Update to why people date others who treat them bad

You remember this post, where I lamented about why a woman would date a guy who meticulously destroyed her life? I talked to her this week. She finally got the guy out of her life, but it wasn’t easy.

I was intentionally vague about details, I don’t want anyone to be able to identify this lady (Let’s call her Lady and the asshole we’ll simply call Asshole). What she endured is awful enough already. I got some mail from readers who sympathized, some offered useful advice, it also generated a wee bit of hate mail in which I was the bad guy in one way or another. Judging by that, I’ll stand by the decision to keep things vague. Asshole was basically a black-hole, emotionally and financially. I’ve known Lady since grade school, she’s not the kind of person who used to put up with this shit, not even close, that’s part of why her friends and family stumbled around and didn’t know how to handle it or help her. I don’t know if we could have.

Asshole was the classic predator. He separated her from people who genuinely cared about her, a practice I’m told is common among these kinds of pricks. It leaves the person less able to cope with any games the predator plays, easier to manipulate, more in their power. At one point Lady lost her home, thanks in large part to Asshole who preyed on her to the point of wiping out her savings while helping to get her fired. So, as a consequence, Lady ended up storing some stuff on Asshole’s property. At some point during the summer she happened to get into that stuff, and it looked good superficially, but she was looking for something in particular, dug into it, and soon realized a bunch of it was missing. She confronted Asshole who pulled his usual power play of threatening to never talk to her again, threatened they were “over” if she accused him of being a thief, he would never do anything like that, yada yada yada.

But of course Asshole could not tell her where the stuff was nor could he conjure it up, and she kept pushing, this stuff was important to her. Until she got to the bottom of some of it — you probably guessed already, Asshole had presumably been selling her stuff off and clumsily concealing it. Once she started looking in depth, it was obvious, a bunch of it was gone, I guess that finally sent her over the top. Lady went to the police. At which point I infer she learned she was nowhere near his first and only victim.

Once the cops were involved, contact between the two of them was cut off — she no longer had a choice — and at first she was almost suicidally depressed. But over the next few weeks, free from his influence and excuses and power plays, Asshole’s various schemes and stories caved in on themselves. I can’t go into more detail other than to say it’s ugly, it sounds like he’s in real legal trouble, the kind he won’t be able to talk his way out of.

The more I think about it, the more this resembles a drug or gambling addiction. Just like that kind of dependence, even if serious psychological help had been available or sought, it might not have helped anymore than it does when its forced on an alcoholic who’s just pretending help is wanted to keep friends and family at bay and the liquor flowing. If she hadn’t gotten so temporarily pissed off that the cops were brought in she might still be completely under that spell to this day.


  1. No One says

    Steve, I’ve seen this played out more than once in my life, including tattoos with the assholes name, “photos” on the internet, and allowing the lady to drive off after he clandestinely drugged her food (she got pulled over by the police), and having the ladies mail forwarded to his mailbox. Your friend is lucky to escape with her life.

  2. leftwingfox says

    There certainly seems to be a near-universal tendency. I’ve seen a number of cases on the Captain Awkward advice blog where people who considered themselves strong capable and independent refused to accept they were in an obviously abusive relationship because they felt that couldn’t happen to them because they were strong, capable and independent.

    I think we see this with self-proclaimed rationalists and skeptics when confronted with the react that they might have accepted something gullibly, those so-called skeptics who suddenly become denialists in the face of evidence for AGW, or swallow flawed pseudo-scientific evidence for racist/sexist ideals.

    It’s part of the narrative danger of prevention: We can behave in ways with reduce the chance of negative outcomes, but it is impossible to prevent those outcomes from happening with 100% certainty. Belief that prevention is perfect results in victim blaming.

    We’re human. We make mistakes. Our brains aren’t always rational or perfect. Even strong people can fall for a charismatic abuser, even careful people can be raped, even smart people can make mistakes.

    Best wishes to Lady. I’m relieved she got out alive.

  3. magistramarla says

    Yup, I also saw it with my very headstrong daughter, which surprised me.
    The asshole wasn’t too bad until after she had a baby with him.
    Then he moved them far from her friends and family, but close to his.
    She wouldn’t have had a phone, but we put her back on her plan so that she would.
    She had no car, so she was stuck in the apartment 24/7. Her dying grandmother gave her the car that she could no longer drive.
    Our family rescued her and the baby, but then there was a huge custody battle, so she went back to the asshole for her son’s sake.
    She jumped at the chance when he was offered a job in Colorado, where she wanted to live. After a bit of planning, and finding some good friends there, she finally escaped for good.
    When she tried to file her taxes, she discovered that the asshole (a financial adviser) had pulled some shady deals with filing their taxes and the IRS was charging her. It took her a while to get that straightened out. We’re still hoping that the IRS hammers him.
    Unfortunately, she still has to deal with her asshole, since he has joint custody. We hope that in a few years the boy will get tired of dealing with the authoritarian asshole and will choose to live with Mom and her soon-to-be hubby, who treats them both much better.

  4. says

    One of the things that pisses me off the most about these assholes, I am always seemingly paying for them. Pretty much every girl I’ve gone out with since college, there’s always some asshole in her recent past who is stalking her, or an ex husband putting up obstacles in her at every turn to screw up her life, or some asshole like the Asshole above who is sucking the life out of her. And guys like me end up paying for these little babies in one way or another every time.

  5. magistramarla says

    You are very right, but I’m so glad that my daughter found a good guy like you. She’s a strong woman on her own, but I’m happy that she’s found someone who will help her bear the burdens that the asshole has heaped upon her. I’m also glad that he is someone who has helped her to regain her self-esteem and is willing to be a great male role model for my grandson, who desperately needs that.
    Relationships seem to be tough to find and to maintain for young people these days. I hope that you can find a lovely lady who will be your equal partner and will appreciate you for being you.

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