Newest Members
dspwilson, Won'tGiveUp, sillyputty, Pytbull, manipulated
12384 Registered Users
Today's Birthdays
Alan Fountain (52), blindpet (31), egoror (49), Midas (33), uwa (78)
Who's Online
6 registered (woodenshoes, Obi, 4 invisible), 33 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
12384 Members
74 Forums
63649 Topics
444527 Posts

Max Online: 418 @ 07/02/12 07:29 AM
Twitter
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#401453 - 06/23/12 03:29 PM little boy misbehaving to get attention?
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
He uses subtle digs to try to hurt me. I believe he does this to try to provoke a reaction so he can test whether I truly "care." If I don't respond with the "hurt" response he is looking for, he feels unloved, and will escalate his behavior until it blows up into a full argument.
When he sees my upset and tears, it calms him down instantly because he is reassured that I do care.

I can't help but feel like he is acting out the way a small child would, to get attention. I see this behavior as disturbing and unhealthy, though I guess it makes sense from his POV.

I don't know how to react when he does this. I resent being manipulated into giving a certain response. At the same time I do want him to know that 1) I do care, and 2) He is capable of doing real harm, and that could have the opposite affect of what he wants.

I feel caught in a lose-lose situation with this. Any ideas?

Top
#401454 - 06/23/12 03:36 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
GoodHope Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 415
Can you tell him this? Say it to him just as you've written it. I love you but I'm not going to allow you to provoke me to prove it.
_________________________
Wife of a survivor

Top
#401485 - 06/23/12 11:41 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Yes, I've tried that (because it makes sense, right?!) and his response is, "What? I'm not trying to provoke you" - or he will deny having said whatever he said. It's maddening. Sometimes I think he's just not aware enough of his behavior to realize he's even doing it, let alone WHY he's doing it.

Top
#401510 - 06/24/12 08:55 AM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
GoodHope Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 415
Say it, then don't react. Another woman on this board says that "really, hmmmm" (or something like that) saves her sanity when she remembers to employ it. Might be worth a shot.
_________________________
Wife of a survivor

Top
#401546 - 06/24/12 01:16 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Anomalous Offline
Greeter Coordinator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 03/07/10
Posts: 1347
Hi MMFan,

Your partner's behavior doesn't have anything to do with an "inner child," though his behavior is immature and indicative of poor coping skills. His provoking you with hurtful words is based on his low self esteem and low self worth.

GoodHope is right, you need to tell him that hurting you and provoking you to "prove" your love is unacceptable and is manipulative.

His denials of his behavior are also manipulations. He knows exactly what he is doing. It is not essential that he understands why he is doing this in order for him to start to contol his behavior.

You must set firm limits with him regarding his abusive behavior. And yes, it is abusive. He is intentionally hurting you to get his needs met - getting you to cry to "prove" you love him, which gives him a sense of security.

He has every right to feel hurt and enraged at the harm he endured. He has NO right to abuse you.

You do not say whether or not either of you are in therapy (at least not in this thread). Both of you need to have your own therapists, preferably one who specializes in trauma and/ or sexual abuse.

Until he deals with his feelings of low self esteem and low self worth, he will not feel that you "do care," despite the fact that you care deeply. His behavior will continue to be hurtful and manipulative unless he, and you, get help.

His hurting you is serving two purposes for him. On the one hand, when he provokes you until you cry, it "proves" to him that you love him and that he is worthy of that love. On the other hand, if you do not react in the manner he is trying to provoke (pain, sadness), he will take that as "proof" that you do not care and he is not worthy.

Without help, this is a no-win situation.

There are several books written for the significant others of sexually abused males. I am certain those who post in this forum will be more than happy to share the titles they have found most helpful. The books are available at the bookstore and your public library.

By acting out in a manner that, to him, will either "prove" or "disprove" your love for him, he is not dealing with the underlying issues of abuse.

If he does not already come here, you may want to leave information about this site for him. You may also want to get some books written specifically for male survivors.

Whether or not your partner chooses to take positive steps toward healing from his experiences, you need to heal from them, and from him. Hopefully he will choose to grow with you, rather than apart from you.

