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Vanilli

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

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Quaddie

The more distance I got from my ex, the more effed-up I realized everything was.  And it wasn't until many years later that I categorized it as "abuse."

I called him "echthros" because he was so much nothing. And he made me even more nothing.

I believe he was seriously and deeply disordered - and his modes of abuse were not textbook. It was hard to find anything in any of the info I had at the time that would have labeled it as abuse. It seemed like a "stretch" that I was "trying" to make, to label him that. I believe it wasn't until the Lundy book that it became more clear. 

I know I can tell you from here 'til kingdom come that you were not "an adulterer," and that you can't feel it.  But that level of guilt and shame comes from other things, in my opinion. Not from "just" what you think you did that made you such a horrible person, but all sorts of little evil demons hanging onto you and screeching in your ear. So learning to identify those evil little demons as what they are (conditioning from others), and separating them from your actual self and conscience, will be important.  It feels like it's "your feeling," but it's stuff that's been trained into you by those who have abused you and not permitted you your own healthy boundaries and self-hood. 

And after identifying them - learning to separate them from your authentic self is an act of learning and practicing boundaries, too. I've found that actually talking out loud to them, or having typed conversations with my internal naysayers, can sometimes actually work in separating them from "me" and in learning my psychological boundaries and strengthening them against such attacks.

One of the most valuable things I got from the book "Healing Your Emotional Self" was about re-parenting the self, and learning to check-in with the self. I can't recommend this book highly enough as at least a starting point for you. Try not to think of the road ahead as a giant cross-country trip, but rather you just need to get to the first rest stop. You don't have to take on a huge undertaking. You can just start reading a book and see where that leads.

 

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Vanilli

I think you are so right Quaddie, thanks for taking the time to share your insightful thoughts with me, they mean a lot. I was reading Women Who Love Too Much the other day. Parts of that book really grate on me, but I find it useful over all. Anyway, one thing she was saying was that people like me sacrifice and give up myself a lot for others. I think I realised that actually with my Mr Nice Guy a-hole ex that I was taking on too much responsibility. I mean I wasn't really flirting and I wasn't sharing intimacies and I wasn't talking to the guy for hours everyday. Yes, we enjoyed each others company, yes there was a lot of enjoyment there. But I wasn't really doing anything wrong, its not like he was like a fill in boyfriend or I wasn't doing anything hurtful. I think I also project back, the fact I have feelings and chemistry with him now doesn't mean we did then, yes it meant th potential for something was there but that doesn't make it what it was now. What am I beating myself up for? Having feelings, being human, the now not the then. In addition, he was friends with mutual friends of my ex - so surely, if anything was wrong or inappropriate then something would have been said. I mean I do feel bad that feelings did develop later after struggling if maybe I could have liked him, and as soon as i was aware, I cut it off. I think it does just stem from my need to give up myself for others and be perfect and selfless and all kind and all loving. But none of that stuff means that - all it means was that I was abandoning the self and what I really wanted and needed from people, which was respect, kindness and engagement. And I can have friends. and I can talk to people. It's what you DO with that that matters, it's any inappropriate behaviour and I don't think there was any. I think you are right Quaddie. when you say I can't be a perfect super human but I realise that that was what I had been forcing myself to be to survive from my abuse with my very abusive ex. And you know what? This nice guy abusers took advantage of that, he saw I was vulnerable and swooped in after I told him not to. So who really is selfish there? And who really treated who with less kindness and respect? Him, not me. I need to stop trying to be perfect, I am what I am. 

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Quaddie
9 hours ago, Vanilli said:

I think it does just stem from my need to give up myself for others and be perfect and selfless and all kind and all loving. But none of that stuff means that - all it means was that I was abandoning the self and what I really wanted and needed from people, which was respect, kindness and engagement. And I can have friends. and I can talk to people. It's what you DO with that that matters, it's any inappropriate behaviour and I don't think there was any. I think you are right Quaddie. when you say I can't be a perfect super human but I realise that that was what I had been forcing myself to be to survive from my abuse with my very abusive ex. And you know what? This nice guy abusers took advantage of that, he saw I was vulnerable and swooped in after I told him not to. So who really is selfish there? And who really treated who with less kindness and respect? Him, not me. I need to stop trying to be perfect, I am what I am. 

