Comments: She Broke My Heart...
here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a
substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.
Dear Broke: I have been pondering over how to comment for you and then I got this stinking virus, so bear with me... This one is tough because it is evident that you really do care about this person but made some errors in judgment which is how you wound up here: bewildered and not living the life you wanted. You ended up a co-dependent in a functional co-dependent relationship. You tried some co-dependent tricks to control the situation: Mind reading, running everything against YOUR emotional meter and not stating clearly what you want, and why you are unhappy when you are taken at your word: The old "...but, you should KNOW how I feel about you..." You left no other options for her but to move on with her life. She's been puzzling over you, too. However, the only person you can fix is you. And I presume that you want to fix the things that caused this misunderstanding so that this doesn't happen again. We, here in the Catbox are well acquainted with co-dependence and are a very caring group. You are totally welcome to come join us in the Catbox.. Chelli
Read through this, have been in a similar situation until I began to tackle my own co-dependency and control issues. It's dangerous to label someone as "narcissist" without looking at your own behaviour. In some ways your own behaviour towards her during the break up was very manipulative. This is true... This is a needy woman who wanted marriage quickly and her children were a very important part of her life, she could never have anymore. By telling her you broke up with her because of the children, you sabotaged any hopes of getting back together. You say you wanted to provoke her into coming back, but by saying something that taps into her whole reason for living, on some conscious or unconscious level you knew this would ensure she wouldn't come back and you could blame her for the end of the relationship and lack of reconciliation rather than actually communicating your feelings in an honest way. This whole relationship was about you raising expectations and believing that because you gave and gave and gave to everyone, they had some obligation to give back---that's co-dependent thinking Yes... and is very destructive to your self-esteem and to your relationships. People don't give because you give them something, relationships are based on compromise not barter. This is a painful lesson I've learned through similar experiences.
Dear Dr Irene, I know that this short two page synopsis is no way to explain all the other small, and seemingly insignificant, times during our relationship that she questioned my love for her. The "demand" that we get married, and the hypercritical nature of her comments regarding my relationship with the children, especially right after her ex got engaged, indicated to me that this was about her and not where our relationship was at the time. Isn't it an important part of a relationship to have faith in the person you love? In the absence of this faith, is there love? I wasn't expecting her to "read my mind". I told her that I only wanted to be in her life because I wanted a committed relationship. I subsequently made her and her two children the most important people in my life. The things that I was doing miraculously (and I was in awe of this more than anybody, since I have never been a father before) brought a major amount of joy to her children at a time that they could have been unhappy. Is marriage the only commitment on the planet that is worthy of her faith? You haven't heard a word I said, have you? You think you need to explain in more detail since I must not understand your perspective. I promise you, I understand where you're coming from...
The fact that she wanted to get married only 8 months after her divorce was, I thought, a very significant source of alarm, especially when she only wanted to talk about that and nothing else. You say that everyone has a different speed. Don't you think that out of both parties, that she should have been the one that wanted to go slower than even me? I guess, my feeling was, in order to have a lifelong commitment, we all needed time to heal from some significant tragedies in our lives. Doesn't EVERYBODY understand this?.. Please stop trying to justify yourself. There is no need. I wanted a marriage, not a divorce. I made a formal commitment when I entered into the relationship. I said I would love and cherish her, and I did just that. Love IS commitment in my life. The whole time in the relationship I was waiting for her to just be happy with "us". She admitted to me that she got married in the first place because she was in a "bad place" in her family and wanted out. She was now in another "bad place" from her divorce. Was this an attempt to do the exact same thing with a different actor and expecting the play to end differently?.. why the theater reference? Because I felt the whole time that she wanted me to "play the part" instead of learning about our relationship as we went along. I needed her faith if I was going to be part of her life.. I know I know...i should have TOLD HER.. So many times in the relationship I told her "slow down" ...we need to be slow about this, its important to go slow, slow slow slow slow.....did it matter?...The only time that I heard her say that she was happy with our relationship was AFTER I broke up with her, and then she was concerned about my health, the stress i was under in my life...why not BEFORE I broke up with her? And yes doctor, I felt really guilty and "wrong" about breaking up with her instead of telling her that her lack of faith in me despite how well our relationship was going first. I asked myself the very question "am i 'testing her love?'" I didn't want to, but if she had never "tested" my love throughout our relationship, I wouldn't have reacted this way. In fact I would have put a spotlight on the significance of her questioning me right after her ex had gotten engaged...not significant? well if her ex getting engaged could prompt her to question my love and commitment to her and her children, doesn't that mean that her ex was still calling the shots in her life?...Where would i be in a relationship that I wasn't allowed to make the most important decision in my life, and it wasn't ever a question of if but when (up until then) I was going to ask her to marry me...I didn't want her to read my mind, I wanted her to read her own motives for doing that to me. It WAS something that was done to me. Something that I would never do had the tables been turned. Was our relationship significant to her if she was off and running with someone else right away? I spent the whole time in her life "walking in her shoes". Isn't empathy important in a relationship?...Isn't the lack of it indicative of a disordered personality?...and the fact that I look like the guy that did something wrong, the classic tale of the victim in such relationships? I would have stayed, believe me, had I felt that what I said and did made a difference. Knowing that what I did was right, doesn't shield me from the guilt that I have that the children were upset when i wasn't there. And for hurting her. People that I genuinely loved and wanted never to lose in my life. I knew however that it would be me that would be "raising" her children and it felt like I would never get the support that I needed to continue without losing faith in myself in the absence of just a little empathy about what it was that I was trying to do in her life. I was trying to create a solid relationship that would lead to a even more solid marriage. Doesn't that take time in the light that she just got divorced? Our relationship was just starting to normalize after these events. Why couldn't she see how important it was herself to deal with her "dependency needs"? When she came into my life she said that she didn't want anyone to "take care of her" that she wanted a partner, not a Siamese twin, and I gave her exactly that, then she punished me for it. She said that she wanted to grow, and I was giving her time to grow, with support of course. It was like an alchoholic saying "no matter how much i beg for a drink, don't give me one, if