teasing boyfriend just won't stop
May 13, 2015 6:41 AM   Subscribe

I've been in a serious relationship for almost 4 years. it was very toxic at times but we have been working very hard and diligently to recognize and change things to make us work. Anyhow in the past my 43 year old boyfriend has begun teasing me by flicking me, pulling my pants down while I'm either just talking to him or go up to hug him, he will flick me hard with the dishrag, poke me until I get mad, kick me when we are walking although not hard, constantly undo my bras strap many times a day, sometimes mock me when I talk.... Anyhow you get my point.

I've told him on a few occasions that it really bothers me and I don't like what he's doing and make a request for him to stop. He hasn't and tells me it's his way of showing affection and that I'm just no fun and I'm just angry but I'm annoyed. He says he likes to get a rise out of me because I have no pulse. I haven't been in the mood much for sex lately because of his behavior and it's not exactly a turn on. This happens many times during the day not just a couple of times. I've had no problem with my "pulse"in the past and even though I've told him why Im just not as frisky, but he said all I do is blame him, and that I obviously don't like him very much if things like that make me upset. I told him I love him, I'm just not liking his actions.
Am I just being over sensitive? Or a mad grump? Thank you for your responses.
posted by miranda to Human Relations (369 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nope, not being over sensitive or a mad grump. Get out.
posted by tilde at 6:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


This isn't frisky, this is controlling, and kind of gaslighting your reaction! I would say that the relationship is still pretty toxic, and I hope you are going to some sort of therapy. That's not affection, especially in light of the fact of the fact that you've asked him to stop.
posted by kellyblah at 6:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [93 favorites]


How old is your boyfriend?
TWELVE?

This nonsense should stop immediately, especially if you're not into it, and you've expressly said KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF NOW.

If he doesn't, then you need to get the heck out of there and find someone who can at least honor your basic damn wishes of not wanting to be touched, hurt or abused.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 6:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [71 favorites]


You are not being oversensitive, this guy sounds like a dick. Mocking you while you talk? Undoing your bra straps multiple times a day? Wait.

HE'S 43 AND HE'S UNDOING YOUR BRA STRAPS MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY???

I cannot imagine what kind of amazing qualities a guy would have to have to make up for this behavior. I never say this, but DTMFA.
posted by mskyle at 6:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [119 favorites]


You've asked him to stop and he refuses. This is an abusive relationship. DTMFA
posted by carmicha at 6:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [65 favorites]


Like everyone else is going to say, it is not appropriate for your boyfriend to keep doing petty shit that bothers you - no matter how much he enjoys it.

I think everyone else will also say that this rises above the level of "petty shit" - kicking you? pulling down your pants? - and that it sounds abusive.

What do you love about him?

If I wrote that it sounds like he has responded to "working through" the other toxic stuff by stepping up his physical harassment, and that makes me wonder if he just likes to harass and hurt you and is unwilling to give it up - would that sound like a possible explanation?

This also does not sound like normal behavior for a non-abusive adult; it sounds extremely childish and (absent some kind of mutual emotional style) a bit disordered. If it's not something he can control, he should see a therapist.

If it's something that he chooses not to control, you should dump him unless you are really feeling like a lifetime of this is worth it for other reasons. (Which it might be - but be really, really sure of that before you sign up. People make hard choices all the time, but if you are financially independent with any kind of rich social life, you should focus on that.)
posted by Frowner at 6:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [25 favorites]


The next time he does this, yell "Jesus fuck I've asked you a billion times to fucking STOP doing that."

The next time after that kick his immature ass to the curb and find a boyfriend who isn't 12 years old.
posted by bondcliff at 6:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [84 favorites]


Ugh. It sounds like this relationship is a ton of work, and he's actively annoying and irritating you, despite you telling him to stop. I'd drop this jerk.
posted by xingcat at 6:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Pulling your pants down?! Christ on a bike, even my four year-old nephew knows that's wrong!

This guy sounds like a mega asshole. I hate to jump on the old DTMFA bandwagon but for god's sake, DTMFA. Complete and utter disregard for your body and personal boundaries? Yeah, get rid of him, now. This behavior is downright frightening. I am scared for where this is headed for you, OP.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [32 favorites]


Everything you describe is great and good fun when both people desire and enjoy it. It is not cool (and borders into abusive) when you have said that you don't enjoy it and it needs to stop. You'd be well within your rights to break up over this, though maybe it is worth one more try to communicate that it has to stop permanently and immediately.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm the sort of person who enjoys horseplay, but if SO undid my bra strap for amusement, I can guarantee it would not be amusing more than once. I make my boundaries clear, and my SO respects those boundaries.

If you express your displeasure, and he continues, he does not respect you. He puts his own enjoyment and pleasure above your comfort. I would not want to live with that person. Vice versa, if he needs this level of horseplay to be content, and you cannot give that to him, well, he needs to find another person.
posted by slipthought at 6:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


The issue is not the actual actions.

The issue is that you have explained you don't like certain things, you have asked him to respect your boundaries and have asked him to stop, and he has declined to do so while also blaming you for not stopping and for getting upset.

To answer your question, are you being overly sensitive or a mad grump? No, because you are allowed to feel however you want to feel. Ideally, a partner will respect those feelings and support you.

However you choose to deal with your feelings is your decision alone, and should not be based on another person telling you how to feel.
posted by hmo at 6:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


Oh my gosh, I hate this, I hate him, I hate that he is trying to tell you this is normal fun. It is not normal fun IF YOU ARE NOT HAVING FUN.

Please believe everyone here telling you that this is NOT okay and you are NOT overreacting.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [88 favorites]


You are not being over sensitive at all. If I were in your shoes I would say something like " hey boyfriend, I need to sit down and talk with you seriously about the teasing behavior. I have asked you to stop before and I'm not going to keep asking -- if you keep doing this stuff that is deal breaker territory for me. I know you say it's the way you express affection, but I need you to find some other way to express affection, or we are going to break up."
posted by feets at 6:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


By the way, I realize I could have suggested therapy for your partner but honestly, why bother? There are plenty of potential partners out there who simply don't need to be told that this sort of behavior is wrong. They already know this because they are mature, fully-functioning adults, unlike this loser. It was already toxic from your description, now it's escalating.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


[DUMP]

Press the button firmly.
posted by jon1270 at 7:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


Hey, nowhere near this scale, but I used to on-purpose annoy my ex-boyfriend in various lightweight ways in the last couple of years of our relationship.

I did it because our relationship was starting to be broken and I wasn't getting the attention, validation and affection I craved (whether or not I should have been craving them so much depends on your perspective, and it was probably impacted by other things going on at the time).

So just a note to say this might be deeper than just, omg what a jerk. It could be similar to my weird, stupid, childlike response to a need I couldn't quite identify at the time.
posted by greenish at 7:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [33 favorites]


He believes in no uncertain terms that his enjoyment of these things is more important than your dislike of them. In fact, your dislike of these things makes him enjoy them MORE.

He is enjoying telling you that you are no fun, have no pulse, and that YOU are in the wrong for objecting. He knows exactly how to stop but he is getting off on how much you dislike it and the "excuses" it then gives him to insult you.

This guy SUCKS. Do you hear me? He SUCKS.
posted by argonauta at 7:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [93 favorites]


In a mature and loving relationship if you told him that his behavior was bothering you, he wouldn't turn things around and blame you by calling you "no fun" or a "grump." He would stop, listen to you, acknowledge your feelings as valid and then try to change his behavior.

In a mature and loving relationship he wouldn't try to "get a rise" out of you because "you have no pulse." He would try to find out the things that do turn you on or loosen you up and do those things.

Teasing is fine, being mean spirited is not. He should know the difference. You've reached ultimatum time. You need to tell him that he needs to stop all of this behavior right now and for good. You need to line up a couch to sleep on elsewhere and leave the next time he does it.

I personally wouldn't try to work something out with this guy, but you have a fuller picture.
posted by brookeb at 7:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Guy here. That stuff's astonishing and no less rancid. One vote for telling him all of it stops today or you're done, done and done -- end of conversation.

(In more than five decades I've been around a few people who've done a teensy bit of that nonsense with friends, colleagues, partners, siblings, etc., but that's about 760 million miles beyond reasonable and healthy for anyone over the age of 3.)
posted by ambient2 at 7:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh god, dump this idiot. This isn't unintentional jerk behavior where teaching him how you feel is going to make a difference. He's deliberately being an asshole and thinks the stakes are so low that you will feel stupid doing anything about it. This is unfixable.
posted by almostmanda at 7:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


Pulling your pants down is insane.

I'm near your boyfriend's age and..... nope, that would not occur to me as funny. I would not think it was funny if one of my friends did it to their SO.

Run, girl! You're in trouble!!

There is zero healthy or normal about this immature person you are dating. The nature of these actions are physical, I'd be worried how it might escalate.

Are you prepared to deflect this guy once you break up with him?

I can pretty much guarantee he will aggressively persue you and won't take no for an answer. I think you'll need to treat him like a potential stalker. I'm sorry if you think I'm exaggerating, but at his age, the behavior you describe is extremely worrying. Extremely.

Stay safe. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 7:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Please get out. Please, please get out. And as others have said, take steps to do that safely.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, wow, flashbacks to elementary school recess. Especially the telling you that you are no fun when you object.

Who needs that in their lives?
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


>he said all I do is blame him

...for his own behavior? Is there somebody else who should be held responsible for it? This is called 'personal responsibility'; many people master this idea before the age of 43.

>and that I obviously don't like him very much if things like that make me upset.

But the fact that he's entertaining himself by annoying you means that he likes you a lot?

This guy is a jackass, and you're wasting your time. Don't bother with an ultimatum. You've already told him how you feel, and he's told you he doesn't care. Life is too short for this kind of crap.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


What? Is he the main character in one of those comedies where a child gets stuck in an adult's body? Undoing your bra strap (!), pulling down your pants (!!), and then saying "Nanny nanny boo boo, I'm not stopping, I think it's funny to make you mad" is kindergarten stuff. For someone who is over 40 to do this childish BS is beyond the pale.

DTMFA for a grown-ass man who can raise issues and solve problems like a grown-ass man, not a petulant child.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


As many have said, this relationship is over. He's also done, he just can't quite realize how to process what he's feeling and is acting like a child. If you wanted to create a new phoenix-like relationship out of the ashes, you could treat this very seriously and have many long talks about exactly what he's doing, and how childish actions are not expressing how he actually feels, and really dig in and find out what it is he needs from you and what you need from him, lots of honesty and long long talks. It sounds like he's switched off his adult brain to a large extent, though, so I realistically would expect that to flop.
posted by aimedwander at 7:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


what the hell? Dump him today. Or if that feels abrupt, wait til the next bra-snap / pantsing / kicking / flicking and then knee him in the groin and THEN dump him. My god.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


As a hypothetical, let's say you are always annoyed and cold and he's feeling neglected.

Do you want to be in a relationship with someone who deals with their own feelings by recognizing them, taking ownership of them, and talking to you about the problem in a mature way so that you can both tackle it; or do you want to be in a relationship with someone who blames you for their feelings and acts out in an attempt to make you react?

The former is a good partner. The latter is normal for a two-year-old.
posted by jaguar at 7:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


These are dick moves, but as greenish mentions, there are often motivating factors for dick moves, especially where they are a recent addition to your relationship.

So to answer your actual question, no you are not being oversensitive or a kill-joy. But now you have to decide if:
1. You're just going to weather the storm of childish bullshit and wait to see if it will pass
2. Dump the emm effer already
3. Try to identify what your boyfriend is not getting that he wants in your relationship which is provoking this kind of weird "prank call for help" kind of behavior, and find a way for both of you to address this issue constructively

Your call! I can't add much more, as an opening direction, than greenish has already provided, and of course I can't tell whether this relationship or this dude are worth keeping around. But if they are, then your dude is probably feeling ignored, unloved, or unvalued (and yes, picking a pretty poor way to respond to that). Do you think that the two of you will be able to recognize that and find ways to respond? Or is he (or you) going to double down on current behavior because change is too threatening and creates too much vulnerability? Either way, this isn't behavior that you should just get over, though in my opinion your response after your recognize that isn't as black-and-white.
posted by Poppa Bear at 7:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I couldn't help but think about this earlier AskMe, which I'll hope you'll read just for the aside where the OP mentions:
I know this is weird and minor, but among the power games that he plays, one of them is to attempt to force me to eat something I initially refuse, simply because I don't like it (really spicy stuff, a giant glob of peanut butter, liverwurst). It started out as fun, but now I wish he'd stop when I say no the first time instead of trying to cajole me otherwise.
...and milk white peacock's response:
When I read your update about being forced to eat foods you hate, I actually started crying. This is a really classic abuser's technique for breaking down your boundaries. If you were my friend or relative and told me the stuff you've said here about your relationship, I would be putting sheets and a pillow on my couch and figuring out when your boyfriend works so I could come pick you up.

Sorry for freaking out but I just hate to see this shit.
...as well as OntheLastCastle's:
Actually, this is emotional manipulation 101. If you call them on it, they'll be like 'lol, it's just food, c'mon you don't know what you're missing.' but it's a system to test and subjugate a person. It will escalate.

I am not kidding. That is what they're doing.

Anyway, I think this thread has evolved and shown you that your boyfriend is a manipulative and unkind person. That you had the doubt "Am I unreasonable?" at wanting to know where your boyfriend was after he blatantly acted like he had something to hide makes you pretty clearly reasonable... and sadly, a great target for his bullshit.

Maybe he can change, but I've learned in my life that anyone who delights in stuff like this doesn't want to.
What is happening between you and your boyfriend is not a minor thing about "teasing" or differing styles of "showing affection" or who is "fun." To me, it's a sign of how bad things really are that you are even questioning if you're maybe being over-sensitive or a mad grump. To be clear: you are NOT. It's a sign of how smart and strong your instincts are that you wrote this question.

Please take good care of yourself.
posted by argonauta at 7:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [68 favorites]


Every single time: "Cut That The Fuck Out!"

It's aggressive as fuck, he's saying it's not aggressive, and it should not be tolerated. DTMFA? Look, this person is being an asshole, and then being a dick about his asshole behavior. Are you better off with him or without him?
posted by theora55 at 7:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


He's trying to control & humiliate you. Not just the behaviour but the telling you that what you are feeling is not correct. Why would someone that loves you want to hurt you on purpose? Give a clear no, not a polite I'd rather you stop. A clear I do not find this funny it hurts me stop it. If he continues he has no respect for you, I would not stay in a relationship with someone that would not respect my boundaries.
posted by wwax at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can't help but assume that anyone who purposefully keeps doing things that clearly make you upset is doing so because he's trying to upset you. "Showing affection" is for the benefit of the recipient, not the giver. I don't know what other good qualities he might have, but at your age (you didn't say, but I'm guessing your over 15), you really don't have to put up with this shit. Whoever you don't need to interact with because of work or family should be people who enrich your life, not add to its many frustrations.

I don't know if his actions are a dealbreaker, but don't let him call you a "grump." That's a word we use for fussy babies and crotchety old men. "Grump" implies a helpless person who just can't deal with ordinary things in the world. You're not grumpy. You're annoyed. And he's annoying you.
posted by bibliowench at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Whoa. I very rarely tell people to DTMFA (I think maybe I have once before), but...DTMFA. Seriously, this is one of the two or three worst relationship questions I've ever read here.

I mean, I say this advisedly. When I was in college, I had a seriously abusive boyfriend who did exactly this same stuff, although with him it was mostly tickling, which he knew I hated. He would tickle me aggressively (yep, as awful as it sounds), and when I would get upset, he would tell me I was no fun, had no sense of humor, was overreacting, the works. He would also mock me when I talked, like your boyfriend does. That was the prelude to pretty serious abuse; as noted above, he was breaking down my boundaries, and believe me, he did break them down. Looking back on it now, it's appalling to me, and I'm sorry I didn't recognize it for what it was.

Sorry, but forget all this stuff about trying to figure out why he's doing it or coming up with techniques for dealing with it. It matters not a damn why he's doing it. This isn't something you're going to fix; this is an abuser's behavior, full stop. If it hasn't yet burgeoned into full-blown abuse, I can promise you it will, and soon.

And you say the relationship has been "very toxic at times" even before this? Jesus. Leave him.
posted by holborne at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [41 favorites]


There is advice given to guys which basically boils down to, "If you want to turn her on and win her back, be a jerk."

If there is some small possibility that he is not naturally a jerk, it may be the case that he has been given this advice and been naive enough - yes, even at 43, I've seen it happen more than once - to believe it.

Some guys will act on this advice as a last-ditch desperate attempt to save a relationship which they value highly but have no clue how to save other than by following this bad advice.

Unfortunately, this bad advice has legs and is spreading. "Be just like an asshole fratboy, because women are turned on by them, right?"
posted by clawsoon at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, sorry, but:

he likes to get a rise out of me because I have no pulse

JESUS FUCK. Yeah, I got the same thing, except it was "I'm trying to make you less sensitive by helping you develop a thicker skin." Leave this son of a bitch now.
posted by holborne at 7:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


3. Try to identify what your boyfriend is not getting that he wants in your relationship which is provoking this kind of weird "prank call for help" kind of behavior, and find a way for both of you to address this issue constructively.

On the one hand, maybe he wants a big fight to clear the air or to actually end the relationship. On the other hand, I wonder if he really wants a stern tongue-lashing and a hard spanking because that's something he really desires. Seems possible, but maybe not probable. Some people are into angry sex.

There is that old saying that the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. (And man there are parenting books about kids who misbehave for attention, but it's sad that his behavior is so immature that books about kids are where the explanations may be.)
posted by puddledork at 7:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I obviously don't like him very much if things like that make me upset.

I don't like people who do dumb annoying shit after I've explicitly and repeatedly told them not to. There is no reason on earth for you to tolerate someone pantsing you and poking you on the regular. There is no reason on earth for someone to treat you that way.

Read the thread that argonauta links to. I can't help wondering if this is a roundabout way of breaking down your boundaries. Like, he wants you to be the "cool girlfriend" who agrees to threesomes or doesn't care if he stays out all night, and he thinks maybe if he keeps harassing you and blaming you for your reaction, when it's time for something he really wants he'll hope you'll think "well, I guess I have been uptight, just this once."

This behavior is not okay. The responses here are not overreacting and neither are you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Your boyfriend doesn't respect your personal space, your opinion, or your happiness. He doesn't respect you. Getting a rise out of someone who doesn't like it is purposefully making them unhappy and he's doing that many times a day.

You have tried addressing this with him directly and he's criticized you for it. I'm sorry, but it's time to get out of this relationship and into one with a guy who actually does respect you. There isn't anything left to work on.
posted by buoys in the hood at 8:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


He is sexually harassing you. Would your partner's coworkers be unreasonable to be upset if he attempted even 1% of this with them? (the answer is no, and he would likely be fired). If your partner is treating you worse than he would a perfect stranger or a colleague, why on earth would you stay with him? Things are not likely to get better, only worse.
posted by Yellow Silver Maple at 8:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Like holborne, I had a boyfriend who was abusive when angry but also pulled this type of shit when he was "just teasing". It's not any better or less serious. My ex's "teasing" reflected his belief that my body was his property. Your boyfriend is showing a deep and appalling lack of respect for your physical space and emotional comfort. I agree with the suggestion above to call a domestic violence hotline and do some research on how to leave safely.
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 8:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


What you are doing doesn't work.

You need to change what you are doing.

Do this until you find something that works.

Suggestions? Explode. Scream STOP! at the top of your lungs in the grocery store. Make a scene. Give him an ultimatum: Do it again and I'll flush your aquarium fish when you are at work. Get in your car and drive off to see a movie without him. Refuse to do something he wants to do.

Try something different. What you are doing doesn't work.

(This is a general problem solving strategy. )
posted by FauxScot at 8:14 AM on May 13, 2015


Do you want an annoying older brother, or a boyfriend? DTMFA.
posted by sutel at 8:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


If he complains again about you not wanting to have sex, tell him to imagine you are at a speed date event and that you've just met.
Would he pull the potential partners pants down? Loosen their bra strap, mimic and mock the way the person is talking?
Would he fuck.

Honestly this Q made me gasp and laugh at once, at how unbelievable this guys behavior is.

Flicking you
Pulling you pants down when you go up to hug him
Flicking you hard with the dishrag
Poking you aggressively
Kicking you when you are walking
Undoing your bras strap many times a day
Mocking you when you talk

Honestly, Miranda, take a look at that list and then look at what you want in your life. No-one should be putting up with that shit
posted by MarvinJ at 8:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember watching an episode of "Newly Wed, Nearly Dead" (A program about struggling newlyweds) where this exact same situation was happening.

The husband was constantly teasing his wife, randomly squeezing her breasts throughout the day. He would come up behind her when she was doing the washing up and pinch her breasts hard and then run away. He would pull her shorts down when she was folding laundry. He would mess her hair up when she was watching TV.

HE though he was showing affection and this was his idea of foreplay. SHE couldn't be more turned off by is behavior and BEGGED him to stop. He wanted sex and thought this was his way of demonstrating love. She said she couldn't get in the mood when her husband was acting like a 10 year old boy.

The thing is, I can't remember how this couple resolved their differences. It takes time to fundamentally break someone of this kind of habit. You need to be so firm with him and directly tell him that this behavior disgusts you in the worst way.

If he can't listen (which it sounds like he can't), then you need t move on.... this isn't "loving" behavior no matter how much he tries to frame it that way
posted by JenThePro at 8:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


He doesn't respect you.

If he did, he wouldn't do any of the things you're describing. He wouldn't be dismissing your feelings about them. He wouldn't be doing things to you that border on sexual harassment and abuse. Yes, undoing your bra strap and pulling your pants down without your consent is sexual harassment, even in a relationship. Even if he thinks it's "just for fun." And yes, it's abuse for him to tell someone he is victimizing that they're the problem, when they ask him to stop.

Why are you in a relationship with someone who doesn't respect you, your body, your sense of self, your feelings or your repeated requests that he stop?
posted by zarq at 8:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


What you are doing doesn't work.

You need to change what you are doing.

Do this until you find something that works.

Suggestions? Explode. Scream STOP! at the top of your lungs in the grocery store. Make a scene. Give him an ultimatum: Do it again and I'll flush your aquarium fish when you are at work. Get in your car and drive off to see a movie without him. Refuse to do something he wants to do.

Try something different. What you are doing doesn't work.

(This is a general problem solving strategy. )


Excuse me, I know we're not supposed to respond to other posters, but this advice is so appallingly bad, and condescending, and potentially dangerous, that I don't feel comfortable letting it pass without comment.

You do not tell an abused person that "what [she is] doing doesn't work." I mean, for fuck's sake. It is not an abused person's burden to "change what [she is] doing," because it's nothing she's doing that causing the behavior. The abuser abuses because he wants to, and because he gets something rewarding from it, not because the abused person hasn't been smart enough to find an effective way of putting a stop to his behavior. Playing a cutesy game of throwing away his fish or going to a movie without him or some bullshit is, to put it far more kindly than I would like, beside the point.
posted by holborne at 8:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [71 favorites]


Just as a normalization comparison, if my husband did any of the things you listed to me once, he'd get a warning. Twice and one of us would be moving out of the house immediately.

It's not healthy to love people who hate you and want to see you humiliated. This isn't teasing, it's domestic violence. What do you think comes after the "not hard" kicking and forcibly removing your clothes in private? (Or possibly he's already hitting you or forcing you to do things and you're testing the waters with this question, so just know: if he's also hitting you, or having sex with you when you say no, that's not teasing either. Please get help to get away. If you're only safe using the internet and can't call a domestic hotline, start at http://www.thehotline.org/ where they have a chat function, but if you can use the phone call 1-800-799-7233.)

Your partner in life should want to lift you up, not degrade and hurt you.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [39 favorites]


Explain to him he needs to stop and get help to learn how to express himself and respect you or you will leave.

If you don't feel safe having this conversation with him then it's already time to leave.

I wish my ex had had a similar conversation with me about my abusive behaviour, but more than that I wish I could honestly say my reaction wouldn't have been just as stupid and shitty as my previous behaviour. It's sad, but sometimes people don't get it until it's too late and that may already be the case.

I hope it works out for you both whether that's together or apart but you absolutely have the right to be loved and respected by the people you love and respect.
posted by fullerine at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lyn Never: Your partner in life should want to lift you up, not degrade and hurt you.

Yes. A thousand times yes. Please take this statement to heart.
posted by zarq at 8:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [30 favorites]


For what it's worth, my wife and I do a milder version of this sort of thing to each other (minus the de-pantsing each other) quite frequently. The big difference is that we don't do it in a mean-spirited, humiliating way - we both find it somewhat endearing and funny. We aren't really hurting each other and it goes back and forth pretty equally.

The fact that you are not reciprocating and have repeatedly expressed unhappiness regarding his behavior should be enough - I'd say it's time to move on. This guy clearly has no discernment (or doesn't care) regarding your feelings. DTMFA.
posted by _DB_ at 8:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've told him on a few occasions that it really bothers me and I don't like what he's doing and make a request for him to stop.

How few is few? A couple? It sounds to me like you just have not been firm enough about this. Plenty of suggestions above provide wording for the appropriate ultimatum. If that doesn't stop it cold, it's time to show him the door.
posted by beagle at 8:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, my wife and I do a milder version of this sort of thing to each other (minus the de-pantsing each other) quite frequently. The big difference is that we don't do it in a mean-spirited, humiliating way - we both find it somewhat endearing and funny. We aren't really hurting each other and it goes back and forth pretty equally.

My wife and I do the same kind of stuff. Because we both think it's fun. Once, she did a thing that actually bothered me, and I said, "hey, actually, I don't like that" and you know what she did? She never did it again.

Fuck this guy. Get out right away. Find out what it's like to live without constantly bracing for an attack.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


Ugh. The thing here is that the specific behaviors aren't really the issue -- my fiance and I have sort of a teasing relationship and we are both fine and on board with it, and that works because it works for both of us. The issue is that you've told him it really bothers you, but he's escalating instead of cutting it the eff out. If you want to give him one more chance, I would sit down and say -- "Look, this is serious, this shit really bothers me and makes me sad and not want to be with you anymore. It may feel minor, funny, or unimportant to you, but it is not to me. Maybe I'm more sensitive than someone else would be -- but nonetheless, this is how I feel and if we are going to continue this relationship, I need you to honor how *I* feel about this behavior, not how a hypothetical different person would or should respond."

Captain Awkward, a favorite advice columnist of mine, has a great line for people like this, which is to say "Fine, I'm oversensitive. I still need you to stop." "Fine, I'm a killjoy. I still need you to stop." "Fine, I'm overreacting. I still need you to stop." And repeat. You don't want the argument to be about how sensitive *you* are or how you could react differently, but about the fact that however valid he feels your reponses are, they are YOUR responses and his current behavior is not compatable with a continued relationship with you.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


His behavior is appallingly bad. You're not being oversensitive. It sounds aggressive and mean, like he wants to hurt you but he knows the only way you'll put up with it is if he pretends it's a joke.

If you don't want to just dump him immediately (which is a good option, I think!), then you should sit him down and tell him one last time as clearly and as seriously as you can that this behavior is really upsetting you and hurting you. If he is any sort of decent person at all, he will listen carefully and be horrified at how much he's been upsetting you and he will stop that shit immediately. If his reaction is anything else: denying that it's so bad, telling you to lighten up, promising to change and not changing, then I would strongly recommend getting out of that relationship without giving him any more warning.
posted by colfax at 8:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Was this change abrupt? Because honestly someone who repeatedly does this at 43 and hasn't been this way since we met, I would wonder if there is something medically wrong with their change in behavior.

Sit him down one time and say "I don't like it when you do (list of things). I don't care if you think it's funny. I'm not a victim for your entertainment and you're not allowed to dictate what my sense of humor is. The next time you do this will be your last opportunity."

Then DTMFA, or demand counseling if you want any chance of saving this.

You deserve better. I'm frankly shocked you can muster any sort of physical attraction.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is nuts. You don't have to live like this.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


He's a total assclown! Dump him.

Since he loves "to get a reaction from you," don't expect him to just agree and walk away. He'll pull some bullshit I'm sure. Do not give him ONE MORE SECOND of satisfaction by reacting to whatever he does. Just dump him and then no contact. Period.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Am I just being over sensitive? Or a mad grump? Thank you for your responses.

Respectfully, you are being UNDER-sensitive. Most of the things you listed would have had people running for the door long, long ago. He doesn't care that he's making you mad. He doesn't care that you don't like being teased. Your idea of what is normal behavior from a partner has been warped by 4 years of having a boyfriend who literally doesn't care about what you want.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


I would assume anyone who treated me that way hated my guts, and act accordingly.
posted by tomboko at 9:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


i would take one of two paths:

01) dump this fucking loser manbaby who doesn't give a single fuck about you or what you want and deliberately and with malice aforethought constantly oversteps physical boundaries you've clearly stated again and again

02) the same as #1 but he gets the People's Elbow to the throat first
posted by poffin boffin at 9:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [32 favorites]


In your post title you call him your "teasing boyfriend"...... Christ on a crutch, this is not teasing, this is flat-out abuse, with a side order of gaslighting and victim-blaming.

he said all I do is blame him, and that I obviously don't like him very much if things like that make me upset

No shit, Sherlock! He's absolutely right: people (like you, me, and apparently everybody else posting here) do not enjoy it when they are physically and emotionally bullied by someone who claims to love them but treats them like dirt. Your reaction to his continuing to bully you despite repeated demands that he stop is totally, perfectly reasonable: you are most definitely not "too sensitive" or a "mad grump" --- and let me guess, both insults are direct from him, right? And he says you're too sensitive or grumpy or you don't have a sense of humor when you fail to find his abuse funny?

Abuse isn't funny, and neither is this dude. DTMFA, please.
posted by easily confused at 9:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Anyone you date after this guy is going to seem incredibly warm and considerate by comparison.

You have so much to look forward to--as soon as you dump him, that is.
posted by Guinevere at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


You've already attempted to negotiate. His behavior crosses into dark territory. I wouldn't put my safety in the hands of a man who acts this way.

Your wishes are not an issue for him. He wants a reaction from you. He doesn't seem to care whether the reaction is a loving embrace or a cry of pain. You want to change him, he wants to change you. His tactics are a good description of his internal architecture, as are yours. Negotiating with your SO is proper, but it's wise to think about the terms you are trying to handle. You seem otherwise reasonable, he seems otherwise frightening. Your emotional health is at risk by entering into his game. Your physical safety also could be at risk.

Separation is the obvious remedy for both issues. If you want to talk to a counselor to help sort out the possibility of fixing the relationship, she may be able to suggest a workable plan. I don't believe it would be wise to continue the relationship pending counseling sessions, because bullies are clever and subtle, and a common tactic is for them to get you to participate in your own humility. At some point the web of rationalization becomes totally unmanageable, weighted to his needs, not yours Move out first, then when you get better grounded you can see this whole thing in a more objective light.
posted by mule98J at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, this relationship is serious, but in another way...
Ok, so he might be insecure, he might have a tic of some sorts, he might be persistently tone-deaf about how immature his behaviour is, but he also might actually have a deep-delved-down tendency to hurt others. Who wants to take that risk?
And of course you have all the right to "blame" him for stuff he does. Metafilter knee-jerk meme or not: I would probably get out at this point.
posted by Namlit at 9:35 AM on May 13, 2015


He's 43? This sounds more like the behavior of someone who is 13.

DTMFA.
posted by tckma at 9:41 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've told him on a few occasions that it really bothers me and I don't like what he's doing and make a request for him to stop. He hasn't

That's the story right there. It's time to go.

(Also, what tckma just said.)
posted by Gelatin at 9:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Reading this question made me feel so angry and so upset on your behalf. I really, really hope you're able to hear all the people in this thread who are telling you that this is not okay.

He says he likes to get a rise out of me because I have no pulse

Do you want to be in a relationship with someone who actively enjoys harassing you? He's telling you flat out that he likes doing this to you. He likes making you upset. This is sick--He's sick. It would be one thing if he immediately backed down when you told him this upset you, but instead, he tries to make you believe that you're the problem. That dynamic is just so, so toxic. You haven't done anything wrong here. This behavior is absolutely beyond the pale.

And in case this helps, I'm going to tell you about a similar experience I had. It was with a family member, not a boyfriend, but he was around the same age as your boyfriend. He really enjoyed doing things that made me intensely uncomfortable. Tickling me until I had to run away and hide from him, pretending to punch me in the face. Telling super explicit sexual jokes that I didn't need to hear from a man who was thirty years older than me (and related to me). Trying to look up my skirt, asking me what color underwear I was wearing, making demeaning and lascivious comments about other women. He knew how upset it made me. I told him to stop. I tried yelling at him, physically running away from him. But none of that worked, because that was the response he wanted.

