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Author Topic: Am I provoking the behaviour.  (Read 1208 times)
caughtnreleased
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« on: July 26, 2017, 11:09:03 AM »

So I am seeing a behaviour pattern from men in my life and I've got three examples of it and am starting to wonder if I am provoking the behaviour.

Specimen 1 (let's call him npd ex):
Ex boyfriend from way back when. When we broke up, he soon began seeing someone else. We were both in different countries and were still occasionally in touch keeping each other abreast of some developments in our lives. When he met someone else he wrote me a message where he essentially described in detail his extreme happiness at having found someone else. I remember writing him and telling him he could spare me the details as I found it difficult to read. Instead of sparing me the details in his next email he continued telling me about how he was planning a trip with her etc, etc and continued on talking about what kind of person she was and making comparisons between her and me. That caused me to never respond to his messages ever again. We were out of touch for ten years. Guess who wrote to me a couple months ago. I was perfectly happy to be NC with this guy. In fact I was grateful to him for falling off the face of the earth. I am highly disappointed by this recent attempt at contact.

Specimen #2 (BPD ex):
was pretty much seeing someone else BEFORE we even broke up. His new flame was posting pictures of them all over her social media about how happy and wonderful he was (I now know this relationship was on the rocks from the get go they cheated on eachother repeatedly). Then he moves on to someone else, who has same name and mixed background  as me (and a mutual friend once took her to be me - when he was drunk - and it doesn't appear as though she did anything to correct him). For fun, let's call her Photocopy. Whenever I see BPD ex (which - do not worry - won't happen anymore) he insists on talking about Photocopy - at one point he even came out and asked me "aren't you jealous?" because I probably was not reacting the way he wanted me to.

Specimen #3 (not an ex)
I went on vacation and met someone with whom I traveled with for a bit.  He was definitely hitting on me and I found him to be really clingy and ended up maneuvering things to stop traveling with him (near the end of our trip). I needed some space and didn't want to spend my whole trip with him. He was getting on my nerves. It's been a few months and the guy - with whom I haven't really been in touch - just wrote to tell me that just after he and I split ways he met another girl from his own country. In very dramatic romanticized words he has written to tell me that his life has been changed in ways he never expected and that he is so deeply excited and happy about this new person in his life. 

Here's the thing: I don't really care about these dudes's and their relationships. These are things I am not interested in reading about. They are not in my life, and frankly "I'm so happy in love" seems like a load of horse-you-know-what. While I'm sure they are surfing on some kind of serotonin high from starting a relationship, I am not sure why they have the urge to personally write to me about it. Is this what men do? Write to their exes to let them know that they're happy in love with someone else? Or do I hang out with insecure men. Or do I do something which causes them to feel the need to move on quickly and then write to me about it? Sigh. Frankly I am starting to find it kind of funny because it's happening so often. But still... .what gives?
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2017, 12:50:22 PM »

Hi caughtnreleased.

What do you think it is that bothers you when these dudes write you about it?Maybe there is something useful to discover. Social media definitely makes this a thing more so than 20 years ago, but the phenomena of moving on and showing that you were not at fault has always been around.

How are you feeling about your boundaries?
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 05:14:59 PM »

but the phenomena of moving on and showing that you were not at fault has always been around.

I suppose this is what is going on - that little ego thing rearing it's ugly head. Honestly, though I have never done this to anyone. When I move on I move on and most of the time have zero lingering thoughts about my ex. But it does take me very long time to move on which is probably why I don't have these lingering thoughts. Whenever I've been with someone new I have little or no thoughts for my exes and am glad to have finally moved on.

re boundaries: I'm feeling kind of angry actually that I stayed with specimen #1 as long as I did. He was a scumbag to me and I took it and I'm pretty pissed - mostly with myself - for all the things I let him do. He mistreated me badly. He had the capacity to be charming though.

The fact that he would have the gall to write me after disappearing off the face of the earth also pisses me off. And I'm glad he doesn't have my up to date information. It really was a fluke that I checked the old email account that he writes to. In his message he wrote something about having a dream about me and cursing his mind for dreaming about me - but this is why he has contacted me. Huh? I've dreamt many times about my exes and still have zero desire to communicate with them because I know that it's not really a dream about them.  I never dream about this guy.Guess I'll count my blessings.

