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218 Responses to “More on Relationship Losers, Abusers, Manipulators and Controllers”

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    I dated a woman on and off for two years. We spent a few weekend together this summer, but everytime she seemed to get real close to me, she pushed me away, often telling me I had to leave out of the blue. I thought I loved her, so I did the unthinkable…constant calls, texts, emails, gifts, etc. Finally, she said I was pushing her away and she needed time. I contacted her a few days later and she wrote back that she is seeing som eone else, they are very happy, and please do not call or email her anymore.
    I landed on a site about narcisstic aggressive people, and I was shocked at the unbelievable amount of characteristics that fit her like a glove – she used her beauty and charm to come after me, she told me right away that I was her soulmate and true love, she pushed marriage in the first month, I am 10 years older, then I found out she takes medication for depression and sees a therapist because she as abused as a child. The she told me she hates people, she became verbally abusive, always complained about headaches, she hated her weight and legs, though she is very attractive, and she came up with a bunch of unreasonable stipulations, like I move in right away, we go to bed at 7:00pm every night, and quite frankly, she told me it had to be her way, or no way. And, that’s just a start.
    It’s obvious to me that she has big issues. My question: Will she ever contact me again? I do not want to be with her because I do not think you should love someone who is incapable of loving back, but my fear is that she will come after me again. And, what is the probablility that her “great” relationship with her new loser will not last for long? I’ve read that these losers have turbulent relationships and just bounce from one to another. Thanks.

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    I didn’t think my loser would contact me again. He told me emphatically that he couldn’t handle casual sex, his life was a mess, boo hoo, and he couldn’t see me anymore. That was a month ago and I counted the days of his absence with glee. And I learned from mutual acquaintances (a gossipy group) that he immediately hooked up with someone for a one night stand. This was during a recent trip with his friends….these are all men in their forties but he made them sleep on the sofa while he used the hotel bedroom for some unsafe sex. It was just disgusting to hear, I didn’t solicit the information either. Thank God I don’t know him anymore, I thought.

    This week, he e-mailed to ask if we are still friends. Chatty, like nothing happened. How’s it going? Blah blah. Well F.U., I thought, and sent the message to the trash.

    For the past few days, he has been trying to ingratiate himself with one of my male buddies. Acting over the top with his grandstanding gestures, laughing at every joke, offering assistance, etc. I find it alarming and don’t know how to warn my buddy because I am not even sure what the loser wants. Power?

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    I suppose my question is should I prepare for this woman to call me again? She has considerable narcissistic traits, she banished me by not answering any of my calls or messages, she didn’t even give me a reason for not wanting to see me anymore, then she writes a terse email about seeing another man and that she doesn’t want me to email or call her anymore. In your opinion, knowing that she has a history of emotional instability, insecurity, and she is looking for a husband (prsumably her narcissistic supply), does she truly mean that she wants me out of her life for good, or is she playing with me, trying to devestate me and break me down further so that once she returns she will have me controlled again…at least in her mind?

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    Dr. Carver…

    I was just wondering if you have ever had any success with trying to educate the victim who is dating a loser. I am tempted to show my daughter your answer to my post, and just see what she would say about it.

    Just wondering…

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    Ralph, my non-expert opinion for what it’s worth: I’d say it’s likely she’ll pop up at some point in the future, with no telling when except when she’s bored and feels like it. So I’d suggest preparing yourself for that intrusion, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s possible right now.

    The good thing is that you don’t have to stop your life or wait for her to realize that you’re worth talking to… The whole thing (banishment, quick replacement, silences, shallow commitment) is a total power game and you don’t have to play. Of course, she *might* surprise you and be completely rational when she shows up again, but two years of time seems to have already shown you what she’s all about. You don’t have to receive all that drama back into your world. No matter what she ever tells you, you don’t have to.

