazing” her new boyfriend is, how she’s “never been happier” and that she regrets dating all of her “ex-jerk loser boyfriends,” this plugin might just bring you that last bit of peace of mind you seek.

To download the plugin, visit:

http://blockyourex.com/

While this plugin will keep your ex from popping up on the Internet, it’s up to you to install rock solid boundaries to prevent her from popping up in your offline life. If only there was a plugin download for that!

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.

What to Do When your Abusive Ex-Wife or Girlfriend Tries to Maintain Contact with your Family and Friends After the Break-Up or Divorce


So you finally had the courage to end your marriage or relationship, are moving on with your life and discover that your abusive ex is now trying to maintain or strengthen her relationship with your family of origin after years of trashing them and trying to cut them out of your life. Why?

When you’re in a significant relationship your social and family circles grow to include your partner’s friends and family. Some of her friends become your friends. Some of your friends become her friends and you both, hopefully, develop relationships with each others’ families. What happens when you break-up or divorce? Who gets custody of friends and family members?

The Best of Circumstances

When a relationship dissolves between two healthy adults, especially if they’ve been together for a considerable length of time and/or share children, the separation can be just as difficult for family and friends. Psychologically mature individuals don’t take sides or get in the middle and understand that the nature of their former relationships with the ex will change. The couple and the people who have been in relationships with the couple all experience a sense of loss and go through a kind of grieving process.

The Worst of Circumstances

When one member of the couple is dysfunctional, abusive and/or has a personality disorder, friends and family become just another mechanism by which to control and hurt the non-abusive/non-disordered partner. Abusive women often view friends and family (including their own children) as war trophies, human shields and weapons during and after a break-up or divorce.

The irony is that most abusive women try to isolate their partners from family and friends during the relationship. This kind of woman does this in order to consolidate her power and control over you and to suck up every ounce of your attention. She deeply resents her in-laws and your friends. If she’s not overtly rude and disrespectful to their faces, she’ll put on a sweet face in their presence and gun them down behind their backs.

After the relationship ends, many of these women try to cozy up to the same people they spent years vilifying. This is extremely confusing for most men since their wives or girlfriends incessantly complained about and trashed their friends and family while together and created crazy drama whenever a visit, trip or family/friend event loomed on the horizon.

Here are some possible scenarios after ending a relationship with an abusive woman:

1. The relationship ends and she leaves your family and friends in peace. Although, she may make it difficult for your family to see your child(ren). If this is the case, count your blessings and find a good attorney to help you work out a fair custody arrangement.

2. She demonizes both you and your family. This is fine when you don’t share children. Let her spew her venom and stay as far away from her as possible and ask your family to do the same. However, if you share kid(s), this is highly destructive and understandably painful for you, your family and the child(ren). This is a case of blatant Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAS) and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), in which case you should find out your parental rights in your state and pursue swift and strong legal recourse.

3. The relationship ends and all of a sudden your ex spends more time with your family than she did when you were together. Why? It’s not as if some miracle occurred and she suddenly realized how wonderful your family is. She’s desperately trying to retain control over you by staying involved with your family. This kind of woman is especially likely to do this if you’ve begun a new relationship. She wants your family to like her more than you or your new love interest and/or she wants your family to take her side to show the world she’s “right” (whatever that means) and that you’re “wrong.”

She also does this to portray herself as the victim and you as the bad guy. She wants to try to turn your own family against you. She makes up egregious lies. Some of these women will even go so far as to claim you abused her and the children. For example, “He’s crazy. He’s changed. He’s having a mid-life crisis. You have no idea what I put up with all these years. How could he abandon the children and me?” The projections never stop.

I call it the Crocodile Tears and Sympathy Tour. It’s just more of her manipulative and controlling nonsense. She’s in a much better position to do this if there’s a child or children involved. She pretends she’s spending time with your family so they can see their niece/nephew/son/grandson all the while distorting the truth and playing upon your family’s sympathy. Bottom line: You should be the one who takes the kid(s) to visit your side of the family.

In a relatively healthy relationship/marriage, it’s natural to want to maintain relationships with people who became your family through your intimate relationship. A relationship with an abusive woman is not a normal relationship. It’s like a cancer you need to cut from your body, your psyche, your life and your family of origin. You shouldn’t try to maintain a “friendship” with her and neither should your family because it allows her to continue to hurt you. Keep contact to a minimum and make it brief, civil and business-like. Give your family links to this website if they have a difficult time understanding the situation.

