I dated a man for 11 months and fell in love. He had his own larger place but was soon staying at mine every weekend.
He wooed me with small but meaningful presents like perfume, a silk scarf, flowers, etc.
He’s 52, I’m 48, we’re both divorced but he’d had a few serious relationships before he met me.
I was thrilled when he suggested we move in together. We chose somewhere new to us both as our home.
Things seemed very different from the start.
Though he’d admired my previous condo décor, he became coldly critical of my same furnishings in the new place.
Yet he didn’t offer to buy new pieces together.
He expressed dislike for much of my wardrobe, though he’d seen me in those same clothes before.
When I tried to talk with him about what this was all about, he’d forcefully call me “difficult” and then shut down. He couldn’t seem to stand not immediately being “right” or getting his way.
After a major disagreement, he slept on the living room couch for three nights. Nothing I said could get him to talk to me at all throughout those days or evenings.
From then on, there was rarely even a chat.
The next major conflict was one month later when I told him I’d be home late due to having dinner with my three closest girlfriends to celebrate one woman’s birthday.
When I returned, he was back under covers on the couch, coldly insisting that I’d never informed him and left no supper for him. (We went out from work, and there was food in the fridge).
He continued to avoid our bed, and not speak to me for two weeks, despite my crying and pleading with him to talk to me, or get counselling with me.
After only four months living together, I told him I’d leave him as soon as I found a place. He simply nodded. I’m still reeling from it all.
I can’t understand how a person can be so deceptive during dating to not show any of the coldness, bullying, meanness, blaming and disengagement, that was his true personality.
Can you help me make sense of this?
Stunned but Better-off Single
The good news is that you knew when to get out of a situation that would drag you down further.
Seeing a professional therapist yourself would be helpful to get past the shock of so much change, disappointment and hurt in such a concentrated, difficult time.
My own experience receiving advice requests from both men and women with similar stories about their partners surprising them with similar behaviours is this:
The reaction you describe to someone “not getting their own way” can be likened to a child’s tantrum or a sulk.
It may’ve worked in their childhood and teens at home and in young relationships.
Many parents give in to tantrums rather than helping the child get over them.
Behaviourist psychologists consider actions that include angry outbursts, aggression, and rage as maladaptive.
As one psychologist put it, “we’re hardly dissimilar from children when we sulk, withdraw, rush to defend oneself — or raise our voice and fervently go into blaming (or perhaps counter-blaming) mode.”
Few partners can accept that behaviour as a steady diet. If they try to stay, many get “stuck” because the emotional abuse wears down their self-confidence.
You took charge of your emotional health and future by leaving.
Counselling will help you move on.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman described by her husband as “not a morning person,” but rather, “like a coiled dragon” whom he and the children are all afraid of upsetting” (Oct. 1):
Reader – “This woman may have a medical condition that’s depriving her of sleep, without her knowing it.
“I have obstructive sleep apnea and used to be exhausted every morning and unable to cope effectively with whatever had to be done before getting the kids and myself out the door.
“After an hour or so, I was able to get on with life.
“But I remember the desperate feeling of having no energy and not knowing why. I think she should get a sleep study done (through a medical sleep clinic) to rule out sleep apnea.”
Reader #2 – “I suggest that she eat a little food along with her one cup of morning coffee, because she sounds like she has very low energy.”
Tip of the day:
An adult having temper tantrums should seek diagnosis/ help from a psychologist, as the behaviour’s destructive to relationships.