Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dismaying Story #128: Leaving in the Middle of the Night

Dear Andrew,

I am an educated woman, self supporting, and trying to straighten out debt that my late husband left me. As an artist, my personality is very laid back. I have never had any problem attracting men. I grew up in a household with all males, do not take myself seriously, and travel quite extensively.

After my husband passed away I was pursued by a man quite a few years my senior. He runs a successful business, is very comfortable financially, and has been divorced twice.

We dated for several months. He continuously mentioned his financial status to me and made me feel judged in comparison with all of the women who came before.

We recently took a trip to Mexico. He asked a local elderly man how much the man would pay for me. I was mortified but he thought it was funny. Then when I tried to explain to him why his cell phone stayed on roam and was out of network, he blatantly informed me that I was a know-it-all. He walked away from me and ignored me for the rest of the evening.

I decided I could no longer take this rude person. After he fell asleep, I silently packed, checked into a hotel, booked another air carrier, and returned home.

Since then I have received several emails from him. He commented that all artists have mental problems, diagnosing me as bipolar, as well as insisting that I am a terrible mother and a loser. I had to rent a car since my car was left in his garage. I was only able to retrieve it by threatening to report it as stolen.

I did not love this man. Perhaps I could have, but I don't understand his sick humor, his judging me. I am totally confused, as this man told me he loved me.

Is this what is out there? Can you explain this nightmare? Was I wrong to just leave after his humiliating jokes at my expense? I would so appreciate if someone could shed some light onto this personality.

Signed, Humiliated

Dear Humiliated,

I am always limited in understanding situations like this because I can react only to one point of view. There are usually two sides to most stories, which is why couples counseling works best when both partners take part. In this case I don’t know his side of the story.

The facts in your letter, however, make it plain that this man can certainly be insensitive. Offering to sell you to a stranger is a joke that an adolescent might consider funny, but I would expect most mature men to be more respectful of their companions. The derogatory emails are also low-class to me. Clearly your relationship was in trouble at that point, or even completely over. In neither case is insulting you a productive or respectful thing to do.

Were you wrong to just leave? I don’t think so. The more courteous thing for you to do would be to tell him you were leaving and give him a chance to talk with you about it. On the other hand, his rudeness did not earn him much in the way of courtesy from you.

Perhaps you felt that confronting him would be threatening to you, that he might be abusive. Or perhaps you felt there would be little point to the conversation, given that he was unlikely to be repentant or anxious to make up. In a situation where you feel threatened, you have every right to protect yourself, even if that means leaving without explanation.

Is this what there is out there? In other words, are all men rude and insensitive? Of course not. I believe such folks are the exception rather than the norm, but I can understand why your experience might tempt you to think otherwise. I think the underlying subtext to your question is: “Is this the type of man I can expect to attract?” This one is a little tougher, because your own behavior can influence the type of men who are most attracted to you. If you project a meek image, this might appeal to men who are threatened by confident women, or men who tend to play a dominant role in their relationships. On the other hand, acting friendly and quietly confident may attract men who are comfortable dealing with that type of personality and who respond in kind. Of course many relationships run counter to this thinking, but I have seen this sort of dynamic happen time and time again.

In other words, you can influence who is attracted to you by how you interact with the world.

You have already spent more time worrying about this man than he deserves. He treated you poorly and has not earned your attention. Write him off as a failed experiment and move on.

I don’t know enough about him or the situation to speculate on why he behaved as he did, but it doesn’t make any difference to you now. You are out of the relationship and should stay out.

Most importantly, don’t allow his boorish behavior to change how you react to the next guy who comes along. Try to enter the next relationship with an open mind and a positive attitude. That way you will be doing all you can to increase your chances of finding Mr. Right, or Mr. Fun-to-spend-time-with, or whomever you may hope to find.

Good luck!

All the best,

Last week I mentioned that I was scheduled to be interviewed live on a nationally-syndicated radio program. The interview took place last Saturday and I have to say ... it was a blast! I truly enjoyed talking with Darla Shine and she has invited me to be a regular on her program, which is moving to a Monday-to Friday format on Top-20 stations in the Fall. If you missed the interview, you can find the archived audio file here. Click on the August 2 show. My interview takes place about three-quarters of the way through the two-hour audio file.


  1. Humilated,
    The man ios a total jerk. Andrew dissected it well. It's hard to find a good man, but you only want one. You did the right thing to walk away. Don't respond to his nasty e-mails, or take them to heart. He didn't deserve you, and certainly doesn't now. Amna's actions have to back up his words before the sentence 'I love you' can be relied on...
    Unser helpful folks on Andrew's sidebar, there is also a website called Baggage Reclaim you may want to check out. NML addreeses a lot of situations like yours where a man pursues and then is disrespectful.
    Hope you feel better soon. Don't let one bad apple spoil the bunch !

  2. My alarm bells would have been screaming pretty loud as well!

  3. Hiiiiiiiiii Andrew! Congrats on the new radio spot!!! That is SO exciting! Who'da ever thought it? Huh?

    I think you handled this letter well - of course, you always do! In this case I don't think we really NEED his side of the story because it really isn't about how he MEANT it -- it's really about how she perceived it. They aren't married... and she sounds like she wasn't really "serious" about this relationship all along. Sounds like there were red flags that were sort of keeping her at bay. The trip away was just the last straw... and she got out and made a clean break! BRAVO! NOW... as you said... it's a matter of not letting THIS relationship jade her towards the next. Not all men are THIS man.

  4. PS - Congrat on going on air - I will go over to the link and see if I can find you - wonder if we can get the station in Florida?

  5. It is apparent to me that this man likes to control how people feel about themselves. If he could keep you off-balance emotionally, he had a better chance of keeping you (or so he thought). When you didn't play by the rules, he got angry and punished you by continuing to try and exert control over your emotions from a distance. I'll lay odds if you compare notes with his two ex-wives, you'll find they tell similar stories.

    As Andrew said, you've already wasted far too much of your precious emotional energy on this man.

    Let him be someone else's problem. You take care of yourself. You deserve far, far better.

  6. A man who would ridicule a woman or embarrass her in that way in public could be capable of something more physically harmful. I'm not saying he'd hurt her necessarily, but leaving in the middle of the night is, in my opinion, the only option. Disengaging from the abusive behavior is the only way. I hope she never answered those text messages. People like him enjoy getting locked in the argument, and it would have continued the cycle.

    She was smart to leave. He's projecting his own problems onto others instead of owning up to the fact that he lacks social skills and tact.