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By February 19, 2016 21 Comments Read More →

If I Explain it Right, He’ll Care

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Chapter 7
If I Explain It Right, He’ll Care

In most of our daily arguments with people we love, both sides are right. It can be mind boggling to look across the table at your partner and realize that they feel just as certain in their position as you do in yours. Some of us withdraw at the point where two “right” sides meet because we hate conflict. Some of us love that spot and try to live as much of life as possible in the state of an exciting debate. Some of us always feel we’re even more right than the other and are compelled to explain why, whether anyone else wants to hear it or not.

But regardless of our natural tendencies, the bottom line is this: our ability to work through daily conflicts and debates strongly influences the quality of our relationships.

When I know I can be in conflict with my partner and that we’ll be able to get through it without damaging each other (because we have lots of times before), then my trust grows, my love grows, and my confidence grows. Intimacy is partly about how well a couple can handle conflicts.

Think about it. If there’s one person on earth who you know you can get through disagreements with better than any other, then you can feel closer to that person and safer with that person than anyone else.

This is part of building an intimate relationship.

And even though we’re all flawed humans and most of us don’t know how to work through arguments or disagreements very well, we can learn. We can learn to look at our partner and realize that they feel right, too, and that we both want similar things. We most often want to feel our perspective is recognized, cared about, and respected. The issues are just the issues. The level of care and respect we give each other is paramount. Are we willing to care about the hurts of our partner before feeling heard ourselves?

When a small child comes to you with scraped knees in tears, does the child want you to explain how he or she messed up along with how to do better, or does the child want to be held, rocked, patted, and told that it’s ok? Which option is most calming? Most healing in that moment? The child is looking for comfort—for the feeling of being understood, respected, and cared about. It’s the opposite of being scolded or re-educated in a moment when a connection is needed most.

Then after that moment—or after the argument, in the adult world—we might talk through what happened and whether next time maybe we’d do anything different. We ideally learn from each other in positive ways in conversations that are not held during times of conflict or pain. In moments of hurt, it’s time to care.

What happens when both people are hurt at the same time? Then it’s up to each of us to care. They say it takes a bigger person to put their complaints to side momentarily for the sake of loving another. I agree. I think the most evolved people on our planet have mastered this skill. Like Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They live as they believe. They exude empathy. We respect them, we know their values, we admire their strength.

And there are billions of people on the planet who are trying each and every day to be more like these beautiful souls. We want to be better partners to each other. We don’t want to hurt people, especially the ones closest to us. We agonize over our past mistakes and vow to try harder. We work to overcome our childhoods and to become better parents. We catch ourselves getting angry and try to learn new ways of handling ourselves in life’s toughest spots.

Enter the psychopath.

If you’re with a psychopath, you will never get to lay your head on his shoulder and cry it out and get any genuine care. You might be a prop if cameras are flashing and people are watching your “heroic” psychopath save you, but in life’s private moments, a psychopath is more likely to make you cry and then tell you to stop crying because you’re so ugly and crazy.

That’s not a very evolved way of being in a relationship, now is it.

I can tell your this. If you are in a relationship with a psychopath, sociopath, or narcissist, you are never, ever going to build the kind of intimate relationship in which you know you’re safe and will get through disagreements together. You won’t have a shoulder to cry on, and no one will stroke your hair while you soak in their warmth.

People in relationship with psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists are perhaps the loneliest people on earth.

 

Wyatt and I were busily trying to get our three small kiddos into the car for a trip to the zoo. Or should I say, I was busy. I rushed down the steps with our daughter on my hip and breezed through the living room into the kitchen, hollering the entire way.

“Boys! Time to get your shoes on! Please come down and get your shoes on! We’re going to go see the monkeys!”

I stepped past Wyatt and grabbed the diaper bag off the counter. It was empty.

“Wyatt, can you run up and get some diapers? I thought there were some down here.” I held open the empty bag so he could see.

He was leaning back against the counter, steaming coffee mug in hand.

He didn’t acknowledge that I’d said anything—or even blink.

“Wyatt, can you please grab some diapers? I need to get the snacks packed and stuff.” I slid open the pantry doors and pulled out some fruit leathers with my free hand.

