My personality needs a review! It's getting out of control! Help please!
October 31, 2009 9:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm scared of what my personality is coming to be. I recently broke up with my wife that I love but had no passion (kissing) with (2.5 yrs). I feel like I've controlled her a lot, do not want her to express a lot of her own self because I am very meticulous and strategic about my words, how I talk, how I present myself, etc. I think that's the same thing that happened with my ex girlfriend of two years. They love me for who I am, I'm a fun loving guy, good looking, good personality, morals, understanding, extremely caring, etc, but I'm wayyy too much of a presence and seemingly controlling to my loved ones.

My dad has been away from home for about 20 years seeing his kids and wife once or twice a year. He recently retired and is back with mom and my siblings (I'm away from them). My mom says he has been trying to take over on how the house is being run and is controlling her ways and words, and how she interacts with others, etc .. in turn driving my mom wild.

I'm an extrovert when I have to be, and I usually don't go out partying etc even though I'm in my late twenties, and very much involved with what I do. My mom was saying since my dad has been back, he hasn't gotten the want to step out of the house and go places, etc.

This is kind of scary as it looks like I'm turning into my dad and I'm seeing through my mom how bad it could get. I don't know what else I should say.. I am seriously getting scared that I will turn into something that I don't want to turn into. I need help and I don't know what to do to turn myself around.. but I think if I wait any longer, my personality would get hard coded and could never be changed, like my dad.

I also have this "I am right", and "Listen to me", attitude that my wife didn't like.

Do you know what I'm talking about? If yes, please help!
posted by Vandal to Human Relations (46 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you already know what is wrong. I don't know what to tell you other than stop it.
posted by wv kay in ga at 9:21 PM on October 31, 2009

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 PM on October 31, 2009 [10 favorites]

If you need helping exploring and changing aspects of your personality, and examining your childhood in the process, you are the perfect, textbook candidate for therapy. Which, frankly, sounds like a very good idea.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:42 PM on October 31, 2009 [6 favorites]

You already have an idea of what is wrong with you and a possible candidate for why. The next step towards changing it is a therapist or group therapy of some kind.
posted by itsonreserve at 9:47 PM on October 31, 2009

Everyone finds a different way to exert some control over this chaotic universe. You take the most direct approach, it sounds like: You boss people around. You feel, at some root level, that if people do what you demand they do your world will make sense to you.

It sounds like you, paradoxically, don't feel that you can control your own thoughts. Most healthy people I know tend to process their need for control as self-control, which allows them to shift internally to the circumstances of their life. You sound very brittle inside; you fear you'll break if you have to adjust to changes.

You need to invert these psychological routines you have. You need to appreciate people as they are, and have a more solid grip on your own steering wheel. That is, you should let people be and just adjust your responses to them. Learn to tack into the wind instead of trying to curse the wind into blowing behind you.

Two things will, I think, help you some. For one, try some combination of therapy and meditation so you can establish the mental routines that let you direct your responses to the world. You should be able to see and acknowledge your own mind at work and drift towards the responses that are the most helpful. You should be able to talk yourself into a healthy response to the world.

For another, try to do some activity that involves appreciation of others. Giving yourself up to art and music, just as an audience, helps. Load up some music that takes concentration and practice letting it guide you without you protesting. Better still: Collaborate on something creative and involved, and demand of yourself that you give others a space in which to do their best without your micromanagement. Yielding trust to others is a deep and powerful sensation and you'll learn to love it.
posted by argybarg at 9:50 PM on October 31, 2009 [14 favorites]

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 PM on October 31 [+] [!]

Not helpful.
posted by jayder at 9:54 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]

Self-reflection is a good start. Therapy is the next step.
posted by gnutron at 10:02 PM on October 31, 2009

Therapy is a good place to go to express these thoughts and reflect on how you are living your life. I would also recommend you start a journal and each day you use it for further reflection, that way, you'll have a outlet to focus on the element of your personality that you are working on.
posted by paperzach at 10:41 PM on October 31, 2009

To elaborate on the self reflection suggestions - Vandal, perhaps it might help if you didn't feel you were so much running away from something (turning into your father), as consciously blossoming into something (the type of person you want to be).

Your question is all about who you don't want to be, and not very much about how you do want to be. For example, I have a friend whose father was a yeller, and he decided he 'didn't want to yell', only to find that wasn't sufficient. 'Not yelling' is not the same as 'communicating well'. When he started to think about how he wanted to behave when he got angry, and realized he was all tripped because he was really rigid about how he wanted not only to behave, but how he wanted to feel, which was 'not angry', even at things that made him angry. In addition, he wanted to not feel like yelling when he felt angry. And he didn't want to 'be like his father', to boot. That was what he didn't want.

