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Her Personality Irregularities

My Story: Her "Personality Irregularities" (NPD?)

“Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”
- Cicero

by Mark

May 7, 2002

Dear Readers,

This one is long, but worth the read.  Can you see the spots where Mark, messed up? Translation: Can you see where he lost his sense of Self - to keep Her around? Doc

I started writing this for myself, as a therapeutic exercise. I felt locked in my own world because, apart from some people on the Internet who I’ve never met, no one has really been able to understand me when I talk about the relationship I had with a girl I met around four years ago. I wanted to ‘get it off my chest’ and thought that writing it out would go some way towards doing that. I have tried to tell things as I saw them. Certainly there would be another side, but I do hope that through the acceptance and inclusion of my own mistakes/wrongdoing you will read something that, albeit from my side, you can consider to be the truth. I tell it exactly as I saw it. I’m not looking for sympathy; in fact, I don’t think I deserve it. I know I have to shoulder much of the blame, so I’m not really out to lay blame either. I wanted to focus on, what I consider to be, the ‘personality irregularities’ of a girl I was involved with and how those irregularities affected me.

I’d like those who haven’t experienced this kind of thing to learn a little, and for those who have, to consider how much they can identify with, and possibly give me some feedback in that regard. Thanks.

My story

Shortly after leaving school, I started my first job. It wasn’t a great job, but I had left school with no qualifications and was actually very lucky to have it. However, after over nine years of what seemed to be the same thing year in year out, I started to regret not having made more of my school days. I felt I was quite intelligent and could have easily gone to university and been successful in something. They say it’s never to late to study, so to compensate in some way, I started studying Spanish at an evening class.

I was disappointed with the classes. I wanted to learn, while other students just seemed to want something to do in the evenings. The teacher seemed to accommodate them more than me and everyone would often just chat about Spain. I started studying at home with books and tapes and got quite good in a relatively short space of time. It wasn’t long before I was eager to go to Spain to put my newfound talent to some use. I made a weeklong trip to Andalucía and had some fun communicating with the Spanish people. They said I had very good pronunciation, which was very encouraging. Around six months later, I went back. This time I flew to Alicante and on arriving, I decided it would be interesting to check out the capital, Madrid.

As soon as I arrived I felt excited and liberated. It was a big vibrant city. There were lots of people from all over the world and adventure seemed to be just around every corner. I spent a weekend there and had a great time. When I told people I had only just arrived and that I’d been learning Spanish, they seemed to take to me. I imagine the excitement of being somewhere new was also written all over my face. During the week I caught a train and went to the coast. It was ok, but nothing compared to Madrid. The following weekend I caught the train back again and had an equally fun time.

Time was up and I had to return to my job in England. I started saving my money with a view to spending some real time in the place I had fallen in love with. Another six months later and I was back. This time I was to enrol myself at the local university to study Spanish. It was a four-month long course and I knew I couldn’t afford to pay for that much time in one of the cheap hotels that had become my usual hangouts. I looked in the local free-ads paper for a room in a shared flat, called a few numbers and went to look at them. The first three rooms were terrible, very small and functional. I was disappointed and a little worried that I wasn’t going to find anything suitable. I called another that sounded promising and went to have a look. The room was also small, however the flat itself was great. It was big, ideally located and I was told the other residents were young. I sat down with the landlady to discuss formalities. I still wasn’t sure if I wanted it, as it was a little too expensive for my budget.

As I sat and talked to the landlady, one of the residents approached us. ‘Ah. This is Elaine.’ the landlady said. I looked up and standing there was the girl of my dreams. The girl that I had always imagined that I would some day marry. She was a French girl, and very pretty. I introduced myself, and at that moment, the added incentive helped me in my decision; I was definitely going to take the room. In retrospect I can now see that this was a huge mistake.

The landlady was very concerned with orderliness and cleanliness, and generally liked to meddle with what went on in the flat. Shortly after meeting this girl, the subject of cleaning was brought up. The landlady wasn’t happy about the build up of rubbish bags and dust. The girl, Elaine, fought back viscously, insisting that she was the only one doing any cleaning. Perhaps it was true. In fact, I later realised that it was indeed true, but I was a little taken aback by the outburst, especially as it was in the company of someone who was considering moving in. I went back to my hotel after arranging with the landlady to meet in a couple of day’s time to finalise everything. I had, however, misunderstood the arrangement. My Spanish had failed me. I was to call her on the Friday evening, not go back to see her. When I went back on the Friday, I met one of the other residents who was on his way out, a young American guy, whom I had met briefly before leaving after the first visit. We greeted each other. He told me he was going away for a week or so and that I would be left ‘with her’ and he gestured up towards the flat. Elaine was looking down from the balcony. He pronounced the ‘her’ in such a way that it was clear there was a problem between them. I asked him why he said it like that and he replied by saying that he would tell me some other time. I left it at that and went up.

Due to the misunderstanding, the landlady wasn’t around. The only person in the place was Elaine. She opened the door to me and I explained why I had come. She told me that the landlady wasn’t around and that she wasn’t expected either. I realised I had got our arrangement all wrong. As it was a Friday evening, I was ready to go out and was a little puzzled as to why this pretty young girl didn’t appear to be going out herself. I asked her if she was out that night. She told me that she wasn’t and gave a very vague reason as to why that was so. I said goodbye.

The following day, after having finally met with the landlady, I was moving in with my stuff. Elaine was there watching as I lugged my bags in to my new room. We got chatting and I instantly felt there was a buzz between us. She seemed to have a special charm and made me feel good. I was sure I was having the same effect on her. I was looking forward to being in the flat with her over the weekend. This is when she told me that she was going away for the weekend. I didn’t know it at the time but she had made a friend in her Spanish class and he had invited her to Portugal with a large group of friends. I was disappointed; I was going to be alone in my new place.

On the Monday she was back and I was disappointed that this girl didn’t seem to be interested in me. The buzz that I felt we had before had gone. I was upset. I had spent all weekend thinking about her. I thought we might become good friends and start going out together, but she had other friends to go out with. The girl who previously seemed to have no one to go out with, now seemed to have lots of social contacts. Unknown to me at the time, she had made lots of friends during the trip to Portugal. I didn’t know they were ‘brand new friends’.

We still spent lots of time chatting to each other in the flat and I felt there was a warmness building. She made me feel quite special. Being with her was fun even though all we ever did was talk. When I say talk, she did most of the talking and I sat and listened to her talking about herself or about her views and opinions. She didn’t ask me much about myself, but then I felt she was far more interesting than me anyway. She seemed a little unusual, but also very charismatic. There was also a mild sense of innocence about her, which I found very attractive. Sometimes I didn’t stick around for our evening chats, and instead went to a bar to meet up with other friends that I had made. She was a little unhappy about that. In fact, once she said ‘Don’t you want to stay here?’ It was an enormous boost to my ego and I went out quite sure that she was interested in me.

She told me a lot about herself during our chats. She told me that her family was very wealthy and that she received money from them each month. She was also due a large inheritance at some point. She told me that her parents were actually separated although they lived together in the same big house. She also told me the story of her and her ex-boyfriend. They had been together for two years but, as she explained, they were constantly arguing. They broke it off a few times but would get back together weeks later. They split again but he wanted to get back together again. She told me he would cry and beg to have her back. She said she had had enough. After every reconciliation the arguments would start again. After a few months of separation and much pleading from him, she took him back once more. He had to do a work placement in Madrid. She came with him and they moved into a flat together with the intention of making a new start. It wasn’t long however, before the arguments started again. She finished with him once more and he moved back to France. The relationship sounded like a nightmare. She said when she first met him she had fallen head over heels in love, but she later found out that he was very selfish, immature, and too proud to admit his mistakes. She also told me that they had spent some time in South America backpacking, and that on a couple of occasions the arguments had got so intense that he just walked away and left her on her own for days at a time. Although I couldn’t understand it at the time, later on I was to fully understand why he should do such a thing. For the time being I thought it was a terrible thing to do to a young girl. I really didn’t like the guy, although I’d never met him. In my mind he was bad news.

She also told me about an ex-flatmate, Katy, who had lived in the flat before I arrived. At first they became good friends but quickly fell out. She told me it was hell living under the same roof with this girl and that they would do everything possible to avoid each other. Eventually Katy moved out. I met Katy once when she came back for some stuff. She seemed very nice.

As time we went on she started to flirt with me. She liked to talk about sex and would give me sexy glances or make ambiguous comments that I would be careful not to misinterpret. Sometimes I would come home from my language class and she would be ‘asleep’ on the sofa. I would sit on the armchair next to her eating my dinner but she didn’t get up. In most cases it was clear that she wasn’t actually sleeping, but just lying there. I remember feeling disappointed that my arrival home didn’t ‘wake her’. After my dinner I would go to my room to listen to music. A short while after she would be knocking on my door, seeming to want my attention. Other days she seemed pleased to see me and we would chat, often sitting on the balcony with a beer. She was hot and cold from one day to the next. This pattern, unknown to me at the time, would carry on for the next three years. I assumed she was just playing a game. I thought she liked me but didn’t want to appear too eager.

Occasionally our flatmates sat with us to watch telly, I always felt a little disappointed. I wanted to be alone with her. The four of us - there was also an American girl - sat in silence watching the box. The first time, I remember the young American guy made a comment about what we were viewing. Before I could comment back, he was aggressively shushed by Elaine. I remember thinking how nasty it was, very disrespectful. It wasn’t as if these two had known each other for long, a few months at the most. He made another comment a short while after and again was aggressively shushed. He got up, collected his dinner things and went to his room. There was clearly bad feeling between them. Although I wanted to be ‘on her side’, I told Elaine that I thought she had been very rude. She seemed a little surprised to hear that and when I told her why, it was as though she had really learnt something. I told her she should go and say something to him. She went to his room and apologised, although it seemed she was apologising simply to keep me happy, rather than feeling genuinely sorry about it. It never stopped her doing such things in future. She was often rude and condescending towards people and it wasn’t long before that included me.

We had another flatmate who wasn’t often around. He was older than us and married. He had a house somewhere else in Spain where he lived with his wife and children. The flat in Madrid was his base for when he was in town for business, which was around once a fortnight. The first time I met him he was staying over in the capital for the night. In the evening, he and Elaine settled down in the living room chatting and listening to music. She had told me that they often did this. Now there were three of us and things were very different. All her attention seemed to be on him. She was flirting with him in a similar way she flirted with me. I was upset. I wasn’t someone special after all. I wanted to get away and leave them to it but I couldn’t just walk away. We stayed up chatting until it was universally acknowledged that it was bedtime.

I didn’t worry too much about it. Although she had a kind of special attraction for me, I told myself she was just a flatmate and that there were plenty of other girls around. This was the attitude I had decided to adopt from then on. However, it wasn’t as simple as that. For the next few weeks, things carried on as they had before, me and her together chatting and laughing almost every evening. I was falling again. I was developing a very uncomfortable gut feeling towards her, but chose to ignore it. She was reeling me in and I couldn’t stop it. One night she told me she was going out for a meal with a large group of friends and asked me if I wanted to go along. I was more than happy to. She talked about these friends as though they were very good friends, although when we got to the restaurant, she only actually seemed to know a few of them and it didn’t seem like they had been friends for long. During the meal these friends spoke amongst themselves and didn’t pay much attention to us. It was my thirtieth birthday the following day and I was very surprised when Elaine, almost shouting, announced this to everybody, completely out of the blue. I felt very embarrassed. They didn’t know me at all. Why did she think they would be so interested? It was an awkward moment. Faces were blank and a momentary silence filled the air before someone made some comment to diffuse it. While we were sitting at the table I remember thinking that we looked like a couple, and was sure that one day we would be.

During the weekends that followed Elaine came out with me a couple of times and we had some good nights out. Nights out without her seemed boring by comparison. She seemed so happy to be with me and I was sure that I was someone special to her. I was disappointed, however, that if anyone called her and invited her out, she would always choose that in preference to being with me. She was receiving calls frequently, mainly from guys. It became clear that she was only going out with me when she had nothing else on. I kicked myself for being such a fool and decided I needed to keep my distance from her.

One Sunday afternoon she received a call from a guy who she had been out with the night before. I could hear her calling him a ‘cabrón’ (Spanish equivalent of arsehole/bastard) down the phone. Their conversation was short and heated, and yet at the same time she seemed to be enjoying it. I asked her what all that was about and she told me that this guy had left her in the street all alone. He was ringing ‘to make sure she got home ok.’ A short while after, she told me she had kissed him and then left him standing to go flirt with some other guys. He was naturally very upset and understandably walked off because of it. He phoned to apologise the following day and was called an arsehole.

I went out with her again with the friends she had met in Portugal. During the night I got involved with a friend of hers called Vicky. Elaine didn’t seem to be at all jealous, but rather happy for the pair of us. I thought it was quite clear that she wasn’t interested in me. I called Vicky a couple of times after but nothing came of our little romance.

I was losing respect for Elaine. What with the flirting and the little ‘cabrón’ event, it was clear that she was a p**** teaser. I told her I thought that’s what she was. She admitted it and told me she did it for the attention it gives her. She also said that she knew it was wrong and was going to change. It was clear that she wasn’t going to make much effort to change; after all, she really seemed to be enjoying it. She told me that she had got into trouble with it before. One guy had actually wrestled her to the floor because she had taken it so far. He got a bad name for himself after doing it. In all the time that I knew her, she didn’t change in the slightest. It‘s far too ingrained into her personality.

The businessman guy came back for another night and I watched as she flirted with him to an extreme. She was looking into his eyes and mouthing the words to the songs we were listening to, or dancing sexily in front of him. He was trying to play it cool, but it was so strong I felt embarrassed for the two of them. The following weekend he was back again. Sensing that something was coming to a head, I made sure I was out that night. Later she told me they had gone for a drink together and got very drunk, but that she couldn’t remember what else happened. I didn’t question it anymore – I didn’t want to know.

I started to dislike her. The gut feeling was getting stronger by the day, but she made me feel so special, and she was very sexy. I tried hard not to think about her and had a short relationship with another girl. Although I couldn’t avoid her altogether, given that I lived with her, I tried to disconnect myself from her, telling myself not to get sucked in again. It was impossible. She was becoming an addiction. I hadn’t encountered anything like it before. She wanted to be with me in the evening and I just couldn’t turn it down. Even if I stayed in my room, she would knock on the door for what seemed like any pathetic little reason. ‘Did she like me or not? Was she playing some kind of big game?’ For weeks I was oscillating between believing that she wanted me as her boyfriend and telling myself to keep away. Her flirting with me got stronger and stronger and I was thinking about her constantly. She seemed so pleased to see me when I came home. It was becoming painful. She also spoke about a guy she fancied. Deadly serious, she told me that this guy was in love with her, but was confused because he already had a girlfriend. She was killing me with these mixed messages.

I had to put an end to it. I decided I should just ask her if she liked me or not. I couldn’t carry on anymore. We had arranged to go out together and I decided that I was going to ask her while we were out. I did just that, although by the time I mustered up the confidence to do it, I was a bit drunk. The whole thing just came over as a botched attempt to get off with her. I even asked her for a kiss. She smiled and then told me she was in love with this other guy. I had made a fool of myself over her and she loved every minute of it, grinning from ear to ear. 