He still didn’t blink; just stood gazing out the window and apparently enjoying his coffee.

“Hello? Can you at least acknowledge that I am speaking to you? Wyatt!”

I watched him turn to leave the room, fruit leathers still in hand, arm hanging limp by my side. My daughter, Abby, was still on my hip. She grabbed my cheek and pulled my face toward hers and then pointed at the fruit leathers.

“Ok, Abby. You can have this in the car,” I hoped Wyatt was at least getting the diapers. “We’re going to the zoo today! Are you going to see the monkeys?”

I was excited to go to the zoo as a family. Wyatt had never gone with us before. I stuffed snacks and sippie cups in the diaper bag and handed Abby a fruit leather to hold as we headed for the car, and I breezed back through the house toward the garage door.

“Are you ready boys? Did everyone go potty?”

As I passed Wyatt’s office, I could see he was at his desk, trimming his fingernails neatly over the trash can. My brain exploded.

“Wyatt, did you get the diapers?”

He didn’t acknowledge me.

“Wyatt, are you kidding? Let’s go! We have to get going or it’s going to mess up nap time!”

Still nothing.

I marched into his office and put my hand on his forehead and pushed back gently so he would look up at me.

“What are you doing?”

He jerked back away from me, and his face instantly turned scarlet.

“What the hell is your problem, Helen?! Don’t touch me like that! Don’t even touch me!”

I started backing away from him.

“My God, Helen, I swear you are unbelievable. Unbelievable. Can you just be a normal person for five seconds? Do you have to go off and act like a psycho about everything? Everything?”

Abby’s eyes were wide, and she was gripping the fruit leather in a white knuckled fist. I kept backing out of the office.

“No, Wyatt! We just need to leave! You know I hate it when you won’t acknowledge I’m speaking.”

“Helen, not everything is about you. I swear, you are crazy. Not everything in the world is about Helen talking or about what spoiled Helen wants to do. I swear you are the most spoiled rotten princess I ever met. I mean, what’s the big deal. I need to trim my nails. Why do you have to act like a crazy psycho over that? Not getting your way? I’m just trimming my nails. You have to march in here and smack me in the face for trimming my nails?”

I started to feel ashamed. Then angry, because I knew somewhere inside that he was wrong. That I wasn’t being crazy and that I didn’t smack him at all. I knew it was normal to want to be acknowledged. But then maybe I was being too demanding. Did I need to chill? How could I resolve this so we could have a good day?

The bottom line is that I could never resolve it. Wyatt wanted to stir up the day because he derived satisfaction from sucking my energy dry in every big moment. After another hour of trying to calm him, trying to care for his feelings, trying to inspire him to care for mine, I ended up walking around the zoo that day feeling like a hollow shell of myself.

You know what he did? He laughed and skipped and raved over the monkeys with our children. He threw them up in the air and openly scolded me for not being more playful.

“We’re having fun, aren’t we guys,” he said to our boys at a picnic table while they licked ice cream cones. They nodded. I was changing Abby’s diaper in the stroller. “Too bad mommy doesn’t like to have fun like we do. Come on, mommy. Try to be fun. Like us. We’re the fun ones, aren’t we guys.”

“Yeah, Daddy. Daddy’s fun!”

I wanted to cry. Later, when I tried to explain to him how much it hurt me when he didn’t acknowledge me when I spoke to him, he rolled his eyes and groaned about why I was never happy. I thought if I explained it in just the right way, with just the right words and with just the right amount of beautiful sentiment (and no sign of craziness), then a light bulb would go off over his head and he would embrace me and say, “I’m sorry, babe. I don’t want to make you feel like that. I guess I didn’t realize what I was doing. But I see what you’re saying. And I love you. Come here.” And then he’d squeeze me tighter, and we would be a family that could last forever.

But we weren’t. I projected my values on him. The truth was and still is that he enjoyed upsetting me, he thrilled over any opportunity to make our children see me through a negative lens, and he experienced no remorse and no empathy. My value system is not and never was his value system. He faked it for a while, so I was confused. And I thought he’d respond the way I’d respond to someone I love who’s hurting—the way billions of people would respond. With the capacity for caring. We may be flawed humans who fail each other all the time, but most of us can care.

