November 12, 2020 at 9:31 am #64471
This is my first post (sorry it is so long) – I would really appreciate your thoughts. Although only a romantic relationship fleetingly, I still believe your insights will help – I hope it is okay to post my story. S was never grandiose and he never insulted me, but our relationship was an anxiety-inducing rollercoaster that ended in pain and confusion.
Not long after we met, S told me that he had struggled with addiction in the past and had recently been to the USA for therapy for the lasting effects of Childhood Trauma. He also mentioned attending 12 Step Meetings and he seemed very earnest in his desire to heal. I respected his honesty. Our first date was in April 2019 – It was a lovely day and at the end he kissed me. We both expressed the wish to take things slowly and I felt very happy as I made my way home (we live quite far apart) – he sent me a sweet text.
The following day everything changed. On the phone that evening he ranted at me about the end of his marriage – it was upsetting and unnerving – he was very bitter and angry. He made an inappropriate comment and blamed me. He revealed that he had been promiscuous as a younger man and had been unfaithful in previous relationships. He seemed ashamed and full of self-loathing, and told me that he wasn’t ready for a relationship because he still needed to work on himself – that he really just needed a friend. I felt confused – he had bombarded me with texts and phone calls before we met, apparently very keen to start a relationship – now he had changed his mind completely. In the light of the new information about his past though, I accepted friendship as the best way forward. I should have walked away but his life sounded so miserable that it felt cruel to abandon him.
Friendship wasn’t always easy – suicidal ideation, secrecy, one-sided conversations focussing on his pain, crossing boundaries and flirting, sometimes sending lots of texts and sometimes leaving texts and phone calls unanswered without explanation or apology. Whenever I challenged his behaviour, his mental health was the justification for anything and everything. In the context of his suicidal ideation, I asked if we could have a symbol or emoji he would send when he didn’t feel like chatting – just to reassure me that he was safe. He repeatedly ignored that request. It was pretty miserable at times and caused me anxiety. I found myself writing heartfelt notes asking for understanding. Several times I walked away but he would always contact me and say “I want you in my life forever” – and I would try again. He was ever the victim. I spent hours reading about childhood trauma, anxiety and addiction, looking for ways to manage our friendship. By the start of this year, I had reduced the frequency of communication and begun using our shared love of art as a way of distracting him from difficult conversations. He had started taking new medication and seemed to be in a better place, less chaotic and anxious. I felt as though our friendship had become far more stable and manageable – at our best, we could really make each other laugh and we discussed lots of interesting things. He became reliable with communication too – we appeared to have turned a corner. I breathed a sigh of relief and started to daydream that one day a relationship might be possible – if only I had known what was coming next…
S was always trying new therapies to help manage the effects of his childhood trauma (never really committing to any particular one) and, earlier this year, he started seeing a therapist who offered Rhythmic Movement Training for Trauma. She was also a Homeopath and she seemed to quickly become a big influence in his life – conventional medicine was replaced by homeopathy and he quoted her in most conversations. We were in Lockdown in the UK by this time but she was visiting S at home (which wasn’t allowed here in order to try to stop the spread of the virus) I felt unnerved by her presence and S became increasingly emotionally dysregulated. He began to tell me he loved me during phone calls. One night he picked a fight with me during a phone call, I reacted and we began to argue. I asked him why he had started telling me he loved me (it seemed incompatible with the way he was behaving now) He told me he was also telling his therapist that he loved her. It was utterly bewildering- we were friends, why hadn’t he told me the truth about her? He had always described their relationship in professional terms. I walked away – I was tired of it all. Very soon photos began to appear on her Facebook page of them together. Almost ten weeks went by and then I received a WhatsApp message from him very early one morning. I said I didn’t feel I wanted to chat now that he was in a relationship – it just felt too awkward. He insisted he wasn’t in a relationship and called me. We had a nice chat until I thought I heard a woman’s voice in the background. He appeared to fumble with his phone and his tone changed. He made some uncomfortable innuendo about his motorbike and said he was often motivated by doing things his parents would disapprove of (he was always a man-child!) The phone call ended and I looked at his Facebook page – sure enough, there she is telling him he is marvellous, using heart emojis and they have matching profile pictures! Why get back in touch? Why lie? I feel like such an idiot. I invested time, emotion and energy in that friendship. I have no idea when their professional relationship became a personal one. She is online now offering Trauma Therapy. I have gone NC but it still hurts that he couldn’t tell me the truth. I wonder what else was untrue. I realise that many of you have endured long abusive relationships or marriages so I hope you don’t think it is inappropriate for me to reach out for advice. Take care.
