Why aren't I furious about how this man treated me?
December 6, 2015 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I was seeing a dude off and on for several months. We really liked each other (or so I thought), but I ended things because he snapped at me a few times. This was followed by a couple heated declarations of "feelings" on his end ... but while the passionate displays were flattering, he never backed them up with action--so I faded away. Tonight, we ran into each other at a bar.

Actually, we ran into each other a couple weeks ago, when we turned out to be enrolled in the same 6-week workshop. (We originally met through a shared hobby.) I ignored the "It was great to see you" text he sent immediately after the first class, and then decided to drop the seminar entirely in order to keep a healthy distance.

When we encountered each other at the bar tonight after a friend's show, he picked me up from behind, poked my waist, and later ruffled my hair with both of his hands. Then he asked me if why I was wearing my new glasses "in public." When I didn't seem enthusiastic about continuing the conversation, he said: "I'm sorry that I'm not attracted to you anymore, Erin. But, you know, it's been months!" (!!!)

When I left the bar 20 minutes later, he followed me out and tried to initiate charming banter. WTF?

My question isn't about how to deal with this guy, because the answer is to stay as far away as possible. But I'm very alarmed by the lack of anger I feel over how he disrespected me both tonight and when we were dating. I consider myself to have decent self-esteem. But it's like my brain keeps ruminating on why this guy is behaving like this, and I still have concern and affection for him besides having set the necessary boundaries. (I felt a connection.) Is unhealthy to feel this way? Is it indicative of a possible attachment disorder on my end?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Generally I would say disorders are about actions and consequences. You seem to be taking the right actions with regard to this guy. You did not mention any serious consequences of "disordered" attachment to this guy or anyone else. Based on what you've written, I would say that you do not have an attachment disorder.
posted by brevator at 7:22 AM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, I think not being angry is healthy. You nothing him. He's a joker and a clown, and he's so yesterday.

But it seems natural to puzzle over why someone would act so weird, and what motivates that weird behavior. I think you realize you don't know him and eventually you'll just have to be okay with realizing you can't always get why people do weird stuff or behave bizarrely.
posted by discopolo at 7:25 AM on December 6, 2015 [31 favorites]


In similar situations I've found that it takes me some time to recognize the anger - like, months or years. You're doing the right things (ick, bad boundaries guy), and I know it's hard to stop ruminating, but don't think because anger is not at the top of the heap of emotions that it's not there. It will probably come in retrospect.
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on December 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


Eh. The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. It's clear he's got issues, you've already declined the opportunity to have a front-row seat at his issuefest. Mild perplexity seems like just the right response. I think you're fine.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:26 AM on December 6, 2015 [101 favorites]


Also I would guess this clown wants to believe you're into him so he can get an ego boost. And he senses you aren't into him so he's insulted and playing pretend/being a clown. He just really wants to pretend you care and he's trying to get you to care by being flirty so he can turn you down. Basically he's just a loser.
posted by discopolo at 7:30 AM on December 6, 2015 [42 favorites]


Anger generally comes from hurt. It sounds like you don't care enough about him to be hurt by him.
posted by bunderful at 7:38 AM on December 6, 2015 [33 favorites]


I think your response makes a lot of sense. That is, he isn't important enough to be angered by.

What would bother me most if I were you is that he picked you up, poked you (?!), and ruffled your hair. He doesn't have the right to touch you. If you see him again and he tries to touch you, I'd tell him to take his hands off and never talk to you again.

Another important point: as women, we're trained to try to understand men's motivations. Men are the smart ones after all, and he must have had a good reason (gag). I think the fact that you are wondering why is just part of how you've been trained to wonder about and accommodate men's motivations, even when they are not important.
posted by 3491again at 7:59 AM on December 6, 2015 [31 favorites]


I think discoplo has it -- the weird behavior is a defense mechanism from the loss of face of your not liking him (I'm not defending his behavior in any way--he sounds awful--but to the extent you're looking for explanations to why he'd say something as weird as that, I think that's it).
posted by AwkwardPause at 8:05 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


If, on some level, you think this guy is just sort of like this and not playing games with you, it's totally possible to be charmed by awkward and annoying but genuine behavior while at the same time not actually wanting to have anything to do with it.

