Dating someone with severe anxiety...control issues.
January 22, 2019 11:05 AM   Subscribe

I've been dating someone for almost 2 months now. This man can be absolutely wonderful until his anxiety kicks in. He's berated me when we have gotten into arguments, texts for hours, and then tries to turn it around and say I'm emotionally immature....

I started dating this man who can be totally wonderful but he wants to be together all the time...I told him I've been independent for awhile, raised 2 kids, and have a career. He himself is divorced...ex cheated in past.
The issue is whenever I tell him I don't want him over because I have to work the next day (can't stay up late) or just recently my daughter stayed over so I could follow her to appt in am. He doesn't understand and says that isn't normal, that me and my daughter are too close. Since last night this man has been texting for hours telling me my adult kids shouldn't be so dependent on me, accused us of having a "party", tells me I'm a 'slut', I'm not an adult because I stopped responding to his texts- 'non communicator', tells me I'm physically ugly, and on and on....but then says 'can we talk tonight' I have told him no...I don't know how to get him off my back. I know this is so unhealthy and these are huge red flags.
This man also happens to be related to my ex of 20 years so he knows my children, I'm a little worried. I just don't understand how someone can switch gears so minute everything is okay and the next is just out of control. I thought maybe I could deal with the anxiety as I do think he is wonderful when not acting manic...but I can't and he won't leave me alone.
This behavior is not normal correct? How do I get him to go away, when I stop answering he goes on and on in texts and calls.
posted by irish01 to Human Relations (35 answers total)
No. That is not normal. That is abusive/stalker behavior.

DTMFA, block his number. If he comes around, tell him to leave and call the cops. If he persists, get a restraining order.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:10 AM on January 22, 2019 [137 favorites]

My mom used to say that the beginning of a relationship, that honeymoon period when everyone is being the best version of themselves, that is the BEST that relationship will ever get.

This seems like an awful lot of work and drama for a two-month old relationship. Add to that the abuse he's raining down on you since last night, and I think you've gotta cut the cord and tell him it's over and not to contact you again. If it keeps up, I think you've gotta call the authorities - he doesn't sound stable.
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:10 AM on January 22, 2019 [35 favorites]

I don't think I've ever answered a relationship question, but the answer seems clear: DTMFA. Seriously, this is not normal. Or, even if it is normal, you shouldn't deal with it. Tell him good-bye, block him, and move on to someone who's not crazy with anger issues.
posted by nosila at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2019 [18 favorites]

DTMFA, this isn't normal.
posted by number9dream at 11:13 AM on January 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

Block them on your phone and all social media accounts. This is classic abuse and NOT “anxiety”. There is never a reason where it’s okay for someone to treat you like this or call you a “slut.”
posted by Crystalinne at 11:15 AM on January 22, 2019 [39 favorites]

It really doesn't matter how he acts when he isn't manic. Most people can manage to be charming and fun 95% of the time. What matters is what happens the rest of the time and that rest of the time isn't good. To put it mildly.

Say "good bye".
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:16 AM on January 22, 2019 [12 favorites]

I had a friend who got into relationships like this again and again, because she never learned to spot the signs of abusive behavior until she was in another mess. Get rid of this guy now, block him , maybe change your locks and phone number. The over the top" loving" behavior is already much less than the abusive parts, and it will only get worse.
posted by mermayd at 11:17 AM on January 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm so scared he'll show up here.
posted by irish01 at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

How do I get him to go away, when I stop answering he goes on and on in texts and calls.

You can contact a hotline for survivors of domestic violence and abuse, because they can help with safety planning and with local referrals to resources that can provide additional assistance.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2019 [28 favorites]

I think it's worth a call to your local domestic violence hotline/centre, to explain the situation and see what they might recommend. It would be good for you to know your legal rights in a situation like this, in regards to getting restraining orders should it escalate and what support you can expect to receive from the police. This can vary wildly depending on where you live.

On preview: what Little Dawn said.
posted by BeeJiddy at 11:22 AM on January 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

This man also happens to be related to my ex of 20 years so he knows my children, I'm a little worried.