Why Some Families Go Along with It

1. Fear. If kids are involved, your family is probably afraid they won’t get to see them if they explain to your ex that it’s not really appropriate to cry on their shoulders or accompany the children to family get-togethers. She needs to use her own family (if she’s on speaking terms with them) and friends (if she has any) for support or hire a professional with whom to spin her tale of woe and victimhood.

2. To be nice and get along with everyone. This is commendable, but it doesn’t allow all parties involved to grieve the end of the relationship/marriage and move on. It also allows her to continue her manipulations and abuse, which need to end.

3. Cluelessness. Your family has no idea what your ex was like behind closed doors. They think they’re being supportive of you by allowing your ex to cling onto them. They think they’re being “big-hearted” when, in reality, they’re allowing your ex to manipulate them and hurt you, their own family member.

4. Dysfunctionality. Well, you were probably attracted to your ex for a reason and it would seem that your family is it. In which case, you need to mourn your relationship with your family in addition to your significant relationship/marriage, so that you don’t make the same poor relationship choices in the future.  This may require that you put some emotional and/or physical distance between you and your family while you work through it and get some therapy.

What You Can Do About It

1. Tell your family exactly what’s going on. Educate your family. If you kept your mouth shut about the abuse you suffered out of misplaced loyalty, shame and embarrassment or because you wanted to “protect” the mother of your children you need to speak up now. If your family doesn’t know what happened behind closed doors, it will make your ex’s smear campaign more effective because the break-up will seem out of the blue when the reality is it was a long time coming.

Tell your family all the nasty things your ex said about them over the years. Explain how much she hurt you. Tell them about the abuse. Ask them to support you in this. You don’t want to badmouth her? Telling the truth isn’t badmouthing if it’s the truth. The best way to stop abuse is to bring it to light. Rest assured, your ex is badmouthing you to anyone who will listen. If you didn’t stand up to her during the course of your marriage you need to do so now. This type of individual’s behavior is wrong and destructive, so don’t sugarcoat it and don’t let her get away with it anymore. Those days are over.

2. Ask them to invite you and your child to family events; not your ex and the child(ren). Abusive borderlines, narcissists, histrionics, etc., don’t respect boundaries nor will they accept that the rules of common decency, consideration and civility apply to them. Therefore, you need to create the boundaries within your immediate and extended family. This kind of woman will continue to push everything to the max for as long you let her.

3. If your family won’t respect your boundaries and actually believes her nonsense, you need to disengage. It’s yet another painful letting go process to contend with, but it may be a necessary one. Furthermore, these women are like small children; the more they know a specific behavior is getting to you the more they do it. Therefore, try to let it roll off your back and focus on the things that make you happy and bring you fulfillment. Your abusive ex will probably escalate her desperate and pathetic attempts for attention and to screw you over, but if you resolve not to give her that satisfaction she’ll ultimately frustrate herself; not you.

Endings are painful, but the longer you allow her to play her  shenanigans with you and your family and friends, the longer it will take for you to heal from this relationship and move on. Additionally, if you starve her of these sources of attention, she’ll be forced to look elsewhere for it, i.e., her next victim.

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:

Source unknown.

More on Emotional Detachment: Surviving Ongoing Abusive Relationships


Emotionally detaching from an abusive relationship can be extremely difficult. Many men believe they still love their abusive wives, girlfriends and exes. Therefore, developing indifference and detaching from their abusers—even when they’re a consistent source of pain—seems antithetical.

Nevertheless, learning to detach is vital if you ever hope to regain your health, happiness, sanity and sense of Self. This also applies to people who have divorced or broken up with their abusive spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, but have to maintain some degree of contact because of shared children, working for the same company or attending the same school.

Emotionally detaching requires that you change many of your attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Detaching is not about enabling your abuser; it’s about disarming your abuser by eradicating her or his ability to hurt you. It’s not about changing your behavior so that you don’t trigger your wife or girlfriend. In fact, if you successfully detach it will probably provoke your her to become even more nasty and controlling for awhile.