But that’s how we get caught—when we imagine that everyone can. I wasted a good part of my life trying to inspire someone to care who simply can’t and won’t ever. If you catch yourself projecting your values or your capacity for caring on someone who never steps up with any real empathy or love, it might be time to save your own life.



21 Comments on "If I Explain it Right, He’ll Care"

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  1. Bev says:

    Cognitive dissonance…we can’t help but have it, can we?

    We cannot help but try and put ourselves in the disordered person’s shoes…and vise versa, even.

    We simply do not understand that they can and will never do or feel what we expect them to do or feel.

    Wyatt leaves ME feeling cold, empty, and sad. What a way for you to have gone through that part of your life.

    So happy you are FREE and helping all of us!! Karma!!

    🙂



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  2. NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    CHARLIE! I got a FOOTBALL!!!!
    Oh no Lucy, please I don’t want to try anymore.
    Come on Charlie, I mean it this time!

    It never changes.
    No matter what, “we” are “demanding”, “difficult”, not the ‘fun’ one, and it’s ALL our fault… for not saying it the ‘right’ way, for not using the ‘right’ words, not pronouncing them the ‘right’ way.

    Again and again, we try to not get upset and stay focused on what matters, not get distracted into tangents that are unrelated to the issue, or into an argument b/c that will ruin the day for the kids.

    NO matter what, we are LOSERS, until they are completely out of our lives. ANd yes, I am VERY sorry for women who are dependent on the disordered person to provide for the children they made, but as a mom who has lived with what he did to my child, you are better off to be completely abandoned by him/her than live the nightmares that come with them. So SO Sorry, that’s the way the reality is with a sociopath.



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    • Bev says:

      I AGREE!!

      I wish my SP son would disappear and leave my DIL and their children ALONE.

      Everyone is tense and on eggshells when HE is involved.

      I know that it would be so much better for the children…if only.

      I can cross my fingers and hope…:)



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  3. H.G. Beverly – They seem so “in tune” with us at first. But in reality they have the feeling of a cardboard cut out. Except that we don’t find that out until much later.

    What a nightmare. I’m glad you’re out of it, of sorts.



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  4. gregregregreg says:

    I must say that this sounds like it could just as well be a hen pity-party. What formal qualifications does Donna Andersen have to OBJECTIVELY diagnose someone as a psychopath/sociopath? I see she is a writer–whatever that means. But a background in journalism is hardly a substitute for a PhD in psychology or psychiatrist MD.

    Ms. Anderson feels her ex-husband was mean to her. How is this different than the way any other divorced American woman feels about her ex? He could very well be a sociopath, but Donna Andersen isn’t QUALIFIED to make this diagnosis.

    Let’s see if this post stays up.



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    • Lynn2 says:

      I don’t think your post will be removed. 🙂 Donna Anderson isn’t the author of the article, it was written by H.G. Beverly.



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      • Bev says:

        Exactly.

        And, there are more people than we think that are SPs / Ps.

        Hen pity party…not very nice of you to say that. We are not man-haters on this site. I am married to a wonderful man for almost 35 years. It is MY SON who is a SP. Diagnosed three times by professionals, ACTUALLY.

        Just for your information, HG Beverly’s ex husband has all the signs of such a person…not just merely a normal man who was, perhaps, just ‘mean’ to her, as you put it.

        Most go undiagnosed because they never go to a psychologist, or if they do, manage to fool the professional.

        Why are you on this site at all? To try and make us think that we are silly hysterical women, perhaps? Do you have some sort of axe to grind I wonder?



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    • EricA says:

      Take a look at my reply, you stupid, pathetic waste of oxygen. You’re the biggest joke of all!!!



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    • annabelle says:

      This post sounds precisely like my ex-husband attacking credentials to distract from his pathological lies, betrayals, and fraud.
      ANYTHING to distract … ANYTHING to create chaos, doubt…
      ANYTHING except honesty and acts of atonement.



