Throwing You On The Defensive: The Art of Covert-Aggression

Covert-aggression is at the heart of most interpersonal manipulation.  What the artful, subtle fighter knows is that if they can get you to doubt yourself, feel like you have to explain yourself, and question your perceptions and judgment, there’s a good chance they can get you to back down, back-off, or better still, cave-in.  Covert fighters count on the fact that you won’t trust your gut instincts or pass simple judgment on their character or the true character of their actions. They count on you being far too conscientious for that.  And they know that if they don’t come across as openly out to defy the generally accepted rules for civil behavior, exploit your good nature, and get the better of you, you’ll ignore that feeling in your gut that tells you you’re simply being played.

I once counselled a woman who’d been suspicious of her husband’s womanizing for many years.  And several times she thought she had some pretty good evidence that at the very least he wasn’t too trustworthy. She would find out he was somewhere other than where he had claimed, he would fail to show up where he was expected, offering “explanations”  just didn’t add up, and he would make claims that later turned out not to be true.  But whenever she would confront him about these things, somehow she always ended up feeling like the crazy one. He’d always have an answer which “seemed” to make sense until she thought about it for awhile, but by then it was too late. And he’d appear so convicted when he expressed outrage over being “constantly hounded” and “falsely accused.”  He’d have her believing she may indeed have “over-reacted” to the “one and only time” he admits he gave her any real cause to suspect him.  And he’d emphatically point out that “nothing physical actually happened” anyway in that one instance of “harmless flirtation.”  He’d also insist that she “misinterpreted” the emails and text messages she found suspicious or unnerving.  He’d deftly side-step the issue of all the other “little reasons” he might have given her over the years to mistrust.  And when he sensed her backing down, he’d launch into how unbearable it was for him to face such “constant accusations” and throw up his hands complaining that there was no way to satisfy her. Before long, she’d start feeling like the heartless aggressor herself and eventually relented.  Then she’d start questioning herself again, each time more intensely than before about who the real problem was in their marriage.

Now in the case I referenced above, the man had actually squandered a significant amount of the family’s funds on alcohol and partying with friends, and had engaged in multiple affairs over the years, wining and dining women with great abandon, and beginning not long after he was first married.  And he didn’t have any real use for any of the other women he got involved with either.  They were not the “conscientious” type, and he needed someone with a conscience to maintain a household and raise the kids.  The only purpose these other women served was pure entertainment.  He didn’t want to lose his wife because it would cost him too much.  But he didn’t want to live by “her rules,” or expectations either.  He felt entitled to his lifestyle.  So, he fought for it.  He fought not only to keep his wife at bay but also to keep right on doing what he felt entitled to do.  But the manner in which he fought made it hard for his wife to see exactly what he was doing.  And that’s almost always the secret when it comes to manipulation.

In In Sheep’s Clothing, I point out that certain manipulation tactics work as well as they do because they simultaneously conceal aggression while effectively throwing the party on the receiving end of the tactics on the defensive.  And when it comes to covert-aggression and the art of manipulation, it’s not so much “what” but the “how” the various tactics are employed. Sometimes just the manipulator speaking with apparent conviction can invite the overly conscientious person to doubt themselves.  And often, manipulators “bundle” tactics together, giving vague, misleading, half-answers, distracting, minimizing and rationalizing, and when they see their target back-peddling and suspect they have them “on the ropes”, they might pull out a “trump card” like playing the victim, leaving the real victim feeling not only unjustified but guilty for taking a stand.  The bottom line is that such tactics work because the victim has a certain level conscientiousness.  The victim is usually not willing to make harsh judgments in the absence of clear, convincing, objective evidence.  They don’t trust their gut, and as a result, they get taken in.

As I point out in Character Disturbance, the willingness of covert-aggressors to prey upon the conscientiousness of others says all anyone really needs to know about the depravity of (and lack of empathy in) their character.  But to readily pick up on this fact, you really have to understand the various character types, the various disturbances of character, and the kinds of behaviors impaired characters use to manipulate others and resist change.  Next week’s post will have some other examples of covert-aggression and the discussion will focus on the multiple roles the behaviors I call manipulative power tactics play perpetuating a person’s character disturbance.

 

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187 thoughts on “Throwing You On The Defensive: The Art of Covert-Aggression

  1. Went through this with my daughter from the age of 12. She had always used smiles, tears, and the cute little flirting-smile to get her way. I always fell for it, thought things would get better, she played me like a fine violin and I never listened to that nagging voice. Teenage years were hell, many tears, no one liked her, she was bullied etc. At 19 she left with a ‘wealthy’ boy. I found her journals and chat files. For years she had degraded me,even sexually to boys at school and with my own nephews and sisters. She has no contact with her Dad, me, or her brother. My entire family seems to be infested with personality disorders, we avoid them, but it’s taken a heavy toll.

      1. ab knows the basics of putting other on the defensive! I felt ashamed the moment I read “That is your child” sandwiched between two major unfounded accusations.

      2. oh my god! Funny? i agree. I mean, I’m not trying to bag on her. the mother. but obviously,if your child has a “problem” most likely something happened during the object/relations mother infant bonding. in otherwards, you didnt nurture your child properly. but, you know, she could be a “bad-seed” who knows.

        1. I don’t know the OP personally, so I can’t say one way or the other what the truth of the matter is for her situation.

          However, I do know that it is possible for children to act in this controlling and/or manipulative way. And it does NOT always mean that the parents were bad parents.

          Sometimes the parents are crazy narcissists and those parents reap what they sow.

          Sometimes they were too permissive which leads to a child then expecting to get everything they want. That IS the parent’s fault.

          Sometimes one parent tries to set rules and boundaries, but the other parent (or another closely related party – e.g. grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc) will undermine everything the one parent is doing.

          Sometimes the child is chemically imbalanced and no amount of unconditional love can change that. When dealing with chemical imbalances you can’t just make it better with unconditional love. Even if you seek treatment for the child, it is extremely difficult to receive the right kind of help for the child. That is because they are so good at hiding it that even trained clinicians have difficulty pinpointing the problem and the parents get wrongly blamed.

          How do I know all this you ask? Am I some crazy parent trying to justify the fact that I screwed up? Am I a narcissistic parent trying to cast blame on the child instead of accepting the blame that rightly falls in my shoulders? Am I a troll just trying to cause further argument?

          No to all the above. I am the child of parents who; albeit did make mistakes; they most definitely were not narcissistic, not did they withhold unconditional love. My younger sister was the child that was manipulative, controlling, and narcissistic. Now, all babies start out being narcissistic because that is how they get the care that they need. Most children grow out of this -usually around two which is why it’s called the “terrible twos”. But my sister never really grew out of it. We all knew something was different about her, but we all loved her and wanted the best for her. My parents were firm but loving to ALL three of us. They tried seeking help but my sister was so good at lying that she never got the right kind of help.

          The moral of the story: kids CAN be manipulative, narcissistic controllers.

          BEFORE any blame is placed on the child or the parents, each situation must be thoroughly investigated by qualified clinical personnel. Unfortunately because of people that believe children can’t be narcissistic little monsters unless their parents are that way, this kind of help is extremely hard to get.

          Now I’m sure there will be those that don’t like what I’ve said. Oh well, this is the internet and my life will go on. But I hope that anyone who is sincere in trying to understand this disorder will give consideration to my thoughts instead of outrightly dismissing them.

          1. Sister,

            I hope you keep commenting, there is truth in what you say, much comes into play in the forming of a narcissist. However, in the end how we and I said we make our choices in life. My siblings are narcissists too and I know how they got that way.

            The importance point of all this is not to blame, but to take ownership of our own behavior. Everything we do in life is a choice. We cant live in the past, it will destroy us. It’s all about what choices we individually choose.

            There are ways to deal with the narcissistic and Dr. Simon has given good advice and addressed many of your concerns on his blog. I would encourage you to read the archives and his writings including the newest topics on how we ourselves can change for the better..

            Blessings

          2. sister,

            I agree with your point of view, except the age part. Two year is too early to grow out of self-centered view of the world. My take is that
            – at about 5 yo, most children grows out of center of universe thinking
            – at about 10 yo, most children grows old enough to think black/white, a rigid perspective on right vs wrong, rights vs obligations, mine vs yours.
            – at about 15 yo, most children grow old enough to have more nuanced perspective
            and so on.

            Wisdom comes much much later. Most often it comes after the event in the form, “Had I understood …”

            And, you are absolutely right about crafty children vs sincere parents. It is too easy for anyone to blame the parent in that case.
            Same is very often true but to much lesser degree in case of crafty women vs honest straight man. It is too easy for anyone to blame the man.
            These are simply biases that have been conditioned into everyone. Not everyone is mature enough to think past, “children are gifts from god”, or “women are compassionate” kind of simplistic categorization.

          3. Amazing clarification of my oldest daughter , sadly. I have so much more to listen to and read. My life has been undidedown for 37 years. God willing I will understand all this with a reason.

          4. Hi Sister

            My story is very similar to yours. I am one of 3 sisters and one of my sisters is CD.

            I’m struggling to understand it as my parents have a very loving relationship. We were raised in a loving family environment with no screaming matches. No acholol abuse. No divorce or separation, no physical abuse, no obvious dysfunction.

            Yet one of my sisters hates my Mother and also myself. I can’t help but think that despite everything she must have experienced some emotional trauma. It certainly wouldnt have been intentional and my parents have done nothing but love her all their lives. Parents aren’t perfect though and sometimes things happen beyond our control or realisation.

            God knows that they’ve suffered enormously as a result of any unintented harm and been pushed to the very limits on many occasions. They did their very best to make things right when they realised she had behavioural problems and had many a sleepless night worrying about her when she was a young adult. They paid a heavy price for any unintentional mistakes in her early emotional development period.

            I’ve only recently joined the dots as I haven’t had much contact with her as an adult. Everything in her life is now my fault and she is a covert aggressive. I also think she is borderline.

            It’s very sad and if I could wave a magic wand and make things right I would. She is now a master manipulator with no empathy. It’s very difficult to spend any amount of time in her company and It’s too late.

          5. I believe that, for the most part, narcissists are born not made. Narcissism seems to run in families. Narcissism can show up in a child as young as 4 or 5; maybe even younger. Personality disorders and domestic abuse is not taught in schools to the future therapists. A huge disservice to the populations everywhere! A parent does not have to be a narcissist in order for one to be born to them. These are facts that are available to anyone that researches narcissism and watches the many fine YouTube channels where therapists and life coaches speak about narcissism.

          6. This was your cue that your daughter was highly gifted with intelligence and insight and i would have started having her watch football with me and helping me fix my car and taking her with me to card night and asking her to pick out a hobby we could do together and to encourwge her to perform in community theater and piano lessons and introduce her to positive female and male role models and would tell heer explicitly the danger she is causing by playing the victim role she picked up from having somehow seen a victim of abuse in a movie or in real-life who was abused by her father and she empathized to the point of integrating thst character into her personality to offset her boredom at school as she likely should be put in the next grade up and be given the gifted test immediately and not have to wait until she is in 2nd grade. And but dvds that will teach her to read as she willl spend hours reading books…..you are panicking about something that will later be seen as a blessing when she is 13 and you can tell her to not let sex define her smd that if she does ot use protection and do not be afraid to tell you if she is being exploited or coerced or raped. Then contact a qualified cop and chikd psychologist that can can either help her make it not happen again or if it was forced make sure the boy is gven therspy and make sire he is not being abusee himself

      3. Those are demeaning things to say, and is uncivil and amoral because in your words, you speak death. Every idle word man will be accountable for in the day of judgement, for by thy words you are justifed and by thy words, you shall be condemned. Your post goes against my values.

        People here may as well learn good skills, yet with out GOD you are all still doomed. Repent of your sins or perish in hell fire.

        1. Is this satire? Leave it to God, all powerful God, to pass judgement if He exists. Did He ask you to judge other people for Him? You must think Him weak which puts you in the badbooks

    1. Johanna,
      Sorry you had to go through what you have with your child. Of course manipulation CA can start early. Too bad she chose that path. It’s sad.

    2. Um….12 year olds are pre-teens. Of course, most of them turn into manipulative a**holes at some point, but it’s your job as the parent to show them the right path with UNCONDITIONAL love. Good grief, I hope you are a troll.

    3. Johanna, you don’t sound crazy. Those other commenters are brats. Generally we shape our children’s personalities, but sometimes factors like being in an abusive relationship with their father, is you giving up your ability to best parent. I am not judging. I was not there and don’t know the circumstances. You might look into if you have a co-dependent personality. Such that you are formatted by and attract covert or overt aggressors. It is quite possible if your husband or other person who was in the equation raising your daughter was being abusive towards you, your young daughter felt she had to make a choice. Be like this abuser or be abused, like Mom. Just my 2 cents. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  2. Wow,
    This [description fits someone I know] to a Tee!!! I hope Julie reads this and realizes that she isn’t crazy at all. All of her recent suspicians about him being with someone else are true. He will never change…he’s done it to every woman he’s ever been with…and now he’s done it to Julie. He strung her along for five years and just dumped her for a hunter/jumper horse trainer, in El Paso (Julie met her on a ride in the Rio Grande, last summer)… and he continues to lie about it. I’m guessing he staged a fight with Julie or is perhaps keeping Julie on a very loose string, in case things don’t work out with his new artist/poet/writer/singer/trainer. What amazes me time and again, is how he gets the woman he’s cheating with to subscribe to his lies and deny having a relationship/affair with him. It reminds me of the lyrics in the song: Gaslighting Abbie:”It’s a game for three”. What kind of woman does that to another woman, seriously??? That’s horrible…I know that Julie knows what I’m talking about when I say that. All of his new relationships are based on lies about the previous women. His lying is pathological and he always postures himself into the role of the victim of these crazy women that aren’t team players and just want to sabotage him and keep accusing him of doing things he’s not doing, right! He is the victimizer and the women are the victims of his gaslighting, manipulation tactics, and his lies. My purpose for this comment is not to hurt Julie…but to let Julie know that she’s not crazy at all and after reading this article, I know she will be able to relate to a tee. I would also urge her to read all of the other articles by Dr. Simon, they are excellent and right on. I think they will help her see him for who he really is…and ultimately heal from his wounds. I have seen this man even try to gaslight his own children, telling them they’re crazy and not thinking right when they know he’s lying to them. Thank God, they are smart enough to see through his manipulation tactics and his incessant lying. I abhor anyone that would do this to a child! His drug use is/was no excuse for this behavior!

  3. “They were not the conscientious type, and he needed someone with a conscience to maintain a household and raise the kids. The only purpose these other women served was PURE ENTERTAINMENT [my emphasis]. He didn’t want to lose his wife because it would cost him too much. … He felt entitled to his lifestyle. So, he fought for it.”

    Well put. I’ve learned something about the type just from this excerpt alone. Thank you.

    1. Hi, I’m going through the same situation. It’s hell. You love someone with who you plan the rest of your life with, and when the true colors shine, it becomes as of fear,desperation, self blame, anxiety. I don’t know who he is anymore. He throws me out of the house every time I say something that’s “not supposed to be said” or when I don’t give him attention. What attention can I give someone when all they do is put me down,threat me, and make our lives miserable? This is taking a toll on me. I’m paralyzed.

      1. Liza,

        Welcome to the site. Believe me, you have lots of company here. Gosh, there is so much you should do – looks like things are coming to a head.

        Before you leave or are kicked out again, I’d do some banking – as in closing accounts, cards, etc., that are held jointly. Get your hands on some money. Get your financials in order, because if you do decide to leave him you’re going to need money. Secure a job if you don’t have one already.

        My attorney advised me to not leave the house – but the STBX would not leave, so for my emotional and physical well being I left – he locked me out – spent thousands on attorney fees just to be able to get in and get my personal belongings.

        You husband sounds out of control. Maybe start squirreling away and packing some things you’ll need. When I left I left in a hurry. I was freaked out by him. Boy did I pay for that.

        So much to say. Think ahead of what you’ll need when you make the move and plan it out and prepare for an explosion when and if you decide to divorce this man.

        Keep reading. You will learn so much. And we are here to support you.

  4. Oh yes, I provided the picture of a family for all those years. It was just a front for him so he could enjoy all of his privileges that he took behind my back. Now he is exposed. The family and I carry on. He is not very involved any more.

  5. Dr. Simon

    Excuse the off-topic, but I’ve been fruitfully following this site for quite some months now and thought about suggesting you to eventually write a post about relating the manipulation subject with the Keirsey/Myers-Briggs personality types – for example, which types would be more prone to be what you call “neurotic” and therefore more likely to be subject of manupulations, and which ones are more prone to a narcissistic behavior themselves.

    Thanks.

    1. There’s no likely reliable correlation between any of these types and the “neurotic” – character disturbed spectrum about which I write. The MB typology is a non-clinical self-reported constellation (and based on “forced choice” to boot!) on 4 polar dimensions of personality (introversion vs. extroversion, feeling vs. thinking, etc.) and it has virtually no clinical predictive power. Those who unabashedly see themselves as extroverts and tend to be the judging kind also, (especially the ESTJ and ENTJ types) might tend to be among the personalities who tend to be more CD than neurotic, but because it’s just as likely for CD folks as neurotic folks to produce the same profile, it would be difficult to discriminate well. In short, the MB instrument was neither meant to nor can it reliably indicate who is likely to fall at one end of the CD-neurotic spectrum or the other.

      1. Thanks for replying, Dr. For the record, I was already aware that these personality types don’t implicate “value judgment” (for lack of better term) on a moral (and much less “clinical”) perspective, but since every one of them has “known weaknesses” which they can be prone to, I thought there could be a correlation such as yourself pointed out regarding those two types you’ve mentioned. Thanks again for the explanation.

      2. Every time I take that Myers Briggs test I fall on the cusp in every category. I was raised by a CA so I think that has something to do with it, they don’t like their children to develop a sense of self.

