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Vanilli

'Nice' guys who are manipulative (is manipulation abuse?)

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Vanilli

Hey everyone, 

 

After leaving my very abusive ex, who would say hurtful and unkind things. I was vulnerable and started 'dating' a guy who seemed a really sweet and nice guy. The thing is is that he was very manipulative. My best friend hates this guy and says he was worse than my overtly abusive ex because he was 'weasel' and pretended to be nice. To me, he was very nice, like he was kind and gentle. But, he did manipulate ALOT. Like I told him I never wanted to be in a relationship and after a couple of weeks he took me out for dinner, and then after we went back to his and were spending some time kissing, he then asked me to be his girlfriend and I felt kind of pressurised based on the situation. Throughout our relationship he'd always say things like "I've never been in a happier relationship", "I'd be so gutted if you ever left me" and he'd make sarcastic jokes and put downs when we were in front of other people, like little things that would make me feel bad or criticised but he was always very nice to me otherwise (I pointed this out and tried to break up with him about it but he seemed so fragile when I tried to do it, when I pointed out the critical thing, he stopped for a few weeks but then went back to his 'jokey put downs'). It's just hard because I always felt like he was nice but then people point out to me that he was manipulative. He went away on travels and I said I was thinking about dating other people and he said "you can do what you want but I'd be totally gutted". And before he came back, I told him I didn't want to be with him, I became closer to another guy (but made sure nothing develop romantically and limited that relationship because I wanted to talk to my ex about breaking up properly when he came back). While my ex was away, I told him I didn't really want to be together when he came back.

 

When he came back, he 'surprised' me on my Birthday and acted like everything was the same. I know it was weak and unassertive on my part not to speak my mind, but it was my Birthday and I felt super uncomfortable. We continued kind of seeing each other for a couple of months because I felt really trapped, I felt so, so guilty that I might hurt his feelings by breaking up with him, I would say I needed to talk to him and he would tell me that I was being 'really ominous' and kept saying how happy he was with me and would be so upset if I ever left. When I finally did break up with him, he sent me multiple 'love letters' (which my housemate told me were manipulative) and would ask to take me out for dinner. He then got upset with me and sent me a message saying "If I never contacted you, I feel like you'd never want to speak to me again" (well we are exes...). I was also a bit confused because I wasn't sure if I could go on to like the other guy I had been talking to why he was away (I never did anything inappropriate but I still feel plagued with guilt because I went on to have romantic feelings/briefy date this other guy later - towards the end of my 'relationship' with the manipulative guy this other guy told me that the few dates he went on with another girl didn't work out as she'd just come out of a bad relationship. For some reason that felt kind of awkward to me and I wasn't sure why, then I realise maybe I had a slight crush on him and went on to properly severe ties with the manipulative guy. Even though i never flirted/share anything intimate with this second guy, I have been super plagued by guilt because I realised that in the last couple of weeks I must have started to crush on him and i should have done more to try and prohibit that or just stop talking to him. I can't stop beating myself up for it - even though it's been a good two years or so since I parted ways with the manipulative guy. I feel so sad because I try to be 'good' and kind and i feel so sad that I have this area where I didn't act totally as I should, I'm struggling to forgive myself and beat myself up everyday). 

 

I also told the manipulative guy that I was abused by my step dad and he once said "if that happened to someone you'd look at the differently" (which upset me because I felt like he KNEW my history) - he later said that he never remembers saying that, 'not saying you are lying or anything' which I just felt like was a way to not take responsibility for it. I'm kind of struggling with this because I think he is a nice guy and everyone who knows him does too, I want to believe the best in him but I can't help but feel angry at him for the manipulation and disregard for my feelings so he could get what he wants, like I struggle because I feel like I'm quite empathic and didn't want to hurt him by leaving. I also think I have low self esteem and struggle to be assertive, I felt really weak having just come out of an abusive relationship. 

I contrast this to my VERY recent boyfriend, who is very kind. He never does anything manipulative, he says he just wants me to be happy (exactly like this slightly manipulative guy) but he actually follows through. Like I see him go out of his way to consider what makes me happy (and not just think about what he wants and on his terms, which is kind of like ex - like even to the point where if he wanted to hang out with his friends while I was there, he wouldn't consult me, he'd just invite them over, or he'd pick a TV show he wanted us to watch). I told my current BF I wanted to go and move somewhere for a new job, and I asked him how he felt. And he laughed and said "you're not my property, I just want you to be happy" and he encouraged me to go and do it. He put my happiness first. Like surely that is what 'love' is? It's being kind and considerate. And we both do that for each other everyday (while I can't be with him because we are incompatible for other reasons, it was just like never I'd felt before, someone who genuinely cared about me and my wellbeing - most other people in life never really have).