It's not necessarily a bad thing to have a few tricksters in your life, people who are more id than ego or who tweak the rules, so long as they don't actually cause real harm.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:10 AM on December 6, 2015


Honestly, he sounds really angry. He likes to trample your boundaries ("Dont respond to my text message? Ok, I'll invade your personal space".) No need to be mad, but I would be careful.
posted by jessca84 at 8:23 AM on December 6, 2015 [19 favorites]


Jessca84 is right. Reading about him gives me the creeps too. I think your brain is sending you some warranted alarms. Sometimes fear creates this slowed down seeming calm. Steer entirely clear of him -- including telling him you want nothing more to do with him if you see him -- and take care. You may want to read The Gift of Fear.
posted by bearwife at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'd suggest because you don't care enough about him or his behaviour to be angry. Having said that, be careful, something about what he's doing rings a few small warning bells for me. His I am not attracted to you but will follow you when you leave schtick isn't cute, it's worrying.

You don't have to be angry to defend your boundaries, make sure you do however.
posted by wwax at 8:46 AM on December 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


But it's like my brain keeps ruminating on why this guy is behaving like this, and I still have concern and affection for him besides having set the necessary boundaries. (I felt a connection.) Is unhealthy to feel this way? Is it indicative of a possible attachment disorder on my end?

Yes, it's unhealthy, but it's also typical. This guy is negging you and using kino and other pick up artist techniques to manufacture doubt and insecurity in you to get in your pants. Read up more about PUA shit.

He's a creep. Please stay away.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2015 [31 favorites]


It sounds like he's upset that you weren't that into him and doesn't know what to do with those emotions. I don't think you cared enough to get upset, hence the lack of anger?

I would be probably more angry about him acting like an obnoxious douche canoe at the bar and that he was projecting his unlabeled feelings on you by telling you how you should feel ("I'm sorry you aren't attracted to me" - WTF).

It really sounds like you missed the one way train ride to crazytown.
posted by floweredfish at 8:50 AM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


you seem to be mixing up being angry with moral judgements. but they aren't quite the same. being angry can be useful if you want to be energised about something. but it can also be pretty exhausting.

so if there's nothing that needs doing, then maybe it's a blessing to not be angry.

that doesn't mean his behaviour has to be ok or correct, or that you are approving him. people can be wrong without making you angry. in fact, if someone is wrong, and you can recognise that, and calmly get some space, and just walk away, that's a pretty good place to be. at least, i wish i could do it more often.
posted by andrewcooke at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I would venture that it's because you ARE okay and don't have an unhealthy attachment that you feel so puzzled and even concerned about his behavior. Because from the outside and at internet distance, he sounds weird and intrusive and controlling and a little gross (I agree on the hurt manfeelings + negging thing people mentioned).

If someone did these things to one of my friends, I'd be very angry, but if someone did that to me, I'd be confused, like you are. You seem aware of that dissonance since you think you should be angry. But if you're not, that's okay too, as long as you stay safe and secure from this sad little joke of a man.
posted by automatic cabinet at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would think that not being angry as protective - you don't need to put any energy into this guy and you don't know how he would react if you were angry and expressed it to him. You need to Just stay as far away as possible.

This is not your fault.

You may want to look into why you found him attractive because this post goes into red flagville.

I would start not looking at these meetings as coincidence. Unless you live in a small town.

Be safe.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:31 AM on December 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sometimes the purpose of anger is to give you the energy to do what you need to do. And since you're already doing what you need to do (i.e., you've already cut this guy out of your life), then...you don't need that extra energy.

It's also possible that in a couple years you could suddenly get angry about him out of nowhere. That could just be a sign that some part of you deep down has finished "processing" the experience of being with him and is finally reacting.

You're doing all the right things to keep yourself safe. As long as you're doing that, then feelings are just feelings and they'll be whatever they are.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


He is just shallow, a little less than competent, and reading from some playbook. It might be he comes from the school he puts himself out to be trapped by a wily female who can figure out a role for him in her life. So he is always open for the business of finding a permanent handler.

He sounds like a kinesthetic sort, you might be more balanced. You did miss the crazy train on this, but at times I wonder if the crazy train is the life train, and some poeple are better at finding the choice stops.
posted by Oyéah at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Would you be angry at a three year old for telling you you're a meanie poopy pants?