you love me" and then blaming the person that didnt give them a drink for not giving them "what they needed, when they needed it" When you say that I was good at getting "in my way" I understand what you are saying based on the two pages I wrote. When in the relationship though, I didn't want my way once, she did. Wasn't it wrong to show her children that their father could so easily have been "replaced", wasn't it wrong to expect someone to become part of her children's lives so quickly? Wasn't it better to make sure that they felt that they too felt that they were deciding for me to be in their lives? They didn't have a voice when she got a divorce, wasn't it wrong to believe that we could get married and drag the kids along for the ride? It was very important to me to be the one that asked her to marry me, so that when I asked her she would know it wasn't because she "blackmailed" me into it...that it came from my own heart, and it would have. It just seemed that none of these things were on her mind, and I was the only one thinking about the future. She was thinking of the "fantasy" of marriage, when you would think someone that just got divorced would be thinking a lot more of these things than the fact that she wanted a quick marriage. A marriage for all the wrong reasons. I thank you for reading my post, and I thank you for being so honest with me. I know that you are only privy to what I can write here in a small space. This relationship really affected every aspect of my life, and I felt when all the smoke cleared, that I was left with nothing at all, like it never really happened, it was a figment of my imagination, and she went skipping along, while I was left with guilt for doing what I know would have made anyone else happy ,fulfilled and with some sense of gratitude. Thank you Doctor Oh boy... HeartBroken, you are so married to your position and so want validation of your feelings (I hereby validate that you have the feelings you have!), that it is very difficult for you to hear me. People who write to me are asking for my professional opinion, as to what I think went wrong. I'm telling you how I think you contributed in creating this situation - so that you can begin to learn from your mistakes and have a happier life in the future. Nobody's purrfect, and I'm not suggesting that your lady is somehow "right" while you are somehow "wrong"; that's not what this is about. I do understand what you are saying, and fully empathize with your experience in this relationship. However, you wrote for advice, so advice you get: You are making some common errors in your thinking that heavily contributed to your own heartbreak in this relationship. It can be really difficult to "see" this stuff, but it is worth your while to look. The stuff I'm asking you to look at will empower you; give you more control over your life! While you can't redo what is past, you can prevent these errors in thinking from sabotaging your relationships in the future. You can also get yourself into individual therapy or group therapy of any orientation. This will help you better understand what is being said to you on this page, because right now you can't see it. And if you can't see it, you certainly can't fix it!
Ok...I understand...really I do...but when you say that the kids were her whole reason for living..and she was obsessed with having a child with me almost to the point where her kids didn't even exist..because that's what i was concerned about, bringing her kids through this time of their lives so that we could have a good relationship in the future, I wasn't thinking about having children YET, I would have loved to WHEN WE WERE MARRIED. I was concentrated on our lives NOW. When you say that I am co-dependent...that's the kind of relationship that I was trying to avoid, that's why I wanted to take our time, because I didn't want a co-dependent relationship....isn't the hallmark of co-dependence "instant" love, "instant" gratification, "instant" parenthood, constantly needing affirmation of love, constantly needing me to be present, when if i was not physically there, she didn't think I loved her. I loved her and the children whether I was physically there or not...and I was there at least 4-5 days a week. I didn't want a co-dependent relationship. I wanted to be two independent people that loved and trusted each other enough to know that we had a relationship and that it was on its way to becoming something more all the time. As much as I appreciate your comments and I believe that I was engaging in a type of control. It was the first and only time that I did that in our relationship out of pure emotional defense. It is as wrong to believe that I am a "co-dependent" based on one page, as it is to insist that I am wrong to label someone "narcissistic" based on the small amount that I am able to write here. I have lived with the aftermath of trying to NOT have a co-dependent relationship with someone that I tried to show the healthiness of a relationship that is free of co-dependence...i wanted interdependence. Can a non co-dependent person being in a relationship with a co-dependent person, start to use the co-dependents "tricks" to try to "communicate" in their way? In other words, can a healthy person that wants a interdependent relationship, and tries all the communication skills that they have, and aren't heard and are very confused, start to think like the co-dependent?....I told her the truth throughout the relationship, I told her that I loved her (and acted like it too), I told her I loved her children (and acted like it too), I told her that I was happy with our relationship (and acted like it too).....she didn't believe that...I break up with her and tell her its because of her children (and tears were flowing from my face), when its obvious form what just transpired that she had just pushed me past my limits, she believed the lie...but none of the truths.....Why?
People are trying to help you HeartBroken, but you can't hear them. While there is lots of empathy for your position, the posters (and I) see you sabotaging yourself - and you don't see it. Yet.
just another thing...sorry....do you see something here.....she said that she couldn't have anymore children, and I came into the relationship knowing that and accepting that. All she talked about throughout the relationship was having a baby, while I was trying to learn how to become a parent to her two children in a way that was working. Are you as confused as I am. Well wait a minute...not too long after her divorce she told me she was pregnant. This is when I thought she couldn't have any children and didnt want any....was this a test?...a pretty cruel one don't you think?...It was strange. Almost to see if I would do the "honorable" thing and marry her...You think?....I don't know...just another strange occurrence...and these things happened quite frequently...
one more thing, I wasn't expecting anything back from the relationship in the form of "barter", in fact I loved being there for her, and didn't expect anything back...isn't wanting a diamond ring to represent my love and my commitment a form of "barter"...why wasn't our relationship that was getting better at that moment good enough?...she was the one that was trying throughout the relationship to use things that she did for me as a form of barter, trying to be perfect for me, when i didn't want perfection, always seeking my acceptance when she was already accepted. I wasn't raising expectations, she was, and I wanted her to stop. Couldn't do it by regular communication. I know that I was running the risk of losing her, and her children, but what was the risk of getting married when I knew without a doubt that I was not ready yet. The biggest indication that I wasn't ready was that I hadn't asked her yet. I had no one else in my life and didn't want anyone else, and I was making every move possible to get us to where we wanted to be..no bartering here...just action based on love and NOT having high expectations, just living with, and working with what was going on in our lives. And loving every minute of it more and more as I went on. Sorry I know what you will say, I'm denying my true co-dependent essence...maybe so. There are more ways of seeing all this than how you are looking at it...
