Wednesday October 16, 2002
Hi Dr Irene, This is the second time I've posted here (check out page 8 :-) and things are going quite well now. Thanks to your advice and these web pages, I got out of a VA relationship a few months ago too! So THANK YOU Dr. Irene and the girls/guys from the Catbox too!! They're the best! Meanwhile I met somebody new 2 months ago (I know, its a bit soon perhaps :) and he seems really nice to me. But I can feel that I'm having trouble trusting him to stay that way. I noticed that I'm constantly questioning his behaviour, checking if there are any noticeable VA signs... Anyway, he has been treating me very well, but still there are some things that disturb me.
He is a very sensitive person and he has told me that he has been physically and verbally abused by his mother when he was little. His parents eventually divorced and he stayed (luckily) with his father after that. He does talk about his feelings to me and asks me to be honest with him, but the thing is when I tell him about a thing he does that bothers me, he immediately gets extremely defensive and starts telling me all sorts of things I did 'to him' and so I don't get the opportunity to work it out. This is sooo frustrating! I bet!
Afterwards he tells me he's sorry for acting like that and he says he is afraid of losing me. When I ask him why he refuses to discuss issues with me he says he "hates arguing" and "only tries to defend himself." I told him that there are better ways to discuss a difference and asked him to keep in mind I don't want to harm him, that I love him, but just want to avoid us bottling things up until its too late. He agreed. I said I was afraid acting this defensive could make minor issues turn out into huge fights, while that's what he’s so desperately trying to avoid! See if you two can agree to some constructive rules for sensitive talks ahead of time:
And last weekend this happened: we were at a party with friends of his, but both of us were not in a very good mood. I asked for a cola and instead his friend kept getting beers for me. I got so fed up with that, I emptied the drink on the floor while saying "No, I asked for a cola." Kim! My BF saw this and got mad, he asked me why I did that and I answered, but he just asked me again 3 more times! When I asked him why he was so angry, he rolled his eyes and looked away. This hurt! What did you expect? A second later he wanted to hug me He's redeemed himself but I pushed him away (because I was still feeling hurt and angry too now). Now you messed up because he didn't understand that nobody heard you - when you couldn't explained that to him in the heat of the moment. He looked shocked and in a reflex I ran away. After a few moments I came back, but I saw him and his friend heading for the exit. I ran up to him and gave him the money for the drink, because I assumed that was the problem. He looked at it and just took off walking to the car (a km further, I couldn't follow; I had to wait in line first to get my coat). I was so shocked that he left me there alone, that I started crying. Don't blame you. That was mean. He should have left and taken you with him, even if he wasn't talking to you.
His friend did come back to console me and called my BF back. He was still angry! When we got home we had a huge fight and he was again “defending” himself by accusing me of treating him badly. Treating him badly? You acted badly and may have embarrassed him, but otherwise, you each treated the other badly! I completely broke down and yelled and cried and after a while he started crying hysterically, saying he was sorry and did not mean to hurt me. Its a few days ago but I still feel a bit shaken. Could you please tell me if this is because of my previous experiences or is this really again a VA? I don't know. Both of you were acting like little kids. It's hard to tell what's going on when both partners misbehave. I would be extremely concerned if he hadn't come back - and had left you stranded.
I’m so confused. Of course you are! This is why throughout the site I talk about not acting out yourself. When at least one person is not misbehaving, what's going on is clearer. He has not shown any other signs of controlling and he is genuinely making an effort to win back my trust and I do care for him deeply. Is there anything I can do for him and how can I be sure what is best for me to do? Thanks for helping out. Kindest regards, Kim Kim, you are young and this is the type of kid stuff young people do. The best thing you can do for yourself is to work on not doing impulsive stuff that will later cause you to feel less OK about yourSelf. Same goes for him. Hang in there! Doc
I am in the process of divorcing my primarily verbally abusive husband
of 5 years- I say primarily because he has also done things to me that
I thought crossed the line into physical abuse; i.e.. raising his fist
to me and punching through the glass door between us, punching me (in
anger) but saying "it was just a light tap", and used other forms of
control-taking my cash, ATM card, car keys - saying its his car too but
leaving me stranded with 3 kids - stuff like that.