  6. I found Dr. Simon’s comment about the MB tests VERY interesting!!
    “The MB typology is a non-clinical self-reported constellation (and based on “forced choice” to boot!) ”

    Forced Choice is an interesting way to describe that test. I hate the MB test thing! I can remember taking it and getting so frustrated because I didn’t really feel right with my answers. I would mentally get stuck on one question/ answer and never really feel like any of the answers were right for me.

    1. Same here – VERY interesting. Even liberating perhaps. One without Dr Simon’s qualifications and expertise, can realize doubts about MB (and other such). But resolving them is another matter – so as one reader here, I really welcome and appreciate the affirmation.. Not feeling right with answers ‘forcibly’ elicited seems an important signal – almost a flag, raising a key question – of whether to ignore or trust one’s gut feeling. Especially, alerting to doubt.

      I wonder along such lines too, about ‘5 personality factors’ – sometimes CANOE, OCEAN (acronyms) – in terms of the critical neurotic/CD distinction. The C = conscientiousness, as one of the 5 factors of personality. One would think ‘conscientiousness’ must refer or relate to conscience, i.e. character. But its not clear to me, from my limited knowledge and understanding, and raises questions of doubt I have trouble clarifying in my own mind.

      The O stands for ‘openness.’ Again (as with the the ‘C’) – as defined, I wonder how that might relate critically to key concepts like – healthy boundaries (present or absent, strong or weak etc). A phrase like ‘so open the brains are falling out’ is used in some contexts to denote gullibility. Aa in ideal candidates, easy to throw on defensive, or otherwise manipulate, deceive.

      Thanks again for ongoing discussion here. And to Dr Simon in advance, in case of any remark he might have on the OCEAN/CANOE model (per questions and MB comment). Being no expert on CA and related issues, but profoundly interested – I wonder how the concepts of conscience and character relate critically – to ‘conscientiousness’ as defined in that model.

    2. You can actually have some fun with it! I felt the same way as you, unsure and on the fence in the forced choices. So I did the questionnaire again using the other choice in various ways. There…. I’m actually healthy!!! I fell into the healthy quadrant squarely. Can’t recall the exacts but it was kind of amusing.

  7. Dr. Simon is there any movement afoot to update the psychotherapy licensing standards, to require or test for candidates’ ability to discern whether covert aggression a) exists in the world and b) possibly is taking place in a specific case?

    I wonder if any “lay person” out there who sought therapy but was misled could influence the licensing requirements. I know it’s possible to write letters to the editor, use the media, etc. to try to raise awareness of issues. But is there anything else we citizens could do, to ensure licensing requirements are more current with the trends in today’s world?

    Thank you.

    1. I wish I could say, Claire, that such standards exist or that there is evens sufficient consensus among practitioners with respect to terminology and perspective to facilitate such a thing. Alas, there is not.

      1. And that is a cry shame. I can’t tell you how amazed I am at the general inadequacy I’ve found in the therapy world, both in regards to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and covertly abusive relationships. And then there are people who operate under the title of “coaches”. Life coach, relationship coach, etc……..I could have been out of the manipulative abusive mess I was entangled in long before I was and sustained much much less damage than i did if the relationship coach I first sought help from would have had a clue about the nature of these predators.

        1. That’s one thing that bothers me, is that there are so many therapists out there who THINK they have a handle on the CAs. After living it, I can honestly say there are professionals out there who have NO clue what thee people are all about. And that’s dangerous. It further traumatizes victims who seek help and it’s dang near impossible to cure a perpetrator when you treat him like his problem is over-sensitivity.

          Dr. Simon (and a few others) have their number, and I think it is a testament to their gift in the field of psychology. I wouldn’t think it was possible without long, involved, extended contact with one — because they are so covert. I’ve told him thanks before, but would like to again express my gratitude and admiration.

          1. For now we’ll have to rely on, and exercise, our own word-of-mouth. I do not like to sit back and complain about something unless I have an action plan.

            I do see the knowledge of NPD seeping into common everyday conversation more and more.

          2. Claire……….there is a whole channel on TV about predators and the like. The ID channel, Investigative Discovery. In my opinion they need to include stories about loosers like I encountered, I’m still alive and didn’t get taken for any money………..directly, although this whole mess has cost me thousands and thousands of dollars and a part of myself that can’t be replaced.

          3. Yes Thank You! I am new to this site, it seems very informative. I like the format. I also found help on the reddit thread for dealing with Narc parents. Also if you can handle some spirituality (not science based, but pattern based) I found Teal Swan’s Youtube videos on Co-dependents/Narcs helpful. I was raised by Narcs and had no idea, I was bred to be co-dependent. I really am not, I am and always had to be extremely self-sufficient to survive. However, I did not get typical love or parenting, therefore I attracted and put up with new Narcs as I finally opened up in my late 20’s. In my teens and early twenties I kept my distance from ANYONE who remotely reminded me of either parent (unconscious but very visceral repulsion.) However, all my relationships felt hollow. I was proposed to by two wonderful men and I said no. I just didn’t feel like they really knew me. After a car accident, PTSD and remembering the tip of the iceberg on sexual and emotional abuse at my parents hands, I wound up dating a Narc or at the least a Covert and Overt Aggressive person. He was bi-polar and was mostly covert. Blamed his aggression on his “problem” for which he refused treatment. Anyways. I don’t mean to get into a full bio here. But Completely agree that a good many therapists are inadequately prepared to address these relationships which I believe are fairly common. I went to many therapists before and during the ten years I dated the CA. Therapists made the situation worse because they completely misread it. When I was planning my escape they coaxed me into staying. I wound up homeless, jobless, dumped at the side of the freeway after midnight in California, after he became abusive in the car. A month later he dumped all my possessions in a shared storage unit. He had done much financial abuse with my formerly sterling credit and finances. The only abuse he wasn’t overt about toward me was sexual abuse. Although he made me feel undesirable and clammed up my sexuality. I now believe, that in some weird way I actually felt “safe” because of the lack of sexual abuse. Anyways, this was years ago. It took many years of not knowing how to explain how this happened (it was subtle and I didn’t exactly have the best family support). Anytime he was “generous” he was seeking a way to control and destabilize me. When you finally see what you are dealing with in these situations, WoW! the blinders are off.

            I am independent, stable, free and happy. I am still working on my healing. It is not an easy or fast road to wholeness, but it is worth it!

          4. Sadness and pain
            Truth. Therapists! Geeze.
            I think it comes down to this. And this is a borrowed quote that did, does and will continue to help me. Listen up…..
            “If someone loves you it should feel like they love you!”
            Now. Do you feel loved? Do you feel secure? Safe? Understood? Appreciated? Or…. Is there this nagging feeling in your gut that something just isn’t right and you just can’t seem to ever feel confident in where you stand with your other and you’re just always off balance. Do you feel destabilized? Do you think you’re crazy?
            Ok. So pay attention to your gut. Cause, if your like me and the product of self absorbed parents and emotional abuse then that right there is a big problem for you as in trusting your gut. You question yourself, you have trouble assessing much less trusting your feelings, and your abuser is happy to do their part to invalidate any feelings or concerns you do ultimately and healthily Express while attempting to establish reasonable boundaries and a healthier relationship. Your feelings are yours, they are ok, they are valid and you need to start embracing them because they are your truth. I’ve spent literally 20+ years in a quandary here. It’s emotional abuse and it’s like a game to her. It’s all about her. Always. All about her. Even the simplest things she can turn it around and make it > All about HERI< actually feel like I’m the bad person and the guilty one. Right? WTF??? OMG!!! How can this be? She literally weaved my concerns into a tapestry of mindfuck gas lighting and even used multiple ridiculous justifications for circumstances coincidences that can’t be justified logically and rationally it’s too unlikely to be true to a thinking person. Impossible coincidences are explained away as plausible to put me off track…which it does. Pressed on the details she contradicts herself repeatedly and then shuts up to say no more because by saying nothing I can not figure out anything and I remain in terrible pain, lonely, unfulfilled and traumatized. The best I got out of her when sticking to my guns I was so sure of the (affair) evidence I had and not falling for her history re-writes was “I’m a good person, not a perfect person!”. Like? Help me out here?? What does that mean? I assume the closest I’ll get to an actual admission of guilt? And I’d caught her lying to me where it was verified no BS lied to me before in spite of her constant proclamations that “I can’t lie!”. She even will say that “I can’t lie” when I’ve caught her lying. Huh??? Patronizing? Disrespect? Or is it no respect/contempt? Subterfuge? And one of her favorites to say is “To be honest with you” when she’s talking to work associates etc and I literally cring every single time!!! She’s all about telling me “I love you” but her actions are anything but. I attempt to be affectionate and she rejects me every time and affection is given each time with the not so subtle groan or exasperated sigh or even better just a refusal “I’m tired I have to sleep” or “I don’t feel like it”. Always a run around. And she will not look me in the eye when making love! God forbid any making out to get the passion going she never had any interest or affinity to THAT. It’s like kissing your mother peck on the lips! Grrrrrrr. ZERO INTIMACY. She even imitates my orgasms for Christ’s sakes! Like? WTseriousF is THAT? OMGAWD eek!!! Covert aggression to the max. If I don’t contact her during the day I’d never hear from her at all! Unless she wants something and then she turns on the charm and all of a sudden she’s attentive, affectionate, caring. Fuckeroo. Every single time she plays that I cring as regards to what’s coming after the sex? It will assuredly be something she wants and I’m uncomfortable with and I’m being manipulated….again. Someone else said it well… paralyzed? So, this is my world of hurt. I’m a caring compassionate person. I have love to give and I desire/need love in return. Reciprocity? In a relationship? What a novel concept! I know I have some changes to make but with my work and personal related C-PTSD I’m stuck. Listen to your gut people. For everything you need to know is really right there. Do you feel loved? Valued? Appreciated? Or do you feel like a convenience item? An object? A prop? Mine knows exactly what she’s doing because as the need suits her she turns on the charm to get her way. Which is to say she knows exactly what I need and she’s deliberately refusing me my physiological needs to hurt or to punish or? Just for her personal enjoyment control or whatever. It’s a menu of misery and pain served up and she enjoys my hurt, takes pride and pleasure in abusing me. It’s deliberate. Meditated. Optimized. Contemptuous. Here’s a perfect example of her contempt… I might be listening to music on the sound system and she just blatantly walks in, turns it off, and turns on the TV without a word or a concern about “Heh, I’m tired from work I’d like to watch TV, do you mind if I turn that off?” It’s just basic good manners. No, instead just blatant disregard. If I ever need help such as I happen to be in a situation ran out of gas across the way or whatever, I can expect a wholesale attitude for calling for assistance and inconveniencing her god forbid but any time the situation is reversed I’m supposed to jump to attention and prostrate myself to the bitter end and unsurprisingly my efforts are taken for granted/unappreciated. It’s like dealing with a very successful manipulative 6 year old! I’m starting to think that THAT is her emotional maturity level. If you see yourself in this post/description take note. This is sort of a venting issue experience as I’m sitting here wreathing in my situation so I apologize. What a shit sandwich. How could I possibly have been reduced to this? Peace.

        2. If you really want to get into this from a “moral standpoint”. ( excuse my grammar i have adhd/schizo-affective. Read Vincent Crabtree’s view on altruism. In satanism. ( i know im getting off topic) They discuss a concept called ” good-guy badge” Now people may very genuinely have ” strong-egos and are genuinely willing to “help” people. But many people get into the field because of prior abuse or they may have a personality disorder. and they project this onto their patients.. because frankly ( im talking about unscrupulous people or morally corrupt people. or, covert aggressives character disordered, narcissists etc. Its pretty pathetic. one psychotherapist shamed me quite often for doing nothing” yet she doesnt have enough knowledge and or empathy to know that lack of motivation characterizes schizophrenia. She was threatened by my existence. im not a narcissist nor am i arrogant. im fat and i have schizophrenia and i was suicidal and the bitch is comparing herself to me. she actually. ( i am going to investigage commited freud in my drs notes. i mean. i dont mind if shes aggressive. i terminated therapy with the manipulative fuck. i dont know what i did to piss her off. but i think there are three things. @) im honest b) she asked what i read and I said NIETZSHE she is a mormon and probably didnt like the idea that she is inherently a resentful nietszchean slave. lol. i cyberstalked a guy and she said. You must have been “jealous” of the other women on the sex site. I said BITCH! please. dont project that electra complex onto me bitch. ” i havent even checked. i also had one therapist who started crying ( but, she was honest in the notes so i appreciate.) a little projection but not to worry. she cried and said Scorpio women dont have much love to give! she was a virgo. i said, BITCH! I’m the boddhisatva of my generation what do you mean i have no love to give! i just gave a homeless guy a few dollars in a fucking allyway. and no one saw me! so im telling you all! hahaha just kidd. Im tired of these resentful NIETZSCHEAN SlaVES! LOL

          1. oh i forgot one thing. she kept asking me. How are things with mom? i said fine. you know i call her a bitch now and then but then i forget about it. and ill rub her head afterwards. She kept implying ( dont know if thats right word. That self-esteem comes from your father. so you know i figured she had credibility but i was doubtful. you know i don’t think that’s what Freud said. but you know if it makes you feel better to day that. If you sucked your dad’s dick. its not my problem. i also told her. you know i dont have it out for other women. im beyond that shit. and boy, she had it out for me. when i see her or confront her about comitting freud. im going to say, Hey, ever seen a Koala bear with its mother? yeah.. thats me and my mom. -Michelle Freud

          2. Therapists are dangerous people sometimes and unfortunately they can really shame a person badly. Mine rags on me for being stuck with my PTSD and unconsciously wanting to suffer the misery I’m suffering even so far as claiming how “I am so attached to my trauma” and that it’s all in my own head and not reasonable I’m hurting myself by focusing on my traumas (plural) and I’m safe now, my concerns and fears are (essentially?) not valid and even so far as insinuating that I’m faking my psychological trauma because according to her I know all the right terms for my disorder and she seems to not believe me. Imagine? You have C-PTSD/PTSD and that involves trauma, triggers, avoidance, crippling anxiety and fears, hyper vigilance and paranoia to name a few, and your therapist doesn’t seem to be “getting it” so you are thrashing trying to explain it in different ways, because, you do have PTSD and as such you feel inadequate to describe things, circumstances, feeling, perceptions etc and since you do feel not understood (where’s the empathy/patience/understanding?) you feel the need to repeat yourself or you get stuck trying to figure plain yourself different ways because she doesn’t seem to be understanding your feelings/thoughts and then she’s berating you making snide cutoffs like “enough I got it you do this you go on and on saying the same thing it must drive people around you crazy?” And you excuse me? Is that not symptomatic of PTSD that the things you experienced were so terrible, boggling, inconceivable and panic provoking that you literally can’t wrap your mind around it and yes you’re stuck in your trauma fucks sakes…. Her professional take over about 2.5 years seems to be that I need to let this stuff go because I’m just hurting myself by regurgitating it endlessly like I can help nightmares, triggers setting me off etc…. It would seem pretty basic that she should understand my symptoms and my predicament but, just like my father, it’s all about her and she’ll literally get angry like she can’t stand to listen to me it’s so inconveniencing to her. God forbid she have to display some actual empathy and compassion. No, she’s getting paid well but it’s bothering her to have to listen to this ad nauseum. Welcome to PTSD Doc. You’re supposed to be the PTSD expert. I guess it’s personal weakness on my part that caused this, not psychological trauma and disorganized scrambled brain housekeeping and…. the implication that it’s my fault I’m struggling. If I was just a strong person I could put my issues aside and strive forward. According to her I’m part and parcel to my adverse reactions to bad dreams (waking in a panic) nightmares (more/same) and triggers of all sorts keeping me constantly on edge and unable to relax. She invalidates my feelings and fears, downplaying the traumas I experienced at work even eluding to the idea that it really couldn’t have been that bad. LOL. She feels I’m doing myself more harm than good by reading about C-PTSD/PTSD and feels that self doctoring and reading on the internet is dangerous. You wanna know what burns my ass regards to her? I found a book “Stalking the Soul” highly recommended by other sufferers of emotional abuse, it’s effects, nuances, you name it and there I was… ME…. right there in those pages described to a T. The book was more useful and assistive than she could ever be and frankly a breath of fresh air in a shit storm! Yes. That’s it. At least part of it. Now, for the at work physical traumatic stress… oh, that’s what she’s supposed to be helping me with. Other therapists say how PTSD patients in many cases are just like me and the trauma haunts us for years no matter how much compassion displayed by the therapist the patients do feel understood (must be nice!) yet they still suffer the debilitating effects of their trauma in the forms of triggers, intrusive thoughts, nightmares and focus on nothing but their traumas OR inability to even talk about their traumas>> numbness. That’s me too. My highly educated competent therapist thinks I need to suck it up. When pushed on her real understanding of PTSD… she offered that she was >therethere when they named itwho< in the middle of her meltdown response to that PTSD trauma…. that, get this, MEN ARE JUST LIKE THAT! See what I mean? Just WOW. LIKE? Please. That traumatized her further till she later figured out how fucked up that bit is coming from a therapist. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some clown bell and when a clown does their clown business that clown bell would ring? Her therapy session would have been clown bell deafening! I’m done. Just venting. I hope this helped someone. Like so many caring others whom have been cheated and their trusting natures abused, even later by so called help professionals, I hurt for this poor woman. Of course her shitbag refused to acknowledge denying everything leaving her in a super size it mindfuck quandary… to this day and that was according to her like 6 years ago. Now she’s thinking about cheating… but I’ve digressed.

          3. Lovely. This website cut off my reply. Makes me look stupid. So anyways. Time writing wasted.
            The therapist claims extreme knowledge of the subject PTSD on the remiss that she was there when they named the condition! Like? Ok. (And I did not say this but thought it as she can be provoked by what seems like nothing into a nasty tirade if say she is questioned or she feels you are making an unreasonable request of her) So, you are an expert by association apparently because you were there when they actually named PTSD. Yet you seem to miss that trauma and helplessness in the face of unimaginable trauma does result in the patients psychological housekeeping mechanisms being trashed and that patients are very likely to be/end up in a loop ) hashing and rehashing their traumas, have misplaced feelings of guilt related to that etc… and generally seem to think that I as your patient should just suck it up and put this “stuff” out of my head so that I can be well and happy!