Hi, What stands out to me is the maturity level in your relationship and includes both of you. Seems like a lot of impulsiveness, infatuation, fantasy, and teen-age level actions! I wonder about individuation for both of you. Neither of you seem to be finished with your sense of who you are by yourselves! The need to have someone "know" what you want is a very early need from infancy? ... do you have unfinished business way back in the beginning? Mother issues I believe are often vague and emotional because they are before language. I suggest you feel feelings and don't try to analyze them rationally and verbally. Is this cognitive therapy? Art, drama, playing are the ways to pick up where progress was stalled. Playing with small children and getting into their mode could be helpful. Finding a therapist to be a "mother" type and then another to be a "father" type as well would benefit. I am not a professional so I do not know the names of therapies, this is just what I see from your post. I also sense a great dependency from both of you. This fits the early childhood depravation I suspect. The concept of a sympathetic witness is one which you lack, am I right? To have one mature person who can reflect yourself back to yourself would benefit also. This would be better from a mentor than a therapist because you need this more often than an hour a week. A group could provide this marvelously and be all the more secure because it wouldn't depend on just one person, but on the group. Find a support group which would function like a family with siblings and a couple of mature facilitators in the parenting role. Get out of your heads and do some role-playing of childhood developments. Play games, wrestle, explore the world, and FEEL! O.K. Dr. Irene, here is a lay person's take. This is of course only the beginning, but I think that things once begun would progress quite fast and there could be significant movement for these two, or just the writer! A spiritual sympathetic witness is valid also and "except you come as a little child you will not enter the Kingdom of God" God as creator, Father, savior, Lord, and friend could bring a life of full living! And if you believe in God, remember that He was with you when you were a little child! Ask Him to show you Himself there! See if He has anything to express to you or say to you, then and now! The truth will set you free!~ So, since you ask, here is my two cents worth for free! Thanks for the opportunity to respond and to learn a slightly different slant myself! Anaiis Different theoretical view(s) than mine, but I have no problem with most of the stuff Anaiis is suggesting for you.
You have spent a lot of time internalizing this event. Is it that you are still caught up in he co-dependent mind frame of over analyzing and rationalizing things to the nth degree. Yes. If I understand you correctly, this individual took you at your word and has moved on. From the things you've stated you both functioned as co-dependents in this relationship, you both were enmeshed in this relationship and you both did mindreading of one another and expected the same from each other. At this point, there is no relationship, there is the wounded you. And I presume that you want to heal rather than wallow the should-have-beens and the could-have-beens. It is time to roll up your sleeves, shoulder your burden of fault "personal responsibility" is a better word than "fault" here and start fixing the only thing you can fix. You! There is a wealth of information here and in the books and web site that Dr. Irene has recommended, there is a tremendous support group on the other side of this web site, willing to help you as you struggle out of a relationship of enmeshed co-dependence. Come on in, the waters fine. The worst thing that could happen is you'll find out you're not alone, you'll have plenty of company and you are all too "human." See you in the Catbox. Chelli Thanks Chelli.
Thank you for your responses. I believe, however, that you have over-read and over internalized yourselves to a point that EVERYBODY is co-dependent. So I should not "internalize" LOVE???? So when my Father has died, if I feel the loss of someone that I love, I must be co-dependent? You're not understand what is being said. When I lose someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with as well as her children because I was concerned about HER infatuation with me instead of having real boundaries, and real commitment, and real empathy for me and how I felt about her......then we are BOTH co-dependent?.....I wasn't impulsive.....there were a long string of things that occurred before this happened that I "forgave", thinking that because of her divorce that she was working out some issues. As far as feeling good about myself, with myself, I was without someone in my life for years before I met her, and very happy with my life....and fully capable of continuing on when relationships that I did have years before that did not end up in a lifelong commitment, and most of these relationships and people I felt that I had learned something and am still friends with some. I know that I have issues with my "primary objects" my mother and father's relationship and their relationship with me.....everybody does, Yes! Just about everybody does. May be a good place for you to start looking at what happened in your relationship... considering that most people my parents age had children pretty much before they deal with their life issues first, this is human...My question I guess was, does someone that wants everything all at once, in spite of the circumstances of their lives, in spite of all evidence that a relationship is a very nurturing and "adult" relationship, in spite of the fact that I WAS dong things in her life that made a difference, but she still wanted more without first being grateful for what already had transpired. the feeling of intense entitlement that she had...that after a divorce she was entitled to a man to be in her life and marry her instantaneously ...and I am sorry, but the divorce courts are full of people that got married in less than a year after their divorce. (I have a feeling that someone is going to mention the one in a billion chance that their marriage lasted 50 years, and they only knew their husband 1/2 an hour before they got married). The bottom line is, I already know my issues...and I'm sure I'll find some more issues before I leave the earth for good, but I was asking if I came face to face with "narcissistic" behavior? And having been confronted with it, acted in a way counter to what I wanted as a defensive measure?.....I mean, had our relationship been witnessed by her, instead of "choreographed" by her, I believe I would have never acted in this manner. Sorry, I have taken the burden too long for this... I have felt guilty too long for an act that I almost felt I was forced to take....I know nobody forced me...I could have stayed and explained that being with her all the time consoling her about her divorce that she went through with all the emotion of putting out the trash, making sure that the children were ok, introducing her to everybody I knew, treating her with the utmost respect, concern and love, Smiling ear to ear most of the time, that that meant that I kinda liked her, but I really was thinking of marrying someone else...yeah this was definitely all my fault... No "fault" anywhere. Just a lot of pain. Being Human is sometimes a pain in the neck. True for all of us Human-types: it is easier to see other people's "mistakes" than it is to look at our own stuff; myself included. HeartBroken, you're no different. Many thanks, good wishes and warm thoughts to you and all the posters. Dr. Irene, January 27, 2004.
