Therapy

Men – The Good, The Bad and The Perfect

Monday, May 17, 2010

by Suzanne

As a peer mentor and Advocate for the mentally ill, I answer questions everyday about bad relationships. Most involve women suffering from Bipolar and/or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They lament about how every man they meet ends up being a big mistake or that after awhile they lose interest in them, wondering, “What did I ever see in him in the first place?” I can empathize. I had BPD during my teens through my thirties and without question, made my share of mistakes along the way. Part of the problem lies in our insecurities, poor self esteem, looking to make up for neglect or abuse from our parents. We’re not bad people looking to use guys, but sometimes we do without understanding why. How many of these relationships ring a bell?

 

Monday, May 17, 2010

by Suzanne
  

As a peer mentor and Advocate for the mentally ill, I answer questions everyday about bad relationships. Most involve women suffering from Bipolar and/or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They lament about how every man they meet ends up being a big mistake or that after awhile they lose interest in them, wondering, “What did I ever see in him in the first place?” I can empathize. I had BPD during my teens through my thirties and without question, made my share of mistakes along the way. Part of the problem lies in our insecurities, poor self esteem, looking to make up for neglect or abuse from our parents. We’re not bad people looking to use guys, but sometimes we do without understanding why. How many of these relationships ring a bell?

1) The Father Figure: A man to look up to, one we feel can guide us and help us find our way, someone to depend on to love us unconditionally and protect us from hurt
Problem: Men want a woman who is their equal, not a child. Sure it may make them feel good for a short while, however they eventually grow tired when we cling to them and end up smothering the relationship.

2) The Ego Booster: a decoration to keep by our side to prove to the world that we are beautiful, to make other women jealous, to prove we are desirable
Problem: Beauty comes from within. Using a man to show off makes us less attractive because we are not giving, we are only taking. Also, if he is that good looking, he’s probably more in love with himself than you. Just like you are using him, he is using you. A good looking woman walks by and you become yesterday’s news.

3) The Abuser: Don’t be fooled by his charm. This is a man that will hurt you in countless ways. He may beat you, insult and demean you, cheat on you, use you, blame you for everything, play games with your emotions, behave controlling or manipulative, may be possessive and irrationally jealous, self centered with an attitude of superiority. In general all women come across this type at least once in her life.
Problem: If you stay with him things will never get better. You CAN’T change him. This is a toxic and dangerous relationship. This isn’t the result of mental illness that can be cured with a pill, although that can certainly exacerbate his behavior. He was not brought up to respect or value women. If you stay with him you are either punishing yourself over shame or lack of self esteem or reliving abuse you received as a child. It is most important to realize that this type of man will control you, making it difficult to leave.

4) The Escape: We think we are in love and want to marry as quickly as possible to escape our families, our circumstances, emotional problems or loneliness. Teens view it as a way to escape school and feel grown up.
Problem: If you don’t resolve your problems, they stay with you. AS Carl Jung quoted, “What you resist – persists.” If you do enter a marriage for this reason it is doomed to fail because you are carrying all that baggage with you and it will not be long before you are trying to escape him too.

5) The Punching Bag: He may be very caring, sweet and sincere but we take out all our anger for past hurts, abuses and so on because he is a man. We use them, abuse them and dump them so we can feel we are in control for a change. It can be payback for all those times we were dumped.
Problem: Unless you are entirely heartless or a sociopath, you will recognize you have hurt an innocent victim. This only serves to make you feel guilty. You need to deal with those inner demons and get help. Find a therapist to talk to. Taking your frustrations out on someone else may make you feel better for a moment but in the long run, you will only feel worse.

6) The Sugar Daddy: You want him for only one thing – his money. If you don’t have much of your own, he is your ticket to dinners, gifts, and entertainment
Problem: You are using each other in an unhealthy way. You are on the take while he shows affection through materialistic ways – very artificial. Giving is his way of displaying how much he is worth. It’s not what is in his wallet that counts; it’s what is in his heart. If he’s not willing to share that, you’ve got nothing.

7) Better than Nothing: He is your side kick. He may not be interesting, he may not have feelings for you but it’s better than sitting home on a Saturday night
Problem: This can get old quickly and once again leaves you feeling as though you are settling for leftovers, while leading someone one unfairly. Everyone deserves to be loved and respected. If you can’t offer that, do the kind thing and move on before you do too much damage.

8) The Other Woman’s Man: Would you want this done to you? This is the height of competitiveness and revenge. You are no more than a thief and he is your trophy.
Problem: If he is unfaithful to his girlfriend or wife he sure as heck isn’t going to be faithful to you. If you are out to hurt her – walk away and keep your hands off her man. In the end you will feel much better about yourself. This is a no win situation for everyone involved.

9) The Sperm Donor: You have sex with him in hopes of having a baby, something to love you, something to need you or maybe you think this will entrap him into a relationship.
Problem: Don’t expect him to hang around once you have manipulated him into a situation that he was probably not looking for. Think ahead – are you ready to be a single mother? How do you explain to your child who his or her father is and why he is not around. If you need unconditional love – get yourself a puppy.

Better choices for relationships include:

1) The Male Buddy: It is possibly to be “just friends” and share feelings, interests, fun and support each other. It’s mutual and rewarding.
Payoff: If neither of you have expectations for the relationship to grow, nothing lost, but a lot gained. He can give you a male perspective on MEN! And you never know – friendships can sometimes blossom into love.

2) The Hook Up: As long as you are both on the same wave length, not looking for a relationship, playing it safe using protection, you can offer each other mutual gratification. Just be careful not to allow the intimacy to leave you looking for more. He may not be interested
Payoff: For men and women alike, some of us are just too busy with work and other activities to become involved with someone. Some are just not emotionally ready to settle down. As long as you keep clear lines of communication open, have predetermined boundaries and don’t make romantic gestures, this can be a great way to relieve stress, blow off some steam and fill in during dry spells. This type of relationship is not recommended for teens. It does require a certain amount of emotional maturity.

3) Finally, the piéce de resistance is Mr. Right. He accepts you and you accept him “as is” warts and bad habits included. You complete each other. Like the Ying and Yang in Eastern beliefs, you are similar and mirror each other and yet, there are parts that are opposing; still these fit together like two pieces of mitered wood. You are attracted more on a spiritual level than simply physical (a mistake far too many young couples make – letting their hormones make all the decisions). You feel as though you’ve known each other a lifetime. You grow independently, never overshadowing the other. You are willing to face poverty, illness, bad times and still hang in there for the blessings that come with the willingness to work hard to protect your relationship. He may be hard to find but eventually your paths cross. My husband’s Aunt did not meet Mr. Right and get married until she was 86. He was 90. Sadly, he passed recently at age 100.

One quote I saw recently is “What couples don’t seem to understand is the good, sometimes comes after the bad.” My husband and I have been together after 28 years. We have found the relationship constantly evolves. What began with fiery passion has simmered into a deeper, friendship and love for each other. We’ve been to hell and back with each other, but never once thought of giving up. That’s the stuff that soul mates are made of.

You’ll know it’s true love when you can be yourself. Even the darkest sides of you or him are met with compassion. You are willing to weather every storm as a team. You base the relationship on total honesty, openness with no secrets. You forgive, forget and make up, growing strong with each struggle. You support each other’s goals, dreams and wishes even if they do not include you. You maintain your individuality. You’re always ready to compromise. And you learn something new about each other every day, even when you are old and grey.

May you all find Mr. Right.

Read about my story 3 generations of mental illness, and my journey from BPD/DID to healing at:
 Suzanne’s Mindscape

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