- This topic was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by artyme.
November 13, 2020 at 1:33 am #64477
Hi Artyme, welcome here and I am sorry that happened to you.
The good news is you don’t have any practical ties to him. No romantic relationship, no marriage, no kids, no financial ties. So you are in the best position to go completely NC, which is the only way to heal from a bad person. And NC includes not looking him up on social media!
You must let him go completely and focus only on yourself now. Do some reading on abusive dynamics and red flags so you are educated for the future. And focus on positive things in your life like your hobbies and exercise and friends and family.
As a side note, as to male/female friendships in general (not specific to your case) I have a controversial opinion that I know others here disagree with. In my opinion men and women cannot be friends. Acquaintances or as part a bigger community friend group, sure, but not a close individual friendship.
My reason is that I strongly believe there is always attraction on at least one side. One side secretly wants something more than friendship, and they are just biding their time being friends while waiting and hoping for more. But that desire is unrequited. Because if both sides were equally attracted then they would be dating instead of just friends.
Again I know that others here disagree and that is totally fine. But in my opinion genuine male/female friendship is not possible and should not be pursued. If you like that person romantically you should make that clear, and if they reject you and say they “just want to be friends“ you should end it because that is not your genuine desire. And if you do not like that person romantically then you should ask yourself why they want to be friends with you. Because it is highly likely that they are secretly romantically interested and are using the friendship just as an excuse while hoping for more. By maintaining a friendship you would then just be feeding that false hope, which is not fair to them.
November 13, 2020 at 7:47 am #64479
Hi sept4, and thank you so much for replying. You are right – I am in an extremely fortunate position with no ties to him. I have actually deactivated my Facebook account – I was getting tired of it anyway, and now I can’t lose my resolve and snoop. I suppose the temptation is to look for clues to his behaviour but that only prolongs the agony – so difficult to stop ruminating though.
I have managed to sustain a platonic friendship with another man for the last 24 years – he has been a tower of strength during this situation. That is why I was prepared to risk a friendship with S. I can clearly see now that my other friend is healthy and stable – we have been sensitive to each other’s needs and vulnerabilities, and boundaries have never been crossed in our friendship. There has never been any misunderstanding or confusion. S, on the other hand, was disordered and our friendship was a disorientating rollercoaster. Once S briefly mentioned Borderline Personality Disorder – I think his definition of friendship was just fundamentally different to mine.
Writing my post on this site has helped me to feel a little more detached somehow. I will continue reading and learning and, hopefully, I will heal soon. Ideally he won’t attempt to contact me again this time. Take care
November 13, 2020 at 11:00 am #64480
Artyme, good I’m so glad you are feeling better and stronger!
Yes continue NC including social media. I know it’s hard to stop checking up on someone, I struggled with the same during my divorce. But once I did stop checking, my life became much more peaceful and enjoyable. Your life is about YOU now. No need to focus on him at all anymore except in the context of learning from your experience by educating yourself on personality disorders and red flags for the future.
I’ll say that any type of rollercoaster experience or intense up and down chemistry is bad news. It signals instability which will later lead to destruction. It’s much better to seek people who are stable emotionally, have no extreme mood swings, no drama or problems to upset your life and drain your energy, and no addictions. You simply don’t need those problems in your life. You can live a joyful peaceful happy positive life all on your own. And only allow someone in who adds to your joy and peace and positivity. Never someone who detracts from that.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by sept4.
November 13, 2020 at 7:06 pm #64483Donna AndersenKeymaster
artyme – I think it’s fair to say that the man is disordered. Everything you describe – from his hot and cold treatment of you, blaming everything on childhood trauma (is it true?), trying all the new therapies, suicidal ideation, to finally starting a relationship with his therapist (is she really a therapist? It’s totally unethical for her). All disordered behavior.
I am glad that you have implemented No Contact. Stick with it. The longer you are away from him, the more your head will clear.
We have lots of information here on Lovefraud that can help with your recovery. Feel free to look around.
November 14, 2020 at 4:43 am #64484
Sept4 – thank you, your reply really helped me to look at this situation a little differently and opened up an interesting conversation with my teenage daughters!! I think I felt that his mental health struggles shouldn’t be a barrier to friendship – that one should be accepting. After all, you wouldn’t deny someone friendship on the grounds of impaired physical health. What I failed to anticipate was the impact it would have on my peace of mind – especially since he was unwilling or unable to commit to therapy.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by artyme.
