Ask Dr. Nerdlove

Who’s Abusing Whom?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE:  My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 7 years, and everything was great at first until she started having troubles at home.

I tried to help her but she refused help from me, saying that she could take care of it herself. She started confiding in a new friend she had made in school instead of talking to me. She eventually ended up cheating on me after our engagement and forced me to stay, saying that she needed the both of us to help her get through her problems.

She eventually started using me as a way to let out her anger and then she realized that he was only in it for the physical side of the relationship. After I had gotten the courage to leave her, she convinced me to come back and it seemed that she was back to normal. Then after I started showing suspicion of her actions again a year later, we started arguing a lot and she eventually forced me to let her cheat on me again, and even tried to force me into an unwanted sexual situation. I regrettably left her after that, but she wouldn’t let me move on and still kept using me for her anger. Its two years later, and I have fallen into a rather bad depression, been professionally diagnosed with emotional PTSD, and went through two instances of her cheating on me online.

I’m constantly on edge with her and she never comes to visit me anymore. She even told me she would rather spend time with her neighbor, her son, and her polyamorous mother’s boyfriend and his friends than me, but she still keeps me around for random moments of talking and telling me about her problems. She tells me that she loves me but I don’t know whether to believe her and I’m always suspicious of her. She said that her cheating was a combination of mine and her abusive step father; but mostly my fault for “being too controlling and demanding of her” when all I did was try and spend as much time with her and take an interest in what all she liked to do.

I admit that I would get angry because some of her actions, and I easily get jealous of the guys she talks to. But I never yelled at her or hurt her. I eventually stopped telling her about my problems and tried to just focus on her but now she says that I’m difficult to talk to and that I don’t seem like my old self.

When I explain why after she pesters me about it, she gets angry and says I need to quit doubting her and she isn’t cheating and what happened is my fault.

What should I do? I love her more than anything but I don’t know what to think anymore.

Lost In A Fog

DEAR LOST IN A FOG: Dude. DUDE. You know what you need to do:

You need to get the hell out of this relationship. Not just leave, but run like all of Hell and half of Hoboken were after you.

I’m not going to mince words here: you’re being abused. This whole “it’s all your fault I cheated on you, so why can’t you trust me” business is what’s known as gaslighting; she’s telling you that you’re the real villain here while she abuses you. It’s the same logic of “I only hit you because you make me so mad” – she’s telling you that it’s your fault that you’re being abused. Getting angry and jealous (though let’s be fair, it’s not exactly without cause) ain’t a good look but it’s also not an excuse for someone to abuse you either.

I’m entirely unsurprised that things were good for a while after she convinced you to come back. This – as with many cases – is something abusers do. They lovebomb their victims to get them to come back and stay, under the idea that things will be better now. And yet, like clockwork, the abuse starts again.

So, once again, for the back row: you are being abused. It is NOT your fault. GET OUT OF THIS RELATIONSHIP. NOW.

Leave her. Take the full nuclear option and cut off all contact. Delete and block her number. Block her on every social media service you’re on. Have no contact with her ever again. Tell your friends not to give her access to you. If she comes to you in person, refuse to talk to her. Cut her out of your life like the cancer she is and never talk to her again.

And just one more time to drive the point home: 

She is ABUSING you.

It is NOT your fault. 

I would also suggest that you might want to talk to a therapist, especially someone who specializes in victims of emotional abuse. If you’re not still in contact with the therapist who diagnosed your PTSD, then you might want to try going to the website for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists; they have a referral directory that can help you find a sex-positive therapist in your area.

Good luck, LIAF. And write back to let us know how you’re doing.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE:  So my dilema is this: I’m a 20 year old who is relatively inexperienced in the dating scene. I only managed to gather the courage to ask a girl out last year and that was unsuccessful.

I’m a relatively shy person to begin with but I managed. After that, I decided to try my luck with online dating. I messaged this girl and we hit it off. Eventually I messaged her my number since she usually takes a anywhere from a day to a week to respond on this dating site. She messages me afterwards around 1am (probably insignificant). We’ve been texting on and off for a little bit (Probably 20 texts in November and not including December or January since she was out of the country. We have a lot in common and I genuinely feel there could be potential here. I decided to see if she was still interested after the 2-month gap; so I messaged her, started a conversation (went well, humor and what not) and proceeded to seeing if she was interested in meeting up. She said “Yeah, Sure!” She mentioned that she works everyday (potential red flag) but possibly sometime after work or something! Now, when I asked her out (Thursday) to see if she wanted to meet up on Saturday, she mentioned she had plans with her sister( she got specific), which was understandable since it was short notice. So I decide to ask her when she’s free. That was on the 7th. Haven’t heard from her since.

So my question is, do i just wait or forget about her completely given her lack of response (she mentioned she was going abroad in March). I’m probably overanalyzing the hell out of this. I’ve just never made it this far so it’s sort of uncharted territory for me. So what should I do next?

Also, I’m really interested in getting into the dating scene and breaking out my introvert shell, but still have no clue where to start. I’d go to a bar but I’m in that limbo stage where Im old enough to go out but not old enough to drink. I just want to become more social overall with people outside of my group of friends currently. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Giving up The Ghost

DEAR GIVING UP THE GHOST:

First of all, GUTG, congratulations on asking somebody out! It’s a shame that it didn’t work out but come on man, that takes guts! You should be proud of yourself for taking that step in the first place!

Now, with your friend… I hate to say it, but I think their interest waned. As a general rule, the best practice for meeting people on dating sites is to meet up in person as soon as you can. It’s very easy to lose emotional momentum when you’re talking to someone on a dating site. The longer you go from that initial connection, the more that excitement tends to fade. If you dig someone and they seem to dig you, then see about setting up a pre-date date. Get some coffee, play some boardgames and see if the chemistry you have over email and texting.

As for what to do with the situation as it stands? I’d say give it one more text  and see if she’s available on a specific day – not a “let’s hang out some time” but “Hey, I need coffee and could use some company. Why don’t you join me?” or “There’s this event at $PLACE happening at $DAY_AND_TIME, and think you’d enjoy it. Would you like to go with me?” and see what she says.

If you get radio silence or a vague “I’ll have to see”, then you have your answer: she’s not interested. And if it’s just that she has other things keeping her busy… well, ball’s in her court now. Up to her what to do with it.

And the best advice I have for being more social is to go out and just practice being more social. Find some activities going on in your town that you’d like to do and go participate. Pick things you really enjoy, so that you’ll feel more comfortable there even if you don’t talk to a lot of people. You don’t need to be Mr. Super Outgoing; in fact, I’d suggest baby steps at first. But getting some practice in working on any shyness or social anxiety you may have is going to serve you well in becoming a more social person overall.

Good luck.

Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, doc@doctornerdlove.com)

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