The next day I apologised for being an idiot the night before and, smiling, she told me not to worry. I kept well away from her for a few days, although it wasn’t long before we were spending time together again. It just seemed to carry on. I was so confused. I couldn’t understand why she turned me down and yet loved to be with me. I didn’t feel like I had achieved anything. She made me feel so special and yet insignificant at the same time. It doesn’t sound possible, but it is.

A few weeks later the American girl - who by the way, had recently made a comment that made it clear she wasn’t the good friend of Elaine’s that Elaine believed she was – left the flat. Isabel, an attractive and seemingly very self-confident girl, moved in. Elaine and Isabel seemed to hit it off immediately. They became good friends and would do a lot of things together. This is when something very strange happened.

Not only did Elaine withdraw her attention from me completely, but she also became very hostile towards me. It literally happened overnight. Isabel told Elaine that I wasn’t doing enough cleaning around the flat and was quite angry about it. The truth was that none of the original flatmates were doing much cleaning. Elaine confronted me angrily about it on a number of occasions, seemingly speaking for the new girl. It was bizarre; the arrival of Isabel had caused us to go from good friends to sworn enemies. I told her I thought she was being unfair with me and suggested that Isabel was having a strong influence on her, but she denied it and insisted she was only angry with me because I wasn’t cleaning enough. I was baffled. Cleaning, or the lack of it, had rarely been mentioned before. It went on like that for weeks. Her attitude towards me had changed completely and I just couldn’t understand why.

The subject of cleaning was also becoming a problem with the landlady. We also had a big party in the flat that she wasn’t happy about. Everyone in the flat felt uncomfortable and wanted to get out. I was a little surprised when the two girls told me they were going to look for a new place and asked me if I wanted to go with them. I look back on this moment now as the exact right time when I should have taken the opportunity to get the hell away from her, but as clear as it is in hindsight, that’s not how I saw it back then. They told me I could live with them on the condition that I became more responsible and did more cleaning. By now I had decided that I wanted to live in Madrid and was going to find some work there. The three of us went for a drink together to discuss things, but they were very hostile towards me the whole time. I tried to communicate my confusion but I got nowhere with it. It got a little heated and I said that I couldn’t understand why it was that since Isabel arrived, Elaine and I weren’t getting on at all. Isabel screamed ‘Oh! So it’s all my fault!’ and stormed off. Elaine scolded me ferociously for upsetting her. I tried to appeal to the Elaine that I knew from before, the pre-Isabel Elaine, but she wasn’t there. She seemed to be someone different. All I could do was shake my head; it all seemed unjust. I sat there feeling like the bad guy. I was made to feel like the bad guy, but why? I hadn’t done anything wrong at all. Eventually matters were resolved. I told them I would make more effort, although I knew I hadn’t made any less effort than anyone else. We set about looking for a new place and eventually found something ideal.

I went home to England for a month. Elaine phoned me there to make sure everything was ok and that I was coming back to Madrid. She seemed very keen to see me. When I got back I went straight to the new place. When I got there the two girls were there, along with the new landlord. They were looking over the contract. The landlord told us we couldn’t move in straight away because we had to arrange something at the bank first. The three of us agreed to meet the following morning to go to the bank. We were all making an effort to get on and so far it seemed to be working. Elaine was very pleased to see me again and suggested that we went to have a drink together. After a couple of hours, Elaine told me she was going home. I said I was going to finish my drink and then go to a hotel for the night. This is where I made a big mistake. I was very happy to be back in Madrid and a couple of my friends were in the bar that we went to. Instead of finishing my drink and going home, I had another drink. We then went on to another bar and had another drink, and so on. I got to the hotel very late and quite drunk. I looked for my alarm clock, couldn’t find it and collapsed on the bed fully clothed. I was woken up the following morning by heavy banging on the door of my room. I thought it must be the guy who worked in the hotel. In a daze, I opened the door. The two girls were standing there motionless and with faces like hell. Suddenly it all came back to me. I was instructed to get my documents and meet them outside. We made it to the bank and everything went through as planned.

I apologised profusely. I was now that no good lazy guy they had made me out to be and they weren’t going to let me forget it. They didn’t let me forget it for the next four months. It seemed they had a hate campaign against me. I stayed in my room the whole time (I had been designated the smallest room). If I ever ventured out they would snap at me. Forgiveness wasn’t forthcoming. I thought about moving out.

One night I was woken by Elaine arriving home after a night out. She went to her room and I could hear her crying. It went on for a while and I didn’t know if I should pretend I didn’t know or go in there and ask her what was up. The next morning she told me that she had been crying in the taxi on the way home. She had been in a nightclub with two guys. She had been kissing both of them. When they realised they were both the subject of her attention, they got angry and left, leaving her in the nightclub on her own. She told me she had been crying in the taxi on the way home but didn’t mention crying in her bed. I didn’t tell her I had heard her.

Elaine went on to have a relationship with another guy. I didn’t like the idea, but it didn’t bother me too much me now that we hardly saw each other. Their relationship lasted about a month. He finished with her and I couldn’t understand why. I thought she was beautiful. She couldn’t understand either. She said she was very upset. She arranged to meet him after their split. She told me that he had sat in silence feeling guilty while she made it clear what she thought of him. She told him she couldn’t understand how he could do that to someone. I also had a couple of short relationships. One was nothing more than a one-night stand. I became worried after it because for the first time I had an erection problem. Looking back it was probably just because of how much I’d drunk, but it was enough to play on my mind from then on.

During the time that I was deep in thought about whether to move out to escape the horrible atmosphere, the two girls started arguing. At first it was mild bickering, but within a short time it escalated to fierce shouting matches and slamming doors. I dared not venture out of my room. I didn’t want to get involved. Individually the girls became friendly with me and I felt like the good guy, the most popular in the flat. I quickly forgot about how they’d been treating me, because that’s the way I am, or maybe was. A couple of weeks like this and Isabel announced that she was leaving the flat. Elaine seemed very upset about this. I couldn’t understand; I thought, given the ferocious arguing, she would be glad to see her go. Isabel said the reason was because she was going to live with her boyfriend. We all knew the truth however.

A woman came to look at the flat with a view to taking Isabel’s room. I was in my room at the time. The doorbell sounded and all hell let loose. Voices were raised and doors were slammed. I didn’t know whether to get involved or not. When it died down a bit I went out to see what was going on. Isabel was showing a terrified looking woman around the flat. Later on Isabel explained that Elaine had answered the door to the woman, told her there was no room available and shut the door in her face. Eventually the woman was allowed in, although, understandably, she didn’t take the room. When I asked Elaine why she had done that, she said Isabel was moving out because of her and that she wasn’t happy about it. I was very confused. Thinking about it now, maybe it was the rejection she couldn’t handle. After all, this was shortly after her boyfriend had finished with her. I spoke to Isabel and she told me she couldn’t live with a mad woman. I said she wasn’t mad, just a bit strange, but Isabel was adamant that she was ‘really mad’. They had different reasons for their arguments. Elaine told me it was because Isabel was borrowing her clothes without permission, while Isabel said it was because she was going out with other friends and Elaine was upset about it.

Eventually I decided to take Isabel’s room. It was the biggest after all. Elaine got quite angry about this and I couldn’t understand why. Even when I asked her what the problem was, it wasn’t clear why she was upset about it. I thought it was because she wanted the room herself, so I said she could have it and I’d have hers, but she didn’t want that. I still don’t know what all that was about. Eventually a guy, Alan, moved into my old room. My friendship with Elaine was reinitiated. She started edging towards me again, coming into my room every night to start fake arguments, or to ask for a cigarette. It was clear she wanted my attention and I was flattered. She was now very friendly towards me and we spent a lot of time talking. I had automatically forgiven her for everything. I only realise this now as I look back at it.

We got talking again and she told me about how bad she’d felt when her boyfriend finished with her. I said I understood as I had suffered a bit in the past. We spoke about relationships and agreed that you had to tread lightly in love if you wanted to avoid having your heart broken. She seemed genuine to me and I felt that we were becoming closer all the time. Alan was a nice guy, and given that he was only going to be around for a short while, was eager to have fun. The three of us got on very well and had lots of fun, having meals together and going out. Alan and Elaine had the occasional run in with each other but I was there to step in and calm things down. I was now popular, and diplomatic. I was cool.

Alan got involved with a girl from his work and often left me and Elaine together. We were barely apart, real bosom buddies. She wanted to be with me all the time. It was my birthday again and she gave me a present that she had made herself and clearly taken a lot of time on. Over time we became more than just friends. We were in a bar late one night, she asked me the same question that I had asked her a year back: ‘Do you like me?’ I told her I’d always liked her and that she already knew. She flung her arms around me and wouldn’t let go.

The first time we slept together was a disaster. I was still worried about what happened during my one-night stand and suffered terribly from performance anxiety. I felt terrible and decided I was going to have a healthier lifestyle, starting with stopping smoking and joining a gym. Now that we were together, she told me more about herself. She told me had had a very turbulent relationship with her mother, and confessed to be having been a very difficult teenager. She portrayed her mother as being rather strange. She is a deeply religious woman and often sends religious publications to her daughter. She also told me that her mother went about her motherly duties in a very functional way. For example, when Elaine first had her period she was frightened to tell her mother because her clothes were covered in blood. When her mother discovered it, her reaction was to say angrily; ‘I knew this would happen.’ and then took her to the bathroom and handed her a tampon, no explanation, no comforting words. She also told me that one day her mother escorted her to the shops to get her first bra. Elaine didn’t like wearing it and her mother insisted that she put it on and washed it regularly. For a long time she only had the one bra. It made her laugh to look back at it. She also bragged about how she often got whatever she wanted as a child – mainly from her father - by being sweet and loving. She didn’t use the word herself, but through this and little stories from her younger years, it was clear that she had perfected the art of manipulation at a very young age.

Not long into our relationship, she seemed to change quite dramatically. From being a laughing, joking fun-loving girl, she seemed to become a little depressed and non-communicative. Whenever I asked her what was up she would answer very vaguely or say that nothing was up. Sometimes she was ok, but she certainly wasn’t the girl she was a couple of months before. She didn’t seem very affectionate either. I put it down to whatever it was that was bothering her. Eventually I worked out for myself what I considered the problem to be. She had always had a spot problem, nothing too bad, but lately it had got worse. I told her the spots didn’t bother me one bit. She was also unhappy about her eyes. She’d always worn contact lenses. Now they were irritating her and the eye doc had told her she would have to wear glasses from then on. I told her the glasses didn’t bother me either. I tried to put things in perspective for her, wiped away her tears, kissed, and hugged her. She felt better and genuinely seemed to feel lucky to have me. I felt good for having made her feel better. I wanted to develop a bond between us and thought that by mutual support this would happen.

It wasn’t long before we had our first argument as a couple. It was about something silly that I can’t remember now. I quickly tried to make peace, offering compromises and trying to be reasonable, basically being adult about the whole thing. I thought it was over with when in fact, she wasn’t talking to me. I sat down next to her and she started again, not about the original disagreement, but just general criticisms of me. She seemed to just ‘switch it on’. It wasn’t a continuation of the previous dispute at all. This was very different; it was more intense and lacked substance. She went on and on. It was bizarre. It seemed completely out of proportion and all I could do was laugh. I had never heard anything like it before. She told me not to laugh at her and eventually she calmed down.

That was until a few weeks later when the same thing happened. Again, I was confused and refused to be drawn into it, just smiling and shaking my head while she went on and on with her monologue. This seemed to infuriate her even more and aggravate the situation. I tried to listen and make sense of what she was saying but most of it made very little sense to me, and even when it did, again, it wasn’t in any way related to the original dispute. I tried to calm things down and put things into perspective, but she was incapable of being reasonable and continued to harangue me. She would often trip herself up with things that clearly didn’t make any sense. I would point it out and laugh, and she would briefly smile in acknowledgement of her error and then drop back into the criticising. Sometimes she said things that were so obviously illogical that I felt sorry for and wanted to put my arms around her and give her a good hug. That of course, would have been impossible. She was accusing me of all sorts of things. It was so clear to me at the time that she was blowing the whole thing out of proportion. It was ridiculous, nothing to worry about I thought. The following day the bitterness had eased off and I thought that was the end of it.

Two or three weeks later it happened again. Now it seemed to be getting more serious. I couldn’t work out what I’d done wrong. Her outbursts seemed to come out of the blue. Sometimes it was a minor disagreement or conflicting opinion, but other times I was completely baffled as to what I’d done or said wrong. Getting her to calm down and smile again was becoming increasingly more difficult. Now she was storming off to her room and crying. I started to think that possibly some of the things she was accusing me of were true and I just hadn’t realised it myself. Immersed in this doubt, and also feeling guilty about her crying, I started apologising for things. It seemed a bit unfair but I was eager to stop the bitterness. She looked so vulnerable when she cried. I wanted to care for her. My apologies and calm words eventually helped to improve things. I was left thinking I should be very careful in future about what I said, although I never questioned myself on why I had to do it. By now I was already becoming disappointed with the relationship. Unknown to me at the time, I was being sucked into her personality disordered world. A pattern was emerging, a conflict–reconciliation pattern that would last for the entire relationship.

She got a call from her ex-boyfriend, the one she was with before she met me. He told her he was coming over to Spain for a wedding and that he thought it would be nice to get together with her to have dinner. She went out to meet up with him one night. She said that towards the end of the evening he made some comments that made it clear that he wanted to get back with her. At the time I believed her. She said she told him that she was very happy with her new guy (me). We were arguing a lot around that time. Now that I think about it, I wonder if he really was interested in getting back with her. She interprets everything in her own way. I would like to meet the guy and find out just how much of what she told me about him and their relationship was just lies.

A short while after, I cocked up again. We had a party at our flat. It was great success and everyone enjoyed themselves, so much so that we all went out afterwards to a nightclub. Vicky, the girl I’d had a short romance with, was there. I got chatting with her in the nightclub. She told me she didn’t know why nothing came of our little fling, and I told her I didn’t either. Vicky and I kissed passionately. Although I wasn’t interested in the girl, I was in a party mood and drunk, and quite obviously being very selfish. Elaine clocked us at it and was understandably very angry. Vicky said she didn’t know I was involved with Elaine. I was in trouble and it went on for over a week. I felt I deserved everything I got and apologised continuously, saying that it wouldn’t happen again. Eventually she told me she forgave me but wouldn’t forget. She certainly didn’t. She brought it up in almost every argument from then on.

A lot of the time things were fine between us and we really seemed to enjoy each other’s company. We would go to the cinema together, go for walks, sit at home watching a film, or just sit and giggle on the sofa together. I was very happy. I hadn’t really had a girlfriend in the past, the odd short relationship, but nothing more. I was no longer alone. I was half of a couple and had a pleasing sense of belonging. I started to feel quite serious about her and would often tell that I loved her, although she rarely, if ever, told me she loved me. I felt that something was missing. It was all a bit one-way. Occasionally she would do or say something that made me think she wasn’t at all as serious about me as I was about her. There didn’t seem to be much reciprocation and she was rarely affectionate with me. When she was, it was normally while I was doing something else, cooking or at the computer for example. She would often push me away when I tried to be affectionate with her, saying that I treated her like a ‘teddy bear’. One day we went for a walk around town and stopped off to have a drink. We were sitting on a wall looking out at the nice view before us. I sat behind her, hugged her hard and jokingly said ‘So when are we going to get married?’ She replied. ‘I’m not sure if you’re the one.’ It hurt me but didn’t think too much about it as we hadn’t been together long and at that stage I assumed we were still checking each other out.