When your wife or girlfriend takes an ugly turn into consistent abuse and other controlling behaviors, attaching your self-worth to how she treats you and placing all your effort into her and the relationship guarantees exploitation and self-destruction. For your psychological survival in this kind of relationship, you need to develop and feel indifference and emotional detachment. Before you can begin to detach, you need to accept the following:

  • Love does not conquer all. What you’re experiencing in your relationship probably isn’t love; it’s a distorted, twisted version of it.
  • You can’t fix or rescue someone from being abusive, sick, dysfunctional and lost in their own highly distorted reality. In fact, trying to rescue an abuser—particularly if she’s a borderline, a narcissist, a histrionic or a sociopath—is akin to trying to rescue to drowning person who’s crying for help and then holds you under water until you begin to drown. The more you try to rescue her, the more she’ll drag you under.
  • You give your abusive spouse or partner the power to hurt you.
  • You can survive and thrive without your abusive relationship. You don’t “need” her or him. You had a life before this person and eventually you’ll have a much better life post Ms. or Mr. Crazypants.
  • You’re not responsible for your spouse’s, partner’s or ex’s happiness, failures, shortcomings or bad behaviors.
  • The person who you want your spouse or partner to be is in conflict with the person she or he is in reality.
  • Continuing to hope for the best from someone who consistently gives you the worst is a set-up for more pain and disillusionment.
  • You are not helpless, powerless and incompetent. The relationship with your abusive spouse or partner causes you to feel that way, which is why it’s often so difficult to take care of yourself and break free.

There’s no shame in admitting that you need to walk away from a relationship that’s destructive and toxic. It’s vital that you begin to develop a rational perspective and distance yourself from an ongoing hurtful relationship that you can neither control nor change. Many people remain in abusive relationships well beyond a point of personal pain and devastation that defies reason. You need to come back to your senses and see your partner for who she is and your part in it.

Here are some detachment techniques:

1. Make yourself solely responsible for your own well-being and happiness. Catch yourself when you begin to utter, “If only she could . . . If only she would . . .” and knock it off. Coulda, woulda, shoulda is the language of regret and pipe dreams. Keeping you in a beaten down and depressive state makes it easier for an abuser to control you. Feline predators don’t target the swiftest and strongest impala in the herd; the one with the limp usually becomes lion lunch. Take back the control you gave her over your feelings, happiness and well-being and start meeting your own needs by making different choices and acting on them.

2. Accept that you can’t fix, change, rescue, save, make someone else happy or love someone enough to make them be nice to you. Don’t just pay lip service to this. Really wrap your brain around the fact that no matter what you do, it will never be good enough. Understand that no matter how much you do for her; she’ll always expect and demand more. Acknowledge that the more you appease, compromise and forgo your own needs; the more entitled, demanding and ungrateful she’ll be. She’s like the Iraqui War; you’re throwing good energy after bad with no victory or end in sight.

3. Eliminate the hooks of your abuser. A hook is typically an emotional, psychological or physical stake that you have in the other person and the relationship. For example, GUILT is a big hook that keeps many men in abusive relationships with destructive narcissistic, borderline and histrionic partners.

“I don’t how she’d take care of herself. What would she do without me? I’d feel guilty if I left because of the kids.” The flip side of guilt is EGO. If you leave an abusive woman, I hate to break it to you, but she’ll do just fine without you. She’ll probably try to suck you dry financially while lining up her next target to control and abuse. It’s not personal—especially if your wife or girlfriend is BPD, NPD, HPD and/or APD. These personalities view others as objects to be used. She’ll simply replace you with another object and do the same damn thing to the next guy. Guilt is a control device she uses to keep you in line.

Other hooks include shame (e.g., of failing or not being strong enough), loss of status (e.g., being perceived as a nice or good guy), loss of material assets or access to children, perfectionism and your own need to control others, situations and outcomes.

4. Learn to control your body language. Your body language and facial expressions can betray what you’re feeling and thinking on the inside without you saying a word. Since your wife’s/girlfriend’s covert and overt attacks are designed to elicit a reaction, you need to learn how not to give her the reaction she’s seeking. It doesn’t matter if you don’t yell back. Seeing the pain flicker in your eyes, your face wince and your shoulders slump in dejection is often reward enough.