November 14, 2020 at 5:03 am #64486
Donna – thank you, I have already found the information and support on this site very helpful.
I am convinced that he is disordered – I believe that he is really unwell and capable of creating havoc in the lives of those who try to help him.
She is a complementary therapist – I have looked at her website and social media output. In this country I don’t think complementary medicine is very well regulated. His therapist may well be unaware that what she is doing is unethical – she might not even be aware that people with BPD (which I think he has) are prone to forming unhealthy attachments to their therapists, and she won’t have any training in how to deal with that. He can be very charming and seductive and that may have blinded her to the folly of forming a relationship with someone you are treating. I suspect he will damage her both personally and professionally and that is very sad.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by artyme.
November 14, 2020 at 12:05 pm #64488
Artyme yes I think that is a question of boundaries and everyone draws boundaries differently. Some people have a very high tolerance for the problems or drama of other people and others a very low tolerance.
For me personally in my own life I have a very low tolerance. I simply prefer to surround myself with healthy balanced happy people. I select people based on stability and mental health and moral integrity. I prefer to steer clear from anyone with personality disorders or addiction issues or other severe mental health issues.
For me this results in a very small circle of people I’m close to but they are healthy and balanced and generally happy and have moral integrity. None of them have personality disorders, or addictions, or severe mental health issues (other than normal situational anxiety or normal temporary reactions to external life events). I prefer quality over quantity and prefer to be close with a small circle of healthy stable people than a larger circle of problematic people.
So yes I do judge and select people on mental health and moral integrity. Now of course I would support a friend who develops temporary mental health issues in response to some external event. Say they lose a loved one and then experience grief and depression. Of course I would support them through that. But that is distinct from someone who has continual problems from the outset, or someone with personality disorders or addictions or any other continual drama. I just don’t want people like that in my life at all.
November 14, 2020 at 12:58 pm #64489
To add to my prior post, because boundaries are a very interesting topic to me and I was thinking this through further. (Again everyone sets boundaries differently and these are just my own opinions on boundaries I now set and strive for in my own life.)
To me there is a difference in setting boundaries with friends and romantic partners vs boundaries with family. Because you can choose your friends and romantic partners but you can’t choose your family. So as to friends and romantic partners, where you have the luxury of setting standards and boundaries in selecting those people up front, I prefer to set my standards and boundaries very high. No personality disorders, no addictions, no severe mental health issues, no drama or continual problems etc. I select for healthy happy normal stable people with good morals.
Now as to family, that is different because you cannot choose your family. You don’t have the luxury of setting standards and boundaries in the initial selection, because you can’t select family and you just get what you get. I’m very lucky in that my family actually is healthy and normal and stable and there are no addictions or severe mental health issues or disorders. However if that would not be the case I would still set boundaries and would even end a family relationship if their behavior is egregious enough.
For example if I had a close family member with severe personality disorders or addictions or otherwise abusive or bad behavior. I would invest a certain amount of time, energy and money into helping them. For example by offering empathy, advice, support, an intervention, taking them to counseling, taking them to an addiction program etc.
But if after some time there was no improvement or resolution, then I would distance myself. I would not continue to offer limitless support or resources like time and energy etc. I would set a boundary after some time and distance myself from them. And if their behavior is bad enough I would ultimately cut ties altogether until they are better.
I just don’t believe that we have any duty to continually invest resources (time, energy, money, attention etc) into trying to help another adult with disorders or addictions. They are adults and should be taking care of themselves. It’s not your duty to help and support someone who is not helping and supporting themselves.
So again with friends and romantic partners I prefer to just screen up front and not get involved at all with people with disorders or addictions or continual drama/problems. And with family I would offer support for a limited amount of time, but would eventually distance myself or cut ties altogether if they do not show improvement. Because they are adults and ultimately need to take care of themselves.
Sorry for the long posts but just wanted to write out my thoughts. Maybe more so for myself because this is a very interesting topic to me. My ex husband was severely disordered plus had severe addictions, so I went through a lot with him and learned the hard way. And after the divorce I have done a lot of work on myself to understand this unhealthy dynamic and understand how to set boundaries and standards to avoid this situation in the future.