She spoke about herself constantly. Sometimes she appeared to be talking about other people, but if you read between the lines, it was clear that it was actually about her. Speaking about others generally meant speaking about their faults. In time almost everyone she knew was ‘selfish’ and/or ‘manipulative’. She often told me about problems or arguments she’d had with people. When I heard the details I always seemed to side with the other party, but I couldn’t tell her that. I just tried to be diplomatic saying that she should also look at it from their side, or just nod in acknowledgement at what she was saying. I could tell she wasn’t at all sure if she was right, saying things like ‘Can you believe he said/did that?’ and looking into my eyes waiting for my reaction.

She went to stay with her parents for a week or two during holiday periods and came back every time with a story about a huge argument she’d had with a member of her family, a different person each time. She also told me that her father had said she had a strange ability to make everyone around her feel inferior. I know exactly what he means. She brought up the subject of the married man in the old flat saying ‘Can you believe that, a married man trying to get off with a young girl?’ I didn’t know what to say; if the guy had tried anything on, I don’t really blame him; she had flirted with him so strongly. I asked her about what happened on the night I left them alone and she said she couldn’t remember anything. Her memory never failed her if I did or said anything wrong, and yet now she couldn’t remember anything that happened over the course of an entire evening. I suggested that she could remember but was embarrassed to say. She told me she never lied. I had a very uneasy feeling about her, like I hated her and loved her at the same time. On one hand, she was the kind of person I didn’t like, and on the other she was my girlfriend, and the girlfriend always won through.

We went away for a few days on a short holiday. Things generally went ok. We only had one short little argument, which I think was short only because we were about to go down to the dining room for dinner where appearances had to be kept up. But there was something else about the trip that seemed very weird to me. We went to bed at night after a few drinks in the hotel bar and she just climbed in her side and appeared to be going to sleep. I was never going to push her for sex, but I was expecting some affection on our first night away together. When I asked her to come over and give me a cuddle she had a lets-get-it-over-with attitude, and it wasn’t long before she rolled back over to her side of the bed. I lay there gazing at the ceiling thinking it just wasn’t right. The gut feeling was throbbing. The next morning she showed me a bit of affection and it was forgotten about. It was more or less the same for the next two nights. We did make love on the second night, but there was nothing romantic about it. There was no romantic element to our weekend away at all.

Back home and the arguments carried on as before. Every time the conflicts were resolved I thought things would now be ok between us; a new beginning I thought, and thought that she looked at it in the same way. No longer were we going to have drawn out arguments and bitterness. I was going to make extra effort to be a good boyfriend I thought, although I couldn’t see where definite improvements needed to be made. I was always very nice to her, often when she was being discourteous and condescending to me. What I didn’t realise was that it all completely out of my control. It didn’t matter what I did or said, there was always going to be more trouble. After every reconciliation two or three weeks would pass and we were at it again. Often it was because she had been downright rude. I had already accepted the inferior position in the relationship but it still upset me when she was so disrespectful. I didn’t get angry with her. More often than not I would just sit there wondering why she had to be that way. She made me feel so stupid and pathetic and yet I couldn’t say anything for fear of what I met get in return. The flare-ups had started over nothing in the past and had taken days to resolve; I wasn’t going to knowingly initiate it again.

In the evenings I somehow became unknowingly involved in a ‘battle of attention’, and I stress ‘unknowingly’. During the week we spent evenings in front of the television. I myself don’t often watch television but I was happy to if it meant being with her. I would have liked us to snuggle up together, but she was happy with the pair of us at either end of the sofa. If I asked for a cuddle she would come over to me for five or ten minutes and then be off again. If I went to her, she would often, not always, push me away. I soon got used to her reluctance to be affectionate or intimate, but as well as that, I couldn’t talk either. I was usually aggressively shushed if I spoke during a film or program. During the ads it was OK. I could talk and she would sometimes come over for a cuddle until the program started up again. I was disappointed that I seemed to take second place to the television.  Did you ask yourSelf WHY you chose to hang around?

I remember feeling quite alone sitting there, unable to speak, watching something I wasn’t at all interested in. Sometimes I grabbed a book from my room and sat back down on the sofa with it. Whenever I sat there reading however, I could feel a mild tension in the air. I felt like I was wrong to be reading, but I didn’t know why. It was always after about an hour when she would do something to get my attention, such as kicking the book from my hands and asking for a foot massage. Other times I would go to my room and surf on the Internet or play computer games. I thought it was ok if we did different things; we were individuals after all. I would have much rather been with her but being with her often meant feeling alone.

I’m not entirely sure about this, but while we were, as I saw it at the time, just doing our own individual things, she was actually on edge. As far as she was concerned, I wasn’t just ‘doing something else’; I was purposely not giving her attention. In her mind we were battling for attention. Of course, I was completely unaware that we were playing this game, which is why I was so confused about her subsequent behaviour. Again, after about an hour she would come into my room and sit on my lap. I would kiss her and tell her that I’d come and join her on the sofa in a few minutes. When I went back she was cold with me again, pushing me away. Her attitude toward me seemed to suggest that I was up to something, that I was scheming and plotting, making ‘moves’. I wasn’t up to anything. I was a normal guy who just wanted a nice evening with his girlfriend.

Often I was simply disappointed that I didn’t seem to mean that much to her. If she ever sensed that I wasn’t happy about something she had said, she would start on me, insults, accusations, telling me that I was just taking something out on her. It couldn’t have been further from the truth and yet I just couldn’t get that across to her. She turned things round every time, telling me that I needed to change if our relationship was going to work and that she wasn’t going to carry on like it. As I saw it, I had done wrong in being upset that she had been so rude to me yet again. You know better now, right?

These eruptions often came about when I was in a good mood. I can be irritable at times just like anyone can, but often the whole thing would start in the evening when I had got home from work. I know I am generally always in a very happy, positive frame of mind at this time of the day. I’ve done my work, earned my money and now have the rest of the day to myself, and can share it with my girlfriend. Did she not see this in the same way? I just couldn’t understand why she felt the need to spoil things. She would say I was taking my problems out on her. I defended myself, saying that I was absolutely fine. No matter how sincerely I expressed this, she insisted that I was lying. She would cut in whenever I tried to communicate my side and just railroad the argument with things that either didn’t seem to make sense, or with things that had nothing to do with the dispute. I didn’t know what was going on. It went against everything I’d ever learned about communication. She would then get upset, and again I tried hard to make peace. Achieving peace wasn’t easy, but when I got it I felt so much better and, of course, her original rudeness had been forgotten. The pattern was the same as ever, me eventually handing her a tissue and apologising, telling her I didn’t mean to hurt her. I just continued to be nice thinking eventually she would see that I wasn’t at all deserving of her outbursts and that good would win through. I went on thinking this way until the end. It never once made a difference, and yet I always thought it would at some point. 

The rudeness and condescending comments themselves were hurting me, but what bothered me more than the actual things she said, was the idea that they were demonstrative of her underlying attitude towards me. I had adapted myself and could live with the odd disrespectful comment, but I couldn’t accept what I considered to be underneath it all. The nasty things she said were just the disrespect breaking through the surface. If I had scraped away at that surface and seen what was underneath, I would have been shocked and heartbroken. We were boyfriend and girlfriend. We were supposed to love each other. You just wouldn’t have that attitude towards someone you loved. As ever, these things were pushed to the back of my mind. I didn’t want to think about it. I was lucky; I had a pretty girlfriend, and that was the important thing. 

I had this feeling of overall inferiority in the relationship for many reasons. Firstly because I rarely got to speak about myself or anything that interested me. There were people who I’d met through my work that knew more about me than she ever did. When I was around her I felt I insignificant, and yet I so enjoyed her company. Often, when I wanted to tell her something that I found interesting or funny, she would appear to listen, but once I finished there was a short silence before she went on to talk about something else. It made me feel pathetic, like everything I said was just inane. I couldn’t speak about anything that was bothering me either. This was because she wasn’t really interested - she wasn’t at all the kind of person you could open up to - and also because I had noticed that anything I told her she would use in an argument against me. For example, if I told her I’d had a bad day at work, she would use it later on by saying that I was giving her a hard time because I was stressed. It was simply not true. If I tried to tell her that, she would insist that I was denying it. It was so frustrating. I wasn’t stressed about anything; I was simply a little upset that she had been so rude to me yet again. Suddenly I was handed the role of the bad guy. I was being reprimanded and lectured and told that I needed to change or else. I was confused. It was all wrong and I tried to defend myself. She would cut in and accuse me of being defensive. Without even realising it, I was defending myself from the position of the bad guy. The fact that I was the offended party originally was forgotten.

She was also working and came home with a work story everyday. Often she would complain about the people she worked with and I could tell she wasn’t the most popular person in the office. Eventually her office was closed and moved to another country. She was to lose her job. However, her boss, who was a ‘friend’ and had originally given her the job, arranged for her to be taken on by a subsidiary company. She had expressed her disappointment at the loss of her job and seemed to imply that it was this friend’s duty to find her another one. Their friendship came to an end once he found her the job.

Her new company was a start-up and she was very enthusiastic about it. She would talk about this new job endlessly and I was there to listen to her. I could see she was very keen to set a good impression. She started at nine and often didn’t come home until gone ten in the evening. At first I thought this was because it was a new company and everyone was putting in extra effort to get it off the ground. That was until I asked her if everyone stayed so late. She told me they didn’t and it was often just her and the bosses. I was disappointed. She was giving up time she could have spent with me trying to give a good impression at work. It was clear she didn’t have to stay late. She always referred to the company as ‘we’ but it was obvious it was just about her. It wasn’t long before she started complaining about her new colleagues. She had friends that she had made at work, but these were people who worked in other departments. She got on ok with anyone she didn’t work with directly.

 I’ve always considered it normal to have problems with colleagues, but with her it was too much. Most of her problems seemed to revolve around the idea that she was given menial jobs. She had a lot of conflict about who should do what. She was always looking for confirmation from me that she was right. I tried to tell her that if she wanted more responsibility, she had to demonstrate that she could take it on and then just bide her time. She disagreed. She expected to rise to a higher position within a year or two. She often commented on how the bosses liked her.

 By now she had more or less fallen out with all the friends she’d made in Portugal. They were no longer calling her and when she did see them she said they were ignoring her or keeping the conversation to a minimum. In most cases, any girl that had a problem with her was ‘jealous’ because of something or other. Any guy that had a problem with her was upset because she didn’t want to be his girlfriend. I told her I agreed with her, although it wasn’t what I really believed. She told me that she confronted a guy who had once been very friendly with her, but now seemed to be ignoring her. She asked him why he wasn’t talking to her. I can’t remember how he supposedly replied, but her reaction was to respond with ‘It’s not that; it’s because you want to f*** me and you know you can’t.’ She didn’t see anything wrong in saying this, ‘because it was true’. Again, I questioned myself on whether I wanted to be with such a girl.

It seemed as though she was using people. At first they were great friends of hers and then she kind of dumped them in favour of someone else. It was a pattern that went on and on. It didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest that friends were coming and going. After all, they had the problem, not her. She couldn’t see that they didn’t like her because of how she treated them – like tools, objects, things that were there to satisfy her needs. As friends disappeared, there was always someone new to take their place. Sometimes she was genuinely baffled as to why someone was being hostile towards her. She really didn’t know. 

The arguing between us continued and I was becoming more and more confused. It was as though she were simply choosing a moment to start something. She kept insisting that I didn’t have enough respect for her. Although I never thought too much about it at the time, it is clear in hindsight that if anyone was showing a lack of respect, it was her. I had an idea of who I was and what my faults were but I was now doubting everything I knew about myself. It didn’t help at all when I made a fool of myself at a party we went to. It was a somewhat upper-class function in a smart part of town. I felt instantly out of place when I arrived. Everyone seemed to know each other but they didn’t know me. I found it difficult to get chatting to people. Elaine left me alone to circulate among the guests. I felt terrible and drank too much beer in an effort to feel more relaxed. I ended up being very rude to a few people. I hated myself for it. I know I have got an self-esteem problem or inferiority complex thing going on and it really comes to a head at events like these.

This was now something that Elaine could bring up whenever we had an argument. I couldn’t refute it and our arguments turned into her constantly lecturing me. How could I fight back now that I had kissed her friend and made a fool of myself at a party? She was doing nothing to help me feel better about myself, quite the opposite. She would lecture me for what seemed like hours after any little dispute. Most of the time I couldn’t understand what she was talking about. I told her this and she said it was because I wasn’t listening. I tried very hard to understand but most of it seemed illogical and senseless. It was quite literally painful to listen to, and I told her this. On one hand, it just seemed like rubbish, on the other, I thought maybe she was trying to make me aware of faults that I didn’t realise I had. I had gone from originally smiling and shaking my head in disbelief, to listening hard and starting to believe what she was telling me, taking the student role; completely subjugated and sucked in to the craziness.

Originally many of her opinions and ideas had seemed daft to me, but she seemed so adamant that she had points to make. It kind of sounded like she knew what she was talking about. Nothing was ever proceeded with ‘I think…’ or ‘In my opinion…’: it was all fact, but it didn’t really follow any discernible logic. I thought maybe it was because I didn’t understand the concepts that she was trying to get across that I wasn’t adapting myself sufficiently. Consequently, I thought that this was causing the problems. I tried to listen. But no; if something doesn’t make much sense, you won’t get much sense from it no matter how hard you listen. She seemed to consider herself very knowledgeable about relationships. I had told her early on that she was my first real girlfriend and she often brought it up to remind me that I was the inexperienced one.

Did I really have so much to learn? My idea of a good relationship was friendship, companionship, support, respect, understanding, communication. Suddenly my well-founded idea of a healthy relationship was under threat. My beliefs, as solid as they had been, either no longer applied or had been mal-conceived from the outset. Listening to Elaine, it seemed she also shared my ideas of what a healthy relationship should be like, and yet her actions and attitude went totally against it. This was enormously confusing to me. I was left thinking that she knew more than me and, although I had the right idea, there were more detailed concepts that I needed to understand. I needed to change in some way. The problem was, I just didn’t know how. I was being nice to her; I genuinely wanted to care for her, support her, communicate with her, but she insisted the opposite was true. How could this misunderstanding have come about?

 The end of every argument brought fresh optimism to me, even though, by now, I had become well accustomed to the pattern. I so wanted to end the bitterness. I wasn’t at all concerned about being the ‘victor’ and I couldn’t understand why she didn’t seem to think the same way. Often I apologised for things I felt I might have been guilty of and some things that I didn’t feel guilty of. This would usually lead to the end of the argument but I had to be very careful. No argument was ever resolved unless I had ‘surrendered’ in some way. There was no meeting halfway. I either went all the way or I suffered. Although I didn’t want to admit it to myself, it was clear that this surrendering was far more important to her than reconciliation, getting back on good terms. It was far more important to her than I was. She always seemed to be orchestrating the whole thing. I had no control over how things developed. Logic and reasoning were of no use to me; If I had any control over anything, It was only to decide on what point I chose to surrender more of my dignity to her. I never had to admit any wrongdoing regarding the original dispute; it had always long been forgotten. The move from bitterness to peace was always a long drawn-out process. If there was any cause of the conflict, it was never really addressed, because it wasn’t clear what it was.