The best way to support him is to get yourself help and to be healthy.

Be gentle and kind to yourself.



Anomalous
_________________________
Acceptance on someone else's terms is worse than rejection.

Top
#401558 - 06/24/12 02:55 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
peroperic2009 Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3610
Loc: South-East Europe
Hi Mmfan,
I think that Anomalous has some good point. Sometimes talk is not enough. At other side when there is some dynamics set already it is difficult to suddenly change it, but it is possible.
I hope you'll find way to escape those games...
Pero
_________________________
My story

Top
#401577 - 06/24/12 05:09 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
whome Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/07/11
Posts: 1734
Loc: Johannesburg South Africa
MMFAN

So don't is the simple answer to your question.
You give a reaction because you think that this is what he wants.
What I see is that you are doing things to make him happy.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY? Do you still remember what it is that makes you happy?

You need to work on the things that make you happy, and while you are doing that, be mindful that he is healing.

There are things that you can control and things that you cant. What you can control are those things that concern you, what you cannot control is him and his healing.

I know that this might not be the answer that you are looking for, but it is what I learned from my healing path.

I was so busy with my healing and I completely forgot about my family. When I finally reached the point where I felt that I was OK, my wife had had enough. So just when I felt that I was ready, she tossed my butt outta there. Fact is that she also needed to heal and needed to learn that I had impacted on her life in a mighty way. I had abused her mentally and phsycologicaly for twenty years. That's a lot of healing.

Care for him, but care for yourself more.

Heal well
Martin
_________________________
Matrix Men South Africa
Survivors Supporting Each other
Matrix Men Blog

Top
#401599 - 06/24/12 07:59 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Thanks GoodHope for the tip, anything to help preserve my energy/sanity at this point, I'm open to trying.

Anomalous I read your post several times, and I can see that you get it. I like your distinction between inner child and immature. I think you're right it's a symptom of low self esteem. Your explanation of his behavior helps me to see how it is serving him (and how it's not serving me!) And you're right, when he's busy looking for external "proof" for his theories, he's not developing an internal sense of worth, which is what he needs to confront.

And thanks for understanding that a non-response is as problematic as a response. The calmer I am, the worse it is ("No one gives a @#$% about me, I might as well die" etc). Maybe I just need to learn to weather this dramatic behavior, and let him learn to weather the feelings that go along with it.

I guess you won't be surprised to hear that he's not in therapy. He says it won't help. Individual therapy has helped me a lot (my therapist is a lifesaver), and I think it would help him. But I know we all have our own timelines of readiness, so I respect his choices. I also mentioned this site and he says he's too uncomfortable with men.

Bottom line though his behavior is unhealthy and I can't allow him to manipulate me because that isn't healthy for ME. Thanks for reminding me of this. I flinched actually when I read the word "abusive" because it is somewhat embarrassing, having done a lot of my own healing work, to think I'm allowing an abusive behavior.....But I'd rather realize it so I can change the pattern somehow, for myself.

Hi Pero thanks for your supportive post!
Thanks Whome I appreciate the spirit of your post, I do need a reminder now and again to put myself first.

Top
#401883 - 06/27/12 05:02 AM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Anomalous Offline
Greeter Coordinator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 03/07/10
Posts: 1347
Hi MMFan,

I am happy to hear you are in therapy.

I hope you will discuss your husband's behavior with your therapist.

But please, do not feel embarrassed or think that you are "allowing" it. It is difficult to know how to deal with certain behaviors. Instead of berating yourself for "allowing" it, I hope that you can see you have been tolerating his behavior, until you find a healthy solution for how to deal with it.

It can be very difficult to assess the behavior of those closest to us, let alone assess it as abusive.

Congratulate yourself for reaching out and hearing what we had to say, even if it was painful. Also congratulate yourself for taking positive steps to making yourself healthier.

Your husband's insistence that he doesn't need therapy "it won't help," is his way of seeking attention for his behavior and a justification for not changing. Part of his reticence can also be fear.

As for his statements "I might as well die" when you do not give him the reaction he is seeking, that is absolutely inappropriate and you can no longer let him abuse and manipulate you with such statements.

