“Why Can’t He..?”

by Annie Kaszina on November 16, 2011

 “Why can’t he behave like a normal person?” Geri asked.

Because I was pushed for time, but wanted to reply, I gave her the short answer.  I’ve no doubt your head already knows the answer as well as I do, but maybe your feelings play tricks on you, just like Geri’s feelings do.

The short answer goes like this: “He’s not behaving like a so called normal person, because he chooses to behave like a jerk.  That is the job description he chose for himself in his relationship with you and – most probably – with other women also.  It’s not about you.  It’s about him.

“As regards his normality, you might find it easier to put him in some kind of context that makes sense to you, if you could tell yourself he’s NOT normal, but the chances are he is normal.  Being a jerk is not proof of abnormality, merely nastiness.  Some abusers are narcissists, and/or sociopaths, but most are not.  Most are merely immature bullies.”

But there’s rather more to your question than that, is there not?

The really important stuff is what is going on inside you…

So, let’s start somewhere near the beginning.  You’ve had a bruising, damaging relationship with someone with an impressive capacity for nasty, destructive behavior.

He started out wearing his: “Look at me, I’m Prince Charming” T-shirt – and you were wooed by the T shirt. He looked good in the T-shirt. He talked a good game.

He told you a story that was calculated to appeal to you.  Most likely he went for either:

a)  I’m a pretty sophisticated, successful, worldly person, with a lot going for me, and being around me adds kudos to you, or

b)  I’ve had a tough time (with women) and I need someone to love me, and help make me whole…

But he could have spun you an adroit combination of both themes:  e.g. I’m wonderful, and I’ve suffered at the hands of cruel people who didn’t recognise my true worth.

Together you created a fantasy of what your life could be like, with him playing a starring role in it.

Notice what happened here: you somehow consented to play second fiddle in your own life.

How did he do that?!! 

Somehow, from very early on, you agreed to be junior partner in the relationship, in return for his love and attention – and getting to stand on his rather lovely pedestal, every so often.

The Prince Charming T-shirt was taken off for laundering, and he never bothered to put it back on again.

Rather, he selected a very old, very grungy T-shirt with a fairly violent image on it, and he’s been wearing it ever since.  Night and day.

The Prince Charming T-shirt has been hanging in the wardrobe ever since – where you can see it, when you put his neatly ironed clothes away.  He may even take it out and try it on occasionally, just to remind you how cool he looks in it, and how attractive he can be…  But he certainly doesn’t feel the need to wear it around you any more.

It’s a great ploy on his part.  It makes you feel disregarded, and worthless.

Monsieur Grunge, as he now is, reminds you at regular intervals that he could do – and be – so much more, but why should he bother for you?

Now, the sensible reaction to that kind of approach is to say: “Okay, I understand you are a rude, rejecting pig of a man.  Thanks for sharing, and you need to know that I’m tired of sharing a sty with you.  I’m outta here.”

But feelings are not sensible things.  In fact, they are rather mouthy, attention-seeking, demanding things, with a decided penchant for co-dependency.  Feelings have their own – tiresome – agenda.

So what do they say?

The kind of thing they generally bleat includes:

  • “He can’t say that to me.”  (Absolutely wrong; he just did.”)
  • “How can he say that to me, when I…?”  (S-I-M-P-L-E. It’s NOT a problem for him. See above.)
  • He has to understand how I feel…” (No, he doesn’t.  You want him to, but that’s your  problem, not his.)
  • “I’ll keep on until I’m blue in the face to make him see…” (See if you can spot the causal link – I certainly can’t.  You can keep on, and he will surely see that you’re blue in the face.  But what else will he see?  He’ll see what he wants to see.  And the thing he wants to see is that he can have fun turning you blue in the face any time he likes.  That constitutes FUN in his book. Your point of view isn’t fun, and it isn’t interesting, from where he stands.  Being blue in the face won’t change that.  Period.) 

In short, your feelings are doing you no favors.  Actually, they are ‘doing your head in’.