 I could sense that something was wrong, but I felt powerless to do anything. I didn’t have problems with other people. No one else accused me of the things she did. I thought about arguments I’d had with other people. There were one or two over the last year. One at work that I remembered, but the odd disagreement with someone, I thought, was normal, and if I did have one, it was always resolved quickly with rationality and reason. They never evolved into three-day nightmares. I’d say that generally I’m not an arguer; I tend to avoid conflict and move quickly toward peace. After initial confrontation with an adult, there comes a calming period where you look at things more generally and consider the other person’s side of the argument, as well thinking about areas in which you may have possibly been unreasonable yourself. This generally leads to resolution and mutual respect is re-established. This process was completely absent between me and her. I was very confused.

Making me feel bad made her look good and I considered myself very lucky to be with her. I tried hard to be a good boyfriend. I didn’t want to be a burden or liability at all. Even when things were on my mind I tried hard to be happy around her. I was having trouble giving up smoking and my mother had developed breast cancer. I was very worried about my mum. My sister told me my mother wasn’t dealing with it at all well and had convinced herself she only had months to live. Calling home in England was always an anxious moment. As I waited for someone to pick up the phone, I prayed it would be my mum; if my dad, who very rarely answered the phone, picked it up, I knew my mum was too upset to talk to me. It was a horrible time for me. Home had always been my source of strength, now it seemed like it was all falling apart.

 When I originally got the news over the phone, I almost passed out. Me and my mum both hung up crying. Elaine comforted me, saying everything would be alright. She was sympathetic for a short while, but it seemed like scripted sympathy and it wasn’t long before she was giving me a hard time again. I thought I was going to lose her and tried to be happy around her. I felt that if I was going to mope around feeling sorry for myself she would lose patience with me. I separated what was going on in England from my relationship with Elaine. We rarely spoke about my mum. I knew there was no benefit to be had from talking to her about it anyway. She wasn’t a listener, and neither did I want to give the impression I was all problems, problems. 

Elaine’s company wasn’t doing well and they had begun to lay people off. She was worried she was going to be next. From what she was telling about the problems she was having there, I was half expecting her to be fired, not laid off. She came home one day and indeed they had laid her off. Despite all the hours she had put in, they didn’t consider her worth hanging on to. She didn’t seem too concerned about it. She didn’t need the money and she was to get redundancy pay anyway. This signalled a big change.

 Now her spots had gone like I told her they would. She had also made a lot of effort to fix her eye problems and was wearing contact lenses again. She felt very good about herself. I, on the other hand was still down about my mum, even though the results from the tests she was having were very positive. I was still desperately trying to stop smoking, especially now that ‘cancer’ was a word often floating around my head. I was down to about one or two a day. Now that she didn’t have a job, Elaine had plenty of time and energy to do other things. She joined a theatre group (where the girls were ‘jealous of her’) and started going out a lot. Sometimes I went with her, but being out in a bar was causing me to smoke more and I felt very guilty about it. She wanted to be where the action was, while I wanted to take things easy for a while. I really didn’t feel like going to sweaty overcrowded bars and nightclubs and started turning down her suggestions to go out. She got angry about it. I had given my reasons in the past for not wanting to go out but it didn’t seem to help matters. I felt I needed to be more open and explain it to her calmly, so one night when she was unhappy that I didn’t want to go out, I started to explain in such a way that I hoped she could see was also looking at things from her point of view. She cut in almost immediately saying she was sick of hearing excuses. I didn’t know what else I could do.

She started to go out on her own around three or four days a week and didn’t come home until six or seven in the morning, often getting into bed with me, waking me up and pushing me for sex. I had to knock if I wanted to go into her room, and sometimes wasn’t allowed in, and yet she could walk into mine whenever she wanted. I put it down to the unspoken arrangement we had. I had been conditioned to think this way. In general she seemed happy and so I thought everything was ok. I wasn’t possessive, although I was sometimes accused of it. I confess to having questioned her when she came in particularly late, about where she’d been and who she was with, but I was never nasty about it. I’d say they were pretty natural questions anyway; it doesn’t make me possessive. She could do whatever she wanted to do. We were individuals I thought. Sometimes I went out with her because she insisted on it. I felt I should; I didn’t want to appear selfish, although I was often accused of it. When I did go out with her, it was clear they she liked to be the centre of attention. If she wasn’t, she got uncomfortable and either did something to get attention or said that she wanted to go home. One night she came home after a night out on her own, got into bed with me and burst into tears. Naturally, I asked her what was up and the only explanation she gave was that ‘Nobody liked her.’ I comforted her, although she continued to cry for another half hour. In the morning I brought up what happened the night before and she quickly dismissed it saying she was just drunk. It wasn’t mentioned again.

 We had a good time doing other things. When it was good, it was very good and I enjoyed being with her. When we weren’t arguing, I loved to have her around, she was my little soul-mate I thought. We spent a lot of time together during the day. Often it would be just hanging around the flat, making love, eating pizza (she had to have the best bits), drinking beer, watching TV, and playing computer games. In the evening we often went to the cinema and then for a drink. I have very fond memories of these times. They seemed to make up for all the negative aspects of being in a relationship with her. She was still saying things that made me unsure about how she felt about me, but I felt that we were so ‘connected’ and that we had got so used to each other’s company.

Officially, she was seeking work, although she wasn’t making much practical effort in that direction. She was reluctant to go to interviews because she said she always got too nervous and made a hash of things. A couple of times she told me how she wanted to work in exports so that she could do lots of travelling and spend time abroad. I was hurt. She didn’t seem to consider how that would affect our relationship. Did she see me as a temporary thing? Was I just filling in in the meantime? I said nothing and, as always, pushed things like that to the back of my mind.

We would still have the routine argument that followed the same pattern as always, me eventually grovelling and apologising, even though she had been rude or condescending to me originally. I would express my unhappiness at being treated that way and she would twist it round completely, becoming very aggressive, then accusing me of being defensive all the time. When I asked her to stop accusing me, she said she wasn’t accusing me of anything and that it was all in my head. If that wasn’t enough, the things she was accusing me of seemed far more applicable to her than to me: self-centred, immature, manipulative, stubborn. I was immobilised in my confusion. I wasn’t really aware of what was going on at the time. Then she would often storm off to her room and cry. I usually went in there to try and make peace – I hated the bad feeling - but one time I decided not to because I thought that’s exactly what she wanted. It did seem to me that she was switching on the tears to get her own way. She had also started saying ‘If you loved me you would/wouldn’t….’

By not going in her room after her, I thought that for once maybe, I was doing the right thing. I thought that things couldn’t carry on in this way and by not going in, it might lead to her being more communicative in future. A while later she came out of her room, tears still streaming down her face, and in an extremely emotional voice said. ‘I can’t believe you left me when I was like that.’ before going back to slam the door. I wasn’t sure if I was showing some backbone for once, or just being heartless and self-centred. She continually fuelled my feelings of the latter. She had often accused me of being selfish and uncaring and I insisted it wasn’t true, but now here I was ignoring her while she was extremely upset. I went in there to prove how caring I was. I was doing the ‘right thing’. How could she possibly have a problem with that?

In future I always went into her room after her, even though sometimes she shouted at me to get out. If I then turned and walked towards the door she would say ‘Are you going to leave me when I’m like this?’ I remember standing in the middle of her room in utter despair with my head swinging back and forth between her and the door. I asked her if she wanted me to go or stay. She replied: ‘Well if you don’t know.’ And I didn’t know. I really had no idea what to do. There was clearly nothing I could do that was ‘right’. The conflicts were becoming harder and harder to resolve.

I was only really semi-conscious of the manipulation – or was I in fact, fully conscious? I realise now that I refused to allow those kind of thoughts to enter my head. In part, it was just confusion, but also I think I was denying to myself that I was being manipulated. To admit that to myself would have meant denying the existence of the relationship. I was never prepared to do that. I continued to deal with things in a way that made sense to me; she was upset, and so I would comfort her – that’s what  a loving partner would do. It was important that she saw me as loving, because for some reason that I couldn’t understand, she thought I didn’t care about her.

She kept insisting that I was taking my problems out on her. This was so untrue. I was trying very hard not to let the things on my mind interfere with our relationship. I couldn’t talk them out with her because then she would just say that they were the cause of our problems. It was clear to me that our problems were down to her, and yet she insisted it was all my fault. What was it that I was missing? I had no idea what to do or say. I was at a complete loss. Often all I could do was get out of the flat and go for a walk to clear my head. I thought if I didn’t get out of the flat for a while I was going to go crazy. The idea that I was going out infuriated her. She said if I went out, we were finished. I would walk back towards her and say ‘Let’s not be like this.’ and bend over to give her a kiss. She would quickly pull away with a smile on her face, a smile that would quickly drop when I sighed and headed back for the door. It was surreal. Each time I walked towards the door, she would threaten to leave me, saying ‘I warn you, you go out that door and that’s it.’ It wasn’t because of the threat that I walked back towards her; it was just another last ditch attempt for peace. If I asked her what she wanted me to do or say she would mock me by repeating the question in a childish voice, and then she would say ‘Think about it!’, as if I hadn’t thought about it already; I was still no closer to finding any answers. ‘Think about it’ became a favourite phrase or hers, along with many others. I knew I could have possibly put an end to it if I sat and apologised profusely and grovelled, but that just seemed so unjust after she had originally been rude to me and then spent the last hour insulting me, making me out to be a worthless piece of shit. I couldn’t disagree with her and yet she could insult me for hours and I was still the bad guy. I often went out at night for a walk and sat on a bench with my head in my hands in disbelief at what was happening.

Another of our arguments started a day before a new guy moved into our flat. I resigned myself to the idea that it would be like this for a few days. However, Elaine was eager to have a nice evening with our new flatmate, and to her it wasn’t at all appropriate for us not to be getting along. I was feeling terrible after what had happened the night before, which was the usual stuff, tears and lecturing. I came home from work and she was laughing and chatting with the new guy. She said we were all having a meal together and asked me to go down and get some beer. I was confused. Nothing had been resolved from the previous night. She had gone to bed crying and in the morning things hadn’t improved. Suddenly she wanted to play happy families. I made it clear that I was upset and told her we needed to talk. She asked why and told me she was fine, seeming to imply that I was making a big deal out of nothing. Things had never resolved themselves like that in the past. Why now? After some insistence on my part, she finally agreed to have a talk and, despite having a let’s-get-it-over-with attitude, was relatively co-operative. Our chat was a little confusing, but for the first time, we had ‘talked it out and reconciled’. Afterwards, I felt better and was happy with the meal plan. She then walked into the kitchen and said to our new flatmate: ‘Excuse us, we had to talk.’, emphasising the word ‘talk’ and gesturing quotation marks with her fingers on either side of it. I felt a stab of anger. When our new flatmate left the room I asked her why she had to do that. She said it was a joke and that I was being silly. I didn’t know what to say. She sat laughing and joking throughout the meal while I barely said a word. I just left it; we were at peace and I wasn’t going to jeopardise that.

She started to complain that we didn’t do enough together, so we decided we’d have another weekend away. We caught a train and went to a historical town not far from Madrid. Things were going OK. It was the first day and we had been walking around for hours. We were close to our hotel and we agreed to nip up and leave our coats in the room. When we got up there I lay on the bed. She wanted to go straight back out, and I said I just wanted to lie down for ten minutes because I was worn out. She insisted that we went out right away because she had something special lined up for us. When I didn’t get up she became infuriated. First I got the silent treatment, then she started lecturing me. We went back out after ten minutes and the lecturing continued followed by crying, silence, more lecturing and so on. Despite all my efforts to put us on good terms, it went on and on. Things improved between us for a while but it was all very fragile. We went to bed that night and, despite now being on good terms, again there was no affection. The following day we were in a bar. The bar was packed and very noisy. I wanted to go somewhere else and, admittedly, was rather abrupt when telling her this. We were off again and it was hellish. We sat in another bar and she was lecturing me again, but this time it was worse; she was straightforward abusing me. It was the strongest it had ever been. I told her what she was saying wasn’t helping if we wanted to be on good terms, but she wouldn’t (or couldn’t?) stop. I took about half an hour of it, then got up, walked to the hotel to get my bag, and went to the train station.

Now I understood perfectly why her ex-boyfriend had done the same thing to her in South America. She appeared at the station 15 minutes later. I watched her as she trundled up the road in the rain toward the station entrance. I was angry with her and yet felt sorry for at the same time. I wanted to love her but she was making it as difficult as possible. We sat on the train barely saying a word to each other. Occasionally she looked at me in a way that seemed to say 'You've really done it this time.' The whole thing went on for another three days. From then on the name of the town we visited that weekend was synonymous with a trip that I spoilt, and she was to bring it up in many arguments from then on. According to her it was supposed to be romantic, but there was rarely anything romantic about her. Everything was always my fault. It never changed; I felt I was doing so much to keep us on good terms while she was making things as difficult as possible, and yet she would say that the complete opposite was true, insisting that my character faults were responsible for all the problems we were having and she was doing her utmost to improve things while I refused to change. Nothing I could do or say would make her think otherwise. It was baffling. It was clear that she was causing the problems, but then why was she so adamant that it was me? I questioned myself continuously. Even if I simply tried to explain how I felt about our situation in a completely impartial way, she would cut in with a wild accusation or threat.

Things improved a bit and for a while we got on ok. We decided to have a day out at a theme park, but at the time I was growing concerned that if there was ever any affection between us, it was generally always me who initiated it. I wondered how long we would go without any physical contact if I didn’t touch her. I was eager to have a good time at the theme park, but I had also decided that I was going to use the day to do a little ‘test’; I purposely avoided initiating any showing of affection while we were out. We did have a good day out, but seemingly just as pals. There was no physical contact between us at all for the whole day, and she didn’t see anything wrong in that. We considered the day a success, but I felt very uneasy. Was I just too affectionate? Was I just asking too much? She told me I treated her like she were a ‘teddy bear’, but then surely it was normal to want to show affection. Other couples were kissing and in each other’s arms. Why not us?

The arguing started again. She was still insisting that I was treating her badly because of my problems. It wasn’t true at all. If I ever got upset, it was purely her behaviour that was doing it. How could she not see it? I told her it was because she was so rude to me and she would mock me, saying in a childish voice: “It’s not me, it’s you.” and then: ‘You are so immature. Why can’t you just admit it?’ She started to say I wasn’t expressing myself and needed to talk more openly. When she said ‘adult’ things like this, I always felt that she had been talking to someone about us. I imagine she said I was upset about my mother and that I was giving her a hard time because of it. It fits that the advice would have been to get him to open up a bit. I am actually a very open person and have no trouble telling people about myself and what’s on my mind. Some people are actually a little shocked at how open I can be.

The idea that she thought I should open up to her was enormously frustrating to me. She wasn’t a listener and I really didn’t feel I could talk to her. She once admitted that she ‘wasn’t a shoulder to cry on’. Neither did I want to burden her with anything. I always tried to be happy around her, and experience had taught me that the more I told her about myself, the more she would use it against me. And anyway, when I had tried to express myself she always cut in with a wild accusation. I was better off keeping things to myself. I couldn’t voice myself and I’d accepted that.