If your husband is suffering from depression, the statement "I might as well die" could be a veiled threat of suicide.

Even if he is not depressed he could act out in a manner harmful to himself, which may or may not be a fatal attempt, to get your attention.

I doubt he will go to therapy unless the issue is forced.

If you are setting limits with him, one of the things you can tell him is he has to go to therapy. And if he continues to make such threats, you will have him hospitalized.

You cannot be held emotionally hostage, nor should you have to worry about whether or not he will act on this veiled threat to prove a point.

Please re-read two of your paragraphs from an objective view (if you can):

Quote:

And thanks for understanding that a non-response is as problematic as a response. The calmer I am, the worse it is ("No one gives a @#$% about me, I might as well die" etc). Maybe I just need to learn to weather this dramatic behavior, and let him learn to weather the feelings that go along with it.

I guess you won't be surprised to hear that he's not in therapy. He says it won't help. Individual therapy has helped me a lot (my therapist is a lifesaver), and I think it would help him. But I know we all have our own timelines of readiness, so I respect his choices. I also mentioned this site and he says he's too uncomfortable with men.


In particular, I want you to see that every time you either do not give in to what he wants (display of pain) or you suggest ways of him getting help (therapy, MS), he throws up road blocks, and comes up with reasons why the help won't work or why he cannot do it, before he has even tried.

My guess is if you brought home some of the books about and for male survivors, there will be reasons he won't read them, either.

To be blunt, you are going to have to find a way to get him to seek help. "Raising the bottom," rather than waiting for him to hit it (which is what is done in an intervention). You will also need to decide, with the support of your therapist, what your bottom line will be if he refuses to get help.

The bottom line is not a threat, nor is it a punishment or blackmail. It is not intended to shame or to humiliate him. You are drawing a line in the sand.

He must make changes if he wants to stop hurting.

You have to be healthy regardless of the choice he makes.

Hopefully he will decide to get help. If not, he will be suffering alone.

Be gentle and kind to yourself.




Anomalous
_________________________
Acceptance on someone else's terms is worse than rejection.

Top
#403332 - 07/11/12 05:33 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Anomalous thank you for your thoughtful reply. We had another upheaval today and I realized I hadn't checked for any replies recently. I appreciate your taking the time to dissect my thinking a bit. Your perspective is invaluable and one that my therapist can't provide. I do speak to her about him, but, I think she gets frustrated as there is a lot of my own stuff I need to be working on, and I notice she draws the conversation away from him. (She's right...but I do legitimately need help dealing with him.)

I did feel a bit embarrassed after some of the responses thinking I might have "allowed" abusive behavior. Your word "tolerate" lets me go a bit easier on myself, thank you.

Thanks for pointing out that "I might as well be dead" is abusive, I needed to hear that. I think you're right to worry about how far he might take these "tests." The suggestion of taking his threats at face value and calling emergency services, I hadn't thought of, and that's a good one. If it's a bluff then I'm calling him on it, and if it's not a bluff, well then emergency services needs to be involved anyway!! Thank you. I can add this one to my tool box.

You are right, he throws up many many roadblocks. You are exactly right about the books too. He's very intelligent, and unfortunately this superior brainpower generates superior methods of evasion/excuses. I think you're right, he's scared.

I'm in a bit of tough spot, as he and I are not actually married nor partners, we are best friends. The reality is that we both invest a large amount of time and energy in one another and in many ways it is like a relationship, but I don't feel as his friend that i have the right to give him an ultimatum to get help. Besides, the ultimatum would be false, as I accept him as a friend regardless of whether or when he gets help, and would never stop being his friend (as long as I can remain healthy being his friend).

By and large I've given up trying to influence his behavior, and have been trying to focus on my own sanity and boundaries. (So your suggestions and feedback here are invaluable.) You are very right I can't be held emotionally hostage, it is very stressful. This is one place where I need to draw a line.



Edited by mmfan (07/11/12 05:38 PM)

Top
#403339 - 07/11/12 06:31 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
scottyg Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 253
Loc: Seattle
Originally Posted By: mmfan

I'm in a bit of tough spot, as he and I are not actually married nor partners, we are best friends. The reality is that we both invest a large amount of time and energy in one another and in many ways it is like a relationship, but I don't feel as his friend that i have the right to give him an ultimatum to get help. Besides, the ultimatum would be false, as I accept him as a friend regardless of whether or when he gets help, and would never stop being his friend (as long as I can remain healthy being his friend).