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  5. EricA says:

    Everyone knows that greggreg whatever is simply here to do his crazy making bidding.
    Poor, poor greggreg. He has no one around to put down so that he can finally feel a little better about himself. It’s so terribly sad that he has nothing better to do than troll sociopath recovery sites to find victims.
    Poor greggreg and his lonely f*cked up life.
    We’re all laughing at you, greggreg. You’ve picked the wrong site to troll for victims. We already know you, and we’re laughing at your poor, pathetic intentions. You’re a loser and a joke and it doesn’t take a PhD to figure that out.
    If you want to have an argument, look in the mirror, if you can stand it for more than a second, and pose your arguments to yourself. No one else on earth deems you as important as you!



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    • still waiting to get my lifeback says:

      He will never take that look in the mirror. That might mean he would have to look at self. That will never happen. Their reality is the fake self they’ve create. Greg greg went awol on life years ago. I am worried about the potential victim they might have lead him to this site unintentionally. It’s extremely important if we break no contact to not provide the site or orgin of information. It may be tempting to prove a point but we put ourselves and others at risk. I am sure that’s his defense to his supply. She’s not even a licensed doctor and I am sure he’s telling her the rest of us are crazy. Beware…



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  6. HGBeverly says:

    For readers who are concerned, I am a licensed psychotherapist. I wrote this article, and I’m not worried about those who post snarky comments because that happens all over the Internet. My first recommendation is, of course, to ignore those types of comments. No contact, no response.

    Martha Stout, PhD, tells a story about a man who would create chaos in his local post office just so he could sit and watch them rushing around and then smile to himself about how he made them all jump. It gave him a sense of power to create chaos, no matter how pointless it was or who he was damaging.

    With that in mind, my second recommendation is to ignore not only the person making the nasty remarks but also the content of those remarks. Because the content is often pointless beyond stirring up others.

    How do people become experts in their fields? From years of diligent study and experience.

    So considering that many if not most clinical programs lack adequate training in psychopathy/sociopathy/ASPD, I’m not sure how time spent in those programs would help anyone develop any level of expertise in this area. Expertise comes from further study and a professional commitment to the field beyond the advanced clinical program. So while some licensed professionals may be experts in this area, many others with the same qualifications are not. Be careful when choosing a professional if you are seeking therapy or an assessment. And if you need someone to translate a body of research into clear terms that you can use for knowledge and healing, the I’d say stick with the experts, whether a journalist, a researcher, a clinician, or all of the above.

    Thanks to all Lovefraud readers.

    H.G. Beverly



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  7. Dave says:

    Sometimes its difficult for me to read these stories as i feel like im re-living my past with my narc ex.

    However im finding it easier to not let her upset me now, which is huge for me because she always found ways to push my buttons and upset me, like yelling at me and insulting me then when i yelled back she would say “see david thats all you do is yell and call me names” Of course i would try and be logical and say “you just spent the last 5 mins doing it to me, of course it upset me”

    This story reminds me of an instance that happened right before we split up for the final time. She had a business event to go to for our company at a bar and i wanted to go, i found out she invited her ex from many years ago instead (she always insisted he was just a friend and a couple times a year would go to dinner with him but thats another story) I told her i wanted to go so she said yes, come time to go on a weds night im home from work waiting on her to get home from work and she emails me and says “btw ill be home late as im going to green drinks”

    Of course the smartass in me said “yeah thanks for the invite” she totally ignored me and started asking how my route with our new condo accounts had went. I told her it went fine and she never said another word. Feeling the anger building in me and the hurt i emailed her again and told her i was upset and that this hurt my feelings, that she lied to me, then blew me off for her ex. She emails me back and states “quit your whining, thats all you do cause your a whiner, i dont want you there ruining my evening”

    Wow talk about a confusing feeling inside, she still confuses me and upsets me at times but im glad i dont have to live with her anymore, and that im getting better at not letting her push my buttons and ruin my mood.



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  8. Delores says:

    So Bozo the clown had to try to stir us up and all he did was make himself obvious. I always thought if you have seen one you will know them all but maybe not. The first one was a viscous and mean sexual predator underneath. Pure evil Now I am thinking I am married to a milder version. He does not take pleasure in hurting me but he is a zombie. My best friend is dying of cancer so I was crying and he just stood stone and stared at me then walked outside to have a cigarette.