She wanted to go out all the time. This is where we had a big problem. I had always been someone that went out at weekends but now that I was in my thirties I really wanted to ease off a bit. I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. I thought that having a girlfriend would help me. No more going out until the early hours getting drunk and having hangovers I thought. I desperately wanted to give up smoking. I was worried about my mum. I just felt I needed some time out. Sometimes we would go the cinema and then have a quiet drink together and it was just how I wanted it. She became a party animal however and wanted to go out all the time. I was angry at myself. I wanted to keep her happy and occasionally forced myself to go out with her. I really wasn’t in the mood and was sometimes very quiet and not much fun. I would start smoking again to make myself feel more relaxed and then feel so guilty about it, which just made things worse. It was viscous circle. I couldn’t explain any of this to her however. Looking back I know I should have got a handle on things.

Often she would go out on her own. On her nights out she was making a lot of new friends. She was very charming and I could understand why people wanted to be her friend. One guy in particular she was very fond of. He was a fair bit older than her but, as she said, they had a lot in common. I met him a few times and he was undoubtedly an interesting guy. In fact, I got on with him quite well. She seemed to become obsessed with him. However, she didn’t seem to be interested in him in any amorous way. She went out with him lots, spent time at his flat, and called him every day. Often I would come home and she was on the phone to him. On most occasions she didn’t even acknowledge that I had walked through the door and went on talking for up to an hour longer. I imagined he was feeling the same way I did when I first met her, convincing himself that she wanted him. I was right. She said that he was coming on to her and that she was having to turn him down. She still wanted to spend time with him and would often go round his place in preference to being with me. She said she was keen to find another job and felt he could help her in that regard.

One Sunday morning, the day after we had been out with this guy, she told me she was going round his place for few hours because he was going to help her with her CV. I expressed my disappointment; I was hoping to spend the day with her.  However, she said it was important to her, so off she went at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Around eleven o’clock in the evening she phoned to say that they had been chatting and eating and that they were starting on her CV now. I made it clear that I was upset about it but she said she’d be home in a couple of hours. It got to around three in the morning and she still wasn’t home. I now felt very uncomfortable about it and couldn’t sleep. At five I phoned his place and asked to speak with her. She was laughing and joking saying that she was about to come home. I was angry and upset. I told her I thought she was taking the piss out of me and she told me to stop being silly. She came home about forty minutes later but her attitude had changed completely. She was now very angry with me saying I was irresponsible to phone someone that late at night as I could have woken someone. She didn’t stop scolding me. I was stunned into silence. Again I seemed to have accepted the bad guy role. She went on to say that she was entitled to her freedom, that her and the guy had agreed that I was possessive, and that he had said he was worried that I was going to start physically abusing her. She knows I haven’t got a violent bone in my body. It was strange that when she originally answered my call she was cheerful and said nothing about my calling being irresponsible.  In retrospect, I'm SURE you KNOW now this relationship was NOT GOOD for you. Right? Why did you hang on when you were treated sooooo badly?

I went to bed and lay there feeling numb. I thought that maybe I’d over-reacted and that in some ways she was right. I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t see anything clearly anymore. I felt trapped in my own confusion. Yes. The next day I told some people what had happened. They all agreed they she had behaved very selfishly. I was angry and thought hard about finishing it. The problem was I felt that I wanted to finish it to teach her a lesson. I was imagining myself saying to her that it was over and felt good about it. I thought that was wrong. I told myself that if I was going to finish it, it should be because I didn’t want to be with her anymore, which wasn’t true. Deep down I still wanted to be with her. Dependency needs you need to get a handle on. Here you compromised the Self. Threw your integrity out the window... Instead, on someone’s advice, I wrote her a letter basically saying that our relationship was nothing like I imagined it should be and that she needed to make some changes because I didn’t want to carry on like that. I also said that she was hurting me and that someone else was going to get hurt i.e. this guy. She read it, smiled, and did the exact same thing a few nights later. It looked like she wasn’t too bothered whether I finished with her or not. After all she was having fun with her new friends. I was worried I was going to lose her and just left it. For months now I’d had an enormous gut feeling that I should get out but I couldn’t do it, thinking back to good times, when we’d had fun together. Once again, wishful thinking wins over gut feeling. Big Mistake.

A few weeks later she told me that this guy had become very hostile towards her and that she had no idea why. He had started insulting her and saying weird things that she didn’t understand. I said I didn’t know why either, although it was clear to me that he had been ‘dumped’ in favour of someone else and felt bitter about it. He had suffered the same fate as many others that had gone before. Not for a minute did I think I would be heading for the same thing. I was her boyfriend. I was beyond that.

Her mother often sent her short letters in which she would say that she was praying for her daughter. She received a letter one day in which her mother apologised for ‘not having been a good mother to her’. Elaine giggled about it, failing to see the lasting significance. A short while after, she told me that when she was younger, her mother had taken her to see a psychologist because she was concerned about her behaviour. Elaine’s mother and sister both underwent the tests with her so that she didn’t feel bad. She laughed as she told me that, while she herself had been given the all clear, her mother and sister had to go back for further sessions. It could be a lie, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she managed to make her family look like the ‘crazy’ people. In fact, I think her mother does have some problems in that regard.

Things carried on in the ‘normal’ way for a while. She had made some new friends. One of them was a girl who said she was bisexual. This girl seemed to have a strong on influence on Elaine and it wasn’t long before Elaine was saying she was interested in sleeping with a woman. Despite her claims to the contrary, she is very easily influenced. She also met another guy and his name often came up in conversation. I didn’t think too much of it, as she always had a lot of male friends. His name was Robert, and she had first met him briefly a couple of years back.

She was spending less and less time with me, always wanting to be with other people. However, I was sure she still had strong feelings for me. The arguments were becoming more and more frequent and would start over nothing. If she had made any effort at all to reconcile in the past, she certainly wasn’t making any now. It was like she was actively encouraging the conflicts. She started abusing me verbally on a regular basis. As time went on, this abuse became stronger. The lectures were endless and would go to another room to escape her empty monologues, or put my fingers in my ears to demonstrate that I wasn’t listening. Looking back, I consider this a mistake on my part, but I simply didn’t know what else to do; it’s so difficult to listen to something that, literally, had no content. This drove her mad. She said I was burying my head in the sand and refusing to face up to our problems. I was more than willing to face up to our problems. Meaningful communication? Yes! Bring it on.

I would have been happy to talk about our relationship at any time, but that would have meant that both of us got to put our side across calmly in an adult fashion. This was never possible. Even though I knew this, occasionally I would still try desperately to initiate just that. It always went the same way. It was virtually impossible to get a dialogue going, and when we did it just seemed to be a mentally exhausting battle of wits – who could outfox the other? She generally always won eventually by railroading the conversation and avoiding anything that looked like developing into logical meaningful communication.

Here is an example of what it was like trying to communicate with her. It’s not verbatim; it’s written to the best of my memory, and it does give you an idea of what it was like. This was as near to real communication as it ever got, and required a lot of hard work to get to this ‘dialogue’ level. This is not really an example of the norm; it’s more the exception in that it’s a ‘good’ exchange for me as I get to say things. Note that where I put ‘blah blah’ this is her talking in such a way that was difficult, if not impossible to listen to, as it didn’t seem to make any sense. I can’t remember it because, as I’m sure you know, you remember things people say by the content and not by the actual words used. Much of what she said literally had no content (I so wish I recorded some of it). Notice also how almost all of my questions don’t get an answer:

Her:   ‘blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’

Me:    ‘Hang on. Hang on. Stop. Just stop a minute. Ok. Ok. (very calmly, very pronounced) Now, I’m finding it difficult to understand what you’re saying. Maybe it’s me – I don’t know, but I can’t understand you. Just tell me in one or two simple sentences what it is about me that you have a problem with.’

Her:   ‘Look. I’m not going to.. blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’

Me:    ‘No. Hang on. Hang on. I can’t understand you when you go on like that. Just short simple sentences. What is your problem with me? Don’t go on and on.’

Her:   ‘You’re stubborn.’

Me:    ‘Okay. (thinking I’ve got a hold on things) I’m stubborn. Give me an example of this stubbornness.’

Her:   ‘I can’t believe you’re like this.. blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’

Me:    ‘No. No. Hang on. Haaaaang on. I can’t understand you when you go on like that. Ok? What do you mean by stubborn? Give me an example.’

Her:   ‘You’re being stubborn now.’

Me:    ‘How am I being stubborn now?’

Her:   ‘See? You can’t even admit it.’

Me:    ‘Admit what? How am I being stubborn now?’

Her:   ‘Well, if you can’t even admit it, that’s your problem, not mine.’

Me:    ‘I don’t know what I’m admitting.’

Her:   ‘You know you’re stubborn.’

Me:    ‘No, I don’t know I’m stubborn. Give me an example.’

Her:   ‘Look. I’m not going to carry on like this.’

Me:    ‘Like what?’

Her:   ‘blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’

Me:    ‘No. Hang on. Stop. Stop! Ok. I’m a bit stubborn. I’ll try to change that.’

Her:   ‘You’re just saying that to shut me up.’

Me:    ‘Well, what else can I do?’

Her:   ‘It’s not about what you can or can’t do. Can’t you see that?’

Me:    ‘What is it about then?’’

Her:   ‘Look. Do you want it to carry on like this? Is that what you want?’

Me:    ‘No. I don’t want it to carry on like this. That’s why I’m trying to sort it out.’

Her:   ‘Well, face up to your problems then.’

Me:    ‘What problems?’

Her:   ‘You know what problems.’

Me:    ‘No. I don’t know what problems. What problems are you talking about?’

Her:   ‘Huh! You don’t even know what your problems are?!’

Me:    ‘No, I don’t. I want you to tell me.’

Her:   ‘You’re pathetic.’

Me:    ‘Thank you. It’s not going to help if you say things like that.’

Her:   ‘Well, face up to your problems then.’

Me:    ‘I don’t know what problems you’re talking about.’

Her:   ‘I’ve told you.’

Me:    ‘What, that I’m stubborn?’

Her:   ‘Look, if you want to make yourself suffer, that’s up to you.’

Me:    ‘I’m just trying to sort it out. Can’t you at least try to be reasonable here?’

Her:   ‘I can’t believe you’re like this.’

Me:    ‘Like what?’

Her:   ‘You are soooo stubborn. Just listen to yourself.’

Me:    ‘I’m wasting my time here, aren’t I?’

Her:   ‘blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’

Me:    ‘Stop. Stop. Stop. I don’t know what you want me to say.’

Her:   ‘Well, think about it.’

Me:    ‘I have thought about it, and I don’t know what you want me to say.’

Her:   ‘Huh! So immature......blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’


Her:   ‘blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.’

Again, I tried hard to listen to her and see if I could make any sense of it all. I kept asking for clarification, asking her to repeat, questioning the illogical statements she was making. I rarely got the opportunity to put my side across. I was afforded very little time to speak, and when I did manage to, she would always cut in with something. Nothing I said ever seemed to get through to her. I tried desperately to be sincere and tell her how I felt but everything I said was her cue to snap back with an accusation or insult. I thought hard about how I could express things, how I could get my side across clearly and succinctly, but nothing ever made a difference. I can’t express in words the frustration that I felt.

Everything I ever said was interpreted in her own way. She insisted that I was lying, being defensive, or making excuses. If we ever started to develop some substance to it all, she would quickly whip it back away into senselessness. I couldn’t keep up with it all. It is mentally exhausting trying to keep someone on the same point. I couldn’t ignore what she was saying and refer her back to point we were at because I ‘had to listen’. She had her own little set expressions to call up if she was ever cornered. One of her favourites was ‘I haven’t forgotten about you kissing Vicky.’ I couldn’t believe she was still using this. I had spent a week apologising for that, and while I didn’t assume that made it all right, I couldn’t see any use in bringing it up again. At the time I knew she was just pushing my guilt button, even so, it was enough to throw me again. She just inserted things like this into an argument completely out of place, no connection whatsoever with what was being ‘discussed’. I really didn’t know what she expected me to do or say. It generally finished up with her storming off and crying, playing on my feelings of guilt and confusion. I would sit wondering whether or not to go and comfort her, although experience had taught that it never got me anywhere.

If I didn’t go after her straight away she’d be back a few minutes later, tears streaming down her face. Anyone looking on would have assumed that I was the abuser. I’d pat the seat next to me and calmly tell her come and sit down and she’d refuse. I’d ask her what it was that she wasn’t happy with and she’d just confuse me even further. Often she would say ‘You don’t listen to me.’ My question was meant to elicit the problem that she was trying to get across i.e. I was more than prepared to listen, but there didn’t seem to be a problem; the problem was that I didn’t listen – but listen to what? Her monologues were empty. I’d tell her that I did listen but that I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say. This would be met with ‘I’m not going to carry on like this.’ and she would be off to her room again, slamming the door as I pleaded with her to come back. About now she was often threatening to leave me, saying ‘I’ll find someone else.’ I really was at a complete loss. It all looked as though I was the evil boyfriend who was treating her very badly, upsetting her constantly, controlling, being cold and heartless. That’s picture she seemed to be trying to paint. Except that it wasn’t like that at all. I knew I hadn’t treated her badly. I had tried to be understanding and compassionate, and yet I seemed to have been handed the abuser’s role. Was there something I was doing that I wasn’t even aware of? It seemed crazy to even ask myself that. I just wanted a nice relationship. Why did it have to be like this?

She started reading self-help books and there was one that seemed to become her bible. It was book that generally preached self-love. As she read it she brought it up in every argument. As she finished each chapter, she somehow applied what she had just read to our situation – and to everything else going on in her life. Our problems seemed to run concurrently with the order of the chapters in the book. I started to hate the book. It was now me, her, and ‘The Book’. She took it upon herself to teach me what she had learnt and I sat and listened as she ‘educated’ me. I felt like I was being brainwashed or sucked into some kind of cult. Was all this really necessary? She insisted that I read it. She made it clear that I had a lot to learn. I started to read it, thinking that It might improve things between us in some way. Although some of it made sense, it just wasn’t a page-turner for me. I prefer to read books that make me laugh. I read the first three chapters and then just read the bits that interested me. She continued to push the ‘The Book’ on me until the day she left.

She started to talk about the importance of communication in a relationship, and it was obvious that she had been talking to someone about us. You can imagine my dismay at this. According to her, she had tried very hard to communicate with me, but I had made no effort. By now I knew it was absolutely pointless to say anything and just sat and listened to her telling me that my inability to communicate was what was causing the problems between us. It seemed unbelievable that she could say such a thing. Was this for real? Was it just a bad dream? In the past I had written her letters explaining how I felt, letters in which I had tried to put my side across, as well as being apologetic for anything she wasn’t happy about. Not once did she write one back. She would take the letters I’d written to her bedroom and then claim that she didn’t know what had happened to them. Why did she think she needed to hide the fact that she had kept the letters? Because she was keeping them for the wrong reasons? Did she not consider that anyone in her position would hang on to them?

She had a favourite bar that she went to once a week. It was bar that was well known for meeting people from other countries. I went with her a couple of times and it was good fun, very relaxed. She had met a lot of people there and got friendly with the bar staff and the manager as well as many other people who were clearly giving her some much loved attention. One day she told me that the manager had suggested to her that she was a p**** teaser. She slapped him hard round the face. He grabbed her, pulled her face to his in anger and told her that it was his bar and that if she didn’t show some respect she’d be out. She broke down in tears and later admitted that she’d done wrong and needed to change.

