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SuperP 11-09-17 07:38 PM

Do I need to label him?
I posted previously about a man that I dated who has ADHD. I ended things with him and am trying to move forward and going out on dates with other men and focusing on taking care of myself, finding out my own interests (I have co-dependency and attachment issues). One thing that I am having trouble with is this whole thing with labeling people.

My therapist says that my ex-guy is a narcissist and a "sick" person and she has suggested I read a book about "avoiding narcissistic men". She thinks that I should be angry at him, that I was too nice in wishing him well, when I said goodbye. But really, how do I know that he is a bad or evil person...maybe he just wasnt into me, but didnt know how to tell me? Maybe he is just really lost and doesnt know how to be in a relationship. I do believe it is wrong to purposefully hurt people and to use and abuse people, especially if it is a pattern and you know what you are doing is wrong....but How do I know what his motives are or what he is dealing with? Should I be angry? Is it possible that he isnt a monster and just needs help?

Lunacie 11-09-17 08:14 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
The therapist never met your ex. You're the one who knew him. I suggest you
read about narcissism and make up your own mind whether that label fits him
or not.

I think you can be rightfully upset with the way he treated you without having
to know his motives or possible diagnoses.

It will help to know what kind of guy to avoid in the future, but just let go and
move on if possible.

WhiteOwl 11-09-17 08:38 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
If he's your ex, you've already moved on and you're dating other people and focusing on yourself, I don't see any reason to be angry at him. What therapist in their right mind would try to elicit feelings of anger in a person who has already moved on and started healing? I would find a new therapist and go with your gut about your ex. If you're not angry at him, good. That's a burden you don't have to worry about. You're not his therapist, so you don't have to label him.

Fraser_0762 11-09-17 11:23 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
I would change your therapist asap. Your therapist should never make you feel angry or vengeful against another person. Their job is to help you feel good about yourself, not angry and bitter.

peripatetic 11-09-17 11:54 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
i'm trying to consider what your therapist could be getting at, but i would start by asking why s/he thinks getting angry would be useful? like...what problem is that solving?

i think you should be intolerant of abuse. but i actually think it speaks well of you that you can separate behaviours from persons and also consider that you don't actually know what resides in his head and what his motives are. it is entirely possible he's sick and lacking insight into his ailments. it's also possible that he's a manipulative ******* who purposefully hurt you.

discriminating between the two is only useful, in my opinion, insofar as it helps you move forward. if you don't feel angry, i don't see what the purpose of building up a feeling toward another person would be. especially since you're not in a relationship with him anymore and it sounds like you don't maintain contact.

now, IS there a pattern where those you date/are in relationships with are emotionally, physically, or otherwise abusive or neglectful or manipulative toward you? *if* so...then i still don't see a reason to label another or find anger. but i do think it's worth considering how to disrupt the pattern if you see a common denominator in your relationships being you taken advantage of/being abused.

how long have you been with this therapist? do you generally trust his/her judgment about other things or has this been the focus of all your sessions thus far?

sarahsweets 11-10-17 06:14 AM

Re: Do I need to label him?
Anger or resentment can be poison. I dont see why your therapist wants you to rip those scabs off.

SuperP 11-10-17 01:20 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
Thanks for your thoughtful replies.

As I am reading these books that my therapist recommended, I am seeing some patterns in the men in my life. My therapist believes that my father and ex-husband were narcissists and I think she is trying to help me to avoid dating these types of men. Maybe that is why she wants me to be angry? in a way it is helpful to read, as I want to be able to see the red flags and avoid these types of men, but Im still having a hard time getting angry.

With my father and my ex-husband, I have come to a point where I just pity them. I am not angry, just shocked and sickened by what they did to me, but I feel like being angry or vengeful is useless..arent they already suffering enough. My father was an alcoholic and extremely verbally abusive...I grew up constantly hearing how worthless I was and all other kind of bad names that I probably cant list here. I guess eventually I believed that he really hated women and there was seriously something wrong with his head.

this current guy is not like my father...he was really sweet and gentle initially, but became "abusive" in a different way, by being passive-aggressive and ignoring me. My therapist says that he is a covert narcissist. apparentlly by dad and ex were overt narcissists. Im just confused as I try to work this out in my head. Also, my has ADHD and is unmedicated and I dont think he did half of the things that he did on purpose...I honestly believe he was just very forgetful and impulsive and made poor judgments...He also works alot and is always running around. He was not a good match for me cause he was triggering me...I have abandonment issues.

Or maybe Im a fool and he is a Narcissist who does this deliberately (seduces women then dumps them). Its hard for me to put him in the same catagory as my father and ex-husband...Is he really a selfish person or just really struggling? How can I be angry at someone who is just having a hard time in life and maybe he wants a relationship, but has a hard time connecting?

peripatetic 11-10-17 02:28 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
maybe she wants you to be angry so you will protect yourself...put your needs first and so forth?

have you ever been angry? is anger an emotion you're uncomfortable with?

i ask because i think it's great to see that others are suffering, too. but i have been furious at things/people initially and then seen that others are suffering. anger is not a bad emotion to have at times.

maybe she's trying to show you that when people mistreat you, until you can allow yourself to feel anger at their behaviours, at least, and how those behaviours impact you, then you'll keep allowing people into your life who are part of the pattern? i don't know...that's speculation.

i do have another question though: do you feel like you're not allowed or unjustified in feeling anger? is that part of what spending so much time around narcissists has left you with?