For years I never told anyone about this. I didn't even know quite how to define it. Was it abuse? Was it sexual harassment? Could you be sexually harassed by someone you were related to? I wasn't sure if I was being too sensitive, if I was making too big a deal of things. After all, he wasn't molesting me. He wasn't doing any lasting (physical) damage.

In hindsight, I know that I wasn't being too sensitive, and you aren't either. This behavior isn't okay. I just wish at the time someone had told me that.

I tried to play it off like it didn't affect me, but it absolutely did. Living with someone like this means you're constantly on alert for what could happen next. How can you trust someone when you know that they won't listen to your distress? How can you be comfortable in a relationship with someone who likes to see you suffer?

You can't. Or at least, I couldn't, and I really don't think most people can either. And the good news is that you don't have to.

This guy is old enough to know better. Don't bother with counseling, don't try to talk this out one more time. This is who he is, but you absolutely deserve better. Please end this relationship. Once you finally do that, it will be such a weight off your shoulders.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


After making you uncomfortable for his enjoyment, he's telling you that you're no fun... because you complained. He's not doing this to have fun with you, he's doing it to have fun at your expense. If he really felt like all you were doing was blaming him and not having fun, he would see what he could do to change his behavior so that you two could have fun together. Playing off shitty behavior as a joke and gaslighting the person you're "joking" about is classic abuser behavior. Regardless of whether he hits you or forces you to have sex when you don't want to, this is abuse.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Although as a woman it's entirely possible someone will decide to override my bodily autonomy and wishes, I really have no expectation that anyone I know will pull my pants down by surprise for their own amusement today.

I am pretty positive that's not going to happen to me. No one I love who loves me will hilariously smack me with a wet towel, or flick me, or embarrass me in a physical, exposed way either in public or the *safety* of my own home. I won't even have to ask them not to do it. They simply aren't going to treat me like that. That is my life: I don't have to deal with that from the people who care about me. We didn't even have to have any chats about the part where I would hate it a lot. None of them will tell me that I am boring or not lively enough or I need a better sense of humor, or that if I changed I would enjoy having my bra undone, or my pants pulled down. None of them.

I am not trying to say you are defective or wrong or imply that I am better than you for not having to cope with that sort of treatment: I'm telling you about my expectations for my day because I want you to imagine that you could have the entire rest of your life like this. You can have a life where this is not an issue, ever. It's real, possible, and I live a very mundane, non-extraordinary or interesting life. The thing is, in order to have a life like this, you either have to end the relationship and leave, or he has to stop immediately and never do these things again and not ever pressure you to start enjoying them so he can start doing them again.

You have more information and context than what we have in the question as to which option is more likely to succeed.

As an aside: my ex-housemate was an overgrown man-baby in his forties, and even he never tried anything "hilarious" like that with me for the several years we were housemates. Even when he tried hitting on me. I don't think it even crossed his mind that it was an option to try that on other people.
posted by Naamah at 9:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


You have the complete and absolute right to set boundaries around your body (who touches it and how they touch it.) If someone doesn't respect those boundaries, and especially if they argue with you about your boundaries instead of listening, they are not someone to keep in your life.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


jfc. i don't know if this is a sockpuppet or if you really only have just joined recently, so we don't have previous questions to go off of.

but holy hell woman, you need to leave.
i hope you guys don't cohabitate so you can just change the locks.

but seriously, leave.
leave.
leave.
leave.

if you need to, your next question should about how to put a plan into action to make that happen. there's also a bunch of questions on here abuot doing that as well.
posted by sio42 at 10:17 AM on May 13, 2015


This is super awful. Everything constructive has been said up-thread. Please get out.
posted by French Fry at 10:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ugh. I'm with Lyn Never and jbenben here. This kind of aggression from a 43 year old isn't just immature, it's deeply abnormal and frightening. Adults who get off on being petty and violent in public are acting in violation of pretty much every rule of being a participant in society. He enjoys the emotional catharsis of hurting and upsetting you, and he is progressively testing both your and his own boundaries to see how much he can get away with. The last guy I knew who acted like this in public ended up breaking into his then-gf's apartment through the second story window at 3 am and threatening her until enough neighbors woke up that he ran away. Please get out, and please stay safe. It's very likely that he will escalate this shitty childish abuse into serious, dangerous abuse. Please get out before the brakes come off, and be careful.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:31 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, you really don't need another opinion at this point, but this is not good. It reminds me of how my brother used to treat me. I've since come to define his behavior as super narcissistic over abusive (not that the two are mutually exclusive) because I feel that more than anything, such weird "playful" bullying served to underline his complete control over any given situation and me, and my own lack of autonomy, hell, my lack of personhood.

How did I deal with this? I cut off the majority of our contact. I never see him alone anymore. Our interactions are super limited. I feel so much better at life, it's not even funny. I think you'd probably feel better if you got out.
posted by pepper bird at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2015


If you hadn't said your relationship had already been toxic throughout, I'd be more inclined to say "well maybe you really do just have to shout it through his thick skull," because some people are just really dense and some people got bad home training, etc. I have a relative, for example, who's maybe a little non-neurotypical and had some of these habits, and basically nobody ever told him to knock it the fuck off til he was like 30. The difference between him and your guy is that when someone he cared about told him to knock it the fuck off, he DID.

But this guy, nah-- this guy's just shitty and you should get away from him.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but this guy sounds mentally ill and dangerous ... and any further time you spend with him is, at the very least, a waste of time for you.

I really don't think 43 year olds who.engage in this kind of teasing, constant abuse are right in the head.
posted by jayder at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


You guys are beyond amazing, thank you so much for your responses and you can't imagine how much you have helped. I have told him for the last time I'd like him to honor his word and to stop this behavior he clearly knows upsets me. He said that he knows it's unacceptable and what started out as something playful for him has got out of hand. Funny enough, puddledork hit the nail on the head when he said maybe he wants a good spanking and wants angry sex. He loves to taunt me in bed so I'll get mad and take it out on him, again, because I have no pulse which is so far from the truth its not even funny. He'd love me to completely dominate him and loves raunchy talk and fantasy play. Now i know theres nothing wrong with that and its healthy, and trust me when i say I've tried to go outside of my comfort zone for his sake because i know its important to him, But, some balance of my way vs his way would be nice. If I'm not in the mood for his raunchy sex which he says will bring us closer togetherbecause it's better than no sex if I'm not in the mood, then I'm boring, I have issues, I'm no fun and I never want anything but rainbows and butterflies. He tells me I should at least appreciate having someone beside me that wants me and to stop stomping on the flower garden. Dont get me wrong. He can also be very kind and affectionate at times. I have also had a huge problem with making excuses in the past, in if I forget to do something like clean up some crumbs on the counter, and it's another thing he brings up, I make an excuse and get defensive and it drives him nuts. I have for the most part remedied that and just go with what he asks without saying anything but last week there was a minor request of his and I had a reaction. I did not yell, scream, slam the door But just went for a walk. I was put off, nothing more and he told me I was being irrate and unreasonable And that he can't say anything to me because I'm going to react. Many times he tells me I'm being moody, or angry all the time, or belligerent and I'm like what are you talking about? and I think I'm going nuts, that maybe i am like that and dont see myself but i dont think so. I told him I had a right to have a reaction as long as it want destructive or hurtful. Going for a walk is hardly being irrate. I think because we are moving in together he is on edge therefore behaving the way he is. I made it clear that I will no longer tolerate his behavior and the next time he pulls down my pants I'm walking away. He said fine, so then just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair And I'm still working on that but I'm human. Crap, there's my excuse again. After all the advice I got from you guys I think I need to rethink whether this can be healthy. It wasn't healthy before and I have seen some positive changes but maybe I'm just in denial and kidding myself
posted by miranda at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2015


I think because we are moving in together he is on edge therefore behaving the way he is.

Please don't move in with him. Keep your own place. Please.
posted by kate blank at 11:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [91 favorites]


and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair

NO! That is not fair at all. You are allowed to get defensive when he continues to act like an ass, belittle your feelings (as he is implicitly doing when he tells you you're not allowed to get defensive), or ask you to do things you don't want to do.

This man does not see you as his equal. If he did he would treat you like he did.
posted by adamp88 at 11:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [51 favorites]


Please don't move in with him. Get rid of this guy, enjoy the peace and relief, and when you're ready, find someone for whom you don't have to make excuses. Someone who makes you HAPPY.
posted by meringue at 11:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


It doesn't matter what bad behaviors you have, they are irrelevant, and don't sound that bad anyway, he still is not allowed to treat you like that.
posted by katieanne at 11:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


He said fine, so then just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair

This is INSANE. He is playing games, and is not interested in a healthy relationship.

He tells me I should at least appreciate having someone beside me that wants me

abusive

I think because we are moving in together he is on edge therefore behaving the way he is

DON'T DO THIS

It wasn't healthy before and I have seen some positive changes but maybe I'm just in denial and kidding myself?

Yup. Trust that part of your gut that made you want to ask this question, and get out. Good luck.
posted by likeatoaster at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [30 favorites]


Your relationship has not been "toxic at times". Your relationship is currently toxic. He is specifically doing things you have asked him not to do, things that general society thinks are belittling and embarrassing and juvenile, things that physically and emotionally hurt you. Do not move in with him. You will be setting yourself up for escalating abuse.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Please don't move in with him, please realize that of course he's going to tell you what you want to hear, it's what abusive people do so that you stay. I have been in your position and I wish I'd left so many years earlier. He's treating you badly and then making you doubt yourself. You are right, he is toxic.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


I made it clear that I will no longer tolerate his behavior and the next time he pulls down my pants I'm walking away. He said fine, so then just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair

Sooooo, he agreed to stop making you angry by pulling down your pants if you agree to never get defensive around him whenever he says anything to you. He's agreed to stop controlling your behavior in one way if you agree to let him control your behavior in other ways. That doesn't seem fair to me at all. It seems like he's done something terrible to you, then agreed to stop if you let him keep doing something else terrible to you. "Never again pulling down other people's pants" isn't something that average adult people have to compromise over.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [76 favorites]


just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period

It's concerning that he isn't saying, "Because I respect you I will never pull your pants down," but rather, "So I won't [can't!] get in shit I won't pull your pants down." So long, of course, as you never "make an excuse or get defensive with anything he says or asks of me".

If you ever "make an excuse" or "get defensive", does he believe that your "deal" means that he gets to start pulling your pants down again?
posted by clawsoon at 11:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair

This is not fair. It's more gaslighting. He's trying to box you in so that you're wrong for complaining. That he makes you feel like you're going nuts is indicative: you're not nuts. He's mistreating you and then blaming you for not submitting to it.

Do not move in with him. He is going to tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to move in with him, and then he's going to continue with the shitty behavior. Don't believe him, and don't move in with him.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [37 favorites]


He tells me I should at least appreciate having someone beside me that wants me and to stop stomping on the flower garden.

Woah.
This is the cherry on the cake.
He is abusive and he thinks nothing is wrong with what he is doing.
Do not move in with him.
posted by lizbunny at 11:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


Many times he tells me I'm being moody, or angry all the time, or belligerent and I'm like what are you talking about?

He is talking about himself. You do not have to be in a relationship with someone like this.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I made it clear that I will no longer tolerate his behavior and the next time he pulls down my pants I'm walking away. He said fine, so then just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair

There is a world of difference between pulling someone's pants down and making excuses or having a defensive reaction when criticized--unless your defensive reaction is to pull someone else's pants down. It is true that making excuses is not a positive behavior in a relationship: it is also nowhere near as negative as disrespecting someone's physical boundaries.

Feeling defensive is human and reacting defensively can be a reasonable response. Going for a walk rather than arguing or fighting is often a reasonable way to manage defensive feelings. People who honestly and seriously struggle with managing their defensive reactions appropriately are often taught in therapeutic settings to say that they need to take a break from the situation and go for a walk as a positive way of coping with their defensive feelings rather than acting on their feelings immediately. If it is the case (which we don't know is the case for certain) that you do have a hard time when it comes to reacting defensively, I would be concerned that he wants you to stop engaging in a more positive way of handling your emotions and reactions, and that this would set you up to feel more reactive, defensive, and trapped. Basically, taking this higher management skill away from your toolbox would set you up to get more upset than you might otherwise, and then he can call out whatever reaction you have instead as unreasonable and emotional (any reaction, that is, besides "just doing what he says/as he asks, always").
posted by Naamah at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


He said fine, so then just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair And I'm still working on that but I'm human.

This is actually one of the grossest, most upsetting things I have ever heard. In order for you to be allowed to feel normal, commonplace feelings that result from 95% of all human interactions all over the world, he has to be allowed to cruelly expose you whenever he wants????

This is not the way kind people act. This is not the way loving people act. It isn't even the way kind and loving people THINK, let alone ACT.

Also: there is a reason that this is the line everyone is pulling from your update. This is 100% off-the-wall nonsense garbage. It seems like he has convinced you that all your wants and needs are absurd (wants and needs like: respect, not being constantly under attack), and his needs are totally logical and rational (needs like: getting to humiliate you constantly, verbally abusing you, refusing to own up to his mistakes). Just because he is speaking in a tone of voice that implies that he is rational and you are not does not make him right. The things he is saying are NOT NORMAL OR LOGICAL.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

You do not trade away your entire voice in the relationship if he gives up one specific means of abuse. No. No ma'am. This is how women die. This man is a bad piece of shit subhuman who should never have good things, that's how terrible he is.

No person who cares about you would ever ever ever say something like that to you.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [52 favorites]


So... he never gets to pull your pants down again. Yeah, reasonable, duh! I'm glad he doesn't get to pull your pants down! WTF!

But in exchange, you made a deal to "never make an excuse or be defensive in response to anything he says?" What does that even mean? Are you not allowed to say "Whoops, yeah I left crumbs - I ran to the bathroom/fell asleep/plain forgot" ever again? Is the only appropriate response in his world, "Yes sir, I'm sorry sir, I will clean these crumbs immediately?" Is the appropriate response silence and obedience?

What if he yells at you? Are you supposed to stay silent? What if he starts calling you "stupid" for leaving the crumbs out? Or worse? He's gonna pull out that agreement, that's what. He's going to be all, "Ah-HA. I haven't pulled your pants down in 6 months! You must not care about this relationship because you dared to respond to something I said!"

If HE the one getting to define what "excuse" or "defensive," this is another way you get manipulated. His definition will creep. And then he'll get even more abusive, because "you deserved it" for "talking back" after he "told you not to leave crumbs out."

I can see it coming.

To me what that deal sounds like is "FINE, I won't be a 12 year old boy in this one regard. But in exchange, I'm gonna need your voice/opinions/agency."

Shit. I can't believe this is something you even need to compromise on. Pulling your pants down, smdh.

Get out of there before it gets worse, this is ridiculous. We're pulling for you - you can do it!
posted by functionequalsform at 11:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


Nope, not being over sensitive or a mad grump. You are steeped in toxicity. Get out. Don't move in together.

Get out. Out. Out.


and I think I'm going nuts, that maybe i am like that and dont see myself but i dont think so.

If you think you are going nuts, then the abuse he is heaping on you is working.



Get out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out.
posted by tilde at 11:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [32 favorites]


In addition to the other effed-up aspects of this statement as noted above, "...he will NEVER pull my pants down Period" sounds like passive-aggressive code for "he will never initiate sex again, and it's all your fault for having boundaries."

Also this: "If I'm not in the mood for his raunchy sex which he says will bring us closer togetherbecause it's better than no sex if I'm not in the mood, then I'm boring, I have issues, I'm no fun and I never want anything but rainbows and butterflies." is him using verbal and emotional abuse an effort to coerce you into having sex when you don't want to.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


I take back what I said earlier. While what I said is true in some cases, the follow-up sounds like the work of a pretty practised manipulator.
posted by clawsoon at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Look, if you take nothing else from this entire exchange please don't move in with him.
posted by oneear at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I have been on Ask MetaFilter for over 10 years now, and I will say that I am having a hard time remembering a set of answers that is this unanimous about leaving a relationship. This man is a despicable human being, and regardless of whatever positive attributes he might have, you must leave him now, for the sake of your own mental (and possibly soon physical) health.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


You know those movies where you watch the heroine do something (go in the basement, investigate the creepy barn, move in with the manipulative, cruel, abusive man) that makes the whole audience say "no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, don't do it!", but she can't see the danger because she's so close and so immersed in the situation? That's what this thread feels like.

Listen to the audience, heed the danger, don't move in with him. Please. We are rooting for you.
posted by pennypiper at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [35 favorites]


He says he likes to get a rise out of me because I have no pulse.

So, he thinks you don't have a pulse (what?) unless you are upset, angry, and defensive with him? And he likes that? He likes how you are when he is deliberately making you upset?

This is a very bad sign. It's a huge red flag. So, so bad. Break up with him.
posted by rtha at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


He said fine, so then just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair And I'm still working on that but I'm human. Crap, there's my excuse again.

Do not move in with this man. He is abusive.

You are not making excuses, you are indeed human. As a human being, you have needs. You have clearly stated your needs, desires, and boundaries. You, as a human being, have every right to walk away, heal from this, and when you want to, find someone else who will have an actual relationship with you.

Re-read your comment. He said that his behavior is unacceptable.
Then he tells you that you no longer have the right to be "defensive" about behavior he himself says is unacceptable.

This dude is wack. He is 43, he knows better, you can't change him and that's not an issue for you, that is an issue for him to work on. Alone.

I know this type of man too, he was my first long-term boyfriend. A week after I broke up with him, he moved in with his office's secretary, who had a baby six months later. (Yeeaaah. You can't even imagine how I thanked my lucky stars that I broke up with him when I did.) He's 39 now and treats his children this way. They are under close watch by social workers because of the abusiveness.

Do you want children someday? Would you want your children to be treated this way?
posted by fraula at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


None of here can tell us how you should feel or what you should do.

Your partner should not be doing that, either.

You are miranda, and you are allowed to feel your feelings and react to things as you please. No excuses.
posted by hmo at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


dude. no. just no. no to moving in, no to his bullshit, NO TO MOVING IN (i feel this needs to said twice), just NO. you're a person. there are enough things in life that suck, no one needs their home life to suck as well. your home is supposed to be your damn sanctuary. nip that shit in the goddamned bud. because really? one time he kicks you, you trip and fall and maybe break all your teeth. he pulls your pants down, and maybe you fall down and break an arm. do you really want to constantly wonder if you're going to be able to live through this? shit escalates, yo. in a bad way.

dude's 43. forty-damn-three. this is some bullshit in a man his age. leave.
posted by koroshiya at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Your update is really upsetting, this exchange you describe is even worse than the original issue. I am afraid to ask what the relationship was like when it was "toxic". Don't move in with this man. This is not what relationships look like, even "difficult" or "complicated" ones. Any time someone says "s/he can be really nice/kind/etc" at times" I get very sad for them. I take it for granted that my partner is kind the vast majority of the time; a snotty mood or irritated respone is the exception, not the rule. Are you outside the US? I would be happy to find local support for you to transition away from this.
posted by Iteki at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


He said fine, so then just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me which is fair

No, no. no. This "concession" isn't for your safety, it's for his -- he won't do one of the humiliating things he's been doing, and in return you aren't' allowed to be defensive? What?!

Plus, if I'm understanding correctly, he wants you to act physically dominant toward him, and if you aren't willing, he deliberately tries to anger you so he gets what he wants anyway? That behavior is absolutely unacceptable; it isn't at all safe, sane or consensual. (Long ago, I had a partner try to pull that nonsense with me, and I couldn't get rid of her fast enough.)

Far from moving in with this jerk, you should be packing your bags. He doesn't deserve to be in a relationship, let alone with you.
posted by Gelatin at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


All the fucks. Jesus.

This is abuse, this is him turning your boundaries, your rights, your body into arguments.

It's not a debate.
posted by French Fry at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


Bottom line: if you ask him not to do something that bothers you, and he doesn't, it's blantant disrespect on his part. Shame on him.

I understand how you feel. My husband thinks it's "cute" and "funny" to tear off the top part of a paper straw wrapper, blow on the end and shoot the bottom part of the wrapper at my face. Like my hubby, your guy sounds like an immature brat. And I've also asked mine to stop it, knock it off already, etc., and I have been painted all kind of shades of no-fun, tight-ass, boring, snobbish, etc. while he justifies himself with, "God! I'm just trying to be funny!" I don't know if your boyfriend has acted like that at all, but it's likely that someday he will. It is part of an abusive pattern, one that grows exponentially.

And yeah... 43?!?! Definitely an immature brat. Go find the guy who wouldn't dream of making you feel anything less than amazing.
posted by chatelaine at 12:05 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period

So basically he is positioning you as some kind of punitive figure who is cruelly "getting him in the shit" - instead of seeing you as a human being who has the right to be treated with basic dignity. And to top this all off, he's positioning you as a punitive figure while he is the one who is really being aggressive/punishing/controlling. That's pure gaslighting.

Don't move in with him. Honestly, what you describe in your response sounds even more abusive than the original post. This really sounds like a miserable situation.

Don't let the whole weight of having a lease (if you have one) push you to move in with him.

Also he sounds really coercive and unpleasant about sex, and it sounds like your respective sexual interests aren't aligned well (leaving aside the coercion/creepiness). Those things alone would be huge red flags to me.
posted by Frowner at 12:07 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Oh my God. This relationship is not "toxic at times," it's more like "so pervasively toxic it's relationship Chernobyl." Don't move in with him! All of what you described is abusive and gaslighting.

And at 43 - even if he was raised by wolves, by his age he would have learned how normal, considerate, decent adults act with one another.

This is an abusive overgrown toddler, not a man. You can do better. Give him his walking papers.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Your life will be slowly and steadily worse the longer you are with him. He will NOT change, nor can you change him. He wants all your power, your will, your soul. No. Just no. Do not move in, do not marry him, do not be around him.

Metafilter is often squabbly, and sometimes over-passionate about our stances.... but this is. not. one of those times. All of us fully believe this is BAD NEWS. LIFETIME MOVIE bad news! So: please, please, please listen to this outburst of passion: Get out while you can. For your sake!

Talk to some of the ladies of Metafilter who have been there and gotten out... you don't want to live through what they did. (I bet some have me-mailed you already) Your BF has a ton of reasons to BS and manipulate you. We, random voices on the Web, are all telling you to dump him. Most of us are also willing to offer you a couch or help packing, if need be.
posted by Jacen at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Please listen to the chorus of voices here. Collectively, there is probably 500 years worth of experience here - experience with shitty, abusive, complicated relationships and experience with healthy, loving awesome relationships. One good thing that can come out of the experience with bad relationships is helping someone else who is currently in a bad situation. Please listen to these incredibly knowledgeable people.

Ask Metafilter is a huge, awesome resource and it is completely at your disposal. Please take it seriously and use it. Please do not move in with this person. Please. Please.

It's totally okay to just call it quits. Even if you don't believe he is really abusive, you clearly do not want the same things in the relationship. It's okay to stop doing something that doesn't work for you. If you keep riding a bike and keep falling off and hate riding it, you can decide to run or walk or swim or anything. You do not have to keep falling off the bike because someone else told you that you should ride a goddamned bike.

It doesn't matter how long you have been together. If it is not what you want, you can leave. I don't think you have said how old you are but sit down and think about how long you might live. Do you really want to feel like this or worse every single day for the next 10 years? 20 years? 30 years?

Good luck. Be strong. You deserve better and you can attain better.
posted by Beti at 12:10 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Ew. This is so creepy.

I'm trying to imagine the "deal" that I would make with my husband where I would sign up for "never getting defensive or having a bad thing to say about him." And I can't imagine where the benefit to agreeing to that deal wasn't something like a life of leisure where all my financial needs are taken care of and probably one where we don't even live together. Because how else could I ever be expected to promise to "never get defensive or say a bad thing"? I mean, that's a relationship. It's how you handle defensiveness and caring for each other's feelings that make up the day to day of being in an intimate relationship with someone.

I sure as hell would not give up my rights to defend myself for someone agreeing not to pull my pants down. And I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone who thought this was an appropriate quid pro quo. How about if I stop punching you in the face, you'll agree to be 100% devoted to me?

Something really isn't right with your guy. Do not move in with him.
posted by amanda at 12:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't know what I can add that hasn't already been said earlier in the thread, but for your own sake, make whatever preparations you need to and cut this guy out of your life. He's a grown middle-aged man -- if he hasn't become a better person by now, he won't. In caps for emphasis: YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG HERE AT ALL. IT WAS NEVER YOUR FAULT. YOU DESERVE A LIFE AND LOVED ONES THAT YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:24 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


This behavior is abusive. He is an abuser.

Do NOT move in with him. Dump him, and don't let him talk you into waiting. If he's this terrible now, when you have an autonomous living situation, how terrible will he be when you live in the same home?

He is grooming you for more future abuse.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:25 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


I don't think I've ever posted more than three times in one AskMe (and three times is really too much), but honestly, I really feel like I have to post again here. As others have noted, your update makes the situation sound even worse. You've already started to buy into his worldview of him as the reasonable one just trying to be fair and you as the uptight, no-fun, spoilsport girlfriend whose relationship would just be fine if you'd do everything he said. No. No. No. This is just inaccurate, and again, I hate to repeat myself, but this is what abusers do. You are in an abusive relationship.

Read a fiendish thingy's comment again, more than once. It's spot on.

He tells me I should at least appreciate having someone beside me that wants me and to stop stomping on the flower garden.

Oh, honey. My heart breaks for you reading this. This is just a horrible thing to say, and it's also not true. That's also what abusers do: they tell you they're the only ones who are nice enough to put up with you, and after a while, hearing it enough, you begin to believe it. It's NOT TRUE. Please get away from this guy.

And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not move in with him. This is not a healthy situation for you. No, far worse than that -- it's a dangerous situation for you.

Believe me, I know how hard is it to end a relationship, even an awful one. But after a relatively short time passes you'll have moved on and you'll look back and wonder why you ever wanted to be with this guy at all.
posted by holborne at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


[This is a comment from an anonymous answerer.]
Is there any chance he had a head trauma or something similar around the time this behaviour started? All the above advice should obviously be heeded, but radical changes in personality and behaviour and inability to respect boundaries or other people's space and feelings are sometimes symptomatic of a head injury or worse. It's anecdotal of course, but I knew of someone who suffered a brain tumour and it altered his behaviour around children (his own and friends') to the point that he didn't realise he was hurting them when he thought he was just teasing them.
posted by cortex at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jesus Christ. Come join us all on the DTMFA bus.

I can't believe you even are having a conversation about how he treats you and are being ropes into negotiations as to what conditions he is allowed to pull your pants down.

This isn't going to get any better. Please don't move in with him or feel like you need to continue his mindfuck of a relationship.

There is some adult person out there who acts like one and who will treat you with love and respect. You sound like a nice person and I'm right-this-minute hating the fact that some asshole is preying on those qualities.

Please get away from this person. There's no way you will ever have any kind of adult discussion with him.
posted by SillyShepherd at 12:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Your boyfriend's behavior is so bad that people are resorting to 'head trauma and brain damage' in order to try and come up with a sympathetic reason for his behavior.

Let that sink in for a second.

Also, people have been asking you pretty consistently what the toxic behavior was before, and you haven't answered.

If you are still unsure about what to do, I encourage you to reply to that question in the answer box. Type it all out. Write down what he did. You don't have to post it. Just read it. And then read the whole thread again.

You don't live together, you said. That means that you could, right now, write an email that says: "Dear X, I've given it a lot of thought and I've decided that I need some space to figure out how I feel before we make the decision to move in together. I'd like to spend a few days apart. Please don't contact me between now and then. I know this is confusing, but this is very important to me. Thank you."

Then, you can turn off your phone and a computer. You can sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and make a list of all the scary logistical things that might keep you from breaking up with him right now even if you understand that you need to go. Like, breaking the lease, joint travel plans, your stuff at his house, etc. I bet the list, when written down, will be a lot shorter than it is right now in your head. But if it still feels overwhelming, you can call a friend to help you walk through it. Or you can post it here.

Then, once everything is sorted, and you've made a plan that involves seeing him the absolute bare minimum (friends do the stuff-exchange, take the financial hit on the lease, etc.) call him and ask you to meet him in a public place. When he arrives, tell him that you're ending it, that your friends will be in touch about logistics, and that you hope he gets the help he needs. Then say goodbye and block him from your phone.

This can be over and done with by this weekend and you will never, ever have to feel this way again.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 12:58 PM on May 13, 2015 [64 favorites]


I've never been so sad to read a response from the OP.
Such a Bullshit Wall of Text Trying To Rationalize Not Leaving Him.
Don't believe these Jedi Mind tricks that he's trying to pull on you.

Grab your shit and run.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Your response, where you talk about how affectionate and caring he can be...it's true, nobody is 100% bad but you need to get out of this. PLEASE.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Please take a moment to step outside your self-judgement for a moment and allow me to suggest that any defensiveness you've shown in this relationship may be stemming from your innate need to...defend yourself. Based on what you've shared above (as I've witnessed from a relative and friends living through similar hells): you have been conditioned already to self-blame for the abuse. I suggest that you are deeper inside the abuse cycle than you realize.

Seriously, take a moment to consider this. It can be very challenging to step away from an abusive relationship in part because by the time you are unable to deny escalating abuse, you have already been programmed to believe that it's your fault or responsibility. Or that you have some obligation to him. Etc.

Do you know the source of the term "gaslighting"? Your questioning if you are "going nuts" is the absolute classic abused partner's response to this kind of manipulation.

Please, please, at the very least, do not move in with him. Abusers tend to contain their behavior while getting you into a more vulnerable position. Experience says it will only get worse once you have more at stake (home, finances, belongings, shared pets, etc.)

It can be hard to walk away from a 4-year-relationship. But despite what he's been telling you, you absolutely can do better. And you should get yourself into counseling right away, if possible (yourself, not couples therapy!) to start clarifying and restoring your sense of self-worth. You've been fed a lot of mental crap for 4 years, and may need some help recovering. And you really can do it! I have seen women come out the other side (from longer relationships) and end up, when they're ready, with supportive partners who cherish them. But the longer you stay ensconced in this situation, the harder it is to get out.

I am worried for your physical and mental safety in this relationship. You can do better. Please take care of you. You are not crazy. You need, and deserve, and are worth so much more than this.
posted by theplotchickens at 1:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Literally no one on this planet deserves what he's doing to you. I don't care if you're a mess and defensive and petty (you aren't), NOTHING YOU COULD POSSIBLY DO OR HAVE EVER DONE WOULD MAKE YOU DESERVING OF THIS ABUSE. please leave. Please, please leave.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Funny enough, puddledork hit the nail on the head when he said maybe he wants a good spanking and wants angry sex. He loves to taunt me in bed so I'll get mad and take it out on him, again, because I have no pulse

This also stood out to me. This is not the way healthy and safe D/s relationships work, btw. There is a whole process of both parties articulating their wants and needs and limits. And then honest negotiation about what is acceptable to both. If he wants that kind of relationship and cannot/will not articulate it, it is not safe to move forward with it.

Honestly, it sounds like he is looking for an "excuse" to hit you. This behavior isn't poking the bear to get a rise out of the bear. It is poking the bear in the hope it will jump up and chase him and he can have a excuse to kill it. Seriously.

"Honest, officer. We were just fooling around in bed. Look! I have bruises, too." And in all likelihood, if you have injuries, he will go to jail. And then what happens when he gets out? He will not be contrite. It will not be a wake up call for him. He will be angry and even more dangerous.

Please leave him. Good luck.
posted by Beti at 1:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dude.

1. He says it "got out of hand" - what else could "get out of hand"? Really, really bad shit is the answer. Not having boundaries or self-control is relatively harmless sometimes and spectacularly harmful at other times. What I see here is someone who goes too far. YOU SHOULD BE SCARED OF THIS.
2. He didn't honor his word. How can you trust his word? He's proven it worthless.
3. "You have no pulse." This is a rude, shitty, critical thing to say. It's none of his goddamn business whether you "have a pulse" (god that's a fucking creepy term given this context) and it is not a flaw. He's making up irrational meaningless shit and you should laugh at this utter crap.
4. His raunchy sex is "better than no sex if you're not in the mood." What the godamn fuck? Maybe you don't like raunchy sex. Maybe you have to feel really safe with him before it's at all enjoyable to you. Totally understandable- this is not rocket science and there is no way he's that dumb. He's manipulating you on purpose because he doesn't care what you want, he cares what he wants. THIS IS NOT GENTLEMANLY AND NOT OKAY.
5. "You should be grateful that anyone likes you" -hahahahahaha. HE should be grateful that you're still around!!
6. If I'm reading this right, "making excuses" basically means you can't talk back when he asks you to do something, like clean crumbs? You just have to do it right then and no talk back? That is something a parent says to a child. An adult decides what chores they want to do when they want to do them. Leave your crumbs all over if you want-you get to decide, not him.
7. So you're never allowed to be upset. You're not even allowed to go for a walk. You just have to be happy to do what he asks, right when he wants it, and not say anything. Yeah, that sounds tooooooootally fair and not crazy abusive and effed up.

