June 2017: Is He Bad or Sad? & A Nightmare Needy Colleague

Is He Bad or Sad?

Dear Dr. Jane

Please help I’ve just a few months into a relationship with a guy, who is out of this world, he’s good looking, tells me I’m fantastic, our physical relationship is wonderful.

The big problems is he’s had so many girlfriends before me. He says how awful they were to him, how they stopped him pursuing his dreams of becoming a trials bike champion. The awful things they’ve done goes on and on, but I know some of them and it’s just not true. One particular girl has seemingly ended up losing her house because she ended up giving him so much money for his biking. He ended up selling the bikes taking the money and never really took part in any competitions. But he will not give much detail and seems a little aggressive if I ask anything about it, so I don’t.

He tells me how great I am and wants to settle down forever, he’s practically moved in with me, he said his landlord was making his life unbearable. But I’m really cautious and worried about my house, which I own. So far he never seems to notice my reticence, but it’s taking huge amounts of thought and energy to maintain my interest and encouragement, but I feel that given long enough he can change, settle down and we can have a future.

Not surprisingly my family and friends have all warned me off him, and when I mention this to him, he says to just forget them as it’s me and him against the world. I want to be with him, but I still want a relationship with all my friends and family, I’m feeling stuck.

Any advice gratefully received.

Chloe

Dear Chloe,

Over my years of practice as a psychologist I have seen this scenario presented many, many times. Women who end up anxious, depressed and often financially broke because they think they can change their emotionally dangerous and damaged man and cannot. And men who are frustrated, perplexed, angry and again often wrung out emotionally and financially, because they cannot calm or change their once exciting, but now emotionally draining and damaging wife or girlfriend.

He sounds like a guy with a large ‘Handle with Extreme Caution’ warning sign written all over him. But what is attracting you to him?

The answer is that like many of my countless former clients who come for therapy when the damage is done, part of the attraction you have is because you believe that you and you alone can be the one to change them – to save them – to make it so different and better for them. The belief that you are rescuing your man appeals to you, you are the only one who is capable of taming the tiger. That you alone can do what countless former partners, family members and friends were unable to do. You have been sold the idea that you can rescue them and it is hugely appealing. And he probably encourages this belief for his emotional and financial gains.

And at the beginning of these relationships you are too love blind to see the warning signs. The numerous past failed relationships, the half truths, everyone and everything else always persecuting them, making things go wrong for them, the if onlys, but you are waking up to them, and due to past experiences he will be wise to the scales falling from your eyes.
He may tell you that you are the only one that has ever really understood him or that his life would crumble if not for you- he’d certainly lose the roof over his head by the sounds of things. Add to that a sense of isolation you feel because he’s doing his best to remove you from those around you who may offer and alternative truth, which is what you are already doing by writing in to me.

It is never too late to listen to what other people, those who really care about you, those who you can trust tell you about him – be prepared to hear a few ‘I told you so’s’, but it will be worth it to get some support. Or if you insist on carrying on with the relationship at least listen to your inner voice that tells you to make your finances and home untouchable, it is amazing how many of these guys start disappearing when the financial opportunities are protected.
Best advice is to walk away, it is better to be without an emotionally exploitative partner than to be left without your home, finances and dignity.

And get some professional help to gain an understanding what attracts you to such types. What is about the drama he offers you find so alluring? If you can gain an insight to your own motivations, you will not be so vulnerable to repeating the ultimately destructive pattern in the future.

People like your chap are not lovable rogues who have had some bad luck, that would be easy to verify, they are searching for the next partner to flatter, but exploit and use. They are damaged and dangerous and until they get proper help they always will be.

Very best wishes,

Dr. Jane x

A Nightmare Needy Colleague

Dear Dr. Jane,

For the past five years, I’ve been friends with a woman I met via work, at first we seemed to have lots things in common, children, work, that kind of thing and had quite a bit of fun. We’d even had one skiing holiday together with our respective families, although both me and my husband agreed not to do it again as her children were really horrible to mine, and her husband seemed just to want to stay a topped up with Gluhwein as much as possible and we reluctantly ended up looking after her children lots. Over the years our friendship has become so one sided, I really don’t know what to do.

Sometimes I seem to be her personal therapist, she calls me at all hours to talk about all types of things in her life, from her in-laws to her hair colour,  and gets cross if I’m not totally available to her.  She freezes me out at work if she thinks I’m doing something she isn’t involved in.  And when I had an extended family holiday last year, she told people  at work, that I may not be back due to “emotional issues”.  When we meet the only topic she has is herself, her problems, her (dysfunctional) family, and any mention of me is quickly dismissed and dispatched with a throw away comment.  Frankly I’ve had enough, but it could become an awkward situation at work, as she’s just got a small promotion and although not directly my senior, is certainly behaving like she is.

Help, she’s really driving me nuts.

Maddy

Dear Maddy,

It really sounds like you have to get some proper and permanent distance from this woman. As you say she is totally using you as her go to therapist, personal stylist or baby-sitter.  Chances are she doesn’t take any notice of what you say anyway. 

It sounds like she doesn’t have a very happy of fulfilling life with her husband and children and takes any opportunity to become the centre of someone’s thoughts and attention and at the moment you are her go-to always available person.    

First of all you need to set your own firm boundaries, about when you will talk to her, what you will discuss, how long you will speak etc. And then have a timetable of you communication with her reducing until it is at a point you are genuinely happy with. It may be that you do not want any communication at all so work towards that.  It sounds like your husband knows what is going on so he might be a good sounding board to figure out what is achievable and when. 

Secondly when you have established your boundaries – it helps write them on your phone or somewhere so you have a permanent reminder – stick to them. She will likely make it as awkward as she can, because ultimately she is losing her current confidant and she knows it will take time, effort and training to get a replacement, but that is exactly what she will do.

Stick to your boundaries and she will soon get the message that you are no longer ‘available’  to her. People like her will just inevitably go on to her next person, when she gets the message that you are no longer at her beck and call.  If she tries to throw her weight around at work with you, take notes had have a word with her boss to stop it.

Good luck, 

Dr. Jane x