I'm so scared he'll show up here.

This is two comments that you have made in which you indicate that this person is a danger to you or to people you love. It is easy for internet strangers to say that you should break up with this man, because he is emotionally abusive, but like everybody else in this thread I encourage you to get away from him. Healthy, loving relationships do not include the credible fear of your partner hurting you or your children.

Whatever this guy is when he is "good", he is an abuser when he is bad. You cannot love him enough to keep him "good." Staying in a relationship with him will not protect you: you are in a relationship with him now and you are afraid of what he will do.

The link in Little Dawn's comment is a good starting place. You can also look for domestic violence organizations in your area. There are resources that can help you. Good luck.
posted by gauche at 11:28 AM on January 22, 2019 [31 favorites]

Go no contact.

Has he had access to your keys? Call a locksmith, change the locks.

Tell your children, other family and friends what is going on. He may try to pump them for information. Warn your neighbors that he is not your friend and ask them to call or text you if they see him around. Consider asking them to call the police if they see him around.

Consider staying somewhere else for a few days.

Change passwords on your phone, accounts and home security system, if you have one.

Consider having your mail held at the post office in case he tries to pilfer it from your mailbox for information.

I am sorry you are dealing with this man.
posted by jointhedance at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2019 [25 favorites]

I thought maybe I could deal with the anxiety as I do think he is wonderful when not acting manic...but I can't and he won't leave me alone.

This isn't just anxiety and he's not wonderful (I'm sorry.) A lot of people are anxious and jealous and have all sorts of feelings about their brand-new relationships that they do not express by being UTTERLY verbally abusive.

Say to him "this relationship is over, do not ever contact me again." And then stick to it absolutely. Block his number, automatically route his emails to a separate folder (if you guys use email), and contact your local domestic violence hotline.

Tell your children not to interact with him. Let your employer know that he is unstable and abusive, as he may try to lash out at you there. I know it's embarrassing to have to go to HR for something like this, but it will hopefully prevent some well-meaning person from letting him in to see you.
posted by desuetude at 11:35 AM on January 22, 2019 [12 favorites]

From my read, you're not asking whether to break up - you're asking how to do so safely. There's a lot of good advice above.

I'll share one thing I learned from The Gift of Fear, which gets recommended here a lot. If you answer the 30th text, you've taught him that he has to text you 30 times to get a response. If you answer the 100th text, you have talk him that he has to text you 100 times. So once you go no contact, you really have to stick with it.
posted by FencingGal at 11:40 AM on January 22, 2019 [21 favorites]

You are the one with the most information about your situation, so you are in the best position to determine what to do, and I hope that you are able to find local support and assistance soon, because I am worried for you and your children.

In the meantime, I feel like it is important to note that there is absolutely nothing you have done to cause this abusive behavior, including whether you text back or not - it is never up to you to teach or train an abuser to be nicer, and I feel it is very important to recognize that. Abusers hold onto power if they convince the survivor that the survivor is somehow responsible for the abuse, so I want to reassure you that his behavior is not okay, not under any circumstances, and it is not your fault that he is choosing to be abusive and/or unable to control his abusive behavior.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:54 AM on January 22, 2019 [19 favorites]

Thank you all I appreciate the advice so very much. I’m afraid to block his phone number in case he texts me that he is coming here, just so I have a heads up to leave my house...I did block on social media. I also texted him and wrote “Stop contacting me”.
posted by irish01 at 12:02 PM on January 22, 2019 [13 favorites]

Seconding Little Dawn's advice to call the hotline and/or a local DV org. You need support and a real live person will be very helpful to walk you through the steps you need to take to safeguard yourself. I wish you all the best, and I am very glad you posted this question.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:10 PM on January 22, 2019 [8 favorites]

I want to give you what I think is good advice. But I realize I’m not an expert and what I think might be right may actually be wrong, so I agree, call the hotline and get specifics, especially on what to do if he shows up.

