All of us have connection stories to talk about, some good, some awful. In my book, Manimals, coming out soon, one of the things I discuss is why we choose the wrong mate. This story comes now from one of my loyal readers, Susannah.Susannah’s Story
My story begins longer ago than I want to admit — 36 decades back, when I was a sophomore in high school. I had a little group of friends — 3 girls and 3 guys with some on the periphery. The woman across the street, we will call her Amy, was dating one of the men on the periphery, and one day, right before we went, they broke up.I was attracted to him like a fly into a pile of…well, you know what. I was seriously lacking in confidence for reasons too many to go into here. Suffice it to say I had little confidence. Like most 16 year olds, I had little idea about what I believed in, what I wanted from life, or anything else for that matter. He was handsome, a tiny goof-off, but not too bad, smart and he worked out. Hubba hubba.I will sum up our high school dating years by stating that we dated from that day at the bowling alley through to graduation, with a brief break in our senior year. Major mistake, looking back, but I because I had no confidence, I believed that no other man would ever want to date me, so I hung onto him and fought hard for him when he chose to date Karen, then Diane. Finally, I”won”, or at least I thought so back then-what I actually did was board the train to connection failure. My parents hated my relationship him, their feelings were not any great secret.We went to different schools, but they were just about 45 minutes away from each other, so we still saw one another quite a bit. On Christmas of the freshman year of college, we were engaged. By the following December, we were welcoming our first daughter to the world — married somewhere in between. Our son was born two years later, immediately before my husband graduated from school.Our marriage survived for 12 years prior to the divorce which was unavoidable came about. By then, we had three brothers and a son, ranging in age from 2 to 11. I knew I was miserable, but I had no idea how miserable I’d become.What ultimately broke up us was that, during the prior 4 decades or so, I had begun volunteering in the private school our kids attended. I developed friendships, hobbies and a feeling of self-worth. Since he had none, and had lived on being the controlling force in our relationship, me gaining confidence simply didn’t make things work anymore.Looking back on it, it isn’t hard to dissect why we failed. I didn’t understand myself — whatsoever, and neither did he. We lacked confidence in a big way, and had many problems to deal with — things we ought to have dealt with before jumping into a relationship.Ken really does not fall into one of the ten types of guys I included in Manimals. If I had to tag him, I would say he fits into a class known as the Control Freak. The Control Freak can be described as somebody who feels just he can do something the right way. He issues constructive criticism, believing he is helping, when of course, he is not. The truth behind a control freak is that he’s experiencing a case of anxiety. In the mind of a control freak are what I predict ultimate doom thoughts:If this job does not get done in just 15 minutes, I will get fired
If I’m not home to play with my children, they will hate me
If I do not get a lift, we won’t be able to afford to live
He believes that if you can just change a couple of things on your own, he would be more happy; the control freak therefore takes it upon himself to help you make those adjustments;
he doesn’t think in imperfection, so he micromanages you to be certain you’re perfectly executing all facets of your life;
He frees you with silence — with this as a tool to alter your behaviour when he feels that you’re behaving in a wrong manner; this is known as passive aggressive behaviour;
He offers constructive criticism as a way of attempting to modify your behaviour, when actually, his schedule is foremost in his thoughts;
He tries to control your impression of him by altering what he believes in or who he’s to fit what they believe you want:Can I enjoy horror films? Sure I do — oh, you do not — yeah, I think they’re helpless too;
He uses something called fear mongering to dissuade you from doing things you want to do — he presents a worst-case situation and expects it influences your choice:You know, if you do this job, you won’t be home for the children and they’ll begin hating you;
He wants to understand everything, ambiguity is the worst nightmare of a control freak — if you’re going into the supermarket, he would like to see your list, estimate how long you’ll be gone and your journey time, and will expect you to be back in precisely the moment he’s calculated; anything else will cause him to pop a cork — incidentally, he will come and go as he pleases;
He assists you by intervening in situations, attempting to describe behaviors of yours which he perceives to be unacceptable.
The control freak is kind of an odd name for this sort of individual who, in fact, feels that he has very little control over his life. He lives in fear of someone discovering that he’s somewhat less than ideal, and utilizes the aforementioned tactics to ensure this does not happen.The Rest of Susannah’s Story
When you’re in the somewhat less-than-capable hands of a control freak, you probably don’t know it, but others around you do. My ex-husband had difficulty controlling anger. He never hit among our kids, or me, but he utilized psychological abuse as a weapon — and it’s every bit as bad as physical abuse. My parents watched it — everyone around us saw it, everybody except me, that is.I’ve been divorced from him today for 20 years. It took me several years to really gain the confidence I needed to proceed in life. Meanwhile, I continued to select the wrong guys to be about, but I have not remarried. I will, some day. I finally feel that I am ready to make a fantastic choice!
Now it is your turn to talk about your stories of guys you’ve dated in the comments below. Feel free to change names if you feel it is needed. We would like to hear your tales of woe — or achievement!–A version of the post was previously published on WhoHoldsTheCardSnow and is republished here with permission from the author. —
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