            The last part of my post got cut off too. It regarded a friend who’s husband cheated on her she discovered the texts. The first therapist they saw, a man, told her frankly that “This is just how men are!”. So, she had PTSD from being traumatized, and then, a help professional traumatized her again. I mean? Like WOW. That’s what you’ve got for this girl who according to her was melt down material over the affair and the helplessness and the loss f trust. Her partner naturally refused to take responsibility for his actions and chose deny deny deny gaslight deny. So here she is years later, still stuck in this shit loop. Still lacking real answers and a mess in her head… and thinking of cheating herself! Imagine that!!! Her therapists weren’t so much help.

  8. I just discovered this blog – and the second paragraph of this article describes my relationship with my ex to a T, especially the last few sentences – and there weren’t even many times that I suspected anything at all – yet, I was constantly made to feel like I was behaving so jealously, and could not understand what was wrong, since I didn’t FEEL jealous! His long-term affair came as a huge shock to me, and now we’re divorcing and I’ve come to understand what a narcissist he is! I’m looking forward to following you and learning more.

    1. Welcome Monica, I hope you find this site as helpful as I and others have. Dr. Simon is a good man and serves as an example of what MEN with character do with their lives. I’m sorry to hear you are among the ones who have experienced this type of shock and betrayal. It is, for me anyhow, something so deep that I more often than not, something that words do not do justice. I wonder how so many emotions can be wrapped up into one experience.

  9. Dr. Simon, This website is such a help. I just finished reading your book, “In Sheep’s Clothing”, which I found after I started looking for answers to questions that kept coming up concerning a (formerly) good friend of mine. Pretty much every single one of these tactics has been used against me. The difficulty is in trusting your gut – mine has been steadfastly against her for some time, and I after a recent incident where she blatantly went behind my back on something and I found out about it, I’m finally ready to start trusting myself over her. Here’s my problem though, and I’m hoping you can clarify something for me: since I distanced myself from her, she continues to look for ways to come after me with guilt trips and victim routines. On one hand, I feel like I should just ignore her emails, etc. but on the other hand, you say that one should not run from a necessary confrontation. I want to confront her with this stuff, because I think it might be the first time anyone has, and I think she needs to know I won’t put up with it anymore. But on the other hand, we have a lot of mutual friends who still think the sun rises and sets with her perfection, and who I doubt have any clue how manipulative she is. I’m still worried that if I stand up to her I may risk giving her the advantage she’s been seeking and the opportunity to use her many wiles to separate me from my other friends. But if I just ignore her, maybe I’m just perpetuating this thing and letting her get her way? Do you have any insight into my dilemma?

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I think I’ll let some of the readers comment here before I add my two cents and suggest some further readings on the blog. The commentators always have such great points to make and examples to share. I hope you find many helpful resources here.

    2. Heygirl, I personally don’t think there is any influence you can have over her or other people in her/ your life, there lessons with her are theirs to learn in their own time. You have to decide for yourself if she is someone you want in your life and why. I don’t know how old she is but if she is an “adult” she is unlikely to change because someone is informing her of her shortcomings. Other than to say to her that you don’t want someone in your life who treats you the way you are being treated and be done with it.

      I can’t control what the people in my ex’s life think of him or what they think of me as a result of what he says. I’m definitely to the point that I don’t care one bit what anyone in his life thinks about me because I don’t run with the same crowd he does anyhow. His family is as disordered as he is so the same applies.

      It’s like a friend of mine told me when she got divorced from her disturbed, disordered husband and the father of two of her children……..she never talked badly of him to her kids because she knew that eventually they would be able to know the truth and that;’s exactly what happened.
      It is hard…..and in my case I don’t hesitate to speak the truth about what I experienced with him. I guess each situation is different. You have to look at the cost analysis, what you have to gain or loose with your choices.
      Sounds like you are done with her though, for good reason.

    3. Hey girl……I agree with Puddle. No sense confronting or doing battle with the manipulator/CA. I remember another poster uttering those incredibly powerful (for me) words….”he/she who cares least about the relationship, holds the greater power”. I personally would not recommend completely ignoring the person (each to their own but just my view) but I do believe your general lack of response or refusal to engage in the mind games will send a string message from hereon. In others words, just say no…..and move on 🙂

    4. Heygirl,

      There is a third option (instead of confronting or ignoring). You change the way that you relate to you. Mentally downgrade your relationship. She is no longer your ‘good friend.’ You can go through some ‘polite’ motions with her to avoid a blowup, so things don’t get weird with your mutual friends. But don’t continue to show the same level of interest, caring or investment in the friendship. It sounds like you’re already doing it by distancing yourself, and that is great. I would suggest when she tries to ‘rope you back in’ – respond to her nicely and politely (in a surface sort of way), but don’t let it take up a lot of your time. And most importantly, DON’T give it the same emotional energy. She will pick up on the change, you would be surprised. In my experience, when you create authentic emotional distance like this (an emotional boundary, if you will) it can be amazingly effective in getting the manipulator to stop their negative behaviors. Manipulative friends (and family) feel comfortable doing these things because they take your emotional investment for granted. She will detect that you don’t really care about her anymore, but you will spare her the embarrassment or anger because you are still going through polite motions. So it is very unlikely that she will retaliate and affect your other friendships. She will probably just slink away, and move on. You can still mutually maintain some semblance of a polite public ‘friendship’ when you’re around mutual friends. I hope this makes sense. I speak from much experience (unfortunately).

      Shar

      1. And that, ^^^^ btw, is exactly the situation with my partner the emotional abuser. She is polite to my face such as coming home and smiling and saying that “I love you” as she walks in the door but it’s as superficial as it could be as she proceeds to ignore me completely and to openly reject any affectionate advances I make or say asking about her day I’ve tried various approaches and it’s just a dead end. You mention sparing this manipulator the embarrassment and anger but it’s very anger provoking to be treated that way and especially if you don’t understand why like in my case. Now your assumption is that she would understand why thus no embarrassment or anger just slinking away… Hmmm. Maybe. I’m not so sure. I know how I feel on the receiving end of that mindfuckery (it’s what it is be honest if you are innocent/caring your mind fucking backwards no?) and it causes me terrible emotional pain. I’m frankly bewildered. Now… Does the manipulator do what she does consciously or unconsciously? You seem to assume her actions are done consciously thus your premises stated. She may not realize what she’s doing and being straight up honest with her regarding your feelings to her manipulations might do her good. Or not. Getting in my abusers face only makes things worse and she’ll project her own shit right back on me. It’s like instinctual with her. Automatic response. Take no responsibility and blame shift mind fuck away. This is just another point of view. I firmly believe mine knows consciously what she’s doing and she’s very fluid with her responses based on my reactions to her BS. So instant is it she flips it round to her being the victim that it’s frankly mind boggling. And then the guilt shitstorm and attitude and silent treatment start. And if you kiss her ass the next day she’ll act like nothing happened everything is fine. Bizarre. But I’ve digressed. I don’t envy you or your quandary. These people are all over it seems, especially in power positions where they seem attracted like moths to the lite bulb.

  10. Is there a way to confront this type of person? I am engaged to manipulative man an tonight, at a lose of how to put into words what was going on I googled manipulative and found this sight. This is my fiancée ALL THE WAY! is there no hope? I actually have tried to point things out today as he started to do them but he just won’t admit it. Furthermore, when he does admit something it is only in words and is not sincere- just a way if getting what he wants. I have wanted to send him the link to this page but I know that will be a disaster! In fact, he’ll provably apply this stuff to me. And like others I may have ended up believing it had we not meet with a priest the first argument we had an he saw through all of my fiancées lies. But all that said it breaks my heart that there is no hope- I cannot marry him as-is and I am too old to lie to myself about the situation…

    1. With the greatest respect to your personal situation Rebecca…..and in acknowledging that you clearly have feelings for this man to who you are engaged, my recommendation would be to bin him and move on with your life. As quickly as is possible! Forgive my brevity…

    2. You don’t have to get him to admit anything. When you point out things as he does them, he knows you know even if he denies it all. Couple this with some action and you’re on your way.

    3. Rebecca, you sound very perceptive and like your eyes are open. Count yourself lucky that you are getting this information now rather than later when the personal loss and pain would be even greater. it sounds TO ME that you have all the information you need to RUN and don’t look back. You COULD tell him that you will not be in a manipulative relationship of ANY kind, give hime the information to read and see what he does with it ON HIS OWN. My ex did nothing with it at all……..(different info as I didn’t have this information yet). He did nothing. They are the way they are because they want to be. If they didn’t want to be they would already be taking steps not to be.
      You need to be 100% committed to your decision before you say anything to him if that is what you choose to do. Is it going to be a one more strike and your out? Two more? three more?
      The other thing to consider if if you are safe. That needs to me prioity # 1. If he is violent, physically abusive, etc. I would think very carefully about how you want to proceed from here.

    4. From everything I have been learning about any category of manipulators, the best way to get yourself out and as intact as possible is to protect yourself and do as little as possible to hurt their ego. Which means, turn the tables. There is no way you are going to help them or change them. Focus on yourself. Give them the ” It’s not you, it’s me” speech, lie through your teeth, be the best actor you have ever been in your life. This is about protecting yourself which needs to be your first priority.
      The goal here is to get them out of your life in every way possible so that you never have to ever think or speak about them ever again…to truly move on.

      Reading websites like this one will help give you the knowledge, confidence and courage to see and know the truth and no longer be controlled by a manipulator.

      My next “learning project” is to learn about normal healthy people and relationships so that I can set my radar on those.

      Dr. Simon, I have only started reading your site, so maybe it is on here already, but as someone who has had too many relationships with manipulative people, I would love to read your thoughts on what healthy behavior and relationships are all about.
      I believe that what you focus on you attract into your life. I would love to attract health 🙂

      1. The most interesting thing about the situation to me at this point is that I keep going to bat for him with trained professionals and experts in the field of Psychopathic relationships! I’ve had at least three people tell me, maybe more, that he is severely disordered and meets most of the defining characteristics of a psychopath! It’s ME saying……” but what about …..blah blah blah”! Why do I find this interesting? Because the whole time we were together he accused me of painting a one sided story, casting him as the one who is at fault. That is what he THOUGHT I was doing! When all along, even though I was seeking support from my friends I was also so confused (still seem to be) that I was minimizing MY concerns, Their concerns and technically defending HIM!
        Why? Because I could not conceive of ANYone being as big of a POS as he apparently is!

        1. Late to the party, but my advice to puddle if you are still dealing with this, move on. Why do you care to convince someone he is a psychopath. This actually says something about you. I’m not sure what. That you don’t value your own energy and time. Maybe because you were frustrated. Hope you got out of this negative cycle.

      2. I am currently facing divorce from a CA (Covert Aggressive)and your comments

        “the best way to get yourself out and as intact as possible is to protect yourself and do as little as possible to hurt their ego. Which means, turn the tables. There is no way you are going to help them or change them. Focus on yourself. Give them the ” It’s not you, it’s me” speech, lie through your teeth, be the best actor you have ever been in your life. This is about protecting yourself which needs to be your first priority.
        The goal here is to get them out of your life in every way possible so that you never have to ever think or speak about them ever again…to truly move on.”

        is something that I’m hoping will help me in my ‘fight’ against this man who has no idea I am onto him.

        I have been following blogs and comments regarding the ‘CA’ and manipulative people, all just to figure him out. I didn’t want to believe he was this person once I had begun to question him. But since revisiting the ‘gaslighting effect’ I KNEW this WAS him!

        Thank you so much Dr. Simon for all you have done and are doing.

        If you have ANY suggestions on how to handle the CA after leaving him(I’m guessing there is no reason to tell him I have his number now), because frankly I don’t know what to expect now.. I don’t know who this man is!! I never knew…

    5. Run run run, get away, fast, jump any hurdles that are there get away your in emotional danger get away before it’s too late save you for another day… yes…. a better day and a better way.

  11. Ive been told by an outsider that my partner is manipulating me by confusing me and the state of our relationship. We have been together off and on for nearly 4 years and was engaged as well. When I seek clarification about our relationship (eg just recently we got back together and he was sooo loving and talking about wedding destinations etc) that I assumed we were engaged again and when I got upset when he didnt want to talk specifically about a particular wedding destination but seemed willing to talk about sex all the time, I asked him if he truly was genuine about wanting to marry me…and it was then I find out that there is a myriad of reasons (all my fault too BTW) as to how he wants to see how we go as we have a sketchy track record anyway. My gut tells me he is commitment phobic and this is yet another excuse he uses to delay this decision (I told him this too) and in some ways, I feel like he is stringing me along. He was so upset with me that now he is acting distant and wont initiate touching me…so this is weird that he can go from being super loving and romantic etc to cold and distant like Im punished for stuff that happened last year.

    I seem to end up more confused and Im told Im putting too much pressure on him so I back off…but in the mean time he too pulls back its like the cliche, he who cares the least has the most power….I dont challenge his behavior and I then wonder what he is thinking or planning to do next….

    On paper, it does seem manipulative….but living it it just seems confusing as I love him and just want things to work out. Any advice on how to handle this acting distant behavior? He is still talking to me but is just soooo hurt by my comment about me being good enough for sex but not good enough to marry….among other things that happened even last year .

    1. It’s easy to say it as an outsider, but inside it gets fussy when 1)all this disrespect, manipulation, what-have-you isn’t so obvious and objectively may not outright cross; objectively it may all be beneath a certain threshold, “not worth a fuss” while subjectively you sense someone’s intentions are to be one up 2)they speak your language well enough that you’re tempted to think they’re like you in other ways as well.

      Reading between the lines, I read that people like this most maintain a certain clear, detached objectiveness, while they subjectively choose to act like they’re right. Sheer defiance.

    2. Thanks for the comment. But if I might share a few thoughts as well as my pet peeve: Be careful of even entertaining notions like “commitment phobic” because that viewpoint necessarily biases your outlook and can easily set you up for making poor judgments and possibly poor decisions with regard to another person. I know far too many people who, believing that their potential relationship partner “feared” intimacy and commitment as the result of bad early experiences in life, made an almost heroic effort to prove they were trustworthy, loyal, lovable, etc., only to find themselves repeatedly abused and eventually abandoned. There are people in this world who simply lack the desire and the character to love at a mature level, and that lack of character development is often the result of many factors other than fear or past trauma.

      1. Dr Simon, since you, near the end of Character Disturbance, dissected the differences between concepts like acting out and acting up, would you include the difference between commitment phobia and the lack of “desire and the character to love at a mature level” in your upcoming book? Since some concepts are a bit too habitual for people to think, could listing even more differences help dissect some concepts even harder?

        1. Perhaps it’s time to re-visit the whole issue of misunderstood and misused terms and concepts and the damage such misunderstandings can do. Thanks for the suggestion, J.

        2. You’re welcome.

          Here I’ve also included a lot of my ponderings on some concepts I think could make a difference.

          I have plenty of suggestions.

          *autonomous complex vs giving one’s complexes(we all have them, right?) a free reign like a parent spoiling children

          *repetition compulsion vs dysfunctional habits

          *dual personality(actual erratically inconsistent personality style, even if not the case of borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorder or actual multiple personality disorder) vs being two-faced/impression-management/habitual lying/difference between personality and character

          (This came to my mind when I told one of my friends about this one man, who lied casually, and my friend thought it was a case of dual personality.)

          *low self-esteem vs unhealthy self-esteem and lack of self-respect

          *paranoia vs combative hypervigilance

          *victim-of-life-neurosis vs self-pitying responsibility-avoidance

          *feeling inadequate vs entitlement-thinking blocks humility and will to learn new things and grow (came to mind when reading Bully in sight by Tim Field)

          *conscious self and shadowed psychic energies at conflict vs summoning destructive energies for own gain

          I may come up with more.

      2. Where does the lack of desire stem from and why? I asked for mature love and got a scorned mocking. What are the other many factors other than fear or past trauma?
        Is there any hope for these Covert Aggressors to ever break free or is that an impossible thing to imagine will happen?

  12. Thank you Dr for taking the time to reply to my dilemma…my take away from your response is “There are people in this world who simply lack the desire and the character to love at a mature level, and that lack of character development is often the result of many factors other than fear or past trauma.”

    Perhaps this is my BF (was fiance not that long ago)….and it resonates with me too. We had another chat this morning and although he is “trying” to reconnect, I notice he prefers to operate from a fear based response to our issues instead of aiming to face and solve our “issues” in an adult type manner.

    I lamented this morning how he is desiring to be in a perfect relationship with a perfect girlfriend and have a perfect life (so he dosnt feel the need to run away and stay somewhere else when things dont go his way or what ever)and I said thats just not real or sustainable..life isnt perfect…Im not perfect so you cant just run away every time I challenge you!! You need to start thinking about being committed to the relationship…to me…to us!!

    I went on further to explain there are many times I want to ring his neck and I might get upset for the rest of the day (when Im at work)but Im not planning to move out and break things off with him whereas he does. So to me he needs to learn how to strengthen his commitment to being in a relationship (with me) and learn to curb his desire to want to run away all the time or that its not a sign we arent compatible. He seems to be waiting for everything to be perfect for an undisclosed amount of time to prove to himself therefore Im worthy enough to get married now. I said after all the times we have been together, you know me and if you think like that (waiting for perfection) we will never move forward.

