Move on without retaliating
Q-My boyfriend of eight months turned out to be a liar and cheater.
He told me sad stories of family control over his life and earnings that had me feeling sorry for him.
Besides being emotionally and sexually open to him, I often spent my money on trips and new clothes for him.
He said his parents could never know that he was seeing someone outside his own community.
I believed him, though it hurt that I never met any of his friends, either.
I’m in my mid-30s, never married, and usually more wary, but I was just out of a relationship when we met, and vulnerable.
I discovered the truth when I accidently found a letter to him from his real girlfriend (he denies she’s this, but she’s clear about it on social media).
Our times together were always secret.
He now wants to be “friends” with me, but I believe he’s just afraid that I’ll out him to his very strict parents who somehow still rule his life at 33.
I’m so devastated that I sometimes want to hurt him back just as hard. Isn’t that fair?
Shattered in Seattle
A-Don’t be harder on yourself. The longer you dwell on his lies and how to retaliate, the longer you’ll feel devastated.
Use your anger to see clearly what went wrong and determine to move on.
Yes, you were vulnerable, but you were also too ready to please this man by paying for all the extras.
You now know that not meeting family and friends is a serious red flag in a dating relationship.
Being “friends” with him would only remind you of what you thought you had, and the gap with what it really was – a manipulative “sad story” to take advantage of you.
Instead, boost your mental health and self-confidence by knowing it can never happen to you again.
Q-I was raised by a narcissistic mother and an absent alcoholic father. Despite having seven siblings, I grew up lonely.
Middle aged, I still suffer from emotional deprivation. My father long passed, but my mother’s still hurting me in familiar ways.
Several siblings are more engaged with her. They’re the ones she’d been able to get at her beck and call.
But my relationship with her worsened when, through therapy, I learned to say No without feeling guilty.
She’s elderly, so I'm happy that she has support. If not, I’d be there for her… I don't like her, but I do love her.
One sibling repeatedly hints at how little I do to help, financially and otherwise.
I haven’t broadcasted my many generous financial gifts to my mother despite her ongoing toxic behaviour.
I'm truly grateful that I was adequately fed and clothed. But I need to keep some distance so I can stay emotionally safe.
Am I Selfish?
A-Self-preservation’s a natural survival strategy for someone whose known years of unhappiness.
A truly narcissistic parent can leave those around feeling empty from neglect. A child is also helpless to do anything about it.
Therapy’s helped you be supportive of your mother financially (and somewhat forgiving, too), without risking her ongoing behaviour.
However, you now have a solid understanding of the dynamics between her and your siblings, as well as yourself.
Remember too, that some of her tactics may’ve been adopted by those siblings who are closer to her.
If you re-engage, do so on your own schedule, in your own way. And let the others know you’ve been paying a generous share.