I think self reflection/ therapy helping him focus on what he did want, and why turning into his dad was such a trigger for him. (I seem to remember that he felt a good deal of relief when his therapist pointed out to him that technically speaking, he really couldn't ever 'turn into' his father even if he wanted to, because he had a different life experience, several different genes, and choice about how to live his life). In the end, I think he realized what he wanted to do was recognize and accept how he felt, and the appreciate that he had a choice on how he behaved. He said that therapy was helpful in sorting out what he could and could not control (What he could control was his behavior - what he couldn't control - what no one could control - was how he was raised [in a yelling-friendly family], and how he felt). That was the type of person he wanted to become, and I think that conscious effort to move towards something, rather than flee from something he feared was a good reframing for him.

Your comments about 'turning into your dad' just brought that back to me.

Hope this helps.
posted by anitanita at 10:46 PM on October 31, 2009 [12 favorites]

A quick thought: therapy might or might not help you change your tendency to dominate, but rather help you rechannel it into healthy and productive activities. A dominant personality alone need not be a bad thing if it's expressed appropriately. So don't feel like this is a long-term tragedy, or that you don't have the power to change it, or (most importantly for you, I suspect) that if you go to a therapist they're going to absolutely neuter your need to feel in control of certain things.
posted by davejay at 10:51 PM on October 31, 2009

anitanita's point is excellent. I was a political activist for many years, and we always had a saying: "you win over more people by saying what you're for rather than just what you're against."

Definitely take some time to consider the kind of positive qualities you'd like to cultivate, and the kind of person you'd like to be, both to yourself and others. (Therapy will be extremely useful in this regard, but you can also get started simply by thoughtful, humble contemplation.) If your main concern is that you don't want to be too controlling, for example, does that mean you want to be more easy-going, more patient, more tolerant of differences, more able to see multiple points of view, more empathetic in general? When you look at what you want to become as much as what you want to leave behind, by definition you'll be able to measure your progress in a positive rather than negative way (e.g., "today I was more willing to let my coworker do the task her way" rather than "today I didn't snap at someone.").

Good luck.
posted by scody at 11:17 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]

So is it that you are very concerned about what other people think of you, and feel you have to be perfect at all times, or else others will disapprove? And you are afraid others will disapprove of your wife's behavior, and it will reflect badly on you, so you have to tell her how to behave? Maybe you learned that because your father treated you the same way?
posted by citron at 11:20 PM on October 31, 2009

Can you provide specific examples of where you think you are right and the others are wrong?

If it is an objective issue (like 2 + 2 = 4 or the empire state building is x meters high) and the others still battle you, then its clear that you are right.

If it is a subjective issue (like that movie was good, that color is nice) then its clear that anyone is permitted to have their opinion.

And I believe there is a difference between letting people be who they are versus voicing your opinion when there is a dysfunctional situation.

If your mom runs the house and its a dysfunctional chaos, maybe your father does have valid concerns.

If you are surrounded by dysfunctional people, I don't believe that you have to accept their behavior. Alcoholic, self-destructive, etc..

Maybe they should listen to you for their own benefit.

On the other hand, if you are controlling them for petty things, then its good to reflect on why or get help.

You say that you prevent your wife from expressing herself. How exactly do you do that? Do you tell her to be quiet? Even if she is "wrong", she should be permitted to discuss something with you.
posted by simpleton at 11:47 PM on October 31, 2009 [3 favorites]

You sound alot like a person I am married to. It's been 18 years and sometimes I have to throw down on the mat with the "bossy-ness", or whatever you will call it.
I advise to back off a little, if you don't you may drive them away (most people will get tired of your "I'm running the Pentagon!" routine). I have been close to being driven away myself. I think he would be sorry and so would I. Bite your tongue once in awhile. I agree that therapy would be helpful, too.
posted by bebrave! at 1:01 AM on November 1, 2009

You may fit the bill for a narcissist - The Symptoms of Narcissist Personality Disorder
posted by watercarrier at 1:51 AM on November 1, 2009

In case you haven't read it enough yet - just in case - therapy, therapy, therapy.

Find a therapist who you feel works with you. That doesn't mean the sessions won't make you uncomfortable - like physical therapy, you will probably leave them achy & exhausted. That just means you're working areas that need it. But don't assume that, if the first or second therapist feels like an incompetent, or is inconsiderate, that the whole profession is malarkey. Millions of people worldwide get essential help with their mental wellbeing problems from therapists.

Mental health is about having productive coping mechanisms to deal with life's inevitable upsets. If your coping mechanisms are driving loved ones away, or preventing you from closeness to them (and both are true, according to what I'm reading), you need to man up & work HARD to fix them.

Best of luck. It's not an easy path. But it's the right one.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:21 AM on November 1, 2009

Are there people you meet that you aren't like this with? If you can remember or imagine an experience where you aren't bossy, maybe you can work out what's the difference in the way you interact, and how it comes about.

Are you bossy to your boss?