DO NOT MOVE IN WITH THIS MAN.

Break up with him or not later, but for right now, do not move in.
posted by quincunx at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'll join the chorus for Team Dump The Toxic Douche Lord. Follow the advice above for doing it safely in a public place. Then go No Contact, which I don't see mentioned explicitly.

No Contact. No Phone calls. No texts. No emails. Block him on social media along with any one else who might run and carry tales to him. Change your number/email/social media presence if necessary.

Do not give him even a micron of space to weasel back in with his bullshit mind games. Your new zen mantra in moments of weakness or misplaced pity is "Fuck you Toxic Douche Lord, I am awesome"

Because you are. Chin up and never forget that.
posted by romakimmy at 1:32 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


So he feels best when you are uncomfortable and/or suppressing yourself?

Punch him in the face, kick him in the nuts, and spit on him on your way out the door.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:34 PM on May 13, 2015


miranda,
There is a lot of agreement in this thread, and I'd like to add some ...hm... harmony. Overtone? Counterpoint? I'd like to reiterate the main theme in a way that extends and reinforces it.

You have only asked two questions so far: "Am I just being over sensitive? Or a mad grump?" And the answer to both is no.

People here are urging you to leave, in various ways, and piling a lot of labels and names on your 'boyfriend' based on your one post and one comment. This may make you feel bad. Like, if all these people can so clearly see what needs to be done, why can't you? Or perhaps all these people just don't understand, because you only wrote a few paragraphs, and how can all these commenters rush to judgment?

I have a small illustrative story that may help.

Whenever I show people around New York City, they always want to go to the top of the Empire State Building. It's very tall and impressive, it's an icon, it's part of the experience. It is the defining element of the city's skyline.

But I always try to take them to the observation deck at Rockefeller Plaza instead. Because as huge and noteworthy and eye-catching as the Empire State Building is, you can't actually see it when you're standing on it.

It is only by moving away from it (about a mile away) that one of the most prominent elements of the city can be seen.

Similarly, from a vantage point outside your current situation, these commenters are able to offer good, constructive advice.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


You asked him to stop, and he hasn't and said he likes to do it because you don't have a pulse? What a horrible thing to say to someone you are supposed to love. And then when you get mad, which is totally reasonable, he makes it your fault by claiming you are moody and unpleasant to be around? Ew. This guy sounds both way too immature for his age and like a total asshole. Do yourself a favor and dump him.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:46 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sadly, this is also the type of situation where I strongly suggest you watch out for any pets you may have. Because, honestly, he strikes me as the type to lash out at them if he can't get you.
posted by Jacen at 1:47 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


YOU ARE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP. Please, please, please remove yourself from this situation as soon as you can. Once he moves in with you it will only get worse and you will be even more under his thumb. I implore you to seek in-person help from a professional or trusted friend or family member to help you. He is gaslighting you and manipulating you into not trusting your own thoughts. Please don't enable him any further. I worry for you.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 1:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was one of the very few who wasn't advising you to DTMFA immediately.
He tells me I should at least appreciate having someone beside me that wants me and to stop stomping on the flower garden.
DTMFA.
posted by fullerine at 1:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


After reading your update, I only feel more strongly that you need to get away from this guy. He is abusive. The whole "I can't say anything negative to you without you making excuses and getting defensive" is a CLASSIC emotional abuse technique, to make you feel that frequent criticism from your partner over trivial things is a normal part of a relationship, and you are simply too sensitive to take it. This is absolute horseshit.

And there is basically no method of responding to his criticism that won't provoke further criticism. If he gets mad about crumbs on the counter and you're just like, "whoops, let me take care of those now" and let it just roll off your back - which is what he claims to want - he will still be angry that he didn't get a reaction out of you, and will instead accuse you of not taking his concerns seriously, or something along those lines. I was criticized by my abusive ex for being defensive, for apologizing, for being silent, for trying to have a sense of humor, for trying to get some space. Nothing was ever satisfactory. He just wanted me to feel bad so he could keep controlling me.

I agree with posters above that even if you're not ready to leave him, please, for your safety and well-being, do NOT move in with him. And seek out resources for yourself on understanding the dynamics of abusive relationships, as a first step. I know how hard it is to even come to terms with that reality. Then start looking into how to safely exit this situation. Imagine what your life could be like if you leave this toxic asshole, reclaim yourself, and live a happy life surrounded by people who are kind and respectful. That future is possible. Please take care and know that we are all thinking of you.
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 1:55 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


> he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of me

First of all, you should not have to concede anything in order to get someone to NOT PULL YOUR PANTS DOWN. You should not have to negotiate for it. Stuff like this is the basic starting point of an adult relationship.

And secondly, what you've conceded is out of all proportion to what you asked for. It's like if he stole a nickel from you, then said 'okay I'll give you your nickel back BUT YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME ALL THE REST OF YOUR MONEY FOREVER.' Seriously, grown-ups don't say this.

This is grade-school bullying, perhaps understandable and correctable in your grade-school-aged child, and utterly unacceptable in a man in his forties.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Dont get me wrong. He can also be very kind and affectionate at times.

I have an eight year old daughter. She has had a persistent problem with a schoolmate who plays rougher than she wants to play -- hitting, pushing, etc. She says "But when he's nice, he's so nice!"

I told her "If I put the most delicious looking milkshake in the world in front of you, and told you 'Drink up! By the way, this milkshake? It has a little bit of poop in it. Just a little! Like. . . one spoonful!' would you drink it?"

"Ew, no!" she said. "Poop is disgusting!"

"What if it was made of really, really good ice cream? Like, the best ice cream you can imagine?"

"No! Bleah!"

"What if it had even LESS than a spoonful of poop? What if it had only one SPECK of poop?"

"No, mom, gross. Even one speck of poop is too much."

"Okay," I said. "Hitting in a friendship is like poop in a milkshake. Even a little bit is too much; there is no amount of it that is OK, and no amount of greatness in the rest of the friendship can make even a tiny bit of hitting OK. I know you have fun sometimes and you want everything to always be great, but this kid's friendship is a poopshake. Don't drink it."

Miranda, it's not just hitting that is poop in a relationship milkshake. This kind of awful, abusive, gaslighting behavior is also poopy. Your relationship with this man is a poopshake, no matter how great some parts of it are. Dump it out.
posted by KathrynT at 3:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [560 favorites]


This has been said above but PLEASE don't move in with this guy.

My ex was the same type of guy and did similar types of annoying things, no matter how many times I told him to stop, saying he was being "affectionate" or just "having fun". It eventually progressed to actual sexual assaults, pretty much as soon as I moved in with him.

Don't put yourself through that kind of nightmare. He is showing you who he is. Others have pointed out how abusive his behavior is above; please don't turn away from the truth.

The fact that he gets off on rough sex/you "taking it out on him" and tries to guilt you into participating in this, even though (or perhaps especially because) it makes you uncomfortable makes me worried that he is looking forward to being able to force these things on you whenever he wants once you have moved in together.
posted by sevenofspades at 3:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Upon your update - Girl, you're in danger.

Don't move in with this guy. Please.
posted by jbenben at 3:37 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


You are in danger! This man has been verbally and emotionally abusive to you for a while and flirting on the edge of physical abuse with the "teasing". This is the kind of man in the kind of situation who is GOING TO BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF YOU!!

He is going to manage to convince you its your fault too. You have a tiny chance to leave him now before you move in together. I am truly afraid for you. The situation is already beyond fucked up and you are still with him. You do not see the truth. Please listen to the many, many strangers here who have read your story and are telling you the same thing. Run!!
posted by saradarlin at 4:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


He can also be very kind and affectionate at times. I have also had a huge problem with making excuses in the past, in if I forget to do something like clean up some crumbs on the counter, and it's another thing he brings up, I make an excuse and get defensive and it drives him nuts. I have for the most part remedied that and just go with what he asks without saying anything.

Oh my dear, your story breaks my heart. He makes your life so hard that it's just easier to lose your voice and do what he says and disappear from your own life than to tell him no. Bad news: As the chorus confirms, this guy is not going to stop treating you like shit. Maybe he has a mental illness, maybe not. Doesn't matter; that is not your problem. Your problem is learning to love yourself enough to say no to the guy who is abusing you.

Guess what? My ex husband was very kind and affectionate to me 99.9% of the time. My current partner? Very kind and affectionate to me 99.9% of the time. Ex lovers? Very kind and affectionate to me 99.9% of the time. That's normal. People who love you are very kind and affectionate to you almost all of the time, not just sometimes.

This guy is treating you like shit in part because you are allowing him to treat you like shit. That may be because you don't know any better. This used to happen between me and my daughter, who has a mental illness. She treated me like shit because I allowed it. I allowed it because I was raised by a dad who treated me like shit. I thought that was normal. Until I figured out it wasn't. And then I learned how to set boundaries and say no to my kid and to others when necessary because I am not shit. TL;DR I no longer allow others to treat me as less than the wonderful, fully human, typically flawed individual that I am. And you, too, are wonderful. Trust me, you are.

I'm excited for you. You are on the cusp of a great adventure. You are about to discover just how wonderful you are. If, that is, you stop all plans to move in with this guy and take a time out. If breaking up is too hard to consider, then please take the advice above and simply take a time out from this guy. You need one so you can figure out who you are, what you want, and whether you care about crumbs on the counter. Maybe you have more interesting things to think about and better ways to spend your time than avoiding fights with your abuser.

You're not going to learn about what you want and who you are with your abuser around. He doesn't want you to love yourself, or to have boundaries, or to be your authentic self. Because he doesn't care about you. That's obvious by his behaviour. It's not what people say that shows who they are, it's what they do.

Change is scary and often hard. So is staying right where you are. It is possible to make progress in a slow yet measurable way. In Al-Anon folks talk about the three As: Awareness, Acceptance, Action. It's an alternative to the insanity that many of us in the fellowship have developed of trying to fix everything immediately.

First you just walk around noticing things. Trying to be aware of what is happening. Not only the words exchanged but also the actual behaviours. Next you accept that you are unhappy with the situation, that you want it to change in some way but completely accept that you do not have control over this guy's behaviour. Finally, when you are ready to take action, you won't be confused. You will feel comfortable that you have come to understand the next right action to take when it comes to your relationship.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what MeFites think you should do. What matters is what you think you should do. And you don't have to understand that right now. Just be aware that you have more than one choice. You have many choices. And you should make your decision based on what is best for you, not based on what this guy keeps telling you, for example that you are lucky simply to have a guy. What. Utter. Nonsense.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:55 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


He is slowly working his way up to hitting you. He is just testing the waters to see what you are comfortable with. It is up to you to set boundaries which can include leaving the relationship. Yes I realize you are both strangers to me but I also am familiar with the pattern. Edit - by hitting I mean beating / domestic violence
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 5:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence:
While physical abuse is the form of abuse that is most commonly known, it may or may not be a part of an abusive relationship. If physical abuse is present early in the relationship, it commonly gets worse over time. If there is no physical abuse in the relationship, it may begin to occur when the victim is pregnant or when the victim is considering leaving the relationship. [...]

Emotional abuse occurs in some form in all abusive relationships. It is a very effective tactic used by abusive partners to obtain power and control and it can cause extreme damage to the victim’s self esteem. Commonly, emotional abuse makes the victim feel like they are responsible for the abuse and to feel crazy, worthless and hopeless.
First and foremost, know that you are not alone and that the abuse is not your fault. If you are in an abusive relationship or think that you are, safety and support are critical.
Hotline operators are specially trained in domestic violence and are available 24 hours a day to provide resources, help with options to stay safe or just to listen.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224, and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:25 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


WTF. I would have continued thinking AskMe was exaggerating a bit, better safe than sorry, etc.

But then your response. Jesus Christ. There's every red flag I can think of in it, so much so I now half-suspect this is a well-crafted AskMe troll. (I am not accusing you of that. I believe you.)

It was just some fun that got out of hand: you'll hear that again
Into D/s: of course he is
Would bully you into sex you don't want
Makes you feel like you're the crazy one
Tells you he's better than nothing so you should be grateful
Can be kind and affectionate at times: read any abuse survivor's story.
Makes you feel like you also have a huge problem (which is a ridiculously minor thing, if anything at all)
You're the asshole if you ever got mad at him and had a natural reaction to that (going for a walk)
Insults you even out of the blue, to keep you defensive ("you're mad all the time")

Come on. Look how he managed to weasel even an ultimatim that he had to treat you with respect into a "bargain" that you would do a certain thing to deserve it. Also, notice how that thing you agreed to is subjective and he can claim at any time you're not holding up your end of the "bargain"?

Going forward, you can expect:
more of the same, plus:
[does the annoying thing again] Oh! Sorry, sorry, sorry, I forgot.
[does the annoying thing again] Oh I forgot
ad infinitum until you threaten to leave again, then, "But I'm tryyyyyinnnnnng so hard! I'm only human, I make mistakes why can't I make mistakes and besides you still get defensive sometimes. I promise for real this time."

Repeat forever.

If you don't leave immediately, which you should, definitely do not get yourself into a situation where it would be logistically more difficult for you to leave at any time. Such as moving in together.
posted by ctmf at 7:38 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


After your follow up -from what you have told us, it's not healthy, and you may very well be kidding yourself. If your best friend wrote this, what would you tell that person to do, would you tell them to get out of the relationship?
posted by kellyblah at 8:56 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm in the you should leave immediately camp. Instead of repeating all the wonderful things that have been said, I want to leave you with some examples of healthy behaviour.

In terms of pants pulling... It would go like this in a sex situation only.

****the heterosexual language is because OP is in a heterosexual relationship not because I think that only men and women can have sex***

Man kisses female. Female gives positive feedback. This could be kissing back, this could be touching chest this could be words our sounds. BUT if female makes pulls away, shakes her head, says no, starts watching tv whatever... There is no pants pulling. If postive feedback continues...Female laughing him laughing, and such the male may tease along the top of the pants line. There should be eye contact or words to check for the females comment and then pants come off. IF THERE IS NO CONCENT clothes stay on. That's how normal relationships work.

What worries me the most is that you can't give feedback. Everything you do is labeled as you not participating in his fun because you see bad. Nope. You are a good and worthy human being.

When my wife comes home and there are crumbs on the counter... You know what she does? Wipes them up. Because excuses don't even need to be said. It happened it can be fixed no issue. There is no problem. There is no judgement.

And why is he telling you to clean when you don't even live together yet?! What you do in your apartment is your own business and if you are cleaning his apartment he should be grateful and a little embarrassed. He should be asking how he can help. He should join in. If he doesn't like how something is done he can do it himself. There isn't even room for defensiveness because people who work together complement either and make up for eachothers mistakes. People are human and imperfect.

Take gentle care of you.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:56 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


if I forget to do something like clean up some crumbs on the counter, and it's another thing he brings up, I make an excuse and get defensive and it drives him nuts

aside from everything else, what kind of moron diaper baby asshole sees some crumbs on the counter and, instead of just cleaning them up by himself like literally any normal human being would do, goes to find someone else to do it for him. this man is sad garbage and you need to take him down to the dump.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:19 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Wow, so I've spent the entire day digesting everyone's comments and am blown away by the consistant responses and all the caring and time you all have taken to respond. I feel so incredibly stupid for thinking things would change. I have twin 18 year old daughters that I single handedly raised from day one. I did not date because I was too busy and because I didn't want to be someone that brought different men into our house. I wanted them to feel stable and safe. They are amazing beings truely. I do not have much to compare what I healthy relationship should be like. This one was beyond incredible from the begining, or so I thought. Something I never believed I would find and maybe didn't think I'd deserve. We got engaged within a couple of months and moved in together within 6 months. He was great for a while although some red flags were going up that I chose to ignore because we were moved in already and I thought I was just overreacting to how I was feeling.
He convinced me to sell my condo for almost nothing because we were together now and made me feel that if I didn't it was an indication that I wasn't serious about the relationship and didn't have trust in where we were headed. I was so scared that i would loose him that i sold it over my better judgment. Slowly he began to pick on me for little things, like me falling asleep on the couch because I was too tired. He would ream me out and tell me I offended him. I would apologize saying I was so sorry but I was just so exhausted and he would say I was just making excuses And didnt take his feelings into consideration. Anytime I would fall asleep even a short nap on the couch in the evening at the end of the day he would make me feel like crap. Believe it or not sleep became our biggest contention for a long time. Then it moved to me and the girls not living up to his expectations of how he wanted things done in his house, and when I would give him a reason why the Kurig wasn't filled to the top he said I was just using excuses and then I would get defensive, but he kept changing the rules. Slowly I could do or say nothing right and felt picked on for everything. I would never know what might set him off. He could be incredibly mean with his tone sometimes and I used to tell him, it wasn't what he was saying, it was how he was saying it. I've always made sure to talk to my girls in a way that did not make them feel less then they were. I was hoping for the same From him. He told me that's not the way the real word works. Anyhow he made me feel so bad about myself about so many things my behavior started to change. He told me I was being moody, belligerant, crazy, irrational and I started to belive all of it And started acting that way. He was making me crazy And I thought it was all me. For a long time, and even now, I wonder if it's me. I went on antidepressants which I've never needed in my entire life but he convinced me I did. I gave him the ring back and left. On more than one occasion because of how he treated me and made me feel. I felt emotionally and mentally abused and it turned physical once which he has never done again because he was in tears apologizing. He said because I left a couple of times with the girls to go to my mom's I gave him abandonment issues and that was abuse. I believed him and began to question OMG maybe I'm the abuser!! The last time I left he was suicidal and he swore he would change. He sought help and we worked together through some of his stuff. It was not easy but he said he'd woken up and I could see he was working hard to change his behavior. I was as well. My biggest things are my defensiveness and my follow through. It's been eight months since we have not lived together but have been working to get to a better place. Recently we went on vacation. I really just wanted to go with my daughters to spend some quality time together, and because they are both starting university in September and im sure this would have been the last vacation they wanted to take with their mom, but he said, if I was going to go without him, that our entire relationship was in jeopardy and to count him out of our future. I saw his point if we were trying to put our lives together why would I exclude him even though I wanted just us three to go, so he came along. I feel manipulated, but maybe he was right and it would have been selfish for us not to all go together. But now after his recent behavior you guys are telling me that maybe he hasn't changed even though in some ways he is trying. Is his need for control manifesting in other ways? does he even realize his behavior is abusive? Is it possible he can change? If you guys tell me I should leave, I will take your advice, although I'm not sure how to do it yet, but if you think someone can change then maybe we should get counselling. Sorry this was as long as it was but I just wanted to give you some backround.
posted by miranda at 9:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh God, I know the answer to my questions because of how my gut feels. I guess I'm still looking for hope.
posted by miranda at 9:48 PM on May 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


You might find Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men extremely helpful. The author has been sharing bits of it on his Facebook page as well.
posted by jaguar at 9:51 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Listen to me:

Your "defensiveness" probably saved your life. I am amazed, reading that, at how well you've managed to stand up for yourself already. Please do not listen to one more word of criticism about yourself from this man. Not one word! He is WRONG about you.

You are clearly a person of integrity. That you care so much for your daughters is very touching. Show them their mother is strong and proud and will stand up for herself just as she would stand up for them.
posted by quincunx at 9:57 PM on May 13, 2015 [41 favorites]


Miranda, I am a mom. I have gone on trips alone with my kid. My partner knows my kid comes first even though she's now nearly 20 and a new mom herself. That your partner robbed you of a last mother-daughter trip alone together is horrifying to me.

Yes, you know the answer to your questions because of how your gut feels. The hard part is not breaking up. The hard part is deciding to break up.

You can feel hopeless because you may be nearing the end of this relationship. Or you can feel hopeful because leaving him will be the beginning to a new and better life. That is what your fellow abuse survivors are trying to tell you. Your life will be better, not worse, after you break up with this guy. Of course that's a lot to process. Of course, you need time to work through it. But the end of your relationship, if it happens? Not a bad thing. A great thing. It doesn't feel that way now but it will. Just give it time.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:58 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


What do your daughters say you should do?

I'm sorry miranda. I know it gets harder and harder to believe that you've been making a mistake this whole time. But everything (every. thing.) you say in both of your updates just makes it more clear.

The real world does not make you feel like this. It's him. Normal people don't act like that. Someone out there will make you feel good, not bad.
posted by ctmf at 10:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's no reason you should feel stupid for being hopeful about your relationship. One of the unfortunate realities of these situations is that a good person does give their partner many chances and benefits of the doubt because that's what decent people do. Unfortunately, abusive partners exploit (knowingly or otherwise) that assumption of goodwill and if it goes on for any length of time you can easily end up losing track of what's real.

It seems like you know what to do now, which is great. Please don't let him convince you otherwise and do be careful. Go well!
posted by mewsic at 10:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


It can be possible for abusers to change, yes, but I always think that in order for it to be real change, the abused party needs to be out of the picture with no intent on returning. out of the house, hell, out of the state. in order for him to change it has to be for HIMSELF, not in order to fulfill a very narrow set of circumstances under which you will agree to give him another chance.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh my. It's not you. You are not the abuser, the controlling one, any of that. It's not you. Your second follow-up sounds like the beginning of every single abusive relationship I've ever read/heard about. I'm sorry. I know it's awful, but honestly I can't see anything good about this person.
posted by clone boulevard at 10:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Wow, miranda, this guy really is bad news.

There's no point in getting couples counseling with someone who behaves in abusive ways. With someone non-abusive, what makes couple's counseling work is that both people learn to better understand and care for the other. But someone who will abuse you isn't interested in learning to better understand and care for you. Otherwise he'd be listening already. What he's interested in is controlling you. He'd likely punish you for what you say and/or use what you say to better control you.

This campaign against "making excuses and being defensive" is incredibly insidious and, to be frank, utter bullshit. Everyone on earth does [behaviors] for [reasons], and part of being in a relationship is being able to discuss these behaviors, reasons, and also their [impacts on one's partner] to find a solution that respects everyone. He's saying that the only thing that matters are the impacts on him and that he gets to define what the reasons are (e.g., that you're "boring" and "have issues"). It's as though your needs, feelings, desires, intentions, and self-understanding are unimportant, as though he's trying to erase them.

I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for four years, and it's entirely different than a regular relationship. When you fall asleep on the couch in a regular relationship, someone who loves you would likely say "awww, you were so cute" or "my poor tired snookums," or maybe, "do you mind trying to notice when you're falling asleep and move to the bed?" It wouldn't be this whole thing about disrespect and that you're making excuses. You deserve that kind of love, in a relationship where you can fall asleep on your own couch.

He wouldn't let you go on vacation without him with your own daughters, the ones you gave birth to? That is the most recent thing you said happened, and it's so upsetting. I'm sorry, but I don't see evidence that he's currently changing. I'm very glad that your gut is speaking up!
posted by salvia at 10:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


You know the answer. I know he has spent a huge amount of time and effort very carefully and effectively undermining your ability to trust yourself and your instincts, but let me say that out loud again: YOU KNOW THE ANSWER. And you know you know -- you said it out loud.

Grab that knowledge, squeeze it in your fist, and fucking run like hell.
posted by KathrynT at 10:19 PM on May 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


He said because I left a couple of times with the girls to go to my mom's I gave him abandonment issues and that was abuse.

This is such classic victim blaming bullshit. And it's laying groundwork for real abuse ("you make me act like that you bitch" etc.)

This is a dangerous man. And also, a prime asshole. I do believe there is someone better out there for you Miranda - but even being single would be better than this. He's not someone to have in your life or anywhere near your girls. Run.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [33 favorites]


I promise you that your daughters are going to be so proud of you for leaving him. That you are going to in a way save their futures by leaving him - you're showing them that you can recognise and leave an abuser, and that trading affection and romance and whatever good times you get with him for the misery and slow destruction of your self-worth - you would never want your daughters to date someone like him, right? If either of them came to you and told you this story and said Mom what should I do, you would be all, get your bags, you're coming home with me honey and we're not looking back at that bastard.

It'll be scary and tough to be on your own after a couple of years trying to whittle yourself down to his control, but it will be freedom and wonderful, and you'll blossom. It'll be amazing. You're going to have a great life away from him. (BTW, he will almost certainly start either threatening to hurt himself, or being super romantic and propose marriage or be scary - or whee, all three - in desperate last ditch attempts to keep you chained to him when he realises you're leaving, so leave fast and sudden, ripping off the band-aid style and don't look back.)
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:46 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


I felt emotionally and mentally abused and it turned physical once which he has never done again because he was in tears apologizing. He said because I left a couple of times with the girls to go to my mom's I gave him abandonment issues and that was abuse. I believed him and began to question OMG maybe I'm the abuser!! The last time I left he was suicidal and he swore he would change. He sought help and we worked together through some of his stuff. It was not easy but he said he'd woken up and I could see he was working hard to change his behavior. I was as well. My biggest things are my defensiveness and my follow through. It's been eight months since we have not lived together but have been working to get to a better place. Recently we went on vacation. I really just wanted to go with my daughters to spend some quality time together, and because they are both starting university in September and im sure this would have been the last vacation they wanted to take with their mom, but he said, if I was going to go without him, that our entire relationship was in jeopardy and to count him out of our future. I saw his point if we were trying to put our lives together why would I exclude him even though I wanted just us three to go, so he came along. I feel manipulated, but maybe he was right and it would have been selfish for us not to all go together.

It's not defensiveness, it's just reasonable to defend yourself when someone is aggressive towards you. Your initial post listed off a bunch of super-aggressive behavior thinly disguised as play, and your follow-ups are increasingly disturbing in terms of emotional aggression. At the absolute least, this guy likes hurting and humiliating you - just a little at a time, but in the face of your express nonconsent - way more than he likes pleasing you. So go ahead and stomp his flower garden, because he's growing nettles and poison oak and telling you they'd be roses if you treated him differently.

Emotional abuse.
Leaving an abuser safely.
posted by gingerest at 10:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


If your daughter/s went through a tenth of this shit.... a hundredth.... would you support this relationship? No? You know you wouldn't. Why? Because its (by which i mean him) utter crap, abusive, manipulative, and genuinely one of the most horrible people I've seen an Ask about.

Honestly, this reminds me of one of my friends who has a 7-inch scar where her husband tried to gut her, left her in a car trunk, and then decided to be kind enough to get her to a hospital, an hour or three later. I honestly suspect we don't really need to be telling you to get out, any more.... you know you need to. Your gut says so. HE IS MAKING YOU CRAZY. You said this too. I believe, more than I believe the sun will rise and that the sky is usually blue, that he is making you crazy, and feeding you abuse with a little sugar to make it go down. I also believe it will escalate.

Is there hope for this relationship? I say no, madam, I say no hope. At. Freaking. All.

The good news is, the sooner you get out and start getting healthy (by which I mean dump EVERYTHING he said that couldn't be construed as 110% positive!) the sooner you can have real, healthy hope... for the relationship and love you deserve. This current scumbag is killing you slowly.

Hell, you probably have enough for a restraining order! (not legal advice. But do dump him as soon as you feel ready)
posted by Jacen at 11:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


One thing to watch out for is falling into the "will he change?" delay thing. That kind of thinking puts you at his mercy, by which I mean, if the question is "will he stop insulting you?" well, you can't make him stop saying insulting things; you can only ask. What you can do is stop hearing insults by moving yourself out of earshot.

The relationship you deserve is light years away from what this relationship is like. Efforts to change it seem to only make it worse, not to mention bringing you lots of pain and frustration. (Exhibit #785: the ridiculous pants bargain he offered.) Breaking up is never easy, but I think you'll feel a lot of joy and giddiness in being free from all of this finally. Take that vacation from him you wanted, and never come back!
posted by salvia at 11:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm late to the party, but I wanted to recommend this reddit community: http://www.reddit.com/r/NarcissisticAbuse


Your update reminded me of something my uber-narcissistic golden child younger brother said to me when I requested my family knocked off their racist jokes before my Japanese boyfriend came to visit. (A post about this is in my history here.) The little shit said that we could make a deal, and if I wanted them to stop the jokes, I should give in to my mother's wishes of organising my room the way she likes it, and also doing more chores. HIS chores, because he never did anything at home. Still doesn't. Shortly after that, I moved out. Please don't even move in with that guy in the first place. Really.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:40 AM on May 14, 2015


People can change but this is way way too much. Run. This relationship can never work. You can find someone else where you are respected, taken at your word and supported.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:44 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, you should leave this relationship. You will be so much happier when you don't have to deal with this awful abusive treatment. Just think: when you are on your own, you can take all of the naps you want without anyone getting mad! You can keep house the way you want to with no one to yell at you! You can go visit your daughters in college without worrying about anyone else! I know it's hard when you're in a relationship to think about being single, because it can seem so big and lonely, but it can really be so freeing and delightful.

You were wondering how to leave this relationship. The first thing is absolutely DO NOT say a word about your plan to this man, because I guarantee (from your updates) that he will either start behaving himself for just long enough for you to change your mind and then get even worse than he is now, or he will get straight-up scary and violent. So, make sure you have your finances completely untangled, make sure you don't have any stuff at his place that you want, make sure he doesn't have a key to your place. If you have good friends or family to talk to who you really trust, then talk to them and ask for their support. Warn your daughters, so if he gets desperate after you've left and tries to get in contact with them, they won't give him any information. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline when you're by yourself, and chat with them, because they'll have ideas and support for you too. Once you've got all of your stuff in order, text him or email him and tell him you guys are done. Don't tell him in person. Don't call him. Don't answer any texts, calls, emails, etc from him again.
posted by colfax at 2:45 AM on May 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


You most recent posts are heartbreaking. You asked him for nothing more than to treat you kindly and respectfully, and he said that isn't the way the world works?! Like others I am aghast at the details of the long abusive relationship you've endured --- complete with victim blaming.

But now after his recent behavior you guys are telling me that maybe he hasn't changed

miranda, you're telling us he hasn't changed. Please, listen to yourself.

even though in some ways he is trying.

That's irrelevant. Abusers will change their behavior -- not their fundamental pattern, but their behavior -- slightly in order to induce their partner not to leave. And they'll extract any concession they can into the bargain -- see his ridiculous "I won't pants you any more but you don't get to complan" gambit -- and they'll also use their "trying" to excuse their inevitable failure to actually change.

Is his need for control manifesting in other ways? does he even realize his behavior is abusive?

Who cares? The point is, his behavior is abusive and, I now see, has been for the entirety of your relationship. All of it..

Is it possible he can change?

There are longer answers to this question posted up thread, but as the history you shared shows, the answer to this question as far as you're concerned is NO. He is not good for you at all.

If you guys tell me I should leave, I will take your advice,

That's been the consensus throughout the thread from the first, and your updates only set it in cement. Yes, leave him! As soon as possible! He is abusive to you. His conduct toward you is absolutely not normal -- the "way the world works" is that committed partners love and care for each other, and creeps who act like him are rightfully shunned.

although I'm not sure how to do it yet,

Others have given good advice on this front, to which I can only echo, do not tell him in advance, and then go no contact.

but if you think someone can change then maybe we should get counselling.

I know you immediately followed up that you can see this situation for what it is, but please, please let go of the notion that he will change or that counseling will fix him. Even if his behavior changes temporarily, it ultimately will not only continue but also escalate.

You are in danger from this jerk. Get out as soon as you can. If you are not currently living together, do whatever you can to cut him out of your life, at once.

I am so sorry for what you've been through. You do not deserve it. Please listen to the many here -- including those who have experienced something similar -- who see you for the good soul you are and were horrified at the first behaviors you described, let alone the long years of abuse you endured. You will be much, much happier without this creep in your life. Good luck and be safe.
posted by Gelatin at 4:14 AM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


About your daughters, three things...

1. Leave now so you can spend this last summer with them and they can head off to college knowing you're safe. Anticipate that this guy will try to manipulate their high school graduations somehow (extravagant gifts, showing up at party, etc.). Be prepared and discuss your strategy with your daughters in advance (gifts returned unopened, police called if he shows up, etc.).

2. After they leave, the empty nest syndrome will kick in and you'll be lonely. And vulnerable. He'll step up efforts then to get you back. Stay strong.

3. You're now giving your daughters a positive model of self-respect and resolve. Keep that top of mind.

You can do this and help is available. Stay strong, Miranda.
posted by carmicha at 4:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


They say that going to counselling with an abuser can be counter-productive, because the abuser uses the knowledge to fine-tune the abuse or to use as leverage over the abused person. I'm not saying you did anything wrong: he did and is still working against you.