Stand in front of a mirror and think of some of the nastiest and most hurtful things your wife or girlfriend has said or done to you. Maintain eye contact and practice a calm, blank facial expression or a knowing, slightly amused smile. Practice slow, steady and relaxed breathing. Lower the tone of your voice (higher pitched voices reveal anxiety and agitation). Your shoulders, arms and hands should hang loose. Keep practicing relaxed and detached body language until you actually feel indifferent and unruffled by her barbs, jabs and eye rolls. In other words, fake it ’til you make it.

5. Lower your expectations. Ordinarily, I encourage people to expect the best from others to create a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. However, expecting the best from an abusive woman will result in you feeling broadsided, perpetually disappointed and hurt most of the time.

For all their crocodile tears and hyper-sensitivity, abusive narcissistic, borderline, histrionic and sociopathic women are emotional predators and bullies. If you stay in the relationship, the best you can expect is more of the same. You may achieve some periods of “peace” if you can learn how not to trigger her (remember, she’s not responsible for her behavior; you’re responsible for her behavior and your behavior and all the other problems in the universe), how not to take her attacks personally (even though they’re extremely personal in nature) and how to maintain your boundaries through implementing behavioral consequences.

“Happiness reflects the difference between what you expect versus what you actually get in life—so if you keep expecting good things to happen, but they never do or take a turn for the worse, you will suffer constant unhappiness.” (Sutton, 2007, p. 134) Your wife/girlfriend is abusive. She probably has significant characterological pathology and is unlikely to change. Therefore, keep your expectations for her behavior low, but continue to believe that you will be okay once you remove yourself from the situation and/or stop giving her the power to hurt you.

6. Do something that removes you from the abuse and centers you. Meditate or whatever your version of meditation is—reading, walking, woodworking, painting, music—anything that’s restorative. Find pockets of sanity and safety with friends and family or physical spaces like your office, the gym, the pub or social/professional organizations. Find activities that will take you out of the line of fire and minimize your exposure to her and the abuse. Find a hobby or activity that makes you feel good about your self and restores your confidence and esteem. Ignore her when she becomes jealous or puts down these new activities and friendships. She does so because she sees them as threats to her control.

7. See the big picture and don’t get distracted by her minutiae. The ultimate goal is to not let her abusive behavior effect you anymore and to end the relationship. Expect her to hit even harder—emotionally and/or physically—when you stop reacting to her tried and true button pushing. It seems counter-intuitive, but if she becomes nastier in response to you setting boundaries and detaching, it means your new behavioral strategies are working because she’s fighting harder to retain her control. By detaching, you’re taking back the power that you ceded to her.

These new behaviors will take time for you to learn and perfect. It takes a while to develop indifference. It runs counter to our fundamental beliefs about love and relationships. However, if you’re in a relationship with someone who verbally and/or physically attacks you, devalues you, makes you feel less than and who raises herself up at your expense, you must learn how to make yourself less vulnerable and eventually immune to her. Abusive personalities have no soul and they will destroy your soul if you let them.

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.

Bad Relationships: Change your Role and the Rules of Engagement


Many people engage in abusive behaviors, covert and overt, to get what they want. Whenever you appease, capitulate, ignore or simply stay in an abusive relationship, you reward and reinforce your partner’s abusive behavior.

An abusive personality will continue to rage, withdraw, name-call, degrade, shame, guilt-trip and other more subtle abuse tactics such as dirty looks, smirking and gaslighting as long as there aren’t any consequences for doing so. Even when there are consequences they’ll often continue to engage in destructive, abusive behaviors. It’s their nature; just like it’s a snake’s nature to strike at you with its fangs when you get too close.

Unhappy couples tend to engage in what psychologist John Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. “They get stuck in negative, destructive patterns, have fewer positive interactions than happy couples and are unable to resolve problems.” These four behaviors are frequently how abusive personalities, particularly narcissists and borderlines, control and communicate with their partners.