I'm also naturally bossy (watch me compulsively tell people what I think they should do on Ask Metafilter!). Sometimes I catch myself being more bossy than I like. One of the ways I control this is by NOT dating people who are younger, less experienced or less confident than I am. Those people bring my bossy side right out, which is fine sometimes but not (for me) in a relationship. My partner is just as bossy and arrogant as I am, he's always willing to tell me when he think's I'm wrong, and the whole thing settles down into an equitable sort of dynamic, where we switch up who's in charge fairly flexibly depending on the situation.

Another bossy person I know ended up with someone who isn't confident making decisions and doesn't often succeed in communicating her point of view; as a result, only one person in that relationship ever gets what they want, and the whole thing appears kind of self-destructive for both of them.

The only time I really am in a situation that brings out my bossy side is teaching; and that's a controlled environment for a limited time, where it's really easy afterwards to review what I did, and think through what I could have done better.
posted by emilyw at 1:29 AM on November 1, 2009

You have already made a great start by:
- reflecting upon yourself
- admitting that there are parts of your personality that you don't like
- drawing a comparison between your behaviour and your father's behaviour
- deciding that you want to change what you don't like and improve yourself
- deciding you would like to be less selfish and more caring

Really, well done! A lot of people don't get anywhere near thoughts these honest. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about the whole 'hard-coded' personality thing. It is never too late to become more self-aware, and if you know what you want to change about yourself, then you will find a way. I have gone through a similar process recently, and I compared myself to my father just like you did. I'm very happy to say that I have progressed leaps and bounds since then, and I now consider myself a much more stable, selfless, likeable person than I was at the start of the year. I no longer look in the mirror and hate what I see, and I no longer see my father.

Here is my recommendation to you: continue to reflect upon yourself. Continue to be brave in admitting things that may feel shameful. Just bringing out something you may have pushed into the dark and saying it, grounding it with words, is immensely helpful. It doesn't make any of your imperfections go away, but it does let you look at them from a distance.

So keep thinking, and work out as much as you can about who you are now, what you don't like about yourself, and what you'd like to change. And then go to your wife and tell her everything. And apologise. And ask her what she thinks. And tell her you want to treat her better. And tell her that you don't want to be your father. And watch as everything opens up and becomes so much better.
posted by schmichael at 1:55 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

First, it's great that you can see and take ownership of this issue (a fact that arguably runs counter to the idea put forth about Narcissism.)

It's been said a few different ways above, but basically it seems likely that this overassertiveness in relationships stems from something you fundamentally are afraid of, and it's essential that you learn better ways to cope with that fear.

It's also worth noting that you likely chose and were able to develop relationships with your wife and ex because they are the type of people who would allow their mate to be overbearing. (Perhaps even that's why you weren't able to be passionate with your wife - you didn't respect her?) Getting beyond this means more than improving just how you conduct yourself in relationships, but probably also how well you choose them.

So, what to do?

1. Look at ALL of your relationships (friends, colleagues, etc.) and see where this issue tends to play out. Get a feel for the extent to which it has influenced the people you choose to be around and how you interact with them.

2. Start monitoring your behavior and feelings in all these relationships. The next time you feel that drive to overassert yourself, STOP. Ask yourself what would happen if you simply resisted. What bad would come of it? How would it hurt you? You won't be able to change your behavior all that much in the short run, but going through this exercise will get you going in the right direction.

(If you have trouble catching these behaviors as they happen, then look for any sign of interpersonal conflict and retrace the steps that led you there.)

3. Start therapy. Your therapist will help you understand and unravel some of the old conflicts that lead to these behaviors and feelings in the first place, and also help you with the behavior and emotional monitoring and - over time - change.

The point was made about your underlying fears being related to excessive concerns about how the world perceives you, and the role your father may have played in promoting those fears. The somewhat self aggrandizing language in your post perhaps suggests you are even concerned that we all who are reading your post admire you. What a huge burden.

Regardless of whether this interpretation is correct, there's much happiness, joy and fulfillment that awaits you as you get beyond this. And, again, it's great that you've identified the issue and are committed to its resolution.
posted by c, as in "kitchen" at 2:25 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe start dating women with stronger personalities?
posted by Jacqueline at 3:17 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yes, get thee to a therapist.

It makes sense that your marriage lacked passion. It sounds like you're wound pretty tight (i.e. very meticulous and strategic about my words, how I talk, how I present myself, etc). If your wife felt as stifled and controlled as you suggest, I'm guessing she was wound up pretty tight too. That kind of tension tends to suck all of the air out of a relationship - the air that passion needs in order to flourish.

I don't think you've written enough to say whether your a narcissist or not. Most narcissists are not willing to entertain the possibility that they have a problem. You are, and that's a good thing. That said, your post does hint at the possibility of some narcissistic tendencies. So don't freak out, it does not mean that you're a bad person. It just means that you are going to have to find a new way of orienting yourself to others.