I suppose I find these dudes to be rather ordinary for doing this. The third guy doesN,t bother me too much but it got me thinking about the exes who have done it. I just feel that it happens rather often... .so wanted to examine it. Re: boundaries - not too sure. I am no contact with specimen #1 and #2. And as for #3 - again I feel a bit indifferent except that the message caused me to examine behaviours of exes. What I will say is that #1 is not at all on social media - so I guess he had to really go out of his way to communicate what most people now do by posting pictures of being so happy with their newest selfie companion. It all simply seems rather immature. Will go wash my hands to make sure there is no lingering smell.
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2017, 09:16:15 AM »

frankly, from your account, its hard for me to imagine that theres any one thing youre doing that would tend to result in this happening. telling an ex "how much better youre doing without them" is inappropriate and immature.

having said that, i want to look at the larger picture here, because i think youre aiming at that.

So I am seeing a behaviour pattern from men in my life

the pattern and big picture are probably bigger than these guys telling you about their new relationships. its difficult to say based on this account alone what it is. how are your boundaries? outside of these incidents, how are theirs?

i hear people say things like "i seem to attract people with x derogatory term". it wasnt until i reframed it - realized that although unbeknownst to me, that my patterns were more about where i gravitated, that i began to be able to shift the patterns. what do you think?
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 09:47:46 AM »


the pattern and big picture are probably bigger than these guys telling you about their new relationships. its difficult to say based on this account alone what it is. how are your boundaries? outside of these incidents, how are theirs?


This is a really good point. I have been thinking about this since takingandsending mentionned boundaries. Boundaries were poor with all these men. All though, as time goes by, boundaries have improved with me.
#1 I had almost no boundaries and he ate me alive. I despise him for it, and am still incredibly angry with myself for having let such a scum bag into my life (sorry for the harsh words but I have this really strong feeling of revulsion towards the whole situation - he treated me so horribly and I never stood up to him)

#2 Also had no boundaries BUT he was brutally honest which triggered me to put down boundaries. As a result, while he did behave inappopriately, he suffered the consequences since I applied boundaries - it took me a few go arounds to make my boundaries final though and not relent.

#3 Clearly wanted something more with me but it never became romantic. He broached topics of conversation that quite frankly were extremely suggestive and probably inappropriate (BDSM) but I kind of went with it, reframed it and actually learned something about it. He also tried some moves on me a few times which I pretended to not notice. And yes, I had much stronger boundaries. I found him clingy and managed to find an excuse to stop traveling with him.

So... .in the end, I do tend to allow men into my life who have poor boundaries and push me in directions that I don't feel comfortable, and am not able to take control and put down my boundaries firmly without going through serious self doubt. Perhaps this is all karma - those who have difficulty setting boundaries will inevitably attract those who like to break them. I must keep working at boundaries. It's a tough thing.

Currently I am seeing a guy and he is getting on my nerves because he contributes nothing. He's a bit of a mooch. He has no money so never invites me out, lives with roomates, and now has gotten to inviting himself over to my house as a way of making plans with me - when he gets here he lounges around, and in the mornings sits down at the breakfast table expecting to be served. I basically have to come up with excuses to tell him to leave in the mornings otherwise I don't know that he would... .Why do I feel as though I owe this guy something?  But now I simply prefer not to see him again rather than telling him how I feel - how do you tell someone that they feel like a parasite?

He wanted to see me yesterday - he was back from a long trip - and invites himself over to my house again as a way of making plans with me. I told him I was busy (I didn't feel like hosting again but didn't say so). He told me he was disappointed because he wanted to get between the sheets with me. Now I am feeling like a piece of meat - but I don't think that was his intention. It was ok in the beginning before this dynamic set in, but now that this is becoming the "acceptable" routine I am rather extremely turned off and would rather never have to see him again.
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2017, 11:07:49 AM »

#1 I had almost no boundaries and he ate me alive. I despise him for it, and am still incredibly angry with myself for having let such a scum bag into my life (sorry for the harsh words but I have this really strong feeling of revulsion towards the whole situation - he treated me so horribly and I never stood up to him)

how long ago was this? i ask because it does not sound as if this feels resolved. after the relationship with my uBPDex, i realized i could trace a lot of my patterns to my "first love". i kept looking to slay the dragon so to speak, in different ways, though i was at least growing in some areas. have you heard of, and looked into what is called a "repetition compulsion"?

