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#68055 - 11/02/03 06:18 PM Is it recovery or sabatoge
lindts Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/09/03
Posts: 26
My bf is changing and I don't know which parts are recovery and which, if, any are his subconscious attempts to sabatoge our relationship.
Despite knowing that I am extremely offended by it, he has started to curse and use obsenities when I am present (he use to refrain when I was around) and now he is growing a mustache (superficial, yes, but he knows I am not the mustache-type and I'm using this as part of my point). Additionally, he is again saying things like, "I'm thinking about applying for job positions in other states, or moving to a new home. We've been dating for almost 3 years, and he doesn't ask me what I think about jobs/moving, or even seem to include me in his future plans. I actually think he says those things just to try and get a negative reaction from me. Throughout it all I literally have been grinning and bearing it.
When I feel like saying something, I think, with all the pain he is dealing with, surely I can just deal with these other minor things. But I still find myself getting frustrated. I don't want to say anything to get him upset because he is trying so hard and is really giving 110% to our relationship. Even when he may not feel up to it, he is trying to call and spend time together as much as he is able to. He even is saying "I love you" again. If you compare where we are now to just a few months ago, when he first told me, I am truly amazed at how well things are going. I just want to keep moving forward and not say something to cause him to go backward, even if it does feel like I'm walking on egg shells a lot. I know there are probably plenty more rough roads ahead. He's admitted to sabatoging his past relationships, I think when things got too close he'd phase out until the person would finally get frustrated and leave. But I'm the only person in his personal life that he's ever confided to, and I know he truly wants us to work out. I get overcome with emotion just realizing how much he has grown to trust me.
Do I question him on some of his changes to see if he is trying to push me away, or do I just support everything, whether I like it or not, to help him through the recovery? I can still see the pain across his face and that's without us even talking about it.


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#68056 - 11/02/03 07:41 PM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Lindts
I could pick a fight with my wife when we were in different towns !

Sabotage was my strong point for many years, and I still have my moments when I go back there.
When we are conditioned to feel like something worthless it's very very difficult to begin to accept that we're not worthless.

And our recoveries drag us out of feeling worthless, so our whole world begins to change before our eyes, and it scared the crap out of me for one !
So it was a kind of 'comfort blanket' thing to pick a fight. And I was good at it, it wasn't ever 'my fault'.
Which is very perverse - I would manipulate the situation where she would start the argument against me, but I had a 'foolproof' defense that turned it against her, which made her feel bad instead of me.
I suppose it's some kind of transference of guilt.
Whatever - I did it all the time.

Thankfully I recognise it now and stop myself, but the temptation is still there for some reason.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#68057 - 11/04/03 11:24 AM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Hi - To me it sounds like he's definitely testing you - maybe he is going to far as to starting to sabotage the relationship, maybe he is testing you to see if you really love him - but he is definitely doing something - whether it is conscious or not who knows - but I would not put my money on this being symptom of "recovery" - but I am not sure that is even the point.....

I think the point here is that you should not forget that everyone has the right to a stable relationship where you are not questioning your partner's commitment.


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#68058 - 11/04/03 01:33 PM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Funny, I was just going to post my own question about sabotage & when I logged in this post was right here.

My ex bf is doing really well & making lots of progress. He & I have been getting along well & having regular pleasant conversations. We've spent some time together & it has been really nice, fun & comfortable.

So what does he do? He has started making comments that he knows will upset me. It is as though things are too pleasant so he has to make a problem. Then if/when I complain about it, he will turn it into MY problem & tell me that he has so much work to do on himself that he can't deal with my issues as well.

Or at least that is the pattern. I agree with Dave about the psychology of it. I think that he is causing problems because he can't believe that a truly nice person would want to spend time with him. So he picks at me to 'prove' I'm not so great & then if I respond negatively it is really 'proof' because I am angry with him & no one is allowed to be angry with him because he is the poor victim....

I'm sounding a bit sarcastic here. It isn't that I'm unsympathetic, but as PAS says we all deserve some security in our relationships and this behavior not only destroys any sense of security I might have, but also makes me feel bad about myself & question myself.

I don’t really know the best way to handle it. I try to point things out to him & deflect a lot of it with humor. Sometimes that works. Right now I’m in a real conundrum because I did that in a conversation we had last night on the phone & I still feel bad about his comment because it cut too deep.

-BB.


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#68059 - 11/04/03 05:09 PM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
When my fiance used to do stuff that was horrendously inapporpriate (he had a serious rage and anger problem), although it took awhile to get up the courage and stay sane when he was pushing all my buttons (it takes a lot of self restraint on my part to do so as I was traumatized as a child by rage, anger and violence) I would state to him calmly and directly what I did not like (i.e. "I do not like it when you raise your voice to me and throw my possessions, that is inappropriate behaviour and I will NOT stand for it"), and that I was only interested in being with him if he treated me with the dignity and respect that I deserved.

