What follows is an
abbreviated version of an advice request sent to
"I met this
guy at work. Our first conversation he told me his life story. Something
attracted me to him almost instantly. Been there, done that, I
know! But I wasn't paying attention, and let him take me out.
We had wonderful times, dinner, dancing. He complimented me on
almost everything. We had a wonderful romance, unlike anything I
had experienced. I know, been there too! He asked me to
marry him one night. It felt so perfect. I had had so many
bad relationships with verbally abusive or controlling men, I thought I
certainly wouldn't be stupid enough not to see everything. He
begged me to move in with him, said he was buying me a carat diamond and
it would be ready soon. I moved in.
proverbial poo poo immediately hit the fan. None of my things ever
stayed on display! He shoved a very expensive goose down comforter
that I use every night in the back of a closet. He put away things I'd
set down for just a minute. He started saying I was too focused on my
career. He said I was distant sometimes and I shut him out.
Then he said "the world doesn't revolve around you." He said I
was selfish and inconsiderate. He accused me of having mood swings
and yelled "I'm not going to put up with it!" I cried, but the
next day I packed my stuff and left, back to my apartment.
cried, said he had behaved badly and would not do it again. I fell
in love with this man, had wanted to marry him. I moved back in.
One week later, I moved back out. Did I learn my lesson at this
point? No, but I didn't move back in with him. I told him
that I wasn't going to move right back in, but that I still wanted
him. He began a rampage of verbal assault - for two weeks.
He knew about my past and used it, out of context, to justify his
behavior. There were many other episodes but you get the picture.
phone one night I calmly told him, "I will not be judged by you
this way, and whatever is in my past I survived it and made a better
future for myself. I happen to like where I'm at." He blew
up. I told him to leave me alone and go his way. He started
calling me a control freak, etc., etc.
with my love life? I'm very attractive, educated, enjoy many
things. I am focused and self-disciplined, however and every man
I've been with has resented me for it and made it seem like a fault.
Every man I've ever been with has said I don't love him enough and that
I'm selfish for wanting what I want. They have all verbally
attacked me at one time or another. I am wondering if strong women
attract verbal abusers too. But now, my problem is that I feel
terrible. I feel so NOT good about myself, so doubting of myself.
How do I run into these guys time after time?"
No, you are not
cursed; just somewhat codependent. You are complaining of a very, very
common scenario. Nice girl meets controlling guy. (Or, nice guy meets
controlling gal.) Your problem is so common in fact, that I may end up
publishing this as an article rather than an email advice piece! Look
for it... Either way, your details will be kept confidential. Here goes:
This person will
wine and dine you; they will tell you they love you. You have met the perfect
person, and you think you are in Heaven... But watch it, you are really
on the doorstep of Hell.
You have hooked up
with an individual who is in pain and who is looking for somebody to
take their pain away. The objective: take care of me; love me; take
away all my hurts - because that is your job. I don't have to worry
about your emotions because this is all about me. Everybody else has
messed up caring for me, so you'd better not - otherwise I'll hate you!
It has never occurred to this person that it is their job to take care
of themselves. Not a problem for the nice guy or gal, who is loving and
giving, and really wants to take care of somebody they care about.
attractive, accomplished, apparently confident people - with just a hint
of low self-esteem - are vulnerable. Because your caring traits are a
virtual life-force for them, your ability to give is priceless. They
will do anything it takes to win you over. Anybody who is even mildly low
on the self-esteem scale is vulnerable.
So, if you think he
(or she) is too good to be true, trust your instincts! A normal person
is not so persistent, so involved, so flattering, so quick to fall in
"love" with you. Also, watch what happens when you reciprocate
emotionally: they find some reason to push you away! Your guy stuffed
your comforter into the closet. Another may be cool and distant the
morning after a passionate night.
This kind of
"push and pull" or "on and off" behavior is
characteristic of the controller, since they cannot really allow you too
close. They think you have the power to destroy them - as well as to
save them. You need to be kept at a comfortable distance. A normal
person, who can take care of themselves emotionally, doesn't go here...
There is not as much fear of closeness...
The fix: Trust your
instincts more. Exercise more self-control. If something seems too good
to be true, don't be too quick to trust it. At the first hint of
controlling or abusive behavior, back off. Better yet, get out.
You have work to
do. You are frightened of closeness yourself...
Advice: You deserve
what you give. Find another giver and have a nice life.