Not OK!!! "The last straw" incident with
him involved us arguing and him calling me a "stupid f----ing b-tch" in
front of the kids in the car. When he got out of the car to smoke a
cigarette I jumped in the driver's seat and took the kids to my
friend's. I was truly afraid of him. I phoned him to tell him I was at
a friend's and that the kids were safe - and asked him nicely to leave
the house as I wanted a separation and divorce. He refused to leave in
spite of the fact that my son had to go to school, I had to go to work
(I was presently supporting us) and he didn't etc. He said he would
leave "when he was ready in a few weeks." I got a temporary restraining
order which removed him from the house
Good for you!, but he completely denies
ever being abusive, is irate with me for "lying " to get a restraining
order. (I didn't lie, in my state you simply have to state that you
were in fear of someone, luckily!) He has filed for divorce, accusing
me of infidelity ( a complete lie to retaliate), and is trying to get
the house, the children, and alimony from me (I recently started a job
which tripled my income- at which time he made a unilateral decision to
quit his job). The only thing I've gotten from the judge so far is a
stern warning that if I am caught with a boyfriend I'll be in contempt
of court! Dr. Irene, I have 3 kids and am currently 6 months pregnant -
I have never even looked at another man since I got married! Now I feel
even more abused and frightened. How can I get through this, protect my
rights and my children? I have a very costly but reputable attorney,
and she is getting nowhere with his attorney. I know it is an
adversarial system, but his attorney is so charmed by him that she is
making it look like he is the victim! I need help. Was I wrong to get a
restraining order? NO!!! Should I pursue having it continued?
Are you afraid of him? How do I defend myself, its his word against mine - there are no witnesses or "evidence"?
"Evidence" is your restraining order. Do not let it
lapse, plus, according to what you just said, you are fearful of him even
now! But most of all, believe in yourSelf! Go on the offensive - he
sure has! This is no time to fight to defend your position. By
the way, you do have evidence: The Order and your friend, the one you
took the kids too, as well as the kids themselves. You are afraid that you
can't prove that he was abusive. Well, can he prove you have a boyfriend?
What proof does he have? Don't let him re-focus your case with allegations of a
boyfriend. Fill the space with allegations of abuse - which by the way, happen
to be true! My advice is that you shift your attitude from defensive to
offensive in all divorce areas. No more benefit of the doubt for him! And, if
your attorney is getting nowhere, at least get a consultation elsewhere. Find a
"shark," one with little conscience who thinks more like hubby does. At least
then you'll be on a more "even" platform. Fight fire with fire and may the force
be with you! Dr. Irene
Dear Doc Irene! Please sorry for my not so good English. I am a German gay guy of 31yo. Your site is very good! I couldn’t find something similar in german! It makes me think a lot about myself and my relationship. It makes me also sad because after reading your pages I have come to the conclusion that I was an emotional abuser at the beginning of the current relationship. I met my guy (now 40yo) almost 3 years ago. He was still in a relationship of 8 years then. And I just broke up with my BF after 5 years. So we both said we weren’t ready to commit already. At the beginning it was just a platonic relationship. I didn’t feel sexually passionate about him. We met each others more often as time passed. We also slept in the same bed without sex and enjoyed it. But after a while he became more demanding. He wanted to sleep with me. At the same time he broke up with his ex. Well he said so, but he was still seeing him often and I knew his guy was still suffering a lot because he gave him hope all the time. I didn’t want to have sex with him at this time. I just didn’t feel attracted. But I liked him very much and enjoyed being together with him. He was so charming and caring, well known in the City we live, he is a popular guest at every party and so on. (Today I would say I am a narcissistic person while he is more histrionic). I see now that I was very selfish then! I refused sex and any commitment but I wanted him to be around all the time. He never said to me that he loves me, or he never asked if I would like to be committed to him when I asked him. But I assumed that he loved me more than I did then. But he acted more and more jealous when I met other guys (and occasionally slept with them). He also was jealous without any reason sometimes. However I couldn’t commit to him and acted as I was a single man and enjoyed being together with him very much at the same time. (Of course deep inside I felt that I loved this man more than I would admit). I know he enjoyed our relationship most of the time as well (wouldn’t he otherwise have broken up with me by then?) Everybody thought we are a nice couple. We were at parties and invitations a lot and drug played a role as well when we went out together. He has a history of cocaine (ab?) use (he takes it about once a