    So you are right; perhaps he lacks the desire or character to love at a MATURE level….mature being the operative word here as only “child like” people seek perfection in their world which is near impossible to attain so this feeds his inability to commit. Just sayin’. 🙂

  13. Dr. Simon,
    I read your books and follow your blog as my kind of “bible”. You give me understanding and strength everyday. I “escaped” my character-disturbed husband three years ago after many years of living in a psychologically and verbally abusive situation (he also abuses alcohol, drugs, money, friends,food,…no boundaries ) He is a master of manipulation. Once I realized that I could not change him nor “help” him, I began my escape plan. It has been a long journey or realization and understanding, from the early years of making up excuses for his behavior, to thinking “Im the crazy one”, to giving up and just living in “hell”.
    It has been three years from when I first left. I went back for a short while because he threatened suicide if I divorced him. I was worried about our three children….but I realized that he is too much of a narcissist to kill himself. Today, he carries so much anger towards me and
    takes NO responsibility for the failure of our marriage, EVERYTHING is my fault and he wants the world to know! Ofcourse, he is a pathological liar, and I think he believes his own lies….it is scarry. He tells my three children that “mommy abandoned the family”…”mommy has ruined your lives”. He constantly sabotages the kids just to hurt me or make me look bad (i.e. not giving one of the boys his backpack when its my parenting time, but then bringing it to school and claiming Im an unfit mother)and many other incidents like that. Dr. Simon, I am OK, I know that he is a severly disturbed character and I don’t have to live under the same roof with him anymore. I gave up everything to escape this abuse…my home, successful business, cars, boat and 50% time with my kids. I had no choice.
    My concern is the children (10, 12 & 14 years old)How do I help them? How do I save them? He is using my beautiful children to hurt me. I feel so much guilt that they are in this situation. This is how messed up my ex is ( and I might sound crazy saying this) he claims he loves his three boys more than anything and that what I have done(by leaving) is a “tragedy” and I “destroyed” there lives…I almost think he wants them to fail(bad grades, dropping out of sports,gettng in trouble ect.)so that in the end he can BLAME me, and he wins. Messed up.

    1. Thank you, Daisy, for such kind words. I’ll let the readers chime in here and share not only their stories but also their advice before I comment as well. And your question begs the issue of whether it wouldn’t be prudent to fashion an article on this very topic.

      1. Thank you for taking the time, Dr. Simon. The real question is how to save innocent children from the disturbed character? It took me 15 years to realize and escape, as an adult! There must be others that have similar experiences and advice to share……

        1. This is my concern of how damaged my children are? It was not until I was in the fetal position crying from an all out annihilation of character assination and mental abuse of mind control that I started my long journey to reclaim back my mind, my self esteem, my character that he had eroded, that I began the slow concerted effort to piece together what I had succumbed to through the cruel devices of manipulative covet dominance.
          I have raised four children under this man. 26, 25, 17, and 16 years of age. How troubled are they and what issues will spring forth from them. I hope that my sense of right and wrong conscience and conscientious traits have infiltrated them internally. The three male children attest that they did not have a father figure in their lives and searched outside the home to find a suitable one. I am guilt tripping myself for not dialing into the covert aggressive labeling earlier. It had been a looooong 30 years of turmoil in my mind trying to figure out how to nail jello to the wall with this man.

          1. So sorry to hear what you have been through. I spent 10 years (prime child bearing years) with an abuser and could not get pregnant even though I wanted to, because I knew he would have me trapped for at least ten more, if I had children. The nailing jello to the wall describes it perfectly. I hope you got out. The sooner you can the better. But whenever it is, it is. I’m sure you did the best you could as a Mom. Maybe not enough in hindsight, but if they are healthy and alive there is something to be very thankful for. You can go from there.How are you now Briar?

      2. I am so grateful at having found this site thanks to my primary physician who feels my adult daughter has CAPD. This has been the first thing that finally makes sense. He recommended your book which I have ordered. My situation is similar to Daisy only I am a grandmother involved in a similar situation because the court has granted me joint custody. I believe that she will destroy her own children to prove that I am the one at fault. I wish I had found this site and read your book a long time ago. I have gotten myself into an impossible situation financially that I don’t know how to get out of. Please do an article on how to protect the children from people like this.

        1. How to protect your kids? – I’ve now endured 36 years with my CA husband, most of it because I made the heart-breaking decision to keep the family together, despite his behaviour towards me, and which I have emotionally distanced myself from, long since. I did not want my children to live in a war zone, and did not want to give my husband the conflict scenario he would love, by seperating the family. Also, I can keep an eye on his behaviour towards them and stamp on it if he gets too much. I believe in my heart that my children have taken on-board my way of interacting with the world, rather than his. He’s an affection father (most of the time), or else I wouldn’t still have him in the house. My 3 sons are all young adults now, but still living at home. They have healthy relationships with the outside world – and I am amazed that I have managed to pull it all off! I learnt after about the first 10 years to covertly manipulate my husband into believing he had power over me – only sometimes finding it so unbearable that I gave him the arguments he so loves. Now I’m not sure if we will live together once our kids have fledged, but that is not something I worry about too much. I think I must have become de-sensitised to this aggressive intent. It’s a hard price to pay though, and I’m not sure if I would make the same decision again!

          1. Welcome Jules, as always, I see how this is just so much more difficult when children are in the mix. I feel for you and your kids though it sounds like you have buffered them very well. What a price you have paid.

  14. With regards the narcissist or psychopath or CD using the other woman for “entertainment” only and needing a “conscientious” type at home, what has to be appreciated is how adept these people are at lying. And what if the perception they are leaving you with, of the wife, is purposely subtle. How about this beaut, “We had a nice breakfast together today. We talked about world events and toward the end of the conversation she asked me what day my birthday fell on”.

    We had a lovely time–she doesn’t know my birthday and we have been together for 25 years.??

    You think this man was trying to arouse a sense of protectiveness in the other woman while evading her own defence mechanisms? If he had said, “we had a lovely time and then she slapped me across the face,” the Other Woman might take that to be a red flag.

    The other woman is being destroyed just as surely as the spouse. There are many extenuating circumstances. What if the “other woman” is targeted at a time in her life when she is facing numerous crushing life challenges alone, or her own spouse is absent? What if the other woman never really sees the horror of the stealth deception, until she is blindsided by it, in one fell swoop.

    The super effective stealth liar will have you convinced that you are saving HIM from his wife. He will describe her in terms that are very negative and he will do it brilliantly. If you have had limited or no experience as the ‘other woman’ in a triangle like this, try not to judge. You have no idea how much pain and therapy is required by someone who hasn’t seen red flags. There is no mental preparation….and from a sadist, that is intentional.

    The person who targeted me wasn’t in it for sex. There wasn’t any. He was in it for the thrill of it, to cause as much pain and chaos in someone’s life as possible. He wanted to ruin another human being for kicks, while driving his wife half mad with jealousy and confusion.

    There is a happy ending. His wife was tipped off to his extra-curricular activities, a couple of years afterward. She cleared out their bank account, just after their house was sold and then seized jointly owned property in another country, that he cannot access. She did it without one hint or word of warning–his own modus operandi. So…a happy ending for both of us.

  15. Lisa…..you hit the nail on the head with everything you said here. and that is a happy ending. I’d love to shove the whole game back down his throat and let him choke on it in front of God and everyone……(don’t think I’m not going to either………….time…..)

    They make mountains out of molehills that aren’t even there to start with and rest assured if you do something against them that IS off track, you will not hear about it…………….but you will be punished. I have to keep telling myself that his behavior has nothing to do with faulty relationship dynamics..there was no relationship from the get go and the only person who knew that was him.
    Thanks for your post and I’m sorry you have been through this.

  16. Hi Puddle,

    Every relationship has faulty dynamics of some sort, but even the weirdest couples have positive intent towards each other, with minor exceptions. But even then the anger is kind of normal. Neither party lies in wait ready to ‘kill’ their ‘adversary’. I can tell if somebody has been targeted by a monster.

    There is a sharp demarcation between the disfunction they may have experienced with garden variety oddballs, in their past. In my own case, I went out with more typical types of weirdos when I was young. I was emotionally weird at the time, myself, so that’s kind of common.

    My first boyfriend was a mildly paranoid sociopath, I suspect. Yet still, with all his fears of having his phones tapped, his lack of real empathy, the impression he gave that he was always acting, he was ‘normal’ compared to the ‘kindly, helpful’ monster I encountered, decades later.

    At any point in these relationships, where we were targeted, did WE feel malicious? Did we ever want to wound the spath deeply, without cause? No. We were just struggling to understand what was going on, being triggered and experiencing all kinds of conflicting emotions. It’s not a loving Petrie dish to grow a healthy friendship or romantic relationship. I just wanted to have some light shed on what I was getting involved in and was frustrated at every turn.

    The severely disordered shrink from the light. It’s as if it burns them like a caustic acid.

    Justice is important and underrated. I agree. Attending a spa, soaking in a bubble bath, “doing something nice for yourself”, as a way of dealing with soul murder is a bit inadequate.

    I don’t know what the answer is to a conundrum that could hurt the victim even more in the long turn. It is an issue that has to be taken very seriously by therapists, though. The way we deal with issues of justice that arise out of being abused intentionally are crucial and blown off by most of the therapeutic community.

    I believe that when somebody states,”I have to get even or I worry for my sanity” they deserve a hearing, not judgement.

  17. Hi Lisa………beautifully worded again. I’ve not exactly led a sheltered life and as you say…….I’ve had my fair share of what I would call dysfunctional relationships. It often goes with the territory in regards to drinking and living that type of lifestyle BUT! I will say this………..he is on the short list of “ex partners”, as in the ONLY ONE, who I would never EVER again speak to and would spit in his face if I could stomach being close enough to do so. That is NOT something i have ever had happen in my past. I’m on speaking terms with every one of my past significant others, my ex husband, etc. There are a couple of people from my past that I don’t want to have anything more to do with but not in the way this has left me……different. Just went our separate ways and I’ve seen that I don’t need to revisit old party girl type relationships. I’ve even had people steal things from me and not been left with any feelings even remotely close to what this has left me with. Of course I wasn’t in love with them. so sad to think I felt what I felt for such a POS as it turns out.

  18. My hubby and I had fights because of in-laws who stayed with us and were constantly targetting me.I was responsible that he was overweight,not having peace etc.I was asked by my hub to go to a psychologist when ever I confronted him about it.However,the doctor did ask us to come for individual sessions as well as joint.I am finding very good results as how to avoid getting hurt etc.However,my hub now refuses to go telling he doesn’t see any change and it is not worth.I confronted him today asking if he found the marriage the way it should be going.I also convinced him as to how good results I am seeing.He then said how difficult it is to face these matters and said he would see the doctor if it makes me happy but that he doesnt see any difference.I then said it is for his betterment that he should see the doctor.There are even other people interferring in our lives like his sister who talks like a friend to me then informs her mom about any personal things I share.I have to deal with this too as he is not ready to accept this.I have found your site helpful to know about different personalities.

    1. Nithya, Your situation sounds trying and frustrating. Please do yourself a favor and keep reading the information available here and stand your ground. You deserve fair treatment from your husband and his family.
      Your husband might not see any difference if he is not applying himself, which he won’t if he really doesn’t want to go but is only going to placate you. people only change when they really want to and genuinely see a need to. Most, if not all, character disordered people don’t see a need to because in their mind it’s not their fault.

      1. Thankyou for validating me as I thought mine was a minor problem compared to the others in the site.But I should say confronting my husband when he seemed relaxed or when not direct like through the phone made him more accepting.Directly targetting any victim/offender for that matter puts him/her in the defensive.I think this is one tactic everyone should know.Also being confident of yourself helps as you will be transferring this unconsciously to your partner.

        1. Nithya, you are right, confidence is very important but hard to maintain when you are being COVERTLY undermined and manipulated. I’m not saying that is the case with your situation but there are varying degrees of covert aggression and manipulation. I tried so many different approaches with Spathtard because at the time I thought that I needed to work on my communication skills and that if we could only learn to communicate better, maybe we would understand each other better. Well…..that was not the problem, the problem was that I was being emotionally abused and toyed with for his own agenda.
          I do wish you luck with your situation Nithya.

        2. Nithya, I’d just like to say that comparing the problems we have as being not as bad as others, is a way that we minimize our experience and not recognize the full impact of being abused and neglected on ourselves. I do this alot too. I agree with what you say about being confident, when we are being manipulated it’s not always that simple though. 🙂

  19. Wow. I mean just: wow. As I read this post, I can actually hear myself speaking through some of the blog posts I’ve written about Adam (not his real name). I fell so deeply in love with him and then found out (he lives 1200 miles away) through Google research that he is married although he’d told me he was divorced (true) — just not that he was re-married. And was raising a son on his own (not true — he had a wife to help him). But by the time I found him out my partner had left me (because of me falling in love) and broken up our happy home of 20 years — and I could not bear the double loss — so I stuck with Adam and it’s been 4 1/2 years now. He has actually TOLD me that he cannot be happy with “just one” woman and “needs” me in his life. Not that I’m IN his life, of course. Not really. I blame myself for staying in it — I’m slowly pulling myself out of it. Been absolute hell. He fits the descriptions above to a T. Thank you.

  20. Dear Dr Simon,
    having read your book, which saved my life, I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a light at the end of a very dark confusing tunnel.

    I broke free from my covert aggressive abuser Sept 2014 but foolishly decided to stay friends – big mistake as he used our friendship to continue his abuse. I ended all contact over Christmas but feel waves of anger, humiliation and shame. I feel I have lost a close friendship that wasn’t even real?? I feel betrayed and your website gave me hope to get through this tunnel. I’ve gone from being a really happy person to crying alone almost daily, I struggle to find the words to describe his evil. I’ve decided to not forgive until I feel I can and concentrate on myself, it’s been tough. Once again Dr Simon, thank you for being of service to humanity, may you continue to shine your light for others to find and pull through.

    Love and Light – Sunshine

    1. Hello Sunshine and welcome. You have a journey to go on, it will take some time, but yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You are under no obligation to forgive as the abuser needs to apologize and ask for forgiveness, then you can think about forgiveness; most of these abusers will never admit that they did anything wrong. But if you hold negative feelings in your heart, they will eat you alive. I asked in prayer that God would take all negative feelings out of my heart. I speak from my own experience here. You can safely vent here, almost everyone here has been through the same or very similar things as you are experiencing. It is alright to cry, crying releases a healing hormone. Again, welcome, ask questions if you would like, Peace and hope from Elva

      1. Bang on, Elva. Sunshine…that expression, “forgive and forget,” so useful when dealing with normals, is a stretch in the aftermath of abuse, covert or otherwise. Indifference, or a kind of forgetting, I have found from my own experiences and the experiences of others, is the preferred route to go. Abusers have to genuinely feel remorse for their actions and apologize before forgiveness is appropriate. You will be that happy person you used to know again. So happy you are here and that you have found Dr.Simon. I wish I had read his books 6 years ago. It would have spared me a LOT of grief.

        I have overcome targeting by a P, while being in therapy for childhood miseries, 6 years ago, the tragic death of my mother and the partial unravelling of the bonds with the closest relationship I have ever had–with my brother— all in a 6 month period. I was under such stress and felt such grief that I was under investigation for heart problems. It turned out to be pain radiating from pectoral muscles but felt like a broken heart.

        Just a few suggestions for when you are able. Get out and interact as much as you can with trustworthy people in the real world. Don’t feel like a chump for what happened to you. It can happen to anybody,,particularly those with a high degree of empathy. And having a lot of it is a wonderful thing and evidence of strength, not weakness. It is a civilizing factor, the gel that holds us all together. To have it in abundance is glorious.

        Best wishes to you!!!

    2. Thanks so much for your kind and validating words, Sunshine. At the risk of being too hokey, you have brought, as they say, a ray of sunshine to my day! And I hope you find all the articles and my other books helpful in your quest for growth and empowerment.

  21. Thank you so much for your post. I recently started dating a guy and I knew something was off. Everyone loves him and thinks he’s the nicest person ever (till they get too close). It’s almost like he’s two people. Anything he does that anyone would see and think is wrong, he side steps and uses the tactics you describe. He first tries to distract with another topic (amazingly and skillfully), he belittles your concern, his double standards are utterly ridiculous. When confronted with an issue, he talks vaguely and abstractly by taking himself out of the equation and instead of using terms “I” and ” you” he uses general terms like “men” and “women. I have to reiterate that I’m talking about him (his name) and me (my name) and our actions or issues and desires and not men or society— Also, he tries to put me on the defensive and focuses on what’s wrong with my attempt to address the issues (no matter how civil and practically I try to communicate).

    I looked up this forum after a conversation with him where he said, “I love women but I can’t let y’all manipulate me.” Manipulation = if he is contacted by his woman he feels pressure that if he responds it could be her “winning” and manipulating him to respond. I said I wish you knew my communication with you is genuine and not an attempt to manipulate you. He says, “manipulation” is a strong word and goes on talking about something else.

    I used to blame this behavior on his law degree. I thought maybe they are trained to always divert and to always suspect. However, in this conversation, the fact that he stated “I can’t let y’all manipulate me” made me think twice. He is that fearful of manipulation when interacting? It’s like a bell went off: he is a manipulator and projecting (particularly onto women)?

    After coming to your site and reading, this all makes perfect sense. At first I thought this was perfect but within a short amount of time, I started noticing the inconsistencies and gap between what’s said and behavior. I am very conscientious, but I also studied psychology so I knew something was just too off. He even stated at once point that he wakes up and his first thought is never to make anyone else happy, not even me but his first thought is to make himself happy. He went on to suggest this is how everyone is which I challenged based on my own experience. I know what it’s like to put someone else’s happiness above your own and I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of that too. He then suggested that when I try to communicate anything I’m not satisfied with that’s me not caring about his happiness because I know he doesn’t like that.

    All I could do was appreciate the candor. With the help of your site, now I see him for who he is.

    1. You sound very intelligent. Congrats on piecing it together. You could have been describing my situation to a T. However I stayed in it too long, giving him the benefit of the doubt and then got into a phase where I felt so spun around and “crazy” I could barely deal. The projection thing is dead on. He was the covert bully and then project onto me that he was the victim, when I mentioned something. Finally got out of that.

      But I concur with the great advice on this site. If you find yourself in this situation. Get your financial information together and secure what you need to and get out of there ASAP without trying to prove anything or shine a light. You might thing he will understand but this is not a normal caring person, this is a person with a really bad interpersonal program. If you point out the flaws, he will not change his program.