The name Robert was coming up more and more in conversation. Again I didn’t think too much of it as she often spoke about male friends. She was on my computer one day checking her email. She called me over to look at a photo that Robert had sent her. It was just a photo of her looking a bit drunk in a restaurant. There was another photo listed and I asked her what that one was. She told me it was the same photo and that Robert had made a mistake. A short while after she dumped me she left her email account open on my computer. Curiosity got the better of me and I opened the email from Robert. I clicked on the second photo. It was a picture of the two of them hugging each other. If she had showed it to me before, I would have assumed it was just a friendly hug. She was obviously trying to hide something. The girl that never lied had… well, lied. I wondered how many other lies she had told me. There were many things that she ‘couldn’t remember’. I had always pushed it to the back of my mind. I didn’t want to think I was in a relationship with someone who constantly lied. I just bypassed that kind of thing. Tad of denial perhaps?

My mother seemed to be recovering quite well. She had had a breast removal operation and seemed to be in good spirits again. I arranged to go back home to England for four days to spend some time with her. I thought it would also be a good opportunity to get my head together. Shortly before I went, me and Elaine had another big argument. Again she was very abusive towards me. She called me ‘stupid’, ‘pathetic’, and ‘a twat’. When I called her on it this time, she didn’t deny it. I asked her to stop running me down all the time, but she just carried on. Although I was by now well accustomed, and had somewhat adapted myself to being treated this way, I really felt that it had gone too far and told her that I was going to use the time away to think about how I felt about our relationship. She seemed perfectly happy with it. Looking back, it was obvious that the devaluation and discard process was well under way. This was a week before I went. There was bitterness in the air the whole time and we were hardly speaking. I began to grovel again to put an end to it and we were back on good terms. In fact, by the time I left we were the best of friends, and again, I was very optimistic.

Being back in England was great for me. I didn’t smoke for the four days I was there. I was happy to see my mum in good spirits. In general I felt very positive and felt I had got my head together and that things had worked out ok. I was looking forward to seeing my girlfriend again.  Despite my original intention, I didn’t think too much about our relationship and how wrong it was, rather that I was lucky to have a pretty girlfriend. Things would be different when I got back to Spain I thought. I had a four day non-smoking period to protect. I would go out with her more. Everything would be fine. When I got back however, she was very cold with me. I could sense that something wasn’t right. She had been cold with me in the past. In fact, I was more than used to it. But this was different. It went on for a week and I was growing upset. She just didn’t seem to care about us at all and within days the arguments started again. This wasn’t at all how I had planned things to go on my return. The new beginning was just a continuation of what had gone before. Again she was abusive and really seemed to be causing trouble intentionally, but of course, according to her it was all my fault. The weekend came and we agreed to go for a walk in the park. We had another disagreement shortly before we left. We walked down the road together and I was getting the silent treatment. I tried to be nice saying that if we were going to have a nice day together we should talk and not carry on in this way. She didn’t even bother to reply. She simply wasn’t interested in reconciliation at all. She seemed to be ok with the idea that we weren’t getting on. I told that I didn’t want to go to the park if it was going to be like this all day. She just shrugged and, knowing what kind of day we were going to have, I went back home leaving her on her own. Maybe she saw this as a protest on my part. It certainly wasn’t. I knew from experience that the day would have been a nightmare. I was simply avoiding that, nothing more.

She came home about an hour later and I was surprised when she seemed to be ok with me. We chatted for a while and then she started to drop hints about ending our relationship, saying that she was interested in other guys. I said that it sounded like that was what she was doing and she said ‘I thought I was being quite direct.’ I didn’t really believe that she was serious. After all the subject of  ‘ending it’ had been brought up before in the heat of battle. In fact, a few times we did end it, only to get back together again a couple of days later. As the days passed, it became clearer that she was indeed serious. This is where things became their most confusing.

She said she was moving out and I didn’t know whether or not to believe her. It was hurting me so much. It hurt you soooo much because you didn't trust your body's signals and take the initative to leave first! She starting phoning about rooms and I wondered if she was just toying with me. We became friendly again and our relationship was how it was when we were together, but without the arguments. She still wanted to be with me and we would spend evenings on the sofa just as we’d always done. It was nice. I was still enjoying her company and she appeared to be enjoying mine. Apart from the fact that there was no longer any physical contact, things hadn’t changed. I was confused by this situation; we now seemed to be great pals, at least until she went, when everything would end. It didn’t seem like ‘human’ behaviour. Looking back it seems she was just using me in the same way she always had. Our relationship was the same as it had always been because there hadn’t been much change in her feelings for me; she never had any real feelings for me in the first place, just as she didn’t have them now. I was still someone who could listen to her, make her laugh, share a pizza with her, tell her what I thought of her new clothes etc.  An object, a thing - as opposed to a human being.

We would talk about the usual things and then she would say she’d been to look at a flat and that she wasn’t sure if it was the one she wanted. She would then casually talk about the layout of it, drawing a picture and I’d show interest. There was absolutely no recognition in her whatsoever that this might be hurting me. I would try to be casual saying that the flat looked nice, but inside I was dying. It was all hitting me so hard. She went out one night and left me at home in agony. I couldn’t sleep. She came home at around five in the morning. Seeing that I appeared to be waiting up for her, she grinned from ear to ear; it was great ego-boosting  material to her. I asked why she was doing this to me. She said: ‘C’mon, it wasn’t working.’ I said I didn’t understand as I hadn’t done anything bad. She said she knew I hadn’t, but it just wasn’t working. So now I hadn’t done anything bad. That’s not what she had said during the relationship (A few days later she described me as ‘sweet’). And ‘wasn’t working’? Who the hell was to blame for that? There had been times in the past when I had suggested we had a break from each other. She told me it was a bad idea and that it was normal for couples to argue. It is, but not to the extent that we did it.

I told her that I accepted it was over. I was extremely upset and wanted to get things off my chest. I told her that unless she made some enormous changes to her character, she would have the same problems with the next guy and the one after that. That’s all I considered her to be, someone with a bad character. She said she knew she needed to change but wanted to do it alone. She recognises that she pushes people too far with her p****-teasing antics; she thought I was referring to that. She got up to go to bed, looked at me and said: ‘C’mon, it was your first relationship.’ somehow implying that I had got it all wrong. I was hurting and being told that I was to blame for my hurt because I hadn’t had a girlfriend before. It was my first relationship, and I had nothing to compare it with.

One day I decided I couldn’t take it any more. I was telling myself to be strong but it was too much. The days were becoming excruciatingly painful. I had to get out and told her that I was going to move out. It wasn’t to get a reaction out of her, although I thought she might see it that way. The truth was that I really needed to get away from her. Yes! I felt this is what I had to do. When I told her I was leaving, she sighed deeply and I thought that at last she was ‘feeling’ the break-up. But no; her reaction was ‘That means I won’t be able to use your computer for the internet.’ She was seriously disappointed about this. I just shook my head. She sat there seemingly weighing things up in her mind. Was she thinking about us? She started talking again enthusiastically: ‘I think I’ll move into your room; it’s bigger than mine and I could get my piano in there.’ I was completely and utterly irrelevant. I wasn’t a person; I was a thing. Yes. We had been together for almost two years and yet there just wasn’t any emotion in her at all. Nothing was seen from my side. My feelings were of no importance; they weren’t even recognised. Her only considerations were how it all affected her. I went to my room. What was I to her?! Wasn’t there a connection? I felt I knew her so well. I had even mistakenly called her by my sister’s name once. And now? Now I was nobody, nothing, perhaps a minor complication in her life. I was finished, spent, worthless, over with, no longer required. This was the first person I’d ever met who had a total, and I mean total, lack of empathy.

Half an hour later, seeing that I was unhappy, she said ‘Ok. I admit I’ll miss you… if it makes you feel better.’ All the time with a self-satisfied smile of superiority. She twisted the knife endlessly. She took something that was already painful, and turned it into something torturous.

I phoned about a room and went to look at it. The room, and flat in general, was horrible. I had never felt so low. I knew I couldn’t move out. Two big changes would have been too much. I told her I would wait for her to go. A couple of weeks later, she told me she had found the room she wanted and was going to pay her deposit on it. She then proceeded to talk about the flat. I acknowledged what she was saying very unenthusiastically, and this was followed by a difficult couple of minutes silence. During those two minutes I thought about how it was all coming to an end. I imagined she was doing the same. After being by each other’s side for more than three years, what else could we possibly be thinking about? She started up again: ‘It’s got two bathrooms and the kitchen is all new…’ That’s what she’d been thinking about. Although I was now used to this kind of thing, her lack of emotion still shocked me. She simply did not recognise me as someone with feelings. To this day, I still find it hard to come to terms with that.

From phoning about rooms to paying her deposit, she shoved every part of the moving process in my face, seemingly trying to get a reaction from me. I tried to be casual about it all but I was thinking ‘Why is she doing this to me?’ She came in one day with a plastic bag, stood in front of me, and took out a roll of parcel tape, looked at it and put it back in the bag. She showed me the receipt she was given for the deposit she had paid on her new place, saying ‘I couldn’t believe the woman; I had to tell her to sign it!’ It was just a big game of one-upmanship or point-scoring to her. If I – and I imagine, any other sane person – were in her place at that time, I would have tried to make life as easy as is possible for me. She however, felt she needed to squeeze as much self-satisfaction from it as she could. But why? Was she trying to get revenge for something. If so, for what?

Although I still wanted to spend time with her in the flat, I forced myself to stay away from her. I stayed in my room when I was at home. She still wanted my attention and would open my door and walk in unannounced. This confused me; she seemed to want to be with me, and yet she was moving out to get away. I thought that maybe she still liked me. I couldn’t work it out. She wanted power over you. A couple of times she burst into my room after a shopping trip, plonked a handful of shopping bags on my bed, and pulled out an item of clothing saying; ‘What do you think of this?’ It was like we were still together. It just didn’t seem right, but I was now really messed up and didn’t know what I should say or do. I spoke as I usually did at times like these; ‘Yes, I like that. It’ll go well with that jumper you bought.’ She would continue: ‘Do you think so? I’ll try it on.’ Then she would strip down to her underwear in front of me to try it on.

I took other people’s advice I decided to cut contact with her as far as is possible between two people who live in the same house. When she came into my room, without being at all aggressive or nasty, I made it clear that I wanted her to leave. She said I was being silly and that we could still be friends. I told her we could be friends but that I would appreciate it if she left my room. I had to ask her to leave many times before she went, and then she walked out shaking her head as if to say I was mad. She really expected us to carry on as we had before. When we were together, we sometimes sat and watched a film together. Now we were finished but she would call out to me from the living room when a film was starting. She was really disappointed that I wasn’t going to sit with her. It just didn’t occur to her that I could be somewhat upset about recent events. The idea that emotions were involved in all this were completely alien to her. And anyway, hadn’t I been treating her really badly? Hadn’t I been making her cry and not respecting her? Hadn’t I been taking my problems out on her? Wasn’t she concerned that I was going to start physically abusing her? Wasn’t she a poor victim of my obviously bad character? Why would she still want to be friends with someone like that?

We were now more or less ignoring each other. I so much wanted to be with her, but I knew it was wrong, so I stayed away. She started asking me if I was going to help her move out. My first thought was, she’s got some front to ask me to help her move. But by now I had completely lost touch with reality. As a measure of just how much the self-doubt had really taken hold, I actually starting thinking that maybe she was right, and that I should help her. I reminded her that she was arranging a removal firm to do it. She said that they didn’t do everything and that she needed someone to dismantle her piano for her. I told her I would think about it and went to another room. As the days passed she kept asking me if I was going to help. Why the hell was she asking this of me? Now she was saying that I should pay half the removal costs as I was equally responsible for the failure of the relationship. She hadn’t moved in because we were together for heavens sake! We started a relationship because we lived together in the first place. I talked about it with other people and decided I shouldn’t help her in any way. I told her this and she said ‘Is it because you don’t want me to go?’ Again I was confused. What was she playing at? Every time we saw each other she would bring it up. She said that she knew why I didn’t want to help her with her piano because I didn’t her want to leave. She then asked me again if that was what it was. What a sick mind! It didn’t occur to her that I might not want to help because I was upset. I had accepted that she was going. I was angry with her. Even as far as it had gone, with all the shit I had taken, she was still looking for things to boost her ego.

One evening I sat on our little balcony with a beer. Seeing me there, she grabbed a can of beer out of the fridge and joined me. We had often spent time on the balcony together. I have some very good memories of sitting there drinking and chatting with her and our flatmates. We started chatting and it wasn’t long before we were talking about our relationship. ‘The Book’ said that it was impossible to receive love if you didn’t love yourself. This is what she said was a problem in our relationship; that she loved me but I wasn’t able to receive that love. I was too confused to reply to that. As well as that, I had given up. I was defeated. What’s the point? I thought. Now it just seems absolutely ludicrous that she would say such a thing.  At one point she looked me in eyes and asked: ‘Do you want me back?’ We were having a pleasant chat and getting on well. For a brief moment, I saw a little window of opportunity and foolishly replied: ‘Yes.’ She grinned from ear to ear and said excitedly: ‘No way!’ That little exchange was the epitome of her attitude towards me. She sat there looking smug, lapping up yet more ego-boosting material at the expense of my feelings. Would a sane person do such a thing in such circumstances?

A few beers later and we were talking about sex. Again she was saying that she wanted to sleep with a woman. I casually asked her if she had slept with anyone since we broke up, as a joke more than anything - I was never expecting a positive reply. An enormous smile seemed to fill her face before she told me that she had slept with Robert just a couple of weeks after she finished with me. She so enjoyed telling me this. It hit me so hard. My whole body went tense and I could feel myself sweating. Just a few minutes earlier I thought we were having such a friendly chat that reconciliation might be possible, and then she tells me this. I hated her so much at that moment. Who was this person sitting opposite me? What had happened to my little soul mate? I asked her if she had left me for him. She told me that she hadn’t and he was just a friend that she decided to have sex with. I had already been through so much and now this. It’s hurts to recall this moment now as I write. I could see her in face that she considered this another little victory, but why was she at war with me? I wanted to get back at her. I wanted something that would wipe the smile of her face. I had something I could tell her. I could feel myself boiling inside and I was waiting for the right moment. She asked me if I had been faithful to her. Now it was my turn to smile. I told her that about a year back, while she was away for the weekend, I had brought a girl back to the flat and slept with her. And I had.

The self-satisfaction I felt in that moment lasted about a minute. From that point on I felt so bad. She was clearly quite shocked, but immediately put on a brave face before asking me about the details. I didn’t really want to talk about it, but I answered her questions. While she was away I had gone out with a couple of friends. I had no intention of meeting girls. We were sitting in a rather empty bar and a group of girls came in. We could see they were all out for a good time and it wasn’t long before my pals were chatting to them. I stayed out of it, just briefly introducing myself. A few drinks later, the girls said they were going on to another bar and asked us if we wanted to go with them. Why not? we thought. After a couple more drinks in another bar. One of the girls started showing clear interest in me and it wasn’t long before we were kissing. The bar closed and we went outside. I asked her if she wanted to come back to my place. She agreed and off we went. By the time we were in my bedroom I was feeling very uncomfortable about it all, and was sure that I wasn’t going to have sex with her. I thought we could have a cuddle on the bed and that would be it. Not surprisingly, it went a bit further. We didn’t have intercourse but we did do ‘things’, let’s say. She left in the morning. The next day I was racked with guilt and hoped that my other flatmate hadn’t heard us come in.