So... .in the end, I do tend to allow men into my life who have poor boundaries and push me in directions that I don't feel comfortable, and am not able to take control and put down my boundaries firmly without going through serious self doubt. Perhaps this is all karma - those who have difficulty setting boundaries will inevitably attract those who like to break them. I must keep working at boundaries. It's a tough thing.

i suspect youre onto something here. where do you think that self doubt comes from? what does it feel like and tell you when it occurs?


with regard to the guy youre seeing, have you read up on the communication tools on the Improving board? i can say "no" to people, but i feel guilt when i do, and this can have all sorts of connotations like feeling as if im in a situation i dont want to be in. i found that practicing the communication tools (which i think inform the concept of good boundaries) with everyone in my life really built up my confidence in that regard. as a result i found that people treated me with greater respect, which has helped me get more natural at doing it.
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2017, 12:29:52 PM »

Hi thanks for the suugestions. I will look them up. The reason i think i have such visceral feelings about #1 is that i recently saw he had written me after disappearing for 7 years. His message was titled: Still Alive? And then he went on to say things were good, that he'd had a dream about me -darned brain of his- which made him think he wanted to hear from me but before he told me about himself he wanted to hear back to see if the email was still valid.
That email... .so demanding, completely unrevealing, while also acting as though i disappeared (i am on social media including twitter. A simple google of name indicates it while HE has zero social media accounts to his name which ive been so thankful for actually) has made me angry that he has the gall to me like that and i know the only person who ever gave him that power was me and so its all bubbling to the surface. He is swings highly towards NPD.
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2017, 01:54:47 PM »

he'd had a dream about me -darned brain of his- which made him think he wanted to hear from me
With BPD/NPD, feelings=facts. He had a feeling about you, so it must be a fact about you, i.e. we were meant to talk because I thought of you in a dream. This is a basic part of the illness, and it is an illness. If you can treat it that way, it can help even a tiny bit to not make it personal, i.e. he is assuming you have been pining away in limbo waiting for him to contact you. Does that make sense? Put another way, do you feel better being infuriated at him, or is this another way (maybe even the same way) of giving him control? You can't control what he says, thinks or does, but you can control how you feel about it, how you respond to it. That's why I asked about boundaries. Boundaries come from our values, what we hold dear. What values got trampled, what was dear to you that got ruined in this RS? That's where you want to go so that you don't have to repeat that experience ... .ever again. If you miss that piece, you may end up in the same repeat cycle. I don't want that for you or for anyone. You seem very clever and analytical - which I can relate to (at least the analytical part). I know, for myself, I can tend to run circles around an issue but miss the part that means the most to me.

i know the only person who ever gave him that power was me and so its all bubbling to the surface.
I understand what this feels like, the sense of self betrayal. I suggest being gentle with yourself. You made mistakes that hurt you in the long run, but they don't have to continue to hurt you. If you can work on the parts of you that need strengthening, not militantly, not with assault rifles and high powered artillery, but with openness and sympathy, then those things you value that are the bones of who you are become not a liability but a real gift. That is the path that I am on. I can't say I've come very far along it, but I have a bit more awareness when someone is doing or saying something that compromises the things that I hold pretty close to my heart. And, I have learned to protect that a little better. Does this sound like it may have some applicability to your situation?
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2017, 11:26:36 PM »

With BPD/NPD, feelings=facts. He had a feeling about you, so it must be a fact about you, i.e. we were meant to talk because I thought of you in a dream. This is a basic part of the illness, and it is an illness.

Framed this way does help, so thanks for reminding me of this. Since my learning about NPD/BPD dates to a couple years after he and I stopped talking, I never had looked at him as having an illness. I do find it hard to treat people who are so destructive with other people's lives with compassion. I don't know why he has contacted me again but I know that nothing positive would or could ever come of it.