A good place to start thinking is why you feel like you need to be so meticulous in how you present yourself. Why is it important to you that people see you a certain way? Do you have a lot invested in seeing yourself a certain way? As Citron said, do you control your wife as a way of managing some larger ideal of what you think your life should look like, be like?

I picked up on this thread because I tend to think that a lot of the information on the web misses the point on narcissism. It's not, *by itself*, just about an inflated ego, self-absorption or controlling behavior.

Something that narcissists do is treat the people around them like they are reflections of themselves - so they control and manipulate those closest to them as a way of maintaining a very specific vision of who they are. The problem with narcissists is that their most basic sense of who they are falls apart without other people mirroring back to them a version of themselves that they like. Hence the control. A child of a narcissist, for example, can't express who he is if he's too busy expressing who mom/dad is. Mom/dad, in turn, tightly manage kid so that kid is expressing 'mom/dad' in the right way. Sounds confusing, I know.

So yeah, go to a therapist. Work out the dad issues the best you can. No matter what they are, it will probably shed some light on your relationships. Good luck, you're on the right track.
posted by space_cookie at 3:36 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

I really want to commend you for reflecting about this, acknowledging there is an issue, and wanting to change. Those are huge things, and while IANAD or a therapist, the fact you even initiated this conversation makes me think Narcissistic Personality Disorder is probably not your issue. At any rate, even if you were to fall under some sort of classification like that, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that you are looking for ways to change and, it sounds like, you are willing to do the work to make it happen. Really, that is an incredibly difficult thing to do and good on you for taking these crucial first steps.

It sounds like you grew up in a household that was dominated by your father's controlling ways, and you are now modeling the same behavior as you have entered into mature adult roles like boyfriend and father. The good news is that you seem to have recognized the pattern. So, as many others have said above, get thee to therapy, and print out your question, if you think it will help you articulate your main goals. From there, you will be introduced to a whole range of things you can do to change. It's going to take a lot of work, and you will find it hard to control what happens in therapy and how it affects you, but being able to relax into uncertainty and roll with whatever happens is part of what you need to work on doing.

Also, depending on your family dynamics, maybe you can have some conversations with your siblings and mom about this. You can get their perspectives on your father, the family environment, and if they see the same tendencies in you that you have started to recognize. I don't know if it would be good to have these conversations before you begin working with a therapist. I definitely wouldn't talk to your Dad about any of this until you've consulted with a therapist. My guess is that a conversation that should not happen anytime soon, if ever, and you would probably need a professional to help guide that process.

Similarly, depending on whether you parted under reasonably amicable terms, I think your ex-wife could be really helpful as you sort this out. She may have her own issues about your controlling behavior, but it probably would help her hear you acknowledge it exists. Again, though, I think I would consult with a therapist first before going too deeply into any of this with those closest to you. Please keep in mind, that it takes a few sessions (I would say about 6) to see if you have chosen the right therapist for you, but if you aren't "clicking," then ask your current therapist for a recommendation for someone who specializes in these issues.

Best of luck, and really, truly good for you. It's hard to admit to negative behaviors and even harder to do something about it. If you fully invest in the process, I think you'll be just fine.
posted by katemcd at 4:18 AM on November 1, 2009

We all turn into some version of our parents, even if we do so through opposition and defiance. It's partly hereditary, partly the effect of our childhood experiences. It's often a terrifying realization (unless you are that rare person who has no issues with either parent) that comes to most of us (certainly, men in relation to their dads) sometime in our 30s or 40s -- you're lucky it's happening to you on the young side.

Therapy, as everyone is saying, is the best path to understanding these dynamics for many people. Changing yourself in fundamental ways, however, requires work only you can do on and with yourself. Therapy can help you with it, but in the end it's an act of will, discipline, and sincerity to change your basic responses to fear, anxiety, loss, pain, and need, to become more other-directed, to accept that you cannot control your world fully, and to accept that life is very short and early choices often irreversible in their effects.

Usually, the motivation to do that work comes on the heels of a major loss that could have been avoided had you been conscious. Be grateful that you, unlike your father, haven't lost your children to your personality problems. Know that the next time your "controlling" personality costs you something, it may be more dear to you than even a marriage of a few years, and it may be a loss from which you can never fully recover.

Your dad knows all about it.

Good luck to you.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:20 AM on November 1, 2009

I like everything schmichael said, except possibly the last paragraph.

You ended your relationship with your wife. Was this because it is over, and there will be no future between the two of you? If so, explain to her what is going on and apologize, but let her know that it is over nonetheless. If, however, this was just another bossiness -- you calling all the shots in the relationship, and it's something that you might want to change as you change -- then explain and apologize, and let her know that you might change your mind and at that point, you hope she'll take you back (but she might not, as she has her own mind, too).

