Why does she act this way? Why does she treat me like this? Why did she say that? Why can’t she be nice? Why? Why? Why?
The short answer is: Because she’s crazy. You’ll make yourself crazy if you try to find meaning in her meaningless and casually cruel behaviors. Most of us try to understand the world in which we live to varying degrees. It’s human nature to search for meaning, particularly when there’s no ready explanation for certain phenomena.
We go to therapy, we pray, we meditate, and we conduct scientific research to understand why. I believe a life without meaning isn’t worth living but, sometimes, in certain situations and with certain people, there is no greater meaning to be found other than they just. . . suck.
When your wife or girlfriend treats you badly, you want to understand why. You ask yourself:
- Is she having a bad day?
- Did you do something wrong?
- What can you do differently?
- Maybe she doesn’t realize the way she’s treating you is hurtful and if you tell her she’ll stop?
These are good questions to ask if you’re involved with an emotionally healthy and grounded woman. However, if you’re involved with an emotionally abusive bully/professional victim, a Narcissist or a Borderline, asking the above questions will get you nowhere. In fact, if you try to discuss these matters with her, she’ll probably blame you and become more abusive, which will make you feel more confused and a little nuts.
The bottom line is YOU CANNOT REASON WITH A CRAZY PERSON. Emotionally abusive women want to control you and they do it by making you feel bad. That’s all the “meaning” there is to be found.
Psychology has created diagnostic labels to identify and make sense of the full spectrum of crazy behaviors of emotionally abusive people. Some explanations for their behavior include biological bases, early childhood trauma/abuse, or that their behavior is learned.
At best, these explanations are inadequate. At their worst, these explanations give bullies and emotional predators a free pass to treat others like crap, usually without any consequences. She had a tough childhood, so you have to be patient with her. She was abused by a family member, so you have to forgive, tolerate and learn how NOT to trigger her crazy and hurtful side. Give me a break.
I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for children who are actively being abused. However, I’ve zero sympathy for adults with abuse histories who grow up to abuse other adults and their children and won’t take responsibility for their behaviors because “they have problems.” That “why” just doesn’t fly.
There are lots of men who had troubled childhoods and don’t believe the rules of society apply to them. Many of them end up in jail. Women with similarly bad childhoods and equally bad adult behaviors are generally protected, enabled, and occasionally rewarded by Psychology and the legal system. It’s a double standard.
For example, your wife goes off on a tear and screams obscenities at you and your children. Instead of saying, “that’s not ok,” you and your kids feel bad about upsetting her and try to figure out how to make her happy—often with the help of a therapist. * This is a separate topic, but if there are child(ren) involved, what are you teaching them about adult relationships? That it’s ok to abuse others to get your rocks off, because you’re upset or to get what you want?
Instead of protecting yourself from the crazy person/emotional predator/bully; you protect her and serve yourself up on a platter. You can try to understand this. You can try to make meaning out of it, but what does it solve? She’s still crazy and hurtful. Do the reasons “why” really matter?
Instead, ask yourself WHY you’re compelled to understand this woman and her crazy behavior? Why are you compelled to stay in this relationship? What does it mean about you if you can’t get this woman to be kind to you? Understand your own reasons for being in this relationship and then decide if this is how you want to spend the rest of your life.
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Originally posted on February 18, 2009 at Shrink4Men.
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MyVirtualShrink is an alternative to traditional psychotherapy and coaching. It offers a wide range of non-gender-biased web-based interactive guided sessions for a variety of issues. For a 20% membership discount, enter this promotional code: JWLCSWPJVAY.Dr Tara J. Palmatier holds a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology and M.Sc. in Counseling Psychology. She has over a decade of experience delivering direct services to diverse populations in a variety of settings. She left the clinical field in 2005 to begin a career in multimedia editing, writing and consulting. Dr Palmatier runs her own blog, A Shrink for Men, and a private relationship consultation practice for individuals, primarily men, who are suffering emotional abuse in their relationships.