This revelation put a quick end to our chat on the balcony. I woke up the next day and felt absolutely terrible. I had been taking comfort in the idea that I was the victim of a horrible woman. And now what? I wasn’t the victim at all. I was the bad guy. I deserved everything I got. Elaine told me she was strong and that it didn’t bother her, as if to say my strike hadn’t hit the target. She kept bringing it up, asking more questions and I could see that she was actually very upset about it. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I felt so terrible. I was in agony and had nowhere to take solace. What an enormous f**k up our relationship had been I thought. Now I was left to try and make something from the wreckage – on my own. Elaine said if I was prepared to do something like that, then I wasn’t happy in the relationship. For once I think she was making complete sense. It’s easy to say now, and many wouldn’t believe me, but I genuinely believe that if I felt there was real love coming in the other direction, I would never have done what I did. Our relationship was a farce, but I don’t blame myself for that.

This event led to some enormous introspection on my part. When I had read the common characteristics of people with NPD, I was somewhat relieved to discover that I could relate so much of it to Elaine. There were all the answers to the behaviour that I had no explanation for and had pushed to the back of my mind. I didn’t totally accept that she had NPD, but she certainly had many of the traits - it’s still not official that she has it, and probably never will be. But equally as surprising as associating this disorder with her, was how I could also identify it with myself. Not so much of who I am, rather who I was when I was younger. I know I don’t have NPD; I know I feel empathy for one, but I have been very self-absorbed in years gone by. Perhaps I still am, but I do feel I have changed a lot as I’ve grown. I know I have a self-esteem problem and I can now see how it relates to the self-absorption. I always thought that Elaine and I had a lot in common, perhaps it is more than I originally thought. I was drunk when I took the girl home, but I would never hold that up as an excuse. It may have clouded my judgement to some extent, but the fact is my attitude was that I had a girlfriend, and now I could have another girl. Of course, I’ve learnt an enormous lesson from all this.

I also have strong suspicions that Elaine’s night of passion with Robert actually happened before she finished with me – perhaps the weekend I was in England, which would explain the enormous turnaround on my return. And if it didn’t, I’m quite sure something did.

Elaine was leaving the flat mid-contract. When this happens, you have to find someone else to take your room and pay the rent. She knew this but left it until two weeks before she was due to go to place an advertisement, or rather, she asked me to place an ad. It wasn’t a good time to find someone because of the time of the year. When we had looked for people for the third room, a few people usually came to see it and we chose someone who we considered suitable. A few people came to look at her room but no one seemed particularly interested. In the past, when people had come round to see the third room, I used to have a good time meeting the prospective flatmates and showing them around the flat. They seemed to like me and the room, and almost all of them would say they were interested. Now I was having to show them a different room and I wasn’t enjoying it at all. Elaine said I wasn’t making enough effort when people came round, that I wasn’t smiling enough. She said I was doing it intentionally to make things difficult for her. I certainly wasn’t. If I wasn’t particularly cheerful about having to do this, I think it’s quite understandable. She was becoming concerned that she wasn’t going to find anyone and started saying that once she moved out, she wasn’t going to pay anymore rent. I told her that until she found someone else to pay, she would have to, so now she said she was going to accept the first person that said they were interested.

We had always been very keen to get to know a potential flatmate first. She herself said it was important. But now, according to her, she was entitled to accept anybody. I told her she was being unfair but it made no difference: it was impossible to reason with her. To her, a different rule applied. The other girl who was living with us at the time wasn’t concerned about who moved in as she was also leaving to go back to her native country. I’d had enough and said as long as they were youngish and reasonably sensible, I would accept them. I thought about it later; I didn’t want just anybody. I drew up some adverts and placed them in local shops; I wanted some choice if I could get it - I know from experience that picking the wrong flatmate can spell disaster. I told her I had done this so as to demonstrate that I was trying to make things run smoother. It was an enormous disappointment to her. ‘What? You put adverts up?’ In her mind I would do anything to keep her there, and now here I was going out to advertise her room. At the time I did still want her to stay, but I had accepted that she was going and was trying to make the best of it.

We had a few discussions about the whole moving out business. Curiously though, she was now able to maintain a dialogue through it all. Unfair as she was being, we were now having, tame ‘logical’ arguments. I could disagree with her without fear of what might happen. There were no more tears, no more slamming doors, and conclusions of some sort were reached, even if that did just mean my appeasing her. She finished with me a month and a half before she moved out. Normally during that amount of time we would have had three, maybe four nightmarish three day marathons, which of course were all my fault.

When someone eventually moved in a week later than she needed them to, she insisted she didn’t have to pay for that week because she had moved out. When I asked her for the money she refused. It took me a few weeks to get the money from her. In a way, I consider myself lucky. I’ve read a lot about the problems people have had regarding finances and children on a forum for victims of Narcissists. I believe the relatively minor problems I had with her in the end go some way to demonstrate what could have happened had I become more involved. I had a little taste of the horrors that others have had to endure.

For the time that followed we maintained a reasonably friendly relationship. I tried to keep away from her as much as was possible. She starting making her phone calls in her bedroom, which she had never done before. I knew it was Robert she was talking to because I looked at the numbers she had dialled on her mobile – you do these things when you’re in a mess. One day I asked her if she had left me for him. She insisted she hadn’t and they’d only had sex as friends. I told her I didn’t believe her. She became angry saying that we were finished and she didn’t have to explain anything. I suppose she was right, but I was still hurting and I told her that. I don’t think a relationship between her and Robert ever materialised. She later told me that Robert had said he didn’t want to get involved with anyone, which to me sounds like she was turned down. She asked me: ‘He’s so scared of a relationship; can you believe that?!’ Again, to her it was perfectly acceptable to talk about this kind of thing with me. I don’t know what she expected me to say. Perhaps I should have said: ‘Well, maybe you should just try to take it slow with him.’

 ‘The Book’ says that we are in total control of how we feel, and that if we are unhappy, it is a result of our own ‘decision’ to be unhappy, that we simply need to decide to be happy. This was her advice to me when I told her I was hurting. To me she was just wiping her hands of the whole thing. I left her and went to my bedroom. She followed me in a few minutes later and plonked herself on my bed smoking a cigarette. Looking back, I realise that she was quite enjoying it when I told her I was hurting. It was more great ego-boosting stuff to her. Just when I was thinking about asking her to leave my bedroom, she started this dialogue. This is verbatim, because in disbelief I typed it up just after we had it. A lot of it is the ‘The Book’ talking i.e. ‘decide to be happy’, and also ‘don’t let others make you feel guilty’:

Her:   'Your trouble is you want to suffer.'

Me:    'I do not WANT to suffer. I'm hurting now - I don't want it, I didn't ask for it. It just happens.'

Her:   'Well why?'

Me:    'Well because someone has just finished a two-year relationship with me, someone I had feelings for, and it hurts. It's natural. I'm human and I have emotions. I have feelings and I'm hurting.'

Her:   'Well you shouldn't.'

Me:    'Well I do. What am I supposed to do - someone dumps me after a two-year relationship and I just say "Never mind, I'll go and do something else now."? Is that what I should do? Is that how you would feel?'

Her:   'Well yeah.'

Me:    'Don't be stupid. You know that's not true. One day someone will do it to you and you will see how it feels.'

Her:   'And does that make you feel better - knowing that I'm going to suffer?'

Me:    'I don't care. I'm just saying that one day you will know....... I don't know how you can be so cold about it. I couldn't do that myself. I would have to say I'm sorry and that I know it hurts you.'

Her:   'I don't have to be sorry about anything.'

Me:    'Can't you at least say "I understand how you feel".

Her:   'Look. If you want to hurt, that's your problem….. read the book.’

Me:    ‘I don’t want to read the book. I can't believe you are so self-centred. Do you not understand that people have feelings and that this kind of thing hurts?'

Her:   'You want to hurt.'

Me:    'I do not WANT to hurt. It happens and it's perfectly understandable. Right now it hurts but I'll get over you, and hopefully it won't take long.'

Her:   ‘Well then?'

Me:    'Oh you can't reason with idiots.'

Her:   'You got that right.'

Me:    'I'd appreciate it if you left my room please.'

I had to ask her to leave four or five times before she left. You could say she was at war with me now after my ‘revelation’, but I know her well enough to know that this would have been her attitude to my hurting, revelation or no revelation. I certainly wish I could have just switched off my hurt like that, but I couldn’t. I hurt terribly then and continue to hurt now, some ten months later. I also reminded her of how terrible she said she had felt when her previous boyfriend had broken up with her after just a month-long relationship. Her reply was ‘Yeah, but I was really silly back then.’ So that’s what she was saying I was, ‘silly’ to be upset.

A couple of weeks before she went she said she was going out to have lunch and asked me if I would like to go with her. I told her I wouldn’t – I wanted to keep away. She said she had no one to go with and insisted that I went with her. I felt I needed some closure and that this was an opportunity to talk it all out, put my side across, decide if we would see each other in the future etc. I was still hurting badly and I had told her that. I really should have known better than to think we were going to talk anything out. For the hour that we sat together she did nothing but talk about herself, her new flat, her career plans, her future, all as though she were talking to her neighbour. It was all about her and only her. It was as though she was doing it intentionally. She seemed to expect me to be excited by her plans. I was fighting back the tears and for a long while never said a word. She went on to say some guy had phoned her to invite her to a party and she was really looking forward to it. At no point did she see anything wrong with her behaviour. I felt like I was an absolute nothing. What I was going to do from then on was absolutely and utterly irrelevant. Well, what relevance could it possibly have? She didn’t seem to recognise me as a person. She had simply used me again - someone to listen to her over lunch. Her level of selfishness never ceased to amaze me. This woman really did believe that the world revolved around her.

From then on the only time we spoke was when she continued to ask me if I was going to help her move out. We had this exchange:

Her:   ‘You're not going to help me move out’
Me:    ‘Is that a question or a statement?’
Her:   ‘A statement....... are you?’
Me:    (feeling on the spot) ’I suppose so, if I'm not busy. ‘
Her:   ‘You said you didn't wanna go because of the hassle. You don't care now it's me moving.’
Me:    ‘Well, it's understandable if I'm reluctant to help you, isn't it?
Her:   ‘Why?’
Me:    ‘You finished the whole thing.’
Her:   ‘So?……… It's lucky we haven't got children. You'd say 'Huh. I don't care.’’

I don’t really understand what the children thing was all about. She went on to say that in a divorce it was the responsibility of both partners to deal with any matters that arise. I said it wasn’t a divorce and she said it was the same thing. She was still trying to make it look like I was the bad guy, and that she was having to suffer me.

What followed was a short period of time in which I was trying to get to grips with everything that had happened and was happening. I was posting everyday on a ‘been dumped’ site and my words were a mixture of expressing loss and commenting on her unfair treatment of me. At no point had I felt or expressed any real anger, until one day when I seemed to just ‘wake up’. The time spent keeping my distance from her had cleared my head to some extent, and I was now very angry. I posted this (I knew nothing about NPD at the time):

Stuck at home alone tonight and feeling quite abandoned. I've been thinking though and I want her out of my life as soon as possible. I've thought about it all in a more general sense and I think I'm seeing it all more clearly.

I've put up with so much sh*t from her. She has used me and she continues to use me. She has said and done so many things to hurt me, whilst all the time making me out to be the bad guy, to the point where I start doubting myself and eventually apologise to HER. She thinks only of herself the whole time and accuses ME of being selfish and manipulative. She never considers my feelings. I've written her letters to explain my feelings when we've argued. She takes them and says 'What's this? Why don't you just tell me?' then reads them and says 'Pah!' Then keeps them for future ego boosting.

I'm not entirely innocent, but I think it pales into insignificance when you consider what she's done to me. I've been a fool all this time. I can't wait till she goes. She has started so many arguments over stupid little things, then dumps me because the relationship is going bad and she shows no empathy whatsoever. She smiles when she tells me that she slept with someone else. I want her to go and to never see her again. She doesn't deserve me. Why the hell have I put up with it? I've been such a numbskull.

When she goes it would be great if I could just blank her from my memory. I wish her a life of pain and misery. Nasty but true. How can she just walk away and feel nothing? She is a piece of scum. Why do I ache now? I want her to go now so that I can start to put my whole being back together. I curse the day I met her, I really do. I've never met anyone so emotionally numb. When I'm with her I feel like some kind of machine - not a person. I am and have always been a tool for her. My thoughts, feelings, and opinions count for nothing.

Get out of my life you bitch! Pleeeease just leave me be!

The day of her moving came. I stayed in my room while she directed the removal men. I had to be there because we were expecting someone to come and look at her room. I didn’t want to leave my room. The whole thing was torturous. I walked to the kitchen to get a drink. Seeing me she took a break from operations, approached me and said: ‘Look. I’ve got a spot here.’ and pointed to her cheek. ‘Oh dear.’ I said ironically. She continued: ‘Yeah, but it’s been there for a while and it won’t go.’ Poor thing. It must have been so hard for her to deal with.

Our final goodbye went like this:

Her:   ‘Well, I’m off.’

Me:    ‘Ok. See ya.’

Her:   ‘See ya.’

We she went there was a feeling of relief. It was hard, but I was glad she had finally gone. I went to look at her room. It was all empty and bare. I felt a little dizzy, as though I were going to pass out. I sat down on the sofa and told myself I would have to be strong. I became a little over positive for a while. Looking back, I think I went into a period of denial. The flat just seemed so empty without her, and I felt so alone.

She came back a week later at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon to collect a few things she had left behind. She asked me if I missed her and, trying to look cool, I said: ‘Why, have you been somewhere?’ She said nothing. The truth was I had missed her. She got her things together and then sat down with me for a chat. She seemed pleased to see me. I was supposed to be avoiding her but I wanted to spend time with her again. I grabbed a beer out of the fridge and she asked if she could have one. We sat chatting and laughing until 11 o’clock in the evening. It wasn’t until I’d dropped a few hints that she went. During our chat she told me that she hadn’t wanted to leave the flat, and also that she had realised she was responsible for a lot of the problems we had. Unfortunately, I really don’t think this was a result of any introspection. I knew she had been talking to people about us, and I imagine the people she had spoken to had taken my side, and tried to express that to her diplomatically, just as I had done the same when she had told me about her problems with others. She asked me to help her down with her stuff and I agreed – I really regret doing this now. I couldn’t understand why it was that she wanted to leave for good when she seemingly so enjoyed my company.

Our old flatmate Alan called me to tell me he was coming to Madrid and asked if he could stay at the flat. At the time I was now completely alone in the flat, so I was more than happy to let him stay. I had told myself that I would never call Elaine and that I wanted nothing to do with her ever again. However, she owed money for bills and rent. I called her up and asked her to come round with the money. I also told her Alan was there. I had decided I didn’t want a repetition of the last time she came round, and that I was simply going to take her money and say goodbye. She came round all showered and pretty with a bottle of beer and a smile. I knew what she was expecting. I calculated how much she owed and she reluctantly handed it over. I thanked her for coming round and she looked disappointed, saying that now I had the money I wasn’t being very nice. Again, it didn’t occur to her that I might be hurting. I told her I was going out, which wasn’t true at the time. She asked where Alan was and I told her I didn’t know (I had asked him not to be around when she came). She wouldn’t go and instead asked if she could check her email on the Internet. I told her she could have ten minutes and she’d have to go. An hour later she was still around. I had a shower to make my going out look more authentic, but still she wouldn’t leave. In the end I went out to get away from her – three and a half hours after she came round. We walked to the underground station together. I told her I would call her next year and we said goodbye. I haven’t seen or heard from her since.