My point is, don't put her through a roller-coaster emotional ride while you sort out your stuff. Apologize for your mistakes. Be honest about where you are in the relationship. Communicate the idea that "status of the relationship" is something each of you have equal thoughts about, if indeed this isn't the end. Don't be "get out" one day, and then "come here" the next day with her. She's used to you being bossy, and so articulating that you won't do that with the actual status of your relationship will be a good first step.
posted by Houstonian at 4:25 AM on November 1, 2009

Response by poster: Guys,

I can't thank you enough for giving so many responses. I just got back home, and I want to sit down properly and get a proper read (I've only read a few responses).. but to start off, the gentleman (or lady) who pointed me to Narcissism; yes, from the looks of it, looks like I am one.

Also, for others asking me who I want to be - I want to be everything I am not. I want to be a better person who can actually end up happy and in a great relationship that will not wither away after a few years. About my passion, when I kiss other women - it's said that I'm very good - but with my wife, right from the get go.. from the moment I met her, I haven't been able to 'make out'.

She was a great girl, and although I'm sad for bringing her to a point where she actually doesn't even miss me when I'm away - I think it's good because this time away from her is what I'm going to use to better myself so the next relationship, with her or not, is very fruitful.

Coming back to what I started to say, I just need an hour or so to sit down and read this. But please, do not deter this from participating ...

Once again, thanks a lot. I really need help in changing..
posted by Vandal at 4:27 AM on November 1, 2009

Travel, spent time abroad. Move to a context where you are a novice and ignorant of social mores. It should mellow you out and force you to acknowledge that people really can do things differently and if you try to force your way to them, you're not 'right', you're an outcast.
posted by Free word order! at 5:05 AM on November 1, 2009

Everyone is a "narcissist" at heart. It's the human condition. It's not a very helpful term, when it implies a personality disorder requiring psychiatric intervention, for "self-centeredness" or "controlling" behavior on the normal spectrum of human variation, or for a young person, or for someone seeking to change based on a hard experience. Indeed, in my experience, the only definitive diagnosis for narcissism is when a narcissist fails to recognize his/her own narcissism.

Reading through your somewhat unclear language, one wonders why you married your wife in the absence of any passion "from the get go." And why you refer to her in the past tense, and as a "girl." (And indeed, what "kissing" or "making out" has to do with anything, since the measure of spousal intimacy usually goes a good deal beyond that. Or are you being euphemistic?)
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:11 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: anitanite and scody, very great points. I will try to form a clear and concise description of what I would like to be while considering what I don't want to be. I'm 27, and I think it's still a good time for me to come to this description.

citron, good question. Primarily, my career is to blame. I've been in private companies for the past 4-5 years, and a partner with authority for about 4 or so. I have employees and people that I need to be almost perfect (for example purposes) for. Others will not disapprove of my wife's behaviour.. but sometimes she says things that don't really make sense (she's 21) or are not connected to my conversation with others which could portray her as a "dumb blonde". I do not want anyone to think funny of her or disregard what she's saying, I want (would like) her to have the same command as I do. And regarding my father treating me that way? No. Highly doubt it. I was part of a typical hard working family where my dad worked in another country for fend for his family while my mom raised me and my siblings, so I didn't spend much time with him as a regular kid. When I say I think my father's qualities are coming into me, it's more like his blood in me rather than him rubbing off on me due to living together, etc. Know what I mean?

simpleton, I do sometimes tell her she's wrong, and sometimes dismiss her as "inexperienced" and I think I've been controlling for petty things.. but deep down, the things I've asked her not to do like party too much, not to mingle with her friends who do drugs, definitely not go out when she's got school the next day, etc.. are, IMHO, very valid and out of deep concern. I guess along those lines, when I started to control those aspects, I automatically started controlling the petty things as well?

bebrave!, I salute you.

IAmBroom, thank you.. and I am man enough to take this plunge. I'm just scared to do it because I'm traveling for work. I'm currently in the Philippines and she's in North America. She was supposed to come down here with me, but called it off at the last minute looking for a break up. Then, we did break up. And she returned 3 hours later crying that she wants to make it work. We cried together to bed and next day I left myself. A week into the Philippines, I didn't get a chance to call her.. but she didn't call me either. This bothered me that she couldn't even feel bothered to call me or want to hear my voice. And when I did call her, she didn't answer, but talked to me on blackberry messenger and she mentioned how she thinks maybe we should split. I then deleted her off facebook, and really want to delete her from my blackberry messenger so I don't kill myself over her. (I'm doing something big in Phils, and I can't stand to do this.. it's a turning point of my life). Anyway, long story short.. in North America, I could have found a therapist. In phils? I'm not too sure. What kind of a therapist do I look for anyway?