Oh dear. You make co-dependence sound like a nasty word. It's not. A person that is co-dependent has difficulty knowing where boundaries are and when to enforce them to protect themselves from emotional harm and to protect others from the same. It's allowing these boundary violations that get us so enemshed in our own and in other people's lives to the point that we no longer know where "we" begin and where we end. We take on things that clearly do not belong to us and make them our own. No one is blaming you for the demise of your relationship; there were two people in the relationship and both persons had a personal stake and responsibilty as to whether the relationship worked or failed. There are things that we can do to stop allowing ourselves from being so distraught when things do not work out; things that allow us to grow and learn from our experiences to take with us into our next relationship. Otherwise, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes, keep repeating them and add to our own heartache until we do fix ourselves. The offer is still out there, The Catbox is open 24/7. Come join us. Chelli
"I break up with her and tell her its because of her children (and tears were flowing from my face), when its obvious form what just transpired that she had just pushed me past my limits, she believed the lie...but none of the truths.....Why?" Why was it 'obvious'? Why did you lie? Coming from a relationship where I was told that he 'hated' my kid, I think it was terrible of you to say that is why you left. You also made a few comments about her not being 'grateful' for all you did. Did you want to be a saint? She was insecure so you were going to 'force' her to learn to not be insecure? You may be broken hearted, but it sounds to me like you are very controlling, but try hard to not let that be obvious. Just my take on things.
HeartBroken, I wonder if you're missing the point of "codependency" here, since you seem to be taking it as a kind of "accusation." I don't know if there's any such thing as a "codependent relationship," but there are codependent PEOPLE. Have you read the Doc's basic "codependency" page at http://drirene.com/coinfor.htm Don't miss her opening line: "Some of the nicest people I know are codependent." Fair enough, codependency does involve "controlling behavior" of a kind, often indirectly. However, what I want to say is that being "codependent" does not mean the failure of this relationship was somehow "all your fault." More to the point, it doesn't necssarily mean this woman was good for you, or that the relationship would have survived, even if you had acted any differently. On the contrary, codependency can be precisely what makes anyone vulnerable to getting snared into a partnership with a narcissist or any other kind of controlling person, and can mean excessive guilt and needless self-blame for whatever went wrong in the relationship. These are some of the very feelings you're suffering from now. Now you opened your initial letter by saying you believed you were involved with a narcissistic woman. In your last post of several, you're still questioning whether you did come face to face with narcissistic behavior. I don't suppose anyone here is going to answer that question for you definitively. I'm not qualified to judge whether or not this woman was a "narcissist," and more to the point, certainly wasn't prepared to come to any solid conclusions about her based on your initial letter--and neither, I'm sure, was the Doc. "Maybe, maybe not." However, what I can do is collect in one spot everything I think I'm hearing about this woman and answer one question at least. Some of this is based on slender or vague evidence or even inferences I had to marshal together--and along the way, I'll make a remark or two about how codependency contributes to this behavior by allowing it to happen. #1. I hear she was a "needy" woman. You described her as "insecure"; the Doc remarked that it "looks like her own dependency needs were overwhelming to her," which on the evidence did seem true. The trouble is that there are two sides to "neediness." Someone who seems "overwhelmed by their own needs" can be an irresistible attraction to the codependent person above all, who can't help feeling so very sorry for them and can't resist the urge to rush in and "rescue" them, "do everything" for them and "fix all their problems" for them. "Rescuing" is all fine and good when all that someone "needs" is pulling out of a river they happen to be drowning in at the time. Once they're safely on the bank and dried off, they're able to walk away under their own steam, and usually grateful to their rescuer. Their "neediness" was only temporary. Unfortunately some people's "neediness" is not temporary, but a permanent state. It's the way they are--unless they choose to change it, which many don't. The "excessively needy" person is the person who "needs" (or anyway wants) everything they can get for themselves, and can't find enough to give back to others in return. So the uglier flip side of anyone's sob story about being "overwhelmed by their own needs" is that the "needy" person in this sense can also be a self-absorbed, demanding and controlling person, and a bottomless well of "needs." Anyone who's codependent can get sucked into this, forever trying to fulfill this person's "needs," which will never happen, while getting little or nothing back. #2. You say she was lacking in empathy. Please note that "empathy" is not the same is "mindreading." The latter faculty must reside in a different area of the brain, which is absent in most normal humans. However, lack of empathy is a fatal defect--to a partner at least. I can't tell how far she did lack empathy, but I can ask whether she lacked other things that empathy depends on, such as attention to you as a person, along with how much emotional support she gave you. One thing here is that early on, with the loss of your father--I'm sorry to hear about that, by the way--and her apparently going through some difficulties with her divorce, two normal people in a difficult situation should still be able to comfort one another and give more to one another than each could do alone. I wonder how much emotional support she gave you in your own loss. I do hear you say that the only time she seemed concerned about the stress you'd been under was after the breakup (when you finally obliged her to give you attention), not before. But a codependent person may not be paying enough attention to his (or her) own feelings either, and is so busy "doing" for others that it goes unnoticed when a self-centered partner isn't paying attention either. #3. Similarly, I can ask how much appreciation for yourself she gave you, which is a normal need. In spite of everything you did, it doesn't sound as if you got much, from everything you've said. Again, "the only time that you heard her say that she was happy with the relationship was AFTER you broke up with her." #4. About her own attention to her own kids, I'd expect a healthy woman in this position to be very much their mother (she'd had them alone for a year), to be their primary anchor and shield, and for her to take the main responsibility of "transitioning YOU" carefully into their lives, with her guidance and your cooperation. Instead, what I'm hearing is that "she was obsessed with having a child with you almost to the point where her kids didn't even exist"--suggesting she was off in this self-absorbed fantasy in her own head to the point of abdicating her duty as a parent. This is supplemented especially by your statement: "I knew however that it would be me that would be 'raising' her children and it felt like I would never get the support that I needed to continue without losing faith in myself." Again, it's as if she's dumping this all on you when they're HER children, and you who had to "transition" them, as you said in your letter. I noticed you made what seem like contradictory statements about your own perception of your success with the children. I heard on the one hand that the children were "wonderful," that it was "obvious her children loved you," and that you felt you "brought a major amount of joy" to them, all suggesting you were very successful with them. On the other hand I heard that all the way through you were "trying to learn