    It’s really messed up and I’m sorry that you got caught up in it. Glad, though, that you’re seeing it for what it is and are trying to find your way out of it. All the best…

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    Greetings Dr. Carver and everyone,

    Dr. Carver, you have created a marvellous resource with this forum and your on-line articles. I especially appreciate your compassionate and respectful approach to the victims of losers, as flaky as we feel. You never criticize us for feeling grief and longing, acting “out of character”, being lured back, and the host of other embarrassing things we do when under the influence of skilled manipulators. Your very clear view of what is happening helps us greatly. Thank you!!

    I recently researched Borderline Personality Disorder on the web. Of course I had a very personal reason for this: to sort out what had happened to “a friendship of a lifetime”. I was immersed in grief, confusion, even guilt, and just poking around looking for something to soothe me.

    I read the article, “The Loser,” and recognized most of the criteria in my former friend. So, it wasn’t “all me”. Then I began to read the forum. I was amazed! The “kernel” in all these stories exactly matched my own. The pattern, methods, even “tone”, of how “my loser” treated me was all right there, repeated again and again. Also conveyed was how this situation had left the victims: frazzled, burnt out, barely able to think.

    Since those stories helped me so much, I will share my own.

    My husband and I are both involved in this. We are stable, happy businesspeople in our forties (I was 38 when we met “ML” [my loser]). We consider each other best friends. Our other friends are mostly of decades of duration, with a new one added from time to time.

    Some years ago we became chummy over the phone with a European customer, ML, a charming, intelligent man. Slowly our conversations became personal. We both talked to him, and over time he came to know all about us. We also heard about ML’s life; he was 40, had no wife or kids, he had spent his life being a “free spirit”, lots of travel, lots of interesting jobs, lots of girlfriends, etc. He sounded happy with his past, but said he was ready to get on with some more serious things, wanted to find a wife, etc. (Don’t worry, I didn’t try to become his wife, but read on!…)

    Soon he was saying that he regarded us as family. We were flattered.

    We became so close on the phone that ML learned from my husband that we had fertility problems. We had unsuccessfully been using frozen sperm donations. ML offered his own. Well, he was kind, healthy, good looking, seemed emotionally balanced, and conveniently lived in Europe (would not be supervising our raising of any possible child from “next door”) … it sounded possible, if the trust was sufficient. It seemed obvious that it was. I even had a “feeling” that this was the right course. My husband did, too. We were all very happy with the idea.

    We also had business reasons for visiting Europe. ML kindly made many arrangements and local contacts for us. Off we went. We stayed at his home and got along famously. So famously that, when a joke was made (I honestly don’t recall by whom, but not by me … I think it even came up before we planned the trip) about delivering the sperm donations “the natural way”, I eventually assented (after questioning my husband at length as to whether this would hurt his feelings … no, he said it was absolutely fine and, biologically, more likely to “work”).

    Okay, it was wild Europe, first time we had traveled, to heck with convention, we’re free, we drank wine, I did it. As background, my husband was the only man I had ever had sex with. So make that two. I was treated with complete respect (as far as I could tell) and affection by both the men involved in this little adventure. No threesomes, by the way; no one wanted that.

    I had warned my husband beforehand that, for me, sex involved emotional contact … a close relationship was likely to develop, at least from my end. He was not fazed, and said he had complete faith in our bond. So did I. We were absolutely correct; we have the same wonderful marriage, to this day, that we have always had.

    But I did develop a very intimate relationship with ML – the whole spiritual, physical, mind-blowing works. We continued the “fertility project” on more occasions. And we solved the world’s problems over a bottle (or more) of wine many a time. He was different … he was intellectually stimulating .. he confirmed my attractiveness (at first). Over the next four years, until this spring, I saw him as regularly as I could, here or in Europe, on vacations, business trips, or simply for “the fertility project” itself. I often traveled by myself to see him, or we traveled together to events of mutual interest here in North America. Altogether it equaled seven months of close contact. My husband and I covered most of ML’s expenses, but we rationalized that we no longer had to pay for frozen sperm.

    So far, this is unconventional (I can’t believe it when I read it myself!), but not harmful. Now I will relate the harmful part.