week). I was also taking drugs (ecstasy) and became somehow addicted to the party-world. We spent most of the time together. I slept in his house or vice versa. We even planed to move in together. Even though I still wasn’t ready for a commitment I felt like he was my soulmate and I wanted to stay together with him. I truly don’t know if he really wanted a committed relationship by then. He never asked me. It just looked like he was more ready than me because of his jealousy and because I did mean things to him and he always came back to me. I just wasn’t able to act respectful enough towards him! (I am very ashamed and feel guilty today that I emotionally abused him!) At the beginning of this year the situation changed dramatically! He met another guy and wanted to stay with him. All of a sudden there were no more sleepovers, no more security no more warmth no more nothing. I fell in a deep depression by then. I am still taking an antidepressant. We almost had not contact then. And if, it was me that initiated it. It was then I was realising I lived in a lie! I realised how much I love this guy! I realised what all this drugs did to me, that I abused him emotionally, that I was selfish and mean at times. I felt very guilty and ashamed that I even had suicidal thoughts. At work I had to delay studies that would have been important to my career. I became more and more a mess and my life went down. I started therapy. After two month my friend broke up with the other guy. He started calling me again and also asked me to stay over night and so on. But he always said he didn’t want to commit to me, that it was over. Well I slept with him (my sexual feelings for him awakened more and more!) and we had a good time together when we met. But during therapy I realised that I wanted more, that I wanted to commit to him because I obviously really loved him! I wanted to stop the drugs (which I did) and I wanted to do something for my career. After month of this yo-yo relationship I can’t anymore. I am again in a deep depression. He wants to spend time together with me, he even says he loves me, but he doesn’t want to commit. He also says he wants to be open for other guys (he already slept with other guys) and he wants to enjoy his life, his parties and so on as a free man. I am doing everything for him right now. When he calls I’ll be there. I prepare breakfast and do stuff I never did at the beginning of the relationship. But he can’t accept the fact that I want to change my life and my abusive behaviour. He says: “I know you, you won’t change, you are just doing this to win me back”. Whatever I do, he won’t appreciate it. I asked him if he would come to couple counseling with me, but he refuses because he thinks it won’t help and because he thinks it is too expensive (He isn’t a poor man!). Till now I am stuck in this! Now I am the victim (or dependent?) and he is the abuser. I just don’t know what to do! I love this man deeply, really (also there might be pathological traits right now). I try to find out about myself in therapy. I want to change my life because I realised I lied to me. I want to get more involved in my career again (I lost my job this summer because of my depression!). But it doesn’t work. I am sitting around and think about our relationship all the time. I can’t be with him, because he doesn’t want to commit and I can’t be without him. I can’t leave him because I am so afraid of losing him and because I still feel so guilty that I treated him bad at the beginning of our time together. He doesn't let me go (“if you leave me completely you are selfish again, you know how much you I love you”, he says). I can’t enjoy the time being together with him anymore, because I always have to be prepared that he leaves me, once he found the right guy. I can’t dream of a future with him, because he doesn’t allow it (“we live now, don’t think about the future, not even about tomorrow”, he says). That’s what is hurting me the most. I can’t live in an uncommitted relationship anymore with the man I truly love! Sorry this was long because of the language problems. Thanks a lot! Pat
Oh dear Pat, what a mess! First things first: He's not worth it! Nobody is that important! Please march yourself into your doctors office and get yourself evaluated for antidepressant or appropriate therapy. Get off the street drugs and get a handle! So you were too tough to appreciate that you had mushy feelings for him, but now you understand how you feel. That's good. Now, all you can do is let him know how you feel - and leave the situation altogether if he won't "allow" any relationship to take place. Hanging around him only makes your own life more difficult and is likely to increase your feelings of depression. You can live without him and you can be HAPPY without him! Get a handle on your depression via meds and counseling and focus on the things that are important to you as an individual: your career, your health, your home, your finances, etc. Kick the destructive party circuit for the time being and strive to become the best you you can possibly be. If you are important to him, he'll come looking for you. If he doesn't, you've lost nothing (since you never had him anyway) and you've gained back yourSelf - and your self-esteem! Good luck to you, Doc.