    I have SAD and he likes it when I am depressed, quiet and passive. He loves to take care of me and make me into a zombie like he is. I have SAD so I have seasonal fluctuations of depression and lack of energy in the winter. When I come out of it he is pissed. And when I am coming out of it I get pissed back easily. In a few months I will just leave him at home to rot and do something but right now is very hard.

    We have been married too long to get a divorce. So I just live with him. He cooks, cleans, earns good money and leaves me alone. I guess I should just stop trying to get blood out of a turnip and be happy but sometimes it iis just too much like today. I know he is not going to be there for me so why do I keep tying? This is not just my friend, it is the wife of a couple who introduced us. We have been friends for 35 years together and longer he with the spouse and me with my friend. How can he stand there stone faced and then just walk out to smoke.

    I think he might be depressed but then I think he is just a psychopath in a milder form. Am I nuts?



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    • Stargazer says:

      Dear Delores,

      Sometimes at night I dream about a a type of joy and happiness where I feel light and everything seems magical. Then I wake up and the heaviness of life hits. Only for a split second when I first wake up do I realize the compromises I’ve made in my life – going for second best because I don’t know how to realize the real happiness and freedom I feel in my dream life. I think we all do this. We limit ourselves because “a bird in the hand….”. At least you know what you have with your husband. It’s not truly horrible. There are some good things. And you are bonded to him. There would be pain and discomfort in leaving, and then who knows what you would find? Or not find?

      Hearing your story from the outside, I am reminded of my late mother. She made compromises with all three of her husbands. I don’t think she was ever truly happy, but then she was never alone. That was her biggest fear – to be abandoned and alone. (Not saying this is true of you). I don’t even think she knew she was afraid of being alone. A lot of her struggle was economic, and it’s been that way for me, too. It’s so much better to have someone help with cooking and paying bills than to do it on your own, especially in later years (I’m 55). After a while it’s easy to forget the dream – of what it feels like to be completely alive. We settle for what we know and don’t remember what we dream. I think it’s sad when a person lives their life without ever taking that risk to be truly happy. My mother died a lonely and sad death with her last common law husband who she felt never really loved her but who provided just enough material help to get by. I always thought she’d live into her 80’s. But she died at 76, which is young to me. The tragedy is not that she died or even that she died relatively young, but that she was never really truly alive. I am so aware at my age of how short life is. I want my life to be different, but I feel myself in some ways going down a similar road.

      If I had stayed with that selfish guy who cheated on me all those years ago, I probably would be wishing I were dead. My life is FAR better now. My living situation is better. My work situation is better. And my bf is better. But I still feel weighted down – I don’t have everything I truly want. I’ve made some compromises. I hope some day I can have the courage to be completely free of “second best.”



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  9. Stargazer says:

    I used to think that deep down, everyone is caring. That’s….before my serious relationship of 15 years ago. My bf were constantly fighting over his neglect and coldness. We were living together and had talked about getting married that summer. Looking back, it amazes me what I was willing to tolerate back then. I was very bonded to him and considered him my husband. I and believed that deep down – no matter how badly he treated me – that he truly loved me. I believed this all the way until I came home from an errand one day and found him on the phone with his new girlfriend. He very callously threw me out after that. I was completely devastated and had to rebuild my life.

    Even after that, I thought he might come around. I never spoke to him again but I wrote him a letter detailing all the pain I’d been through as a result of his actions. I thought perhaps time would soften his heart and he’d have some compassion for my broken heart. Instead I got a letter telling me that his new gf ended up being a player, and it broke HIS heart. That she was the FIRST PERSON HE’D EVER LOVED (!) That he thought he had loved me but he probably didn’t really.

    That was when I first got educated. It was the most difficult thing I’d ever gone through and it took me years to trust again after that. When I met the sociopath in 2008 for whom I ended up finding Lovefraud, getting over him was a piece of cake compared to that original wound by my ex.

    Not everyone cares. Not everyone is capable of caring. Some people will never care, no matter what you say or do. It’s good to know when to fold, and it’s sad when you have to learn the hard way.



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