I just don't know. My friends say this guy was manipulative and I agree and I feel mad for that , but I remember lots of kind stuff too - I think he is good but maybe just misguided. But then maybe that's what I used to say about my abuser. Does manipulation automatically equal abuse? I just thought I knew what abuse was. And now i'm reconsidering that maybe abuse can come in lots of different forms, and I feel sad. I don't think this person ever met to be hurtful, maybe he just felt weak and powerless. He would never say anything as horrible and traumatic and cruel as my ex abuser did. But sometimes it's hard to tell. Can anyone relate? He's such a 'nice guy' everyone always said and I felt that way too. It just makes me feel a bit crazy, am I being rational or am I just seeing things/making things up/trying to feel better? Does anyone relate? Please advise? 

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Bennu

I think that the nice manipulative guy was just a better abuser than the other one. A good abuser seems nice while he is manipulating you to serve his needs. Most successful abusers at least start out that way. Mine was very good. Later you see how they are entitled and manipulate to get what they think they deserve. And they think that they deserve everything while you deserve nothing.

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Vanilli
Just now, Bennu said:

I think that the nice manipulative guy was just a better abuser than the other one. A good abuser seems nice while he is manipulating you to serve his needs. Most successful abusers at least start out that way. Mine was very good. Later you see how they are entitled and manipulate to get what they think they deserve. And they think that they deserve everything while you deserve nothing.

Thank you for your reply Bennu, it makes me sad to hear but I think that makes sense to me. Abuse does seem to be anything in which you give up someone else's happiness/exploit them for your own wellbeing. 

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Quaddie
3 hours ago, Vanilli said:

I felt really trapped, I felt so, so guilty that I might hurt his feelings by breaking up with him, I would say I needed to talk to him and he would tell me that I was being 'really ominous' and kept saying how happy he was with me and would be so upset if I ever left.

I only got this far before needing to quote this as being very telling. Totally manipulative. And yes, abuse is about control and manipulation - so yes, it's abuse. It can come wrapped in a soft shell or a razored armor, but it's all abuse.

3 hours ago, Vanilli said:

I have been super plagued by guilt because I realised that in the last couple of weeks I must have started to crush on him and i should have done more to try and prohibit that or just stop talking to him

i feel so sad that I have this area where I didn't act totally as I should, I'm struggling to forgive myself and beat myself up everyday

I mean - you're human. This was all totally natural and no reason to feel plagued by guilt. Nothing even happened "wrong" so you are kicking yourself just for a feeling. Does that sound like you are being kind to yourself? Are you supposed to be some sort of "perfect" super-human? Maybe try thinking about what standards of perfection you hold yourself to, and how reasonable and normal they are, and whether you are not allowing yourself to be just a normal human.

3 hours ago, Vanilli said:

I also told the manipulative guy that I was abused by my step dad and he once said "if that happened to someone you'd look at the differently" (which upset me because I felt like he KNEW my history) - he later said that he never remembers saying that, 'not saying you are lying or anything' which I just felt like was a way to not take responsibility for it. I'm kind of struggling with this because I think he is a nice guy

Someone who says these things is NOT a "nice guy." He may appear to be soft and kind, but inwardly he's not nice. I think separating what someone seems like on the outside and what they are showing of their inner selves is super-important. Manipulators very, very often have a false face. Almost always. My abusive ex-h seemed like the most passive person you'd ever, ever in your life meet - yet the relationship was very emotionally (and financially and otherwise) abusive. These are almost the worst because it's covert and more difficult to pinpoint and believe. So if your definition of a "nice guy" is that someone would say very awful things like this - who would manipulate you by guilt (oh he found that hot button for you, didn't he? It worked for him, and he used it and used it and used it when you tried to break up with him... He used guilt to manipulate you)... someone who would totally disrespect your wishes by refusing to leave you alone when you'd broken up with him? None of that is "nice guy." It doesn't matter if they seem kind or soft. 

Also, EVERYONE has the right to break up with anyone, for any reason. Guilting someone into not breaking up with you because it makes them feel bad ....  well c'mon.... think about it... If nobody ever broke up with anyone because breaking up is "wrong" because it hurts the other person's feelings, then nobody would ever break up with anyone, and everyone would just be stuck with the first person they went out with. People break up, it always hurts someone, and it's just normal life. So guilting someone into not breaking up with you because it hurts your feelings is extremely manipulative and extremely unhealthy, too. I mean, also think about this: if someone wants to break up with you, but they don't just because they don't want to hurt your feelings - what does that leave you with? That'd leave you in a relationship with someone who doesn't really want to be with you. Who wants that? Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who didn't want you? Nope, right? Because that's super-unhealthy and messed-up. So I think that, too, is an indication of just how messed-up he was.

