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When He’s Just A Bad Dude

It’s easy to get obsessed with, fixated on, “labels” and diagnostic categories like sociopath, psychopath, malignant narcissist, narcissist, etc. To be sure, labels and diagnoses can be important and informative.

In the case of “sociopathic” individuals, for instance, we know that there’s no changing them; we know that there’s no real hope for their redemption; and so, if you’ve correctly identified a sociopathic type, you can know that it’s pointless, self-destructive to invest another minute of your time in him. And this is a good thing to know.

But it’s also the case, I’d suggest, that an overfocus on labels and diagnoses can sometimes be a distraction, a form of avoidance, sometimes of obsession, and, in some cases, a habitually poor use of one’s time.

Does it really matter, as several LoveFraud readers have pointed out in various posts over the months, what precise label—accurate or not—you affix to an individual when he’s proven to be emotionally unavailable, or a compulsive liar, or an abusive personality, or a chronically selfish, self-centered partner, or a chronic, comfortable manipulator and deceiver?

Does it really matter, in the end, what you call this? It seems to me that what’s suitable to call this, and perhaps all that’s necessary, sometimes, to call this, is–This is a bad dude for me. This is the wrong dude for me

Sometimes this is the diagnosis that ultimately matters: Wrong dude for me, or Right dude for me.

Whether he’s a narcissist, sociopath, or neither (in a fullblown sense); whether he’s got another personality disorder, or a hybrid of personality disorders, or whether, again, he fails to meet the full criteria for any personality disorder, sometimes this isn’t the main issue.

Often, what matters most is what it is that you require in a partner, and whether he has the goods to deliver it. And once you establish that he lacks what you require—say, sufficient integrity, emotional generosity, dependability, you name it—then, as I suggest, you’ve nailed the really, and sometimes only, relevant diagnosis—the he’s wrong for me! diagnosis.

I understand that a community of people who’ve suffered some of the common indignities inflicted by exploitive personalities can offer one another invaluable support, and I surely don’t mean to devalue the fantastic healing power of this communal process.

But it’s also important to remember, going forward, that we, each of us, needs to take a good, long look in the mirror and take charge of the kind of relationships that dignify us. I maintain that, in a great many cases, when we’re honest with ourselves, we discover, in examining the history of our relationships, that we may have tolerated, overlooked, or denied behaviors and attitudes that, in retrospect, should have been unacceptable to us.

These may have been the behaviors and attitudes of a sociopath, or just a selfish, immature partner; a narcissist, or just an emotionally unavailable, detached boyfriend or girlfriend.

We may have invested a great deal of false, unrealistic hope in the possibility that this person would change; that we could somehow change this person; that this person would somehow, someday, “get it,” wake up, possibly “grow up,” realize and, finally, properly value,what we had to offer him (or her)!

But as so many of us know all too well, this can be a misguided fantasy that leads us into dangerous, compromising investments–investments which can devolve us into protracted, paralyzing resentment of the individual in whom we made this too-long, too-patient and too-compromising investment; and then get hung-up on eviscerating him for his deviance—when all along, maybe more obviously than we ever wanted to admit, we might have recognized that he was the wrong dude for me.

Again, I sincerely don’t mean to minimize the trauma arising from the violating—sometimes the shockingly violating behaviors—of those in whom we’ve invested our trust. And I particularly don’t mean to minimize the pain engendered from the chronically violating behaviors of serial expoiters.

But I do mean to question whether, sometimes, dwelling on any diagnostic cateory, including the sociopathic spectrum category, can distract us from a most important, and, ultimately, liberating achievement, which is to own that sometimes we end up making terrible choices of partners, regardless of their diagnoses—partners incapable of doing us justice, and capable all too often of doing us terrible injustice.

These are partners—whoever they are, and whatever drives their unacceptable behaviors—whom we want to be grateful to be rid of, and whose destructive qualities, in future relationships, we want to seize every opportunity to steer clear of. 