emilyw, that's what I'm thinking. I do not want to be a bitch boy, but I also do not want to be bossy and so I think I'm gonna go after older women so they are also a form of therapy for me. Before I started getting into relationships, in my early twenties, I always had flings with older women.. but moreso in bed than outside, which is why I never got the good outcomes (like me controlling my bossy nature even before it blossomed) and I think you worded it exactly the way I wanted to. I think a lesser expereinced person is what brings this out in me. For example, my ex.. she was meek, naive in most ways and very sweet and I was in charge. So was my wife.. very humble, sweet, nice, younger and inexperienced. With her I found myself saying things like "Come on, why couldn't you have done that while I was gone?!!?.. take charge sometimes" which sounded all right when I said it to her till I got her response which was "Umm, if I did go ahead and do it, and you didn't like.. you'd freak out again.. no thanks, I'd rather leave it to you"

schmichael, thank you very much. Makes me feel very good that you you've accomplished what I'm looking to do. Unfortunately, I think I fucked up my relationship for good this time. I really miss her in this lonely country, but I think it's for the best. I'm going to get laid and try to correct myself before going back to her and apologizing. (Please dont take the getting laid offensively people)

c, as in kitchen: You made some great points. However, I wanted to touch on the passion thing. Thing is, I _feel_ that I respect my wife. I don't think I don't. I'm myself very concerned as to why the kissing passion isn't there. Even during sex, she says I'm very raw.. there's no passion leading up to it. I met her at my work in 2006..and she turned into a bootycall. While that was happening, I was also seeing a couple other women and actively pursuing others. She tried to latch on to me as a gf, but I wouldn't give her the time of day. She finally realized this (after 6 months of me constantly rejecting her gf bid but allowing sex) and tried to move on by liking some other guy. When I found out it was a guy we both knew, I felt very hurt. And that's when I outright went and told her that I loved her. (deep down, I think I did.. because she was the nicest, she took care of me a couple times when I got sick.. I think me "loving" her cuz she was nice is going back to what you said to me, about how I might have a problem picking the proper relationships). She came to me, but I think she was confused on how to handle it.. but she did anyway and went with me. From then on, we've been with each other.. and I think we weren't really in love especially after I fucked it up.

Jacqueline, I am going to start with that. Too hard to find them though...

smart_cookie, the example of "Child of narcissist" sounds like me. Looks like I am a narcissist :( Again, regarding the dad issues.. I haven't spent too much time with my dad. I've just done the growing by myself, I brought dad into this because when I Was talking to my mom over the phone, she expressed this. And when she was telling me about how he's been controlling since he moved back home, all I could think of was me!!

katemcd, how would I know after those, say, 6 sessions with a therapist if they're good or bad? And I really hope your words come true that I will change. :)

Houstonian, great point. I think I'm going to steer clear of her for now, especially considering this is a good time as we're both in different countries and I will go to where she is only once every few months. I will apologize when I think I'm ripe without issues.

Free word order, I'm in the Philippines right now. Far away from home. :)

fourcheesemac, I hope I've answered your questions in this response above. Also, yes, making out and kissing is a small deal compared to most other things, and that's what I always told her. Infact I even said "You'll realize one day that you made a mistake of making this a big issue because if you do go for another guy who kisses you, you will notice that everything else could be missing.". I partly feel like an idiot for saying that, because she's a female! And she longs for it. I just don't know why I could never bring myself to kiss her. I could make out with any other girl for hours, just not her. :( And she out of all women in my life, deserves it!
posted by Vandal at 7:37 AM on November 1, 2009

Sorry, haven't read the thread yet. But yes I do know some of this. Just want to toss something in here ASAP.

My girlfriend has said this to me in the past, that I am controlling and don't want her to express herself and am "too meticulous" with my own words.

In great part, I took it to be her trying to control me by blaming me for her own inhibitions and not putting up with the occasional bullshit she gives me.

I do have unreasonable opinions and expectations of people. But I got pretty scared when I got that blame put on me. I figured out that it was both sides. Please remember that this is not likely to all your dominating, controlleering fault. But do work on yourself, change what you need to change, and want to change.
posted by krilli at 7:44 AM on November 1, 2009

Response by poster: krilli, I know what you mean and I appreciate you helping out. But to be honest, although she's got her own share of problems in our relationship.. I think the root cause is me. She's young, and if I handled things differently, today she would have known better. Know what I mean?
posted by Vandal at 8:01 AM on November 1, 2009

Everyone is a "narcissist" at heart. It's the human condition.


Everyone has some narcissistic thoughts and feelings, and engages in some narcissistic actions.

The terms "narcissist" and "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" are reserved for people with whom the narcissistic thoughts, feelings, and actions are so out of balance that they impair their inability to function in the ways they'd like (and sometimes, even impair their ability to function in ways that meet society's expectations at all).

I would suggest that Vandal's control needs and need to be Top Person in all of his dealings with others are, indeed, impairing his ability to function in the ways he'd like, so it makes sense for him to find the diagnostic category relevant.