I dont believe in being indirect about this kind of stuff - although confronting him about this can seem very scary (and it is very scary for those of us who fear confrontation) sometimes you will find that people will respect you for standing up for yourself. And if not,do you really want to be with someone who constantly disrespects you?

Be prepared that your partner *may* react strongly to this approach (i.e. he may react with anger, or try to egg you into a fight, or may state that "you dont love him" etc.) but the key is to state ONLY what you have to state, to try to remain as direct yet non-emotional as possible, and then if he still chooses to not stop the offending behaviour, you have to back it up with action (i.e. give him a consequence to his action - for my fiance I used to just ask him to leave when he was in one of his anger states - to get out of my face and come back when he could talk to me like a grown-up.)


>>>> I'm sounding a bit sarcastic here. It isn't that I'm unsympathetic, but as PAS says we all deserve some security in our relationships and this behavior not only destroys any sense of security I might have, but also makes me feel bad about myself & question myself.

This isn't about sympathy, its about setting YOUR boundaries. You're not doing him or yourself any favours by letting him do things to you that are not appropriate or hurtful to you. You're not holding him accountable for his actions and behaviour when you do so!

There's a really good book for women on this its called "the dance of anger" by Harriet Goldhor Lerner - its about how to avoid being sucked into someone's anger and how to break cycles of ineffective anger, how to avoid being sucked into "change back" behaviour, etc. Sounds like you may find it useful!

P


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#68060 - 11/04/03 07:25 PM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Yeah, that is very true. I think where I get stuck in this is trying to NOT let the sabotage work. I mean, I try very hard to stay calm as PAS says, but the whole point with my ex is that he tries to 'get' me -- so he'll poke around at sensitive topics & stay just on the edge of appropriate. Then it is like he just sticks one finger over the line...so if I react strongly, I'm pretty much the bad guy because it is such a 'small' even 'accidental' crossing of the line. The effort to stay calm & call him on things takes a lot of discipline -- he knows my sensitive areas & can pick things that make me look like I'M overreacting.

I think it also relates to what PAS posted about being in survival mode vs. our ‘true’ selves. I had a pretty volatile relationship with my ex husband in which we would yell & argue & call names, etc. He knew how to push all my buttons & I didn’t know then how to stay out of the conflict & be rational in the face of someone else’s anger. I try to find ways now to protect my boundaries without becoming provoked into bad behavior. It is hard. Really really hard. I think he WANTS me to get upset, because that is part of the sabotage. I don’t want to get sucked in, but I also don’t want to get walked on. As PAS posted “This isn't about sympathy, its about setting YOUR boundaries. You're not doing him or yourself any favours by letting him do things to you that are not appropriate or hurtful to you. You're not holding him accountable for his actions and behaviour when you do so!”

In my current situation, I called & spoke to him today. His comment was a comparison about his ex & my cooking (not in my favor) & he knows I was planning to have him over for dinner tomorrow. So I just asked him calmly whether he would like to come for dinner & then said "and I'm sure you didn't mean what you said about your ex's cooking vs. mine, right?" It may seem wimpy, but I thought about some different options – from ‘punishing’ him by uninviting him to not preparing anything myself (maybe some take-out or a pizza). Then I thought, no, this isn’t what I want. I LIKE to cook dinner for him. I ENJOY it – why am I going to let him spoil everything because he is being dysfunctional, ESPECIALLY because I can tell he is having issues about how close he is comfortable being with me. If he can provoke me into being a b**** then he won’t have to work it out for himself. And frankly, I am more willing to work like a dog to take care of MY issues (not getting pulled in) than I am to entering into HIS dysfunction (making me the bad guy). I also didn’t want to just ignore the comment. So I try to keep it light & not let it become a big deal, but at the same time acknowledge that I didn’t like the comment. He took the easy ‘out’ (believe it or not, this is progress – in the past he might have said that he DID mean it & that it was just the truth & she is/was/will always be a better cook than me) and he laughed & asked me not to make a big fuss over the dinner.

So we come to the real issue in a backwards way – he feels uncomfortable because I am doing something nice for him. It feels scary to him. He feels like it might obligate him to something or just that he doesn’t deserve to have someone do nice things… I’m also not buying into that. I’ll make a nice dinner & prepare something that I know he likes. And hope that he doesn’t bring up his ex while he is here…

-BB.