This is equivalent.

He very obviously has control issues up the wazoo and is playing games, possibly inspired by PUA, possibly just his own idiocy. He's writing a story starring himself, it has nothing to do with you whatsoever and perhaps you realize this. The authentic you probably never penetrated his fog of delusion enough, so you're just a placeholder archetype to him.
posted by quincunx at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


It sounds like you are done with his drama and this dude was working overtime trying to provoke a reaction. Your actions seem entirely healthy!

People who run on drama can initially be exciting and engaging but then certain patterns emerge. They seem to go for buttons, etc. It sounds like you recognized this and noped out. And all he's got in the toolbox is button pushing so he's still trying.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:04 AM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Often, when men are abusive toward women, women blame themselves. This sounds like what's happening. He's being abusive, and you're blaming yourself.

Looks like there are only positive consequences for him for crossing your boundaries. While the best thing for you to do is probably to just avoid him, the best thing for civilization is to legally punish him for being abusive. Good luck.
posted by sninctown at 11:08 AM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Attachment disorder? No. Absolutely not. Read up about what a real attachment disorder is. Watch the documentary Child of Rage (on YouTube) for a sense. Lots of women get sucked in by charming jerks - this is how they get their emotional kicks. Sure you felt something, they are masters of pulling strings. Still liking him even tho he's a jerk, well, you're human and you approached him sincerely and not playing games.

You may have intimacy issues if you only date unavailable jerks, but again that does not immediately point to an attachment disorder.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think anger often serves a defensive function and is based in either fear (e.g., that you'll become re-entangled) or hurt (e.g., the sense that maybe you deserve it).

Since you reflexively do a good job of protecting yourself, it makes sense that you wouldn't feel particularly vulnerable, hurt, or angry -- just curious and confused.

In other words it sounds like you're thinking "whatever on earth makes him think he could treat me that way?" since you know he can't, rather than "he can't treat me that way!!!" to shout down the quiet doubt of "(...can he?)."
posted by salvia at 1:34 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're not angry with him because he didn't punch you in the face, but his actions still stem from the same place: "you rejected me, and now I'm going to try to control you physically and mentally."

That it's "lighthearted" and not an overt display of aggression is what makes it confusing and weird, and something for you to ruminate on because it's not really "that bad".

He's not really someone you can trust - he doesn't need to be the world's worst person for that to happen - as others have said, you have to be careful around him because HE'S the one who is angry here.
posted by heyjude at 2:00 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why aren't I furious about how this man treated me?

Sounds like PUA manoeuvres working on you, to me.

PUA is treated as a laughable non-issue on MeFi, but it's basically a gendered brain/body hack and being aware of it doesn't necessarily render you immune.

It's like being conned, which generally uses the physical response to greed to shortcircuit your thinking; unless you've been conned then you probably don't appreciate how easy it is for that kind of thing to work on you.

And no you don't have an 'attachment disorder'.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:30 PM on December 6, 2015


I don't think you have an attachment disorder. I have a very different interpretation of your lack of anger. He is dangerous, shows no evidence of respecting basic boundaries and you subconsciously recognise this. Your lack of anger is a very canny response towards not provoking him further, since it would give him an excuse to escalate and increase the chance that he will do something worse. If he gets bored with you he may move on to someone else eventually.

Please do not underestimate the situation. I think you are handling it well but my hackles are well and truly raised. He is not an innocent prankster, he is deliberately baiting you, trying to keep you right where he can continue to (at best) annoy you or (worse) escalate further.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:38 PM on December 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


And yeah, read The Gift of Fear.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2015


When we encountered each other at the bar tonight after a friend's show, he picked me up from behind, poked my waist, and later ruffled my hair with both of his hands. Then he asked me if why I was wearing my new glasses "in public." When I didn't seem enthusiastic about continuing the conversation, he said: "I'm sorry that I'm not attracted to you anymore, Erin. But, you know, it's been months!" (!!!)