Let me tell you about the women I know both here and offline who have been abused and taken a while to realize the extent of it. They are smart. They are attractive. They are resourceful. They are good mothers. They are kind. They try hard. They fight like hell once they realize what is up, and they use strategies to get out safe.

Yes, this current state of the relationship is still VERY bad. No, you are not dumb for not seeing it before. Abusers are like magicians. They lie and trick while putting on an amazing show. They draw you in. The cycle of abuse keeps you hooked.

It's like shysters with sob stories. It works because people are kind and empathetic. This is not a defect, but it can be exploited.

You are not defective. He is. He runs on anger. You don't.

Best of luck to you. I'm proud of you for moving out before. Your girls will be so proud of you when you move on from this man.
posted by heatherann at 5:00 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I guess I'm still looking for hope.

And you realize, of course, that he exploits that hope to keep you in this awful situation. You do realize it, don't you? In the name of preserving "hope," you have been willing to accept obvious lies and and overlook strings of broken promises, and you've striven to disregard your own thoughts and feelings. You've given him chance after chance, and here are you are thinking that maybe you should give him yet another. Just one more. Then, just one more...

So much for hope.

Hope in an abusive situation is like staring wistfully at someone else's postcards from a faraway tropical resort. The image is perfect and lovely, but the sun you see in the pictures isn't warming your skin. If you're going to actually get there, you'll have to scrap the postcards and buy a plane ticket.
posted by jon1270 at 5:08 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Go to this site: psychopathfree.org. You will know you're not alone.

I've been in a relationship with a guy like this. He was a merciless sociopath. I had to escape after he manipulated me into giving up my apartment to move in with him (sound familiar?)

Get out and go no contact. People like this can't change and do not want to, and only say they will in order to manipulate you.

My family feared for my life when I was with my abuser, and I fear for yours reading this. Seriously, run. MeFi Mail me with your location and if you're near me or any of my friends I can get help for you immediately.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 5:10 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Don't look for hope inside this relationship. Look for hope in what you'll find after this relationship.

Someone like this can make you feel like there is no hope for you outside a relationship with them. That is a lie. I'm sure many of the people who have contributed here can confirm this. There is hope - after this relationship is over.
posted by clawsoon at 5:20 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Slowly he began to pick on me for little things, like me falling asleep on the couch because I was too tired. He would ream me out and tell me I offended him. I would apologize saying I was so sorry but I was just so exhausted and he would say I was just making excuses And didnt take his feelings into consideration. Anytime I would fall asleep even a short nap on the couch in the evening at the end of the day he would make me feel like crap.

This is a person who literally yells at you for taking NAPS when you are TIRED. Your body's natural and physical needs offend him. You being asleep upsets and offends him. One of the great joys of adult life is being able to take naps when you have the time and the lovely couch to do so. The fact that he resents you taking naps is so ugly and hateful I can barely wrap my mind around it.

There was a recent documentary where L. Ron Hubbard's first wife described (in passages in her diary) an incident where she was once asleep, and she woke up being beaten by her husband because she had been smiling in her sleep. She had been resting, and at peace, and none of that was about him, and so he began to beat her. Can you not see the similarity here?

When I see the people I love taking naps, I think:
-Oh good, he needs the rest.
-Oh, good, she looked so tired.
-Oh, he's asleep, I can watch TV upstairs instead so I don't disturb him.
-oh, how sweet, she's so cute when she's asleep.
-We had such a busy day, no wonder he's tired! I'll tell everyone else to keep it down.
-I'm so glad she's resting, she's been working so hard lately.
-Hm, he's asleep, so I guess we can go out for pizza another day.
-oh, she's asleep, I'll put a blanket over her now that the room is cooling down.

When I see the people I love are sleeping, I am glad for them because bodies need rest. I accommodate their need for rest out of love and care, and doing so is an absolute pleasure. It is one of the joys of loving people. I do not wake them up and yell at them for daring to offend me with their need for sleep, because that is completely hateful nonsense.

He makes you sleeping about him. He makes you wanting time alone with your daughters about him. It sounds like he makes every single thing in your life about him ("yes, you should sell your home at an enormous financial loss because otherwise you don't love me and I'll leave you," for example). He is a black hole attempting to devour you and he blames you when he takes a bite out of your life and it isn't as delicious as he had hoped.

There is hope here. The hope is in never, ever having to warp your life into the impossible shapes demanded by this man ever again. The hope is in showing your daughters that relationships like this are absolutely not worth it. The hope is in living a life where you can fall asleep and wake up refreshed instead of ashamed. The hope is in you, yourself.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 5:44 AM on May 14, 2015 [43 favorites]


One more thought: To assess this more clearly, clear out all the words he says. Ignore them completely for now. What does he do? It doesn't matter if it's getting "better" (toxic in a new way). Would you want your daughters with a man who does to them what he does to you?

Here are some of the things my husband does. He does none of the things you have mentioned here. We tease gently, in an "I know you well" affirming way. He often tells me he loves me, but it's not necessary: I would know it just as well if he were mute. His actions say it loud and clear. If it were my last summer vacation with my daughters, he would be encouraging me to go. He wants these things for me, and I for him.

What do his actions tell you? What does your body tell you? The tension in your shoulders, the pit of your stomach: they are not fooled by words.
posted by heatherann at 5:44 AM on May 14, 2015


Also as a person who grew up in a house with my mom and her abusive partner, there is absolutely 100% nothing better you can do for your daughters than get the fuck away from this vile awful man.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:49 AM on May 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


Recently we went on vacation. I really just wanted to go with my daughters to spend some quality time together, and because they are both starting university in September and im sure this would have been the last vacation they wanted to take with their mom, but he said, if I was going to go without him, that our entire relationship was in jeopardy and to count him out of our future.

This is a pretty clear sign that his fundamental attitudes haven't changed, even though he has apparently sought help. This is pure controlling manipulative behaviour, and it's recent. In order to control you completely, one of the most important tasks he has to accomplish is cutting you off from family and friends, making sure that you don't have any contact with them unless he's there. Family and friends are your most important lifeline in this situation. Don't let them go.

I'm begging you.

Insist on time by yourself with family and friends, without him. Talk with them about the concerns you have about your relationship. His reaction to this will tell you a lot. In healthy relationships, you're allowed to spend time with your family and friends without your partner there, without your partner grilling you afterwards about everything you said. With abusers, you're not.

[Fuck, I'm crying while I'm writing this.]

...

Also: It seems like he's using his promise to work on his issues as another way to control you and keep you in the relationship. I'm willing to go out on a limb and predict that if you tell him you're thinking of leaving the relationship, he will - maybe not right away, but sooner or later - tell you that by leaving him you'd destroy all the progress he's been making in working on his issues.

(Just to be clear: If he says that, it's a pretty clear sign that he hasn't made any progress working on his issues. His basic issue is that he need to control you and keep you in the relationship, no matter what your own wants or needs are.)

...

You have changed your behaviour to listen to him more, to just do what he asks without objecting. Of course he's being nicer!

This niceness doesn't mean that he's fixing any of his issues. This means that he's happy that he's gaining control of you!

...

Definitely read the book that jaguar mentioned. It covers all this stuff. The more you describe, the more that it comes straight from that book.

Once you've read that book, start thinking ahead to your next relationship. For that, you might be interested in How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk.
posted by clawsoon at 5:54 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


And I bet your daughters would love to take another vacation with you. Heading off to university can be exciting but also scary, and spending a few days with Mom now and then in the midst of the excitement can be comforting and motivating and reassuring. And talking on the phone with them regularly, too... you've been their rock for eighteen years, you think they want their rock suddenly pulled away from them?

Your kids need you and deserve you more than this guy does. Has he said anything about your daughters "needing their independence now", about how they "probably don't want their Mom embarrassing them at university"? Or anything along similar lines, where he's basically telling you that your family doesn't value you or need you around? With the net result being that you should spend all your time and attention on him and not on them?
posted by clawsoon at 6:09 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Be safe when you break up. Get friends on your side, change the locks at your house (if he has a key), make sure windows are locked. If it's a financial possibility, maybe get a security system that you can set from the inside while you are home. Maybe talk to a domestic violence program about breaking up safely.

Maybe he's just the kind of guy who whines and complains and bullies and not the kind of guy who hits, but please be careful when you break up. He just sounds scarier and scarier with everything you post.

Good job for you for being so tough.

Don't feel sorry for him. I've known many unhappy and angry men - and dated several - who were none the less able to be kind and decent partners and friends, even when their emotional stuff intruded into our relationships. Being unhappy and angry does not automatically push a guy to be a bully and an abuser.
posted by Frowner at 6:44 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh God, I know the answer to my questions because of how my gut feels. I guess I'm still looking for hope.

Hi. I spent 9 years on a rollercoaster like this. It just gets worse and worse, because then you are so far into it that you feel like you have invested all this time and effort, and you keep hoping he will change.

Then I finally went to see a therapist, on a sliding scale because I had no insurance at the time, and she was really good. Non-judgmental, let me work through things, kind.

But one day she looked at me and said, "He's never going to change."

And that was when I really realized it. He was never going to change. There was never going to be a hoop high enough that I could jump through that would get me the reward of a happy and healthy relationship.

Shortly after that, he became even more abusive, threatening to beat me up over a $30 grocery bill, refusing to let me get my car fixed, and then finally becoming physically violent, rushing from the other room and shoving me heels over arse and tearing apart the room. I managed to grab the phone and call 911, then he yanked the cord out of the wall, screaming, "you made me do this, you bitch!" While I sat on the floor with my hands over my head, praying the cops would arrive before he started hitting me.

Fortunately, he decided he wanted to high tail it before the cops came and grabbed my purse, turning it upside down on the bed in the other room, screaming for me to get the car keys. I said, "I'll get them," and then I calmly walked through the torn apart room and out the front door, where 4 very large and very angry cops were storming up the front steps.

I had a huge goose egg on my head, and was pretty shaken, but when they asked if I wanted to press charges, I said, "yes," because I knew my Dad would have told me to do it. I even started to feel bad, because it was cold out, and got him his hat and gloves before they took him to jail.

Then I had to find a place to live before he got out and the 3-day restraining order wore off, get a new restraining order for 6 months, and figure out how to get all of my crap out of there before he got home. I left behind my broken down car and never went back for it. All I had were my clothes and some boxes of stuff.

That was the shittiest thing I have ever gone through, and I don't want you to go through it. Please break it off and get a therapist to work out the poison he has put into your head. I had PTSD for a long time afterward, but I got through it. And I never went back and I eventually got into a good relationship, with someone who loves me and respects me.

He's never going to change. If it weren't you, it would be some other woman, and probably has been in the past, and will be in the future. That's his deal, and maybe someday he will end up in jail because of it. You didn't make him this way and it doesn't matter how he got this way, would you stand in front of a snarling dog with its teeth bared and hold out your hand, thinking if you pet it enough and showed it enough kindness that it wouldn't snap at you? Would you try to analyze the dog? Or would you run away and shut the door and call the dog catcher?

This stock isn't going to make you any money, stop investing time and energy. Time to dump and move on to greener pastures. I wish you well.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:51 AM on May 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


partly squamous and partly rugose: He is slowly working his way up to hitting you

Frowner: Maybe he's just the kind of guy who whines and complains and bullies and not the kind of guy who hits

Note that the OP has said, "it turned physical once," in case that further informs your answers.
posted by clawsoon at 7:09 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The interfering with your sleep, the "joking" even after it's been made plain to him that it's unacceptable to you (in my case, talking in a Donald Duck voice whenever I tried to discuss anything serious), the insistence that "you don't have a pulse" (in my case, "you're so white-bread"), the pushing you into kink that you don't like, the manipulation of your finances for his benefit, the accusations of abandonment ... oh, honey, I could go on and on.

Smart women put themselves down when they realize that they're with a guy who's no good. Because we should have been too smart to get into that situation, right? So now Mister No Good is tearing us down from the outside, and we're tearing ourselves down from the inside, and that hole is just so damn deep that we think we can't even climb out.

But you can.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:15 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Your daughters also need you to tell them, "I was wrong about that guy, that's not the way you should be treated in a relationship," because you don't want them to believe that what they've seen in the past four years is normal or healthy or what they deserve.

Even if you're hesitating about doing this for yourself, you have a responsibility to your daughters.
posted by clawsoon at 7:35 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am so paralyzed right now, my stomach in a knot, full of fear with what's next. I just got a text from him saying so is there anything about us that you like? Are we going to continue this pattern until we have nothing left? I look at his picture on my phone and see how sweet and charming he looks, how he is sometimes, and how a part of me starts questioning again, maybe it is me causing problems? and I feel sick. Then I think back to all the horrible times where I felt so bad about myself I wanted to die, and if it were not for my girls, I wouldn't be here right now. I think back to the times where he brought up annoyingly that when I ate soup, the spoon would tap on my teeth and it was I'll mannered and that's not how youre supposed to eat soup, to try and not do that. I was shocked at that comment and said ok. The next day he brings it up again while we were just sitting on the couch wanting to get a reaction out of me because i guess i didnt give him one the first time he brought it up, In which I finally reacted after he kept making me feel like shit. and said wtf? How come in all my forty years no one has ever said that before? And I wasn't aware I was even doing that hed tell me that not being aware was not an excuse, and he'd say I was getting defensive and that was my biggest problem. I try not to tap my spoon to my teeth anymore. I am now mindful. Now according to his psychiatrist, he was told that it was fair for him to bring up something that bothered him and I was supposed to acknowledge and accept it withot being defensive. This i know is true and again I thought I was just not reacting well and it was my fault. Thinking about when I was silently crying in bed because I just wanted to be close to him and craved that, and he stood up, yelled at me and said I don't this this shit from you. I have enough of my shit to deal with, Grabbed his pillow and went downstairs. I felt so bad and mistreated that I filled up my laundry hamper and I left for the first time because I was so upet. I came back in the next couple of days and he apologized and that I should have just talked to him about how I was feeling That he wasn't aware. He joked forever after about my " huffy hamper" situation and how I over reacted. There are so many situations much worse in which later I thought I overeacted but at the time was genuinely hurt by his reactions to things he didn't like and it was always about my behavior, my ungratefulness, my unappreciation of anything. My lack of respect For him and I tried harder and harder and things would be amazing for a few months. Oh there's the man I fell in love with. Things were blissful and then out of the blue like being smoked in the head by a 2 by 4 the cycle would start again, and I would be scratching my head. I was so convinced it was me because I know I'm sensitive and maybe do overreact in situations but I also know with so many things that I don't think it should feel like this. Being great 30% of the time isn't enough but another part of me is saying maybe I'm just living in lala land and this is just the way it is. Talk about being scared shitless right now. I know if I see him he will try and be charming, put blame on me and try and such me back in. The only thing keeping me strong is you wonderful people in This forum.
posted by miranda at 8:13 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now according to his psychiatrist, he was told that it was fair for him to bring up something that bothered him and I was supposed to acknowledge and accept it withot being defensive.

If his psychiatrist said this, his psychiatrist was wrong.

However, did you hear this directly from his psychiatrist, or did you hear it from him?

You haven't said anything about lying yet, but it's such a common thing in situations like this that I'm compelled to ask: Have you noticed him casually lying to other people? Or telling you you need to lie to other people about some little thing or another?
posted by clawsoon at 8:20 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I just got a text from him saying so is there anything about us that you like? Are we going to continue this pattern until we have nothing left?

Look at how false and manipulative those two sentences are. "So is there anything about us that you like" takes the focus off his abusive behavior, as well as casting blame on you for the situation -- by not tolerating his abusive behavior, you're invalidating the good things about the relationship.

No -- he's invalidating the good things, by abusing you.

As to "are we going to continue this pattern," as I said, the obvious answer is yes, he will.

The sooner "nothing is left" -- that is, the sooner you leave him and his abuse behind and escape the power he tries to assert over you -- the better. Then you can have the happiness, peace of mind and a sense of peace and self worth that you deserve, and he doesn't get to abuse you any more.

I know this situation is tough, but please see that the clamoring for you to get out has only increased as you've shared details, including these. Please be safe, and feel free to MeMail me.
posted by Gelatin at 8:21 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Miranda: Lundy Bancroft is the guy who wrote "Why Does He Do That?" (the book mentioned earlier.) He has a blog. Go to it right now and read some if the entries, you will see yourself and your relationship. Especially this one.
posted by quincunx at 8:21 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


No he is very adamant against lying. That's a very strong value of his.
posted by miranda at 8:30 AM on May 14, 2015


He joked forever after about my " huffy hamper" situation and how I over reacted.

He's threatened by your ability to leave him and is trying, hard, to take that ability away from you. Don't let him.

it was always about my behavior, my ungratefulness, my unappreciation of anything. My lack of respect For him and I tried harder and harder and things would be amazing for a few months. Oh there's the man I fell in love with. Things were blissful and then out of the blue like being smoked in the head by a 2 by 4 the cycle would start again

All that is textbook abusive behavior on his part. It is not a normal relationship, not "the way the world works" and not at all what you deserve.

Abusers are capable of being perfectly charming if it gets then what they want, and in your case that's for you to stick around and soak up more eventual abuse. Please do not do so.

I'd also point out that even if he was being truthful about his shrink saying he should be allowed to voice something that annoyed him, he did so, and you agreed, and then he brought it up again out of the blue to attack you. That second bit isn't normal or therapeutic, and if his counselor told him he was allowed to do it, then that person is a quack.

I'd also further clawsoon's excellent question by urging you to look with skepticism at any times when he seems to be lying to you but evades the question with feeble excuses or by accusing you of "overreacting."
posted by Gelatin at 8:31 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was so convinced it was me because I know I'm sensitive and maybe do overreact in situations

That's him trying to convince you that the problems you have are your fault. Leaving is really hard and scary but when you are done it feels amazing.
posted by kate blank at 8:32 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


No he is very adamant against lying. That's a very strong value of his.

He is lying every time he tells you that his monstrous behavior is your fault. He is lying every time that he tells you his abuse is rooted in anything other than himself.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [38 favorites]


he is very adamant against lying. That's a very strong value of his

I can't say from anything you've related whether he actually does lie to you, but I'd point out that it's clear from what you've written that respect is also a strong value of his too, and yet he refuses to show any such consideration to you.

(On a related note, even if he believes he's being totally sincere in his promises to reform his behavior, it does not matter -- you've spoken about the cycle, and that's a mighty hard pattern for an abuser to overcome, and he has failed to do so repeatedly. Don't give him another chance to let you down, because your sanity, health and physical safety are very much at risk.)
posted by Gelatin at 8:35 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


No he is very adamant against lying. That's a very strong value of his.

Okay, just checking. As long as being honest is something he actually does, and not just something he preaches. 'cause he has definitely already used every other manipulative trick in the book...

You might also discover when you're out of the relationship that he's been lying to other people about you. I may be completely wrong about that - not everyone follows the same patterns - but don't be shocked if that happens.
posted by clawsoon at 8:38 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now according to his psychiatrist, he was told that it was fair for him to bring up something that bothered him and I was supposed to acknowledge and accept it withot being defensive.

It is entirely possible that his psychiatrist said this, even in good faith, because the psychiatrist is only getting your partner's version of events, and in your partner's version of events, he is the victim. That is why good programs for treating abusers should check in with the abusers' partners, in order to get the real story of what's been happening. My abuser absolutely presented his controlling, domineering, abusive behavior as if it were a "defense" against my "laziness" and "irresponsibility"; abusers who have been in therapy are extremely talented at twisting therapy-speak to make themselves the victims, and therapists are not psychics who can always tell that they're getting such a skewed version of events. (It's not like abusers have a big scarlet A on their chests... they'd be easier to avoid if they did.)

So it doesn't matter what his psychiatrist is saying, because his psychiatrist does not have the full story. Your partner is manipulating the psychiatrist in the same way he's manipulating you.
posted by jaguar at 8:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


The thing is, this guy may not be lying. He may honestly believe what he says about you; he may have honestly told his psychiatrist something which gives the psychiatrist the impression that you are overreacting/defensive/etc. But that doesn't matter! What's the difference if he is consciously playing you or just really, truly believes that you are defensive and very flawed and he is right and terrific? The net result is that you have this awful, upsetting, wearing situation - which you should not have to have!
posted by Frowner at 8:44 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


No he is very adamant against lying. That's a very strong value of his.

I will bet a ton of money that he is against lying when it's other people (you!) lying to him, and as an added bonus, he has an.... adaptable definition of what "lying" means when he's accusing someone else of doing it.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


You might also discover when you're out of the relationship that he's been lying to other people about you.

And I'd bet good money that once you're out you'll be cast in his stories as "the crazy bitch" who "disrespected him" and "ruined his life." He isn't likely to tell his next victim partner that his previous lover finally got fed up and left him because he was an abusive, insensitive, controlling jerk.

Please believe me when I say that it'd be a small price to pay for your freedom.

I agree with everyone that what I sometimes call the "Deanna Troi defense" -- that he sincerely believes what he says, so it isn't an actual lie -- is utterly irrelevant. What he feels, thinks, believes or intends is completely irrelevant. What matters are his actions, and his actions are unquestionably, and repeatedly, harmful to you.
posted by Gelatin at 8:47 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've not been weighing in so far because you've gotten so much good advice already. But I'm going to burst if I don't tell you this:

Here's a list of things that sound oh so familiar to me. Because I used to be with someone who did the very same things.

- told me the way my cutlery tapped against my teeth was annoying and wrong
- mocked me when I talked (by imitating me)
- reacted badly if I tried to physically remove myself from an argument because I was angry (or sick of being yelled at)
- made it sound like he was the rational one and I was always so emotional/sensitive
- treated me unkind and then wanted sex the same night
- told me I was ungrateful
- was physically violent with me, just once
- told me I was not committed to the relationship

He always said things were getting better. But they never really did. A good friend told me that during the time I was in this relationship, he saw me getting smaller and smaller over time, and further and further away from who I really was.

I ended it. Best decision I ever took. Because yes, everything after that was so much better. And yes, I found someone who respects me and who I can respect, who cares about my feelings and values my opinions and ideas. But being alone forever would have been better than being in that bad relationship.

I did it and you can do it too. I'm rooting for you. We're all rooting for you.
Can you imagine us, people from all walks of life, all over the world, all hoping that you'll get out, because we're sure that you deserve so much better than this? I hope you can, because it's true. Here we are.

Best of luck! Please take care of Miranda. She's smart and sweet, she's been through hell, and she deserves your love.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:04 AM on May 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


This bit just jumped out at me too: I came back in the next couple of days and he apologized and that I should have just talked to him about how I was feeling

But you did -- and when you did so, he stood up, yelled at you that he didn't want to hear about it from you, took his pillow and went downstairs. Your feelings of mistreatment are, far from an overreaction, absolutely correct. This dude tries, for the first and only time since maybe you were a toddler, to micromanage the way you eat your soup for crying out loud.

All of that behavior has the effect of keeping you off balance, of doing the very questioning you're relating to us now -- Are you overreacting? Are you wrong to feel the way you do? Is it your fault? is there a chance things will get better?

The answer to each of those questions is a resounding no. The person who's supposed to love you has been tearing you down for four years, to the point that you get more sympathy, understanding and compassion from a bunch of strangers on the Internet. That's long past time to go.
posted by Gelatin at 9:05 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just got a text from him saying so is there anything about us that you like?

Remember that you can answer this question honestly - yes, there are things about him and the relationship that you like - but also honestly say that the good things don't make up for the bad things.

Here's a random fact for you: According Gottman's research, you can expect the positive communication to outweigh the negative communication by about 5 to 1 in a healthy, lasting relationship. How close are you to that ratio?
posted by clawsoon at 9:12 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


No he is very adamant against lying. That's a very strong value of his.

Just because someone claims to be against lying doesn't mean they actually are. Like this: "Now according to his psychiatrist, he was told that it was fair for him to bring up something that bothered him and I was supposed to acknowledge and accept it withot being defensive."-- that could be a lie. It's possible that his psychiatrist never told him that. It's possible that he lied to his psychiatrist in order to get that specific response from the psychiatrist. You don't have to believe everything he says just because he thinks he's an honest person.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:18 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Talk about being scared shitless right now.

What's making you scared?

(Some guesses: Are you scared that he's going to convince you to come back? Scared that he's going to try to hurt you if you leave? Scared that he's right and you'll be alone forever if you leave him, that you don't deserve any better? Or something else?)
posted by clawsoon at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2015


Scared of a big change and not knowing what happens next? Scared of standing on your own two feet again, after someone has been telling you that you're incapable of that? Scared of rocking a boat that may be really shitty but hey, it's a boat and it's all you have known for years?

I can tell you from experience that life will be better after you go through that looking glass. It really will. Your feet WILL carry you. And they'll want to dance.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:30 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or - this is one that I really struggled with - scared that you're being a bad person by leaving him and hurting him?
posted by clawsoon at 9:32 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


No he is very adamant against lying. That's a very strong value of his.

He's actually claimed (presumably with a straight face) that you're the abusive one in the relationship.

Everything that you've shared with us that has come out of his mouth has been deception.
posted by adamp88 at 9:33 AM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


30% great isnt enough. 30% perfect isnt close to enough. Even if 50% of the rest (50! %!) is just meh, 20% HORRID UNMITIGATED CALCULATED ABUSE is far, far, far far too much % to take.

98% of the relationship should be good to great, all the time. 1.8% should be arguments that get resolved more or less peacefully, so everybody can live with that. I reserve the .2% for really truly stupid shit people sometimes do. If they repent and quit doing that .2%, relationships- healthy relationships worth saving- might be saved.

This guy is an absolute, unmitigated shit. If he volunteers at a soup kitchen he spits in the food. I would not trust him around children or animals. He probably steals from the church donation plate. You have not said a SINGLE redeeming thing about him, once, and that saddens me.

There are two possible changes: You get out, and safe, and get room to heal, and grow, and love yourself, and trust yourself, and give yourself permission to be human, and happy, and LIVE.

Or. You stay. You hope. You pray. He kills you, slowly, horribly, inch by inch, day by day, insult, lies, manipulation, and making EVERYTHING ALL YOUR FAULT BECAUSE YOU ARE SCUM or however it is he inserts his poison lies into your brain. One day, when you're broken into nothing, he may physically kill you, because thats the only challenge left, the only way to get any reaction out of you. I'm not being dramatic in any of this. I'm not being metaphorical in any of this. This will be your day to day life. Your gut, your metafilter question, says 'fuck that. Fuck this asshole."

Start lining up your ducks to get out, ASAP. Calling the domestic violence hotline, if you can safely do so, is probably your best first start.

If you can't safely do so, can you do it from a friend or local metafilter's house?

http://mefiwiki.com/wiki/Get_a_lawyer

Its sink or swim time, Miranda. You want to live. Its hard and scary and probably the toughest thing you'll ever do. But, as always, you have a metafilter's worth of support. Youve taken the first step. Keep going. Do it for you, your future happiness, and your daughters. Before the hope is killed.
posted by Jacen at 9:44 AM on May 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


another part of me is saying maybe I'm just living in lala land and this is just the way it is.

Another recent thread here on the green involved a popular commenter whose significant other said something horrible and hurtful. I was telling my lovely wife just yesterday that my first comment was something to the effect of "I'm far from perfect, but I can't imagine saying anything so mean," and she readily agreed with me. Like every couple we have our ups and downs, but please believe me and everyone else when we tell you from experience that what you've experienced from this creep is the way it is with him but not at all how normal, healthy, loving relationships go.

Talk about being scared shitless right now. I know if I see him he will try and be charming, put blame on me

I didn't find it very fucking charming, but don't forget that he's already trying to put the blame on you.

As others have said, even a positive change like leaving his sorry ass can be scary, even if he hadn't made a full-time project of tearing down your self confidence over the last several years. You can do it and you will be happier -- how could you be otherwise? He has nothing to offer you but misery punctuated with just enough sunshine and roses to keep you stringing along.

But the time when a survivor finally does leave an abuser -- and I wondered from the texts you quoted if you'd told him you were leaving, and I truly hope you're in a position to have dumped him already -- truly is a risky time. Please do everything possible to protect yourself. Once you leave, make yourself unavailable to him, no matter how much he tries to contact you or tells you it hurts him. Go no contact; block him on your phone and social media; disappear. You've said he became physically violent before and you don't want to risk him doing so again.
posted by Gelatin at 9:47 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


One thing to remember: accepting that he is abusive and that you need to leave this relationship does not mean that he is a bad person. Leaving him doesn't mean that he is bad. Leaving him doesn't have to make any sort of value judgment about him. On the flipside: he doesn't have to be a bad person for it to be right for you to leave. You don't have to mentally condemn him as bad to accept that he is abusive and that you need to leave. Ultimately, leaving (or not leaving) is about you: it's about your needs, and your life, and what you want for yourself.

It is normal for someone in your situation to feel guilty about leaving. It's normal, in the sense that it often happens. Sometimes, people in your situation feel guilty because they really do love their partner and feel as though leaving is some sort of denial of that love. They feel guilty because they presuppose that the only thing that could justify their leaving is if their partner is a bad person. They don't want to think of their partner as a bad person, and so they conclude that they must be wrong to want to leave. But, please, note that this whole line of reasoning relies on a false presupposition. Leaving doesn't mean he's bad. Wanting to leave doesn't imply you think he is a bad person.

And if he tries to make you think that it does? If he says something like, "You must think I'm a monster, to want to leave!" or "I guess I'm just an awful person, if you don't want to stay with me!"? If he does that, please just close your eyes and repeat: you leave for you, and you leaving means nothing about him.
posted by meese at 9:48 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


I hope that you've gotten enough support and clarity from the responses here to realize that you are worth far, far better than what you're getting with this man.

I just wanted to add something that helped me in a somewhat similar situation years ago. I didn't get out when I should have, because I got hung up on the definitions and names of things. I couldn't quite believe (and I still don't, sometimes) that my boyfriend was a deliberate Abuser. Every time I tried to read about abuse, or talk to people about it, it seemed like domestic abuse has to happen at the hands of someone who has intentionally, consciously put together a master plan of how to control their partner.

My relationship was toxic and soul-crushing. There were a lot of things wrong with that guy (including a radical overnight personality shift that I suspect was medical in nature). But it wasn't like he sat down and wrote an outline of how to dominate and destroy me (even though that was the result). Nothing was that clear-cut.

I loved him and wanted to find a way to figure out the situation / adapt to his needs / make us as happy as we had once been. I wanted to heal us. But we were unfixable. I got so hung up on trying to figure things out and name everything correctly (is he an abuser, or mentally ill, or in a bad spot of his life that I should try and support him through? or are all our problems my fault?) that I stopped paying attention to what I felt and needed. I stayed way the hell too long, way after any hope of "fixing things" was super duper dead, and I was near suicidal because he'd managed to make me feel useless and unlovable.

Here is what I finally figured out, that gave me the power to leave: You don't have to think of him as an intentional ABUSER, for the relationship to count as ABUSIVE.

Maybe that is a fine point. But it helped me allow myself to leave.

From the outside of your relationship, as a stranger on the internet with limited info, I absolutely do think your boyfriend is a classic abuser. But you are inside the relationship and it's only your feelings that matter. Having known the good, sweet sides of him too, your feelings about him and the relationship will always be huge and complicated.

But I'm here to tell you, if it helps, you are allowed to stop trying to figure out his intentions. You can just look at the relationship itself, and your feelings and reactions to the things he does. Forget trying to fix, help, cooperate, bend, or interpret. Regardless of his motives, this relationship is not good for you, the end. That's all there is to it.

You are not obligated to stay with this person. Any reason you want to end it is all the reason you need. You don't even have to blame him, or try to understand his motivations right now. This can all fit under the category of "this isn't working out for either of us." That is a legitimate reason to leave.

End it now. Figure out what happened later. There is really no other way to do it.
posted by jessicapierce at 9:55 AM on May 14, 2015 [40 favorites]


Can I ask what he has said about his previous relationships and how has he spoken of the women he has dated?
posted by Iteki at 10:16 AM on May 14, 2015


I wish I could favorite jessicapierce's wise comment a hundred times. She's right that the labels don't matter so much. After all, before the discussion of abuse in this thread really took off, you were getting advice to leave (including from me) simply because he wouldn't stop with the behavior that made you feel bad even after you asked him to. That's enough.
posted by Gelatin at 10:18 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The last time I left he was suicidal

This will probably happen again.

This is another thing that was incredibly difficult for me to wrap my head around: This has nothing to do with you. It's not your fault. It's not something that you can prevent or fix. It is not your responsibility.