    I was indeed right that I would develop an emotional attachment to ML – I quickly came to love him deeply. In the beginning, he made similar statements to me. Things seemed balanced. But early on, my feelings were hurt by the way he reminded me that “I was not his girlfriend” (well, I had never offered to be, so what was he afraid of?). Mere hours or minutes after giving normal, affectionate compliments, he would say something like “I’m not in love with you, you know” (to which I would reply, “good, that would cause no end of trouble”) or, “If I met you in a bar I would not even speak to you; you are not my type”. This seemed unnecessarily harsh, but I put it down to a difficulty in “categorizing” me.

    Oh, I became a master of giving “the benefit of the doubt”.

    He increasingly liked to pick on my posture, my physique, my legs. He insisted that it was meant kindly, and that he had an exceptional knowledge of exercise, physiology, etc. I felt twinges of emotional hurt frequently. I often felt confused, and as if I did not know “where I stood” with him, and I altered my behaviour to try to get “back there” to a position of security.

    Of course he, himself, required constant confirmation of my affection and admiration, and solicited it irritably if there was not enough. I knew when he had had his fill, because then he would become strange and apt to insult me. There was never a balance … either he was pulling me in or pushing me away.

    Another favorite of his was to quiz me about what would make me jealous, claiming that it was out of concern for my well-being. The strange thing was, when I reassured him that I would be fine, would enjoy the memories, if he found a girlfriend, he would become hostile, and explode into screaming about some other minor, or patently made-up, thing. He would scream until he was red in the face. It was impossible to calm him.

    Was it he who was jealous, then? Impossible to ask, with all that yelling going on, and especially in view of his frequent put-downs.

    I had never witnessed this sort of behavior before, and I would be shocked and very upset afterwards. He would scream that I had been inconsiderate, and/or had intentionally made him feel guilty of this or that: absolutely berserk and inconsolable. My strategy was to be very mild and apologize for everything I saw a grain of truth in. I thought that if I did not oppose him, he would calm down (but now I realize that that only works with healthy people).

    He never accepted a single apology. Even then I saw this as a ploy to retain a sort of power. But if I asked about the matter later, as in “what was all that about this morning?” he would reply, “all what?”; literally not seem to remember a thing.

    Why did I keep visiting him? Well, love is not rational, and I loved him and greatly enjoyed the “good times”, which still outweighed the bad. I was still optimistic about the “fertility project”, which gave me leave for exciting travel to an exotic foreign lover. And, like many of the other victims here, I felt a “bond”.

    Also, like most victims of losers, I am a stable, compassionate person who is able to sustain a relationship solely on my own emotional intelligence, if necessary (didn’t realize I was doing this at the time, of course). I believe friends are forever. All my other friends are.

    Not surprisingly (now), my other friends did not like him, nor did my brother. They made their concerns known to me, and then politely allowed me my own strange course. And now that I am “back”, they are good enough not to say they told me so.

    As for my husband, he continued supportive, since I was committed to this venture, but ML managed to repel him early on with one of his tirades-without-forgiveness. My husband was still friendly towards ML but ceased to accompany me. So ML had me all to himself. ML disliked my best same-sex friend as well, and disapproved if I phoned or wrote her. He always had to listen in or check over my shoulder. I tried to be lighthearted about it and shooed him (with caution … he could explode).

    To flesh out the profile a little, I will add that ML has a distorted idea of himself as extraordinarily insightful, with psychic “gifts”, and rock-solid integrity, honesty, honor and self-insight. He almost worships the memory of his dead mother, and hates his father. Yes, he will tell you all this up front, and what a fine fellow he is to boot. What a clump of red flags that I didn’t see! He believes he has a spiritual bond with North American Indians, and has posters of noble “Indian Laws” all over his house (I have not noted that he follows their decent and compassionate guidelines). He prefers to be called by his “Indian name”, although I have always called him by his Christian name. He has a lively belief in the “unseen”, which I share, but his “unseen” contains dangerous evil spirits, while mine does not.