I like you but and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Anomolous but let's be blunt about this situation.

You raising the bottom and delivering an ultimatum is not about him and what he needs. IT'S ABOUT YOU FINALLY GETTING WHAT YOU NEED!!!!! You need to be respected and cared for. That's not going to happen if you're in a relationship (yes, this friendships is a relationship) that is manipulative and abusive. You don't have to stop being his friend. But you may need to refuse to interact until his unhealthy behavior is under control.

Let's play a thought game. What if you were the abusive friend and every time you saw this guy you punched him in the face. It makes you feel good to punch him and because he's a friend he shouldn't mind getting punched, right? Friends tolerate each others quirks. Then what if he says to you, "you're hurting me when you punch me in my face," and you say something like him now ...if you cared you wouldn't say that... Anger Management is lame and won't work ... You're unfairly attacking me. This is who I am. I can go on with excuses 'cause I was this guy.

But if we reduce this situation to its ridiculous end you can see how unfathomable it is to allow somebody to hurt you and claim that you'd never allow that hurt to compromise the friendship. Please take my words as a gift of love. I do not mean to mock. It's just that I'm not as eloquent as the others.
_________________________
I've got a bike you can ride it if you like.
Its got a basket, a bell that rings
And many other things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could -but I've borrowed it.

Top
#403360 - 07/11/12 11:09 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Country Offline


Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 642
Loc: Alabama
Great info and posts folks.
_________________________
Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Top
#403407 - 07/12/12 02:08 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Haps Offline


Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 89
Loc: Ohio
I second what Country has said. Thanks for this exchange! wink

Top
#403413 - 07/12/12 03:06 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Anomalous Offline
Greeter Coordinator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 03/07/10
Posts: 1347
Hi MMFan,

I am concerned about something you said, namely that your therapist steers the conversation away from him everytime you try to discuss the situation.

Why won't she discuss your relationship with him and his behavior, especially since his behavior is harming you????

I fail to see (or accept) her reasoning in this situation.

Just becuase you have "other issues" does not mean that this situation is not an important issue to address. His behavior is causing you great distress. Granted, not all issues can be addressed at one time. But blantantly IGNORING one is not healthy or helpful, either. Sometimes one issue needs to be set aside to work on another. Sometimes the issues end up being parallel and working on one helps resolve another.

Have ever asked your T why she does not want you to discuss his abusive behavior? Have you told her that you NEED to discuss the issues in the relationship with him?

If she has difficulties dealing with those issues, than she needs to work on them, but not at the expense of you getting the help and perspective you need to be healthy.

Just my $0.02.





Anomalous
_________________________
Acceptance on someone else's terms is worse than rejection.

Top
#403434 - 07/12/12 06:11 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Haps Offline


Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 89
Loc: Ohio
I ONLY speak from my own personal experience here, but it wasn't until I entertained my own Ts desire keep,the focus in me did I discover some issues that pertain to my own thoughts and beliefs about myself. Bottom line, I thought I didn't matter. My wants or needs didn't matter. A bit of work getting there, but I see how my wants or needs can be met in a healthy way now.

Top
#403527 - 07/13/12 05:18 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Scottyg, I have to thank you because you got my attention with that "thought experiment." I intitally felt a bit defensive to be honest, but the timing couldn't have been better because the very next thing that happened was he lashed out in spectacular fashion and verbally abused me, no question about it, I felt I had been verbally punched in the face. I knew you were right.

I stood up and said this is not ok and the next time it happens I will leave the conversation and not talk to you for the rest of the day.

Oh how he kicked up a fuss - as if I'd taken away his favorite toy. He whined, accused, said I was being mean, unfair, he can't control his behavior when he's upset, now he must walk on eggshells, I'm punishing him etc etc. I might as well have been talking to an 8 year old but I stuck to my guns and by the end of the conversation I think he realized what he had done and that it indeed had a deep effect on me.
He also acknowledged that the "consequences" seemed natural and fair.