3 hours ago, Vanilli said:

Like surely that is what 'love' is? It's being kind and considerate.

Yes, that's a great example of mature consideration and caring for the other person.

Anyway, you're not making things up or being irrational. Abuse has countless faces and presentations. It can look like violence and anger, or it can look like soft whispers that gently say, "Are you sure you want to go out looking like that? I don't want you to feel embarrassed."  (I'm remembering a former member whose partner abused by "loving, kind" whispers and soft suggestions.   Manipulation = abuse. Abuse is about control, no matter what package it comes in. 

I've experienced many different forms of abuse. They all come in different wrappings, but the driving force underneath is all the same: control.

 

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Vanilli
On 5/13/2018 at 8:34 PM, Quaddie said:

I only got this far before needing to quote this as being very telling. Totally manipulative. And yes, abuse is about control and manipulation - so yes, it's abuse. It can come wrapped in a soft shell or a razored armor, but it's all abuse.

I mean - you're human. This was all totally natural and no reason to feel plagued by guilt. Nothing even happened "wrong" so you are kicking yourself just for a feeling. Does that sound like you are being kind to yourself? Are you supposed to be some sort of "perfect" super-human? Maybe try thinking about what standards of perfection you hold yourself to, and how reasonable and normal they are, and whether you are not allowing yourself to be just a normal human.

Someone who says these things is NOT a "nice guy." He may appear to be soft and kind, but inwardly he's not nice. I think separating what someone seems like on the outside and what they are showing of their inner selves is super-important. Manipulators very, very often have a false face. Almost always. My abusive ex-h seemed like the most passive person you'd ever, ever in your life meet - yet the relationship was very emotionally (and financially and otherwise) abusive. These are almost the worst because it's covert and more difficult to pinpoint and believe. So if your definition of a "nice guy" is that someone would say very awful things like this - who would manipulate you by guilt (oh he found that hot button for you, didn't he? It worked for him, and he used it and used it and used it when you tried to break up with him... He used guilt to manipulate you)... someone who would totally disrespect your wishes by refusing to leave you alone when you'd broken up with him? None of that is "nice guy." It doesn't matter if they seem kind or soft. 

Also, EVERYONE has the right to break up with anyone, for any reason. Guilting someone into not breaking up with you because it makes them feel bad ....  well c'mon.... think about it... If nobody ever broke up with anyone because breaking up is "wrong" because it hurts the other person's feelings, then nobody would ever break up with anyone, and everyone would just be stuck with the first person they went out with. People break up, it always hurts someone, and it's just normal life. So guilting someone into not breaking up with you because it hurts your feelings is extremely manipulative and extremely unhealthy, too. I mean, also think about this: if someone wants to break up with you, but they don't just because they don't want to hurt your feelings - what does that leave you with? That'd leave you in a relationship with someone who doesn't really want to be with you. Who wants that? Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who didn't want you? Nope, right? Because that's super-unhealthy and messed-up. So I think that, too, is an indication of just how messed-up he was.

Yes, that's a great example of mature consideration and caring for the other person.

Anyway, you're not making things up or being irrational. Abuse has countless faces and presentations. It can look like violence and anger, or it can look like soft whispers that gently say, "Are you sure you want to go out looking like that? I don't want you to feel embarrassed."  (I'm remembering a former member whose partner abused by "loving, kind" whispers and soft suggestions.   Manipulation = abuse. Abuse is about control, no matter what package it comes in. 

I've experienced many different forms of abuse. They all come in different wrappings, but the driving force underneath is all the same: control.

 

Thanks so much for your wise sage advice Quaddie :). Your wisdom has really helped me think on things. I guess to me by ex was so cruelly and traumatically abusive that sometimes it's hard for me to label other 'abusive' or 'manipulative' behaviours as what they are. I guess you are so right, there are all kinds of abusive behaviour and it sits on a spectrum - it's not just the overtly cruel and sociopathic kind that my ex seemed to be. I think you're also right that I definitely hold myself to a very high moral standard and beat myself up a lot, I know it's not healthy even if a part of me feels I deserve it - thank you for your kind words on that. 

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Fluffyflea

He sounds exactly like my ex. Nice guy sweet and loving couldn't ask for someone better in fact leave you wondering why is this nice guy single.

A couple years down the road you find out, because he's a MONSTER!