    He has had no friends of longer duration than his friendship with me (I think I probably win the prize as the most determined friend of his life, at four years’ duration). This includes girlfriends. He has had sex with close to 100 women, at his count, and I think he is being honest, as he has a magnetic quality that makes this easy. He makes the odd assertion that most of them are still friends of his, but only one has contacted him during the last four years. He enjoys trying to call them up while I am there (thanks!), and always gets a cold reception. I expect his feelings to be hurt, but he only looks confused for a moment and then forgets about the whole thing.

    One can seldom be the only woman in the room with him … he talks constantly about others, displays photos of his “flings”, looks them up on the internet, tries unsuccessfully to invite them over.

    I don’t think he has held any one job for more than a year, and he strings out unemployment benefits as long as he can.

    Gad, you are thinking! But I am open-minded (you probably have another word for it by now), and he had a charm that could melt a moon-rock.

    I had better cut to the chase now. Recently, ML has been much more volatile, and I have had that walking-on-eggshells feeling. I have found I cannot sleep properly when near him or in his home. I develop minor physical ailments, infections, digestive problems, nosebleeds, when with him. One can see when he is in his “mode.”

    On my last visit, this April, he soon switched into his “mode” and stayed there permanently. He was superficially polite, but the hostility was just below the surface (and sometimes broke out briefly). He has a new woman in his life (he won’t call her a girlfriend), much younger than him, whom he assured me before I came would likely not visit while I was there. Soon after I arrived, he began taking me to see her, and inviting her over frequently, often overnight, and claimed that their relationship had had a sudden rebirth. She and I became instant friends, although I think he was hoping for a catfight so that he could play the role of enlightened leader. He treated me with increasing indignity and unkindness, trying to provoke jealousy, insulting my appearance, and interrogating me over how I felt. He gave me daily play-by-plays of their sexual activities, even when I asked him not to.

    He didn’t actually treat her much better, trotting out the photo album routine etc., but I was confused and didn’t feel in a position to help her. She is in love with him, and is like an even more naive (if you can imagine) version of me. She is on the rebound from a ten-year relationship, and is on antidepressants.

    I became emotionally numb. The less I responded to his abuse of me, the harder he tried. I was shocked not only by the unkindness of my friend, but at the fact that he could be so patently immature and unrealistic. He did several things that most people would consider unforgivable. I was very sad when I went home, my dignity in tatters, knew I would never go back, but still thought the friendship could and ought to be be preserved.

    Next contact we made, by internet-messenger, (I told him I wanted to discuss some concerns, but never got as far as that) he immediately went into a sarcastic and bitter tirade over how inconsiderate I had been on my visit, and continued for over three hours. He refused to let me phone. I was my usual meek self, hoping he would calm down and trying not to provoke. This time he really broke my heart. I told him time and time again that I loved him and would never try to hurt him. Soon he was swearing. He accused me of many unkind things he does himself, but which I never do. But then it got even stranger. When he ran out of ammunition, he began to make things up. He got more and more upset and shrill. And then the kicker … paranoid delusions, using, as a base, unthreatening real events, converted into very sinister occurances in which I had played a key role against him. I was aghast! And also afraid for his safety! He seemed nuts!

    Believe it or not (I am sure nothing will surprise you now), I went back for more. I wondered if he had been compromised by alcohol (yes, of course he abuses alcohol) or something else during that conversation. I pulled my shattered self together and tried again a few evenings later. But I met the same ravening monster, yelling about all the “crap” he had had to put up with from me during our last conversation. When it was obvious that no progress could be made, I offered not to contact him again (he had told me to go to hell, etc., and that he never wanted to see me again); he responded “yeah, sure, that shows what kind of friend you really are!!!”. He continued to rant, so I gently said goodbye and logged of.

    I was emotionally drained and devastated, teeth chattering even though it was warm in the house. The cats looked at me with big round eyes.

    I considered our relationship over. A couple of weeks later I developed shingles, an odd ailment for a 42-year-old, but commonly caused by an emotional trauma. Also irritable bowel…lovely. Nothing came from ML and I was glad. I was so freaked out that I startled every time I saw something out of the corner of my eye, as if he might jump on me … and he is in Europe! My poor husband had to put up with my sorry state, but he did a great and compassionate job. He, too, is disappointed in what happened, but he was never in as deep as I was.