November 14, 2020 at 7:47 pm #64490
Dear sept4, thank you for replying and please don’t apologise for the length of your posts – I have found them very thought-provoking and helpful. My mum struggled all her life with anxiety and depression and I assumed that S had similar problems when we first met. I had no experience of personality disorders. Mum took medication and engaged with other therapies when necessary, and I supported and encouraged her. With S, there was no sustained commitment to therapy or medication and no willingness to discuss his problems in a constructive way – just endless self-pity. I realise now that I need more secure boundaries and I appreciate you sharing your experience – that is exactly what I hoped to find here. Thank you
November 21, 2020 at 4:29 pm #64529
How are you feeling now Artyme? Hope you are doing better.
November 21, 2020 at 6:20 pm #64530
Hi sept4, thank you so much for asking how I am feeling – that is very thoughtful. Generally, I would say I am doing quite well. I have begun a new project and I am connecting with friends to distract myself. I treated myself to some nice new books and I have also been educating myself about personality disorders.
The main thing I find myself ruminating about is his apparent change of personality/character – sometimes it feels as though the person I knew didn’t really exist (if that makes sense?) I find it disorientating and I worry about my judgement. I knew that he had been a petrol head and a womaniser in the past but he had suffered some sort of crisis, given those things up and travelled to the US for therapy. When I met him, he had sold his motorbikes and bought a sedate canal boat, was volunteering in a charity shop and a cat sanctuary, going to church and watching romantic films. He seemed very anxious – particularly regarding relationships. He cried when I gave him a piece of my artwork.
From what I discovered the last couple of times I spoke to him and from social media (before I deactivated my account), since he began his relationship with his therapist, he has bought a new motorbike and is watching violent films. He is incredibly sweary on the phone and in posts. The volunteering has stopped, as has his attendance at church. Actually, there are far too many differences to mention here. He now appears to be someone I would never choose to be friends with. It is as though the S I knew never really existed. Did you experience anything similar in your situation?
November 21, 2020 at 6:54 pm #64532
Artyme so glad you are feeling better! Keep it up with the self care, that is excellent!
Yes we have all experienced this apparent personality change in the sociopaths in our lives. They go from charming and charismatic men who flood you with attention and love and gifts to awful lying cheating manipulators who don’t care about you at all.
These two different personalities are inconsistent and therefor they cause a psychological effect called “cognitive dissonance.” Cognitive dissonance is two conflicting views of reality and it is something that the human mind cannot handle. So that causes confusion and disorientation because our mind cannot reconcile the conflicting views.
The way to reconcile these conflicting views and to resolve the cognitive dissonance is to realize that the initial personality that they presented was fake. It was a fraud, a con, a mask, a facade. They have to fake being that wonderful person because otherwise they could never reel in their victims. If he had presented to you initially as his true self, you would have never given him the time of day. So these ugly personalities have to present with a fake mask to cover up their true self.
It is similar to a con man swindling people out of their life savings. A con man would initially have to present as a very trustworthy, charming, competent, confident financial advisor that you would trust with your money. They can’t tell their victims from the start that they are untrustworthy crooks, because then nobody would invest with them.
So these sociopaths swindle people by presenting initially as charming charismatic wonderful loving people. But sadly it is all fake. Their real personality is the one you see at the end of the relationship. When the mask comes off.
November 21, 2020 at 7:32 pm #64533
Hi sept4, the odd thing is that he didn’t just present this other face to me. He actually became another person – changing his lifestyle completely and then back again over the course of eighteen months. You could even see it happen in his social media posts – from petrol head to gentle soul and back again. You can sense confusion in his other friend’s comments. He didn’t present himself to me as wonderful, rather as someone who had reached a crisis and was trying to recover. It is so odd.
November 21, 2020 at 8:15 pm #64534
Thank you sept4 – I was just lying here in bed (it is very late here in the UK) mulling over my reply to your last comment and I suddenly realised that everyone who knows him has witnessed this change. The last time I looked at Facebook, he had gradually gone from having profile photos of his cats and his boat – to the current one which is a gun pointing out at the viewer (quite a disturbing image) I had taken his behaviour very personally and it had caused me to lose confidence and question my judgement – but it wasn’t my fault and others witnessed it too. It seems to me that his lying became worse as he morphed back into the creature he is now.
November 25, 2020 at 3:56 pm #64556
Hi Artyme, it could also be drugs changing his behavior. My ex’s behavior got progressively worse as his addictions deepened (cocaine and alcohol).
It’s such a dark and awful world. I never want any connection to that world ever again. I don’t even care to parse out which behavior came from his personality disorders and which from his addictions. It’s just all a huge ugly toxic mess. And I want nothing to do with any of that.
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