  22. my grandmother uses covert aggression in in a verbally abusive way, i used to always just think she was a prejudgmental self righteous, and i really would not deal with her to much my entire life because i knew it was wrong how she would talk down at my mother. Then whenever i would speak with her she would all the sudden go off on a speil about what she was assuming what was going on with my personal life when she had absolutely no possible way of knowing anything that was actually going on because she was not there, i just always assumed well she was just one of those who thinks they know every damn thing right? elders whatever but i am an adult so i simply had very minimal communication because after awhile it becomes counterproductive to entertain one who insists on telling you whats complete fiction. well i ended up incarcerated and the system told me they would release me on parole but one has to have an approved address before they let you out. my gracious granny allowed me to parole to her address, her and my great aunt shared the residence that was inherited from my great grandmothers death. well, i then after about a month started to experience little spurts here and there, something wasn’t done when she came in from work at night, the stove wasn’t clean… ok ok, i am home no biggie, then she came in one night and asked if anyone had been by, then if i had had someone over,(of course i did not, for real) comes in another night and declares that someone has used HER SPECIFIC hand towel.. the restroom has two hand towels and neither one has a sign that its hers specifically, i never knew till then but that one is behind the door so i dont bother with it, so she claims that someone MUST have been in the house because we SUPPOSEDLY have prior knowledge that that one was hers, when we obviously did not. So anyway the disturbing night came when i come and go as usual and well was bombarded with an onslaught of 1: what she was stating my behavior was which was really an absolute falselty, it played like an acussation but without any type of speculative statement she worded herself as if without a doubt that was what was the reality, as if just because she said it that it was true. that was the initial to get me on the defensive but when she did not get the reslut she wanted she then 2:produced another household situation about the laundry that was i seen know a calculated move, and then presented the situation with factors that had NEVER been discussed or presented in anyway as if i could read her mind but i see that she did this on purpose so that i would immediately become defensive about it, because that was ridiculous! then when i guesss she had me going shed hope that i would play into her initial ploy which mind you was presented in a indirect way i guess hoping i would slip up and confess something that there was nothing to confess about because shes a crazy JOAN CRAWFORD type, (without the wealth) and i just happened to record our conversations. i knew something was not right, and i am very disturbed because if it where just simple negative derogatory belligerence then well i have dealt with that, but this is some creepy very childish stuff and i don’t feel safe. so i think that what i am going to try when she starts again is tell her to slow down, that i dont even know what shes talking about, tell her that she is verbally abusive, and then i gots to get the up an up on all of her pre loaded booby trap situations i got this biiiitch ill give you guys an update, plus i plan on getting employment and moving out ASAP!

  23. Hello,
    I’m looking for some advice. Here’s my story in a nutshell: I grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional family, I was the last of 4 kids. My mother never really wanted me & told me often that she hated me & I was stupid, alot of slapping & mean verbal abuse. All this was done “covertly”. Anyway, at a very young age, I married a great guy. He was kind & gentle- we will be celebrating our 18th anniversary this year. Unfortunately i have a sister in law who has been extremely covertly aggressive towards me for the duration of my marrige. Alot of unkind comments that make me feel very judged and insecure about my body, my beliefs, my husband…. I am also a sensitive person by nature. Nobody else in my husbands family recognizes this trait in her except for me, possibly because I grew up with a similar type of person (my mom). Maybe its her way of letting me know she doesn’t like me, or maybe she doesn’t know she even does it?

    Anyway, this past year, my husband became very sick with a brain injury. It took 9 months for a full recovery and during that time, I had become so emotionally drained from my past, my husbands sickness and her snide comments, I completely lost it mentally & emotionally…. During that time she made a comment to someone regarding my lack of ability in handeling my husbands sickness. That was the last straw after 17 years of trying to ignore her comments, and i absolutely ripped her apart verbally. How i said it was NOT tactful, kind or gentle in any way.  I did, weeks later, genuinely apologize for my outburst towards her, but honestly, I can’t handle anymore. My husbands entire family looks at me like I’m crazy now & doesn’t understand why I reacted the way I did.

    She says she “can’t say anything to me without my getting upset” , that I’m “too sensitive”, and that “she was just trying to be funny”. And I am now to the point where if/when I see her or her husband, I honestly go into a full blown physical panic attack. I understand that I look like the irrational one in this situation. My distance from this family is not an option as they are very close, and I love my husband, our kids are good friends and they only live minutes away.

    So how do you move on from being subject to a covert aggressor & minimizer & what tactics can you use in this type of situation? I’m trying to figure out how to resolve this, angry that she’s gotten away with this much, distrustful of her – and trying to not rip my husbands family apart through all this. Any advice would be much appreciated!!!

    1. Sunny Days, I think the thing you need to repeat to yourself, over and over and over, is that this is her problem not yours bro not internalize it or take it on. She more than likely will not change and I think LisaO is right in getting together with her, I would not suggest inviting her to your house however. Lunch in public. Lay it on the line, tell her whet she is doing, how it affects you and that it needs to stop. If it doesn’t, you will need to be as “no contact” as possible. You will have to see her on occasion but you do not have to interact.

  24. SunnyDays,

    I have a super rude s-i-law, too–my brother’s wife. As I don’t worry about bumping into her or share interests or offspring entanglements with her I don’t have to have anything much to do with her. If our lives intersected much at all, I would invite her over to your place and lay it on the line. Remain calm. Remember she has the problem, not you. It doesn’t matter how other people view her, a bully can target one person, in a subtle way and others won’t notice it, particularly if there’s a lot going on, lots if distractions.

    It takes a lot of emotional strength to look after a disabled person, even if it just temporary. Remember that when dealing with your twerpy s- in law. Hope your husband is thoroughly healed and stay in touch. Also, read Dr. Simon’s articles about benign confrontation.

  25. Thanks so much Puddle & Lisa O – I so much appreciate your advice. Like i stated previously, this has been 17 years coming, and its caused some damage to my marrige. I known if I refuse contact with her, I’ll be blamed for the drama, but we’re past that point anyway.

    I’ll let you know if we ever have a sit down, but I’m sure she’ll never admit to any wrongdoing, as that would also be admitting to lying about it for all these years.
    Thanks again for the understanding and advice. It’s so helpful to know there are people out there that understand the frustration that goes along with these type of people. And appreciation to Dr. Simon for providing a website that provides insightful info like this!

    1. SunnyDays, you do not have to tell her that you are going to go ” no contact”, you just stop the game by walking off the field. From what you have said, this would have been better to nip in the bud LONG ago but that is water under the bridge now right? All you can do is what you can do from this point forward. I will tell you this, every reaction from you will be like giving her a treat. You must steel yourself and not feed the monster 🙂 let out your emotions, frustration, etc… But do it in a safe place. Writing is great for this or speaking it or shouting it when you are in a car alone in a safe area. That was and still is my greatest release. Let it fly!
      Ok, you need to cop an attitude girl! This is not about getting her to admit anything. You are drawing s line in the sand. It does not have to be a discussion. You can start by saying ” I have something I need to say and I want you to listen without interrupting. I will listen to you when I’m finished but I need to speak without interruption. Do you agree to this?” Have your ducks in a row, write out what you want to say and make it short and to the point. And I mean short. The more meat on the bone, the more there is to chew on. What do you want SunnyDays? What exactly do you want? No explanations. The shorter and more direct the better. If you get into a back and forth exchange she will paint you into the corner.
      If you want to run some ideas past the posters here I’m sure you will find some good feed back and help in fine tuning your words. I think of it like threading a needle, you have to compact the thread to as small a point as you can to get it through the eye.
      Good luck!

      1. SunnyDays, what is your husbands position on this?? That is the $100,000.00 question. My oppinion, and this is just how I feel about it, you need his backing here. He should “have your back” in this.

  26. Puddle – you are awesome!
    Your completely right, at this point, i need to grow some kahunas and cop an attitude. Honestly, the first few years I was naive enough to believe she didn’t understand how hurtful her comments were…. until a few years ago she said she thought her husband was better than mine because he is the middle child… haha…um, what???? The one time i did confront her on this, her response was “well im sorry you misunderstood me. Your so sensitive, I can’t say anything”!

    The reason I previously mentioned my childhood is because I grew up not being allowed to fight back. The more I fought, the worse it got. So I had to swallow it and move on. I thought after I got married I would be out of that type of situation, but I guess not.

    My husband, after some extreme knock down drag out fights b/t us this past year, does have my back. He avoids verbal confrontation but is begining to understand thats what I need if we’re going to survive this.

    2 weeks ago, we had a family party. My Sis-in-law shouted over everyone to me “so is your mom cancer free yet”? (This is my moms 4th bout with cancer). That’s what threw me into panic… feeling like she was approching a sensitive subject in front of everybody in order to get a rise out of me. So yes, I have to learn how to steel myself, not feed the monster, and learn how to not let her push my buttons anymore.

    Puddles, you asked me what I want… that was a little shocking to me! Haha… I’ve never really thought about what “I want”. It’s always been what I have to do, what’s expected or whatnot. Hmm…. What do I want? If I could say what I want, without filter, without fear of retribution… I would tell her that she’s chosen to be nasty for17 years, I will not allow that type of “mean girl” attitude towards me anymore, and ANYONE who choses to behave like that and thinks it’s funny won’t be in my life. She’s toxic to me. (I really don’t want her in my kids life either). I’m absolutely SICK of being the victim, feeling like I’ve been beaten down, and the thought of actually being who I want to be is …freeing. I’ve never had permission to be that. So hearing someone say that to me is a little eye opening….!
    Sooo…. nownI just need to get past the fear and grow some kahunas! I wonder if there’s a pill for that???? KD!
    Thanks, Puddles for your advice. It’s really helpful to get another point of view!

    1. Another thing to think about here SunnyDays is that there is a possibility what you say to her could make a difference and there is the possibility it may not. Another approach is to “confront” her in the moment when she treats you poorly by simply saying, ” I will not allow my self to be spoken to like that again”. She of course will have a response at which time you can either repeat yourself or turn around and leave her presence. Anything less than something to the affect of ” I’m sorry, you are right. I wI’ll work on not letting it happen again” is not acceptable but you do not have to engage with her or get her to see the light. As Dr. Simon says, they are perfectly aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it ( more often than not). Maybe she truly is not malicious, only clueless. If so….. Being direct and crystal clear with her ( short and to the point) should set her towards finding a resolution, not towards finding excuses.

      1. OR………..” I don’t like it when you speak to me like that”!
        Like whaaaaat??????
        ” Like that”! Then turn and walk away!

  27. SunnyDays, you have to know that you are worth standing up for, you have to believe that you are. This is difficult to do when you have a history of abuse and invalidation. I just wrote some ideas to post to you and the website dumped my post!!
    So, back to what you said about what YOU want. Please reword it leaving out the won’t “you” or any references to SIL. Say how you feel and what you want only. Give it a try, it’s really cool. Then read GG’s posts about her self defense class and the drill Sargent voice and roaring like a lion…… Or read those first and then tell us what you feel and want.

    1. Edit:
      So, back to what you said about what YOU want. Please reword it leaving out the won’t “you” or any references to SIL.
      Leaving out the word “you”.

    2. Great advice! I hope SunnyDays got it. I agree. But I would try to keep it as short and punchy as possible. “Don’t talk to me that way!” and turn around and talk to someone else (but don’t leave in a huff cos then she wins) Or just ignore her, “Did you say something?” you could just keep with the i-can’t-hear-you or exculate “Did you say something rude to me again. I guess it wouldn’t be (insert her name) if that did not happen.” Then laugh really loud. The point is to get everyone around in on it. So they kinda notice that she sucks. I believe this S-in-L was trying to emotionally alienate SunnyDays. Turn the tables if you can.

  28. Hi, I have some covert-agressive tendencies. What steps can I take to be less self-centered and hence manipulative?

    1. Hi James,
      It takes courage to admit own shortcomings. I suggest your try to read, The Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck, and Judas Syndrome by Dr. Simon. I haven’t read the Peck’s book, but I feel it may be more useful to start with. There are enough good things in those books, pick the ideas that you like and that just may be enough for you.

      1. Hi Andy D and James,
        Yes, Dr. Pecks Book A Road Less Traveled and his second one A Road Less Traveled and Beyond. Another good one is Dr. Victor Frankl Mans Search for Meaning.

        1. James, I have read a most of Dr. Pecks work. He is a brilliant writer. You may want to read his other works especially People of the Lie. I hope things work out for you. Having a knowledgeable therapist is so important and will keep you grounded in the confusion and disorder a person like this can create. My prayers are with you.

  29. I’m involved with a man going on a few years now. What I thought was a clash of two strong personalities, there’s always been this other dimension that just hasn’t been right.
    UNFORTUNATELY , I love this man very much and we have a history of being very close. But I always catch myself thinking that something is “off.” I can’t stand the thought of not being with this man, whom I’ve felt like is my soul mate. Seriously. BUT now, I’m doubting because of manipulation and tge aggressive personality. How do I break up with him? Do I tell him why…or do I take the high road?
    Gut wrenching this is. I love him so much. We have great times together, but the worst fights, too. Usually I end up as the bad guy…lather, rinse, repeat. Please share your opinion. Or ask ?’s
    Emilia

  30. I’m involved with a man going on a few years now. What I thought was a clash of two strong personalities, there’s always been this other dimension that just hasn’t been right.
    UNFORTUNATELY , I love this man very much and we have a history of being very close. But I always catch myself thinking that something is “off.” I can’t stand the thought of not being with this man, whom I’ve felt like is my soul mate. Seriously. BUT now, I’m doubting because of manipulation and tge aggressive personality. How do I break up with him? Do I tell him why…or do I take the high road?
    Gut wrenching this is. I love him so much. We have great times together, but the worst fights, too. Usually I end up as the bad guy…lather, rinse, repeat. Please share your opinion. Or ask ?’s
    Emilia

  31. I’m involved with a man going on a few years now. What I thought was a clash of two strong personalities, there’s always been this other dimension that just hasn’t been right.
    UNFORTUNATELY , I love this man very much and we have a history of being very close. But I always catch myself thinking that something is “off.” I can’t stand the thought of not being with this man, whom I’ve felt like is my soul mate. Seriously. BUT now, I’m doubting because of manipulation and tge aggressive personality. How do I break up with him? Do I tell him why…or do I take the high road?
    Gut wrenching this is. I love him so much. We have great times together, but the worst fights, too. Usually I end up as the bad guy…lather, rinse, repeat. Please share your opinion. Or ask ?’s
    Emilia

  32. I’m involved with a man going on a few years now. What I thought was a clash of two strong personalities, there’s always been this other dimension that just hasn’t been right.
    UNFORTUNATELY , I love this man very much and we have a history of being very close. But I always catch myself thinking that something is “off.” I can’t stand the thought of not being with this man, whom I’ve felt like is my soul mate. Seriously. BUT now, I’m doubting because of manipulation and tge aggressive personality. How do I break up with him? Do I tell him why…or do I take the high road?
    Gut wrenching this is. I love him so much. We have great times together, but the worst fights, too. Usually I end up as the bad guy…lather, rinse, repeat. Please share your opinion. Or ask ?’s
    Emilia

    1. Emilia,

      Maybe you should seek professional help. Few sessions will help you in thinking clearly. Maybe read the book In sheeps clothing too, especially useful & great insight to figure out covert-aggressive type of people. Sometime, it just may be sufficient to know how to counter the manipulation to get sanity restored in a relationship.

      Breaking up is easy, just take the high road. What is more important to get insight into:
      “Usually I end up as the bad guy…lather, rinse, repeat”.
      “I took the high road. Found someone else. BUT, had as bad fights as before. Usually I end up as the bad guy…change bucket, lather, rinse, repeat”

      1. Thanks, Andy.
        I just got the book tonight, and have started reading it already. When I look back at the relationship he had with his first wife, and the stories he tells, it further begins to make sense.
        I felt like there was something wrong for a while, and it makes sense in so many ways.
        Your advice of going to seek counseling makes sense, too. Please feel free to give any more insight and advice you might share. It’s like a huge fog has lifted. But I’m still very sad and devestated at realizing all of this. I love him tremendously, and it crushes my heart to know a person I’ve had in my life isn’t going to be for much longer . . .

        1. Emilia
          You can spend few days reading blogs here. Better to read originals than to rely on my interpretations.

          One specific thing will be to avoid Freudian psychologist. The one who will do dream analysis, delve on childhood trauma, then provide excuse for his bad behavior, and finally transfer the responsibility (read blame) of dealing with his bad behavior on you. Such counselor are enabler of bad behavior.
          Keep in mind that there are very few psychotic/psychological illnesses where a person cannot be held responsible for his/her behavior. Almost always, a person must be fully accountable of his/her behavior.

  33. Andy
    In reading this in the book “Unlike the assertive personality, aggressive personalities pursue their interpersonal agendas with a degree of ruthlessness that bespeaks their disregard for the rights and needs of others. ” I almost want to give “Scott” the book and tell him why I’m breaking up with him.
    He never thinks he’s wrong, and I hate leaving him without showing him an actual reason. Mainly because he does think he’s flawless…
    Thoughts on that?

    1. Emilia,
      Cannot say anything about that. Your choice, you know better. 🙂

      Personally I won’t bother explaining reason or giving book. Especially if someone is comfortable with who he is.
      And, I will sit out on major decisions for few days. Decide something major and just chill around before taking any action.

      If you want to gift “In Sheep’s Clothing” as parting gift, then gift “Judas Syndrome” as well, just in case he gets the insight by first book, and he want to take corrective action from second book.

