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82 Responses to “Are You Dating a Loser?”

  1. 51

    Dear Mike: Folks with Depression and/or Bipolar Disorder can become very moody, resentful, and even angry. The presence of a psychiatric condition can also exaggerate existing personality traits. However, there’s a difference between saying something mean or nasty in the heat of a mood versus routinely intimidating, criticizing, and verbally abusing a partner. When depressed folks make angry or abusive comments, those around them recognize that it’s out of character for them and probably related to their mood. However, when such comments and behaviors are recognized as part of the normal character or personality, it’s likely to be a personality problem. Folks with a history and personality that is abusive, prone to temper tantrums, selfish, etc. are not that way due to Depression or Bipolar. However, as you mention, folks with personality disorders rarely accept responsibility for their behavior and often blame Bipolar Disorder for their problems. In truth, those personality traits and behaviors were present long before a Bipolar Disorder typically surfaces. The key: Are the behaviors you see in this individual “in character” or “out of character” for them based on those who know them. If the individual is normally sweet and kind – but currently abusive – it’s probably a psychiatric condition. If this is a long-standing and well-known pattern of behavior – it’s probably a personality disorder/Loser characteristic. Dr. Carver

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    Dear Dr Carver,

    Thank you for that insightful paper. If only I had read it before I had gotten involved with my ex-husband. I’m writing to you to help me validate my experiences in the light of your article.

    My father knew from the get go that something wasn’t right with him or his family, but because I was in love, I didn’t listen to my dad’s advice. Months rolled into years, and my ex-husband alternated between being incredibly loving and tender, to being intensely possessive and making jabs at my self-esteem. The warning signs were there — his father had a history of physically and verbally abusing his mother, and as a young boy he witnessed it. He himself had a history of violence — in highschool, he was part of a gang and had serious anger management issues. I was blinded to all that because he was so romantic and loving, and outwardly seemed like the perfect partner. The cracks began to show when I started losing interest due to mounting family pressure — my father said I could do better, we were too young, and I was due to start medical school in a matter of months.

    When I said I wanted to break off our relationship, he would become furious and say that nobody else would want me because our close-knit community knew we were together — everyone would think my dad was crazy and not dare to approach him for my hand in marriage…everyone would think my whole family was crazy for listening to my dad – unbelievably, I broke down and agreed with him, instead of standing my ground and telling him to not speak like that about me or my family. He had such a grip on my self-esteem and my feelings of self-worth. There I was, an attractive, articulate pre-med student, reduced to a weeping wreck because I thought I couldn’t live without him. My family couldn’t understand why I ‘settled’ with him when I had potential for a much better guy. I didn’t realise this at the time, but he made me feel so small that I thought I couldn’t do any better. He felt threatened by the fact that I would be a doctor and always cut me down to size to make himself feel better.

    Things came to a head one particular night when I called him and said I wanted to break it off. I made the mistake of changing my mind when he lost his temper again, and made the even bigger mistake of meeting with him in his family home. My constant indecision irritated his parents because they were busy with the wedding plans and telling all their friends about it. So when we finally did elope that night — more out of fear and pressure on my part — they were relieved and the plans could go on.

    Things became even worse once I did move in with him. I basically became his property. He banned me from seeing my family and, unfortunately for me, his family and friends agreed with that course of action, trapping me further. When I spoke to my ex-mother-in-law about missing my family dearly, she basically told me to shut up, suck it up, and deal with it — because that’s what she did during her marriage. She would proudly say that she endured abuse from her alcoholic husband for years and years, and said that I don’t have any of those problems because her son is ‘nothing like his father’ (I beg to differ, rage is all the same) so why am I complaining?? It was an entire network of control, ranging from his parents, to him, to their family friends — none of them knew what I endured behind closed doors, and I was too ashamed to tell. We vacillated from blissful days of conditional joy (we were ‘happiest’ when I blocked out the anguish of not being able to contact my birth family) to terrifying nights where I would get screamed at. I’ve blotted out most of it, but I will never forget feeling so helpless, petrified and disempowered. He screamed at me, called me names, intimidated me, threw his wedding ring and wallet at me — I know now that it was only a matter of time before things escalated into physical violence. He would scream at me and say that I didn’t know how to ‘serve him’ while his ex-girlfriend knew how to ‘serve a man’ and that if he were to call her up, she would ‘go down on her knees’ to be with him again (despite being married to another man and having his child!). I felt like I had nowhere to go, and that it was all my fault — he would blame me for all his outbursts, saying that I triggered him when I mope around about my missing my family and complain about his. He would always apologise and say that he loved me and expect that to make everything better…until the next argument. And the pattern would repeat itself, over and over again.