    Some time later I found this forum. A bright light!

    Yes, they always come back to haunt you. ML phoned 8 weeks later and screamed at my husband (he was probably hoping that I would answer). More irrational accusations; finally my husband had to hang up. Then a poison email came, filled with condescending instructions for me (I am apparently never to use the word “delusion”, as I am not a trained professional) and demanding apologies from both of us for various things that have never happened. We did not respond, and it came again. We replied, separately, and quite flatly, but my husband’s reply contained a hint of anger. I predicted that he would be ML’s next target, since he had showed a rise. And he was! (one point for me).

    But get this … the letter came not from ML, but from his 19-year-old squeeze (he is now 45). She valiantly defends ML’s honor and integrity, and chides us for being such unevolved people who habitually place blame on others. Oh, dear!

    My next prediction was that now that my husband was the devil, I would become the darling again. I was right once more (ping!). A long letter came from ML himself, who points out what a monumental achievement his letter is since he is dyslexic, and that he has had the generous help of both the girl I met at his house (she is still in the picture?) and the 19-year-old. What a team. He has artfully written a letter that will look like a generous reconciliation to his two “helpers”, but addresses none of his hideous behavior to me, and is in fact larded with little personal insults. He reassures me that he never intended to end our friendship, and adds a lighthearted PS that he is redoing his kitchen so that “next time I visit” I won’t recognize it.

    Can this be real? I felt like shooting him!

    I replied, briefly, (this was last week) that he has indeed ended our friendship, and that I associate him now with pain, treachery, and a stunning lack of integrity. Period. He then sic’ed his first lady friend on me, the girl I had met at his home. She wrote to me, using ML’s own words and phrases, about how deluded I was, and not worthy of such a friend as he. I replied that she should be careful, and be sure to do her own thinking.

    If these disappointing replies do not shut this trio up, then silence will have to do. I predict that we will receive a remorseful call around Christmastime, to which I do not look forward.

    Needless to say, the fact that our arrangement had no issue in the form of a child is a blessing! Who thought I would ever be saying that!

    Weeks later, I still feel shaky, and a little depressed (dishes etc. pile up, and I am chronically disappointed in myself, which is not typical of me). But the worst is over … finding this forum was the turning point.

    I had better end here. Thank you all for being there, and thanks again, Dr. Carver.

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    Now I know who my loser has been cheating on me with!!!!

    Oh my. This profile is exactly what is in my L’s diagnosis, Schizoid Personality Disorder.

    Yike, right now I’m going through hell. We’ve been married forever, it seems, at least all my adult life!

    You are rid of this chap, right?

    The exit plan was written long ago, but he (my L)is currently looking for something to blame me for so that he remains the one at the top. Ah yes, the finances, which I’ve been trying to get him to look at for 3 years. It’s all my fault we’re 5-k in debt. Yes that’s right, 5-k. That’s why our, no my, marriage is in trouble!

    Heck, I thought it was really his preference for the gal whose picture he carries, Priscilla, the pole dancing, powerlifting, CAN-CAN Queen from ——.

    God bless

    It is amazing how these characteristics are the same in varying degrees in different people.

    My L does not yell. Does not raise his voice. But boy, it’s all in there. He absolutely can not stand me.

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    Hi, Mary,

    My heart goes out to you. Although intense enough to cause great psychological and psychosomatic stress, my relationship with ML has only involved us being together occasionally, although there was much contact by phone and email, and intense emotional involvement on my part. But I have had had a multi-layered safety-net compared to most on this forum.

    For you, you are stuck with your nemesis right there in your house! All the time! Thank goodness he does not yell … but don’t let that convince you that he’s not dangerous. He is dragging you down with every hour you stay there.

    I can well understand how things have come to a head now, since the children are grown up and your relationship with your husband is front and center. Also, he may well be having more symptoms since he cannot but suspect that you will leave him soon.

    Gosh, I hope you can make a plan and go!