Almost everyone has drunk more alcohol than they've wanted to at some point in their lives, but not everyone is an alcoholic. Saying "Everyone's an x" about psychological diagnostic categories is missing the point--these diagnoses describe out-of-balance states where an individual's ability to function is impaired.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:27 AM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

Having read your follow-up, I'd like to point to a few things. Please look at how you talk about your wife.

but sometimes she says things that don't really make sense (she's 21) or are not connected to my conversation with others which could portray her as a "dumb blonde".

sometimes dismiss her as "inexperienced" and I think I've been controlling for petty things.. when I started to control those aspects, I automatically started controlling the petty things as well?

I didn't get a chance to call her.. but she didn't call me either. This bothered me that she couldn't even feel bothered to call me or want to hear my voice. I then deleted her off facebook

so I think I'm gonna go after older women so they are also a form of therapy for me.

With her I found myself saying things like "Come on, why couldn't you have done that while I was gone?!!?.. take charge sometimes" which sounded all right when I said it to her till I got her response which was "Umm, if I did go ahead and do it, and you didn't like.. you'd freak out again.. no thanks, I'd rather leave it to you"

I'm going to get laid and try to correct myself before going back to her and apologizing.

I met her at my work in 2006..and she turned into a bootycall (after 6 months of me constantly rejecting her gf bid but allowing sex) and tried to move on by liking some other guy.

And when she was telling me about how he's been controlling since he moved back home, all I could think of was me!!

I just don't know why I could never bring myself to kiss her. I could make out with any other girl for hours, just not her.

I'm not a psychologist, so I have no idea what a diagnosis would be. But, in my opinion, it's time for you to bring in the professionals -- not for your marriage (I hope for her sake that it is completely over), but for your sake. They have psychologists in the Philippines, if you are there for the long-term. Or, if you will be back to the States in the next few months, wait and find one when you return. Although you are recognizing that you have a problem, I don't think you see just how off this behavior is, so I say this with kindness: Get a professional.
posted by Houstonian at 8:48 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd just make my usual rejoinder, meant for the OP, that no internet forum can diagnose you with a disorder.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:49 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Vandal, thanks for the reply. I would like to state more explicitly than last time around that I've been somewhere near a similar situation as you. Including it being my own fault.
posted by krilli at 8:53 AM on November 1, 2009

There's one thing about this kind of behavior or handling of one's emotions, whether it is actively controlling others or passively not being able to tolerate their modes of being. This thing is that it is very, very often seen in families that have a history of alcoholism and related dysfunction, c.f. codependence. Even if this may not be directly applicable to your situation, there are procedures for getting in better mental shape after being negatively marked by proximity to alcoholism, and there's a good chance that these will apply to you, or their components. At least there's a hell of a lot of wisdom out there by battered housewives and children of alcoholics, that in great part touches directly on this control of other people – or the perceived need to control them. I can recommend this bullk of work wholeheartedly, even though you have to "translate" it a bit when it's geared directly at the codependent-housewife-with-drinking-alcoholic audience. The mental and communicative issues are the same.
posted by krilli at 9:04 AM on November 1, 2009

I'd just make my usual rejoinder, meant for the OP, that no internet forum can diagnose you with a disorder.

This is absolutely true.

However, any good Internet forum can point out that a) these behaviors and attitudes are pretty "off"; b) you seem to be unhappy about them; c) therefore, you should think seriously about seeing a professional.

Who could, in fact, diagnose you with a personality disorder. Or who could also work with you on helping you to change your behaviors and attitudes in ways that made you feel happier and helped you to achieve your goals in life.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:44 AM on November 1, 2009

My two cents on this conversation. Being controlling is a way of ordering the world in your favor. In some scenarios, that ability is quite useful, like in a work situation where that kind of command and control authority is necessary.
The problem you have, in part, is when you bring that framework home and begin using it on your wife and partner. She's not a subordinate in this partnership, she's your equal and lover.
Also your partner is expressing attitudes, values and lifestyle choices that you find to be negative or in conflict with your own values. When you begin attempting to 'order' her behavior in your favor, conflict ensues, rejection, rebellion and so forth.
While you conclude that you don't want to be like dad, it might be more useful to think that your 'successful' life strategies are not working in your love life, your habitual ways of thinking and acting.
If you decide to do therapy, cognitive therapy is proven good stuff. How to reframe your self-talk to change your outlook on life. I would also recommend reading 'The Four Agreements' if only to get a different outlook on how to approach life in general.
Having value conflicts in a new relationship or marriage isn't unusual. You bond with someone and then find out 'oh geez' this person really IS different than me. You can change yourself, all you need is the framework to do it.
Finally, a site that's been really helpful to me in my marriage is Reuniting, which is all about the roles of the bonding program and the procreation program in our DNA and how to make those two systems work for us in relationships instead of creating separation.
posted by diode at 11:04 AM on November 1, 2009