(As usual, my use of male gender pronouns in this article is purely for convenience’s sake. Everything discussed in this article applies equally to female perpetrators of deception and exploitation. This article is copyrighted (c) 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)



151 Comments on "When He’s Just A Bad Dude"

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  1. ErinBrock says:

    how about….you cut it one time, dad cuts it the next……and leave it at that.
    If Jr’s going to be gone a bit on vacation, and you don’t like his cut…..at least you don’t have to see it for the first week…….
    and it has a chance to grow out a bit.

    He’s using the hair as a power struggle…..I’d just back off that one……and if you can’t back off…..step up the power and do it before him.
    And just know….JR will never have a chance at long hair.



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  2. FightAnotherDay says:

    EB,

    The more I think about it, the more I think I’ll let it be.

    After this one I’ll propose taking turns. At least then I can let it grow out before it’s my turn. Good thing is, I got over the long hair. I actually like it short. Ironically, it has grown on me. LOL. No shorter than and inch though.

    Skylar, I always take pictures. It’s said cuz Jr totally gets it. I try to make it quick as possible and take most while he’s in the tub.

    Relationshit. Ha ha!

    Good night girls.



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    I think you should divide the kid, one of you cuts the LEFT SIDE of his head and the other the RIGHT side! Solomon had it right, just divide the kid! For hair cuts anyway! LOL Or if you disagreed on how to dress him you could divide him top and bottom or left and right, but that would mean sewing the items together. LOL Oh, my, as Hens says! I’m getting silly now!

    Can’t you just see junior with a mullet on one side and the other side shaved! LOL



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  4. ErinBrock says:

    Oxy…..your SCARING ME!



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  5. kim frederick says:

    OMG. It’s still about a hair cut? It’s not about a hair cut, ok?
    It’s about being Alpha. Having dominance, power and control. I think you need to admit this to yourself, and recognize that you are a part of the dynamic.
    Either give up and let jerkface cut the kids hair anyway he wants to….and live in relative peace, or take the kid and have his head shaved (yes, You’ll need sun screen) and when jerk face comes to pick him up….smile, smile smile. If you take control, and happily do what jerkface has been doing to jerk your chain, jerkface wont do it anymore….jerkface will realize it doesn’t work anymore. You get it. It’s not about a hair-cut. It’s about dominance. Of course, then he will change his tact and it will be what brand of peanut butter you will feed the kid. You want Jiff, and he wants Skippy.
    Sorry. I’m being blunt, here. I know what this feels like, it sucks. But really, there’s nothing you can do to change Jerkface. All you can do is find a way to live in relative peace. The more you let it eat at you the furthar you are from your goal.



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  6. silvermoon says:

    You know, I used to think that there was a dreamy, spiritual way to release the relationship with a disordered person.

    Since then a lot of time has passed and I’ve “come to” over having been in love with the image he presented.

    Since then I have found out the truth. The man is a killer and an arsonist and he is flat out dangerous and unpredictable.

    I hope that no one else will share my experience of discovery. And at the same time, the cold reality of dealing with these disordered is that there is no ongoing apology we can make for them. There is no redeeming virtue or quality about the lying and advantage taken in any relationship with them.

    It does take time to get very clear. And to get past the way we once felt and what we believed. Its all part of recovering from he betrayal.

    And it is a betrayal. Every time.

    No matter who they were to any of us.

    There is, to my mind mind now, only one way to deal with them and that is to rise up above it. Take control of your life.

    Accept what you can’t control right now and then position to get back the loose ends over time.

    The net effect has to be run’em off and keep them at bay. And that means for ever.

    You can’t negotiate to advantage. There isn’t any compromise. Its not about being angry for an extended period of time. Its about making them GONE.

    Its about making ourselves and our children SAFE and WHOLE. Its not about small issues with the disordered still involved. Its about making them a non issue.

    Don’t forget to see the forest and not just the trees………..



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  7. Ox Drover says:

    Kim you are SO RIGHT! it isn’t a hair cut it is dominance and control, and using the kid as the rope in a pulling contest between the two…I agree, get the kid a burr cut before daddy has the chance.



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