how to become a parent to her two children in a way that was working," and that only as late as Christmas they "seemed to be getting used to you in their lives," suggesting you were having some problems. I put this together to mean that in reality you were doing well at a task that was bound to be challenging, more so for a novice, but didn't get much affirmation, support, or encouragement from her, leading you to doubt yourself at times. Self-doubt is a codependent trait, though it's only exacerbated by lack of partner support. And if she was inattentive to the children, naturally they'd gravitate toward someone who did pay them attention. When it came to her request to sleep over with her--which didn't have to be all the time--my personal feeling on that is that where two people have been close for some months and understand one another to be in a sincerely committed relationship, and where you'd already (as I gather) gotten to know the children and begun to "gradually transition them into a new life with you," then sleeping over now and again is only another step in that transition. Granted the Doc's remark that it was entirely right for you to be sensitive to the children's feelings about "replacing their father"--and to let their reactions be your guide--I see no reason why that step should mean "replacing their father"--IF their mother is doing her job as the primary caring parent--the "heavy mother," if you like!--and you're only an auxiliary right now. It's if she's not doing that, and you feel you're having to become the primary caring parent instead, that you (and they) risk feeling you're "replacing their father." Once again, this is where the self-absorbed person lets their end down while the codependent person rushes in to "take care of people" and fill the gap. I do of course understand that if you had to let go of the children when you loved them and they loved you, just because their mother for a variety of reasons turned out to be someone you couldn't live with, that's a sad loss for all of you. Unfortunately there may have been little you could do to avoid that in the end. #5. As you said, she seemed to be "showing her children that their father could so easily have been replaced," or anyway didn't care from their viewpoint if he was. Worse still, she was showing the children that they themselves could easily be replaced in her attention by her self-absorbed hankering after a new baby. It's not unreasonable to extrapolate from this a fear that you too could be easily replaced in her life--as you eventually were. #6. "All through our relationship she told a girlfriend every detail about us - and made me look like I was the bad guy." So far from giving you support and appreciation fo everything you did, she was busy blaming you for something or other. Codependent people on the other hand accept blame too easily. #7. Since she told you "not to tell anyone about your relationship," she had one rule for herself and another one for you to obey. #8. She kept pushing for marriage and more babies. This was all about what SHE wanted RIGHT NOW, and paid no attention to your needs as a partner. #9. Was she controlling about other issues too? Yes, so I hear--"I didn't want my way once, she did." All the time, it sounds like. "People-pleasing" and "appeasing" are codependent traits. Of course, you could have grown a spine and stood up to her, but how would she have reacted then? #10. If you did confront her with legitimate causes of dissatisfaction: "I was afraid if I told her why, she would do anything to convince me she understood the reason and do it again to me anyway." Now I wonder, was that fear only in your head--or was it your experience of her habitual behavior: manipulatively pretending to "acknowledge" your justified complaints while going on to do the same thing over again? Anyway, "it seemed like she knew just the things to say to make me think that she really loved me"--even if she only "needed" you and wasn't giving love in return. #11. "So many times in the relationship I told her 'slow down"' ...we need to be slow about this, its important to go slow, slow slow slow slow.....did it matter?" Not to her, apparently. So she wasn't listening to what you said, or anyway didn't care enough about you to act on it. #12. "There were a long string of things that occurred before this happened that I 'forgave', thinking that because of her divorce that she was working out some issues." While you don't say what these "things" were, it seems that she was pulling stunts on you all along. But endlessly finding excuses for a partner's bad behavior and continuing to put up with it is another codependent trait. #13. Knowing (or anyway claiming) that she'd been surgically sterilized, she later told you she was pregnant. The chance of this happening is not zero, but it's well under one percent. The chance that she was lying to manipulate you was over 99 percent. So not only was she manipulative, but you couldn't trust her to tell you the truth. All right, that will do. As the saying goes: "For those of you who may have just missed Monty Python's Flying Circus, here it is again," in thirty seconds. #1. She was too "needy," and too insistent on her "needs" at the expense of yours--the root of everything other problem. #2. She apparently gave you little emotional support and validation. #3. She gave you next to no appreciation. #4. She didn't pay enough attention to her own kids, and dumped most of it on you. #5. She saw people in her life as too easily replaceable. #6. She sought allies to build up unreasonable complaints about you. #7. She had a double standard, one for her and one for you. #8. She insisted on marriage regardless of your concerns. #9. She was controlling and wanted her way all the time, never mind your needs. #10. She manipulated and fobbed you off with insincere (if convincing) words while doing whatever she wanted to, regardless of your concerns. #11. She didn't care enough to listen to you or act on what you said. #12. She persisted in bad behavior of some kind. #13. You couldn't trust her to tell you the truth. Now, I won't even try to answer the HARD question about whether she was a "narcissist" or not, particularly when some of this is vague or speculative. All I'm going to answer is the EASY question. Namely, does this SOUND like anyone I'd want to live with as an intimate life partner? That's obvious! Not just "No," but "HELL, NO!" I'd be far better off on my own! So WHY WOULD YOU, in the end? And--apart from the kids, of course--what did you REALLY lose? You lost a DREAM, that's what. It was never real. Apart from the kids, all you lost was something you NEVER HAD in the first place! I don't say this dream can't come true with someone else who is more "real." IT CAN! But I'll stop here, and when I get the time I'll address some other issues in another post. All the best to you! -Heath Robinson
want to say this. I really am grateful for all the time and effort that
most people have taken to comment on my "dillemma". I do understand. I
do hear. You all have to understand, however, that I have taken the
lion share of the guilt, and yes, I do, in most of my relationships
usually take on the guilt for the relationship not working out. I am
overly responsible for results, even those that had nothing to do with
me. I am sorry that I sounded too defensive. You have to understand,
that I have been trying to work this out for a long time, and
"codependency" is a trait that I do see as a problem. In this
relationship especially, I did not want it to be a relationship of
"filling holes" in someone else. I did not come into her life to do
that. If it seemed controlling to try to get her to understand BY
HERSELF that controlling behavior was not allowed in our relationship
by giving her a time to be alone to reevaluate what was really
important about our relationship, that was not my intent at the time. I
really wanted her to think about the relationship by herself, to have
the insight to the actions that made up our lives during the time we
were together, and to see the "truth" by herself. I understand that I
should have told her the truth when I broke up with her, and that might
have made all the difference. At the time I thought that if I told her
the truth, that she would "agree" with me just to keep me in her life.