Alan called her a couple of days later to meet up for a drink. He told me that she had done most of the talking for the time they were together. She told him she couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to see her, or why I was going to leave it so long before getting in touch. Alan expressed his astonishment at this, saying that he had to explain to her that I was hurting and that it was perfectly normal. He said she still couldn’t understand.

Alan and I went for a drink together a few days later. I consider him a good friend and we had a good heart to heart. In the past he had told me about his relationship with his father, who his separated from Alan’s mother. He had told me how his father had often cheated on his wife with younger women, and how he had, to a large extent, disowned and failed to recognise the feelings of his own family. Now, in the bar, he was telling me how he saw many similarities between his father and Elaine. He said that they both needed constant admiration, or, as he put it, they needed their ‘fans’. I listened with interest.

Alan left Madrid and I felt better for having spoken to someone who seemed able to empathise with how I felt. For a while I was continually turning things over in my head. I felt terrible and continued to post on the web site for people who had ‘been dumped’. I could relate to a lot of what people were saying about how they felt. I could relate especially well to the things that a particular girl was posting, and she in turn wrote that she could relate to what I was saying. She went on to say that her ex-boyfriend was a ‘Narcissist’. I’d heard that word before but just associated it with people who liked to look in the mirror a lot. I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce it. Casually, and whilst munching on a sandwich at the same time, I typed the word into a search bar with my free hand. There were a lot of results. I clicked on one at random and up came a short description of a personality disorder. I started to read. Within seconds my finger was on the screen following each line as I read. ‘Oh my God! That’s her!’ They had more or less written a description of Elaine. I felt relief; I wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t all in my head. I read more and more on the subject, and while there was some stuff that I couldn’t relate to, there was an awful lot that I could. I found a discussion board on Narcissism and was able to relate to so much of what others were writing. They in turn would tell me how much they could relate to my experience. There were other guys on the forum and they were writing posts that I could have written myself. It was astounding to discover that others had had such similar experiences. The clouds of confusion were finally lifting, and the sun was breaking through.

I had always been completely ignorant to personality disorders. I suppose I simply associated them with psychopaths and people with mental disorders. Subconsciously I had kind of bagged them all in together and labelled it ‘Mental.’ When I was young I remember there was always the odd ‘crazy guy’ walking around the streets; Mental Tony, Mad Bill. When I considered psychological problems, I thought about people who mumbled to themselves, or sang on the bus. I never really thought that amongst all those ‘normal’ people out there, there were people with disorders, people who could come across as charming, intelligent, and genuine, but held some kind of dark secret. I learnt about them and I learnt the hard way.

Of course I was eager to tell friends and family about what I‘d discovered. They knew I was down about what had happened and listened to me for a while, knowing that I wanted to get it out of my system. What I really didn’t expect though was a seemingly total lack of interest when I spoke about her suspected personality disorder. They would all look at me in the same way, a look that seemed to say ‘I know it’s hard for you but you’ll get over it. These things happen. It’s no use bad-mouthing her now.’  Whether or not that was what they were thinking, I don’t know, but it looked that way. My comments weren’t at all valid, simply because I had been dumped and was obviously out to protect myself, to push the blame on the other. From their point of view, I was in no state of mind to give an un-biased account of what went wrong. Even now, I can’t talk to people about it, because in their mind I really should have got over it. I have got over it to a large extent; I simply want to tell people about my experiences and I can’t. Even if they want to understand, they can’t. Apart from the odd person who has been through a similar kind of thing, no one can relate, and you just have to accept that.

When she left me in the way that she did, it seemed to underline something that I had felt from almost the very beginning, and that is that she saw the relationship in a very different way to me. Her attitudes and actions so confused me because she wasn’t looking for the same thing. That ‘connectedness’ that I so often thought about meant nothing to her. Seeing it this way makes things a lot clearer. There were songs that we listened to. I considered them ‘our songs’. Although deep down I knew it, I could never admit to myself that they were really just my songs.

I have no doubt that the break-up was a very positive thing for me. I sometimes wonder how long I would have tolerated her. I think it would have to have got even worse before I had the balls to get out. I so wanted a girlfriend and I know I would have hung on for much longer. I would have continued to ignore that gut feeling, which, at times, was so strong. We once had a ‘slip’ and thought that she might be pregnant. We decided to think separately for a couple of days about what to do. I didn’t need of couple of days; I needed five minutes. After seeing her sitting about with a peculiar dreamy smile on her face for three days, I took her to see the doc. The gut instinct wasn’t totally ignored. I was waiting for her to change before I made that sort of commitment. I would have waited a very long time.

You will have an idea in your mind of who this girl is. The thing is, if you spent a couple of weeks with her, you would come to me and perhaps say that, other than liking to talk about herself and having some strange opinions on some things, she seems perfectly normal. And she does to anyone who doesn’t become involved with her over a long period of time. Her irregularities aren’t on the surface; they aren’t even close to it, but they are there and it runs through her like the grain runs through a piece of wood. She is self-centred to an absolute extreme and is getting worse with time. The lack of empathy is incredible.

I was sitting on an underground train a few days back, and opposite were a mother and her two  toddlers, a boy and a girl. They looked to be about three or four. The girl was playing with a toy and became infuriated when the boy took it from her, crying: ‘Hey! Mine!’ Her mother told her off for her aggressive behaviour and the girl went into a sulk, head down, ‘not talking’. I knew exactly how the mother felt. I had been in that situation many times. The difference was that this mother was fully aware she was dealing with a child. When Elaine cried: ‘Hey! That’s mine!’ after I had taken the ‘wrong’ slice of pizza, or the last cigarette, I was confused and didn’t know how to handle it; Elaine was an adult, and I was ‘immature’.

I do feel a lot better lately, but what I can’t understand is why I still miss her. Because she whet your appetite for what could be. Wishful thinking... She pushed me so far and caused me so much pain. I was made to feel irrelevant; I was abused and manipulated.  My feelings were completely discounted. Why do I miss that? We did have some fun times together and I have some really fond memories, but regardless of how much I miss her, I know I never want to see her again. It’s a difficult feeling to get to grips with. My feelings oscillate between pure hatred and feeling sorry for her. If I miss anything, it’s the idea of what I thought I had. I miss the image, because that’s all it was. Now that time and distance have helped to clear my head, and I’ve learnt to respect myself more, I find it difficult to believe that I put up with what I did. I’m angry at myself. I so wanted a pretty girlfriend, someone to spend time with, and was prepared to give up so much of myself to have her. Never again will I allow that to happen. I feel like I’ve been conned out of two years of my life. I so wish I never met her. I suppose I’m now free to meet someone better, but I find myself questioning people’s motives, continuously suspicious of everyone.

Ok, so this has all been a bit long-winded, but there is so much more I could have written. I’m sure there was also a lot more manipulation and abuse that I didn’t even realise was taking place. Some of it occurs to me as time passes. If I rewrote this a year from now it would probably be quite different. The mists will have cleared completely and I’ll have a greater understanding of what I went through.

Thanks for reading. If after all that, you haven’t had enough, here are some excerpts from the posts I made on the ‘been dumped’ site before I knew anything about NPD:

I wanna say thanks so much for referring to her as a manipulative woman. I have always seen her this way but I am such a self-doubter that I never value my own judgements. It was so good to read that. Just on the little information I've given you about her. Thank you. There is so much I could say about her. She has used her good looks to her advantage so often. She goes through life leaving a trail of wounded hearts and minds. She's got an extremely high friend turnover. I can't remember all their names - they just seem to come and go. She feeds off them, taking everything she wants before moving onto someone else. I just know there's still a whole load of unsuspecting victims out there.

I do try to put a brave face on it when she's around. But she has noticed my anguish, and I've noticed that she's noticed it, and I've noticed that she's getting off on it.

F**king hell! What are you doing to me? Do the last three years mean NOTHING to you? Do you not have any feelings at all girl? Have you not for one minute thought about how I feel? Don't you think I might be feeling a little upset about all this?
I thought I knew her but I didn't know her at all.

I've got to get my head together. She has really damaged me. Rephrase that please: "I have really let her damage me." I so much hope someone does this to her one day. And then she can feel the pain. Surely her self-centredness will backfire on her one day. Beauty is only skin deep, and she's f*****g ugly on the inside.

She has often told me about how her ex would beg to have her back. Except she's not so much telling me about it in so much as she's boasting about it. It's her little perennial ego boost. And I plan to do as little as possible to replenish it.

I told her I would miss her when she goes. I thought it might dig out some emotion from her, but nothing. She didn't say a word.  

She's knows I'm not being silly - she just can't be bothered to focus attention on someone other than herself. No, it's not that she can't be bothered - it's that, for the time being at least, there's no part of her programmed to express empathy.

I imagine that she wasn't too bothered about losing that guy, rather that her enormous ego had been bashed.

Now I imagine that she's off to start new relationships. I just can't see how they're gonna work though. The astute man will dump her the moment her true nature is revealed. Hopefully causing her great pain... or great 'silliness'. The naive man (me, for example) will suffer her for far longer than he should and eventually register on here. It might take a couple more of those before she starts questioning herself, but I'm sure she will at some point.

She still comes bouncing into my room with a big smile, all enthusiastic about telling me something - which of course is invariably about her. And she's got me again - all ears for her, even though I have to abbreviate considerably anything I might have to say about me, thereby ensuring I take full advantage of the limited attention afforded to me when speaking about something not about her. I'm not exaggerating.
She's also got this thing lately where she accuses everyone of being selfish and manipulative - her 'friends' mainly. I just sit in utter disbelief. Takes one to...

How I wish I'd taken more notice of your reply Lasty. I fell into the trap. She drained me of everything she could possibly get. And now it's 'Goodbye'.

I can think now about how badly she would talk to me, and how her actions made no account of how I might feel. But that would be forgotten when she would smile at me, joke with me, chat with me etc.

I was like a little dog looking for some love and affection, constantly being hit, but still going back time and time again thinking next time it would change.

My problems with her? self-centred, unreasonable, too used to getting her own way, not very affectionate, not at all a listener, took no interest in things that were important to me

She insisted that I was storming off in protest at not getting any attention -she means 'sulking' but she doesn't know the word because she's not a native English speaker. As much as I tried to tell her it wasn't true, she just wouldn't have it. Basically, a no win situation.

As well as that she is a difficult person - no doubt about it. She's very used to getting her own way - something to do with her upbringing I imagine.

Although she's a beautiful, sexy, fun loving girl, there are many elements of her character I don't like, and that makes a successful relationship with me impossible. Well, impossible with anyone, in my opinion, but I could be wrong.

I now feel exactly as I did a month ago - like everything has been drained from me. What makes it hurt even more is thinking about all the sh*t she's given me over the years. I've put up with it because I thought it might have been worth it in the end.

She's used me over the last month. She has no feelings towards me whatsoever. What a fool I've been. What a lesson you've learned! That's the good part!

There are so many things that she has accused me of being: self-centred, childish, manipulative, - traits on which HER whole character is built. I like to think I admit my faults. Maybe there are some that I'm not aware of, but I am NOT, at least not to any great extent, any of the aforementioned.

She's keeps trying to push me into confessing that I didn't want her to move out. She reads sh*t into everything as much as I do. I'm sure there's a large part of her brain, relatively speaking of course - the part is probably very small - which has been totally given over to the fabrication of assumptions.
'I know why you did so and so, because you didn't want me to go.'
'I know why you said that to me, because you didn't want me to go.'
And I'm like 'What the hell are you talking about?' She's disappointed that I never said: 'I don't want you to go.' so she's pushing me for a confession.

A large proportion of the day would be spent with her - using her own peculiar logic - lecturing me about relationships, and with me not understanding what she was talking about, but trying to pacify the situation by appeasing her, offering compromises, apologising for things I didn't feel I was guilty of, or just giving her a kiss on the forehead during a lull in the storm. It was never enough because she would say that I failed to understand the root of the problem. And she was right, I didn't. Something pathetic would start it and it would snowball into something nasty and complicated where each new issue was forgotten to make way for the next. Meaning that we could never go back and attempt to untangle the route it had taken. All this seemed to be exacerbated by things she'd 'learnt' from her self-help books. As she read them she would incorporate the subject of each newly read chapter into our arguments regardless of the original disagreement. I once thought about recording the arguments so I could rewind it, study it, and see if anything she had said actually made sense to me, or even correlated with something she had said before - because it never seemed to.

It was my first long relationship but I really don't think I will ever argue to the extent that I argued with her. And she did tell me that she was always at it with her previous boyfriend so there you go. I learnt the importance of making compromises a long time ago, although having them shoved back in my face was a whole new experience.

I put up with far too much for far too long. Well, now I know - I had what I thought I wanted then, but really I wanted so much more. I wanted someone who would talk to me, listen to me, share with me, be there for me, and know that I would be there for them. That was just not the case in our relationship. To her I was just something to tell her friends about. I was a 'boyfriend' for the sake of being a boyfriend, with nothing of what that really implies. I'm no longer doubting my judgements. I value myself and I will never again allow anyone to walk over me the way she has.

But looking back, it was all just a joke. I lost a lot of self-respect while I was with her, now I'm getting that back. I'm not really mourning over the loss, because there isn't any real loss.

Sounds like me again. I so wanted someone to spend time with, go out with, share with etc. that I just hung on despite everything, continually thinking that one day it would be how I wanted it to be. Blinded by my own optimism.

Just something like sharing a pizza with her is an unbelievably complex process. It has to be divided down a line of her choosing, and the parts clearly separated for easy identification. If I was very hungry and eager to start, I would offer some suggestions as to where the line of division might run. She would carefully consider my proposals and sometimes accept. This line of division often changed as we ate the slices. She would take a bit from 'my side', and jokingly I would point it out. Completely seriously and with an attitude that demonstrates that trouble is on it's way if I don't comply, she would inform me that the line of division has now changed. Sometimes, confused by the pointless complexity of it all, I would mistakenly take a bit from 'her side', and get a HEY!!!!! Not a humorous Hey! - a deadly serious Hey! The kind of Hey! that you would expect to be followed by 'What the hell do you think you're playing at?!!!!! It was like being with a six year old.

She's empty. There's no real depth to her. She's self-centred, unable to compromise.

if she came back to me and all those things I didn't like came with her, which of course they would, I'd probably start wondering whether I really wanted all that back again. The mind hangs on to the positive far more enthusiastically than the negative.

Dear Mark, Thank God that this saga is history. Learn from the lessons here: Deal with your own dependency traits and never again allow your hopes of "what might have been" to over ride the reality of what is. I agree with you. This lady is some sort of personality disorder, probably Narcissistic. And you were dependent enough to put up with it. Your Lesson: Trust the messages your body is trying to send you...

Good luck, and thank you for taking the time to write this.  Doc

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