Good luck, Vandal! this was a really interesting question. I also wonder.. Maybe some of this is just normal, if you have had a LOT of responsibility, and if you grew up without your father around much, probably it put an extra sense responsibility on you. (This happened to my brother, he is a bit of a workaholic.) But if your wife is very young, she's.. young! She is not ready yet to quit partying and is going to be irresponsible, maybe, or seem less experienced and have less to say, because.. she's young! Maybe it's not so much, you need to fix something about yourself, it's more.. this is what happens in a relationship when the people are in very different stages of life. So, you might try to accept that she's 21 and not behaving like she is 31, and that's normal and OK, or you date someone who is 31.
posted by citron at 2:03 PM on November 1, 2009

Thwack. Oye Vey. Dude, you're really not getting it. I'll rely on Hustonian's lovely excerpts to highlight the following:

You say your wife loved you for being "you" - i.e. 'understanding and extremely caring'. Yet by your own description you have treated her quite cruelly - calling her a 'booty call', using her for sex - but rejecting her desire to have a relationship, having a hissy fit when she didn't behave the way you wanted her to (as in defriending her) etc. I'm going to go out on an limb and speculate that you married such a young, inexperienced woman because you thought she would be easy to control and manipulate. Yet you're acutely aware of how her inexperience looks to others, so she's simultaneously a source of embarrassment to you. You can't make out with her because she's not really a full person to you - she's a prop, a character that you have to keep re-arranging to suit your own needs.

Also, it's really not okay to use older women as therapy. Why? Because your USING them. Narcissism 102 - treating others as a means to an end, valuing people only to the extent that they are useful to you and are willing to serve your agenda. Leave the therapy to the pros. I still think you're on the right track, just don't expect that this is a problem you can 'correct' quickly and easily.
posted by space_cookie at 3:19 PM on November 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

vandal, in answer to your question:
What kind of a therapist do I look for anyway?

The "kind" isn't so important. I like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but there are many equally effective "subdisciplines". What's important is that you find a therapist, and start working.

And don't let anything...
I'm just scared to do it because I'm traveling for work. {...}
Anyway, long story short.. in North America, I could have found a therapist. In phils? I'm not too sure.

... become your excuse for inaction.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:58 PM on November 1, 2009

"Jacqueline, I am going to start with that. Too hard to find them though..."

It seems like I read AskMes every month or so from women complaining about men only wanting submissive women. We need a MetaFilter matchmaking service.

In the mean time, perhaps try dating a lawyer?
posted by Jacqueline at 9:47 PM on November 1, 2009

Response by poster: Houstonian, going to work on it. Started googling for Psychologists in Manila, Philippines (remember, theres going to be a language barrier)

krilli, your second response is completely off. Thankfully, I come from a clean background that has prevented alcholism or any form of dysfunction. :)

diode, you put everything in a neat paragraph, and yes that's exactly it. I'm going to check out that website and get that book you mentioned to get me started.

citron, while I should say you're totally right (because that's exactly what I've said to myself numerous times).. I don't know if I should. Because no matter the age and inexperience, I want to be a human being to treats everyone the same and with respect (atleast to a good extent)

space_cookie, you're right. I shouldn't be using older women for therapy.. what I meant was more along the lines on the fact that they will definitely help me. More so because they are experienced, and do not have any problem with guys who are assertive and can deal with such guys fairly well.

IamBroom, thanks a ton! That will help me a lot..

Jacqueline, I was very close to dating a lawyer but didn't go through with it because she moved. The other thing is me being 29, and lawyer women always thinking that they have a bar (no pun intended) to adhere to which is above and beyond law. Atleast I feel so. And also, they're usually older (than me). Maybe I'm not looking hard enough? Either way, it won't make sense as much right now because I'm in the Philippines and communication (and cultural gap) is enough to cause more troubles than normal, so I might just be sticking to booty calls.


Thanks a lot guys! Please keep 'em coming!!!
posted by Vandal at 6:35 AM on November 2, 2009

Vandal, first you said you were 27, now you say you are 29.

You are not being sincere.

What I mean is, you are lying.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 1:31 PM on November 2, 2009

Response by poster: pick_the_flowers, sorry, that was at 9PM (Philippines time, and a little tipsy). I'm 27.
posted by Vandal at 7:07 PM on November 2, 2009

Thanks for the honest response. I actually believe that the response was not all that far off, but maybe a bit unclear.

What I'm saying is not that you're alcoholic, nor really that anyone is. What I'm saying is that the self-help methods available for people that have had problems with alcoholics may apply to your situation. In great part, this "canon" of work involves letting go of people and not controlling them. My intention is simply to point out that you may want to have a look at some books related to recovering from relationships with alcoholics. Growing up with a controlling father isn't so different from growing up with an alcoholic father.
posted by krilli at 8:38 AM on November 3, 2009

Response by poster: krilli, Ah, I see what you mean now. Infact the other day, I was looking at a few books.. but most of them were very advanced looking here in Manila, Phils. I'll try to do some online research and then get them..

Are there any you can recommend?
posted by Vandal at 2:34 PM on November 3, 2009

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