    Do you feel perhaps that you “owe him”, since you are his wife and are supposed to take care of him? You have taken care of him, for thirty years. He has hardly been ripped off. Yes, he is still a human being, still someone you have loved. Include him in your prayers for the rest of your life, but get away from him!

    The fact that you have survived his abuse for this long is in no way evidence that this situation is OK.

    Hope you don’t mind that I am speculating on what might be going through your mind. I just hope that you get out okay, and soon.

    Here is something that popped into my head. In university psychology 100, we studied Skinner’s classic rat experiments. I remember one in which rats had to press a bar in order to avoid an electric shock. In one variant of the experiment, rats who had been trained to thus avoid the shock were then deprived of the means. The bar no longer worked. They could press it, and they received the “punishment” anyway.

    Not surprisingly, these rats soon broke down mentally and physically, although the shocks were not anywhere close to deadly. They became depressed, and many even died.

    This is exactly what happens when we are involved with “losers”, manipulators, people with personality disorders. We cannot avoid the punishment. No matter what we do, it will be the “wrong” the majority of the time. We press the bar (by doing what sustains a normal, healthy relationship), and usually get a shock anyway.

    No wonder depression is common in those who are having our experiences! No wonder we are muddled, and have trouble helping ourselves and seeing clearly.

    I forget if you had been assessed for depression. In any case, you probably have no idea how free and full of ideas and optimism you will feel a year from the day you get yourself away from this fellow. Maybe even six months. It might even start within weeks. The world will open up!

    I’ll be rooting for you!

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    Hi, Lori,

    Hope I am not monopolizing this forum. There are just so many similarities among these manipulators, that I find a lot to comment on.

    Our “ML” has “helpfully” warned us that, in his country, it is not proper to play friends against friends (as if it were normal here?), and thus we should not mention any of “the friction that has come up” to our mutual friends/associates in his business or social world.

    Meanwhile we hear from a number of his associates that he has been pumping them for information about us, and whether we have mentioned anything about him. Also, he is trying to become extra-chummy with them. He has even told one of them that he has hurt us and must “find a way to make it up to us, somehow” (and then sends us a poison, sarcastic email). It is amazing (still!) that he does not realize how foolish he looks.

    Certainly his associates do not find this entertaining, so we have no reason stir the pot. Nor any need to, as he is doing a fine job himself. A couple of them, who have become our friends, have heard from us the bare-bones of what has happened. Also, we have severed our (minor) business ties with ML. But we would never trumpet this … we simply dropped him from our retailer list and told him he could keep his remaining product stock. Our reason was his irrationality and flimsy grip on reality … how might he treat customers?

    Lori, your report of your loser trying to ingratiate himself with your buddies sounds similar. Yes, it is for power. On the one hand, he cruelly blows you off, and on the other he is, as in the words of one of our friends, “desperate to maintain his position.” Call it what you will, separation anxiety, evil intent, identity crisis (he uses you to define himself as the “right, well-adjusted” one) … it’s not part of a healthy relationship. I know you are beyond being flattered by his persistence, but watch out for that one atom in you that still wishes things were at least “balanced” between you. They won’t be.

    Try to pay no attention (easier said than done). By no means gratify him in any way (this, at least, is possible).


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    Wendy, our losers do sound incredibly similar. My loser is living in the States but grew up in the U.K. When I first read your post, I thought, OMG these guys must be the same man! The inappropriate comments, sarcastic putdowns, purposely withholding affection, making sure I knew I was NOT his girlfriend, etc. etc. Lately, he has been acting quite foolish in his attempts to charm my buddy. Today, out of nowhere, he sent me a long tirade saying I was incredibly stupid and how dare I call my friend to set up a dinner date when HE had plans with him that very same night. I was ruining it all, he insisted. Then wanted to know which weekend I was going away, so he can plan accordingly. Now, this is ridiculous, I thought, and laughed. Yes, I actually laughed out loud and then I wondered if that said anything about me actually. Cause in reality, this person’s behavior is pretty sad and not something to joke about.

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