What values got trampled? Well very simply the values of treating people with respect, kindness and compassion. I was young and had just started a job which was incredibly meaningful to me when HE decided he and I were going to get serious. That job was one of the most unique experiences of my life, and exposed me to a whole variety of people, experiences, etc. It was the first time that I felt like I had found "my people" - I thrived, I was excited - and this NPDex brought me down every day I came home to him - It's like he couldn't bear to see a smile on my face. He called me selfish and opportunistic, and many other things. He would come home drunk and pick a fight about something "I" had done. The conversation topic wasn't right, I cared only about my job, I had done the cooking but why wasn't I doing the dishes, I wasn't prioritizing him enough. Every negative insult associated with a woman who is pursuing a career he threw at me. It took only three years for me to burn out. I quit to give him what he wanted and that's when he moved into discard phase.  The effort I put into my job though isn't though and from that I made many connections, and proved myself in ways for which I am still benefiting from so many years later, even though I had a long lasting burnout where I couldn't take a demanding job. The relationship with him affected me career wise, hugely so. For the past 5 years actually I have only been in jobs that ask nothing of me. In the last year that has changed - but slowly, very slowly. This man did a lot of damage.

So I think there is that - how much I was devastated.

I have felt enormous compassion for my BPDex but not this NPD guy. He was hands down pretty much constantly abusive. BPDex at least showed some compassion, he was gentle, there was a special connection, and for all the really messed up things he did, there was a little bit of kindness. He also is the one who alerted me to BPD/NPD which started me on my real path to recovery.

So yes, I was vulnerable and someone ate me alive. Essentially, I have to learn to trust myself. I kept thinking and telling him he was being abusive and he was out of line. I was waiting for him to acknowledge it. I didn't have enough self-esteem to believe the part of me that was telling me I was being abused.

I need to listen and respect myself more often. I think that is the real lesson from the relationship with NPD.
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2017, 10:37:45 AM »

Hey caughtnreleased,

I can hear how much pain NPDx caused, and I am really sorry that happened to you. And, I completely understand the values of respect, kindness and compassion - those are the same core values (particularly in speech) I began to learn to defend at the end of my marriage to uBPDxw. I really encourage you in developing your boundaries around those values because they represent, I think, the best in us.

I need to listen and respect myself more often. I think that is the real lesson from the relationship with NPD.

You don't have to jump straight to having compassion for someone who injured you to the extent that your NPDx did. Respect, kindness and compassion needs to start with ourselves - having that kindness toward our own flawed, beautiful selves. I am certain that when I get to the point of having compassion for myself having freely given so much of my heart and my love to a woman who didn't return it and in the end, didn't respect it, then I can extend that compassion outward. But it has to start with me first.

Hang in there. You have a good sense of humor and a quick mind. I'm glad that you are finding a way back into your career. If you find a way to allow compassion for yourself, you may find yourself attracting different people and different patterns into your life. I sure hope so.
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2017, 02:41:25 PM »

Dear Takingandsending,

Thank you very much for your kind words and for helping me think this all through. I have to say that I am embarking on a new journey - different than the one I embarked on with my old job, as this is extremely nourishing for me, without being demanding - it depends only on what I am able and willing to give (which is a daily, personal and interesting challenge) and where I feel again like I've found "my people".

In the past two years there have been significant changes with the kind of people who are in my life. I went from having friends who were chaotic, dramatic, unsupportive, rivalrous, and envious to ones who are generous, thoughtful and giving. There are certain things that I still need to work on - but as I embark on the next steps - big changes - I feel extremely excited. I wonder if it's not a coincidence that NPD is coming back from the dead but I don't want to think about that since it would mean that he is creeping on me and that would be disturbing.

All that to say, I am excited about the next steps, and I would say, well armed with enough awareness to keep moving forward and never let someone clip my wings again.
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2017, 02:58:55 PM »

It seems that one thing that pwBPD must do is rub their new relationships in our face, and probably in other people's faces as well. But what would happen if they were deprived of that? What need does flaunting their "happiness" to us fill and what if we took away their ability to do that (ie go no contact as soon as it happens?)?

The first replacement that my ex found - I basically cut off contact. I think he tried to rub it in my face but I provided no indication that I had seen or had knowledge of it. Apart for a few moments of weakness when I checked his social media, I really withdrew from him completely. That replacement lasted probably a year with some stormy breaks and cheating.