  34. Once again I have fallen back in again with “Scott”.
    I guess the charming side, gave me some chance to slip up. I did. Then we’re back “on” again. I had written a letter, collecting my thoughts after we had a dispute last Wed. But I didn’t send it, after we had our “heart to heart”. The next morning, when I awoke before he did, he was angry about all of the noise that I made, that woke him up. I’m not a big person, and I maybe did a few things that were disturbing. Like the lid on the toilet made a noise when it slipped out of my hand as I closed it. He said i threw the vovers back forcefully, and my bracelets made too much noise. But I was wrong for not acknowledging everything I had done “wrong” that woke him up. It was 8:15 a.m, and we normally got up that early.
    I couldn’t take anymore. I gathered my things, and left. On Thanksgiving. Got in my car, added the subject line to the email explanation I had already prepared, and hit send. Deleted him from Facebook. Twitter, etc.
    Now here we are again. The agony, and loving him the way I do pulled me back! I’m ridiculous! He recently told me me that he “can’t be himself around me” But counters that with “and you should work on that”. He told me this after I shared with him that I was not going to let him manipulate, and be aggressive toward me anymore.
    I’m on love with this man, but feel so absurd to read the book, see the signs, and still get pulled in by Mr. Charm.
    Really at the end of my rope here.

    1. emilia,
      You are in love with that man. Is that guy in love with you? Or, does he love himself so much that there will never be any place for you in his heart.

      1. Most things I question now in terms of my feelings. I honestly do think that Scott loves me. I just also think he has some deep issues that indicate there is something wrong with him on a different level.
        The book states it beautifully in the section talking about the slot machine, and the level of hope you get from one encounter. The investment that has been put in. Etc.
        Feels like this has ruined me a bit for sure. And I don’t know the next step to take.
        Emilia

      2. Hi Emilia,

        Welcome, I am glad you found Dr. Simons site. I feel your pain, I went through the same thing but spent 30 years of my life loving someone that in truth did not love me nor was he ever capable of it. People who care about each other do not treat each other this way.

        Andy, has given you very good advise and support thus far. It is very hard and extremely painful to leave someone you love. But, I can tell you the longer you stay the worse it will get from the behavior you are describing. There is a power struggle going on and that is either you become the ongoing usable doormat or you try to maintain your personhood and there is nothing but turmoil and aggression for power over you.

        Don’t be angry with yourself that you gave in, take this time to step back and evaluate the situation, recoup your strength mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Read all the different topics on this blog including the posts. You will find so many stories of others that resemble your situation.

        You are not alone and if you stay, you will find many like Andy that will give you support and will help try to guide you, knowlegable from their own painful experiences. It is very difficult to break away because in essence you will leave a part of yourself behind. Detaching and breaking away is very painful and can be likened to withdrawal symptoms from an addiction. But you must, for your own sanity and preservation. Otherwise, it will only drain you and what he is truthfully doing is slowly breaking your spirit. The outcome from the little you have described, when he is done or tires of you will in all probability find a new source to drain since he has used you up like an old rag and is time for dicard.

        From what you describe in trying to assert your person in expecting to be treated with dignity and respect, he reeves up the negative control behavior.
        Do not educate him to the fact you are beginning to see the dynamics of his behavior. There is nothing and I repeat nothing you can say or do that will change him. Heed the negative and hostile reactions of his behavior towards you when you assert yourself, respect your “Gut” it never fails in telling you the truth.

        If you need some time to think and plan, do this, but don’t wait to long. As Andy suggested find a supportive therapist that will help you through this and validate your experience. In the meantime plan how you will leave, build your support network. I didn’t have family to rely on but there are support groups you can get involved in. Contact the Women Resource Center in your area they usually have individual counseling if you can’t afford a private therapist and there are programs offered at some churches too that offer support and counseling.

        I can only say do not inform him on anything you have educated yourself about in relation to his conduct, this information will only be used against you. For the sake of simplicity understand he is an abuser and nothing less. There is nothing you can say or do that will get him to change. I am warning you, Do Not Give him the book. He may change his colors for awhile like a chameleon but he will only be the wiser. It will make it more difficult for you to leave and could become unsafe too.

        Take care of yourself, and be good to you, give yourself the love he is incapable of giving to you. There is a good man out there that will love and cherish you. You deserve so much more.

        Your are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope you stay for awhile.

        1. Emilia,
          While I was responding to your past post, you posted again. There is a book called Why Does he DO That by Lundy Bancroft, also an author called Patricia Evans. I first read all her books which finally lead me to Dr. Simons site and read all his books. This is the by far the best and informative simplistic site of information I have found.

          You are straddling the fence, I still get on that fence at times too. He had so many good qualities that I justified his behavior. If he is like this now as the years wax and wane, familiarity will breed more contempt. We delude ourselves into thinking it will get better, we get sucked in further and waste more precious time of our life.

          Put your heart and emotions away, go with your “Gut.” Emilia, if a stranger were expressing the same disturbing scenario that you are
          describing what advise would you give them? Think about it, detach yourself for a moment, perhaps, you will be able to grasp the truth.
          The truth will be painful but the truth will set you free.

          1. BTOV Again, these are the words I know and feel. And say to myself. Especially the ‘*stranger expressing*’ comment. My plan is to begin thinking of all of the things I can freely do and express and feel, without getting critiqued or fired on by him.
            I hate sharing this one disappointing comment, though. And that is when I figured out I wasn’t the crazy one, and that it wasn’t “all in my head” I sat him down. He’s got an almost ‘scary’ read on people and had asked me what’s wrong. (Uses that to his advantage to keep me under his thumb, too.) I started out just saying that I loved him tremendously, but his volatile personality is something that I didn’t wish to have in my life. And that while he’s “been better”, he wasn’t like that previously. I said that I felt like it was probably because of how familiar we are with each other and that he became more comfortable expressing.And I became more comfortable in responding to him when he was acting out certain behaviours.
            You will gasp, but I did tell him that I researched and read a book on it.
            Which in hindsight, wasn’t good. But again, desperate feelings I had. Of course with his cunning and deception, he used that as an opportunity to tell me all the things I do wrong, that make him act certain ways.
            The sad part is he’s making his kids like this. (His son especially.) He’s mean to his family. They’re never going to really know why “i left” and they will also be victim to his behaviour.
            My sadness pervades still. The life I thought I was going to have is gone.
            It’s a terrible feeling.
            Emilia

          2. So well said. Exactly. I wasted ten years!!!! Yet I knew after 2 months.. it was the same shit at worse intensities 8 years later.

            If a relationship doesn’t feel good. And you aren’t invested. Get out of there.

            If the relationship doesn’t make you feel good/normal and you are invested, make a list of the good and the bad. Try to emphasis the good and keep track of discussions/fights with the bad. If you don’t see things getting better with attention and love, then it will get worse.

        2. BTOV, This is very well thought-out, and clear advice. Thank you so much. There is actually little to keep me tied to him, other than the time we have gone through together, and our love. We have, what I consider, “nursed” one another through difficult life events. Too much detail to go into here.

          My inclination is that the dispute we had last week clicked in my mind, and in my gut simultaneously. And I began to see something different. He spoke to me with contempt, and used very harsh language. Then tried to control even more saying “leave then, if you’re going to XXX”. I then regained control and said “I’m in a public place, and I don’t have to leave. I can go sit somewhere else, but you aren’t going to tell me what to do here.” I stood my ground with him. At one point he grabbed my face (non-violently) and kissed me. I said to him “Don’t do that, if you’re so hot on getting me to leave I don’t want people to think we’re together.” It was a dumb thing to say, I know. Of course, after that event, the slot machine arm went down, and like a vacuum, I was sucked back in.

          I stewed over the conversations that had happened, and all that had transpired. Which is why I wrote the email, but didn’t send it. I began stroking his ego in the email, because I wanted to ensure that he would read it. It wasn’t overly so, but was more of an attempt for me to play into his hands. The last line “Being with you has been amazing in many aspects. And through this I’ve realized that the put downs, the disregard for someones feelings ideas and opinions, the crass behavior, and volatile personality swings aren’t your fault, its just your makeup. I feel like I will be the victim to all of these things if we continue. Rather than leaving you feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick of being with a girl like me, I don’t want to put you in this position.”

          I spent Thanksgiving grieving over that loss. But the ice thawed, and somehow he said the right thing that got me right back in there. I’m spent.
          And I know sadness and being even more spent is going to be next.

          Thank you for caring, and for reaching out. I do appreciate it, and there is kindness out in the world for sure.

          Emilia

    2. I don’t know if things are bad enough to leave.

      Maybe you could have just told him to shut up, grow up, use ear plugs, or something.

      Sometime when one person is annoyed and believes that other person is trying very hard to annoy further, he will see evil in everything.
      If you were going about morning business as usual, then one thing he need to do for sure is to grow up bit more.

      1. Andy, It’s kind of a weird example to explain, and I can see why it might sound petty for sure. But the night before things were particularly terse. We were “recovering” from another issue the previous weekend. It’s a shell game every time. One weekend always brings up “something”. And it usually erupts when I’m not being “controllable”, or when I bring up clear and logical points as to why he’s being mean. Or why I’m not performing to his standards. He also likes to throw at me the line “You’re doing XXX and this is why we fail.” He also likes to use underhanded comments like “I know you aren’t very good at understanding XXX and you need to respond this way so we don’t get into these arguments.”

        I read the book from Brene Brown, “the power of vulnerability”, thinking that it was such a good read, with great content. I actually encouraged him to read it, knowing that he might or might not. He did, finally partially read it, though. The ironic part is that I knew before that if he did read it, he would use any of the principles and points against me. His favorite thing to now say when I challenge him, or when I make any comment that isn’t in line with his opinion, idea, whatever, is “That’s not a productive comment.” So now, it’s just another thing that he has in his arsenal to use against me. That is one line in the book that was explained, and he completely takes it out of context.

        All in all, while there are so many great things about our existence together, but there are these other things. I’m figuring it out very late in the game.

        Thanks for all of your feedback, too. I appreciate it so much.
        Emilia

        1. Emilia,
          Well one thing for sure, you are spending time in trying to figure things out, where he just seems to blame you. It sounds like that he just wants to have things his way. Any resistance will be just thrown off the track by making confounding comment.
          Maybe your gut feeling is saying that something is wrong, but you cannot yet pin-point it. As BTOV suggested, get a good help. And, do keep reading the blogs here.

          1. Andy, Thanks again, for taking the time. I’m just wired that way, I guess. The “why” question haunts me always. It sounds like a lost cause, actually.
            Sadly, there’s too much time spent on this. Over spending time on the really great parts of life.
            Emilia

          2. Emilia,
            So much of what you are saying, so very similar parallels. I don’t have the time to respond now in depth. Late tonight after 10. If you plan to stay posting let me know and I will respond to your post but it will be late.
            Take care and Blessings

          3. Much thank you that someone out there like yourself cares to help me in this dark time. Much gratitude.
            Emilia

  35. Emilia, BTW a beautiful name, I will respond late.
    I read Dr. Simons site for 2 years at least before posting. This is a wonderful site, we have our moments but you will find there are a lot of good people here that care.

    1. Hi Emilia,

      I read through your posts again. You don’t say how old you are or how long you have been with him. However, you did say he is divorced and has children and they don’t get along. RED FLAGS So many of the things about your relationship and the conduct expressed is addressed in Dr. Simon books. I would suggest you buy them all and read them thoroughly. And I would not mention the books or let him see them ever. In the meantime ASAP find yourself a good therapist to support and validate your experiences and get to the Woman’s Resource Center (services are free) for support ASAP.

      Relationships such as you describe do not correct themselves, the only intervention you can do is help yourself. The more you share with him what you have found out the more you educate him. Many of these individuals can be very dangerous and from what you are learning from what you have read you never really knew this guy. You only saw the “good” side of him, now that the battle is won and he has you where he wants you, the masks begins to fall and you see the real person. Not so pretty.

      If this man whom you think loves you yells about a toilet seat and the covers, he doesn’t give a hoot about you. Mine started this at the end. I don’t believe he cares at all about you except you serve a purpose that is what he cares about. It was erie that you mentioned those two things because that was what mine started to do. The more I said no or disagreed the more he turned the burner up.

      This guy knows you love him and he also knows what buttons to push to get you to acquiesce and puppy down. Another thing you said about him being “scary” how he has got this read on people. Don’t underestimate him, if this is so and he has this instinct, I caution you if he truly can feel these things he is a predator. Predator instincts are not good and you should be very careful. I am warning you do not take this warning lightly.

      Use every caution and don’t blow it to the wind or get sucked in. If you have to play the part of the stupid fool, then do it. Don’t get in his face or try to make him feel guilty or delude yourself that he will magically change or see the light . Only a come to Jesus moment can make that happen and he is nowhere near that. Remember he is perfect and everyone else is at fault. He is his own little god in his kingdom of one, the kingdom that has room for only Me, Myself and I, your along for the ride to be the service maid. Everyone else is at fault the prince is never wrong and he never owns up to anything everyone else is to blame.

      Sure there were good times there always are but they are getting fewer and fewer, till there are none. When you began to question and to realize how imbalanced your relationship was he felt the kingdom threatened and he began to turn up the mind games and anger.

      This is my read so far. I want to post this and will continue to follow through and watch for your posts likewise. Believe me it will be painful very painful excruciatingly painful but you will find peace and so much more.

      I caution you to change your passwords and to delete any entries to websites you have visited on this subject. A few good sites are Out of the Fog or something like that. These individuals control with fear, obligation and guilt. Believe me when he knows you are onto him and he has lost control he will make you pay they always have to have the last word and be one up.

      If you post again I will try the best I can to help you and so will others. I echoed Andy’s excellent counsel in telling you to read everything you can on this site, to read Dr. Simons books and to find a good therapist. We can talk more about your feelings of loving him too. I thought the above was more important right at this moment.

      Remember we are all kindred spirits here, we have all been hurt and harmed by these unscrupulous DC’s. You are always welcomed.

      God be with you and I will be praying for you.

      1. “Sure there were good times there always are but they are getting fewer and fewer, till there are none. When you began to question and to realize how imbalanced your relationship was he felt the kingdom threatened and he began to turn up the mind games and anger.”

        Completely agree with above.
        Good time becoming fewer and fewer. Fight on petty things. These are signs of deteriorating relationship.
        Manipulator turning up mind game and anger. This is strong sign of a selfish and aggressive individual. How far he can go? That depends on holding on to your boundaries when he escalates. DO NOT GIVE IN. If he continues escalation, at some point your can decide if his selfishness is so high that you never really had a partnership, and at that time you can easily move away. If you manage to hold your boundaries and he stops escalation, then it just may be that things are turn for better. Still you’ll need to keep an watch for long time. Avoid kids till you decide that things are so much better that you can very likely stay together for rest of your life.

        Read blogs here. There are many good ones that you can use to educate yourself. Avoid spending too much time on comments. Reading 2-3 blog a day will ensure that you finished most of them in a few months.

      2. This is all so spot on. I can barely contain myself. At this point, I’m being super sweet to him, not pushing buttons, and not challenging him.
        What’s next will be to exit best I can.

        We’ve had a relationship for 6 years, and I’m 38. He has actually been married twice. His second one, ended up sounding like a story from the book.

        He hasn’t had anyone who wants to hold him accountable like me. And it’s like gasoline on the fire. Another big explosion last night, that he smoothed over by wanting to “make us understand each other better.” Things went peachy keen after that. Just part of my not wanting to cause more heartache for myself.
        He’s now telling me that he had a conversation with his friend about me.
        And that his friend was on “my side” with our issues…but then proceeded to say “well, you had a bad childhood, and I need to be more patient with all of your issues.”
        We’re still “together”, but only in that I haven’t told him. He keeps talking about his high profile Christmas party next week I’m supposed to attend with him. He’s going to burn me if I don’t end up going with him. As a “C-suite executive” he would be made to look a certain way if I don’t come.
        Thank you for all of the carefully and we’ll thought out insight.
        Emilia

        1. Emilia,

          You sound like a very intelligent woman and understand now something is very wrong. When you read the very things you are experiencing written by hundreds of doctors and health care professionals and the testimonies of hundreds of individuals echoing and validating your same experiences the prognosis is bleak. I wished I had had all this information you have at your disposal at mine all those years ago. I would never had wasted so many years of my life. I knew something was wrong, I never knew what. Now I know the truth and Emilia, The Truth will set you Free!

          Take the best you can from the relationship and leave the rest. Yes, it will be very difficult and painful, but each day will get a little better. Grieve and feel your pain, cry all you want, but never forget the hurt and bad times. You will have to leave and bury and deal with that part of yourself you gave up and now have left behind. In a good healthy relationship the things you describe don’t take place.

          I will tell you Emilia, the most loving thing you can do for him is to cut him free. Only he can change himself and you, yourself. IF and this IF is so small it will take years of counseling and real contrition on his part and this will have to be his journey. No mommy holding his hand. He has to grow up and become a man and he doesn’t want to do that. Let him find his way that is the only way CD can grow, he has to unfortunately, hurt enough to put away his false pride and ask for help.

          My X’s first wife left after 2 years, I stayed 30. I chalk it up to a learning experience and a journey of a lifetime. I will build on my inner strength and make these the best years of my life.

          Emilia, I loved him with my whole heart in fact I still love him, I put him on every prayer list I can. I now realized I loved an illusion. I saw all the good he did have, the good qualities, and always fell back on the good times. I saw the potential of what he could be but in reality would never be. Instead I lied to myself repeatedly and always accepted the blame. I accepted the blame he always placed on everyone else. Always accepting the excuses. I loved him and thought one day he would see the light. The attachment was unbearable to break because my emotions were honest and true. His were a lie and I cheated myself out of truly loving myself and being loved by staying.

          In the end he didn’t act contrite, he went into full attack and the vengeance mode and I can tell you as the years went by one after another this vile sickness and pathology only increases. The hate and distorted thinking consumes them like a cancer and his projected hate will be projected onto, unfortunately, YOU.

          Emilia, the best thing I did was go – No Contact – or I would had been sucked back in. I will tell you my faith in Jesus was my saving grace and if it had not been for my faith and prayer I could never had made it. My faith and prayer gave me the needed strength and resolve to get through one day at a time, to get through my lows and the reason to trudge forward. A possibility for you, offered at churches is a program called Divorce Care, I have only personally attended once, I just didn’t have time and am still planning to go. Its a course offered to help support and deal with the grief and all the feelings you have in having divorced. In essence you are/were married but without the paper. Just a thought that may help you.