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Bennu

I agree, but I don't understand how it can take so long!

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Fluffyflea

Me, it took so long because he was a trucker running back and forth to Arizona to see " supposedly" his son and ex wife.

So he could leave and come back. If he had been here all the time it would have been shorter.

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Vanilli

It is strange the many masks they wear to get what they want with no regard to us! 

I just found an old 'love letter' (bleh) he sent me after we broke up. Saying about how he didn't use to say how much he loved me or kiss me much when we were together because he didn't understand how someone like me was with someone like him, when I could be with anyone (hello guilt trip?! pity party, table for one...). He said he couldn't accept that we wouldn't be together and he'd always hold out hope we'd get back together because he needed to 'live his life with no regrets'. And then he started go on about how because my last ex was abusive and angry that maybe i wasn't used to being loved (like it's my fault?!). He also said that he didn't spend much money on me (wtf like I'm being sensitive - or making me think that I'm caring too much about materialistic things, which I didn't at all) because he was broke and 'just so happy to be with me' (which you showed through showing me no affection, support or intimacy at all!) - when in reality I was the one paying for all of this stuff because he was broke.  I just can't believe someone would have such disregard for my wishes and feelings, it's pretty gross - like what is wrong with people? And I never even agreed to be with him when he came back, he just assumed/pressurised/manipulated me into it.  

 

Thanks for indulging my rants everybody <3 

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Quaddie

 

33 minutes ago, Vanilli said:

And then he started go on about how because my last ex was abusive and angry that maybe i wasn't used to being loved (like it's my fault?!).


Ick!!!   That reminds me of a recent-ish workplace situation. My director telling me "I just couldn't take a compliment" like it was my fault I wasn't falling over myself in happiness for a back-handed condescending patronizing "praise" she made about a very low-level, simple task I'd done - when she completely ignored all my higher-level contributions. After I'd told her she hadn't given me any positive input and I wasn't even sure if she even wanted me to do that job. That was her way of turning it around onto it being "my bad." Oh and she did it in front of someone else, too - to align with this characterization she'd built about "who I was"  (a mousy, neurotic mentally-ill bad-attitude low-level worker who was ridiculous to think she was highly experienced and competent) and, at the same time, retroactively justify her criticism of my so-called inability to "take a compliment" by delivering a very covert back-handed compliment  - and then look like she was all "nice" and "caring" and that she knew the inside my head better than *I* did and ...   well, you get it. 

Bah. I hate them. All.

 

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Vanilli
7 minutes ago, Quaddie said:

 


Ick!!!   That reminds me of a recent-ish workplace situation. My director telling me "I just couldn't take a compliment" like it was my fault I wasn't falling over myself in happiness for a back-handed condescending patronizing "praise" she made about a very low-level, simple task I'd done - when she completely ignored all my higher-level contributions. After I'd told her she hadn't given me any positive input and I wasn't even sure if she even wanted me to do that job. That was her way of turning it around onto it being "my bad." Oh and she did it in front of someone else, too - to align with this characterization she'd built about "who I was"  (a mousy, neurotic mentally-ill bad-attitude low-level worker who was ridiculous to think she was highly experienced and competent) and, at the same time, retroactively justify her criticism of my so-called inability to "take a compliment" by delivering a very covert back-handed compliment  - and then look like she was all "nice" and "caring" and that she knew the inside my head better than *I* did and ...   well, you get it. 

Bah. I hate them. All.

 

Ugh, I am so sorry - that is horrible! Really nasty! Bosses can be the worst, they expect you to be thankful for every crumb of basic human respect they dish out... or what they see that is, which is really quite the opposite - as you note. I'm really sorry Quaddie that you have to deal with such total assholes all the time! Your life sounds exhausting xx! 

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Vanilli
On 5/13/2018 at 7:34 PM, Quaddie said:

I mean - you're human. This was all totally natural and no reason to feel plagued by guilt. Nothing even happened "wrong" so you are kicking yourself just for a feeling. Does that sound like you are being kind to yourself? Are you supposed to be some sort of "perfect" super-human? Maybe try thinking about what standards of perfection you hold yourself to, and how reasonable and normal they are, and whether you are not allowing yourself to be just a normal human.