    Thankfully, I had the strength to leave him, during a ‘lull': I left a few weeks after the last outburst. It was a spur of the moment decision because I didn’t have the strength for anything more planned. I had learned to keep my mouth shut and pretend to be happy, and to never express my discontent. That worked well because he had no idea I would have the guts to leave…he was so convinced that he had verbally beat me into submission. When I left, he called up my friends and cried, saying that he loved me, he wanted me back, he asked how I was etc etc. He cleverly portrayed himself as the victim of my overly possessive family who pressured me to go back to them — after all, he loved me so much and would never hurt me, right? Prior to my leaving I never voiced a word about his ill-treatment of me and to this day, so many people think he was innocent. He went around to so many people in the community and said that he wasn’t abusive, and that he didn’t know why I left him. There’s still a stigma with divorce in my closed, insular, immigrant community so I have to deal with that too, on top of the repercussions of an abusive marriage. The public aspect of my marriage breakdown is difficult to deal with when I see people on the street who came to my wedding, for example. My ex-husband even had to gall to send me an email, telling me that because I’m a divorcee and no longer a virgin, I would have trouble remarrying, whereas he’s a guy so it’s easy for him! That kind of thinking is probably what justified his abusive behaviour towards me.

    It’s been almost a year now since I’ve left him, and I’m undergoing counseling to help me increase my self-esteem again. We were together for almost 2 years and lived together for a few months, and that’s when the abuse escalated. He shattered my feelings of self-worth to the point that my family could barely recognize my new patterns of behaviour when I came home to them. When they said ‘He did this to you!’ I refused to believe it because I thought he loved me. It’s taken me this long to even accept that yes, I was in an abusive marriage, and I had the strength to leave it. I think I may have codependency issues — is this what attracted my ex-husband to me in the first place? I’m embarrassed to admit to this but sometimes I still reminisce about our happy times. I miss the physical intimacy of having a partner too. Is that normal?

    I’ve almost completed my first year of medical school, and am well on my way to recovery. With each day lived, I know that I did the right thing by leaving him. I’m looking forward to remarrying one day, but only after I have a firm enough sense of self and enough strength to assert my rights in a healthy relationship. I will never feel that helpless again.

  3. 53

    Dear Kimmy, I’ve seen several types of Losers/Abusers over the years. Some are loners and their families recognize they are abusive and controlling – often giving an early warning to their partners. As in your case, others come from a toxic family system where the family consists of abusers and long-term victims. In toxic families, the victims often participate in maintaining the victimization of other family members as a type of Stockholm Syndrome.
    Keep in mind, even after a successful detachment from a dangerous or abusive situation, it’s normal to feel lonely, miss intimacy, and even daydream about the “good times”. The danger is selective memory – remembering only the good times without reminding ourselves of the true nature of the situation. I recommend using realistic and balanced memory. When we remember great times in Las Vegas, it’s also helpful to remember how much money we lost. When remembering good times in bad relationships, we want to remind ourselves that those good times were actually rare events while intimidation, belittling, and emotional abuse were daily events.
    Counseling was a great move. As for the community, develop a “press release” for those you meet – one vague paragraph like “It turns out we weren’t peas in a pod. I’ve ended up in medical school where I’ve always belonged. How’s your family doing?”
    Good luck in your new, healthy adventure. And by the way, I’ve got this ache in my back……..
    Dr. Carver

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    What a flashback. I was involved with a loser approximately 17 years ago. I met him at a vulnerable point in my life … shortly after a parent had passed away…I was 21 at the time. He seemed perfect from the get go. Once I was knee deep in the relationship his true colours started to show. At first he became controlling (not letting me see my friends), then verbally abusive, then physically abusive. He had no respect for me. Out of the blue I woke up and realized I needed out in order to save myself. Leaving the relationship was the most difficult thing I ever had to do…I was harrassed at my workplace, where I was staying, he told any mutual acquaintances that I was psycho and made up nasty stories about me…I hit rock bottom because I couldn’t escape … my mind was exhausted. I unfortunately didn’t get any emotional help for myself and things came to a point where I thought suicide was the only way to get away. Thank god I was saved. I NOW HAVE A GREAT LIFE.

    Amazingly the reason I wound up on this web-site tonight is because about a week ago this guy called me out of the blue. He asked me about my life. He wanted to meet up with me to talk about that was very emotional for him. I told him that unfortunately I was very busy with my work responsibilties and that I would be unable to meet…I invited him to say what he wanted to by phone. He declined stating that “I should know” that he has a difficult time talking emotionally on the phone. I noted to him that “NO” I didn’t know … after all 17 years had passed.

