Dear Dr. Irene,
I am concerned about my current relationship. I
don’t think I can see it clearly anymore and need a
professional, outsider’s perspective. I am 36, single with a 13
year old son that will move back in with me this summer.
Last year I left an abusive 15 year marriage. I
am now in a relationship with a man I met in an online game that
I will call Ven.
First the bad:
Ven came to see me for the first time after I had
been separated from my ex-husband for three months. Bad
timing in that you did not give yourself time to center
before becoming involved. You had to be extremely
vulnerable. We had spent all that time getting to know
each other and I was ready to meet him in person. So, he came
to see me, and though I still had very conflicted feelings about
having sex, my passion got the best of me. After the first time
we made love, which was very emotional and passionate, it became
all about the mechanics. I would sometimes go up to him to just
start kissing him and caressing him and he would correct the way
I was kissing or rebuke me for touching him – that it wasn’t
lady-like. Yes, having read ahead, he
would discourage any sexual initiative on your part.
He would even get up in the middle of the night to – not
have passionate sex - but to get on the internet and play WoW!
This wounded me, too.
Why? Are you expecting him to be into you 100% /24/7? That you
crave this intense he-should-always-be-into-me intimacy
is the insecure, codependent part of you that keeps the door for
men like Ven (more about that later) and more classic abusers
Once, after one of the sex sessions I thought it
might help if I complimented him. Without even looking at me he
said, “It’s just par for the course.” This deeply hurt me.
Of course. You are looking to interact
with a Human Being. But he is looking to interact with an
Object, a person who will play the role. *Sigh* You are
but an object and he knows how to "hook" you. His response
indicates that he is confidant he knows he plays his game well.
He had made me feel like I was just another one in a long
list of girls. You probably are...
I stopped expressing my desire for him or trying to become
intimate with him because I knew he would just frown and brush
me aside until he was ready.
This was the first time we had ever seen each
other! Not a good start is it... I
was heart-broken and despondent. Your
body's way of telling you "Get out!" I have tried to end
it several times, but I am always moved by his pleas to continue
the relationship. Exactly.
This is how you are "kept." He will do whatever he has to do
in order to keep you, but bear in mind that he doesn't want
you for the unique being you are. He wants you because you are
the object who is willing to play the game. Is this what you
One other thing, he tells me that he loves me
most when I completely submit to and obey him. He insists that
I call him “Master” when we are in a sexual moment. If I want
sex he tells me to approach him by getting on my knees and
asking to please him. At first I didn’t mind this, seeing it as
playing out a bit of fantasy and I found it to be arousing, too,
but it is clear to me that he ALWAYS wants it this way.
Yes. Ven is into Dominance and Submission
as a lifestyle. This is far different from a little
fetish behavior in the bedroom. I am never allowed to
express sexual aggression. He is most aroused by thinking of me
being helpless and then making me pregnant. He also tells me
he wants to be able to have sex with me at anytime he wants, in
any part of my body he wants. When I tell him this scares me,
he tells me he would never make me do something I didn’t want to
do. He has come to see me three times and I admit that he has
never tried to force me to do anything I didn’t want to.
Yes, because your submission
must be willing. This man wants to control you totally and
you are to submit to him entirely. If you stay, in time you are
likely to trust him more and more and will allow him to do more
and more of what pleases him - because you want so much to
please him and because you know he will never go beyond your
So, the good things:
He has been emotionally supportive during the
months of my divorce and after. He has been very gentle when I
am depressed. He has been a good listener and encourages me to
call him anytime I need to. I look forward to getting home to
talk to him online and to discuss and read books together.
Yes. Because it is
entirely important to him to keep you happy and to trust him. He
will do everything he needs to do to hold onto you - as long as
you are the object of his desire. Or one of the objects of his
He actually does change when he says he will.
After I told him that belittling or yelling at me just made me
want leave him, he stopped doing it. Yes.
At least for now. I told him that when he was kind and
considerate toward me, it made me want to do things his way, so
he started to consistently talk to me like that. Yes.
When I told him that I needed more physical love and tenderness
from our relationship, he honestly worked at providing that to
me when he would visit.
Finally, just in case it matters, he only seems
interested in moving to where I am if he can move in with me. I
have told him no. Good! -Cat
Dear Cat, Your man is beyond
simple bedroom fetish. He is into "the BDSM lifestyle,"
subcategory: Domination/Submission (D/s or D&S). This is broadly
considered the "mental" side of BDSM. There is an entire
community of individuals out there practicing "the lifestyle,"
which may or may not include verbal abuse. All acts
must be consensual. Non-consensual "play" is strictly forbidden.
I suggest you google these terms to learn more about this.
In psychiatry BDSM is considered
an impairment only when there is significant distress and
interferes with living, though the profession is leaning towards
classification of some sort of disease state.
In my view, Ven minimally has
narcissistic features - because it is otherwise impossible to
consistently set aside the self and focus on being the person
you want him to be - so that you will trust and love him to
ultimately give him complete control of you. He is not his
"genuine self" (whatever that is) because obtaining your
increasing love and trust is his objective. Your subjugation
makes him feel important. And, make no mistake, you are an
object to him. Who you are is much less important than is your
participation in the game. Over time, you come to accept more
and more because you do not want to lose this man who gives you
so much more than any ordinary man (i.e., healthier guy) would
or could. And you are insecure; his intensity feels good.
This is why you have been unable to break things off. The D/s
lifestyle provides a perfect venue for the narcissist,
especially the Dom. Anything may become acceptable down the
line: more women, watching you with other men, etc. Your
increasing willing subjugation is the unstated objective.
So, the question becomes, what do
you want? If you are looking for a healthier, more ordinary
relationship, you won't have it with Ven. The D/s relationships
however are very compelling, addictive, and intense. Think of it
as abuse via full consent where he is devoted to indulging you,
making you trust him and you are devoted to his happiness by
trusting him enough to eventually step beyond your comfort zone
since it pleases him. His requests of you over time are likely
to increase in intensity as the objective is your complete
subjugation, for which you are grateful. Perhaps the D/s
lifestyle is the highest level of codependence - i.e., loss of
Self. Perhaps the D/s lifestyle is also the highest level of
abuse in that is it about consensual control.
Life is about personal choice, so
look into this before you become more hooked - and it becomes
more difficult to get out. Think too about the impact of a
submissive mother on your son. In my opinion, you have simply
traded one abusive partner for another given the level of Ven's
immersion into the lifestyle.
Members of this community think
of themselves as perfectly normal - immersed in an alternative
lifestyle. There is lots of internal support within the
community. I think they are about as emotionally unhealthy as
any extremist who has found comfort within the bounds of a group
where conformity to group norms is so valued. This is because
the criterion I use to define health is connection with the
Self, that which is within: Being true to the Self.
These groups confuse being true to Self with worship
of/subjugation of Self to a false God, be that God a sexual
practice/lifestyle or some misconstrued religion or cult where
loyalty is measured by how well one can sacrifice Self to group
ideals (e.g., Muslim extreemists, Nazis, Moonies, etc.). Members
of these groups consider themselves normal and try to recruit
others to buy into their ideals. Of course those in the D/s
community don't go door to door recruiting, but nevertheless,
you are now being recruited.
Leaving this relationship, even
now, will require that you put your values and life goals ahead
of your emotional neediness. If this is not what you want, like
any other addiction, you must stop the drug in order to free
yourself. Of course, this is never easy. But it is do-able.
You can't post anymore, but you
can the posts, please
Very warmly yours, Dr. Irene