Thursday, February 17, 2011

I so don't want to have to know this stuff!

I was on the phone with Ex#2. Talking about pool, his dates, and he asked if I had read an article he posted on facebook. I HAD in fact read it. I didn't like it.

I hemmed and hawed. (Way to be direct Jen!)
He didn't trust my hemming and hawing, and kept pushing. It was almost in frustration that I said, "Yes. I've read it, and I just didn't like it."

His response: You're so closed-minded. You probably didn't even read it. You can't even tell me what you didn't like about it.

(My next mistake) "I read it. I just... I'm not interested in marriage... and I didn't like the tone..."

Him: You just grab on to one little thing, and you miss everything else. It's not even a big deal, I would just think that you would want to be more open. You missed the whole point. You obviously didn't even read it.

(Another mistake, only this time I realized what I was doing.) "I did read it. I read the whole thing, but... wait... I don't like the way you are talking to me right now."

Him: Oh, so now you're going to get all defensive. Way to deflect... Obviously... so closed-minded and...

And then I did get defensive and frustrated and loud, and then I hung up.
Probably not the best thing to do, but I forgot what came next.
I was all turned around trying to defend myself - even though I recognized I didn't NEED defending.

I picked up the book Controlling People... the one that actually talked about THIS situation.

The book talks about how people pretend to know what we are thinking, feeling, doing, being, etc. It suggests that we don't even engage this kind of behavior. The author's suggestion was to say, "What?"

So, the way it could have gone... is first, I could have been more direct.
Me: Yes. I read it.
If he asked my opinion at that point, I could share it.
Me: I didn't like it.

If I was more direct, he might have been better prepared for a conversation. He might not have jumped on me like he had. If he did...

Him: "You're so closed-minded. You probably didn't even read it."
Me: What?

And then what happens? He repeats it? Gets frustrated at me for not listening to him? Does he change what he said?

Do other people just "get" this stuff? Or does everyone have a problem navigating conversations like this?


  1. I think most people have a tough time dealing with controlling and manipulating people, but there are some of us who make particularly good targets. It is hard to hold your ground when the abuser has you believing you don't deserve any respect. I lived with someone who was emotionally abusive for five years, not understanding how I got into the situation or how to get out. He could tear me up and down with his words, and I couldn't unravel what on earth had happened. Had I known these skills - well, things would have been quite different.

    The kind of verbal skills you are talking about are not natural to most of us, since most people do generally treat others with a modicum of respect. When you run into this type, it is always an unpleasant shock. It is great you are learning the skills to deal with these people when they crop up. But I do not allow any such people to remain an actual acquaintance. I cut verbal and emotional abusers out of my life with haste.

    I don't think hanging up on someone is at all a problem; your time and attention is valuable. You are under no obligation to bestow it on someone who will abuse the privilege. No point in letting anger make you drop to the level they want you at. Just end the conversation.

    Well, don't know if that's helpful at all. But I can empathize with the situation of trying not to give the manipulators more fuel for the fire.
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Blue Morpho - Thank you! That helps a lot!!

    author - This guy wasn't the one that raped me... That was husband #1. This was husband #2, and you are still right about him pushing my buttons.

    And I've been sitting here thinking I should call him back... but I don't know what I could say other than to apologize, which doesn't feel right, so... not going to do it...

  4. I think you're right that it would help if you were more direct.

    However, that doesn't make his attack your fault. You don't have to put up with anyone saying you are a liar or insulting you.

    There are certainly skills that can be learned to deal with people who have these behaviors. But sometimes the best skill is learning how to just get out of the situation. I'm not gonna judge whether this was a "get out of there" situation or not. You are the better judge of that since you are more aware of the situation. But if you feel good about hanging up then it was the right thing to do.

    (And if it helps, I read the article too and it wasn't my favorite. I think some of the things the article said are true for some people. But, I also think it is very untrue for many of the single girls I have known.)

  5. So sorry about my comment. I was not aware that you had been married twice- do not know how I missed that, but I did.

    I have to agree with you about marriage. I do not know if I am either a relationship or marriage kind of gal. Nothing seems to be working out, so I am going to cut my losses and just move on.

    Love and respect.

  6. Jeff - Thanks. I agree that there are times that its better to just get out of the situation... even if I go back five minutes later, it was definitely better to leave it at that moment. I was so turned around and defensive, I couldn't be a part of a healthy conversation.

    And it also helps to hear your thoughts on the article. It frustrated me, but I couldn't put words to it...

    blog author - no apology needed. :) I recognize I have never been real clear about different relationships... I might fix that some day... and I might not.

  7. Hmm, the tone of the article is a bit much.
    I'm not really sure how I feel about it, other than just shaking my head at some of the comments from people on the article page.


    I react that way too. My EX (fiance, not husband) pulls that kind of crap with me all the time. I think just to get a rise out of me and find 'another reason' as to why I suck as a person overall.

  8. Post-mortem makes everything look so much more obvious.

    It's so difficult not to get flustered and angry and lash out in that kind of situation, at least it is for me.

    Is there a good reason to even talk to this guy? Even if you have a past relationship, why let poisonous people have a part in your life at all?

  9. Shatteredone - Its hard to say why people do that... I just don't want to add to it anymore. Ya know? And thanks for the hugs!

    Carla - that is a good question. Sometimes we still have some good conversations that I enjoy... it just turns weird really fast. This is one of the reasons we are no longer married. Trying to live with conversations like this everyday, I was a mess... And I had no idea which way was up.

    For now, I find the relationship mostly positive... And I also need to be aware of what happens when it isn't, and how to take care of myself. I don't know how it will look in the future.

  10. He sounds like he's a controlling jerk. You're absolutely right... he had no right to talk to you that way. Just reading his article was supportive of you. Who is he to tell you that you have to LIKE what he writes? Are you not entitled to your own opinion?

  11. Dom - yes, what he was doing was controlling. For a long time, I thought he DID have the right to tell me what I should like or not like. When he was my husband, I thought it was my DUTY to like everything he liked. I was so wrong!