When you tell someone that their behavior is hurtful and unacceptable, there are several possible outcomes. She or he can:

  1. Hear what you say, hold themselves accountable, respect your feelings and actively try to change. Translation: I love and respect you. I care about your feelings and will make every effort to change.
  2. Hear what you say, hold themselves accountable, respect your feelings, communicate which of your behaviors are contributing to the situation and you both actively try to change. Translation: I love and respect you. I care about your feelings and will make every effort to change.
  3. Acknowledge their hurtful behavior, but hey, you knew what they were like when you married them so get used to it and stop complaining. Translation: I don’t care about your needs and feelings. I won’t change.
  4. Acknowledge their hurtful behavior and then blame you for it. Translation: I’m not responsible for my actions. It’s your fault. You deserve it. I don’t care about your feelings. I won’t change.
  5. Acknowledge their hurtful behavior, make a lame apology while justifying their actions (blame you), repeat the same hurtful behavior over and over again as if you never talked about it and become angry if you don’t forgive them. Translation: What I want is more important. I don’t care about your feelings. I won’t change.
  6. Deny their hurtful behavior and accuse you of being the abusive one. Translation: I’m above reproach. You’re crazy. My needs and feelings are the only ones that matter. You need to adapt yourself to my silences and rages and pretend like nothing is wrong. I don’t care about your feelings. I won’t change.
  7. Minimize their hurtful behavior and accuse you of being oversensitive and unreasonable. “It’s not that bad. Don’t be such a baby. You’re so thin-skinned.” Translation: I’m not accountable. Your nose broke because it got in the way of my fist, so your nose should apologize to my fist. I don’t care about your feelings. I won’t change.

People persist in both positive and negative behaviors because there’s a payoff; a primary gain or secondary gain. They’re rewarded with pleasure, they avoid punishment or an unpleasant consequence, their beliefs are validated or they get to feel good about themselves. There’s always an emotional, psychological and/or physical stake—feeling good or avoiding feeling bad.

Scenarios 1 and 2 are the only mutually satisfying long-term relationship outcomes. Scenarios 3-7 are either “get out now” or “live a life of resignation” outcomes. This may seem black and white, but if someone won’t acknowledge their bad behavior, blames you for it or acknowledges it and refuses to do anything about it, you’re not in a mutual two-way relationship. You’re in an abusive, one-way relationship.

Staying in the relationship and engaging in the same pattern over and over again, telegraphs that the abuse is okay—even if you actively complain about it to your partner and specifically say “it’s not okay.” If you really weren’t okay with it, you’d communicate with your feet.

If you’re not ready to end the relationship just yet, you need to change the one person you can change: YOU. If you’ve told your partner how hurtful her/his behavior is and she/he refuses to acknowledge it and/or attacks you even more, you need to change how you react and respond to the hurtful and abusive behaviors.

A relationship is a “field.” Field theory was developed by Kurt Lewin, a Gestalt psychologist and founder of Social Psychology, in the 1940’s. “Field theory holds that behavior must be derived from a totality of coexisting facts. These coexisting facts make up a ‘dynamic field,’ which means that the state of any part of the field depends on every other part of it. Behavior depends on the present field rather than on the past or the future” (Wikipedia). In other words, a change in one part of the system creates a reaction or ripple effect throughout the entire the system, just like throwing a pebble into a pool of water.

Changing how you respond to your partner’s hurtful behaviors, will change how your partner responds to you. If you’re dating or married to an abusive personality, they’re unlikely to respond well to any changes you make. Abusive individuals make the rules and break the rules. Thus far it’s been your role to go along with her whims, tirades, and more subtle forms of abuse. Her hurtful and insensitive behaviors are designed to get a reaction from you. She wants to see pain flicker in your eyes. She wants to see you wince and become crestfallen. She wants you to sink down to her level and lash out in return so she can play the victim and portray you as the bad guy—never mind how much she provoked you.

Here are some possible primary and secondary gains for remaining in an abusive relationship:

  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of losing money and assets
  • Fear of losing access to children and parental rights
  • Fear of being viewed as the “bad guy”
  • Fear of “failure”
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Need for approval
  • Need to be liked or loved
  • Need for acceptance
  • Need for affiliation or feeling like you “belong”
  • Reinforces your beliefs that you’re unlovable
  • Reinforces your beliefs that you have to be perfect to be worthy of love
  • Reinforces your beliefs that you have to work hard to earn love
  • Reinforces your beliefs that the people who love you are supposed to hurt you

These needs, fears and beliefs are what make it possible for your abusive spouse or partner to hurt you and keep hurting you. They prey upon these fears, needs and beliefs even if they’re not consciously aware of it. Many abusers, narcissists, borderlines, sociopaths and bullies are intuitive predators. They intuitively know what buttons to push to get a reaction. In order to change your role and the rules of your relationship, you need to rewire your “buttons.”