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#68061 - 11/05/03 11:24 AM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Originally posted by stpbb:
I try very hard to stay calm as PAS says, but the whole point with my ex is that he tries to 'get' me -- so he'll poke around at sensitive topics & stay just on the edge of appropriate.
Been there! Dont feel bad if you can't stay calm when he is pushing your buttons - believe me just because I suggested this advice doesn't mean I've got it all mastered - I've had to do a lot of therapy (mostly hypnotherapy) in order to "stay in my body" when my fiance starts his anger venting.. he has told me all kinds of stuff that has really been over the line too. One time he ranted and raved and just poked at every one of my sensitive areas - that my past is my fault, that my dad was the way he was because I deserved it, that he was sick of my shit, that he'd never marry me, that I was insane, etc... sheez. I was never so close to kicking his ass to the curb that day.

The more this went on I realized that one of my goals is to stay grounded when all hell breaks loose in order to stay in control of my thoughts, and to maintain my dignity and self-respect.

Its not easy for me by any means as I come from a very volatile and insanely anger-laden background, but the more you can work on it the easier it becomes. I think by now I've got about a 5/50 record (five calms to fifty flip outs) but hey before this year I was batting .000! \:\)

AAh.. I'm livin' for small miracles! \:\)


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#68062 - 11/05/03 03:04 PM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Yep, I hear you on that. I have been doing better & better. The more aware I am of what it is about, the easier it is for me to resist the buttons. Of course, he knows me very very well, so he can keep pushing until he gets a reaction if he wants to.

-BB.


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#68063 - 11/05/03 05:11 PM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
lindts Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/09/03
Posts: 26
I think I do need to speak up, be specific, and be direct w/o being emotional. Usually I'll do the old, "Can we talk about..." which automatically puts him on the defensive and ruins the moment. I agree, I do deserve to feel secure in this relationship.
My bf too goes through the unworthy feelings when I'm nice to him. He wants to do things for me but never wants me to do anything for him. Everything I want to do for him has to be a surprise. The only people who are allowed to do things for him, are his parents. They always bring dinner to his house, drive him to the airport, and run his errands when he's at work (calling him a workaholic is an understatement). He's not spoiled, he just depends on them so much even though he is very independent in all other aspects of life. He calls them every night but for some reason, he emotionally isn't up to calling me every night. Ever since he confided in me, he won't even let me spend time with his parents, whom are wonderful people that I've grown to love (the offender was a non-relative). For being in his thirties, it's almost like he's too attached to his parents.
It sometimes seems like he can continue with his game face on when he's at work and around his family, but that he feels like I can see his inner self when he's alone with me.


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#68064 - 11/06/03 05:09 PM Re: Is it recovery or sabatoge
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Yep, my ex has issues about being around me & the other friends in his life. He's been working on trying to do things with me & them, but it is hard for him -- he gets stressed out & anxious. Has to do with the shame & also I think with being able to balance between how he acts/what he reveals to them vs me. I think I KIND of understand -- we all have different stuff we are comfortable revealing with different people. I think for him this instills fear because he has so much trouble trusting, plus he ends up feeling like he is 'supposed' to act a certain way in front of me or in front of his friends. He has trouble trusting that he can just be himself with all of us...

Just had another round of sabatoge today. Very frustrating -- I ended up crying because things felt sooo comfortable & easy, we had a nice dinner yesterday, so today he had to remind me that his ex gf is still in his life. (Bear in mind, he & I are broken up, so we are supposed to be open to other relationships, but I have HUGE issues with the relationship he has with his ex, so he uses that because he KNOWS it will 'get' me). I felt so bad afterword because I lost it emotionally & I don't want to do that. I leave for a trip tomorrow for several days, so I probably won't see him again until I get back. i hate leaving things so unsettled & uncomfortable. And it is like I am the one not living up to the agreement -- because we are not a couple. But he comes closer & closer emotionally & then I think he realizes that he is too close & ZAP! he pulls out something he knows I'll react to. Then I'M the 'bad guy' because I got all upset & insisted on having a discussion.

What is making me more sad is that I'm moving away soon. I am actually going to look for a place to live in the town I'm moving to this trip. He is really encouraging me to go -- its a good step for me to make in my life. But I think it also is adding to the emotional stress of spending time together. And then he makes comments about the ex & emotionally I end up feeling like I'm getting dumped for the ex gf, even though that isn't the case at all...but when I'm in the conversation that emotion takes over & I lose sight of the big picture. Emotion negates all the logic of what is REALLY happening & I lose it like a 5 yr old.

I feel disappointed in myself because I want to have whatever time I spend with him be good & pleasant & we shouldn't have to work on the relationship since we've decided to take different paths. And it is hard enough leaving him & moving without adding this extra emotional stress into the equation.

Aaaaagh...

-BB.


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