Do you have neighbors that can be a source of help/eyes for you?
posted by MountainDaisy at 12:15 PM on January 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's definitely not [just] anxiety, though sure he probably does feel that. From your description, resembles a personality disorder - borderline or narcissistic PD, on a superficial read, IANAP - but could be other things, none of them ones you want or need or are prepared to deal with, it's not your job to do that. Those are just some possibilities to read about when you want to make sense of things.

The bottom line is it doesn't matter what condition he has, the effects do matter, abuse is abuse, stay safe.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:22 PM on January 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Do not hesitate to call the police if he comes over. This is not normal or acceptable and with his abusive behavior, you must be prepared for him to escalate. Tell your close family and friends what's happening so that he can't leverage them against you. I'm sorry this is happening to you, and I'm glad that you're severing ties.
posted by quince at 12:37 PM on January 22, 2019 [9 favorites]

I have anxiety that can get pretty severe at times. Anxiety isn't an excuse for this behavior - I would never treat someone this way, even if I felt the same things he's apparently feeling, because I know how to manage and interpret my irrationally anxious thoughts and not lay them on other people. This is absolutely not "just an anxiety thing" that you have to deal with because it's a mental illness.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:44 PM on January 22, 2019 [14 favorites]

Do you have a safe place to be? Where he wouldn’t go looking for you? That might help you feel secure in the short term. If your budget allows for a hotel or AirBnB that might work too. I know it’s expensive but if it’s possible it may be worth the peace of mind.

It’s smart to monitor his texts. You’re being smart about this and I am confident in your ability to make good decisions about this. Hang in there.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:45 PM on January 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

Monitoring his texts for his location is a good idea. It would be better, though, if you could give your phone to somebody you trust to do the monitoring for you. That way, when the inevitable "I love you so much I'm so sorry" bullshit starts rolling in, you won't feel all the pangs of missing what it is you like about him, at least not without someone warning you first and maybe helping you to stay grounded and helping you to not fall for it. Someone empathetic to do this for you is key, though. Empathetic to you, not him.
posted by Crystal Fox at 2:15 PM on January 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this! No, this isn't normal!

I'd like to add a suggestion to the list that jointhedance posted: change your Wi-Fi password.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2019 [10 favorites]

This isn't anxiety. This is emotional abuse, an attempt to control you. If he texts you after you asked him to stop, call the police and get a restraining order. I would also alert any of your family members and friends that he knows to tell them not to respond to him or share any information about you. This isn't your fault, but his, okay?
posted by bluedaisy at 4:15 PM on January 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Agreed that he may be anxious, but that's no excuse for being an abusive asshole.

Send him 1 email and 1 text saying Your behavior is unacceptable and unwelcome. Do not contact me again. Don't be nice, be direct. Then block him on phone, email (On gmail, tag him as spam), Facebook, Insta, etc. Keep your phone charged and on your person, keep doors and windows locked, lock your car, keep the keys on you, esp. if your car has an emergency alarm button.

If he sees that his texts are being read, that keeps him engaged. No contact at all. Call the local domestic/ family violence program and ask them to help you assess risk and develop your safety plan.
posted by theora55 at 4:17 PM on January 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

You're getting good advice above, but I wanted to respond to this:
"I just don't understand how someone can switch gears so minute everything is okay and the next is just out of control. I thought maybe I could deal with the anxiety as I do think he is wonderful when not acting manic...but I can't and he won't leave me alone. "

This sounds a lot like The Cycle of Violence - it's not uncommon for abusers to present as loving and kind at times, and this has the effect of convincing the victim to stay in the relationship, and even make them question their observations and judgements about the relationship. Lots of people say they really want to have a relationship with the person they know during the calm or "honeymoon" phase of this cycle, but unfortunately the loving partner and the abusive partner are the same person, like different sides of the same coin.