Since your abusive spouse or partner is unlikely to change their behavior, real change is up to you. Here are some alternative ways to respond to her abusive behaviors:

  • Practice emotional detachment.
  • Develop a blank, benign facial expression when you’re under attack, baited, ignored or made to feel stupid, wrong or bad.
  • Work on maintaining a non-defensive body posture.
  • Learn to modulate your voice so that it doesn’t betray any anxiety, agitation, fear, hurt or anger.
  • Meet her attacks, put-downs, smirks, eye rolls, hysterics, etc., with unblinking calm and firmly state, “These tactics of yours don’t work anymore. Let me know when you’re ready to respectfully discuss these issues one at a time” and then end the “discussion.”
  • Plan ahead and designate a place you can go if she won’t let the matter drop like your office, den, workshop or a friend’s house.
  • If she follows you and continues to try to get a reaction out of you, look at her as if you’re watching a toddler throw a tantrum and tell her you’re taking a timeout.

When you change your role in the relationship dynamic, your partner will probably begin to escalate her hurtful behaviors. Another tenet of field theory is that all systems fight to maintain homeostasis or the status quo. An abusive partner will use every weapon in her arsenal to keep you under her control. When you refuse to give her the reaction she wants she’ll frantically try pushing all of your buttons at once—kind of like when the TV remote control isn’t working and you push the power button repeatedly so you don’t have to get off the couch.

If you can maintain your cool, she’ll eventually give up and walk away in frustration or pout. She may even become physically aggressive when she realizes her typical verbal aggression isn’t working. Adopting the above behaviors and changing your role in the relationship is for your well-being; not hers.

Behaviors and beliefs are strongly related. When you change the way you behave, your beliefs and attitudes will change, too. You’ll grow out of your old familiar role of target/frustrated spouse/scapegoat-for-everything-wrong-in-her-life-and-every-bad-feeling-she-has and become a person who stands up for and respects himself. This is a significant piece of identity development that may very well cause you to outgrow abusive, one-sided relationships altogether—and that’s a good thing.

When she sees that these are lasting changes and she can’t control you anymore, she’ll accuse you of having changed, engage in projection and tell you that you’re being abusive and controlling and/or may actually end the relationship herself. She may enlist friends, family members and professional therapists or pastors to force you back into your old role in an effort to maintain the status quo.

Alternatively, she may withdraw entirely and become the sullen martyr. Nevertheless, her power over you will be gone because she won’t be able to manipulate you and your emotions like a puppet on a string anymore. Are you ready to change your role, the rules and the balance of power in your relationship?

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:

Ripple effect by Tom Bunny on flickr.

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.

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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.

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

Friendship, Enabling or Collusion? Email from a Friend of a Potential NPD or BPD Wife


sisterhoodThe following is an email exchange I received from a concerned friend of a woman whose husband is divorcing her and citing the information on A Shrink for Men as a reason to end the relationship. I decided to open this dialog to my readers because there is important information to be gleaned from it. I’d also like to know your thoughts.

What are your thoughts on couple’s counseling before divorce?  I have a friend whose husband (soon to be ex) refuses to go see a counselor with her, siting many of the articles on your web site as his reasons.  It seems to me that if he has really done nothing wrong as he says, he should go to at least 1 session with her before throwing in the towel.  He simply quotes you, saying there can be no closure with a narcissistic/borderline woman, so there is no point.  Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated, as I hate to see my wonderful friend’s marriage fall apart because he found a blog he can relate to.

Thanks,

Lois

Hi Lois,

If a couple has decided to divorce the only reason I can see going to couples counseling is if children are involved. In which case, the couple would have a session or two re: how to tell the children and so a therapist can explain what parental alienation is and, in no uncertain terms, that neither parent should trash the other in front of the children.

Couples therapy isn’t supposed to be used to assign blame or to coerce someone into remaining in a relationship. When you write, “if he has really done nothing wrong as he says, he should go to at least 1 session with her before throwing in the towel” it sounds as if he’s on trial and that his claims of emotional abuse aren’t to be believed. Would you encourage a female friend who was being abused by her husband to go to therapy before “throwing in the towel?” He’s the one who lived with the woman. I don’t know who this man is, but if that’s his experience, it’s his experience and he shouldn’t have to prove it to a therapist, to you or to anyone else. If your friend truly does have the issues I write about, then it doesn’t matter what her husband has or hasn’t done. He could’ve been the kindest, sweetest man in the world and she still would’ve dumped on him. If this is the case, I can see why he wouldn’t want to go to therapy to become the marital scapegoat again.