Am I turning into a monster? I have been seeing a man for a year. In the beginning it was good. He was kind, caring, willing. Soon, he started with the insults (he told me I was too sensitive, couldn’t take the truth). Hated my smell, my body, my mind, even my dreams are crazy. Gee, if you're soooo awful, why does he want to be around you? Although he has always been willing to eat my food, have me do his errands, clean his house, his laundry, I'm never invited to be part of his gang. Given how this guy treats you, why would you want to be around him and his gang? Then there is the sex or lack of it. Early on he told me all he could endure was anal sex, and to give him his b*s. I am never kissed, touched, hugged. Hmmm, you don't sound too happy about this. (He and gang are drinkers and drug users; I don’t do drugs, and am a poor drinker Good for you!). If I talk to his friends, I am sleeping with them, if they kiss me on the cheek I am having sex with them. I tell him I need more, I need affection, and I want to be with him. So I turn into a monster: I scream, I insult, I rage, I slam doors, act like a fool in front of his friends. I disrespect him. He hates me. Sounds like a wonderful relationship... :( I did a terrible thing last month. He left me in a bar one night because I gave a ride home to one of his stoned, drunk friends at the urging of his other friends. When I got back and found him gone, I stayed. I drank, I ended up kissing some guy and giving him a ride home (never had sex with the guy). Now I am convicted. I am a whore. His friends want my number. I am mortified. I apologize, say it is my entire fault. Try to make it up. Why? I create the psychodramas to get attention to try to force a change; his friends think I am evil (I don’t think I am evil). I called it off. I can’t do it anymore; it is messing me up. Good! Am I a monster? Can you give me some clarity? Your body is trying to talk to you and give you clarity - and you're not listening: you are clearly unhappy with this guy, and you are extremely unhappy with the person you become when you hang around with him! I certainly don't think you are a monster, but the way you behave around this guy can be monsterous. The good news is that you are not your behavior! Behavior is a choice, and you can choose not to put yourSelf in destructive relationships that drag you down. He certainly knows how to push your buttons, and you react with behavior that diminishes your integrity and self-respect! Why do that to yourSelf? This is way too high a price to pay for a boyfriend... You are entirely correct in your recognition that this relationship is messing you up. It is. Stick with your decision to call it quits, even when you feel compelled to go back (and you will at times find yourself wanting to go back for one reason or another). Stay away! Stay away, behave in ways that help you regain your self respect - and, when you're ready, find a guy who respects you! Good luck! Dr. Irene
Dr. Irene, I've been married to my husband for 10 years & we have one child. He is very charming & fun to be around except when he doesn't get his way, then he throws a tantrum saying hateful things to me that aren't even true to try to control me. It started when we were dating. We went to my prom & the day of on our way he acted like he didn't want to go, so he acted mean to me the entire time we were there. I guess he didn't feel comfortable around people he didn't know. So he said it's time to go & we weren't there an hour! I didn't want to but we left. We were 80 miles from home and he drove as fast as the car would go. I thought I was going to die! He stopped down the road from his home where there were no houses, I thought he was going to kill me - so I ran toward his house. He caught me & slapped me across the face. When we got to his house I woke his mother and told her. She looked at my face & just said I don't see a mark. So I went home and told my mom, my dad confronted him & told him not to lay a hand on me again or he'd wish he hadn't. My dad said he still liked him as a person. I loved him & forgave him. During our marriage he has not been physically abusive anymore, but we have holes in our walls & doors, he has torn the house apart, let the air out of my tires, taken the phone & left me stranded so I couldn't call anyone. He used to threaten to kill himself. He acted like he took lots of pain pills & was laying on the floor like he was in pain. I quietly called an ambulance; he was mad at me but hasn't done that again. But now I don't know what to do. He has ruined my credit - would say he will pay the bill - I believed him & he didn't. Mismanages money to the point I can't have him on my account or he will bounce checks. He blows his paychecks or pays bills that are not as important as house pay., elect., phone. And if I don't pay them it will be cut off! Then this makes it to where I can't buy things we need, etc. He will not stick to a budget. I can't even afford a divorce & I don't really want it to come to that anyway. We didn't have this problem when he had a better paying job, which he quit without saving anything for while he was looking for another one. We are getting further behind and I don't want to loose my house. He said if I divorce him I will not get ANY money. What to do? Well, that depends on what you want to do. From a legal perspective in terms of what you will or won't get, I can't comment. Emotionally you are saying that you want to find a way to encourage him to become more financially responsible, so you can stay together and keep a roof over your family's head. Unfortunately, you have no control over his sense of responsibility, so keep in mind that if you remain married to him, you have chosen to keep yourSelf at risk of bearing his financial burdens.
With that said, since he did respond well when you let him face the natural consequences of appearing to overdose (the ambulance call), why not use that strategy again? Let the electric and the phone, etc. be cut off. Absolutely refuse to pay the expenses the two of you have agreed he would pay. Yes, I know, you'll probably have to suffer along with him, but he is your husband. Perhaps you and your child can quietly arrange to stay with a friend or relative for a little while until normal services are restored - and don't invite him along. Maybe he'll "get it."
Certainly don't make the same mistake of believing any promises to pay bills; the proof is in the pudding. If you keep bailing him out, rest assured that he'll continue misbehaving. You may also want to consider getting his name off all of your credit cards, but please consult with an attorney regarding how/if you can reduce your liability for his spending sprees.
I'm sorry there are no magic answers... Good luck, Doc.