The fact that I was talking to my friend and enjoying his company and developed a crush towards the end of dating this abuser (/thought maybe I could go on to date him before this other guy came back - surely that means there was something dodgy happening :/ I don't know) makes me feel like it was emotionally cheating and makes me feel awful. I guess I put a wall up, and made sure I was never flirty or shared anything intimate because in case it may end in me developing feelings, but I still feel bloody awful about it a lot. I guess I'm trying to get to grips with the fact that we don't owe abusers anything, like they do this to us - they harm us, they manipulative us and they don't care for our feelings: it makes my heart hurt that people can be so unfeeling, yet we are always left feeling like we are the bad ones :(. And you feel even more like the bad one (or just flat out crazy) if they abuser is someone everyone thinks is a nice guy (:sick:). Thanks for listening everyone, anyway. I'm feeling a lot of empathy for everyone on the board right now, abuse just sucks in whatever it's form :(:wub:

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Quaddie

You were not in a loving, caring relationship. The "normal" rules simply don't apply. 

When you're in an abusive relationship, being treated with kindess, caring, understanding from anybody can be an extremely strong emotional experience. Heck, it was a stranger on the street that was one of my pivotal moments in getting out. And other things, too.

A "relationship" with an abuser is not a relationship. They cannot meet your needs - they don't even care about your needs. It's all about theirs.

You didn't do anything wrong. Having caring feelings about someone else who seems to care about you when you are in a desert of lack of caring is not "emotionally cheating." It's normal and survival. 

An abusive relationship causes neglect of your emotional needs. Especially because of this neglect, it's normal to react the way you did. The abuse caused the neglect and you didn't do anything wrong. Might as well beat yourself up for having "impure thoughts" or a dream or something. Truly...  you didn't do anything wrong. Because it "feels" that way might speak more to conditioning from abuse or other factors that insisted and trained you that this was some sort of mortal sin, than actual wrongdoing.

If you haven't already, maybe this is a good topic to take to a counselor to work through. Because your guilt and bad feelings are harmful to you, and isn't deserved, and is way out of proportion to the situation. You're beating yourself up for naught. It's like a form of self-harm, to be frank. You are human. 

The fact that you were talking to your friend and enjoying his company is a good thing. It's a good thing to talk to people and enjoy their company. If you considered dating him - well, that's entirely normal, too. If I'm understanding correctly, you weren't married to the abuser. People find other people they like while still dating someone else, all the time. it happens. People break up, all the time. It's normal. It's a good thing to find someone you can talk to and enjoy their company and consider dating. That it happened while you were still with an abuser - well, already you were unhappy in the relationship - and again, this is just something that happens to people, all the time. And then they break up with the wrong guy. (Which you did.)  The timing means nothing. It doesn't mean you were a h3llish sinner justifying mortal shame. It's just normal. 

Your ex was abusive, and your talking to a guy you liked didn't create or change that. It didn't doom your current relationship, which was already doomed by virtue of the fact he was abusive and just not the right guy. The extent and depth of the feelings you have about what you think you did wrong is really something to think about seeking direct assistance with, because they are very harmful to you and you don't deserve to feel that way. 

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Vanilli
17 hours ago, Quaddie said:

You were not in a loving, caring relationship. The "normal" rules simply don't apply. 

When you're in an abusive relationship, being treated with kindess, caring, understanding from anybody can be an extremely strong emotional experience. Heck, it was a stranger on the street that was one of my pivotal moments in getting out. And other things, too.

A "relationship" with an abuser is not a relationship. They cannot meet your needs - they don't even care about your needs. It's all about theirs.

You didn't do anything wrong. Having caring feelings about someone else who seems to care about you when you are in a desert of lack of caring is not "emotionally cheating." It's normal and survival. 

An abusive relationship causes neglect of your emotional needs. Especially because of this neglect, it's normal to react the way you did. The abuse caused the neglect and you didn't do anything wrong. Might as well beat yourself up for having "impure thoughts" or a dream or something. Truly...  you didn't do anything wrong. Because it "feels" that way might speak more to conditioning from abuse or other factors that insisted and trained you that this was some sort of mortal sin, than actual wrongdoing.

If you haven't already, maybe this is a good topic to take to a counselor to work through. Because your guilt and bad feelings are harmful to you, and isn't deserved, and is way out of proportion to the situation. You're beating yourself up for naught. It's like a form of self-harm, to be frank. You are human. 

The fact that you were talking to your friend and enjoying his company is a good thing. It's a good thing to talk to people and enjoy their company. If you considered dating him - well, that's entirely normal, too. If I'm understanding correctly, you weren't married to the abuser. People find other people they like while still dating someone else, all the time. it happens. People break up, all the time. It's normal. It's a good thing to find someone you can talk to and enjoy their company and consider dating. That it happened while you were still with an abuser - well, already you were unhappy in the relationship - and again, this is just something that happens to people, all the time. And then they break up with the wrong guy. (Which you did.)  The timing means nothing. It doesn't mean you were a h3llish sinner justifying mortal shame. It's just normal. 