Kind Regards,
Dr Tara

In rereading Lois’ first email, I neglected to mention in my response that my blog is not the cause of her friend’s divorce, but her friend’s abuse of her husband. I nearly missed that twister-roo. Very subtle mis-assignment of blame. Hat’s off, Lois. Have you ever wondered why he can relate to my blog?

Here’s Lois’s reply three days later. My guess is that she had to consult “her friend” for a pow-wow:

Thanks for the quick response.  The only problem I see with the advice on your website is that so many men could claim some of these personality traits applied to their wife/GF at certain points.  What woman doesn’t go a little “crazy” now and then? If you say a normal woman doesn’t, then you’re not living in reality.  It’s almost like you’ve created this fabulous brand and are selling your product to these men without them realizing that they are being controlled by yet another woman.  I think the woman you describe on your website is actually a small percentage of the women all these men claim have npd/bpd.

It would be interesting for you to write about the possiblilities of some men using this as an easy way out.  What easier way to not have to deal with the repercussions of divorce than to simply say, “She’s crazy, there can be no closure, so I can’t even discuss this with her further.”

I guess I’m so bothered by all of this because I’m watching your advice in action.  My friend is a good, nice person.  She deals with anxiety issues and can have some pretty bad pms moments, but overall she is great (she is like a sister to me so I’ve seen her at her best and worst.).  Her husband is a good, nice man that deals with some anxiety issues and addiction issues (he is most recently being prescribed to 40+ mg of Adderall a day– having been prescribed to this before I know how it can make you feel by the end of the day).  She questioned his abilities to own his own business which was probably a serious blow to his manhood and he has never been the same (she supported him while he was starting a business; he had already abandoned one business and decided to try this one out).  They immediately separated and he has since taken to quoting your advice when she tries to talk about anything with him.  Your advice seems to have gotten in the wrong hands! No where do you talk about the fact that this can happen.  It seems that a good dr. would lay this all out for her patient.  Unless they are more like customers and what customer is going to come back if they’re not hearing what they want to hear.  I’m not sure if this is the case with you, but you need to realize that these are real people’s lives you’re playing with, and it’s frightening to think of the damage you are doing.

This website is a great resource for men involved with npd/bpd women- definitely.  I’m just inclined to believe that it is a small percentage of women that actually have this disorder.  Can you honestly say you’ve never had a “crazy bitch” moment in your life?

In my opinion, maybe you shouldn’t look at marriage as so disposable.

Thanks again for your time,

Lois

Here is my open reply to Lois:

Hi Lois,

Let me address your most recent email point-by-point.

1. The only problem I see with the advice on your website is that so many men could claim some of these personality traits applied to their wife/GF at certain points.  What woman doesn’t go a little “crazy” now and then? Actually, this isn’t the only problem you have with my advice as you go onto cite many more. If you have at all bothered to read my site, you’ll notice I’m very clear that these behaviors aren’t isolated, one-time incidents. They’re a pervasive and consistent established pattern of behavior demonstrated across time.

Furthermore, most healthy non-abusive women do not go “a little crazy now and then” like NPD/BPD women do. No one’s perfect, but having a bad day isn’t on the same par as being emotionally abusive. Having a bad day isn’t the norm and an adult acknowledges that he or she was out of line, doesn’t blame their partner and tries their damnedest not to behave like that again.

2. It’s almost like you’ve created this fabulous brand and are selling your product to these men without them realizing that they are being controlled by yet another woman. First, I don’t get paid to produce this website. I write it in my spare time and it’s free of charge. Second, just because your friend’s husband recognized his wife’s behavior as abusive through the information I provide (which is documented on many other websites and publications, but usually directed toward female targets of abuse) doesn’t mean he’s being controlled by yet another woman.

It just means that your friend is losing her ability to control her soon-to-be ex-husband and he’s making choices for himself. There’s a difference. I can’t make anyone do anything nor would I even try to do so. I believe in empowering through education. This means encouraging an individual to gather as much information as possible to make the best informed decisions. Additionally, I don’t go out trawling for readers. They find my website by searching the Internet for explanations for their wives’ or girlfriends’ behaviors.