Yes!!!

And we are all human, and therefore imperfect beings. No one can be anything more than human. ;)

 

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Vanilli

Thank you Quaddie :wub:

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Vanilli

I also just read this post on emotional withholding, literally my ex would't give me hardly an affection, or expression of love or closeness or intimacy. Why do you want to keep me trapped in something and NOT LOVE me or give me anything? That was the thing that was making it impossible to survive in that relationship and really bringing my self esteem and happiness down in a way my ex never did. As psycho as my ex was, I knew he had affection or 'love' for me in some kind of fucked up way - even though it was mostly a control thing, like he did express a lot of affection on our good days. This guy was killing me because there was none of that. No rage and anger, but also no LOVE. That's why it felt worse than being with my ex in a way because he wanted me to suffocate, trapping me and manipulating me into being in a relationship with someone. 

https://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/partner-stops-giving-silent-pain-emotional-withholding-fiff/

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Bennu

I think that this can be a response to abuse. It's all a matter of perspective.

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Quaddie

ecthros was a complete withholder. It pained him to even pay attention to me at all.  I don't think he had any feelings for me whatsoever...  I think he had some sort of serious and unusual personailty disorder...   When I looked back on it, I think he planned marrying me as part of his path in an almost psychopathic manner. In retrospect, he had plotted his life as closely emulating his best friend's as possible. His best friend had a girlfriend who physically resembled me. I think he "targeted" me because of that. He certainly showed very clearly later that he was completely uninterested in connecting with me on a human level, or in who I was at all. He feigned it at the beginning, then changed his tune later. He didn't even see me, or care - the times he acted caringly were so rare that they stood out in memory. He was not a partner, but a nearly silent entity occupying the same space and not even acknowledging me as having any import or worthy of respect. It was incredibly nullifying.

Other people talk about the "good" that was in their relationships and that it kept them hanging on. I was so incredibly naive and stupid that there was no "good" at all, and still I didn't know any better that it wasn't even a relationship on any level except for that I was handling nearly everything and he just moved within "our" life like a ghost, and refusing to even look at me for one minute to talk - no no, looking through the mail was always more important - after he got home and before I had to leave right away for work. Even after repeatedly asking him to just fargin' pay attention at the handoff.  I'd start talking, his gaze would pull downward toward the mail in his hands, as if dragged by a force outside his control. I'd stop talking - he'd lift his eyes to mine for a sec in a conscious effort to try to "satisfy" me - but once I started speaking again, down down his gaze would pull to that fricken' mail. And THAT was the most "conversation" we'd have all day, any day, really. And that lasted all of a minute or two.

I think he had some sort of serious and unusual personality disorder. As I already mentioned, the "not"-ness of him was difficult to categorize as abuse - but it indeed created a highly abusive and negating environment.

I fulfilled "needs" for him, but he stopped even trying the pretense of affection or attention shortly after we got married.

I had made excuses for him, felt sorry for him - oh, he'd been so damaged by his early childhood, I just needed to draw him out... he just needed to feel safe and encouraged to express....blahblahblah. No. NO. And everyone else fell into that bathole, too. Even the counselor. But the truth was that no amount of anything would change him into a human. He didn't care, he didn't see a need to care, he was missing things inside of him.  And those things could not be rebuilt because he didn't give a crap and wasn't capable of even perceiving the differences between himself and "normal."

People who lack, that way, don't engage in relationships for mutual partnership, caring or affection - they do it to get whatever needs they perceive they have that you can fix for them, met. 

 

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Vanilli
16 hours ago, Bennu said:

I think that this can be a response to abuse. It's all a matter of perspective.

Yeah, I think that's justifiable. As is retaliatory abuse, it's just how we are trying to survive our abuse :). I think in the case of purposeful withholding, it's a way to control or express contempt and lack of respect. 