          When you have your plan in place to leave several scenarios may take place. I don’t know him well enough or enough history to shed more light on this for you. From the little so far that you have shared I imagine he is going to be very angry, because, how dare you leave. He is not going to like the fact you dumped him so to speak, it will not make him look good. I caution you, do not let him know anything about your plan to leave, I cannot express enough how important it is to not tell him anything. You may feel compelled to tell him but don’t.

          Remember, If you tell him you are leaving him, he will be full of hostility, anger and rage. Don’t go there, this is when things escalate and can become very dangerous. Read about abusers because that is what he is and abuser. Anyone doing what he is doing is an emotional abuser, the medical labels here are used by professionals. Clearly this is abuse. Read about abusers and the cycles of abuse and triangulation. I suggested the book by Lundy Bancroft: Why does he Do That, it will be an eye opener an important read.

          I would plan and it sounds like you don’t own anything but perhaps furniture together. Do you have any friends or family you can move in with for awhile, at least till you can perhaps, get your own place. Many times if you have someone you can stay with they can offer support and be there so you are not alone. Leaving will not be an easy thing to do, nor will it be easy to cut ties and mutual friends but in a case like this it is always better to go no contact. Read about NO CONTACT.

          Another scenario is, he may become so contrite he will get down on his knees and beg you to stay and say all the things you dreamed of that he would have otherwise, said during your relationship. He may do this to save face since he knows the gig is up, just to give him the time to dump you and make you look like the total jerk. There are no happy endings in these cases..

          Someone I talked with went through the whole divorce proceeding and at the very end when the judge asked him if he wanted a divorce he literally got down on his knees in the courtroom and wept pleading undying love and repentance of his past behaviour. As soon as she dropped all the legal paperwork and he planted himself securely in the house he made this woman’s life an utter hell once he got her back where he wanted her. The divorce process had to be reinitiated and she lost so much more financially and emotionally. Once you get to this point and he knows you are getting wise to him you will be on his payback list.

          Emilia, please keep reading, reinforcing and increasing your knowledge. Get stronger, and please seek out some outside counseling professional to help keep you grounded. Again, the Women’s Resource Center is a great place, you will meet individuals from all walks of life and their stories will help validate your experience. Don’t hesitate to use it.

          And most of all please come and post here. I believe there are some veteran posters that visit and post who have been here over 5 years. Correct me if I am wrong and some of you have been here longer. You are so welcomed here and we do care. We will try our best to support, guide you, share our experiences, knowledge , resources and any other way we can help you through this most difficult life experience. Not every response will be right for you but the input is shared out of honest care and concern to help..

          If you backslide thats OK too, we can work through that. Keep reading through the archives, read all you can on the subject, keep educating yourself. Remember “Knowledge is Power.” I hope you post and keep us informed on how you are doing.

          May God bless and keep you safe, and give you the strength and courage to go forth. Emilie I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and am going to look for your posts. Please be careful.

          1. Emilia, We all carry baggage from our past. Some people deal with it and others hang onto it. A whole other discussion. He is drawing the attention away from himself by bringing up your past. He may be very nice now, he’s losing control but I am sure that as soon as you start to assert yourself and call him on his conduct the true him will come out. Be patient and non-confrontational. His bringing a friend into the picture is triangulation. A real therapist that is knowledgeable in this area and would be credible. Again find a therapist for yourself and a good therapist will help you work through all this including if you have some unresolved issues.

          2. Thanks for both of your responses. He loves “triangulation”, and engages in it frequently. It’s obvious to me why. I’ve stated that in the past, and he became angry.
            Every time I push him in that way he becomes angry. Every time I push him in instances that are so logical in why his behavior is manipulative, and he holds double standards, he displays this.
            The tie between his ex wife is a dog they still share. She still calls him for advice, which he loves. Because it’s obviously an ego feed. I have told him as such, too. Again, another thing he didn’t like to hear.
            I’m going into the weekend unsure of how this is going to go. We usually have “date night” tonight, and then again on Saturday. I have “broken up”
            with him once before, and his manipulation, and my inability to feel good about not having him in my life, makes me backslide.
            Understanding why he does this is important for me. I’m a solver…and a researcher. But I’m also realizing this might not be possible.
            I feel lucky today. I am finally understanding what my gut was doing to help me here with this man. He always has wanted more commitment and I’ve been hesitant. I now know why. But my heart still hurts so much.
            God helped me in His way. I’ve prayed for an answer over and over. Until I almost gave up, and just stopped fighting it. Because he would tell me I didn’t know how to love, or be close. And I wasn’t used to that…it’s true. But I felt stifled and smothered, and like I wasn’t an equal partner.
            This is the answer I think that needed to happen in this way. As I did believe what he said, in that it was my influence on him. And my impact made him behave that way.
            Sitting him down seems scary. Emailing him sounds wrong. I’ll figure out my plan, though.
            Thank you again, so much. This literally is like having a fog lifted.
            Emilia

        2. If this is still going on you need to focus on yourself, what you want. The relationship you describe here sounds painful and charged with drama and suffering. It is a loss to not have someone who has been significant in your life, gone. But you are unable to form a more balanced life with other people who don’t make you suffer if you continue to spend time in this relationship. It sounds like it has taken up a lot of your energy and time. Even just trying to understand what is happening. I say this because I went through something very similar. He was bipolar in my situation. But he was treating me like a rag doll, which was not okay.

  36. Emilia,

    Feel free to post and ask I will watch for your posts, I am glad I can help. So much of what you say sounds like me. I had no insight or any help that understood. Your soul, your heart, your head and especially your flesh will rebel and deceive you. Your gut is telling you the truth. Stay strong, resist, resist and get away. If you have to cancel these dates tell him you need time for yourself. Another thing if he had another target (woman) lined up you would be history. Blessings

    1. Ended things “again” last night. Started speaking to me very disrepectfully. My brain clicked. And I just left.
      I’m now having those “withdrawal” symptoms. When I read that, I thought it was B.S. but, no. It’s very real.

      Emilia

  37. I’m here with a heavy heart still. So sad. Just electronic communication. It literally feels like withdrawal, and I’ve been very ineffective since the explosion. This time is is “official”, though. And while I was the one that left, he asserts that he broke up with me.
    So tired. So desperate for help and solace.
    Emilia

    1. Emilia,
      I know your heart is heavy. That is because you truly loved and to let go of someone we truly love is very painful. And yes, you will experience and it can be severe withdrawal pains. Our hearts will be so heavy and you will be compelled to go back. This is why it is so important for you to surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Hopefully, they can give you the support you need.

      This is why it is good to go No Contact. It is so much easer not to be drawn back in. Let him think he is the one that left you. Its all about how he looks, being one up If he wants to say he left you all the better, his focus will be less on you to get even. Let him have his ego stoke. The whole focus is not about who left who but why you left. Your the only one that really needs to know the truth, and if you have good family and friends they will understand and encourage you.

      Now is the time to focus on you. Be kind to yourself and try to keep busy. Start planning for your future, what would you like to do, that you have not been able to do. I know things look bleak, but they will get better, there will be difficult days, sad days, but there will be good days too.

      Come here and we will listen and try to help you go forward. I have bad days too, very bad days, but they pass and the sun shines. I wish you were near and I could help you in fact you could help me too. Be strong and take one day at a time and if you have to one hour at a time. Cry all you want, but stay strong.

      If I can encourage you on one thing, I will tell you whatever you do do not talk with him, do not read his texts, emails, anything it will only draw you in and cause more heartache. Give yourself time, time to reflect and get your head and heart straightened out. I had to go no contact and I went through severe withdrawal, its likened to going through a death of a loved one.

      I’ll look for your posts and I know everyone here will extend a helping and understanding hand. Remember you only have to worry about getting through today.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    2. Emilia,

      I was just reading one of the entries by Vera who posts here. Vera suggested Lundy Bancrofts website. I have read his book Why Does He Do That. An excellent book. The website is very good and I just signed up for it. Lundy has just written another book I will buy. I would suggest buying his books. Some other books are by Melody Beattie.

      Thanks again Vera Hugs I don t know how to put the Smiley faces in!

      1. Hello All,
        I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to get through the separation of all of this. Trying to get closure knowing that this happened to me, I didn’t know what was happening, and then the shock and awe factor behind feeling so hoodwinked and then of course the fact that there is NO REPERCUSSIONS for him at all.
        I’ve yet to have one of those episodes where I hear a song, or see our picture and come unglued. Mainly because I’m being very vigilant in not letting myself “go there”. But the day will come. We know this. I’m trying to be very logical in not bashing myself so much, but my best friend, and yes he was my best friend, is no longer there. The one person, around whom I had no filter, is no longer there to call or text. Or see. Or hold me the way I’m used to being held. All the little “secret things” that just belonged to us.
        I’m trying to focus on the fact that I dodged a bullet. And the fact that I’m going to move to go be near my family across the country. As he was the only reason I was staying where I am.
        I prayed to God for a long time. Asking him the answer…as I always felt something that just wasn’t right. I feel like my prayer was finally answered in on the way that would seal my heart against this manipulator. And keep me out of harms way. This is the best rationalization I can find. While I continue looking for articles, reading, listening to audiobooks. All resulting in disbelief that I didn’t know better.
        My fascination with why someone is like this is definitely a thought. In listening to hear him tell the story of his father, he was the same person. Same temper, same infidelity, same almost everything. I wonder about his children, and how they will turn out. And how genetic is this, versus other factors.
        I’m very devastated. As this is just one more thing in a long line of storms I have been through in the last 2 years. I pray to return to being myself, and not being hollow, or resentful. Or dark inside in any way.
        Emilia

        1. Emillia,
          I am so glad to see your post. I hope you are OK. I know it is very difficult and it is tearing you apart. Time will help heal the pain. I hope you stay here and post, the others here will rally around and help you through your struggles. They have lived the same pain and sorrow.

          Be kind to yourself, I know its hard but try to think of yourself and not him. Its been to much about him and to little about you. Grab hold of yourself and know that their is someone out there that will love you in the way you should be loved. Take this time to work on you, grow strong so this never happens again.

          There are many theories how the CDN became who he/she is. That really doesn’t matter, because you can’t change him/her only they can change themselves and that is not on their agenda. In his mind you are the problem not him. So, let him on his merry way and think of you and the people who do love you. I am glad you are going back to your family and as far from him as possible. I wasted the best years of my life, don’t waste yours. Read the archives and carefully heed all the echo’s of previous posters who walked in your shoes asking the same questions and feeling the same despair. He is just another selfish CDN.

          Believe me he is not thinking of you and your best interests. The toll of being on a roller coaster and holding up a relationship will eventually catch up and when you artificially prolong the inevitable it will only be more difficult later.

          I hope you keep posting and let us know how you are.

          Blessings and a big (HUG)

          1. BTOV,

            Thank you for reaching out to me. Since I wrote this, his daughter sent me a text message tonight asking if I would meet with her to give her their housekey. The irony is that he sent me an email recently with this long story about how even though we are done, he wants to think good thoughts of us. And that we had a a lot of good times, etc. As soon as it came in I responded to it with UNDELIVERABLE, then set up another filter to block him. He then sent a text saying “I’ll show up to your work to get my key, and that will be ugly.”
            I returned his daughters message and said that he is basically dead to me, and to leave me alone. There is no key. Especially since I was so “inept that I never used it correctly.” (Sticky lock.)

            I’m not so hung up on the why, other than to resolve, and know. Knowledge is important to me, and I research everything i do not understand . I want to print out every article I have (when I’m far away) and send it to his ex-wives. They had no idea…I feel bad for them. They didn’t figure it out. He left them both.
            The daughter told me in that same exchange, “he blocked you, so you’ll have to send messages to me”. I told her I have no messages to send, and I blocked him long ago, and that I have no need to contact him. Ever. He started it with the key issue. (Immediately my mind goes to triangulation, like all the other stories he told me about when chatting with his friends, now he brought her in. She Idealizes daddy. And has no idea.) I told him that I have no need for him or his key, and to go to home Depot for $1.00 to get one. No meeting. With anyone. Ever.
            There is no revenge. It’s not mine to give. I’m not perfect, but my soul exists. Another thing he said I don’t have.
            He’s mad because I wouldn’t let him keep going with his tactics. I told him as such. I also told him that he felt like he “couldn’t be himself” around me because he couldn’t pretend anymore.
            There are tons of emotions. Anger. Sadness. Relief. Disbelief. Aching.
            Bottom line is, I dodged a bullet. I need to focus on that.
            God answered my prayers. It was a tough answer, but answer he did.
            I’m so tired. This is draining me.
            Thank you for the hug. I needed it.

          2. Emillia,

            I am so proud of you

            Emillia,
            I know haw hard this must be for you Dr. Kublor -Ross in he rBook On Death and Dying….. there are five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Go through you feeling they may not come in the above order but most people go through them.

            I sure you hope you stay connected and we can suggest books and such for you. Knowledge is power and it make you all all the wiser. Hopefully, you will never have to go through anything like this again.

            Be strong and Blessings.

          3. emilia
            Be very careful of getting blurred in the triangulation. If you fail and go back it will only be five times worse. It won’t be so easy next time. You have come this far, keep running to the next state, turn off your phone or don’t answer it perhaps, its time to block all those calls. If he shows up at your place of employment or your house call the police and give the key to them and don’t communicate with the daughter. I only keeps the drama going and the ties connected.

            Be safe

          4. BTOV, As if the holidays aren’t enough, given everything that has happened. But out of nowhere this morning quite early he sent me a Merry Christmas text.
            It had other verbiage, too. Not nice verbiage, and overall it was a low blow. He unfortunately knows how to hit me where it hurts. I did not respond. Which I’m sure aggregated him to be ignored.
            Is it normal to find myself absent of feelings in general right now? Is it normal to doubt how I perceived the entire thing? I began to feel like a horrible person after reading his text and remembering some of those “good times”.

            I don’t even want to read the book right now because I’ve grown so tired of hearing all of the tactics used on me. I’m flabbergasted at the accuracy of the stories. I want to get over it and just move on and wish that more information was available about the healing part.
            A moment of sadness really came over me today as I recalled his touch. It feels as if something like that will take a while to experience again. That saddens me a great deal more.

            I’m sick when I think of him at times. I was cognizant of how I felt like sometime on my way to his house. Uninspired because I knew how things would go when I got there. And anxious because I couldn’t be myself. He would give me a hassle because I’d need to go work out, then he would be mad because that, too, was taking time away from him. When it was good it was great. But when it was bad, it was horrible.

            I’m trying to remember these things more, and conjure them up. I literally feel like my heart is breaking in two. And given the logic behind things above, one would think that I know better.

            If there are any books written to provide a guideline for how to take care of oneself in times like this. That would be most helpful.

            Emilia

  38. Emilia,
    I am so glad to hear from you. I know how hard it is, after all this time I still feel the same way. My advice to you and I know this will be hard, every time you think of him try to focus on you and what you want or can do. Time will help heal and I am so glad you are going home to your family. You don’t know how blessed you are to have family, I went through the dissolution of my marriage and it was a nightmare all by myself.

    If you are having problems like this now, it will only get worse. There was a young woman at church who told her story:

    ( I thought I could never love again, I loved him so much my heart was broken, I didn’t want to live. I came to church and for a year I prayed for God to take the sadness away. Unbeknownst to me standing in church choir was my future husband. I look back and think I was heartbroken over someone that didn’t really love me. I am so happy I went through all the pain because when I met and got to know my husband he was so different from the man I thought I lost my heart to. My husband loves me unconditionally and excepts me for myself, I am so happy.)

    She is happily married with a 2 year old son and another on the way. Emilia give yourself time and take this experience as a lesson, find the good in it and throw the rest out but never forget the way he treated you was wrong. You may have been his friend but he was not yours. Real friends DO NOT treat one the way you described. The way he is is probably why his first wife left him.

    Keep coming back to the site and post in the up to date Topic, let your feelings out here. You will find support from the others and we in turn learn from you. I will respond to your posts too. You are not alone in this. Read as much as you can, it will keep you strong. I am so proud of you, I know it took immense strength and resolve. Just keep going forward and don’t look back.

    I know there is a good man out there for you, just give it time and in the meantime work on making yourself the best you can be. Be strong and courages and stick to your morale integrity, be true to you and don’t ever compromise yourself again.

    There is a woman (Melody Beatie) who writes on co-dependancy that writes very helpful and uplifting messages. I found a lot of peace in the bible and words by Charles Stanley.
    A Road Less Traveled by Dr. Scott Peck. I’m sure I can look for more books I can suggest for you and hopefully the others will chime in too.

    Be strong and fight the good fight.
    I pray God bless and keep you safe and give you the courage and resolve to go forward.
    Warm Hugs to you Emilia, your a beautiful person and you deserve better don’t ever forget it.

  39. Years ago, I wanted to help my aging father-in-law by flying up to his home and help him clean and organize his garage which was impassable due to his inherent depression baby hoarding. I contacted his son, my brother-in-law to ask if I could borrow some tools rather than bring mine across the country. Within a day, my wife’s younger, middle child sister, called us to voice her concern with my wife about my intentions to help out their father deal with his garage heaped with junk. Long story short, my wife’s sister told me she did not approve of me potentially upsetting her father and not to interfere with family matters that were none of my business and her own to deal with. Little did I know, I had walked right into the den of a classic covert aggressor. She effectively drove a wedge between my wife and I, which I pointed out to her, and for years I decided to disengage entirely with the sister, with whom my wife would still keep in communication to get along, but the ongoing disconnection between me and her sister’s family caused my wife grief. The sister’s objective has always been to be in control of the family estate and in particular was and continues to be in complete control over her father’s estate. Now that both parents have passed on, and the father’s Will was changed, she is avoiding transparency, withholding information, and puts us on the defensive when we try to inquire or make amends. Adding to the covert aggression, the sister hides behind a façade of Christian values to maintain a moral high ground over anyone who try’s to question her methods. What to do?