You're probably a caring person. If someone close to you is hurting, you help them. It's natural! If someone is hurting so badly that they're thinking of suicide, you do everything you can to help!

But given the rest of his behaviour, it seems that he is maybe like a cuckoo bird. You have an instinct for caring. He lays his eggs in your nest, eggs that hatch chicks with wide-open mouths that cry out to your caring instinct. Of course you will feed them! Every fibre of your being says that you should deliver care and love to someone who triggers that instinct!

In this case, that instinct is leading you astray.
posted by clawsoon at 10:25 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now according to his psychiatrist, he was told that it was fair for him to bring up something that bothered him and I was supposed to acknowledge and accept it without being defensive.

Sure he can bring something up that bothers him, but neither he nor the psychiatrist gets to dictate how you are "supposed" to respond. In some cases, like when you're being attacked or picked on, getting defensive is a perfectly appropriate response.

You respond how see fit. No one can take that away from you. Maybe one day you may realize that the way you respond to certain situations (regarding this guy or anyone else) is counterproductive or unwise, and you'll decide to make a change, but that's your decision to make and your changes to put into effect out of your own free will.

(And I doubt his psychiatrist ever said that, or this guy is willfully misinterpreting the advice.)
posted by Leontine at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


"this isn't working out for either of us."

Yes, and "This isn't working out for me" is also an entirely legitimate reason to leave. it's legitimate to put your needs ahead of his. I say this as someone who spent years feeling sick to my stomach about hurting the feelings of someone who meant well, who "loves me to bits" and wants to spend lots and lots of time with me, whose well-intentioned words and actions were also the worst thing that's ever happened to my mental and physical health but this person disagreed that any of it counted as real damage that I had a right to be upset over. Enforcing my boundaries hurt this person's feelings big time. And that's okay, because I had and have every right to protect my mental and physical health ahead of this person's.

You have every right, and it is entirely ethical and upstanding, to put your mental and physical health first, ahead of his.

Your needs might include to not have to walk on eggshells 99.9% of the time. To feel safe, honoured and respected and loved in this relationship, 99.9% of the time; to have a partner who builds up your confidence and gives you validation; to have a partner who asks what YOU think your "best self" can be, listens to your thoughts, and then for years and decades going forward, helps you grow into that best self. You are worthy of getting these needs fulfilled by someone who doesn't have to be argued into it.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:30 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


And, I meant to say, from what you've written, he doesn't sound like he could be argued into it anyway. People who blame you for their shitty behaviour just keep on blaming you, and you keep on making yourself smaller and compliant, and you keep going in this vicious circle dance until it kills you one way or another.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:43 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now according to his psychiatrist, he was told that it was fair for him to bring up something that bothered him and I was supposed to acknowledge and accept it withot being defensive.

Strictly speaking, this isn't necessarily wrong. He does have the right to express his feelings, and defensiveness on your part about his feelings certainly would get in the way of understanding. The thing is, his feelings do not entitle him to control or make demands of you, and your disagreeing with him or your having different preferences does not indicate any weakness or deficiency in you.

Here's the sort of conversation I'd bet his psych was advocating for:

Hey, I know you don't mean anything by it but that thing where you click your spoon on your teeth is giving me the shivers.

Oh, sorry, I didn't realize I was doing it.

It's no big deal, but if you could do that a little less I'd appreciate it.

Sure. Or maybe I could just get a plastic spoon? (snicker)

Heh. Thank you. You do it enough that I know it must feel good on some subconscious level. Thank you for your sacrifice. *SMOOCHES*


Statements of his own feelings, polite requests, compromise -- that's all fair game. But that's not what he's doing. I suspect his shrink would be aghast to see the behavior his advice is being used to justify.
posted by jon1270 at 10:56 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Do you think he did or would tell his psychiatrist that his bargain was he is forbidden from pulling your pants down and that you aren't "allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he sais or asks of [you]"? If your boyfriend says he did he probably didn't phrase it that way to the psychiatrist.

Now according to his psychiatrist, he was told that it was fair for him to bring up something that bothered him and I was supposed to acknowledge and accept it withot being defensive.

Assuming his psychiatrist did say that, I don't think it was meant to be an "anything goes" kind of thing. What if he says something horrible like "It bothers me that you're a disgusting moron who can't do anything right"? That's just an attack on you with an "it bothers me" tacked on to meet the letter of the psychiatrists statement, but it certainly isn't in the spirit of respectful communication. Before you can go to the "it bothers me" route there needs to be a certain level of mutual respect and reasonableness on both sides, otherwise it's just another way for someone to control someone else. If only one person goes into it with respect and reasonableness then the unreasonable, disrespectful person can just stomp all over the other.

I agree with everyone. You are the former and he is the latter and if even one person acts this unreasonable and disrespectful then the relationship must come to an end. This allows the reasonable person to exit a horrible situation and find happiness. It even gives the unreasonable person a chance to do some self-reflection and hopefully make a change to become reasonable, although I wouldn't wait for it much less expect it... and never rely on it. But keeping the status quo helps no one. I hope you are able to leave the guy soon, he sounds like a real piece of work.
posted by Green With You at 10:58 AM on May 14, 2015


Thank you for your responses. I can just imagine some of the hell that you guys have been through to have such knowledge and offer such wise and caring advice And im sorry anyone has to endure such crap from someone thats supposed to love them. I'm going to talk to him tonight and let him know that maybe it's a good idea to accept that things are far too complicated between us and although we have both been trying hard we are not making enough progress to be happy with each other and hope he agrees. I'm curious to how this will go, because the option of breaking up is so out of the blue and he'll be wondering where it came from all of a sudden
Anyhow I am scared of being 42 and starting from scratch. I have nothing, no condo, no nest egg, just my massage therapy career which I know I need to switch in the short term because it's not enough financially and too difficult physically. I'm scared of ending up alone, because let's face it, how many people out there would sign up to be in a relationship with someone that has two kids starting university that will be living at home(He would tell me that and i know its not far from the truth)I'm scared of how he's going to react, I'm scared he will think that I think of him as an evil person, which I dont. believe it or not, I'm scared to hurt him even though he's hurt me so many times, I'm scared because Im not sure how the reality will hit me once it's over for good. I'm scared because I have no idea where my future lies. All I know is I want my girls to have a home they can come to where they feel safe and loved and although he has been respectful to them, I know that if they continually see me hurt and unhappy they will not be happy. I do respect that he has always been friendly to them because the one time he tried speaking to them like he did to me, mama bear came out and I ripped his head off.
someone asked about his previous relationship. 10 years with someone he said he did not respect and felt nothing for. He tried to break it off several times but he said she just kept coming back for more so he went along with it. And then he met me and said he thought he was dead before he met me, that he's never felt such feelings for anyone and vice versa. It really was out of this world! He does have many qualities I love about him but they just don't balance the way he makes me feel as a human being sadly.
posted by miranda at 11:13 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Someday, you will be amused by the fact that pantsing saved your life.

In the meantime, stay safe.
posted by clawsoon at 11:14 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yes, no relationship should ever make you feel bad and wrong about who are are, fundamentally as a person.

Even if he wasn't an abuser, which he is, the relationship would still be wrong for you.

Being great 30% of the time isn't enough but another part of me is saying maybe I'm just living in lala land and this is just the way it is.

I feel like you need to really believe, deep in your heart, that this is not the way it is, nope, no way. It's not a belief that you will come to overnight, but it's the truth. Your current situation is so far away from the bare minimum of what you deserve and what you one day will expect.

Strength to you.
posted by gaspode at 11:22 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


. I'm going to talk to him tonight and let him know that maybe it's a good idea to accept that things are far too complicated between us and although we have both been trying hard we are not making enough progress to be happy with each other and hope he agrees.

Yeah, this is the really hard part, and the place where you're most likely to fail and remain stuck. He isn't going to agree. I don't know how he'll frame his disagreement -- by attacking you or denigrating you, or threatening violence against you or himself -- but he's not going to go along with this peacefully. You have to be ready to do it for yourself, regardless of what he wants or agrees to. Asking his permission to break things off is guaranteed to set you up for more abuse.
posted by jon1270 at 11:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


how many people out there would sign up to be in a relationship with someone that has two kids starting university that will be living at home(He would tell me that and i know its not far from the truth)

A ton of people. I know people in more complicated situations than that that have ended up in loving, caring relationships. "You'd better keep me because nobody else will have you" is a bog-standard abusive relationship line, btw.
posted by KathrynT at 11:30 AM on May 14, 2015 [22 favorites]


Why on earth would you even consider staying with an annoying, overbearing person who is controlling beyond any perception of what is normal and pedantic to the point of wanting to police how much sleep you get? Someone who is offended at the fact that miraculously there is still a shred of self-respect in you and calls it "defensiveness"?

I get that you don't want to be alone, but shit, how is that situation better than being happy in a cheap and tiny but peaceful home, falling asleep with your cat/dog/whatever whenever the fuck you want to, being able to leave the house without being guilt tripped, which would make it more likely to make new friends who will love you for who you are and not for how much of your soul you are willing to lose in order to fit someone else's frankly cruel and irrational idea of perfection?

Ask yourself, why are you willing to live with this person? I don't know him and I hate him already. He is an award-worthy piece of shit. He's a self-absorbed, condescending asshole who thinks you know nothing and he has to control everything including even your feelings about the ridiculous hang ups he has.

DUMP THIS MOTHERFUCKER

Your updates are sad to the point where I am sure they would be a great study material for for social workers who specialize in abusive relationships. He has totally and utterly brainwashed you. You need to deprogram yourself. This man is worse than nothing. Certainly worse than a peaceful life on your own. And I am talking wort case scenario here, because you may very well find someone.

Even how he spoke about his ex is a total red flag, such lack of empathy and compassion. Anyone normal would tell you they regret stringing someone along. How could he do it for 10 years and tell the story like it's nothing to be ashamed of? Even specify he had no respect for her. Seriously, how could he even say those things.
posted by Tarumba at 11:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would suggest meeting him somewhere in public tonight if you're going to have this conversation, and having a way to get home that's not dependent on him.
posted by jaguar at 11:36 AM on May 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm relieved to hear that you've decided it's time to end things with this dude. I would strongly recommend you meet for this conversation in a public place. Demand your keys back from him, if he has any, and if he doesn't return them, change your locks. And after that, go no contact. I doubt anything he says to you in the near term could be good for you.

I'm going to talk to him tonight and let him know that maybe it's a good idea to accept that things are far too complicated between us and although we have both been trying hard we are not making enough progress to be happy with each other and hope he agrees.

It's fine to hope he agrees, but I can't imagine he will. So what? Whether he agrees or not, please stick to your guns and tell him that the relationship is over, because you say it is. As jessicapierce and cybercoitus interruptus said, that's all it takes. His consent to end the relationship is not required.

Don't let him frame your discussion as a debate over whether the relationship had merit, or whether you're justified in breaking up. None of that matters now. The point is, the relationship is over, because you say it is.

I'm curious to how this will go, because the option of breaking up is so out of the blue and he'll be wondering where it came from all of a sudden

Oh, I'm sure he will act all wounded and aggrieved, but frankly I doubt he'll truly wonder. Remember the so-called "huffy hamper"? You left him before, and you've let him know on countless occasions that you are not happy with the way he treats you.

Anyhow I am scared of being 42 and starting from scratch. ... I'm scared of ending up alone, because let's face it, how many people out there would sign up to be in a relationship with someone that has two kids starting university that will be living at home(He would tell me that and i know its not far from the truth)

I know it's frightening, but I am sure your life will only get better without the millstone of his tearing down your self worth around your neck. I'm sure he would tell you you're undesireable -- the jackass! -- but that's nonsense. You've displayed intelligence, compassion and sensitivity here, all of which are fetching qualities, and there are plenty of people who have begun successful romances in their 40s.

I'm scared of how he's going to react

I would be too. Please do insist on meeting him in public.

I'm scared he will think that I think of him as an evil person ... I'm scared to hurt him even though he's hurt me so many times

He may well try these tactics against you. But stay strong! You need to leave him. You can't control what he thinks, and if he's hurt, it's only because he wouldn't treat you with the respect you deserve. It's his fault an no one else's.

someone asked about his previous relationship. 10 years with someone he said he did not respect and felt nothing for. He tried to break it off several times but he said she just kept coming back for more so he went along with it.

Wow, it just kind of happened to him, eh? Hmf. It doesn't surprise me that he didn't respect his previous relationship -- he clearly doesn't respect you, either. I wonder if he's capable of respecting anyone he's in a relationship with. And as I said earlier, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he used a variant on this line to describe you in the future (complete with the other things he told you). But that won't be your problem.

I am relieved to hear you'll be shut of this person at last. Be safe -- meet him in public, make sure he cannot get into your home, and go completely no contact. Block his phone and social media accounts. Best of luck -- we're all rooting for you.
posted by Gelatin at 11:36 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Oh, or on the phone is better, which may have been what you meant.)
posted by jaguar at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


jaguar is absolutely right, too -- not only should you meet in public but also you must not depend on him for your ride home, or vice versa.
posted by Gelatin at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


And even if he does return your keys, please change your locks. He may have copies.
posted by jaguar at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Of course you're scared--what you're doing is scary! Normal break-ups are hard, and you have the added hurdle of all that garbage in your brain that your boyfriend has been telling you about yourself. Please know that you are not alone, and people want to be there for you. If you have chosen your boyfriend over friends in the past, they will understand if you need their help now. Also, feel free to reach out to MeFites--if you're anywhere near Eastern Iowa, I may even have a job connection for you! Best wishes.
posted by epj at 11:38 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


You are not alone.
posted by jessicapierce at 11:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I just want to address your fear of starting over in your 40's with no money - so many people have had to do that. So many! You are not alone.

And plenty of women get married in their 40's, including women with kids. A dear friend's stepmom got married for the first time in her late 50's (to my friend's dad, obviously!). I read a newspaper article years ago about a woman who got married for the first time in her 60's, after she retired - she and her husband spent the next 20 or so years traveling together!

You don't say where you are located, but there are likely some resources in your area. You can try finding free or low-cost therapy - psychology students studying for their licenses do supervised internships, which include counseling, and these are usually on a sliding scale. There may be a support group for women starting over in midlife. You can try calling a domestic violence shelter and see if they have any resources (legal resources, low-cost counseling, job retraining) they can refer you to. Whatever government office handles unemployment (in the US it's the Employment Development Department and they are locally administered) might be able to help you with career issues. If you are a college graduate, try your alma mater's career center, or else the career center at your local community college.

We are all pulling for you!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:58 AM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


+1 change the locks no matter what.

+1 dont debate, discuss, waver, or really give him many opportunities. Everything he says will be either abusive or manipulative or both.

+a billion that you WILL, in fact, find someone to love you the way you should be loved.
posted by Jacen at 12:00 PM on May 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


I want to address the "hope he agrees" point again.

People who seek to control someone else via an abusive relationship get off on the control. I strongly doubt he will agree with any reasoning you put forward to support your decision. I would expect him to argue and rules-lawyer you into not leaving; he might offer concessions, he might cry, he might predict you'll never find love again, he might try anything he thinks might work, because if you leave him, he has no power over you. Be prepared for him to try to manipulate you, and never change your answer -- no.

On the other hand, consider what jessicapierce just said. In this thread are dozens of people who have no power over you, but want nothing but what's best for you, and can only offer their advice. Since yesterday, it's safe to say, many people have come to care for you, because you're a decent human being.

That's normal. That's what positive interaction looks like. You should never accept anything less from your relationship.

I can only imagine what the advice Web site Captain Awkward would say about the stories you've related, but I am sure that not only would they agree you need to leave pronto, but that you should reach out to what they call Team You -- your friends, your family, and I'm sure not a few of us in this thread, myself included. I'll follow on to epj's advice to wonder if your soon-to-be-ex hasn't discouraged you, subtly or otherwise, from maintaining other friendships or close ties with your family. As epj says, reach out regardless. You will be amazed how much love is out there for you once you're out from under the shadow of his abuse.

(And I'll once again echo jaguar's sound advice; change your locks anyway. And get a chain. A bigger one.)

Good luck. We're all rooting for you!
posted by Gelatin at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm going to talk to him tonight and let him know that maybe it's a good idea to accept that things are far too complicated between us... and hope he agrees.

The dynamic between the two of you is too unhealthy to make this decision collaboratively. He belittles and criticizes you. This causes you to modify your requests and behavior, such that you don't get what you need and want. You can make this decision on your own. If you try to make this with him, it is unlikely to serve your interests.

Are you in therapy? From this thread, it seems like he has basically brainwashed you. Your explanations about why your behavior is not worth criticizing? He has you labeling that "defensiveness" and got you trying to stop thinking it. He's turned you against yourself. That's the essence of brainwashing -- the paths of thinking that would normally get you out become blocked off to you because you've been taught to block them with other beliefs. It can take a lot of work to deprogram yourself. (It took me a year of therapy to leave my messed-up relationship.) These things can take time. Consider how to get yourself more support in getting out of this relationship via therapy, a support group at Kaiser or a faith community or a community center, and by asking for help from your family and friends.
posted by salvia at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh, also, he doesn't actually have to agree that it's a good idea to part. It's not a discussion, or a debate, as much as he might want it to be one.

You can break up with him unilaterally. You don't need his permission.

I know you know that, but you might not really *know* that.
posted by gaspode at 12:05 PM on May 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


My mom is in her early 50s and she's managed pretty well despite a lot of hardship. She was was diagnosed with and treated for cancer around 3-4 years ago, has 3 adult kids with their own crap to deal with, has been divorced 3 times, has a pretty terrible low-wage job she hates that is way too labor intensive. A few years ago she began dating a guy who's making her pretty happy who doesn't seem like a dipshit and I'm happy for her. So I don't know what will happen for you, but I believe you can meet someone better. I hope you will.
posted by Green With You at 12:14 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Have you read about the sunk cost fallacy before? It might be helpful to apply this to your feelings about leaving. You do not need to have a discussion with him or ask what he thinks or see how he feels. You don't need his permission or agreement and you will not get it.

Keep reading the advice here. Keep re-reading it, over and over again, until you see what you've told us. It is so common to leave and go back, like you have before. Let this be the final time. Get yourself out. Get free. Today. Now.
posted by juliplease at 12:15 PM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm going to talk to him tonight and let him know that maybe it's a good idea to accept that things are far too complicated between us... and hope he agrees.

What? No. He doesn't need to agree. Even if it doesn't feel like it, you have the power here!
posted by small_ruminant at 12:16 PM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


> And plenty of women get married in their 40's, including women with kids. A dear friend's stepmom got married for the first time in her late 50's (to my friend's dad, obviously!).

My wife was in her late 50s with two kids when we got married, and she seems pretty happy with me. Please try not to let that worry you. There are no guarantees in life, but you do not have to settle for a jerk like this. Also:

> You can break up with him unilaterally. You don't need his permission.

Quoted for truth. Try to get yourself out of that "we are a couple and must mutually decide things" frame of mind. Just do it.
posted by languagehat at 12:16 PM on May 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


hope he agrees

He will not. Even if he seems to agree at first, he will change his mind later. Be prepared. Be prepared for the nastiest man and the sweetest man and the most suicidal man you've ever met. You will have to say no to all of those men.

I'm scared he will think that I think of him as an evil person, which I dont.

It's funny; it has taken me eight years to realize/accept that "abusive" is a word that applied things I was on the receiving end of, and that my former partner was/is a bad person. Part of that, I now realize, resulted from the fact that any time I expressed even the slightest negative thought or feeling about that partner to anyone, I was punished for it. Ask yourself: Why is everyone else in this thread saying that he's a bad person, and you're the only one who isn't? If your case is like mine, it's because you've been punished so many times into never, ever thinking that about what the repeated horrible behaviour means.

believe it or not, I'm scared to hurt him even though he's hurt me so many times

I believe it. I completely believe it.

Something I've had to learn: Misery comes from wanting to end a relationship without hurting the other person. But ending a relationship usually involves hurting the other person, at least in the short term. When you start dating again, this is something you need to make peace with, so that you don't end up trapped in another relationship like this. It doesn't make you a bad person. He will try to convince you that it makes you a bad person, and you're ready and willing to convince yourself, but it's not true.

(Just about every time you've said, "...and I know that's true, I shouldn't feel/do/think such-and-such...", you've said something that isn't true.)

I'm scared because Im not sure how the reality will hit me once it's over for good.

I don't think I'll be alone in saying that, once it's over for good, the reality is that you'll feel much better, and you'll feel better about yourself, and you'll feel good that you made the right decision.

I know it's hard to believe now, but it's true.
posted by clawsoon at 12:19 PM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


You can break up with him unilaterally. You don't need his permission.

Yes, this. Unless I'm very much mistaken, he won't agree. So what?

I predict he will argue, manipulate, bargain, threaten or whatever to get you to change your mind. So what? Let that fall on deaf ears.

You don't need his permission. The relationship is over because you say so.

You don't need his permission.

Repeat that to yourself until you tell him -- not ask, tell him: It's over.

Because you say it is.

Because you deserve better. And you will have better -- even his absence is better, though I'd bet there's better still out there for you.
posted by Gelatin at 12:23 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Run the conversation! Just text him and say "We are done." There doesn't need to be any explanation or debate and DO NOT LET HIM CONVINCE YOU THAT YOU OWE HIM SOME SPACE TO TALK. Just tell him the news and be done with him.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Don't frame what you'll be (hopefully) doing tonight as a conversation or a discussion. All you have to say is "I've been thinking a lot about our relationship, and it's just not working for me. I don't see it improving, so I'm not going to see you anymore." He will argue and blame and plead and demand reasons. All you have to repeat is, "It's not working for me." You are not being cruel by not engaging him in arguing, you are merely telling the truth. The discussion portion of the relationship is over; you have made a decision to leave, and there's nothing more to discuss.
And please, please, please either do this over the phone, or in a public place with your own transportation home.
You will not believe the relief you will feel once the initial sadness has passed.
posted by chowflap at 12:32 PM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


From a commenter who wishes to remain anonymous:
I have been following this thread ever since it was posted. There are a lot of things I want to tell you, Miranda, but much of it has already been covered, and in the end I think it boils down to one thing: breaking up and moving on will be difficult, but you have successfully done many difficult things in your life before this—which means you already possess the strength and skills to do something difficult again.

I say this explicitly because I am virtually sure that the message you have internalized from this man is that you are weak and that it would be impossible for you to move on without him. Whether or not he consciously thinks of himself as a liar, these things are lies. More importantly, when your internal narrative tells you that you’re weak and that you can’t accomplish this, that voice is also lying. It is not the objective truth. The objective truth is what you feel in your gut: that you deserve love and respect, and that you no longer want to be in this relationship. That’s all you need to know.

Also, just to reiterate what has been said already: the ONLY requirement to end this relationship is that you want to end it. Breaking up does not require the agreement of both parties. If you simply ask him if you think it is a good idea, I guarantee you that he will tell you no—precisely because breaking up is the right thing for you, and he does not want you to do the right thing for yourself.
This is a man who doesn’t even let you nap in peace. If he refuses to let you sleep when your body needs to do so, he will certainly refuse to agree to breaking up when your spirit needs to do so! He has complete contempt and disregard for your well-being; breaking up with him is fundamental to your well-being; therefore he will never agree.

That means must end this unilaterally. (And please, please, please take seriously all the great advice about how to do this safely.) I’m sure it’s very scary even to contemplate that, and scary to contemplate what comes next. But we each only get one life. Your life was not created in order for you to suffer like this, any more than your daughters’ lives were made for them to suffer. And please believe me, 42 is not the end of your life (I just got married a few weeks ago and I’m four years older than you). There is a world of possibilities out there (and, I might add, literally millions of men who have never, ever, ever, ever, ever treated a partner the way this man treats you). You were put on this earth to explore those possibilities, and to create a meaningful life by connecting positively with yourself, your family, and the world around you.

This is your life to live and your choice to make, not his. You are strong. You have done difficult things before. You have faced your fears before. You can do it again. We all support you, with compassion and respect and love.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:38 PM on May 14, 2015 [22 favorites]


At this point, you really owe him nothing. He has taken enough. Cut the tie and turn 180-degrees and face the sunlight. You can do this and your girls will help you. Be brave for them. Show them that you can find your own way in this world. They are old enough to help you as well. Bring them in to the brainstorming of your new reality. Do you have family that can be helpful to you? Reach out to them today.
posted by amanda at 12:38 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's okay to be scared. I was in the same mental state as you are now. It's not true that no one will want to take you on at 42 with two grown kids in college. I also had the same kind of comments, "go back to your mommy and daddy!" And this is after all the financial withholding, not allowing my friends over, isolating me from my family, and yes, I couldn't keep the kitchen clean enough (the cans should be facing all the same way), couldn't dress well enough, and any time I showed any hint of pleasure in anything, he would be right there to criticize me.

And I am not a perfect person. I overreacted to things, we fought, and I had doubts about being the abusive one. It didn't matter: no matter how imperfect I was, I didn't deserve to be treated that way.

I am still very much imperfect, yet I found someone "willing to take me on," who is very happy to be with me, despite my imperfect body, my imperfect moods, and my grown kids, and has been there for them and for me, and sometimes my extended family. We aren't rich or anything, but we enjoy each other's company, and so, even at gasp! 45, I think I was when we got married, it's possible (I am 51 now and a grandma).

Those are just lies he tells you to keep you from leaving. Just consider that it's very unhealthy and toxic for you to be with this person, you're not a good match, and take some time to rebuild your psyche, with a good therapist. People fall for con men, manipulators, etc. all the time. Whether he has good qualities or not (my ex did, he was very talented in many areas, loved animals, etc., could lay on the charm), that doesn't make up for the times we were riding home from my folks' and he refused to turn the heat on in the car because I didn't deserve to be warm. Stuff like that, it *is* shocking, isn't it? That someone could be so nice and do such cruel things at the drop of a hat. But again, think of the snarling dog: it could calm down, pet it, then it bites your hand. You can't "train" this dog and no matter what he says, it's not the truth, at the very least, it's a twisted sort of truth, because sure, I did have to ask for my family's help. And I then when I was in a position to help, I helped my family back when they needed something (not that they cared, all they cared about was my safety and well-being and happiness).

And it's okay to tell him you need some time to think, via text and then decide if you want to take a friend with you to a public place to break up, or break up over the phone, whatever. It really is your choice, so you can do it in the best possible way without causing yourself more fear and distress. I found that 3 weeks was a really good rule for me and then I got some perspective, and the key is not to go back to what is toxic, because I did, and that's when it got really bad, in a very short period of time. You really, really don't want to be living under his financial control -- it sounds like he pulled some sort of financial abuse on you already, telling you to sell your condo, etc. Because then you will have no place else to go except for him. I used to wonder, if he hates me so much, why does he want to be with me? And the truth was, he didn't. He wanted someone to control, and there was no living woman on this Earth who would ever be good enough for him.

Use whatever motivates you: if it's your girls, use that. You're their example. I bet they feel the same way at seeing you mistreated as you felt seeing it happen to them.

While you're mulling things over, see if your area has a free Warm Line or some kind of crisis hotline, domestic violence hotline, etc. I am sure there are links provided above, but sometimes it helps to talk to a live person who has experience in these matters. Don't force anything on yourself that you're not ready to do, just take a deep breath and weigh your options. I'd follow jaguar's advice if you decided to go ahead and do something right away. It doesn't matter where it came from, it came from you questioning things and asking a question, and wondering if you were crazy and seeking validation. I'd say this thread is more than enough validation that it's okay for you to break it off, you don't need anyone's permission, and you are acting in a healthy manner decided to set boundaries and not move ahead with something that could be very unhealthy for you.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:17 PM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I too have been reading this thread and desperately wishing you the strength to leave, and to go on and live the life you were meant to have.

Do this for your daughters, if you find it hard to do it for yourself.

Also: Six months ago, after many years of being single-- and having come to the conclusion that I would stay so for the rest of my life-- I met someone, and it's a wonderful, oh-THIS-is-what-they-are-talking-about experience. I am 56.

Please, please move on. You have no idea what adventures and pleasures are waiting for you.
posted by jokeefe at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


You will feel better long-term after ending this relationship, but you might very well feel horrible in the short-term, and that's ok, too. It's hard to end relationships, even bad relationships. It's extremely hard to accept the reality that you will be ok on your own, if you've been told for years that you won't be. It took me a good year after ending things with my abuser to be able to make dinner without flinching every single time I dropped something or made a noise, because that was a trigger for his rage. You may feel scared and incompetent and sad and lonely and confused and hypervigilant. That's ok, and that's normal, and that doesn't mean you made the wrong choice. It will take time to regain your sense of self and your confidence. Surrounding yourself with supportive people (online, in person, on the phone) can really help.
posted by jaguar at 1:25 PM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wow, you're still so young. You have lots of good years ahead of you, trust me. I was 51 when I separated from my husband. He was not abusive toward me but our relationship was toxic. Leaving was complex; I needed to find a job, find a place to live, figure out how to share custody of our daughter, etc. In the process I met a couple of women who told me they were jealous of me--scared, timid, exhausted me--because they were too afraid to leave their partners. So they stayed, miserable, year after year. And I did too until finally, I'd had enough.

My Al-Anon sponsor once told me that if I kept working my program, some day I could make decisions in my own best interest and no one would have to be a villain. I could break up with a man simply because our relationship wasn't working for me. That didn't mean that he was bad or I was bad. It just meant that what we had together wasn't working for me. And she was right.

I'm turning 59 this year and I have never been happier. I have a terrific partner who I met 3 years ago. We live apart because that's how I like it. My daughter and I have (much to my surprise) developed a loving, close relationship. Is my life perfect? Nope. Am I perfect? Nope. My life is wonderful anyway. Yours will be, too.

Finally, please remember that you are not responsible for your partner's feelings--he insists that you are but that's bullshit. If you let him, he will call you unfair or worse. He will insist that you are making a mistake, and he will play on your love for him. So don't let him. This is NOT about being fair to him. This is NOT about negotiation. This life isn't working for you. So you are choosing another life, a life without him, because that is best for you. And you don't owe him an explanation, an apology or a debate.

Please don't give him a chance to suck you in again. I know what it's like to want a loved one not to be angry or sad when I say goodbye. But that's not realistic. Your partner will be angry or sad or indignant and that's okay. He will survive. And you will survive those feelings of guilt and discomfort as well--if you allow yourself to take action anyway, despite the discomfort. And eventually you will thrive.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:41 PM on May 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


One mantra I find helpful is "you don't ever have to talk to him again." It's normal to think you have to make decisions with someone, particularly someone who constantly undermines and criticizes you, so that they won't criticize your decision. But you actually don't have to see him ever again! You can just do what YOU want.
posted by salvia at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


BTW, career and finance options are much easier to think about once you no longer have someone constantly running you down. Your brain starts working better. Seriously.
posted by clawsoon at 3:04 PM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


He's not going to agree with you that the relationship isn't working. He's going to argue. Don't give him the chance. Just call him and say it's over, and when he wants to talk about it - which he will - don't do it. Hang up. He wins if he has more contact. You win if you get away.

Hell, just send a text and then block him on your phone and then go have an awesome life.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:21 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Please let us know tomorrow how it goes because we're going to be worried.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 4:24 PM on May 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


If he threatens suicide, you can call the police and ask them to do a welfare check on him. It may be dangerous for you to do more than that. According to the National Institute of Justice, there are murder-suicide risks in domestic violence situations:
In most cases, the man exhibits possessive, obsessive and jealous behavior. There is a gradual build-up of tensions and conflicts after which an event leads the man to act. The triggering event is often the woman's announcement that she is leaving.

The time immediately after a woman leaves an abusive partner is the most dangerous.
He has a psychiatrist and can get help from community resources. You are not responsible for his behavior, but he may try to argue that you are the only one who can save him. You can get confidential support 24/7 from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:03 PM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you find that it's too hard to do, don't be afraid to say so. (Even if you think it's for stupid reasons.) Lots of people here understand where you're at right now.
posted by clawsoon at 7:10 PM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, you don't have to do anything right now except keep breathing. Seriously, you can break up with him tomorrow, next week, whenever. The house feels like it is burning down but it is not burning down. Your brain and heart are in fight or flight mode because they don't know how else to react. That doesn't mean you have to do anything right this minute except keep breathing and stay safe. So please, don't move back in with him--and don't break up with him in person.

When you deliver the news is up to you. If now is a bad time, don't do it now. If now is too much, that's okay. Keep breathing, take care of yourself and break up when it feels like you are ready.

Finally, you don't have to be physically alone as you go through this. If you can, ask a buddy or family member or church member to come sit next to you as you make the breakup call or text or email. And after!

If none of those people are available, ask one of us. There are about a zillion people in this thread who will happily come sit next to you (or, if you insist, go with you to meet this guy in a public place but again, please don't) when you decide it's time to let him know that you are moving on.