The second replacement my BPDex found - he flaunted to my face since I gave him that opportunity in resuming contact with him. That lasted two years and counting - and he tried to recycle me while with her. I am completely no contact now so have no idea where they are at and don't care. I do wonder if my being more in the picture this time around may have led to their relationship lasting longer somehow. Of course it doesn't matter because he has no problem finding replacements, so if this one falls apart, he'll start again with someone else.

I read recently that narcissists at least want to make sure that their ex knows they are happy with someone else. What if somehow they were deprived of the ability to communicate this? Would it make any difference? Interested in your thoughts.
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 08:19:14 AM »

What need does flaunting their "happiness" to us fill and what if we took away their ability to do that (i.e., go no contact as soon as it happens?)?

I don't think we can take away anyone's optimism or idealization in a new relationship. I also don't think we can counter "Facebook effect" - posting an overly optimistic image of life and love. These are things that don't have a lot to do with us.

But, your question of why would two of your ex's email you with details of their new relationships is a good one to ask?... .

What do you think it is? Resentment on their part? Really bad boundaries?

You're staying in touch, post relationship, which is not a bad thing. It sounds like your ex's feel very open with you. Do you educate them on what is comfortable with you and what is not?  How did you say in response to the emails regarding their new relationships?


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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 01:04:27 PM »


You're staying in touch, post relationship, which is not a bad thing. It sounds like your ex's feel very open with you. Do you educate them on what is comfortable with you and what is not?  How did you say in response to the emails regarding their new relationships?


I went back to the email exchange in question and my response to him was that it was hard for me to hear that he was moving on, that the relationship had left me wounded, and that given how I was reacting to his news, I realized I needed to work more on putting it/him behind me. (to be honest, rereading my message I was quite impressed with how honest I was with him - I told him I was hurting and that it meant I needed to disconnect and move on).

His response was to say he had thought long and hard about writing me about moving on since we had agreed that if ever one of us had met someone else it would be over between us (my recollection of this agreement was different. I essentially told him if he ever cheated or left me for someone else it would be over. He had done this with an ex girlfriend and she had taken him back several times so I wanted to make clear that I wouldn't put up with it), and then in his email he went on to talk about the trip he was planning with his new flame. I never responded to that and began filtering his messages  because it did feel like he was being incredibly insensitive and had not heard what I had communicated to him at all.

The dynamic I have with my exes - I do have quite honest relationships, and this first ex told me so in one of these emails discussing his new flame. While comparing me with the new girl ( )  he said he appreciated the honesty in our relationship. Frankly, I think he was really self absorbed and incapable of realizing that I had needs, and feelings and all that. So perhaps he thought he was continuing the "honest" relationship "dynamic" while another side of his brain was with someone else. Weird.

The second ex - BPD - was a different dynamic. When he told me of the second replacement - I remained neutral in my reaction to it - we had been apart for a year and half after all - but I was so non-reactive that after discussing her, texting with her in front of me - I told him to stop that - telling me certain attributes of hers (like the fact that she has the same name as me) etc. he went so far as to ask me wasn't I jealous? Honestly I wasn't. I was sad that he was so inaccessible - that there was always someone else, that he always created a complication and impossibility for us to get together, even when we were together, there were always people in the orbit - exes, flings, dates etc. But I didn't say it. With him it really felt like he wanted to provoke me somehow, whereas the first guy, perhaps was just extremely self absorbed to a point that I, as a feeling, breathing, loving and hurting human being, didn't really exist to him.
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 01:12:24 PM »

I don't think we can take away anyone's optimism or idealization in a new relationship. I also don't think we can counter "Facebook effect" - posting an overly optimistic image of life and love. These are things that don't have a lot to do with us.


I wasn't really discussing the actual optimism or idealization in a new relationship - but rather the "facebook effect" - that is the need for attention, and sometimes the desire to create jealousy, envy, pain - and sometimes they will use new relationships (which I think are sometimes sham relationships - and my personal theory is the more you have to brag about it, the more you are compensating for feelings of insecurity) to amplify the discard. New relationships and replacements are enablers that strengthen the ability discard. What more powerful message of discard to an ex than to be replaced essentially overnight. But the discard is only possible if the ex FEELS discarded. So maybe my question was - what if we as exes cut off all ties, that way it's actually not possible to be discarded. You cannot discard someone who is not around to receive your rejection. What happens if they can't discard us is perhaps the question I was getting at.
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