It's not abuse, it's not stalking. He is negging you. Your brain tells you it shouldn't work, but it does (hopefully not any more now you are aware of it). It's unpleasant and manipulative behaviour imo.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:16 PM on December 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


All the people saying this is PUA and negging are right on target. This type of manipulation is designed specifically to keep you ruminating on him. That's how these guys intend for it to work. They are not out to woo you, the reaction they expect from you is to be fascinated by them, wonder why you aren't "good enough" to be wooed, and basically chase them.
I suspect you are being intentionally manipulated.
posted by Knowyournuts at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


He's negging you AND using "kino" -- touching you inappropriately and in a way that steps outside normal social boundaries, as a manipulative way to get you to lower your own boundaries. It's PUA garbage. You're ruminating because you recognize unpleasant manipulation. However, you're not "angry" because you can see through it and you feel kind of sorry for him, is my guess. Feel a little bit sorry for yourself also, that you ran into a PUA in the wild, and move on. There's no need to waste anger on him. Just avoid him like you would avoid white supremacists, ultra right wing republicans, con artists who target old ladies, or anyone else who's a dreg of society.
posted by omg_parrots at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you dumped him, you've been avoiding him, and it sounds like you have some (justifiable, imo) curiosity about what the heck might be going on in his head. It sounds like they've answered that above, so now you can put your curiosity away, realize that you're fine, and go right back to him not existing in your life.

Seriously, it's not worth anger. Heck, I just broke up with the person I've been living with for eight years, and while really, it IS him that's the problem, it isn't worth the anger or the arguing it would take to tell him so - and all it would do is give him fodder for trying to "fix" things. And I'm not interested.

And neither are you. And that's a perfectly healthy way to feel.
Now, if you continue running into him and his behavior escalates... deal with it. Still no need for anger, just plain deal with it like you're taking out the trash - boring, necessary, and just plain done.
posted by stormyteal at 5:59 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


You didn't get angry because you are over him. You aren't required to be angry just because someone wronged you; it rarely helps anyway, I find. As long as you are behaving properly (and it sounds like you are) you are allowed to feel or not feel pretty much whatever you like. Anger would have been understandable, but so is the indifference you say you feel. Congratulate yourself for remaining calm and collected, and move forward with your plan to avoid this guy in the future.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:16 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nthing the idea that there's nothing at all wrong with you not feeling angry with this drip; additionally, I would like to highlight and underline the fact that it is not okay for him to touch you the way he was. That was disrespectful. If he pulls anything like that again I would suggest calmly (and indifferently as you can muster - you're brushing dirt from your coat) telling him he needs to not touch you again. End of discussion, and feel free to go back to whatever you were doing before you were so rudely interrupted. Repeat when he whines that he was just playing - he needs to not touch you again. You owe him no explanation as to why.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:06 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


As others have said, it's manipulation, but I just want to say this. If you have healthy self esteem, the natural response to being disrepected is to demand respect. That's the manipulation. If you want him to treat you with respect, then you want something from him.
posted by cotterpin at 2:39 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you have healthy self esteem, the natural response to being disrepected is to demand respect.

Or to walk away when you recognize the person's unlikely to treat you respectfully, without getting caught up in the manipulative bullshit, which is what it sounds like you did.

If you haven't yet read about PUA and kino (that one was new to me), I suspect that checking out some websites about them (especially kino) are likely to answer your questions about why he did what he did, which may let you set those questions aside, too. (And might also trigger that anger and/or disgust you're wondering about.)
posted by jaguar at 7:13 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's possible he's coming from a place of PUA methodology when it comes to dating, but... it's possible he's just a really emotionally volatile jerk. People who have a healthy self-image don't insult others into praising them.

If you feel affection, that's fine -- feelings don't dissipate overnight, even when someone isn't really worth the time. You don't feel anger because you didn't take these things that personally. You're concerned because he's acting in an unhealthy way! He's messed up! That's human.
posted by mikeh at 7:38 AM on December 7, 2015


My question isn't about how to deal with this guy, because the answer is to stay as far away as possible.

Some people aren't able to do this unless they get wound up with anger first.

It's not a problem that you are able to take sensible actions without anger.

Much of the time anger prevents people from being able to make these calm choices that would lead to a better outcome. You can't stay far away from someone if you are confronting them out of anger.
posted by yohko at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2015


...he picked me up from behind, poked my waist, and later ruffled my hair with both of his hands.

WTF? I would have told him loudly to keep his damn hands off of me.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:02 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


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