I wanted her to come to the conclusion herself that when she tried to
force me to do something that I was already trying very hard to do, it
hurt me, it felt like a rejection of every important moment that we
shared, and every smile on the faces of her children, and the very real
concern I had for the future of our relationship if the only way she
would acknowledge my love and commitment was to have a diamond ring on
her finger. Especially since the moment that she told me to buy her one
was directly after her ex-husband got engaged...thoughts of high school
came to mind. "Johnny gave his girlfriend pearl earings, how come you
never bought me pearl earings. You must not love me as much as Johnny
loves HIS girlfriend."...My reaction, you must see, was very immature,
perhaps, because this is the kind of relationship that was presented to
me. It is very hard being an adult of 30 something, knowing the
baseline of most loving, responsive adult realtionships, and being hit
with a situation that I thought I left behind when I was 17 years
old...She was older than me, and I made the mistake that she understood
more about relationships than I did. I was humble and understanding
about the situation that she was in. I knew that she was "needy" and I
thought that sometime BEFORE the time we got married that as our
realtionship progressed that her neediness would diminish, after seeing
how well her children were adjusting to me in their lives, how happy I
was about this, and how happy she should have been about this. I would
like to say this about sleeping over before I was married to her. It is
my deep belief that when children are involved in a relationship,
ESPECIALLY when the most important gifts that we have in this
world....children...are involved, it is extremely important to show
children right from wrong....that two people DO NOT LIVE TOGETHER
BEFORE THEY ARE MARRIED....I believe with all my heart that the
incidence of divorce in this world is directly related to the
dissolution of very important rules of engagement in a relationship. If
you want your children to understand the important line between two
people that love each other and are preparing to live their lives
together, in a respectful loving manner, and the absolute dignity of
marriage, and the difference between these phases of life, you should
live like you want your children to live. I understand that nothing
guarantees that a marriage will last, but to start out on the wrong
foot, that is, to chum the divorce waters before you even get married,
is asking for broken hearts, and even more disasters in your life. Why
would you want to do this, if you JUST GOT DIVORCED...It made
absolutely no sense to me.....In other words, it seemed that she wanted
to get married to sweep under the rug the most important issues in her
life, and I know from experience, if you pretend that the elephant in
your living room doesn't exist, chances are theres going to be a lot of
damage later on. I waited patiently for her to talk about real things
in her life, as wonderful as her fantasies were, and I wanted to turn
those fantasies into realities, but the truth was, our "real"
relationship was far more miraculous than any fantasy she could think
up. It was shaping up to be a wonderful future, if only she could just
live in the here and now. I thought my patience would have payed off. I
thought that my values were ...um ...valued. They were the same values
that I would have loved to pass on to her children. Thank you for being
so truthful. I do appreciate it, it has helped to highlight things that
I did. I do understand what you are saying. Please understand that I
believe that if I was codependent, I would have done ANYTHING to please
her. I would not. There were things that I would absolutely not do for
love. Things that I believe would have hurt us in the long run anyway,
and that would not have increased love, would only diminish it to me
being a robot, and her a programmer. Thank you again. You have all
helped me...I have learned a lot from all of you.
About 6 weeks ago I discovered that my wife was suddenly spending a lot of time alone. She said she was one place and she was another. There was a lot of extra milage on my car. She suddenly started going out with fiends until all hours of the night. I followed her one day and she was at the home of a former boyfriend. She had alo obtained a cell phone that I did not know anything about. I confronted the both of them. They denied it, they are justs friends and he is investing in her business. Suddenly, my wife is attacking me for not trusting her. She is not sure she wants to be in our relationship any longer. I have made her a toxic waste dump with my negaitivty. She complained that I did not hear her cries for help. She needed someone to talk to because I was not there. She was out of work for 3 years. She was the major breadwinner. How was I supposed to make up $75k part-time? This is obviously the behavior of someone trying to justify an affair. Now I have no proof of a physical but at minimum she is cheating on me emotionally. I am in therapy. I am devestated and my world is crumbling. She states this is all in my head and my being deprerssed, upset, physicall ill and not trusting her is just pushing her further away. What can I do? Hopeless in Philly
Hi Brokenheart, It sounds like you were witholding from her and expecting too much from her. This is a great sign of control on your part. It sounds like it was your way that was the only one with no compromise. Your judgements of this women in everything was also a sign that if you had gotten married you would have been emotionally abusive to her. You are not the nice guy you think yourself to be. Look at the letter you wrote in an objective and you will see your problem. Grow up. Dr. Irene is right listen to her. Do yourself a favor or you will be a lonely old man with many regrets. I know..............67 and dying alone. R.