Your ex was abusive, and your talking to a guy you liked didn't create or change that. It didn't doom your current relationship, which was already doomed by virtue of the fact he was abusive and just not the right guy. The extent and depth of the feelings you have about what you think you did wrong is really something to think about seeking direct assistance with, because they are very harmful to you and you don't deserve to feel that way. 

Thank you so much for your words of insight Quaddie, they really mean a lot to me and have helped a lot. I am trying to work through the guilty feelings and I'm slowly learning over time that as you point out - my guilt is disproportionate to what HE did and I also didn't do much 'wrong', and hopefully can see a counsellor soon :). Thank you Quaddie! 

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Quaddie

So it also concerns me that you mentioned that you try to erect very strict boundaries so that you don't get feelings for someone. That might be something also to bring to your counselor. Because although it's normal to have discretion, it's not - in my very unprofessional opinion ;) - a reasonable expectation of yourself to wall yourself off in interactions in case you might get feelings for someone. That sounds to me like it speaks to some deeper fear. So it's all interconnected. And then I suppose taking all these precautions of trying to wall yourself off and still being "unsuccessful" in not personally interacting with someone feels like some sort of deep horrible failure on your part. The guilt and shame you put upon yourself for what is just normal and human is self-damaging. 

Also, I'd guess it might be good to learn more about boundaries - what are healthy and appropriate, what are not - so that you can feel better about sharing yourself and to what degree..... as well as learning what is not okay from the standpoint of when an abuser (or anyone) doesn't respect your boundaries. 

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Fluffyflea

As time goes by I see things about the Evil One and how manipulative he was. He used to manipulate with absolutely everything, it was like a card game, he would take note of something I liked and when he wanted something for HIMSELF he would use that card to make it look like he was being caring towards me but was really thinking of himself.

Give a Narcissist a pool for self reflection and all is right in their world and that "pool" is any human being that is taking care of their very many and selfish needs.

Even sex while they are fulfilling your needs is a self reflecting pool for the Narcissist because it is aaaaaalllllllllllll about them.

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Quaddie

That's true.

And vanilli, have you - for yourself - dissected the actual guilt? Why it's there, at its basis? Not just because you felt like you did "wrong" (that's the "on its face" level) - but deeper than that. Take it apart to its most basic elements. What was the effect of the "wrong" that sends you into such shame?

Is it, for example, that you feel like you weren't fully "justified" in ending the relationship with the abuser because you didn't feel like your hands were entirely clean, therefore you didn't "deserve" to end the bad relationship? 

Because I think it's not the obvious "I think I did something wrong and therefore I have this overwhelming guilt." The "something wrong" doesn't live in a vacuum, in the head. It's the "...and therefore..." parts that, I think, really are what causes that shame.

And if it's truly that you feel such damaging pain from just doing anything that you might judge yourself so harshly as "wrong" for, then that deserves looking deeply into, too.

I don't mean for you to tell us here, but just to think about for yourself. What's at the true basis of the feelings of shame and guilt? Pick it apart. Look hard at it. Disassemble it. See if you can learn its root, and then address it. 
 

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Vanilli
On 7/5/2018 at 6:17 PM, Quaddie said:

So it also concerns me that you mentioned that you try to erect very strict boundaries so that you don't get feelings for someone. That might be something also to bring to your counselor. Because although it's normal to have discretion, it's not - in my very unprofessional opinion ;) - a reasonable expectation of yourself to wall yourself off in interactions in case you might get feelings for someone. That sounds to me like it speaks to some deeper fear. So it's all interconnected. And then I suppose taking all these precautions of trying to wall yourself off and still being "unsuccessful" in not personally interacting with someone feels like some sort of deep horrible failure on your part. The guilt and shame you put upon yourself for what is just normal and human is self-damaging. 

Also, I'd guess it might be good to learn more about boundaries - what are healthy and appropriate, what are not - so that you can feel better about sharing yourself and to what degree..... as well as learning what is not okay from the standpoint of when an abuser (or anyone) doesn't respect your boundaries. 

Thanks Quaddie. I actually shared your perceptions in an (SLAA) AA meeting (I go for relationship/'love' addiction). Group is great because we all just share and no one offers advice or opinions, so i got to share your words and my thoughts on myself. And I realise that for me it's all about control, I need to be in control of my feeling and my behaviour and my MORALITY (air quote - what the hell even is that?!). In my world where I have experienced so much pain and trauma from others, I feel like keeping control of myself and beating myself up on moral issues is a way I can find some sense of CONTROL in an out of control world but I think you are right in that I am not allowing myself to be human. 