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Vanilli
13 hours ago, Quaddie said:

ecthros was a complete withholder. It pained him to even pay attention to me at all.  I don't think he had any feelings for me whatsoever...  I think he had some sort of serious and unusual personailty disorder...   When I looked back on it, I think he planned marrying me as part of his path in an almost psychopathic manner. In retrospect, he had plotted his life as closely emulating his best friend's as possible. His best friend had a girlfriend who physically resembled me. I think he "targeted" me because of that. He certainly showed very clearly later that he was completely uninterested in connecting with me on a human level, or in who I was at all. He feigned it at the beginning, then changed his tune later. He didn't even see me, or care - the times he acted caringly were so rare that they stood out in memory. He was not a partner, but a nearly silent entity occupying the same space and not even acknowledging me as having any import or worthy of respect. It was incredibly nullifying.

Other people talk about the "good" that was in their relationships and that it kept them hanging on. I was so incredibly naive and stupid that there was no "good" at all, and still I didn't know any better that it wasn't even a relationship on any level except for that I was handling nearly everything and he just moved within "our" life like a ghost, and refusing to even look at me for one minute to talk - no no, looking through the mail was always more important - after he got home and before I had to leave right away for work. Even after repeatedly asking him to just fargin' pay attention at the handoff.  I'd start talking, his gaze would pull downward toward the mail in his hands, as if dragged by a force outside his control. I'd stop talking - he'd lift his eyes to mine for a sec in a conscious effort to try to "satisfy" me - but once I started speaking again, down down his gaze would pull to that fricken' mail. And THAT was the most "conversation" we'd have all day, any day, really. And that lasted all of a minute or two.

I think he had some sort of serious and unusual personality disorder. As I already mentioned, the "not"-ness of him was difficult to categorize as abuse - but it indeed created a highly abusive and negating environment.

I fulfilled "needs" for him, but he stopped even trying the pretense of affection or attention shortly after we got married.

I had made excuses for him, felt sorry for him - oh, he'd been so damaged by his early childhood, I just needed to draw him out... he just needed to feel safe and encouraged to express....blahblahblah. No. NO. And everyone else fell into that bathole, too. Even the counselor. But the truth was that no amount of anything would change him into a human. He didn't care, he didn't see a need to care, he was missing things inside of him.  And those things could not be rebuilt because he didn't give a crap and wasn't capable of even perceiving the differences between himself and "normal."

People who lack, that way, don't engage in relationships for mutual partnership, caring or affection - they do it to get whatever needs they perceive they have that you can fix for them, met. 

 

He sounds so creepy and harrowing, almost like living with some calculating robot. I agree that it does feel so nullifying, like it feels like your own partner doesn't care of love you - like that means something incredibly wrong wrong you. It's just so hard to even explain what it does to you or to come to terms with it. 

 

I think sometimes this ex was nice, and very often did over the top romantic things that everyone else could see - like look how much I love you (and look how much I love her) yet wasn't loving to me personally, just wanted to keep me trapped and no regard for my feelings. 

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Bennu
On 7/26/2018 at 5:05 AM, Vanilli said:

Yeah, I think that's justifiable. As is retaliatory abuse, it's just how we are trying to survive our abuse :). I think in the case of purposeful withholding, it's a way to control or express contempt and lack of respect. 

Agreed. It's hard when the abuser comes back at you as victim. It makes you doubt yourself. Of course real abusers don't doubt. They feel entitled. 

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Vanilli
19 hours ago, Bennu said:

Agreed. It's hard when the abuser comes back at you as victim. It makes you doubt yourself. Of course real abusers don't doubt. They feel entitled. 

Yeah, for sure. Totally, no guilt or shame or empathy. 

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Vanilli

Today I had an insight on my guilt and worry and overblown shame about feeling like maybe I might have 'emotionally cheated'. I realised my friendship helped me leave and so therefore it was the right thing for me. I realised so much of the shame and guilt I felt was around not being able to leave, around feeling trapped. I know he was doing that to me to keep me stuck. I can forgive him, I can try to forgive myself - because I didn't deserve that, to be trapped in something that I didn't want to be in and handn't agreed to be in through guilt and manipulation. 

Thank you guys for your wisdom and insights, they have really helped me see things better. 

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