SuperP 11-10-17 02:40 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
Peripatetic, thats a good question. I dont know...I do feel angry in the moment that someone hurts me...sometimes I have revenge fantasies, but it doesnt last very long...I dont hold onto grudges. I do have a hard time standing up to someone or showing my anger. I think in this case, I would feel more anger if I knew for a fact that he deliberately did something to hurt me...I guess motive is a big factor.

peripatetic 11-10-17 02:46 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
hmm...i can appreciate that. there are very few things i really hold a grudge over, and only if it arises afresh to rekindle...not so much grudge holding by nature.

and i also get not being able to hold onto anger.

and i get that it's hard to be angry with someone if you know they're unwell and can't determine motive.

i would say, just consider this: there's a difference between manslaughter and murder and it comes down to motive. but failing to recognize someone has been killed isn't the right thing to do either. i mean, it could be accidental and totally unintentional...but there are still penalties for causing such harm.

it's an analogy, and an imperfect one. but you'd feel sadness at the loss, even if unintentional or an accident. maybe that's where your therapist is going...? that even if it's unintentional, you were hurt and that matters because you have value and don't deserve to be hurt even if the other is sick or even unintentionally.

it sounds like "being angry" is somehow equated in her mind with self defense and self worth and self preservation. like...maybe it seems like you value their suffering over your own and aren't holding them accountable ...because even if unintentional, there is accountability, you know?

again...all speculation, but hopefully helpful.

i still think labeling people is only useful if it helps YOU move forward. but i also think that she shouldn't be diagnosing people she's never met...

SuperP 11-10-17 03:14 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
Very helpful Peripatetic, gives me a lot to think about. I do struggle with finding value in myself...and tend to want to blame myself first as well as find excuses for others. So in this case, I am still caught in that web...maybe once the fog clears, Ill be able to see things more clearly.

SuperP 11-10-17 03:18 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
Its like my brain wants to sort out what part of his actions were due to ADHD and what part was due to Narcissism (if he even is a Narcissist) and maybe if I can figure that out, I can move on better....Maybe get Angry and not feel so stuck

peripatetic 11-10-17 03:24 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?

Originally Posted by SuperP (Post 1972017)
Its like my brain wants to sort out what part of his actions were due to ADHD and what part was due to Narcissism (if he even is a Narcissist) and maybe if I can figure that out, I can move on better....Maybe get Angry and not feel so stuck

but maybe the sorting is where you're not seeing that what matters most in this scenario is YOU. and whether he hurt you because of this or that...he emotionally neglected you. and that sets you up to doubt yourself. and to feel like you don't matter.

it seems that maybe her thought is for you to focus not on him and try to sort him, but on you and your legitimacy in having feelings... at feeling being angry that someone caused that hurt (regardless of motive or diagnosis).

would you be angry if someone hurt a person you loved? emotionally neglected him/her? would you be looking to justify or find rationale behind causing your loved one pain?

in this are the loved one. maybe she wants you to love yourself enough to allow yourself to have feelings without qualification, without feeling like you don't have a right to have them because he's unwell.

do other feelings come more easily to you?

ToneTone 11-10-17 04:03 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
You mention that you have attachment and codependency issues.

Well a key problem for people with those issues (and I'm in these categories as well) is inability to say no, inability to stand up for themselves, and a tendency towards people pleasing and rescuing.

At its extreme, people with these issues will try to understand (and quietly justify why someone mistreated them instead of firmly rejecting the abusive behavior.

Anger is the emotion that people typically call on to say no. Anger is what allows the little guy to finally stand up to the bully. Anger is what sends a parent to school to confront a teacher who is mistreating their child.

It's not the parent's job to figure out if the teacher has ADHD or had a difficult childhood. In fact, it would be parental malpractice to focus on the teacher's possible clinical issues to the detriment of their own anger at the teacher's actions that are hurting their child.

Similarly in a relationship, our job is not to diagnose the other person ... And if you have codependency issues, you certainly want to avoid that ...

You are a valuable person who deserves good treatment. If someone mistreated a friend of yours, you're not going to recommend that the friend diagnose the bad behavior. You're going to get angry and encourage the friend to stand up for themselves and get the heck out of the relationship.

The real issue is often that the codependent person is afraid to confront someone, afraid to defend themselves, and feel afraid feeling anger. But they use "forgiveness" and "generosity" to cover for that lack of willingness to stand up for themselves.

Your therapist isn't telling you to slash the guy's tires. She's trying to get you to value your life and time, and if someone "stole" valuable time and energy, it's totally appropriate (probably necessary) to get angry.


SuperP 11-10-17 04:15 PM

Re: Do I need to label him?
Thank you Peripatetic, This is helpful. Ive never thought of it that way. Just know when someone does something to hurt me, I need to make sense of it..I need to know the "why". Once Im able to do that then I can move on. I guess if a mad dog bit me, I wouldnt care why it bit me..I would get upset and keep away from it..but if someone I love hurts me, I cant just let it mind wants to know why and once I make sense of it, its easier for me to move on. Its hard for me to be angry at people I care about...its an uncomfortable feeling and expressing anger at someone I love is very hard. I feel joy, compassion, sadness, grief, happiness...but anger is hard. I know I have self esteem issues and need to value myself more. But again reading books on Narcissism is confusing me...maybe I should be focusing more on me and whats wrong with me...LOL

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