 

In addition, it might span back to my thoughts on infidelity in general. My dad had an affair and left the family when I was a child. I know in hindsight that my mum is and was emotionally abuse. I forgive, but then there's always been this idea that 'cheating' or 'affairs' are like this utterly horrible sin. I know real life is more nuanced than that and I try to look at everyone kindly who does has affairs (bar people who are calculated and cruel and do it selfishly and without any regard for others). Because many times it is when someone is being harmed or mistreated. I also had an emotional affair when I was 19/20 when I was trapped with my abusive ex. And I carried so much guilt for a long time , I just don't want to be a 'cheater', I very much don't want to have an identity as someone who harms others - I care a lot and have a lot of empathy and I beat myself up over it or obsess on the thought that I am this out of control cheater who would potentially harm could people, so I feel like such barriers are necessary. But then I see in each instance I needed comfort, I needed kindness, i needed friendship - in both cases I was very isolated and didn't have any close friends or family. And I suppose the second one is just not an affair at all, as I never did or said anything wrong and while before I couldn't tell I had a crush - as soon as I realised I did then I left - I mean what else could  I do? And then I hadn't agreed to be with him as official partners, so as you say - it's not like we were married. I do think I beat myself up too much. I guess I'm afraid or unsure of where the line is.  

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Vanilli
On 7/7/2018 at 12:29 PM, Fluffyflea said:

As time goes by I see things about the Evil One and how manipulative he was. He used to manipulate with absolutely everything, it was like a card game, he would take note of something I liked and when he wanted something for HIMSELF he would use that card to make it look like he was being caring towards me but was really thinking of himself.

Give a Narcissist a pool for self reflection and all is right in their world and that "pool" is any human being that is taking care of their very many and selfish needs.

Even sex while they are fulfilling your needs is a self reflecting pool for the Narcissist because it is aaaaaalllllllllllll about them.

Thanks Fluffyflea ^_^. Man that card game analogy is spot on - everything is so manipulative with them. And the sex thing for sure, all about them - I don't get how people can be so shitty and unfeeling, it's inhuman. 

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Vanilli
On 7/7/2018 at 7:30 PM, Quaddie said:

That's true.

And vanilli, have you - for yourself - dissected the actual guilt? Why it's there, at its basis? Not just because you felt like you did "wrong" (that's the "on its face" level) - but deeper than that. Take it apart to its most basic elements. What was the effect of the "wrong" that sends you into such shame?

Is it, for example, that you feel like you weren't fully "justified" in ending the relationship with the abuser because you didn't feel like your hands were entirely clean, therefore you didn't "deserve" to end the bad relationship? 

Because I think it's not the obvious "I think I did something wrong and therefore I have this overwhelming guilt." The "something wrong" doesn't live in a vacuum, in the head. It's the "...and therefore..." parts that, I think, really are what causes that shame.

And if it's truly that you feel such damaging pain from just doing anything that you might judge yourself so harshly as "wrong" for, then that deserves looking deeply into, too.

I don't mean for you to tell us here, but just to think about for yourself. What's at the true basis of the feelings of shame and guilt? Pick it apart. Look hard at it. Disassemble it. See if you can learn its root, and then address it. 
 

I guess I feel guilty for having human needs like the need for respect, kindness, closeness, the right and need to f word up and be loved and forgiven anyway. That's not been part of my life. This nice guy abuser guilt tripped and manipulated me and so I just think I'm stuck with feeling like I'm the BAD ONE. My current romantic interest, who has been a friend for years, constantly tells me that that guy was abusive but it's still so hard to see - he has a kind face and you feel crazy and like you must be the bad one if everyone else thinks that they are good. But then, maybe they don't. And I guess the guilt is like self abuse, like "I'm a bad person, I deserve to feel this awful all the time and I deserved to be harmed, mistreated, neglected and abuse by Mr Nice." Pretty grim and dark thought now that you mention it.

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Quaddie
1 hour ago, Vanilli said:

I guess I feel guilty for having human needs like the need for respect, kindness, closeness, the right and need to f word up and be loved and forgiven anyway. That's not been part of my life. This nice guy abuser guilt tripped and manipulated me and so I just think I'm stuck with feeling like I'm the BAD ONE. My current romantic interest, who has been a friend for years, constantly tells me that that guy was abusive but it's still so hard to see - he has a kind face and you feel crazy and like you must be the bad one if everyone else thinks that they are good. But then, maybe they don't. And I guess the guilt is like self abuse, like "I'm a bad person, I deserve to feel this awful all the time and I deserved to be harmed, mistreated, neglected and abuse by Mr Nice." Pretty grim and dark thought now that you mention it.