I don't know if Broken Hearted is still reading these replies but I am replying with a somewhat heavy heart after just reading the original posts and the replies in the last hours or so. There are clues in the original posts that lead me to believe this is my own 30+ son who has written them, and that he remains "stuck" in spite of the wise advice and perceptions of Dr. Irene's and the other posters, like Heath. If so, my perspective may be a little biased and interpreted (rightly or wrongly?) as interference and possibly as the result of my guilt from exposing this young man (if he is mine) to the influences of my staying far too long in an abusive "marriage" The abuse, all forms, was behind closed doors and it wasn't until I got "out" three years ago that I had any idea that the children were being influenced by the tension in the home that they could not understand. With this realization, I was SO REMORSEFUL!! Thus, my perspective is that this young man (whether mine or not) has been adversely influenced by his family of origin and would benefit from professional counseling with a person well-versed in abuse who can help him untangle his thinking and feelings. I would urge him to think of a counselor in the same way as one would consult an M.D. if one had a broken bone. Also I would remind him that consulting a counselor does not indicate that one is "crazy" or "wrong" or "at fault." Just that anyone admitting needing outside help is a smart thing to do to enlarge one's capacity to live a full, healthy life. I dare to write this because Dr. Irene's posted comments were almost exactly what I had tried to discuss with my son time and again through the years during his failed-after-failed relationships with a myriad number of girls/women since he was dating age. He couldn't seem to "hear" me, either. Furthermore, he himself mistreated me, his mother who loved him more than my own life, the same way (as did his father.) I couldn't, can't and don't blame him. He had no way of knowing that what he observed, felt, or saw was not normal, no matter how hard I tried to create a "normal" environment for my children in spite of the "abnorality" over which I didn't know I had no control -- except to leave. I have taken full responsibility that I chose to stay in a Stockholm Syndrome relationship for 46 1/2 years because I was too afraid to leave -- and wanted my children to have an unbroken home and a father figure, falsely thinking since "Dad" only harmed me, he wasn't harming them!! I was wrong!! However, if I had known what I know now -- that my four children were being influenced by their father in ways I couldn't see then -- I would have run for the hills long,long before. Life doesn't have a "rewind" button so all I can do is to ask forgiveness for my mistakes, recreate for myself a healthy life, continue to love my children unconditionally, and, hopefully, to assist others (like Broken Hearted and/or my beloved son) on their way to health, happiness, and even joy! It is the desire of my heart! So, Broken-Hearted, please do not give up!! In your posts, I perceived so many, many evidences that you are a truly loving, caring person with much good to bring to the family relationship you want, desire, and deserve. Like the rest of us on the Catbox, the place to start is with yourself. You can do it. I know you can!! Dr. Phil states that one can't change what one will not acknowledge. The good news is that, especially with God's help, one CAN change. Coming to the Catbox was a very good and wise start. Keep up the good work. The learning and growing is tough work but well worth it!! Dr. Irene is AWESOME!!
Dr. Irene, Two weeks ago my partner told me she has not loved me for over a year now. She said she only felt sorry for me and that is why she did not make me leave sooner. I have moved into my own apartment with my 14 year old daughter after a 2.5 year relationship with this woman. When I first met her I was scared to get involved because I thought this was too good to be true. She loved me so and showed it often. We use to cudde on the couch and spoon to sleep everynight. After dating her for one month and sleeping at her house every night she asked me to move in. I did because I had never met a lady like her and thought this had to be it. By that spring we went to Kentucky and she wanted matching tattoo's with the Destiny asian symbol and her name on me and my name on her. We had a great year together. She told me in the beginning she never says forever in a relationship but I thought ours was different. That Following Novemeber a year after we met she wrote to me that she realized I was the one for her and she loved me. She said she would never let andything come betweens us and she was proud I was her other half. Now we did have some issues in our thinking because she had a 4 year old and I had a 12 year old at the time. We did not agree on each others parenting, I felt she expected one set of rules for my kid and another for hers. I admit I was trying to manage a pre-teen and I was not given a hand book but everything she said I should do I did including coounseling for her. Well my child grew out of her worst stage and is a honor roll student and a good kid minus a few eye rolling episodes. Other than this we were happy and going to have a child together or adopt. We decided to try after our trip to Disney we were planning for in April but her father died that February and things started changing a bit. She was with drawn and this was unlike her. I gave her a committment ring in March. She seemed very happy. I had the band made especially for her and it was my Grandmothers diamond. This ring was special to me but so was she. I started asking what was wrong and what could I do to make it beter. She would tell me to leave her alone and stop bothering her. It seemed as though we went from happy to nothing with in weeks. Because of this with draw I did not know how to reach out to her. I tried talking to her but she would not. I would go a week without any attention from her and then she would give it to me all of a sudden. When I wanted her time or atention I was told I was needy and needed to give her space but when she wanted me I was there. I thought that if I was perfect for her and did everything she wanted and asked maybe she would treat me like she did just a month or two prior but I was wrong. The nicer I was the more she neglected me or pulled away. Even still she said she wanted to have a baby with me. We started trying after April spring break. No, we did not go to Disney she went alone with her son saying she needed space. I was really hurt but I could do nothing about it. I was mainly hurt because we talked about this in February and my daughter was involved at the time as well. Then at the last minute she took off with her son and my daughter and I were left behind. I also was not understanding what was going on with her because she would not tell me. When she returned it was like everything was okay. We started hormone pills, I would take her temperture every morning at the same time, we went in for inseminations, ultra-sounds, and on the second try she became pregnant. We were so happy. I mean I cannot tell you how happy. We were shopping for baby clothes, planning things out, I bought a family van, and we were happy. Then in late June we lost the baby. She was so depress and I too but I could not show it. I tried to stay strong for us both. The day she miscarried I had to go to work because I had just started there and I was scared to call in. I later told my boss and he let me go home. She had just gotten home from the hospital and was still drowsy. I tucked her into bed and went out for her something to drink. While I was out all I could think about is trying to make this go away and better. I guess I made a bad choice because I did not come back for 3 hours. I was out shopping for her a new bicycle for her birthday August 1st. I thought if I brought her back somethingshe wanted and nice she would feel better and it would take her mind off of things. Well, she reminded me of this often and I tried to explain that I did not mean to leave her I was just trying to make things better. When I got home I showed her her bike and cared for her. The whole relationship revolved around me doing for her and helping her and loving her and being there for her. Her best friend tried to get pregnant and did on her second try. She did not lose the baby but my partner said she could not be around her right now. I could understand how she felt and I was there for her. I finally saw her cry for the first time ever. I did not even see her cry for her father but I think with everything it finally built up and she cried to me. She told me she needed noone else but her family and me. SHe cried on my shoulder for a bit and I held her. i told her evrything was going to be alright. During all this time since her father died and now the baby, she became angry in the home. She complained nothhing was done right, to leave her alone, and would not communicate with me. She was actually very mean to me and I tried loving her unconditionally making excuses for her actions to myself and my daughter. Her son would even gester she was crazy behind her back. She became out of control I felt with the things she said and how she treated me. i still loved her and would rub her feet or bring her hot tea and every day told her how beautiful she was. December she kicked me out and says she does not love me. I begged her for another chance and asked her what I did and what I could do to make it better. i knew in my heart though it was not me. She said I could stay but I needed to give her space so I did but after a week or two I would come to her and ask for time and she would get angry. February she kicks me out again. I was ready this time. I went to a counselor so I could deal with her rejection. I wanted closure but I could not get it. She would never tell me what I did wrong. When I was ready to leave she told me she did loved me and I could stay. She said we need a bigger house so she could have her own office and space. We looked at houses and had contractors giving us estimates for an addition. I thought everything was okay. Now two weeks ago she told me again she does not love me and to get out. I did. I love her though.