Take care!
posted by Bella Donna at 7:26 PM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Do you have things of his? Does he have things of yours? Does he owe you money? Do you owe him money? Do you have each other's house keys?

I'm not sure why you think this person deserves a discussion with you. He's dangerous. It's as simple as, "I have decided this relationship is no longer what I want. I'm sending your XYZ back to you in the mail. I've made arrangements to return A + B to you. Do not come to my home or contact me further. You can mail C, D, and E to me at blah blah address. I wish you well in life. This relationship is not what I want. Good bye."

Then, you block his number on your phone, his email, defriend and privatize all social media. You stay at your mom's house or a friends place for a few weeks, and you just generally wait for the dust to settle and for him to get the message and give up.

You might share with your mom and adult friends that you are leaving this guy because he is abusive, and that you need their support/couch to sleep on/shoulder to cry on. You can't buy it as "romantic" when he tries to track you down and cries to you. You gotta start seeing that for the manipulative bullshit that it is.

Anyway, I wish you luck. Just popping in to tell you that you don't need permission, you can simply state what you are doing, and then do it.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 8:30 PM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wishing you all the best. There is someone out there who will love you and isn't a total dickwad. Don't convince yourself you can't do better. You can and you will! Heck, you will be doing better the second you dump this loser.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:49 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


No matter how you do it, conversation, phone call, text, no-contact out of the blue, or whatever, he will tell you that you did it wrong. You were just so mean to him; you're a horrible person. So just accept that's going to happen and pick the easiest way.

Also, if he has things of yours, write them off. He will hold them hostage so you have to talk to him again and again, to keep badgering you and make you be the one to end the conversation. So again, you're the bad person. And you still won't have your stuff. Not worth it.
posted by ctmf at 9:49 PM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've been worried since the start of this thread and I'm still worried for you. Your stories sound so familiar - like so many others who have commented, I could tell you almost word-for-word the same stories. How it was always my fault, how I was the one behaving badly, how I actually came to believe (almost) that I was broken and horrible and so lucky to have them to love me. Hell, we broke up, twice, and twice I went back. So I did it to myself, right?

You can do this. You are stronger than you think you are. Right now he has made you believe that you are broken, imperfect, damaged, that he is doing you a favour by being in a relationship with you. I do not know you but I know that NONE OF WHAT HE SAYS IS TRUE. He is lying to you when he says he abhors lying.

+1 to others' advice: break up with him. He does not need to agree. Do this as simply and quickly and safely as you can, which means preferably not in person, but if in person in a public place with escape routes. Change your locks. Tell your daughters, who live with you, that it is over and they are under no circumstances to talk to him, let him in or have any contact with him because he will probably try to use them to get to you if he can at all manage to do so.

It will be awful at first. You'll feel shaky and weak and wonder if you did the right thing. You did. It will take time but you will feel relief. You will wake up from an afternoon nap on the weekend and think, HA, I had a nap and it was great and no one can tell me off for it. You can click your spoon on your teeth as much as you like. You will realise that you are an amazing person who can do so much, who has so much to offer, who is not broken or incompetent or mean or a bully.

You can do this. You are stronger than you think you are. Be safe, be well. Please let us know you are okay, and we are all cheering for you.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:28 AM on May 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


Anyhow I am scared of being 42 and starting from scratch. I have nothing, no condo, no nest egg, just my massage therapy career which I know I need to switch in the short term because it's not enough financially and too difficult physically.

One step at a time. All the things that are missing now, are things that can be resolved in the future. You already know you need to switch careers, so you've got that consideration analyzed & decided; it just needs to be done. Tell yourself you know it and can do it as soon as you're ready, because indeed, you can.

As for 42 and starting from scratch, like others have said, no worries! Many of us have been there too. I broke up with my abusive ex 11 years ago, and will soon have no real estate to my name (I moved last year for work, the market has tanked, I'm going to have to sell my former place at a loss), no nest egg (see: loss), but a promising career, which is why I accepted those risks. And I've been single ever since leaving the ex, not counting dates with a few men. I'm 39, have nothing to my name other than two furballs, clothes, books, a respectable job title, and finally a salary that will allow me to round out the rest in time.

I'm scared of ending up alone, because let's face it, how many people out there would sign up to be in a relationship with someone that has two kids starting university that will be living at home(He would tell me that and i know its not far from the truth)

*record scratch*
Hon! I'm 39, no kids, totally free, have a somewhat impressive job and salary, and can't find a man! :) Look at all the other women in this thread who have found relationships. We're all in different stages of life, in different parts of the world, with different characteristics to our lives. You can't predict the future. You can take steps to make your present (and eventually future) fulfilling. Would you rather continue to live your present in fear and guesswork, making your future just as fearful and full of guesswork, or would you rather take a risk, go through what will be difficult and heartbreaking (I won't sugarcoat that, it is), for a future where you know you won't have to fear and guess about someone? And also be open to a future with a different type of person? If you stay with this guy, you know what you're getting, short and long term. Given his behavior, there's a very high probability it will get worse. If you leave him, you also know what you're getting short-term, but the long-term has a lot more potential for happiness. And you can be happy single, I definitely am. Having been in an abusive relationship is a paradoxical gift in that sense: whenever I get lonely and think how much I'd love a partner, among other happier thoughts, I also remind myself with a little: "remember what it was like with Ex. Better lonely like this than partnered like that." PHEEEEWWWW big warm wave of relief.

I'm scared of how he's going to react, I'm scared he will think that I think of him as an evil person, which I dont.

Well you've already got the answer to your worries: you don't think of him as an evil person. Whatever he believes you think is in his head, it is his responsibility. No need to add another layer by thinking about what you think he's thinking that you're thinking ;)

All I know is I want my girls to have a home they can come to where they feel safe and loved

You're an awesome mom. I wish I'd had a mother like you.

and although he has been respectful to them, I know that if they continually see me hurt and unhappy they will not be happy. I do respect that he has always been friendly to them because the one time he tried speaking to them like he did to me, mama bear came out and I ripped his head off.

Feel free to rip his head off as mama bear to Miranda.
posted by fraula at 5:05 AM on May 15, 2015 [14 favorites]



Slowly he began to pick on me for little things, like me falling asleep on the couch because I was too tired. He would ream me out and tell me I offended him. I would apologize saying I was so sorry but I was just so exhausted and he would say I was just making excuses And didnt take his feelings into consideration. Anytime I would fall asleep even a short nap on the couch in the evening at the end of the day he would make me feel like crap
.

Oh god.

That is exactly what my abuser did. Sleep deprivation was one of his favorite tactics and things got much, much worse from there. PLEASE, PLEASE get out and PLEASE be careful! People have given you a ton of great info and resources. Please inform yourself as well as you can. I'm afraid you may be in danger when you try to leave. This is very very serious!!! I remember people trying to tell me that and I thought "oh they must just be trying to scare me because they don't like him. " Even the fact that my abuser told me himself that his first serious girlfriend had died, wasn't enough to clue me in to how bad things were going to get. But they got very bad. For your sake and your daughters sake make a plan, enlist the help of law enforcement, friends and domestic violence resources and when you have a good safe place to run, RUN! Please please please!

I will thinking about you! I hope you will be able to let us know when you are safe, but most important is to get out and stay safe.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:31 PM on May 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Just in case another voice added to the chorus helps you.

There is a huge, wide gulf between knowing in your gut what you need to do, and summoning the resolve to do it.

When I was in my own shitty relationship I found myself in a headspace pretty much where I would guess you are now: having concluded that I needed to leave, but scared, overwhelmed, and not sure of what to do next except pretty damn certain that whatever it was, I would fail spectacularly.

As I surfed the internet to try to distract myself from these deeply unpleasant thoughts, I clicked over to the PostSecret blog. If you're not familiar, it's (was?) a website that displayed postcards that people mailed in with a secret written on them.

When I went there, this* is what I saw.

You can do this. You can do this now. You don't need to wait. The time will never feel right. But it is.

As for me, that one silly postcard got me to momentarily stop focusing on all the doubts. I didn't have it in me to have a talk with my ex, so I ...didn't. I just started packing. I think he thought I was being dramatic. But when I was done packing, I left. And it was over. I'm now in a great relationship, but even more importantly, before that, once I was on my own and the dust settled, I was happy. If you had told me that before I left, I assure you I would not have believed that it was possible. Maybe other people could be happy on their own, but not me. And yeah, my finances were a mess, I was on my own in a city where I knew no one - but it didn't matter. When people talk about an invisible weight being lifted? I finally understood what that meant. I didn't even know I had been carrying it until it was gone.

There are so many of us here who have been where you are; who have lived that utter bleak loneliness and paralyzing fear. We are telling you from the other side that you can get through it. It is scary and it will take time. You will feel like you have made a mistake. He will do everything he can to try to get you back. He will make every threat and promise and maybe even change for a little while; maybe even pull out new manipulations you haven't seen before. You will have to stay strong. It will be worth it.

Please check in and let us know you're okay. Please reach out if you need help. This group of 200+ people is rooting for you.

*not my website, but I'm eternally grateful to the person who saved it and made it available lo these many years later!
posted by AV at 5:40 PM on May 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


hi to all you beautiful people that have given me your strength to break things off. I will keep you posted As things unfold.
posted by miranda at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2015 [59 favorites]


You've been in my thoughts a lot, miranda. I'm pulling for you.
posted by KathrynT at 10:33 AM on May 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thank you, miranda. Yes, please do. Be well and safe, and best of luck.
posted by Gelatin at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


After spending too many years in an unhappy relationship (though not one as toxic as yours), this is what I wish I could say to that younger self who found it so hard to leave:

You have the right to feel loved by your partner and to decide what makes you feel loved - your partner doesn't get to choose what counts as loving behavior to you. You are the sole and final arbiter of whether you feel loved and cherished, and no relationship that doesn't make you feel that way is worth staying in.

What your partner says to you about your relationship tells you much less than your own innate reactions to him - how does your body feel when you see him or touch him? Do you feel safe and happy? Do you feel anxious or afraid? Do you relax or tense when he's near you? When you kiss him, is it from deeply felt affection or from the desire to make him happy with you? When your body stops wanting someone, you should listen to it. Our bodies feel the things that we don't allow ourselves to fully acknowledge.

When your partner describes you and you don't like or want to be the person they seem to be talking about, that is a sign the relationship has failed. It is not possible for a relationship to survive when one person has contempt for the other.

When you're in a relationship that isn't working, you're not your best self. You don't always treat the other person as well as you maybe should. But that doesn't mean that you need to make it up to them by staying longer or giving up more of your own self - it just means this isn't a situation in which you can flourish. It also doesn't justify or cancel out how poorly the other person treats you.

You don't have to stay in a relationship until something "bad enough" happens that you are "permitted" to leave. The only reason you need is that you aren't happy, or aren't being treated the way you want to be, or think you might be happier with someone else, or would rather have more time to watch TV alone (seriously, I have stopped dating guys because they didn't pass the "would I rather be home watching TV alone?" test, and it was always the right decision). You don't owe anyone your presence in their life just because you're already there, or you made promises in the past when things were better. You can break up with someone because you don't like their shoes and it won't make you a bad person. You don't belong to anyone but yourself.

If you know you aren't happy enough to stay with someone long-term, it's kinder to break up with them sooner than later, no matter how much they don't want you to. You will waste years of both your lives if you wait for him to recognize what's wrong (spoiler: he probably never will). But at the same time, it's never too late to end things and move on.

Breaking up with someone who doesn't want you to go is horrible and painful and terrifying, but afterwards you feel so much better. There's never a right way or a good time to do it - there's always a trip or a birthday or a big project, so all you can do is make a plan and take that leap. It may feel like jumping through a wall of fire, and it will hurt more if you get hung up in the middle instead of pushing all the way through. But you only have to go through it once, and then there's the whole rest of your life on the other side.

Stay strong, I'm rooting for you.
posted by unsub at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


"I feel so incredibly stupid for thinking things would change."

Nah, not stupid. Everyone in these situations goes through the same thought process.

And you don't have "nothing", you have everything. You have two girls that you raised all by yourself! You realize that you've already achieved the thing that is one major reason why women want to be in relationships? Because they're afraid they'll miss their chance to have children? You don't have to worry about any of that, so you have much more time and freedom of choice.

Your girls are lucky and successful because they have you. You don't have you right now. If you continue with him your options for survival and making a living will get less, not more.
posted by tel3path at 5:19 AM on May 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm glad you came here and asked your question, took the responses into consideration, and acted upon it. It's so hard to see the forest when you're standing right in the middle of it. Please be safe.
posted by SillyShepherd at 6:09 AM on May 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hi, everyone. I just wanted to give you a quick update. I am now just starting to read Why Does He Do that. I can't believe it's taken me so long to find this book. Thank you to all that recommended it to me.
Any how this weekend I tried to end things with him. He was very confused to where this came from because we were trying to put our lives back together again. He didn't get it at all. He was naturally upset at first and used some of the tactics that some you of you told me about, such as, telling me I didn't have the where with all to make any life decisions at this time because I am confused about everything, that maybe I was depressed and that maybe because I had my period....... Anyhow, after telling him how I felt about things he became very understanding and told me he understood why I thought what he was doing was abusive because it was, and he was so hurt and sorry that he behaved like that. He told me that I shouldn't throw our entire relationship out the window and he doesn't trust me in the drivers seat right now, that I should have more positivity and determination that we can have a good future together using good communication skills, that we have a lot of tools in our tool box that we can use if I actually just stuck it out with something instead of ran. He had many good points and was full of hope and optimism. In the light of it all as you can see I am very confused. I went in with the intention to be strong and had everyone's words running through my heart and mind and he was able to talk me down. I have many times asked my daughters what they think and what we should do because I just want them to be happy and their reply is we just want a home where you are happy. Well I want all of us to be happy. I do not intend for all of us to move in there and intend on reading this book for some clarity. I do not ever again want to go through what I went in a lot of our relationship and am just evaluating if someone has the desire to change in which he sais he does and has been working on himself, can they. You guys are beautiful and I thand you so much for your care. I'm just still confused because of his kind words and intentions are throwing me off right now
posted by miranda at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Being confused now is totally normal. You're trying to go from one worldview (the one where he is right and you're [defensive] and [confused]) to another.* Getting out of this relationship (or having the debates necessary to make it healthy) will be a long-term process, so you need long-term support, e.g., therapy.

I am glad he validated your views and apologized: "he understood why I thought what he was doing was abusive because it was, and he was so hurt and sorry that he behaved like that."

I would have liked to see him taking responsibility for changing it: "What can I change to make it worth your while to stay in the relationship?" Instead here is what he said:
shouldn't throw our entire relationship out the window

Telling you what to do, making it your responsibility

and he doesn't trust me in the drivers seat right now

Undermining, being disrespectful, getting you to question yourself

I should have more home and determination that we can have a good future together with good communication skills,

Telling you what to do, making it your responsibility

that we have a lot of tools in our tool box that we can use if I actually just stuck it out with something instead of ran

Blaming you, making it your responsibility
Given all that, I'll be honest, I don't see him ever giving you the support and love you deserve. I don't believe that you guys have good communication tools -- I feel like you have to survive a long argument to get him to even begin to hear your views. You should not have to fight this hard to get him to respect you, care about your feelings, and be an active partner in fixing things.

But even if he is changing a bit, consider whether the best route to a healthy relationship is by reforming this one. He has to make a LOT of changes, and it sounds like he only changes when you really push hard on him. And I imagine that he reverts when you're not pushing hard. It might be more effective and easier to leave.

But that's all just my opinion. You'll find your own path forward. Best of luck. Everyone here is rooting for you.
posted by salvia at 2:41 PM on May 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


* You're trying to go from one worldview (the one where he is right and you're [defensive] and [confused]) to another -- the one where you are smart, make sense, and deserve to sleep when you're tired.
posted by salvia at 2:42 PM on May 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


he doesn't trust me in the drivers seat right now

the asshole-to-english translation of this is that he is really threatened by your realization that the relationship is abusive and he's afraid he won't be able to walk all over you anymore.

you no longer need to worry about his happiness since he has long ago stopped worrying about yours.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:48 PM on May 18, 2015 [38 favorites]


His kind words? He says he doesn't trust you in the driver's seat and that's kind?! He's still undermining you. You've got him scared now and he's trying to persuade you to stay. But it's one of the oldest tricks in the abuser's book - be nice, calm them down, make them think you're wonderful and they'll stick around for more abuse. I fell for it many times, believing that things would change, that the good things that I fell in love with were still there and were enough. Nope. A thousand times no.

You've given him chances before and he always goes back to insulting, belittling and abusing you. Past behaviour is an indication of future behaviour. He's not going to change. Sorry.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


Dear Miranda,

As pointed out already, his "kind" words actually belittle your judgement and intelligence and capabilities. What you describe is literally an abuser's textbook response to his lover trying to end things -- you'll read about the Honeymoon Period in the Bancroft book. He can work on rehabilitating himself just fine once you've ended it. Actually, rehabilitating himself will work better once you've ended it, because him accepting the breakup equals him accepting that you have a right to have boundaries and preferences that are different from his. That's the only solid ground a genuine rehabilitation can build on.

Also, if he genuinely wants to change himself, he'll be eager to read this book cover to cover: Stop Hurting The Woman You Love by Charlie Donaldson and Randy Flood with Elaine Eldridge.

Intentions don't matter. What he does, is what matters. Did he respect your stated preferences and boundaries in this latest conversation? No, he did not.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:57 PM on May 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I should have more home and determination that we can have a good future together with good communication skills

What is so insidious about him trying to make communication your responsibility is that no matter how much you try, you cannot make him listen. It doesn't matter how much determination you have.
posted by salvia at 3:14 PM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Miranda, thank you so much for the update! You are being so brave and so patient. Of course you are confused. That's fine. But you aren't as confused as your partner makes it seem. You are confused because your partner acts one way, abusively, and speaks in a different way, as though he is loving and kind to you.

In fact, his responses to your discussion do show a lot of information about how he still regards you. Nthing salvia's interpretation of what he has told you.

he doesn't trust me in the drivers seat right now

Miranda, he is telling you he doesn't trust you with your own life. You are supposed to be in the driver's seat of your own life. If you want to break up, you get to break up--unless you let him talk you out of it.

Before I left my husband, I also gave him veto power over many things in my life. I remember that one year I got some unexpected money and I wanted to add it to my retirement account. My husband thought it was a bad idea. But I was worried (rightfully, it turns out) that I'd end up poor in my old age and eating cat food.

I talked to my therapist about it and she said, "You and Mr. BD are never going to agree on some things. If you do what he wants and end up eating cat food in 20 years, you will be resentful and angry. But not Mr. BD, he'll be eating cat food next to you and saying, 'Yum, this is delicious.' Don't make this decision based on what your husband wants. This is about what you want. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself." I put the money in the account.

Please don't be confused about what your partner wants, because the latest conversation you report makes it clear: He doesn't want the best for you. At one and the same time he treats you like a child while making you responsible for a relationship that has become abusive and toxic because of his own behaviour. He's never trusted you in the driver's seat and he never will. Please don't let him veto your own choices about your own life.

In any case, it's wonderful that you are reading that book. Keep reading and educating yourself. It's up to you to decide what is in your own best interests, not the MeFites cheering you on. Take care!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:29 PM on May 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


He's still manipulating the situation so that it's your fault for not trying hard enough and your responsibility to improve communication. The gaslighting continues too; when, exactly, and how has he been "working on himself" since your original question and what concrete steps has he actually taken? None; It's just talk.

You write, I do not ever again want to go through what I went in a lot of our relationship and am just evaluating if someone has the desire to change in which he sais he does and has been working on himself. But this latest update shows that this past weekend consisted of you going through exactly the same dynamics that you've described as characterizing your whole relationship.

Nothing has changed, including him continuing to say that things will be different with zero evidence of same. Your attempt to break up has just alerted him to the need to be extra solicitous for awhile.

Absolutely everything you report he said corresponds with tactics people up thread told you to expect from a person like your BF who is skilled at emotional abuse, including being super nice and "taking responsibility." Don't fall for it.

If you decide to give it another try, and I don't think you should, set performance criteria and related boundaries and stick to them.
posted by carmicha at 3:29 PM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


He can work on rehabilitating himself just fine once you've ended it. Actually, rehabilitating himself will work better once you've ended it, because him accepting the breakup equals him accepting that you have a right to have boundaries and preferences that are different from his. That's the only solid ground a genuine rehabilitation can build on.

Also, that's a great point from cybercoitus interruptus. Thus far all the BF does is talk. If you want to know if he can change, ask him to actually accept and honour a boundary you have established. If he refuses to do that, there's your answer.

So you might consider telling him, "I have a lot to think about right now. I'd like to go no-contact with you for 14 days to see how I truly feel and if I agree that we have the communication tools we need to make this work."

Then see if he is willing to agree. If not, there's your answer. You will know what to do.

If he does agree to that but contacts you before the 14 days are up, there's your answer. You will know what to do. Just a thought. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:41 PM on May 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


You may find it useful to pay particular attention to these paragraphs in the Lundy Bancroft book:

p. 49 in my copy, "When I work with an abused woman, my first goal is to help her to regain trust in herself; to get her to rely on her own perceptions, to listen to her own internal voices. You don't really need an “expert” on abuse to explain your life to you; what you do need above all is some support and encouragement to hold on to your truth. Your abusive partner wants to deny your experience. He wants to pluck your view of reality out of your head and replace it with his. When someone has invaded your identity in this way enough times, you naturally start to lose your balance."

p. 82 "When Mr. Right decides to take control of a conversation, he switches into his Voice of Truth, giving the definitive pronouncement on what is the correct answer or proper outlook. Abuse counselors call this tactic defining reality. Over time, his tone of authority can cause his partner to doubt her own judgment and come to see herself as not very bright."

p. 339 "Steps to Change: 1. Admit fully to his history of psychological, sexual, and physical abusiveness . . . 2. Acknowledge that the abuse was wrong, unconditionally. He needs to identify the justifications he has tended to use, including the various ways he may have blamed you, and to talk in detail about why his behaviors were unacceptable without slipping back into defending them. . . .[13 steps in all]"

Also, Bella Donna is absolutely correct that the most important thing is that you gather resources to figure out for yourself what's best for you and on what timetable. My apologies if any of my comments have come across as trying to impose views or actions or timetables on you.* Thank you for the update, and for any future updates you feel like posting here.

*"P. 370 [How do we support abused women? By doing the opposite of the abuser] The abuser: Pressures her severely. [so] It is not helpful for her to try to follow your timetable for when she should stand up to her partner, leave him, call the police, or whatever step you want her to take.
The abuser: Talks down to her So you should: Address her as an equal . . .
The abuser: Thinks he knows what is good for her better than she does So you should: Treat her as the expert on her own life. Don't assume that you know what she needs to do.
The Abuser: Dominates conversations So you should: Listen more and talk less. . . . Talking too much inadvertently communicates to her that your thoughts are more important than hers, which is exactly how the abuser treats her.
The abuser: Believes he has the right to control her life So you should: Respect her right to self-determination. She is entitled to make decisions that are not exactly what you would choose . . ."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:47 PM on May 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


I do not ever again want to go through what I went in a lot of our relationship and am just evaluating if someone has the desire to change in which he sais he does and has been working on himself, can they. You guys are beautiful and I thand you so much for your care. I'm just still confused because of his kind words and intentions are throwing me off right now

You don't have to believe your boyfriend just because he says he has the desire to change, and you don't have to believe that he's working on himself. His behavior merits distrust of the things he says.

In your relationship with your boyfriend, a major form of dysfunction is that he routinely discounts your opinions as being less valid than his, and it's expected that you'll put up with it. You want him to stop pulling down your pants? He kept doing it longer than anyone I know would. You want to have a vacation with just you and your girls? He made it so that he got to come on the vacation.

So I'm not surprised that when you wanted to break up, he made it so that you didn't break up. He's really good at manipulating you. You don't have to feel bad about that, but it's a helpful thing to keep in mind when interacting with him, especially when trying to break up with him. He may say things that make you think he's interested in saving the relationship, but (in my opinion) his actions look like he's more interested in keeping the relationship more or less like it is now--- whatever he wants in the relationship is important to him, and whatever you want is not important to him.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:16 PM on May 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


am just evaluating if someone has the desire to change in which he sais he does and has been working on himself, can they

This very rarely happens in the relationship that is already structurally damaged by the abuse.

It is possible that he might get better eventually. But like an alcoholic who lives above a bar, the abuser is better off getting a fresh start somewhere new so that it's not so easy to fall back into their old ways.

And unfortunately, his behavior has undermined any respect he might have once had for you. Even if he means well, you can't really put that genie back in the bottle.

He might one day be a great boyfriend to somebody, but it's really probably not going to be you. I'm sorry, I'm sure you feel like you've paid so much and you deserve the happy ending, but you're not going to get one until he's out of your life.

If he was talking about getting into therapy and separating from you for six months or a year to see if he could reach a stable recovery point, if he was dead serious about getting help and stepping away from you on his own initiative, it might mean something (not much, but something). But he's not doing that. He's just telling you that you can't trust yourself, you're not smart enough and you're not qualified to take care of yourself and only he can decide what's right for you - he might be using sweet sounds, but pay careful attention to the actual words.

I think you need to tell your children that he is bad for you so they will stop flip-flopping to try to please you with what you want to hear, and tell them that you need to get away from him. Don't ask them to bad-mouth him (they won't, for fear he'll hurt them or you in retaliation if you go back to him), just tell them you are struggling to commit to a safe and sane set of choices for yourself right now. Hopefully they can support you in your goals.

If you can find an Al-Anon (or CODA) meeting in your area, maybe just go and sit in the back and listen. You'd be surprised how universal the experience of being with a toxic partner is, even if alcohol isn't part of the problem.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:29 PM on May 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


My ex has been writing 'love letters' (emails) to me since we separated, and after a while I turned it into a helpful exercise because I now copy paste them into a file and delete anything that is just fluff about the weather and what he was doing etc, and keep the actual emotional content, and it turns these long gushing romantic letters into about 10-20 lines of barely-veiled criticisms, complaints, and very general sentiment (lots of I love you's, but he can't actually name anything he loves about me). Nothing specific, nothing vulnerable or intimate or self-critical.

It is a lot easier to do this for a letter/email than in a conversation because they talk so well and can be very convincing and know how to shape the conversation until you're just agreeing that black is white and up is down. Ask him to write you a love letter. Edit it and see if there's anything genuine and vulnerable in the love letter, or if it's contradictory, critical or manipulative.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:08 PM on May 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am so glad you updated!

It's just really, really not supposed to be this hard. It's not supposed to take this gargantuan level of effort for you to be heard and taken seriously. It's not supposed to be difficult for him to be kind to you. People are always reminding us that love is a verb. When you are in a healthy, loving place, it is so easy to treat your partner kindly and with respect and honesty. No one has to manipulate anyone. And no one wants to!

No matter what you decide at this point, you have been doing incredible work to see your situation clearly and I admire it. You deserve better than what he has to offer, even at his best. He has missed his chance to be better for you. If he wants to change, then I think he should take what you leave him with and work real hard to not be an abusive asshole to his next partner.
posted by juliplease at 6:25 PM on May 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sorry, just reread your latest comment and had to come back in again: you apparently cannot be trusted to make any life decisions because YOU HAVE YOUR PERIOD?!!?!?! Bloody hell, I'd be dumping someone for that comment alone!

I'm not trying to tell you what to do because that is really the last thing you need right now. But I remember one of the most helpful things for me when I was still mired in the abusive relationship - which I didn't even realise was abusive until I was out of it - was telling a friend about some of the things that happened and that were said and her genuine reaction of, "And you put up with that?! That's just not on." I was so enmeshed in the reality that my abusive ex had created in my head that I had completely lost my perspective, any perspective but my ex's. So consider this a perspective.

You have the strength and the smarts and the resources to do what is right for you, regardless of what he says, regardless of what any of us say. You are not incompetent to make decisions that affect your life profoundly. You may feel unhappy, confused, sad, depressed - but these do not alter your ability to control your own life. He doesn't get to do it for you, you get to decide what you want. You are in the driver's seat of your own life and he cannot change that, even if you stay with him it is still your choice. (Of course I hope you don't but it is YOUR DECISION.)
posted by Athanassiel at 6:42 PM on May 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm just still confused because of his kind words . . .

Wait, these are kind words???

- I didn't have the where with all to make any life decisions at this time . . . maybe because I had my period.

- he doesn't trust me in the drivers seat right now.

How are these kind words? They sound like condescending, manipulative, and insulting words to me. I mean, look, we weren't there and did not hear the entire conversation. Maybe he has some weird charm? I would be surprised, though. Really, from your description, he sounds like a major asshole. (I still can't get over the pulling down your pants and unhooking your bra bits.) You will be so much better off without him.

I vote for your breaking up with him by email or text, then going no-contact. He won't change, he really won't. If you continue to give him chance after chance after chance, you will just be in this same situation a year or two from now. So, please, just break off with him now.
posted by merejane at 7:19 PM on May 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Of course he can't trust you in the driver's seat... you seem to be driving away from him, and he will NEVER EVER agree that this is a good idea. He can't trust you to do what he wants.
But that's okay! What matters is that you do what YOU want and what makes you happy. Grab that steering wheel, and go wherever you want to go. Your life is yours and yours alone, and you get to drive it.

The remark about your period would have me seeing red (yes, I know what I did there). That shit is never okay. Having your period does not make you incompetent. Just another way to make you doubt yourself, don't fall for it.

I'm so glad you're reading that book. Good for you!
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:50 AM on May 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm just still confused because of his kind words and intentions are throwing me off right now

You know what they say about the road to hell, right?

Anyone can turn on the sweetness and charm and promises when they realize they're about to lose something. Anyone at all. It's a defense mechanism, not an actual change. Once the possibility of that loss is gone, they go right back to their old behavior. This is true of many people, not just abusers, though it's especially true of abusers.

This breakup is not going to be a mutual decision; he is going to try every trick in the book (probably even the literal book you're reading) to get you to stay. As long as he's got room to negotiate, he's going to try to talk you out of it.

For what it's worth, every last person reading this question trusts you in the driver's seat. So do your daughters.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:03 AM on May 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


When I was in this position, I decided that I would not be alone with them, because I knew how easily I could be swayed by charm and promises to change and how much I was hurting them, all the way up to them threatening suicide. Do you have a friend, a clergy member, a therapist who can be with you while you tell him that y'all are done? It will help to not be alone.

I 100% agree that he is struggling to deal with a world in which he's not calling the shots. He sees that something's "wrong" with you because you won't take his abuse anymore, and it's confusing to him, and he's assigning you responsibility for that: that there must be something wrong with YOU because you're not playing the role he wants and is used to anymore.

The kindest thing for all involved, you, him, and your daughters, if you want to leave this man, is to be firm in your decision and have no contact with him going forward. It's hard to learn how to make boundaries. I'm still not an expert at it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:03 AM on May 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm just still confused because of his kind words

You are confused because he may be using a tone that implies kindness, but his words are just as cruel as ever. He continues to say that your thoughts and feelings are invalid. He continues to say that you should not trust yourself. He continues to say that he is the one who decides what is and what is not acceptable.

This is the same old poison, but he is mixing in sugar in the hopes that you will accept it again.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:26 AM on May 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


In case hearing from a multitude of people is helpful, I'd like to chime in as someone who agrees that what your boyfriend is doing CONTINUES to be manipulative and abusive. I bet half the people responding here could have written your boyfriend's "dialogue" in response to you telling him you wanted to break up, and they would have been spot-on. He's reigning himself in and going through the motions just enough to keep you ensnared, but from what you've written here it certainly sounds like he'll be back to his abusive ways as soon as he thinks he's got you hooked again.

For what it's worth, even without your updates, your original question walloped me with WTF. I mean, I'm kind of an immature ass in some ways but even to me, the fact that you had TOLD him you wanted him to stop and he refused just bowled me over. By way of comparison: when we first got together, I thought it would be funny to jump out and scare my wife sometimes - I thought it was harmless, silly fun (again: immature ass) - but it upset her so much. Even if I don't quite get it, I know that I love her and don't want to upset her, so I stopped immediately. Similarly, I am SUPER anxious about getting to the airport on time, to the point that I'll drag us there hours before our flight. My wife doesn't get that, either, but she loves me and knows it's important to me, so she respects my wishes.

It really should be that simple. Neither of us have to justify our needs, or walk on eggshells figuring out if we're being "defensive" or not, or wrap our minds in knots figuring out the best way to "communicate" in a way the other will deem worthy of listening to. If you love someone, you want to be the best person you can for them (without, of course, sacrificing your own needs. "Need to pull my partner's pants down" does NOT register. "Need to have boundaries" absolutely DOES) - you don't fight for your right to continue doing something that upsets them.