The part I bolded - yes, that's on the way to dissecting it, but it's not the basis. What you describe is still a symptom rather than cause.

Since you mention your mom was/is emotionally abusive, it becomes more clear. You weren't allowed to have needs. I'm guessing your mom might have been the type to instill guilt in you if you expressed or had or showed needs, or maybe for any other reason. Even if that's not true, having an abusive/neglectful childhood can certainly lead to all these things that you're now dealing with. As a child, being instilled with shame and guilt for being, creates a very deep injury.

I liked the book, "Healing Your Emotional Self" by Beverly Engel. It speaks to trying to heal, as an adult, the psyche injuries that occurred from being brought up in an abusive/neglectful environment. I think it was very helpful to me - you may want to check into it. 

 

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Fluffyflea

Vanilli,

Malignant Narcissists are hard wired that way. It's like they have no conscious.

At least mine didn't. He'd stop at nothing to get his needs fulfilled and he has a lot of them. My needs didn't matter in the least. Once I was NOT his self reflecting pool anymore he didn't care about me. And I still feel somehow I did something wrong. The only thing I did wrong was be nice to someone who lied and manipulated their way through our relationship for 5.5 years.

My childhood was abusive and neglectful too so it's familiar to be around someone like that but it doesn't need to be a life sentence.

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Quaddie

Yeah, it basically takes re-learning how to be in the world, to get out from under that. Almost starting over from scratch in a lot of the habits and things we've learned. I'm still working on it and I've been aware / began about 18 years ago. 

To me, when a child is brought up in an abusive/neglectful environment, that's how the psyche is formed and it doesn't get the chance to make choices about how to navigate the world. If there are no consistent balancing forced teaching the child about respect and true caring, and reflecting the child back to herself as a positive/"good" being, then it just doesn't happen. It takes a lot of very conscious work as an adult to build what was missing in the beginning. It's difficult and is a process, but necessary in order to really get to the root of things and make major underlying changes - instead of just trying to address the symptoms.

 

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Vanilli
On 7/8/2018 at 10:47 PM, Quaddie said:

The part I bolded - yes, that's on the way to dissecting it, but it's not the basis. What you describe is still a symptom rather than cause.

Since you mention your mom was/is emotionally abusive, it becomes more clear. You weren't allowed to have needs. I'm guessing your mom might have been the type to instill guilt in you if you expressed or had or showed needs, or maybe for any other reason. Even if that's not true, having an abusive/neglectful childhood can certainly lead to all these things that you're now dealing with. As a child, being instilled with shame and guilt for being, creates a very deep injury.

I liked the book, "Healing Your Emotional Self" by Beverly Engel. It speaks to trying to heal, as an adult, the psyche injuries that occurred from being brought up in an abusive/neglectful environment. I think it was very helpful to me - you may want to check into it. 

 

Yeah, you are spot on with that Quaddie, my mum is a massive guilt tripper and expected us to fulfil all her emotional needs while totally neglecting ours (kind of like this guy), as well as controlling us and relentlessly putting us down. I will look into trying to heal and move past things, I suppose it is a life-long thing. Sometimes that amount of work involved fees exhausting. 

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Vanilli
On 7/9/2018 at 1:07 PM, Fluffyflea said:

Vanilli,

Malignant Narcissists are hard wired that way. It's like they have no conscious.

At least mine didn't. He'd stop at nothing to get his needs fulfilled and he has a lot of them. My needs didn't matter in the least. Once I was NOT his self reflecting pool anymore he didn't care about me. And I still feel somehow I did something wrong. The only thing I did wrong was be nice to someone who lied and manipulated their way through our relationship for 5.5 years.

My childhood was abusive and neglectful too so it's familiar to be around someone like that but it doesn't need to be a life sentence.

Thanks Fluffyflea, sorry to hear you had a shitty childhood too and had to deal with that kind of abuse later on. It's hard to know what we really want or deserve with that kind of blueprint. 

 

I still feel guilty that I may be an 'adulterer' (que dramatic music). But then that entire abusive relationship was defined by guilt and him guilting and manipulating me. I'm not sure if he was a narcissist, he was more like manipulative because he felt weak and insecure and needed to use snakey backhanded tactics to keep me there. Even now I feel bad writing this to you, because he also stove to be a nice guy, like it's so much more of a headfuck when they aren't obviously assholes - kind of reminds me of your ex Quaddie, with the passive front. Like when they have a pretend face, you just don't know what is real or you feel crazy and doubtful about your own analysis. 

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