dear dr. irene, I'm 15 years old and i just broke up with my girlfriend for the second time. The reason why i broke up with her was because i heard she was cheating on me and she would ignore me all the time so i broke up with her but then i found out she wasnt cheating on me an that the reason that she was ignoring me was because she was scared to talk to me about something. and later on i found out that she had cut her wrists because she was scared that i might think that she was cheating on me and id get pissed off at her and i found out that she had been feeling that way about me for a while. that same night i ended up hanging out with her and a bunch of my friends and her friends and by the end of the night i realized i really missed her and couldnt live without her. i dont know what to do anymore i want her back so badly i feel like killing myself
Dear Dr Irene, I am 16, and I have a boyfriend and we have been going out for 2 years. We share a flat, and we share a bed, but we don't have sex, as I am not ready for it. Anyway, we completely trust each other, we have no secrets between us, and we never part. A couple of weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night and I found my boyfriend taking off my trousers - What can I do? I have told him that I don't want sex, but I'm not sure if I can trust him after my experience a couple of weeks ago. Please help, Cartherine Hughes
I was in the 6th grade and I fell in love with this boy named Kline and I told him I was in love with him because I thought he loved me back but he told me he didnt see me that way and broke my heart. I known Kline since I was in pre-school for 17 years now. I havent seen Kline in 3 years and he comes back in my life in my High school year and I begin to have the same feelings for him that I have had in the 6th grade. I want to tell him how I feel but I cant because I am scard because what happens if he rejects me again? I cant tell if he likes me or not. I dont know why I still love him I thought those feelings were gone. Maybe its because it feels like I am missing something with him. What should I do? Should I tell him and ruin the friendship I built with him or should I wait until he tells me.
I am in love and I dont know how to tell that secret lover that I love him please give me some advice on what to do because I am miserable because I love him so much
Wow, i have been guilty of engaging in many if not all of the "mind reading" and "emotional reasoning" that this guy reported. In addition i realize that i am not the best communicator and this has definitly caused problems in past relationships. I appreciate the feedback your provided for Mr. Heartbroken as i feel that i can benefit from the information provided. Thanks again.
god, heartbroken sounds just like me. such a martyr! so noble and great and willing to meet other's needs, as long as it fits in our own story line, which we probably both wrote long ago. what struck me is the sentance that 'consistently needing affirmation of my love and commitment, that is "proof" of love, hurt me very much.' Her needs hurt you? WOW! That's pretty judgemental. I'm the same way, I like to make other people's needs all about me. The truth is, she just needed what she needed. You chose to feel all martyr-like about it. I don't know a lot of women who don't need constant affirmation or have some control issues.
I don't understand why she wanted to rush into things but i don't see why you would break up with her instead of talking to her about this and seeing why she is rushing getting married if your not ready your not ready but don't run away from her.
i HAD TO LIE CONSTANTLY TO KEEP THE GIRL i LOVED IN MY LIFE
my name is carlos I'am from mexico i love a girl: Paola is a anel i don't know how to meet her
dear dr irene we dated fr 3 months and then one day a old friend came up to me an said look who ive got and he said my girlfrieds name i walked away and didnt talk 2 her 4 over3 weeks however 2day i saw her and things were said and we made up but this other guy shes with she now dosent feel the same way about him what do u propose i do
dear dr irene we dated fr 3 months and then one day a old friend came up to me an said look who ive got and he said my girlfrieds name i walked away and didnt talk 2 her 4 over3 weeks however 2day i saw her and things were said and we made up but this other guy shes with she now dosent feel the same way about him what do u propose i do
I love her but I don't know does she loves me or not.I have not ever talked to her but I notice that she also sometimes see me.How can I know that she loves me or not? The real problem is that she lives in other city please tell me the solution.
I feel like i have fineally meet the one she is 11yrs older than me. but that does not matter. She just got out of a relationship and is kind of heart broken, so i was not trying to rush her into anything. so i asked her if she would help me find someone like her and she said no that it would make her jelaus...so the last words she said to me were you make me feel like i am being swept. off of my feet and she sent an email saying relax dont worry time will tell, and saying i was one of a kind. I am scared this is first person i have ever wrote poems to and cared so much about i do not know want to do. i think i am going to get hert but i pray that day never comes????????????what should i do