Anything else isn't respect - it's someone who has decided that only their wants matter.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:25 AM on May 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Please, please, please don't mistake the tone of his comments with the content. I'm sure he sounded very kind and compassionate, but what he actually said is just as cruel as ever.

He has just flat out told you that you don't get to captain your own ship. That your desires don't matter. That he should be the one in charge of determining your path. That his desires are more important than yours. That's not kindness. That's continued abuse.

If you can, take the time to run that conversation over again in your head, and focus on what he was actually saying instead of the way it was said. He's playing you, yet again. If he can't respect your feelings at this juncture, what makes you think he ever will?

Though it's been said before, I'll just repeat it again: you do not need his permission to break up with him. Don't let him convince you otherwise.
posted by adamp88 at 8:32 AM on May 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


You stated that you asked your daughters for advice in this matter.

What would your response be to your daughter to if she had a partner who did such things and he wasn't taking her No for an answer? If her partner were, on one or two occasions, not nice to your grandchildren?

You said you got all mama bear at him. It's time to be mama bear on your own behalf.

I second the suggestion that you have any further discussions with him in very public places.
posted by SillyShepherd at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Another thought: just because he has an argument against breaking up, doesn't mean it's a valid argument* or one that you have to address. It's easy to rationalize pretty much ANYTHING - especially when you've already convinced the other person to prioritize your arguments over their own - and of course he'll object to changing a situation where he gets to do whatever he likes. That does not mean you have to respond to his points, or justify your own to him. As others have already said, you do not need his agreement to break up (hell, the premise that you would is so absurd that it's been the subject of sitcom scenarios).

*Case in point: suggesting that you are wrong because you're on your period (!!!) doesn't need to be dignified with a response. You are NOT suddenly dreaming up problems in a heretofore perfect relationship, as you clearly understand. And it's grossly condescending to assume a woman cannot know her own mind even when she's feeling like shit. You do not need to explain this to him in order for it to be true and important.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:29 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Based on your update, this guy sounds even more like a manipulative asshole. How dare he imply repeatedly that you can't make your own life decisions or assess the reality of the way he treats you. I understand he is a master manipulator, but it sounds like he turned this into a "we can work on this and it will be fine" thing, when the truth he is needs to just stop being an asshole. Yet again, he is shifting the blame and responsibility to you. You've asked him to stop treating you in ways that upset you and he has refused. When you want to break up, he first tries to accuse you of not knowing what you're talking about, and when you don't back down, he vows that the two of you can work on it together. What a crock. This is all his problem, not yours. Please don't fall for this.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:04 AM on May 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


Anyhow, after telling him how I felt about things he became very understanding and told me he understood why I thought what he was doing was abusive because it was, and he was so hurt and sorry that he behaved like that. He told me that I shouldn't throw our entire relationship out the window and he doesn't trust me in the drivers seat right now, that I should have more positivity and determination that we can have a good future together using good communication skills, that we have a lot of tools in our tool box that we can use if I actually just stuck it out with something instead of ran. He had many good points and was full of hope and optimism. In the light of it all as you can see I am very confused.

"Baby, I know it seems like the house is on fire and I do keep throwing lit matches around the place, but we can work it out! Let's be positive and proactive. We can open the windows and let some fresh air in, maybe turn the air conditioning on, you have those clothespins that you could use over your nose to block out the smoke you say you smell sometimes (though it seems silly to me that you're so picky about the smell of smoke, and I'm pretty sure any smoke would be from all the books you stored in the living room -- very flammable!). But it's cool, I'm willing to be patient with your weird smoke-smell obsession. I'll even spray some Febreeze every time I throw a lit match! We will have this place smelling like a not-on-fire house in no time! We're working together!"

What is he doing with his words? Is he apologizing or making you apologize for pointing out his actions? Is he helping you put out the fire or blaming you for it and lobbying for his right to throw lit matches around?

This is the hardest part. You're very close. You can do this, even if it takes a few tries. Everyone here is very proud of you.
posted by heatherann at 6:44 PM on May 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


> You've asked him to stop treating you in ways that upset you and he has refused.

You've asked him to stop treating you in ways that would upset you anyone and he has refused.

/ftfy
posted by Little Dawn at 7:02 PM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


He's so textbook. He's trying to lull you into a false sense of security so he can continue abusing you.

If someone really loves you, they should be willing to set you free, even if it hurts them. This man is not doing that, and I'm afraid you will have to run for your life like I once had to -- like you, throwing my stuff into a hamper and taking off. That was the fourth and last time I left him. He threatened suicide. Guess what? He's still alive and apparently doing just fine, and I have no guilt. Nor should you, Miranda. The Bancroft book was great and changed my life and I hope you'll also find it valuable.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Regarding your last update:

There's so much too much "we" in how you paraphrased his words in your last update. He doesn't get it at all, does he?
There ought to be only one person that is allowed to have views about your "driver's seat" and that's you, period. There ought to be only one person who's allowed to review the contents of the "toolbox" for solving her life's problems and that's you. (And, hand on heart, who is even interested in a toolbox that solves problems you wouldn't have had in the first place, if he wouldn't have been around?).
Let this patronising person free. He needs to sit in his own driver's seat for a while, or so it seems.

[And a general comment: in order to feel less confused, you could perhaps try to copy and paste your last three posts here into an empty Word document and add paragraphs at appropriate moments, that is, when your thoughts shift, and/or when you begin writing about a new topic or angle.

This could help you avoid heaping your thoughts all on top of each other].
posted by Namlit at 3:05 AM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry I missed your update the other day, and sorry to hear this breakup attempt wasn't quite successful. Everyone above has done a great job of pointing out the ways that his attempt to talk you out of it exhibited classic signs of an abuser. I hope to add my own thoughts later, but for now I'd like to focus on just this: I'm just still confused because of his kind words and intentions are throwing me off right now

Of course he responds to your attempt to leave him by attempting to confuse you kind words, but talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than, and as someone else pointed out, he attributed your utterly valid desire to leave him to your period. That isn't kind, that's the actions of someone who has no respect at all for you, your opinion or your agency.

I know this process is difficult, and it's understandable that he confused you, because manipulation is what he's all about. But please keep repeating to yourself the wise words so many here have said: you do not need his permission to break up. He does not have to accept your reasoning or agree with you. He just has to get out of your life.

I'm aghast at his responses to you -- the bit about the period jumped right out at me, but there's much more that's utterly terrible and just shows that he's continuing his abusive pattern even as he's trying to sway you with a facade of kindness.
posted by Gelatin at 6:03 AM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


> No matter what you decide at this point, you have been doing incredible work to see your situation clearly and I admire it. You deserve better than what he has to offer, even at his best.

I just want to echo these words, and urge you to re-read all of the responses to your update (for which I'm grateful). He probably figures he has you reeled back in;

He is not being kind; the words he uses when he's trying to convince you he's being kind are condescending, patronizing and manipulative.

You do not have to justify yourself to him.
posted by Gelatin at 6:16 AM on May 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


You can also pitch it like this: what is he getting out of this relationship? Seems easy enough to answer that question, as per what you've written: He needs someone he can feel superior about, and act superior around. So he has a "kind" way of conveying shitty content to you? It's only a sign that the system works.

-- A suspected "period"? A man like him is never thrown off balance by having a period, but he will tell you all about it.
-- "Confused"? Well, luckily he is stable, and so should [see??] you (by staying put with him).
-- "Driver's seat"? Oh but of course, the dude is the better driver (metaphorically and in real life).
-- "Tool box"? Another attribute that he will know much about...
--"Hope and optimism"? Cheap stuff to throw in the path of someone who obviously is distressed and wants a change. "I have hope and optimism" he says, "and that's better."

And so on. He is misusing your (natural, understandable, weird-if-it-wouldn't-happen-like) emotional turmoil to construe you as someone who "cannot be trusted in the driver's seat".

No matter how shaken you are at this point, please recognise that all this hogwash is patently false, and it's only geared toward keeping the system, his system, in working.
posted by Namlit at 7:25 AM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm just pixels on the internet, but I do want to help people, and like many, many mefites, I keep coming back here, because I worry about you. I would not want my sister, mom, wife, that girl i dislike at work, my worst enemy, to be in your situation. So, if I may, I shall be blunt.


Hardcore bluntness ahead:



He does NOT love you.

He does NOT respect you.

He does NOT value your opinion.

He does NOT think you are a person with worth.

He does NOT think you are smart enough to see through his massive bullshit (and he has slowly trained you to accept a lot of bullshit from him!)

He is NOT going to change. He is fine. YOU are the problem (in his messed up world. He is also an ass, sorry.)

He IS abusive. Manipulative. Controlling. Lying. I see nothing positive from this man. He is deeply, truly broken, and sadly a master manipulator. You are his victim, his plaything. He will find someone else really soon if you leave.

You, in my firmly held opinion, gain nothing good by listening to a single word from him. I think he is actively hurting you, breaking you down, with every. single. word. he says. Period. Every word, every time.

Your gut hates this guy. Your brain gets fed lies and manipulation from him, constantly. But you gut..... it doesn't have to think about it. It knows. It wants out.

I'm really, really sorry this is happening to you. I can offer support here, and well wishes, and hopes. I'll keep coming back to this thread, and thinking about it.

But here are some other truths I believe: You are a smart woman. You deserve happiness. You can make decisions for yourself. You DO deserve a good partner. You can and will find one..... but this guy you are with, hes toxic. Poison. You can overcome your fears, doubts, and his massive, massive BS lies. You can.



Autobiography In Five Short Chapters

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in... it's a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

- Portia Nelson
posted by Jacen at 2:41 PM on May 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


Miranda: you can do whatever you want. I am so glad you are reading the book, but you and I know, the book won't change things. The draw of a guy like this is powerful. It's seductive. He can tell you what to do. You can't do anything but what he says. You can't break up with him, because he told you not to do it.

Now pretend I am your friend. What would you tell me?

It was very hard for me to tell my story. It freaked me out to go back there. He had slapped me before, had told me I was too fat to get married to, yet we did get married, and then when we moved in together he went out and found other women and told them we were going to be a threesome, and brought them into my house, when I was doing a household holiday party thing with the Alderman of our neighborhood...

Do you really want to live with him? Do you really want to keep up the dialogue with him?

Drive him away, rather than have him tell you that you can't drive your own life. That is bullshit. You aren't ready to drive your own life? Away from him? Please, dear. He is reaching with that.

He won't change. Ever. You are over 21 and you do not ever have to tell any man why you don't want to be with him. You can break it off with any man at any time. There is no "he said," dear, there is on you said, "no." And that is it. It is painful, but you have the total control over this relationship and break-up. Not him. Just say no, no excuses. He doesn't have the power over you to break up a relationship. You're an adult. You have your own agency. He can't tell you what to do.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:16 PM on May 20, 2015


OK wow, this book has opened my eyes. I'm still in the midst of reading it and can only read short bursts at once because the truth is making me sick to my stomach. I can't believe how many similarities there are. Four of the types are him to a T. All of the sensitive type, the mr. Right , the manipulator type. Anyhow only now I'm seeing things for what they really are and I'm seeing it wasn't me, of course I'm part of it and have to take my responsibility for my role because I'm not perfect. I'm so incredibly afraid right now and that I'd just like to crawl under a rock and remain there. He has truely been telling me he can and will change. I told him he was abusive in all ways at times but he is so hopeful that he can be the person I need him to be and the person he wants to be. He is so sincere. He doesn't think I ever deserved to be treated that way and wants only the best for me and my daughters. He felt so bad about the teasing he will never do anything like that again and was ashamed of himself even before I brought it up. he will listen to my needs. He said everything I needed to hear and more. He cried with remorse askimg how many things in the last 8 months has he done that was considered abusive? And it took me a long time to spit that word out. I told him a few things. My head spun with some of the things he said. Some of the things I might have fallen for in the past. But now I feel like I'm seeing through it all, like the veil has been removed, the fog cleared. I told him he is not an evil person or a bad person and I know he is going through hell right now which makes me feel horrible. there were so many red flags in the beginning that I chose to ignore because I couldn't accept it. The first major fight we ever had was because I tossed a metal hanger on to his bed saying thank you but I finally got my felt hangers. His response, you're so ungrateful, how can you have such disrespect for someone else's things when they give something to you, you are so unappriciative, my dad gave me those hangers, he went on and on and berated me like you wouldn't believe. I ended up feeling like a piece of dirt. How did I not run then? I thought maybe he's just very sensitive, so I bought a book on highly sensitive people in love. He said so many things, like I was not compassionate, I had no empathy, I was selfish.... those were all the qualities I thought I had and those hurt the most, more than his one physical act and the other names I won't repeat, Well now I'm just venting. I'm looking back and seeing EVERYTHING. but now I'm only focused on the bad so if we did have any chance like he had hoped it's gone. I just have way to much fear. And belive it or not, there is still that tiny part of me that wonders, because I know when he puts his mind to something he IS capable, and he is willing to see things he is doing with an open mind for us, and I wonder what if I am taking away any chance even if it's the one in a million chance that he is the one that is determined to be a better person
And is truly sincere because he wants us. I wish I believed that truly was the case, but it's hard when you are overtaken by the fear of the past. Anyhow, I told him I need to work through this on my own and he respects that although, he says we should work on this together. He wants to be a part of what im reading. I can't be around him right now. I would have never thought that posting that question wouled have lead me to where I am right now. Just before we would have moved back in there. Huge hugs to you all.
posted by miranda at 8:32 PM on May 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


Please do what you need to do for yourself. He's an adult and can take care of himself right now. You need to focus on you.
posted by jaguar at 8:36 PM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


And the worst thing is my reality is shattered. My trust is gone I don't even know what's real anymore. I feel incredibly fdup
posted by miranda at 8:39 PM on May 20, 2015


That part of you that felt that what he was doing to you was wrong? That's real. Your reality is there. It's a mindfuck, yes, and difficult, but at your core, you know what's real.
posted by jaguar at 8:41 PM on May 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


And it case it helps: I felt the same way on reading that book, that suddenly all the super-smart thinking I had done about why my partner was unique and not-abusive and he was just going through a really bad time -- all that justification fell apart when I saw that all his excuses were (literally!) textbook abusive manipulation. It made me feel stupid.

But I eventually got angry, which was helpful. He was able to manipulate me because I am a nice, caring, empathetic person. He preyed on that, on my compassion. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is not stupid; he just took advantage of me. That's on him, not me.
posted by jaguar at 8:45 PM on May 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


So it is possible that he knows exactly what he is doing? Is it possible if it's all spelled out for him he could change? According to the book it seems highly unlikely, but he seems to believe he's intelligent enough to defy the odds. He said he would do whatever it takes with the utmost sinserety To look at his abusive ways because he doesn't want to hurt me and wants us to have a happy life And believes he can because he is very introspective and has already changed in ways for the positive. Before I would have believed him but now I'm seeing it as a tactic he may be using to get me back.And that's where my reality has begun to thin. He's giving me all the space I need to make the decision I need to and the biggest part of me wants to use it to plan my exit.
posted by miranda at 9:13 PM on May 20, 2015


So it is possible that he knows exactly what he is doing?

Consciously? Probably not. Which is why he likely won't change. He's decided, years and years and years ago, that using intimidation and bullying is a good way of getting what he wants. He may realize that consciously, but very likely he has developed such a skewed version of how the world works that he thinks his way is the only effective way. And he reinforces that skewed version by only associating with people who confirm that worldview.

You confirm that worldview, because you demonstrate that when he's being bullying and abusive, you'll forgive him and find excuses for him and basically change yourself in exactly the ways he wants you to change. It does not matter whether he's doing that consciously or not. Every time you forgive him, every time you give him another chance, every time you take any responsibility for his behavior, you reinforce his belief that his bullying and intimidation and belittling are effective ways of controlling other people.

Which, presumably, does not give him any incentive to change.

I can't remember the exact quotation, but I read something about dealing with loss that said something like, The task of the griever is to ask Why? Why? Why? until they realize that the whys don't matter. I think that's where you are now, grasping after explanations that will excuse or justify his behavior, as you grapple toward the realization that the whys don't matter.

(And my ex's IQ was in the "Genius" range. Mine's pretty high, too. "Intelligent" has very little to do with it, and, I think, actively gets in the way most of the time.)
posted by jaguar at 9:22 PM on May 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Thank you!
posted by miranda at 9:27 PM on May 20, 2015


He's giving me all the space I need to make the decision I need to and the biggest part of me wants to use it to plan my exit.

Listen to it. Get the hell out.

I feel so incredibly stupid for thinking things would change. I have twin 18 year old daughters that I single handedly raised from day one. I did not date because I was too busy and because I didn't want to be someone that brought different men into our house. I wanted them to feel stable and safe. They are amazing beings truely.

You are not stupid. You sound like an awesome mom and a good person. I can't imagine your daughters would want to see you in a relationship where you feel unhappy, let alone where you feel unsafe and are being abused. The stability and safety you wanted them to feel is an incredible gift, believe me. You deserve nothing less for yourself. If you don't believe everyone here, talk to your daughters and ask them.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 9:35 PM on May 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


So it is possible that he knows exactly what he is doing?

Does it matter? He's hurting you whether it's concious or not.

Is it possible if it's all spelled out for him he could change?

Well, if he doesn't understand that he's doing it, then no, probably not.

And if he does understand that he's doing it, then he's doing it on purpose. Which means he's been hurting you intentionally all this time, and is not likely to stop just because you ask him nicely. Which you have already done, several times.

He said he would do whatever it takes with the utmost sinserety

According to you, he's said this before and didn't follow through. He will say whatever it takes to make you stay. He won't actually do it. He's a manipulator and a liar, and he will manipulate you and lie to you until you cut the cord.

It's time. Walk away, and never look back.

I'm thinking of you. Good luck.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:45 PM on May 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


"He said he would do whatever it takes with the utmost sinserety To look at his abusive ways because he doesn't want to hurt me and wants us to have a happy life "

Keep in mind that you are dealing with someone who is clever, who is very good at manipulating, and who now finds that there is a lot at stake. This is exactly what he knows he needs to say if he has any chance of keeping you firmly in your place: under his thumb.

The 'I'm not abusive, you're just difficult' line stopped working, obviously. So then he tried 'poor dear, you don't know what you're saying, let's not do anything rash, and leave it all to me' and you didn't buy that either. 'You are right, I've been bad, and I'll change' is simply the next option in his 'tool box'.

I do not believe that he will change. He has no incentive. Life was really easy for him before, he just wants things back the way they were.
He will only change as much, and for as long, as it takes to get you back in line.

"Before I would have believed him but now I'm seeing it as a tactic he may be using to get me back ."

You are smart and strong... you are seeing through his manipulation now. I very much believe that you are right.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:33 AM on May 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I know he is going through hell right now which makes me feel horrible.

Learning that one's hurtful behavior and words have serious consequences can feel like hell, yes. In the long term, it gives him a chance to fully own his responsibility for damage he consistently did to you. it's natural for you to feel horrible because you're a loving, empathetic person. Remember that drawing and enforcing your own boundaries is a loving, empathetic act: it gives him opportunities to practice respecting your boundaries.

I wonder what if I am taking away any chance even if it's the one in a million chance that he is the one that is determined to be a better person

He is the only person responsible for his ability to become, or chances at becoming, a better person. He can become a better person without being coupled with you. You, too, can become a better person (an even better person! because you sound amazing and wonderful as is) without having to be part of this relationship. Staying in this relationship does not make you a "better" person; leaving this relationship does not make you a bad person, or someone who's shutting the door to the glory that this relationship could be. "But our potential!" is a black hole of a honey trap. Haven't you poured enough energy and hope into it?

I can't be around him right now.

Good! in my opinion, it's emotionally healthier to keep your distance while you take plenty of time (like, months, if not years) to figure out what *you* feel and what you want to do. It messes with your head to be around (even a little bit) somebody whose past behavior has consistently invalidated your perspectives and judgements about your own life and happiness. In my experience, anyway.

Is it possible if it's all spelled out for him he could change?

Even if he is sincere *this* time (unlikely, because he hasn't actually suffered serious consequences like the loss of you from his life yet -- the recent conversations you've had are most likely just fish-on-a-line tactics), do you really want to be his emotional and/or physical punching bag for the years it would take for him to shift his habits, if he shifted them at all? (Ugh, I just had a flashback to finding a letter my dad wrote my mom after they'd come back from a marriage counseling camp -- "I'll be a good husband to you. i can change. I promise to change. We'll be happy' -- nope, same old same old for the next 20 years until she died). IF he can change, he can do it perfectly well without you.

He's giving me all the space I need to make the decision I need to and the biggest part of me wants to use it to plan my exit.

Great! I hope you listen to the biggest part of you! I get the feeling that the other parts of you feel bad (guilt? or like you're a horrible selfish person, or something) about the idea of exiting. If so -- you are NOT horrible or selfish. You gave this relationship more than its fair share of chances. It's moral and righteous to be Momma Bear for yourself now, and it's the most helpful thing for him too. Your exit will give him the pointiest proof possible that crap behavior has unpleasant consequences. You sticking around gives him no incentive to change anything but the words it takes to make you stick around: "You're right, I'm listening to you now, please don't leave me, I'll change!"
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:07 AM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm happy to see that you're seeing this person's behavior in a new light. It's a reflection of your goodness as a person that part of you wants to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you have been getting excellent advice in this thread. (I don't know how often you read Ask MetaFilter before posting your question, but I don't think advice so often falls into the "get out!" category 100%. Please take that fact into consideration too.)

So it is possible that he knows exactly what he is doing?

Yes and no. I doubt he set out to be an abusive jerk on purpose, but he knows exactly how to manipulate you, and hasn't shied away from doing it even when he's supposedly trying to convince you of his charm and sincere repentance. Please go back and read the responses to your recent update -- he was patronizing and condescending and blamed your need to leave him on your period, for crying out loud.

Is it possible if it's all spelled out for him he could change?

Well, maybe, but not for you. Because he doesn't change because it's good for you, only to keep you from leaving. And once he's changed enough that the threat is gone, he's right back to his pattern.

Again: He was trying to be sweet and charming and repentant to convince you not to leave, but the words you quoted to us were abusive, manipulative and contemptuous of you. Consciously or not, he's manipulating you in order to maintain his power over you. That is what abusers get off on.

According to the book it seems highly unlikely, but he seems to believe he's intelligent enough to defy the odds.

Intelligence has nothing to do with it; to change he'd need empathy, humility and strength of character, qualities he sorely lacks and which you deserve in a relationship. He uses his intelligence to manipulate you, and it's good that you're beginning to filter everything he says through that concept. Please keep it up.

He said he would do whatever it takes with the utmost sinserety

I'm sure he did, but as I said before, talk is cheap. Even assuming he has the very best of intentions -- which I wouldn't in his case -- he has a pattern of manipulative behavior and utter contempt for what you want.

Him promising to change is not about what you want or need, it's about what he wants. . So it follows that as soon as he has what he wants, he has little reason to change. As the behavior you've related in this very thread shows.

And believes he can because he is very introspective and has already changed in ways for the positive.

No, he really hasn't. He may have curbed some of his more odious behavior and changed tactics on you, but again, his trying to convince you not to leave was filled with contempt for you. He may have stopped pulling your pants down for the time being, but his fundamental pattern has not changed.

Before I would have believed him but now I'm seeing it as a tactic he may be using to get me back.

Yes. Good for you for seeing it.

And that's where my reality has begun to thin. He's giving me all the space I need to make the decision I need to and the biggest part of me wants to use it to plan my exit.

Good! Please listen to that part.

I'll say it again: You do not need his permission to leave him. He does not have to agree with your reasoning or validate your decision.

For him to change, and stop his abusive habits, he'd have to see you as an equal. But the power imbalance is a large part of what appeals to him, consciously or not, about the relationship. And part of the contempt he shows for you is that because of that sad fact, he does not truly see you or care for you as a person -- not the way you deserve. He may control certain behaviors, he may promise you he'll change, but everything you've told us shows that this foundation -- his conviction that only his feelings, needs, opinions, and feelings matter -- is not likely to change.

Let me go back to the awesome thing you did at the beginning -- you posted this question. You knew that something was wrong. You were right. The part of you that knows it is getting stronger, so please keep listening to it. Everyone here is rooting for you.
posted by Gelatin at 3:26 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


And I am not going to go into such detail over your prior response, except to say that I'm sure he seems sincere, and who knows? Maybe he even believes that he is.

You spoke of being afraid to leave because of the slim chance he might actually change. And even though he's behaved horribly towards you, in a profound way he does need your relationship. And that sense that you're needed is a strong draw.

But the way he needs your relationship isn't healthy. He needs the power imbalance. He needs to feel like he's calling the shots, like he has control. Even every concession his makes, every admission that oh yes he is abusive and he's so ashamed and he's sincerely sorry -- all of those are mechanisms he's using, consciously or not, to control you.

Like I just said, those actions feed his needs, not yours.

You deserve better. You will be much happier without him. I believe that there are lots of compatible people out there, and that you're bound to find a much better fella. But even if you don't, you will be happier because you will be standing on your own two feet, without him cutting your legs out from under you all the time.
posted by Gelatin at 3:41 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


He is a chameleon. You posted this question a week ago and look at all the tactics he has thrown at you. Those were pushes. This is a pull tactic. It's not more true to his character than all the other shit that prompted you to post your original question, and the more disturbing actions you posted about in your followups. Right now his words say "I'm giving you space" but the effect is to try to rope you into staying, to block your emotional exits. If he said any of the old mean words today, he knows you would be DONE. The stick isn't working, so he'll try a carrot.

If you want to give him a real chance at changing, you need to release him from this relationship which is steeped in abusive cycles and habits. You can't fix this together, you've been dancing a toxic tango for too long and it's ingrained in both of your automatic reactions now.

I feel for you, feeling like reality is broken. I felt like that when I lost my faith. The only thing that has fixed it has been to step away and live in this new post-faith world until it became familiar and safe to me. Go find your new world. It will become home. Feel free to post again asking for more help on adjusting once you get to that part. There's lots of help here. There's a grief process for even the worst things we've tried to make succeed, and it's part of the healing.
posted by heatherann at 3:51 AM on May 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


I have a friend who left a deeply screwed-up, emotionally manipulative marriage. Her partner also promised that he would do "whatever it took" to change when she said that she was thinking about leaving. He was also an intelligent person.

Reader, he did not do "whatever it took". She gave him a few very simple requests (being quieter late at night so that she could sleep, for instance) and he either bargained her down on them, refused them utterly or said he'd do them and then did not.

Your partner is not in the habit of doing what you ask. If he were, and this were all some kind of horrible misunderstanding based on bad habits and poor thinking, he might follow through on doing what you ask now. But he has no habit of doing this, and it's extremely unlikely that he'll start now.

His feelings are his own problem. There is no relationship situation where one person needs to do something very basic to their own function/survival where the partner's feelings are the responsibility of the first person. If you were blithely moving to Iceland for work for two years without consulting him or even just failing to make time to spend with him, his feelings would be something you'd need to address. His feelings about your departure from a disrespectful and unhappy relationship are not your responsibility.

My friend who left the relationship? Much, much happier now. SO much happier! Her life isn't perfect, but she no longer needs to balance the needs of a self-absorbed partner with all her other responsibilities.
posted by Frowner at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


miranda, I encourage you to seek confidential and professional support in your community. This is a serious and potentially dangerous situation, but confidential help is available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and can help you find local counseling and other resources, and offers a hotline that you can call 24/7 for confidential support.

Is it possible if it's all spelled out for him he could change?

I think it is unlikely that he simply has not realized that repeatedly flicking, poking, kicking, pantsing, mocking, teasing and insulting people is unacceptable in a safe and healthy relationship. However, it is possible that he could change, and the reason that I keep suggesting that you contact confidential and professional support resources is because it seems possible that he may change for the worse, and it is possible that he may escalate his tactics in ways that are increasingly dangerous for you. I encourage you to find additional support to help you and your daughters stay safe.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:00 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Something else to think about: the pattern of abuse is escalation. If you stay, after this honeymoon period, the next abusive period will be worse. And worse. And worse. Up to and including death. The longer you stay, the more dangerous this situation gets. Listen to that part of you that is feeling fear. That's the truth that your essential self is telling you to keep you safe.

So many of us have been there. It's really scary and confusing to try to figure out if your brain is broken, if what he's saying is true, if you should give him another chance.

Someone told me: giving him the benefit of the doubt wasn't stupid. It was because you are a kind and empathetic person. But there is a point at which you have to stop giving someone the benefit of the doubt, because they have proved to you they do not deserve it. It's not because you are dumb. It's because he has seen your kindness and he is twisting it to control you.

Finally: Anyhow only now I'm seeing things for what they really are and I'm seeing it wasn't me, of course I'm part of it and have to take my responsibility for my role because I'm not perfect. NO. You are in no way culpable for your abuse. This is 100% his fault.

I lost a lot of friends when I left my abuser. They, to a person, said it was because they wanted to stay neutral and not get involved. What I learned from the Bancroft book was: staying "neutral" actually means taking the side of the abuser. It is not half your fault. You have been abused, and that is 100% his responsibility.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:07 AM on May 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


staying "neutral" actually means taking the side of the abuser. It is not half your fault. You have been abused, and that is 100% his responsibility.

Absolutely, and I beg you to consider that 300+ comments in, basically everyone agrees with this point.

You want a loving relationship, which is inherently coequal. He wants -- he needs -- control of you, which is inherently unequal. Your needs are fundamentally not compatible, but you are not to blame for that.

Please also keep in mind that the point where a user senses a loss of control can be a potentially dangerous time. (I predict that he will use his "concessions" as a weapon against you, throwing in your face how he was "willing to change" but you refuse to be "reasonable"; remember always that you do not need his permission or agreement to break up!) You're getting lots of good advice in this thread; please keep it in mind and keep us posted.
posted by Gelatin at 7:18 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


You started this thread by saying that you'd told him you were upset by what he was doing, and he said "it's his way of showing affection and that I'm just no fun and I'm just angry". At this point he thought he was safe and still had you, and funnily enough, he showed no remorse.

Then you told him again how much he was upsetting you and that you might walk if he didn't stop, and he said that "just to be safe and so he can't get in shit he will NEVER pull my pants down Period and I'm never allowed to make an excuse or get defensive with anything he says or asks of me". He started sensing that he might be losing you, so he wheedled you into an absolutely unreasonable "bargain" where he offered you crumbs in exchange for your agency. Moreover, he comes right out and SAYS he's only offering this because he doesn't want to "get in shit" - not because he cared about how you felt; funnily enough, still no remorse!

Only now that his other tactics are not working is he suddenly "remorseful" and crying. He's known all along what he was doing to you. He's known because you've been telling him. Expressing to your partner that they're upsetting you should be enough - it is not your responsibility to figure out the magic words that will make him take you seriously (and even if that's what seems to have happened here - even if it seems like bringing up the word "abuse" has magically worked where nothing else has - this is just a mirage masking the fact that what he's REALLY motivated by is fear of losing this status quo).

From an outsider's perspective, it sounds like what he really regrets is that you're not going along with what he wants - not that he's been treating you so abominably all this time. In this thread you say he himself had acknowledged that his behavior was wrong well before this latest point. If changing were easy or something he was genuinely willing to DO rather than just say he'll do, he would have done so ages ago. The part of you that wants to leave knows this.

You are a good and strong person, and we're all on your side.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:26 AM on May 21, 2015 [16 favorites]


Only now that his other tactics are not working is he suddenly "remorseful" and crying. He's known all along what he was doing to you. He's known because you've been telling him.

Not only that, but you walked out at least once before, and his response was to try to close off that possibility by making fun of your "huffy hamper".

Actions speak louder than words, and whatever words (charming or otherwise) he may try to keep control of you, DingoMutt just put his actions in great perspective.

You knew something was wrong when you posted this question. That voice -- your voice -- is getting louder. Listen to it.
posted by Gelatin at 7:32 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Every time he tells you (or you replay in your mind) how "sad" and "sorry" he is, you should ask yourself: sad and sorry that he's the worst low-quality sort of man, or sad and sorry that he's going to lose his toy and have to go out and start all over breaking down the next woman, taking away her agency, training her to fear his displeasure, erasing her sexual boundaries...sheesh, that's a lot of hard work!

It'd be so much easier to just trick you into staying, with his big ol' crocodile tears.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:14 AM on May 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Let's say he is sincere. Even if he believes what he's saying now, by staying you're not giving him incentive on following through with changing. By staying you're telling him "your promises are worth more than your actions to me" and that's exactly the wrong thing to tell someone who needs to change their actions. It's almost paradoxical. I say this is someone who also behaved badly to someone and I also believed myself to be sincere about wanting to change.