I'm also interested in the role that his apparent anxiety is playing in this picture. Plenty of abusive people cite their inability to control anger as the source of their abusive behaviour, but in most cases that person controls their anger just fine in other contexts - for instance most abusive husbands DON'T fly into a rage at their boss or their co-workers despite times of stress and frustration, and are choosing to use violence (physical, verbal, emotional, financial etc) as a tool of power and control in their intimate relationship. Does this man's anxiety cause him to accuse others of being immature, a bad parent, ugly and "a slut"? I doubt it.
posted by Cheese Monster at 5:19 PM on January 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

I know the responders in this thread are trying to be helpful, however, it's really, really important that you trust yourself here. People who act like this man gain power by making their targets doubt themselves and their own judgment. In this situation, having a bunch of people -- even well-intentioned people! -- yelling at you to do what I say!!! can be really unhelpful and overwhelming.

You know this man and we don't. You know yourself and your whole situation and we don't. It sounds like there's a voice inside you telling you that his behavior is not ok, and like you want to listen to this voice. Trust yourself enough to know that you have the strength to take appropriate actions to keep yourself safe, and trust yourself enough to be willing to forgive yourself if you don't do everything "perfectly," whether that's by your own standards or by the standards people are throwing at you in this thread.

Others have linked you to local domestic violence agencies. The people there are trained to offer nonjudgmental support, no matter what you decide to do, and are trained to help you listen to yourself, as well as to connect you with other resources or help you think through plans of action.

*hugs* You are worth standing up for, and you do not deserve what's happening to you. If you need more help connecting with local resources, feel free to MeMail me. Overall, though, listen to yourself. You've shown yourself to be smart and capable, and we're all rooting for you, no matter what you decide to do.
posted by lazuli at 6:59 PM on January 22, 2019 [11 favorites]

It is so awesome that you have blocked him, go you!

I just want to say, as someone with pretty severe anxiety, this is NOT anxiety! It kind of saddens me that some people might think this is about his anxiety!
posted by thereader at 8:40 PM on January 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

Does your gut feel that it would be helpful to let your ex know that this man is making you afraid for your kids? Sometimes men listen to other men, so if your ex told this guy to back off, it might help. BUT I could also see this not working well though and you're the one who knows the people involved!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:31 AM on January 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh my. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. This man does not sound well, he sounds like he has some mental health stuff going on.

This will not get better, likely it will get worse.

For your own sake do not pass go, get him out of your life ASAP.
posted by christiehawk at 12:39 AM on January 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't know what your relationship with your ex is, but since he is, presumably from the little you've said, the father of your children and also somehow related to this man it might be good at some point to let him know what is going on. He needs to know that your children, when they are with him, should not have any contact with his abusive relative. And he might need to inform other relatives that the man has gone off the deep end, possibly has stopped taking meds that kept him more stable.

I hope your life calms down quickly and that this man does not cause you any further discomfort. Do reach out to good friends and to your local domestic violence program.
posted by mareli at 5:21 AM on January 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Agreed to tell your ex, your kids, and anyone else who might have known you were dating that you are not dating (like even coworkers you trust if he might show up there) and don't want any information about you going back to him from now on, your ex may not want to interfere in your dating life and be hesitant to bring anything he's heard up to you.

If he shows up be prepared to call the cops. If you have a friend you can stay with for a few days that would be good so you can calm down a bit and not worry he'll drop by.

I would also tell him you'll be contacting the authorities to report his harassment if he calls, texts, or shows up anywhere near you or your family again. Then never reply to anything he sends again, and follow through with the reporting. I have found (in lesser cases) that that's extremely effective and I wouldn't be surprised if he's already had interactions with the police based on his behavior.
posted by lafemma at 7:25 AM on January 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd like to thank you all your advice has been followed....believe me I'd never consider taking this person back. I am sorry if I blamed anxiety but that is all I know he is taking meds for I now see narcissism could be the root cause. No matter it's no excuse for abuse. Thank you....thank you.
posted by irish01 at 8:36 PM on January 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

I am sorry if I blamed anxiety...

You don't have to apologize, he tricked you into thinking that was the problem.
posted by tillermo at 5:29 PM on January 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

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