    1. Hi Rosebud,
      It sounds like you live several hundred miles away from your. father in law. Unfortunately, if the sister has control of the fathers estate and your wife doesn’t want to act on anything there isn’t much you can do. Does the father have a lot of assets?

      If the assets are minimal or even substantial she being in charge of his estate could legally with draw all the monies and that would be the end of it. Sounds like she is the controlling sibling in charge of the fathers estate. Not much you can do.

      I am the sibling in control of my mothers estate. Everything in my name, my other siblings are livid. My mother won’t make out a document giving the others anything. My mom says let them fight for it. But you see, everything is in my name when she passes.

      Now you said this sis is a christian, that term can be thrown around very loosely. I am a christian too. OK, mom left everything to me, because I am the only responsible kid. As a christian if there are any monies left,
      1. Pay moms debts.
      2. Pay for funeral and burial costs
      3. Remaining assets, will be sold or given to Goodwill.
      4. Any remaining monies will be divided among “ALL THE GRANDCHILDREN”

      That is how I am going to take care of Moms estate.
      I personally, want Nothing its just another burden.

      When my father died all the sibling turned up for the reading of the will. None of them had seen dad for 10 years. The church/pastor was instrumental in taking care of dad. As executor I donated everything to the church. I washed my hands of everything, they all were hopping mad.

      I would concentrate on your marriage and building a strong loving relationship with your wife. When in life we can realize that the most important asset in life is our family you have more than “Stuff/Money. If you have a loving marriage wash your hands of it all and you will be the winner.

      Blessings

  40. Advice needed…if anyone can help? My good friend’s husband is what I believe a narcissistic/sociopath. He lies without a care in the world, he spin doctors stuff so bad he would have even the best of the best that can see right through narcs questioning themselves, he steals money to use for his own personal purchases constantly or business ventures (him running up $300k+ on anything anytime) is his claim to fame, if he isn’t well over x amount of $$$ in debt at all times it’s not normal to him, he blames my good friend for as to why he cheated when they first got married. He said she was to naïve and too boring and needed to learn to better sexually and more fun. He wouldn’t never cheat again. Ya right, he were go a few years later down the road and he was up and cheating with someone half his at work. He was feeding her a complete line and ruined her life too. Then she takes him back again for fear of being alone or having to raise a couple children in this economy. The fool promises it was the last time for him to only up and cheat yet again a few months back. How can I convince her it’s time to call it quits with him? Or move onto to better things in life? She is going to end up completely bankrupt with 2 kids or end up getting an STD or two or three. He’s not going to change, he thinks the world revolves around him, money, relationships, business dealings, women, sex, are all seen as a means to an end to him and a complete joke. Is she brainwashed or something? I just do get it!!!!

  41. oops “here we go again” needs changed from previous post…and to add he always blames everyone else for being too naïve or too trusting! That is your own fault if you fall for his lies if you are dumb enough to believe him you are also dumb enough to deal with the consequences of him. His way of thinking seems very evil! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for grammar errors!

    1. I’ve had this discussion with others. They said: “you wouldn’t have believed us if we told you, because you were so in love”. I don’t think that is fair, or true, to apply to everyone. Yes, in some cases, warning the next woman may lead you nowhere and bring you grief and trouble, because you won’t be believed. But I don’t think we should generalize about everyone.

      I now have documented proof of the deceit and the manipulative behaviour of my former boyfriend. If I knew who he was dating again, and if I had a way to share that information with her, I would. After that, it is up to her. She may want to test that information against what she is experiencing before she makes a decision.

      I could share the information I have with his ex or his other family members, but I have chosen not to at this point. They have known him longer than I, and, if they did know his true nature, they should have warned me, before I got deeply involved with him. If they didn’t know, well, that’s between him and them. He’s out of my life and he is not my problem anymore.

    2. sorry. I realize now you are talking about the wife, and not the next woman/mistress. Show the wife this website. And give her information for her region, about the practical and legal steps she can take to leave him, the community supports that are there for her, when she chooses to use them.

    3. JA,
      I agree with Anne.

      You can show the path to your friend, but you cannot make her walk.
      As a good friend, it is your responsibility to give advice in good faith, but then you’ll leave it up to her to decide whether she wants to confront her husband for his wayward ways, or she leaves him.
      As Anne says, show your friend this website. If blogs here make sense, then gift her a copy of book In Sheeps Clothing. Consider that book is a just organized form of blogs on this website.
      Note: I hope your friend in not covert-aggressive herself, busy slandering her husband in front of others. I am quite sure my wife and mother-in-law are busy slandering me in front of others, and if my wife’s good friend post on this forum based solely on the stories she has been fed, it will sound quite similar to what you posted. 🙂

  42. Dr. Simon, your book “In Sheep’s clothing” and particularly the blog “Beware of Covert Aggressive” are describing my life – word by word. I have pointed all this manipulative tactics to my husband thousand times in the past, but I have never connected the pieces. I always thought, if I say it out loud, he will see it and will change his behavior. He never did. In fact, it got gradually worse. He mastered the manipulation so well, I have practically become his slave who was “allowed” to have my hobbies and limited, separate social life, as long as it did not infringed on his freedom to do whatever he wants and the comfort of the family I have provided for him. He was involved in the family and relationship with me only superficially. When I complained, he made me feel like I make unreasonable demands, so I gradually backed off from asking even for a rudimentary participation. Often, I was raging. Than I felt depressed. When he apologized (always vaguely, no specifics ever), he never meant it. The purpose of an apology was to make me stay in the marriage. Two days later, we were back in his routine of a withdrawal. I called it push-and-pull behavior. He often acknowledge that, but never made any effort to do anything about that.

    I have made one observation though that I would like to share. My husband is not the only manipulative person I have been involved in my life (I am a classic functional, hyper conscious neurotic thus inviting manipulators to work on me). These people I met had one thing in common – they could not manipulate effectively in writings. They needed direct personal interaction for that. When they wrote during some crisis, they were ineffective in hiding their intent, and become frustrated. They knew this, therefore they tried to avoid writings as much as they could. If pressured, they tried diversion from a topic, if that did not work, they did not write at all, or in abrupt sentences only. I have many examples of this. I wonder, what is different in writings, and if a writing therapy would be a possible way how to rehab these people. That is, if they’d be willing to submit to a therapy (I know how slim those chances are now).

      1. I want to point out, that one has to be very vigilant when observing these writings. They are short and repetitive, they don’t answer your questions, and they lie. For instance, the manipulator will say he reads your emails, but you have a feeling he does not. If you start poking around, eventually they loose control of their anger and they say something like “and you are right, I don’t read your emails. Period.”. Than they go silent (the passive aggressive mode of a withdrawal), then they move onto something else, as if nothing happened. And BTW, for these characters, a history begins always now. They never want to talk about the past, even if it happened 5 minutes ago. When in sheep’s clothing, they make promises (“I will return as a good husband”, “I want to be a father again” e.g.), but they never even try. It is all to make your waters calm, so they get to do what they want.

        I am breaking with this guy after 25 years of marriage. Two children. The older one is affected by this big time (she is also CA and cannot keep a healthy relationship mainly because men are less prone to manipulation by women). The young one however is a copy of me, and easily manipulated by her father. I still don’t know how to protect her, because she is too young to see that. What do I do? What do I say to her? How to avoid projections of own feelings and betrayal?

        1. EvaZ
          Interesting you made the connection that is what I thought and the end game is you are their punching bag lobotomized. You have to allow the worm to burrow through you completely or you would die physically. This way when lobotomized you become a mindless Zombie.

          Writing ones true thoughts and putting in writing what the real problems are makes them accountable and when and if they haven’t gone insane the reality check and mirror of words hit them in the face.

        2. It’s a late reply, but I’d suggest being your youngest rock but not really mentioning her father. If you get sole custody, you may need to explain that “Daddy can be very confusing. If you have an example that she experienced with her Dad, you could say do remember when XYZ happened? How did it make you feel? She hopefully will say how how she feels. Then you just say it is not your fault, that is Daddy’s way. It is _*____ .” *whatever word she used. And then clear some dishes or let her just set with that conversation. The example she experienced, explained and having her feelings validated will speak volumes. No insults or negativity about father, that just makes children feel guilty and stuck. Not that you were thinking to do that, but sometimes it is a huge challenge to know what to say.

  43. married for 16 years I felt something was off very much so between my husband and I for years. During interactions and situations I would get sick gut feelings that things where not right. I could never pinpoint what “it” was. I became so depressed and self doubting and absolutely just a total mess. After I began receiving counseling for myself and started gaining some strength back. I began researching and reading. I hit upon many different things I thought “it” was. All to no avail. Nothing seemed to explain “it”. Somewhere somehow I ran across covert aggression. Bingo! It fit my husband to the TEE. I read in sheeps clothing and everything fell into place …. I knew what “it” is. Not only concerning my husband also concerning myself. That’s also when I realized myself ….. neurotic yes him covert aggressive me neurotic. Perfect match. Since learning this I have been getting help for my neurosis. I am getting better yet still have my days where I am in bad shape emotionally with him. Covert aggressors are emotionally ruthless….. at least my husband is. Seriously. I really have to protect myself. I have really gone down hill during my time with him because ongoing aggressiveness towards me has worn my down. I have tried everything and nothing helps all I can do is help myself. Due to financial and family reasons I have given myself a time frame to be moved out of our home together. I am taking it one step at a time. I bought a house (have it rented out now) paid my car off and and doing something each day toward my goal of leaving. I will not stay in this situation much longer.

    1. Hi Terri,

      I am sorry you are going through all this and I welcome you to participate on the blog. There are a lot of experienced posters here who will be more than glad to answer and questions you may have. Also, you will find caring people who will offer you support.

      I have to agree with you, the CDN are emotionally ruthless. Yes, you will have to protect yourself, your family and your assets. Laws vary depending on the state you reside in. It is good to obtain copies of everything. It is also good to put as much aside as you can. Any of your activities keep to yourself. Depending, you will need to be careful with family members. Divorcing a CDN can be very contentious.

      Terri, one of our regular posters, Lucy, a court reporter and her X an attorney is valuable resource of information. I am sure she will give pointers on what to do.

      Take care of yourself, be kind to you and know there is a way out.

      Hugs Dear One

  44. One of my parents is covert aggressive. They wore me (and everyone else) down via gaslighting, projection, playing the victim, attacking, blaming, shaming, etc. It really takes a toll on you and it’s so subtle and underhanded yet so harmful. I was trained to be a people-pleasing doormat with no voice, and little to no trust in my gut feelings.

    It’s really all about control for them. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Their way or the highway. Not sure why exactly, as they can get what they want in so many different ways. I suppose they lack the creative thought and the emotional intelligence to realize how much better THEIR life would be if they just relented. Fighting them is a huge undertaking.

    I keep coming across such people in my life, they’re drawn to me like I’m some damn magnet. I questioned why and realized that my low self esteem and doubting nature is like a playground to them.

    So I “toughened” up. The main things I had to reduce: empathy, conscientiousness, guilt, and responsibility. I had too much of these. It’s been over a year and I’m still working at it. It is exhausting to say the least, but it MUST be done.

    I just recently exposed one of these covert aggressive personalities that just WOULD NOT FUCKING GIVE IN. All I wanted was to be left alone, but they insisted because they HATE losing. Normally I would’ve given in. This time I stood my ground until they cowered in defeat.

    Nothing they did worked. Because I learned from my parent: the master manipulator. I know all the tactics. And my intuitive muscle has strengthened tenfold now that I’m listening to it.

    And the sad thing is, I realized that all this effort and energy that it’s taking me, really all I am doing is reaching ground zero. In other words, it feels like I’m ‘winning’ but in reality I’m only just starting the race. It feels like winning because I started from the negative and getting close to neutral which, in comparison, is a HUGE difference. But taking back your own power puts you in the default position, in the position you should’ve been from the beginning. There’s nothing ‘extra’ about it. You’re not gaining, you’re just filling something back up.

    What’s wrong with people? I can be manipulative and an asshole if the situation REALLY calls for it (like when dealing with manipulative assholes for too long, you gotta turn the game around on them), but to operate like this normally is so…. ugh. These people are nuts.

    1. Yes, Gabby! OMG, everything you wrote, is my experience! You explained it so well. Like you, I was trained to be a people-pleasing doormat with no voice. I realize now that certain personalities trigger a ton of fear and uncertainty (all planned by some of them) and then I defer to them because my system is overwhelmed and I know (unconsciously) that they are going to win anyway. Wearing you down hits the nail on the head for me. It’s so exhausting! My daughter, I realize now, has that personality. She uses all the tactics and combines them. The gaslighting was brutal and it makes thinking clearly almost impossible. I was almost suicidal because it seemed like there was no other way out, no way to escape. She was clearly trying to destroy me….or drive me to do it myself. When I got away from her – when no contact for months – I was able to see through the fog, and then I was terrified.

      What I’ve learned through waking up to the reality of who they are is that some will switch and become very overt and dangerous when I hold my ground. Those folks, clearly are the ones to go no contact with (I get away from all of them when I can and tell them as little as possible and I do NOT reveal any problems or vulnerabilities – they will use them against me).

      “And the sad thing is, I realized that all this effort and energy that it’s taking me, really all I am doing is reaching ground zero. In other words, it feels like I’m ‘winning’ but in reality I’m only just starting the race. It feels like winning because I started from the negative and getting close to neutral which, in comparison, is a HUGE difference. But taking back your own power puts you in the default position, in the position you should’ve been from the beginning. There’s nothing ‘extra’ about it. You’re not gaining, you’re just filling something back up.”

      So true. It feels like you’re making ground with them, but you’re not. You just get deeper in the hole. They just take, take, take. They will throw you a bone every once in a while to keep you around. It’s exhausting for you and energizing for them!

      Like you, I’ve learned to become aware of and lessen my vulnerabilities….I have the same ones as you. It feels really uncomfortable and I feel really mean sometimes, but it does work.

      Gabby, I don’t know how old you are, hopefully young and learning this. They will take a toll on your health if they are in your life. Your body keeps score..the Cortisol produced from the repeated fight or flight response is very damaging. My family is full of these folks. I am a recent cancer survivor and realize now what a huge price I have paid. Like you, I’m learning how to protect myself and fight for me, to use my energy and resources for me. We’re worth it.

      Thank you so much for your post. I can’t tell you how much it resonated with me.

      1. I think it’s exactly the vulnerabilities I listed that victims of cover abuse have in common.

        Like, the moment someone shows their true colors, any “normal” person will judge them to be assholes. Me? Nooooo. I give them like 10 more chances. I keep quiet and hope they will be nice to me. I keep thinking it’s my job to change their behavior, that I must do something. That it’s my responsibility, somehow.

        You are so right that the body keeps score. I’m in a situation where I’m surrounded by so much dysfunction and manipulation, both at home and at work, that it’s hard for me to imagine anything different. I’m so used to the chaos, I find anything less boring. It’s like I need the fight or flight response because it feels oddly comfortable.

        It’s terrible. I’ve worked so hard at being more confident and fighting for myself but the more I do it in this context, the more normal it becomes to me. I expect to be attacked. If I don’t, it feels wrong.

        I’m a masochist. I stay in bad situations for far too long because of my CPTSD. It’s hard to move forward when the very problems I deceloped while staying are the problems that keep me from leaving.

        It’s a mess. But I think I’ve almost broken the cycle. There are no more lessons to learn, I think I can see the end nearing. I’m just so afraid to make the leap.

    2. Hello Gabby,
      It was enlightening to read your story from the perspective of a child of a covert-master-manipulator. Could I ask you about your parents marriage? I am literally surrounded by theses types in my immediate family. I have three members in my family who are married to women such as this, we’ve had to go no-contact with two out of the three.

      I am not well tolerated by covert manipulators as I call out all of the bullshit, gaslighting etc. In my early days I often internalized their behavior because it was directed at me until the covert behavior changed direction. Thankfully eyes have opened. I am not suffering anymore but I’ve wondered what these marriages are like behind closed doors? I’d appreciate your comment.

      1. My parents’ marriage is “good” in the sense that it appears that way because there’s no shouting and fighting and it is stable. But in actuality it is downright terrible. The only reason it survives is thanks to my mom. She makes up for what my covert aggressive dad lacks: patience, understanding, submissiveness, empathy, caretaking, etc. She backs down without a fight because she’s a peacemaker. He’s frequently being dramatic, putting her in her place, bullying her, disrespecting her, not taking her seriously, manipulating, shouting, intimidating, etc. You can say he is “overt” but at the same time he is pretty covert because he will deny things, blame, project, play the hero AND victim, etc.

        No one fully sees it but me. My mom thinks he loves her, but control isn’t love. Emotional invalidation isn’t love. Abuse isn’t love. Those who know something is off ALWAYS forgive him and fall back in his trap because he has carved the role of “provider” so well for himself that he has people depending on him. Plus, in our culture respect is supposed to be given to the “man if the house” no matter what. I can barely speak to him nowadays because everything that comes out of his mouth is either straight up manipulation, an energy and time suck, drama, pointless, or a combination of all three.

        Like you, Anonymous, I wasn’t well tolerated by him growing up because I could see right through his shit. It’s one of the reasons I became the black sheep of the family.

        1. I meant to say there are no shouting matches (like with my mom participating) but there’s definitely shouting from my dad. People give in because it’s pointlessly exhausting. I fully avoid him.

        2. Thank-you for your response.
          I’m of the opinion that marriages with covert manipulation as a tool of the trade is hell on earth. Don’t let me start on enablers…grrr.
          I’m the black sheep because I have zero tolerance for covert tactics and so I’m shunned. Yay!
          Doubt is our enemy. Go with your gut and rely on it. If I feel disrespected then I most certainly am. No one and I mean no one deserves to tolerate disrespect for the sake of saving any relationship. Be good to yourself Gabby.

  45. Gabby and Healing
    Thanks for sharing that. The two of you have lived it, studied it and now combating it (it being the CD manipulator destructive persons).
    It takes years to figure this all out, years and pain and stunted growth, but when it comes together there is a way to combat it, as you two have eloquently stated here.

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