    I’m curious as a kitten to find out what this guy had to say to me … but your wedsite has reinforced to me … to keep distance from this guy.

  5. 55

    Dear Laney: We lose a lot of kittens this way! Your ex-abusive partner has NOTHING to say. Rather, he’s trying to DO something. It’s hard to intimidate and manipulate over the phone. He knows that a face-to-face meeting will leave you defenseless against his onslaught of guilt and manipulation. As I mention in the article, Losers and abusers always keep ex-partners on the “back burner” and check to see if another period of abuse is possible. He’s checking to see if you’re emotionally weak enough to be abused again. Stand your ground. Don’t agree to a meeting of any kind. With a Loser and abuser, always remember that a meeting is a beating! Stay on your course and don’t look back. You escaped once…stay escaped. Dr. Carver

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    First, Thank you for your paper on Loser/Controller. Out of 20 you listed, I found 19 traits from our relationship and 1 was a maybe! My ex left my two children and I about 6 months ago. (1) My question is that can a Loser/Controller meet another Loser/Controller and begin a relationship? The reason for this question is that she started a relationship right (in a week she was living with a married man in another state) after leaving the children and I.
    I am sure that she knew this man for about a few months or maybe longer. I am afraid that if her new relationship doesn’t work out. She might try to reconnect with her old (emotively used up and distraught) family. My boys and my family as well as I want nothing to do her. The reason I feel that this man in her life has issues is that his soon to be ex, left him and moved almost across the US to get away her him. Her boyfriend call my son’s friend’s home and pretended to be looking for my ex and tried to get my home phone number (I had to change our home phone number after she started hassling us with the phone, calling us constantly, when we didn’t answer she would let it ring, ring and ring) When I thought she might have come back to our state. I have a massive panic attach. I thought I was having a stoke. My brother in law took me to the hospital and the doctor’s found nothing wrong with me. They told me I should see a counselor to help me with my mental state of mind and these issues. I will go and see a counselor, but because of all this happing so fast (this began 6 months ago) and with my financial situation. I can’t afford it right now. I tried to work on this relationship for 17 years. A lot of time for her to do a lot of damage, not only to me but my two boys. (2) I know that Loser/Controller can drop their relationship (if it’s their ideal) like a hot potato, but can they do that with their children as well? She did that with her children from her last relationship with her ex when she lost custody of them. She had supervised visitation (her ex had to be present) and just one day refuse to go! This always disturb me that see never wanted to try to see her children from this relationship, but thought because something like this happen to her, she would never make the same mistake again. Will I was wrong!

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    Oh, and Thank you again, without your paper on this issue I would never have found the answers I was looking for. Because I am learning the why’s, I have began healing and understanding what happened. God Bless you!

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    This article describes the psychopath or sociopath. It is good that it has been pointed out to those that may have had no idea of how to identify this type of personality disorder. I do think it would be better to call psychopaths by that name though. As far as I am concerned, a real loser is a player.

  9. 59

    Dear James: Losers can rapidly detach from both partners and children due to shallow emotions. Being selfish and self-involved, they have only a small amount of emotional connection left for others. For this reason, they can attach very quickly..then unattach rapidly. They maintain their lack of attachment by blaming their partner. When they detach from their children, they always blame the partner for keeping them away, for brainwashing the children, for using the legal system, etc. To the new partner (victim) it almost makes sense until you realize they demonstrate few or no emotional signs of missing the children.
    Losers can quickly attach to other Losers and those relationships are especially dysfunctional. It’s almost a struggle to see who can use & manipulate the other the fastest and most. Sadly, Losers always keep ex-partners on “back burner” and she may reconnect with you when the current situation blows up. When she calls back, however, she’ll be blaming the current partner for all the manipulations, depicting herself as a victim.
    Keep healing your family and stay alert. As you can see in this blog, Losers can return or check-up on you many years in the future. Dr. Carver

  10. 60

    Dear Shaakti: My article describes several types of personality disorders including antisocial, histrionic, borderline, and narcissistic. The article is an attempt to identify commonly-recognized behaviors and characteristics that are found in these individuals. As you mention, psychopaths and sociopaths have these behaviors to an extreme, also adding criminal behavior and physical violence. Players are typically narcissistic or histrionic as a core personality and may not exhibit criminal features. Using the Loser characteristics I’ve listed, hopefully people can identify at-risk individuals before deeper or more dangerous features surface. I tried to address these criminal Losers in my section on dangerous versions of the Loser. Dr. Carver

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