How to get Dr. Irene's Advice: Look here!

Ask The Doc Board Archives

The CatBox Archives

Stories Archives


Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Why Do I Keep Falling For Creeps

Why Do I Keep Falling For Creeps?

by Dr. Irene

What follows is an abbreviated version of an advice request sent to "deardrirene:" 

"I met this guy at work.  Our first conversation he told me his life story. Something attracted me to him almost instantly.  Been there, done that, I know!  But I wasn't paying attention, and let him take me out.  We had wonderful times, dinner, dancing.  He complimented me on almost everything. We had a wonderful romance, unlike anything I had experienced.  I know, been there too!  He asked me to marry him one night.  It felt so perfect.  I had had so many bad relationships with verbally abusive or controlling men, I thought I certainly wouldn't be stupid enough not to see everything.  He begged me to move in with him, said he was buying me a carat diamond and it  would be ready soon.  I moved in.  

"The proverbial poo poo immediately hit the fan.  None of my things ever stayed on display!  He shoved a very expensive goose down comforter that I use every night in the back of a closet. He put away things I'd set down for just a minute. He started saying I was too focused on my career.  He said I was distant sometimes and I shut him out.  Then he said "the world doesn't revolve around you." He said I was selfish and inconsiderate.  He accused me of having mood swings and yelled "I'm not going to put up with it!" I cried, but the next day I packed my stuff and left, back to my apartment.  

"He begged, cried, said he had behaved badly and would not do it again.  I fell in love with this man, had wanted to marry him.  I moved back in.  One week later, I moved back out.  Did I learn my lesson at this point?  No, but I didn't move back in with him.  I told him that I wasn't  going to move right back in, but that I still wanted him.  He began a rampage of verbal assault - for two weeks.  He knew about my past and used it, out of context, to justify his behavior.  There were many other episodes but you get the picture.  

"On the phone one night I calmly told him, "I will not be judged by you this way, and whatever is in my past I survived it and made a better future for myself. I happen to like where I'm at."  He blew up.  I told him to leave me alone and go his way. He started calling me a control freak, etc., etc.   

"What gives with my love life?  I'm very attractive, educated, enjoy many things.  I am focused and self-disciplined, however and every man I've been with has resented me for it and made it seem like a fault.  Every man I've ever been with has said I don't love him enough and that I'm selfish for wanting what I want.  They have all verbally attacked me at one time or another.  I am wondering if strong women attract verbal abusers too.  But now, my problem is that I feel terrible.  I feel so NOT good about myself, so doubting of myself. How do I run into these guys time after time?"

No, you are not cursed; just somewhat codependent. You are complaining of a very, very common scenario. Nice girl meets controlling guy. (Or, nice guy meets controlling gal.) Your problem is so common in fact, that I may end up publishing this as an article rather than an email advice piece! Look for it... Either way, your details will be kept confidential. Here goes:
This person will wine and dine you; they will tell you they love you. You have met the perfect person, and you think you are in Heaven... But watch it, you are really on the doorstep of Hell.
You have hooked up with an individual who is in pain and who is looking for somebody to take their pain away. The objective: take care of me; love me; take away all my hurts - because that is your job. I don't have to worry about your emotions because this is all about me. Everybody else has messed up caring for me, so you'd better not - otherwise I'll hate you! It has never occurred to this person that it is their job to take care of themselves. Not a problem for the nice guy or gal, who is loving and giving, and really wants to take care of somebody they care about.
Even highly attractive, accomplished, apparently confident people - with just a hint of low self-esteem - are vulnerable. Because your caring traits are a virtual life-force for them, your ability to give is priceless. They will do anything it takes to win you over. Anybody who is even mildly low on the self-esteem scale is vulnerable.
So, if you think he (or she) is too good to be true, trust your instincts! A normal person is not so persistent, so involved, so flattering, so quick to fall in "love" with you. Also, watch what happens when you reciprocate emotionally: they find some reason to push you away! Your guy stuffed your comforter into the closet. Another may be cool and distant the morning after a passionate night.
This kind of "push and pull" or "on and off" behavior is characteristic of the controller, since they cannot really allow you too close. They think you have the power to destroy them - as well as to save them. You need to be kept at a comfortable distance. A normal person, who can take care of themselves emotionally, doesn't go here... There is not as much fear of closeness...
The fix: Trust your instincts more. Exercise more self-control. If something seems too good to be true, don't be too quick to trust it. At the first hint of controlling or abusive behavior, back off. Better yet, get out.

You have work to do. You are frightened of closeness yourself...

Advice: You deserve what you give. Find another giver and have a nice life.