For my situation, one night I had behaved truly terribly to a friend and even though I begged for another chance to show I was sorry and that it wouldn't happen again... she ended the friendship. If she hadn't, I doubt I would have gone through the hard work of dealing with the underlying issues that caused me to act that way. I miss her friendship, but I wouldn't have improved with it so in a way I'm thankful she didn't give me another chance.

I think this is because the fear of losing someone only lasts as long as you think they'll leave you. Once that fear is gone, the desire to change isn't as strong. But by leaving him, he can never return to the status quo. He can never bargain or blame or complain or lie or forgot his way out of it. If he's a decent person at heart he will feel shame which lasts a heck of a lot longer than fear. And even that fades, but hopefully not before he learns to change.
posted by Green With You at 8:30 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


He's known all along what he was doing to you. He's known because you've been telling him. Expressing to your partner that they're upsetting you should be enough - it is not your responsibility to figure out the magic words that will make him take you seriously

Oh, my goodness, yes. One of the things that I find most harmful about the cultural belief that all relationship problems are somehow "communication issues" is that it's shifted the burden of a partner behaving badly onto the other partner for not phrasing the request to behave better in the right therapy-speak. (And I say this as a therapist.) It's actually a running joke among couple's counselors that every single couple says they're coming into therapy to work on "communication" but that communication is almost never the actual problem. Even John Gottman, who wrote many many many well-regarded and very insightful books about improving communication in romantic relationships, recently studied successful couples and found that many of them broke all his "rules" for the communication techniques that he thought were necessary for a happy, respectful relationship in which both partners thrived.

This is not a communication issue, or an issue of intelligence (and if he's so smart, shouldn't he easily be able to figure out what you mean when you obviously express yourself very clearly?). This is an issue of respect, empathy, and compassion. I think it might be helpful for you, on your own, to look at how much those things are present in your relationship. And if they're absent, that's not something he can logic his way into providing. If he's missing those things, or failing to demonstrate (not verbally, but through actions) those things to you, then his intelligence (or yours!) does not matter.
posted by jaguar at 8:46 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


You know, even if he is somehow able to magically turn it around and become a great partner, "he used to abuse me" is still a good enough reason to not be with him.
posted by that's how you get ants at 9:17 AM on May 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


The next time you speak with him, consider the possibility that you have said everything you are going to say and he has done the same. Consider deciding to end things anyway, despite the very nice things he's saying because doing anything other than that no longer feels right. You have explained yourself, and you don't have to let him make you do it again.

"But I am trying!"
"I have explained my reasons. There is nothing more to say."
"I love you and will die without you!"
"There is nothing more to say."
"I have urgent pressing made up problems that are bigger than this and I need your support right now!"
"This is over. Do not contact me."
You don't have to engage him at all. You can walk away.

It is OK to feel heartbroken and sad and to miss him or at least whatever you want to miss of him. You will get over it. I promise. Heartbreak totally sucks, but this abuse and manipulation is so much worse. Really, heartbreaks are opportunities. The way he treats you is killing your spirit and, yes, may be putting you in physical danger.
posted by juliplease at 10:03 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


You can't change him. You can't make him a different person. No matter what you do, you can't fix him.

If someone truly good and kind and awesome recognizes their problems, truly wants to fix them AND THEN IMMEDIATELY starts taking concrete, firm steps to doing the hard, hard work it takes to fix said problems.... well, it is likely worth it to walk with them on that journey.

Your hopefully soon ex? I think he'd kick you in the shins, undo your bra, mock you when you trip, blame your falling for making him late or look bad or... god, I can barely even think like him.

Fixing him is not your responsibility. It is, in fact, not possible for you to do. I'm sorry, but I fully believe it is true. He SAYS he is willing to change, but I'd consider that far, far too little, and WAY too late. He says lots of shit. And, even if he does start fixing himself.... so what? He's abusive. You said so yourself. You have plenty of valid reasons to entirely block him from your life. You DON'T need his help turning the pages of the book about abusive men. You don't need him reading the big words to you. You CERTAINLY don't need him putting his self serving, manipulative, abusive spin on it. In fact, you don't need him for anything at all.

You have our permission to leave, to dump him entirely, to let him sink or swim on his own (Though I bet several paychecks he'd quickly have some other girl comforting him about his 'psycho ex bitch girlfriend' IE, you.... or at least his self-serving, still abusive image of you. I like you, and don't think you are either a bitch, psycho, or delusional)
posted by Jacen at 10:59 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Respect is like love--you can't make someone to feel it for you. This man may love you, and he may take steps towards avoiding actively disrespecting you, but he will never see you as an independent equal. He will always push your boundaries to see exactly the maximum he can get away with and the minimum he needs to put in. You can sign up for the endless ultimatums and nagging and long tedious talks about your feelings necessary to get him above the baseline for "decent partner," but you will never be able to fully trust him or depend on him. That's quite possibly the most reasonable thing to expect out of a relationship--is this guy really worth giving that up?
posted by almostmanda at 11:37 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


So it is possible that he knows exactly what he is doing?

I doubt it. I don't think it's like the movies, where the evil villain rubs his hands together and says, "let's see, how can I make her day worse!" Muhahahaha.

In my case it was someone who had had a truly messed up childhood, which looked nice on the outside but was very ugly and dysfunctional when you got to know the family.

Seemed super sensitive, loving, etc. But then the little digs. "Get off me, you need to lose weight!" When I was a size 8.

Making fun of other people when we were out and about. Not something done in my family. Making me question my judgment all the time.

Very talented in many areas. Intelligent. Well read. Lots of awesome. But the awesome parts were not enough to make up for constantly putting me down. Which he thought was funny. "I was just joking!" And then putting down my family, until I was isolated from both friends and family. Didn't like me making friends or having them over.

And yeah, when I was talking to the prosecutor's office after he got arrested for battery, the woman there was very helpful and kind. She said, "oh, he's a typical abuser." And I was like "wtf? But no!" But yes. It goes across all class and economic barriers.

If it helps, maybe he has an ideal woman and meets someone and tries to mold her into it, and since there is no such thing as an ideal woman (we are all human, after all), he gets angry and feels like he has to teach her. Being nice, you sort of ignore it at first and then go, "huh? Did that just really happen?" And you can't wrap your brain around it. So you sort of slough it off. Until you become enmeshed.

Just think of it as someone who speaks another language. You can never understand their language.

I guess what did it for me is when one day, one of his ex-girlfriends came to the door. She had been badly hurt by him, and she wanted to talk. What she told me was eerily all of the things he had said to me. And that was when I realized he was attracted to a certain type of woman: nice and vulnerable.

So at the least, what I can say is it was an unhealthy relationship for both of us, it was toxic for me, certainly, and I got off the merry-go-round because it was turning into violence. It was painful for a very long time, but now I look back and forgive my younger self. We all make mistakes, especially in the arena of love. I no longer try to analyze him or myself, I just say, that was then and this is now, and I have a pretty good life now. My husband is a big old teddy bear of a guy and he doesn't give a heck if I wear sweatpants or if I cook him a nice meal (let's get takeout), or how clean I keep the house, or if I make mistakes. He's very mellow and chilled out.

Sometimes people are not right for each other. And this guy doesn't seem to be right for you. I'm sorry for coloring my experiences onto yours. Maybe I want to go back and help my younger self, before it became too late. But this is your life, and you get to call the shots.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:14 PM on May 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


I can't thank you all enough for your support. I don't think that I would have the strength to leave without it. Thank you for sharing your stories, your personal wisdom and most of all your strength. I see things more clearly now then I ever have before and know now what I need to do.
posted by miranda at 8:11 PM on May 21, 2015 [43 favorites]


You had the strength to endure four years of his bad behavior. I believe you've always had the strength to leave. His manipulation partially seeks to make you weak -- the condescension, insults and gaslighting that's made you doubt yourself -- but also tries to use your own strengths -- your patience, kindness and compassion -- against you.

I'm happy that the wisdom and perspective in this thread helps dispel his illusions and manipulation and leads you to see things in a clearer light. Remember, though, that all this happened because you knew something was wrong. Keep listening to your voice.

Stay strong, miranda, and please do let us know how things go. Best of luck.
posted by Gelatin at 3:02 AM on May 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


Keep coming back to this thread as much as you need to for community support booster shots. You can do this, no matter how long it takes!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:01 AM on May 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


Good luck!
posted by craven_morhead at 12:23 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


He's not giving you space. He's lining up his next victim. He will be back if he is unsuccessful finding someone. He will be back and forth until he has SOMEONE on the hook. It could be you or someone else. It makes no difference to him. Sorry, but I think it's best to be blunt. The only reason that you are in any way "special" to him is because he has invested a lot of time breaking you down. There is no getting a win out of this situation except that you get free of him FOREVER. Believe me, once you get through this, you will wake up and count every day as a joy and a triumph because you now know you are strong and smart and capable and there IS NOTHING IN THE WORLD THAT COULD EVER MAKE YOU PUT UP WITH THAT SHIT EVER AGAIN!!!

I am looking forward to when you have those days!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:12 PM on May 23, 2015


I'm truly saddened by this thread. I very much wish you well. You have an incredible surprise ahead of you, assuming you get this person out of your life. Life is sweet, and love is not what this guy is all about.

Please don't try to negotiate with him right now. As you mentioned, the way he treats you is similar to the way he seems to have treated his previous partner. This is not a failure to communicate, it's a pattern of behavior. We may be generous, and assume that he has some valid personal issues that lead him to act in such an abominable way--maybe he's not an asshole through and through; but let's also remember that he's seeing a counselor. Let the counselor do his job. You may properly wish him well without allowing him play out his awful fantasies at your expense.

I believe it would be fruitless to enter into a dialogue with him. All you really need to do is tell him that you don't want to have any contact with him. State this clearly, and don't argue with him about it. The reason you should give is: you just don't want to do it anymore. Enough water has gone under this particular bridge that you needn't sort out the details for his benefit. Don't seek either his approval (you won't get it) or his permission (you don't need it). I also wouldn't worry very much about gaining his understanding. I suspect he won't even give you that much without trying to undermine your efforts to take charge of your life.

Change your locks immediately. Block his phone calls.

I'm sorry that your daughters don't seem to be actively supportive, but I would be surprised if they haven't already been manipulated in such a way as to feel they ought not to be involved. I'm pretty sure he has done things intended to isolate or distance you from your family and friends.
posted by mule98J at 6:03 PM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hey Miranda, best of luck. We are rooting for you. And as much as we'd enjoy an update at some point, you don't owe us an update, an explanation, a timetable or any other communication. Be well, be happy and take care of yourself and your daughters. Write or not, we'll be fine. :-)
posted by Bella Donna at 5:12 PM on May 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, I almost just finished writing a long winded post but deleted it by accident. Anyhow I am exiting this relationship. My trust in him is gone after all of the shit he has put us through and I just can't do it anymore, and in my heart and gut I know even though he is trying to change it might not last, and that's not good enough for us to stay. you can't close your eyes once they have been opened and no matter how much he is trying to convince me, I don't buy it. I cant. Too much past for me to let it go, although I wanted to try. He has tried to convince me that this forum although he hasn't seen is just filling my head up with negativity and he understands why i turned to it, but it's given me the strength I need to finally leave once and for all. He said if he wrote on a forum about a bachelor moving in with a single mother with two girls that I would loose just based on that question alone but because he loves and knows me he wouldn't care what anyone had to say. He may be right, but frankly I don't give a shit because I just don't trust him anymore. The beautiful man I fell in love with, only comes in waves, and then gets washed into the sea and replaced with some other creature I don't recognize. I'm done holding on to being happy with just bits and pieces of him. I'm done with the manipulations, the put downs, the mocking, the twisting of words, the feeling of guilt... I told him all of this and he said he's changed ever since he realized his behavior was coming from his deep abandonment issues and his codependancy. Now he understands why he made me feel guilty every time I wanted to hang out with my daughters or my friends and wouId pick a fight virtually ruining my evening, because I let him. He understands himself so much better now, and will change. Now he understands why he threw me against the wall when I tossed his keys down the stairs and he will never touch me again. I believed him then, I really did but my faith has worn so thin that he can't convince me otherwise. Anyhow I'm in the process of just looking for places now and will a break away from him. He knows something is up because of my distance and as much as I'd like to give him another chance because he is a human being, the damage has been done and is irreparable. I know everyone is telling me to just cut and run but I feel like there is a better way.
posted by miranda at 10:20 PM on May 26, 2015 [25 favorites]


> He understands himself so much better now

He didn't misunderstand himself before; he understood perfectly well. What he understands now is that he pushed too far, too fast, and too hard; he missed his target this time. His goal is control, not a mutually beneficial relationship.

> I know everyone is telling me to just cut and run but I feel like there is a better way.

There is no better way to save your life when it is in peril: Run, run, run. Don't stop until you are out of his grasp and influence, physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Run. Save your life.
posted by rtha at 10:41 PM on May 26, 2015 [16 favorites]


Good for you, miranda. I'm happy for you that you've been able to make this decision, and that you're confident in it.

I know everyone is telling me to just cut and run but I feel like there is a better way.

When we say cut and run, we mean 'do what you have to do to leave this toxic relationship'. Part of that is doing what you have to do to be safe. Another part of it is doing in a way that minimises the stress on you. Above all, be kind to yourself. But be aware, he will try to use any opportunity to make you do what he wants, that is, make you stay with him and stay cowed and pliable. Cutting him off - blocking his number and his emails, changing your locks, and telling him clearly and unequivocally that it's over and you don't want to hear from him - limits his ability to do this.

He said if he wrote on a forum about a bachelor moving in with a single mother with two girls that I would loose just based on that question alone but because he loves and knows me he wouldn't care what anyone had to say. He may be right, but frankly I don't give a shit because I just don't trust him anymore.

I said it above, but it bears repeating. He is a liar and a manipulator. He will say anything he thinks will work.

You've made your decision. It's your decision to make, and yours only. Ironically, you don't have to care what anyone else, including him, has to say. You can ignore him now. You don't have to engage with him, you don't owe him any reasons or explanation.

I am in awe of the strength you are showing. Good luck.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:05 PM on May 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


I think "just taking a break" can be a fine way to disconnect from a potentially dangerous person. You have the best information about what you're dealing with, and help and support is available. Congratulations on your decision, and please stay safe!
posted by Little Dawn at 11:19 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hon, he's pulling out all the stops now. Now he's switched to the "It's not my fault, it's because I was abandoned/raised wrong/last relationship made me codependent/fill in the blank" tune. The number of times I made excuses for my ex because of the fractured family background, horrible childhood, psychological problems, bad previous relationships... I bet next he will start threatening to hurt himself if you leave him, my ex certainly did and for quite some time I stayed because I was really genuinely worried that she might kill herself and if I went no contact, how would I be able to talk her out of it?

Yeah, I know.

The main reason to cut and run is so that you are safe in case he arcs up into violence, harassment or similar. Which, you know, doesn't sound all that unlikely now that you mention he threw you against a wall.

It's been said before (can't remember who mentioned it above) but he can change all he wants to outside of your relationship. You two have passed the point of being able to have a healthy relationship together and you know this. He's trying to persuade you otherwise so that he doesn't actually have to change. The beauty of cutting him out of your life is that it no longer matters whether he changes - it is no longer your problem.

Please memail me anytime if you like.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:20 PM on May 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Good for you, miranda! I'm happy that you're moving on. Please do everything you can to keep yourself safe. You're getting great advice since your update, so please read it again. I especially agree that the dude is still showing his colors as a manipulator, and would like to highlight two things:

He has tried to convince me that this forum although he hasn't seen is just filling my head up with negativity

Well, maybe, but it seems to me that you're feeling more and more positive about yourself and your perspective on his own negativity, which has been focused relentlessly on you. Again, you came here because you knew something was wrong, and with this statement he's trying to convince you to trust him and not your lying eyes. It's good you reject this feeble tactic.

He said if he wrote on a forum about a bachelor moving in with a single mother with two girls that I would loose just based on that question alone

Well, isn't he sweet! Notice here he's trying to put you down and imply that without his pity-dating you, you would have no prospects. Maybe he's right about the forums where he hangs out; there are plenty of jerks on the internet. But I can tell you that when I was a bachelor I dated plenty of single mothers, so he's flat-out wrong in addition to being a manipulative creep.

As said above, he might change, but as far as you're concerned it doesn't matter. Even now he isn't changing for you.

It's true that you need to set the process of leaving him according to what's best for you, but please do keep in mind that what an abuser needs from a relationship is control, and when they feel like they're losing control, things can get dangerous. Do whatever you can and must to protect yourself, please. Change your locks, block his number, email and all social media, cut him off completely when the time comes. Update us here if you please, and feel free to MeMail if there's anything I can do. I predict good things for you once you're out from under this guy, miranda.
posted by Gelatin at 4:58 AM on May 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


I read your update (GO YOU) and keep coming back to this:

He said if he wrote on a forum about a bachelor moving in with a single mother with two girls that I would lose just based on that question alone

Lose what? What a weird (and stupid) way of looking at things. This isn't a competition that someone wins. It's your life and your decision to be happy. Why is he trying to convince you to stay by telling you people would tell him to leave you? And he says WE are negative?!?

I'm so glad you sound like you're working on getting away from this kind of false-logic manipulation. You are going to be so happy when you take a few breaths of freedom, I promise.
posted by greenish at 5:17 AM on May 27, 2015 [17 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if abusers make illogical statements on purpose, in order to keep their partners' brains occupied trying to make sense of them rather than focusing on the fact that they're being abused. This:

He said if he wrote on a forum about a bachelor moving in with a single mother with two girls that I would lose just based on that question alone

doesn't make any logical sense. As greenish said, lose what? And why would you lose? Because you have children? That gives you more authority, in a lot of ways, because most reasonable people would want you to prioritize a safe, stable home for them and a safe, stable environment for you to be an effective parent. He doesn't get some sort of bonus points because he came in and made you miserable when you had children in the house -- it's exactly the opposite.

As for the abandonment issues, I don't know if you've gotten to this part in Why Does He Do That, but I found it immensely helpful when thinking about my ex, who had a seriously screwed-up childhood, too:
The more psychotherapy a client of mine has participated in, the more impossible I usually find it is to work with him. The highly “therapized” abuser tends to be slick, condescending, and manipulative. He uses the psychological concepts he has learned to dissect his partner’s flaws and dismiss her perceptions of abuse. He takes the responsibility for nothing that he does, he moves in a world where there are only unfortunate dynamics, miscommunications, symbolic acts. He expects to be rewarded for his emotional openness, handled gingerly because of his “vulnerability”, colluded with in skirting the damage he has done, and congratulated for his insight. Many years ago, a violent abuser in my program shared the following with us: “From working in therapy on my issues about anger toward my mother, I realized that when I punched my wife, it wasn’t really her I was hitting. It was my mother!” He sat back, ready for us to express our approval of his self-awareness. My colleague peered through his glasses at the man, unimpressed by his revelation. “No,” he said, “you were hitting your wife.”

I have yet to meet an abuser who has made any meaningful and lasting changes in his behavior toward female partners through therapy, regardless of how much “insight” — most of it false — that he may have gained. The fact is that if an abuser finds a particularly skilled therapist and if the therapy is especially successful, when he is finished he will be A HAPPY, WELL-ADJUSTED ABUSER — good news for him, perhaps, but not such good news for his partner. Psychotherapy can be very valuable for the issues it is devised to address, but partner abuse is not one of them; an abusive man needs to be in a specialized program.
You deserve better than a well-adjusted abuser. If he is committed to actual change, he will sign himself up for a 52-week course for domestic violence perpetrators run by whatever agency in your area provides the court-ordered treatment for domestic violence (NOT his current individual therapist), he will sign a release so that you can communicate with the group leaders to make sure that he is going and can let them know if he is still being abusive, and he will refrain from speaking down to you, mocking you, belittling you, or touching you in anger ever again. That is what a commitment to actual change would look like, right now.

I don't know if he's capable of that. His continued manipulation and insistence that you and he are in a win-lose battle makes me doubt it. But that's what he would need to do to demonstrate that he actually wants to change. (And even then, it might not work. Domestic Violence treatment groups vary greatly in quality, and many many many men drop out, even when court-ordered. But that's the best treatment option out there, flawed as it may be. Individual therapy with a therapist not trained in treating domestic violence perpetrators usually makes things worse.)
posted by jaguar at 6:29 AM on May 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


I am so happy to see you've made the decision to leave him, miranda. It's tough, and it likely will be tough for a little while, but escaping this toxic relationship is absolutely the right choice - and his continued words and actions prove it.

This:
He said if he wrote on a forum about a bachelor moving in with a single mother with two girls that I would loose just based on that question alone

Does not square with this:
he said he's changed ... Now he understands why he made me feel guilty every time I wanted to hang out with my daughters or my friends and wouId pick a fight virtually ruining my evening ... He understands himself so much better now, and will change.

If he had ANY actual interest in changing, he wouldn't have dared even think the first statement, let alone say it directly to you.

Also, I don't believe you mentioned it before - but holy shit, he threw you against a wall!?!? Good riddance, asshole. His mental and emotional abuse were terrible enough, but to know that he had already engaged in physical abuse as well makes your decision that much more important.
posted by adamp88 at 9:03 AM on May 27, 2015 [17 favorites]


I've already made my decision but I still have a lot of things at his house, some furniture. The rest is still in storage. I work 5 min away from where he and we used to live and have a lot of clients that come see me for massage from his condo because management gave me a space for the residents. We walk and bike the same path, grew up in the same neighborhood, shop at the same placees, my parents live 5 min away. I'm trying to figure out how to get into my next career while paying for first and last and putting the girls through university. None of this is their fault so I need to do it in a way that it doesn't impact them and give them a smooth as possible transition. They have already offered to help with money if i needed but i wont even consider it. They don't need to deal with this. They need to focus on school, friends and being normal 18 yrs olds. I don't need to give them any added stress where I screwed up. They were just innocent bystanderds in something that I thought was so right and was going to be the best for us because he made us believe that. I had everything when i met him, and was so independent, I didnt need anyone, just my daughters and thats why i feel i was ready and blessed to finally meet up again with my long lost highschool crush that in the end, just ended up crushing us. I thought it was divine intervention lol, i wish it wasn't so complicated. Anyhow I am looking into calling the domestic abuse center like you all suggested and see where I can get some help sorting things out. I have to be smart about it and honestly, he can say it's my decision all he wants, but based on past reactions to me leaving him I'm not sure how he will handle it and it worries me. Thanks again for giving me strength I need right now. I'll figure it out
posted by miranda at 5:46 PM on May 27, 2015 [25 favorites]


Good for you, miranda. Thank you for the update. I am sure you will be fine -- you were free and independent because that's the way you are fully capable of being. His undermining you isn't your fault. You had every right to believe that something good was happening for you when you started this relationship; the things he did to make it bad are on him. It is your decision whether to stay or go, and he does not have to agree when it's the latter.

You're wise to anticipate that whatever he says, he might not accept your leaving him with anything resembling grace and to prepare carefully for the possibility. Always listen to the part of you that says something may be wrong or go wrong. You have gotten much excellent advice in this thread on sensible precautions. If memory serves me correctly, there are a number of other threads on the green about protecting oneself in case he doesn't respect your wish to go no contact (which you should definitely request).

Having stuff at his house complicates things, of course. I suggest you round up a couple of friends (hopefully with a pickup truck or van) and get everything at once. My guess is that in front of a group he wouldn't want to display his abusive side. I'd bet he instead takes the opportunity to act the aggrieved party in front of an audience; so be it. Your goal is to get your stuff out of there and ask him not to contact you. Having some backup present is a sensible precaution.

If that doesn't work, consider whether in a worst case scenario, you're willing to write off whatever's at his place. You're already thinking of ways you need to prepare to avoid him in public, which is excellent. Going forward, if he approaches you or tries to contact you, be prepared to document everything (times, dates, what happened).

Your independence is admirable, but I'd bet your family and friends would be more than willing to support you, emotionally if nothing else, and I'd urge you to rely on what I referred to earlier as Team You. You don't have to accept your parents' money, but it looks like they want the best for you and would like to help you get away from this guy, so it's good at least to know you can relay on them.

You've done amazing things in a short time, miranda. That strength you speak of was always in you. We're rooting for you!
posted by Gelatin at 6:15 AM on May 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


It really truly is not your fault that he took advantage of your good nature. You had every reason to believe he would be honorable, sane, caring, loving, kind, and, well, trustworthy and not abusive.

He failed at all that.

I'm very, very sorry. You deserve better. Its not your fault. I'm 110% glad you are getting out. He will throw all sorts of stuff out there about changing.... but when you are walking out the door is NOT when you change if you truly love someone- he should have been doing the serious, hard self fixing work years ago. But now, its time to take care of you and those you love- the people who love you back.

I'm sorry that he is messing up so much of your life. But getting out is worth it. YOU are worth it.

Don't let him drag you back because of stuff! Its just stuff. I know its hard, but at a certain point cutting losses may be well worth it.


I think your next best step is probably talking to the domestic abuse people... they have so much support and resources we don't.

And remember- take deep breaths. Hug yourself. You can do this. It will be ok. Hard and scary and upsetting, maybe, sure. But it will be ok.
posted by Jacen at 7:06 AM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


You are doing a fantastic job at being persistent. You are making good things happen!
posted by ocherdraco at 7:34 AM on May 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


The beautiful man I fell in love with, only comes in waves, and then gets washed into the sea and replaced with some other creature I don't recognize.

This. This is why I left my husband. He wasn't an abuser but he was an alcoholic and I just didn't recognise him anymore. And he told me, over and over, that I shouldn't leave and that he would change. And he did change for the better--several years after I left him.

Miranda, you'll never be able to convince your partner that you have a good reason to leave him. You just have to prepare, as you are, and do what's necessary to make the transition happen and to protect yourself in the process. Hang in there. You're doing an incredible job of taking charge of your own life as well as modelling what that looks like for your daughters.

It's so clear that you are going to figure this out and move on to a better life. To the life that you--a strong, smart, independent, loving, giving woman--deserve. Thanks for the update!
posted by Bella Donna at 11:25 PM on May 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


If you ever want to talk, please feel free to MeMail me. You have done a great job in figuring out your own life, more than I did when I went through a similar circumstance. I applaud you. I'm so very proud of you and I admire you a lot.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:39 PM on May 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


This guy sounds so much like my ex-husband. If you want to talk, you can always MeMail me, too. I'm glad you're seeing through his lies and manipulation and getting out.
posted by sarcasticah at 2:52 PM on May 31, 2015


I don't need to give them any added stress where I screwed up.

You really, really did not. Please believe me on this. You had the misfortune of running into an abuser; none of that is your fault.
Abusers are typically charming, especially in the beginning of a relationship, and it makes them so much harder to spot. You didn't screw up, he did!

Keep up the good work. You're doing great. Good luck!
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:11 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


HI everyone. I know its been months since my update but I wanted to thank you all again for you advice. I'm not sure how this works, or if this will ever be read by anyone that responded, but the girls and I did not move in with him and I broke off the relationship. It's been 5 months no contact, and weve started again from scratch. It's this forum that I come back to now and again when I feel horrible about myself or blame myself for desroying the relationship even though I'm the one that left. ( he was beyond perfect for me, had every quality ive ever hoped for in a partner.so when things started going horrible I just couldn't wrap my head around it. Still cant).
I honestly sometimes believe I caused his abusive behavior even after he put his hands around my throat in anger (but let go quickly)when I suggested we needed help and he got irate, and i said thats it im done, i dont need this shit anymore! Maybe I said it wrong, the timing was wrong, my tone was wrong, I triggered his abandonment issues, maybe I wasn't understanding enough throughout the relationship...... I have to take responsibility for my part. I can't believe I was in denial for so long that I was in an abusive relatioship.
Yes I'm out and free and it's been 5 months and still have really hard days. He's already in another relationship, and I feel I'll never be the same. I realize it will take some time to heal and it may be a longer process then I'd want and sometimes more strength then I have. My trust has been broken and the fact he's able to move on so quickly kills me. But so be it. I am where I am because I let it get that far so it's time to look at myself and do some well needed healing. Even if no one sees this, I send my blessings to cyberspace to everyone that took their time to respond, and I hope you all know that your kind words are still keeping me going and helping me feel less defeated.
posted by miranda at 8:33 AM on February 18, 2016 [48 favorites]


We are still here for you! You did the right thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:38 AM on February 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


On MetaFilter there is a page called Recent Activity that highlights recent comments on any threads you have previously commented in, so it is likely that a good number of the people that commented here will see your update in their Recent Activity, like I did. And it is also likely that they will be very proud of you, and very understanding of the complicated issues that you are still going through. You did a hard hard thing, and were not defeated at all.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:48 AM on February 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


I am thrilled to hear that you got out and stayed out. I think about you all the time and hope you're doing okay.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:06 AM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


So glad to hear this update, that you are out and safe.
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


You did the right thing. No matter how hard it gets, always remember that you did the right thing.

My best to you and your family.
posted by bondcliff at 9:53 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maybe I said it wrong, the timing was wrong, my tone was wrong, I triggered his abandonment issues, maybe I wasn't understanding enough throughout the relationship......

Nope, nope, nope, nope. Your timing was just right, and you said it just right, because it finally led to you being free of the relationship. He finally realized that he couldn't control you anymore, and he has moved on to his next victim.

Here's a song that I kept playing in a similar situation, if you've got any taste for country music.
posted by clawsoon at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Maybe I said it wrong, the timing was wrong, my tone was wrong, I triggered his abandonment issues, maybe I wasn't understanding enough throughout the relationship.....

No. It was just him, all the time. He's just a piece of shit. I'm still angry for the way he treated you.
But oh! I'm so glad, so very glad, that you got away and that you are, slowly, healing.
It takes time, I know! I got away more than ten years ago and I still bear the scars on my soul. But I did get away, just like you, and my life got so much better. And so will yours.

I can't believe I was in denial for so long that I was in an abusive relatioship.

Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. You were in denial because you are a good, trusting and loving person, and you were doing your best to see the good side. And you did that for a long time, because you're strong. That's not something to look down on. In fact, even though they did not serve you well in this fucked-up situation, those are wonderful traits.

Thank you for reaching out and letting us know how you are. We are still here, and we are still rooting for you and wishing you the best, just like before.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


OMG, miranda, congrats for making the hard decision and getting out!

I honestly sometimes believe I caused his abusive behavior even after he put his hands around my throat in anger (but let go quickly)when I suggested we needed help and he got irate, and i said thats it im done, i dont need this shit anymore!


Nope! He was the tremendous asshole who laid hands on you. None of this is on you.

Maybe I said it wrong, the timing was wrong, my tone was wrong, I triggered his abandonment issues, maybe I wasn't understanding enough throughout the relationship...... I have to take responsibility for my part. I can't believe I was in denial for so long that I was in an abusive relatioship.

Nope, none of this is your fault. It is something that was done to you. You took control got out. Whatever you had to do to get out was the right thing to do. Well done!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:00 PM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Congratulations! You said it yourself: you are FREE. Well done.
posted by KathrynT at 8:01 AM on February 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hang in there, this DOES get better, SO much better. In time you will understand how very, very strong you were and how wise you were to listen to your instincts and the good advice on Meta Filter. I hope this doesn't sound insensitive, but he has a new relationship already because he needs a victim. He cares nothing for this new woman, but in truth, he cared nothing for you either. You did everything right you got away. I just hope his new girlfriend is as smart and brave as you are!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:30 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I found this in my recent activity, too. Thank you for updating!
I am glad that you are out and rebuilding. Congratulations for taking control of your life and not letting him ruin it forever! It will only get better as your distance from him increases.
Stay strong.
(Your daughters must be incredibly happy for you, and what an excellent model you are being for them!)
posted by SLC Mom at 3:04 PM on February 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thank you very very much for the update! I've been wondering and hoping.

About having really hard days... You might want to read this essay, "It Will Look Like A Sunset" by Kelly Sundberg (trigger warning, she talks about experiencing intimate partner violence). Also the Metafilter discussion about it. You're not alone, feeling these complex emotions, finding some days really hard, remembering how perfect he seemed, blaming yourself for doing things wrong. I don't think you did anything wrong, if the opinion of one more person on the internet matters. I send you supportive and healing vibes.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:24 PM on February 29, 2016


Holy cats, I missed the OP's response in recent activity, but saw it via a reference from another thread. Congratulations on your escape, miranda! Chiming in with the others that you absolutely did not cause his behavior, and that things will get better in time.

Seriously, you're a hero. I'm so happy you shed that burden, and wish you abundant happiness and soon.
posted by Gelatin at 6:05 AM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


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