3. It would be interesting for you to write about the possibilities of some men using this as an easy way out.  What easier way to not have to deal with the repercussions of divorce than to simply say, “She’s crazy, there can be no closure, so I can’t even discuss this with her further.” Divorce is never an easy way out, especially if you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. Prolonged abuse disorients a person, causes you to doubt yourself and your judgment and completely strips you of your self-confidence. Ending this kind of relationship is often painfully difficult because when the abuser senses she’s losing control, she ratchets up the abuse and bombards her target, for example, by enlisting her friends and family to interfere in the process.

4. My friend is a good, nice person.  She deals with anxiety issues and can have some pretty bad pms moments, but overall she is great. . . PMS or Narcissistic rage episode? Anxiety issues or borderline insecurity riddled accusations? Po-ta-to—Po-tah-to. To-ma-to—To-mah-to. PMS is not an excuse to take your rage and anxiety out on another person. Unless she has pre-menstrual psychosis, in which case she should be hospitalized.

5. Her husband is a good, nice man that deals with some anxiety issues and addiction issues (he is most recently being prescribed to 40+ mg of Adderall a day. . . I assume a licensed Medical Doctor is prescribing him Adderall for attentional deficits and not because he’s addicted to crank. How do you arrive at the conclusion this is an “addiction?”

6. She questioned his abilities to own his own business which was probably a serious blow to his manhood and he has never been the same (she supported him while he was starting a business. . . So which is it? Did she undermine his confidence and belittle him or support him? You can’t do both simultaneously. How do you define “support?” Financial? Emotional? Do you mean your friend had to work while her husband was starting a business? If so, that’s not going above and beyond. That’s what a well-functioning couple does for one another.

7. They immediately separated and he has since taken to quoting your advice when she tries to talk about anything with him.  Your advice seems to have gotten in the wrong hands!  No where do you talk about the fact that this can happen. Separation and divorce doesn’t usually happen out of the blue. There’s typically a build-up of hurt and frustration. However, for many women with BPD/NPD, it does seem to happen “all of a sudden” because they do not have the capacity for introspection nor the ability to hold themselves accountable.

As for my advice “getting into the wrong hands,” I’m sure it happens. Just like it happens when emotionally abusive NPD/BPD women find sites for female targets of abuse and use the information therein to attack and abuse their husbands or boyfriends and justify their bad behavior. It works both ways and I can’t control this.

8. You need to realize that these are real people’s lives you’re playing with, and it’s frightening to think of the damage you are doing. Again, I don’t force anyone to do anything. I offer information and options. Instead, you might want to consider the damage women with NPD/BPD do to the people in their lives. It’s very real and, contrary to your beliefs, it happens far more often than you think. For every man who shares his experiences on this website there are thousands more out there suffering in silence.

9. This website is a great resource for men involved with npd/bpd women- definitely.  I’m just inclined to believe that it is a small percentage of women that actually have this disorder.  Can you honestly say you’ve never had a “crazy bitch” moment in your life? Thanks for the backhanded compliment, Lois. As previously noted, the statistics indicate that the gender ratio of abuse in a relationship is about a 50-50 split. Why is this so hard for you to accept? Would it cause you to have to look at your own behavior in relationships?

Also previously noted, everyone overreacts from time to time and says or does things that they regret. However, these moments are out of character and infrequent, not the norm. When I have a bad day, I don’t go crazy. I maintain control over my emotions and insecurities by thinking them through rather than lashing out at others. On the rare occasion when I become inpatient or short-tempered, I recognize my behavior as hurtful and out of line almost immediately, get myself in check, acknowledge what I’ve done, apologize and then make the effort not to do it again.

However, this isn’t about me. You’re writing to me for your friend.

10. In my opinion, maybe you shouldn’t look at marriage as so disposable. Nowhere do I state that marriage is disposable. I take marriage just as seriously as I take abuse. Emotionally or physically abusing your spouse is a deal-breaker. It breaks the most fundamental marriage vows to love, honor and respect. I would argue that emotionally abusive women view marriage and their partners as disposable because they certainly treat them like garbage.

Instead of focusing on helping your friend try to keep her husband in a marriage he clearly no longer wants, perhaps you can help her think through how she arrived to this outcome, so that she doesn’t replay it in future relationships.

Best,

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.

Photo credit:

Sisterhood on Sistersincelebration.org.