Your feelings offer you a skewed vision of how his world works.  Your emotional truth has no place in his inner world.  It’s as simple as that.

Your feelings are telling you that – with enough pressure from you – his emotional world will work exactly the way you want it to.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary. 

If you could have changed him, you would’ve done so already.

If he had wanted to change, he would have done so, already.  He’s pretty good at organizing his world in a way that gives him the kind of pay-offs he wants.  Those pay-offs may be nasty and dysfunctional, but that doesn’t mean he has a problem with them.  Au contraire. 

You want to rewrite his reality, and his world, to suit your desires.

Now, I know that may be hard to take on board.  But, still, it is exactly what you want to do.

In the end, you know a lot more about loving, and living harmoniously than he does.  In terms of principles, and aspirations, you are on exactly the right track.

But with entirely the wrong person.

He has his feelings, aspirations, and desires, too.  They may be totally wrong – from your point of view – but they’re his, and only he can engage with them successfully.

Your feelings are telling you that you can change another person. Hmm!

Do you remember the old light bulb jokes? 

How many abused women do you think it would take to change an abusive man?

Answer: as yet, no woman has ever done it successfully. The abusive man is not broken.  He simply has no need, and no desire, to change.

Your feelings will tell you another story.  That’s okay.  They can live in Lala land if they want to.

But you can’t afford to.

And, BTW, you are not your feelings.  Your feelings are simply the noisiest, most attention-seeking, demanding part of you.  You are much more than your feelings.

Your abusive partner is what he is.

You are not yet all that you can be.

Turn your attention and love on yourself, and you will be massively rewarded.

And forget about the Prince Charming T shirt.  It’s so last season…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

darwin November 17, 2011 at 12:06 pm

When a woman asks “Why can’t he behave like a normal person” I am often reminded of a conversation with a man whom I confronted when it was obvious to others that he was not. His answer was as apathetic as his responsibility to his behavior.
“Because I can”.
I nearly choked when he said it, but it dawned on me that he was absolutely correct in his statement if not in his attitude.
He does it because he has absolutely no consequence to his behavior . The consequences are not his as long as there is someone else to be the more compassionate and sensitive to others to apologize in his stead, and then give him what he feels he deserves by virtue of loyalty.
It is a sad thing to find that a person who is most incapable of conducting themselves as an individual, but it is tragic that they will most likely gravitate to a person who is both superior to him in their ability to conduct themselves better in company and with more decency. Who better to be the emotional marionette than the one who can do the work of two while settling for the scraps?

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Heather November 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm

How apt is your last paragraph! Isn’t that exactly what happens? They find someone whose good qualities can be used to their advantage, at the detriment to the abused, who, as you say, does the work of two people and settles for scraps while ‘the frog’ sits back croaking to the world about how wonderful he is?

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Lexy November 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm

ladies, I couldn’t agree more with you. I often wonder why my partner is so abnormal, unreasonable and irrational. The truth of the mater is that unfortunately people can mistake kindness for weakness. In the beginning they test the waters and try to push boundaries, once they know they can over step the mark it become more frequent. The ultimate goal is to push until you have been defeated which is when the real liberties start, by this time you are shadow of your former self wondering how you got into this mess in the first place. There are no consequences for their actions as there is no one to reprimand them. These people have had the same problems in other relationships but because they are so arrogant, pompous and condescending it would never occur to them that they are the problem.

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Anne Loisel November 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Everything you said Annie is so true!!! Why do we settle for scraps!!! They really know how to pick us. They have radar for just the type of woman who will tolerate them. Its true why would they want to change? They always get away with their horrible behaviours and still have us women who still love them? Feelings are my big enemy. You are right they are big and noisy and so many of us let them destroy our life and let them take over our intelligence and commonsense. I cannot understand why its so hard to stop it all even when we know the complicated dynamics behind it all. I try so hard to fight my feelings but they always seem to win in the end and thus he wins. I feel now that I have more of a problem than he does? He does not even have a problem. He has me loving him and all his other women too now. He says he only loves me and only wants me. What a liar he is. He just wants lots of notches on his belt but I want to believe his lies so bad. I did not even know about other women when I left I left because his verbal abuse and a little physical abuse drove me out of my beautiful home on the lake. He has it made while I feel like I am dying of a broken heart most of the time. Its a horrible horrible situation.