Whew! Drawing boundaries isn't easy but we both survived, LOL.

Anomalous I agree, I find it strange that she's reluctant to talk about a situation that clearly brings up a lot of my own childhood issues and thus probably has some rich potential for learning.
Maybe it is like what Haps said, that she thinks focusing on myself might be better, not sure.

Top
#403530 - 07/13/12 05:49 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Haps Offline


Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 89
Loc: Ohio
Am I reading your post just above correct in that the current interaction with you hubby brings up childhood issues? If you can make the connection that strongly right now (very jealous, btw!), perhaps they're worth delving into?

For me, my P going AWOL hit my abandonment hard. Cripplingly hard. It's kinda nice talking about me to my T now, too. Oye - all that $$ spent obsessing over him! I think my T vacationed on those sessions!

Top
#403567 - 07/13/12 10:30 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Hi Haps -yes you have an excellent point and boy that connection has taken me several years of hard work in therapy sorting through my own stuff(including childhood neglect, as well as physical emotional and sexual abuse). I'm still learning every day. My therapist is excellent at what she does and I am praying that my friend takes the hint soon that he needs to be talking about this stuff in therapy also.

I posted this topic because I know I tend to under-react to certain unhealthy behaviors due to my past, and I need help identifying what is OK. Also I have abandonment issues that make it difficult to draw boundaries.

I can see how with a history of abandonment stuff, your partner leaving would activate that trigger point HUGELY.:( I am sure it would affect me much the same. frown I'm glad you have a therapist and that you can focus on you. I really believe that focusing on making ourselves as healthy as possible is the way through. However it's far easier said than done!

Top
#403602 - 07/14/12 09:38 AM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: mmfan]
Haps Offline


Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 89
Loc: Ohio
mmfan - thats really helpful. I never thought of abandonment muddling the boundary thing, but there's something for me to think on. Make sense that I'd put the bar so low just to avoid being abandoned! Boundaries are hard, tricky buggers.

I do need to add that things do include my P - he's (to borrow the language) hitting my triggers. When my T sees that, that's where the convo gets deeper and the work begins.

I was even doing emdr and his mug popped into the picture. Smiley and cute like the guy I fell in love with and the one who my inner child wants to play with. I've towed the line so hard (by myself it feels), it is almost like my IC is saying "let it go. Go have fun with him." :-/

I have shared my stories with him, and he says he's happy for me. He says he wants to do this kind of work, but not right now. Sharing my story seems to have provided him a bit of encouragement. Maybe doing your IC work could be inspiration for your friend?

Top
#403633 - 07/14/12 05:09 PM Re: little boy misbehaving to get attention? [Re: Haps]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
I can very much very relate to what you said, Haps. Our child selves connect very well and we enjoy playing together -and yes he has said that my willingness to embrace my IC has helped him to take the risk also. And like you said, my child self just wants to play, and doesn't want to hold him accountable! Yes its so tempting to just let it go, but our adult selves have to step up and play a parental role almost, not a fun task but those boundaries are a loving caring thing that helps us both in the long run. You're doing the right thing in my opinion toeing the line, though I have an inkling of how hard it is!

Abandonment issues have been posted about rarely on this board in the time I've been here, maybe because it's difficult for men to admit this type of issue? I am not sure.I know its a huge issue for both my friend and me.

Oh I also wanted to say, I think it's a positive thing that he brings your issues into the light, because it's allowing you to acknowledge them and address them and heal YOU. So talking about him in therapy is real and important work, no matter how many sessions it takes.

I think we cross paths with people for a reason, and we can take the opportunity to learn and grow as a result, or not. That you're choosing to do the hard work of looking at yourself, deserves major kudos. I guess we can both hope that we might pave the way for our survivors to do the same.

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >


Moderator:  ModTeam, peroperic2009 

I agree that my access and use of the MaleSurvivor discussion forums and chat room is subject to the terms of this Agreement. AND the sole discretion of MaleSurvivor.
I agree that my use of MaleSurvivor resources are AT-WILL, and that my posting privileges may be terminated at any time, and for any reason by MaleSurvivor.