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Holly November 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

Annie, Annie, Annie!! First of all, thank you, for what you do!! Secondly, I want to tell you that during the course of a toxic three and a half year relationship, your emails have always come at the exact moment I needed them. I always believed that they were a sign (from God) that I was in a doomed relationship and I needed to get out FAST. Unfortunately, I took the slow route out, but as of yesterday, the nightmare is over! And this morning, I recieved your most recent timely email. I want to share with you what I have gone thru and what you have been so instrumental in helping me and other women like me deal with. I am a 40 year old woman, and just yesterdayI got out of a 3 and a half year relationship with a narcissist.
Today, a day after the break up, I feel stronger than I did while in
this toxic relationship. He started off like all of them do: charming,
helpful, loving, fine as hello, and promises that he was not
“like all the others”. Unfortunately, this “boy” (whom I refuse to call a man) has a history of drug addiction & dealing & a criminal history.
Yes, I know, before you all get all “what did you expect” on me; please
understand that at the time that we met, he had supposedly changed his
life, had many years sober, accepted Christ, and was teaching other men
about the Lord and living a clean sober life. At first, it was wonderful! But the first red flag was raised only a month into the relationship. At the age of 43, he threw a temper tantrum better than a 3 year old could! It took me by surprise and shook me to the core because it was not the person that i met and it was over something so menial. shortly after that first incident, I would
see pieces of his mask begin to crumble over the course of the years we
were together. So began the process of humiliation, put downs, lies,grandiose
self-views, cursing and yelling, outburst of anger,pointing out my flaws
and expecting me not to respond, and gaslighting. Of course, we broke up and got together many other times like most toxic narcissistic based relationships do. But this time it’s different and the hell is finally over once and for all. Prior to our last “attempt to salvage our relationship”, he decided that he needed to “mold me”–his words–so that I would be suitable to have him as my boyfriend. He used to have a body that all women craved. (when I met him, he did, but now, his breast are competing with mine–of course, he still sees himself as the same muscular man he used to be.) When he met me and pursued me, I was not Barbie, and I am not Barbie now. But he persued me, none the less, of course stating that he “fell in love with me because I am a beautiful person”. I’m not Ms. USA but I am not about to be crowned the winner at a dog show neither! Anyway, with the desire to impress the boys on his job and in his family, he knew I had to improve. At this point, he wanted me to join exercise classes and he wanted to monitor what I ate. We live three hours away from each other, so, he did not have the physical ability to enforce his “molding”. But whenever he would call, he would ask me what I ate and if I lost weight. Here is where I knew for sure that I had to leave him finally for good: A week ago, we decided to spend vacation together. I should have been excited about going to see someone that I “loved”, but instead, I was terrified because I was felt that I would be under inspection once I went to his house and I would not have lost the weight he wanted me to lose. I have come to hate this man as much as I thought I loved him. Over the last two weeks, I uncovered an even deeper level of filth and deceit, as I found vulgar text messages that he was sending to his “ex” and I found that he was heavily involved in viewing porn on his new cell phone that he asked me to program—he is not as smart as he thinks he is. (He actually confessed to me that he had slept with this woman while she had a yeast infection!!! That is how sick and depraved this boy is!) In my discovery on his phone, I was able to get his “ex” telephone number without his knowledge. Not only did that fuel my desire to move on, but, when I was waiting for his daily morning phone call, my phone had alerted me that I had a message from him. Now, this was strange because 1. He doesnt ever leave messages (it is offensive to him that I can’t hear his voice in person) 2. My phone never rang! So, I listened to his message, and what happened is that I overheard him talking to one of his boys at the job and showing him a picture that his nasty ex sent to him. He said to the co-worker: “this is my puerto rican girl”. It wasn’t me–I’m african american. So, he sends me a text saying “what’s up”. I did not respond. So, he sent me another one saying: “you fell back to sleep”. I responded to this one saying: “yes, after I found out you have a puerto rican girl”. All hell broke lose because I had caught him in his lies and games and finally, the player got played and the queen trumped the joker! At that point, I was ugly, fat, useless, stupid, everything that this puerto rican girl was not. He told me that I should be concerned with losing weight because most guys do not find it attractive. I responded to that by letting him know that most women did not find angry men attractive. What is even sadder about this text exchange is that during the course of our argument–he had the nerve–the audacity—to refer to himself as Moses (yes, from the Bible–incidentelly, he watches the movie the 10 Commandments religiously–because he really identifies himself with Moses and the power Moses had) and he called me Pharoah!! I am still in shock and amazed that his mind is so messed up that he thinks that highly of himself. I keep thinking: this boy does not even have a high school diploma, a drivers license, has a criminal history, living in a room (but has the nerve to have a watch valued at $1000–oh, ask me how he got the money for that please), and a $10 and hour job. I’m supposed to believe he is Moses? For real? When we were on vacation, we went to the movies, and he got to micro drops of butter on his new Timberland boots, and he threw a fit. After the movie, he went to the bathroom just so that he could look in the mirror. And I am supposed to believe that HE IS MOSES. Oh, it gets sadder—he said to me that I don’t get it; and that by God’s help, HE would bounce back. Now, he is thinking that God is on his side and will condone the behavior he is displaying. (I am in full-time ministry, and been walking with the Lord longer than his so-called spiritual revelation, so, I doubt very highly that the Lord is overly pleased with his mockery of faith.) So, yesterday, was the culmination of it all and when he thought he had me backed in a corner, and went into one of his isolation and avoidance games, I told him that I would continue the conversation with his “ex” since he wouldnt speak to me. This caught him by surprise because in his estimation, I am stupid and being as “stupid” as he thought i was, he did not expect that I would actually play him at his own game. He did not know that I had her number. I MUST ADMIT, THAT WAS THE GREATEST NARCISSITIC INJURY I COULD CAUSE SOMEONE WHO IS NOT ABLE TO FEEL REMORSE!! Of course, this sent him into one of his infamous cursing raids, while I was able to remain calm and unaffected—more injury to his ego!! Today, I feel good. Yes, I hurt over lost time. Yes, I am kicking myself, a woman of God, for picking up a snake. Yes, a small part of me feel sorry for the trapped little boy. But, I feel that I can breathe and be myself once again. I believe that this is due to the fact, Annie, that your emails and articles always came on time! Thank you so much for what you are doing. You saved my life and my dignity. For as much as this little boy put me through, I have had to step back and do some soul searching and in doing so, I am better for it.

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Julie November 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm

So…………After 6 months with no contact I started seeing “the guy” again, with all my new found wisdom. 🙂 I have to say its enlightening, this new perspective. I can see the confusion on his face when the “old stuff” doesn’t work anymore. I have some distance I guess and while I can see him struggling with it, I still can’t see that even if he magically changed I would be happy with him. I ask myself why I want to put myself through it. I surely don’t feel the same way about him. I am not settling for scraps anymore so in that way it is healing, that I can be the strong person with him that I was and feel I am again. However it works out will be okay. I’m not worried or frantic, it feels peaceful. I know I’m okay.

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Pamela December 17, 2011 at 7:29 am

Temporarily, they do get away with their nasty behavior and abuse. It galls me to no end when I think of it. Eventually, the mask slips and the facade is exposed. The truth will always out. I can’t think of anyone who would put up with this forever- it is absolute hell! Therefore, they will end up old and alone. I have to believe in KARMA. Who deserves it more than someone who perpetuates abuse on other people????

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