Putting Women on Pedestals: Don’t Do It

The following article by Paul Elam was read and discussed on the Get Her Off That Pedestal! broadcast of the Man Woman Truth radio program.

Many years ago in a previous married life, I once participated in the now splendidly American ritual of taking a doomed marriage to therapy. Our stay was brief, like a car careening through a ditch on its way to hitting the base of a bridge.

At one point the therapist, a really intelligent but sadly brainwashed woman of about 40 years, turned to me and said, “Paul, it’s pretty clear you don’t trust women.” She said it like she was reading out a conviction for the jury.

“There’s some truth to that,” I said. “But then again, women don’t trust women, either. So why should I?”

Our kindly, bright therapist looked completely nonplussed. Her mouth moved like a guppy trying to suck water, but not a sound came out. It was pretty comical, actually.

If you’re a red pill guy you are going to recognize this situation. It’s another one of those moments when you have to tell someone you don’t fit the sitcom stereotype of some guy that shows up with his hat in his hands for being male. You’re not Raymond, and you don’t care if everybody loves you.

That is unbelievably hard for a whole lot of men, those we call blue pillers. Most of these men do not have the awareness or skills to do themselves a lot of good at this stuff.  I have seen it plenty of times, in the course of providing mental health services, in friends and relatives, and in myself. I can still see it in myself if I am not careful.

Generally speaking, men are by nature very unskilled at holding their own on an intrapersonal and emotional level with women. We have heard 50 years of drill about male power, patriarchy, and how those translate into an oppressive culture of dominated women.

My experience in studying human behavior for 25 years, particularly that of the sexes, paints me a very different picture. It’s a picture of a distinct majority of men that lack the facility to hold their own emotionally with women. They fumble for words, get quiet, or try not to say anything because they can’t out argue her. They often appear totally helpless.

If that sounds like unfair stereotyping of men, you have my understanding, but not a retraction. I stand by my admittedly unscientific opinion.

The important question here is why. Why do men, often very intelligent, accomplished and reasonable men, become either the class dunce, or in a smaller amount of cases, destructively angry, when they try to negotiate the complicated emotional landscape of life with a woman?

If most of these men were engaged in some sort of conflict with one of their male friends, they would be summoning all their logic and lining up their facts and not backing down from anything. How and why do they get so incompetent, even oafish, when it comes to a conflict with their wives or girlfriends?

The answer is Pedestal Power. This is what happens when you engage in conflict with someone who gets to play by different rules, who can’t be held accountable, and who will work hard to make you suffer if you win. This is how people on a pedestal operate.

But, of course, they only have power over people that put them on the pedestal to begin with.

We could engage in an exhausting discussion about why so many men are this way. But it would never get anywhere and wouldn’t mean much if we found the reason anyway. Call it biology, socialization, sociobiology or a government conspiracy, there are not very many men that can bring themselves to hold women to the same expectations and standards they do with men, and few that could do it well if they knew enough to try. Almost all men have the woman they are involved with on that kind of pedestal. And nothing good can ever come from it. When you are on a pedestal, the only place to go is down.

The answer, of course, is that if those men ever want to escape the pressure and stress of being a sitting duck during conflict, the pedestal has to go. The trick is in how you do it.

I think the mistake most men make when trying to depedestalize a woman is that they try to knock her off the pedestal out of frustration, when they would likely do better to invite her to step down and join the real world. The emotionally aggressive reaction of men to feeling powerless against a rigged game is more than understandable; it’s just not helpful. Actually, it is powerlessness personified. That strong reaction is because they still have her pedestalized; they are still seeing her as the one on a throne. They expect for some reason that she will volunteer to step down to earth out of some sense of decency or love. They expect a lot of things.

These men have a very hard time figuring out that she really only needs to come off that pedestal in their own minds.

A guy like this doesn’t need to make it clear to his woman that she needs to come down a few notches. He needs to make it clear to himself, and he is likely blind to that. Perhaps hopelessly.

If he is one of the few that can do it, though, the game changes. Indeed, it quits being a game and starts to resemble an honest, even if troubled, relationship. All a man has to do is decide that he does not do pedestals, for any person, for any reason, and he, of course, has to follow through.

If he does that a troubled but honest relationship might have a better chance at working. Even if it doesn’t, the guy is a lot more likely to leave on his feet and do better in the next relationship because he is prepared to see a woman be unhappy, even pissed off at him, but not prepared to even acknowledge her problems unless she is reasonable and mature. It doesn’t matter if he really screwed up or if she is out of line from the start, she still has to wear her big girl britches.

Just like with anyone else in the world, “Come back and see me when you can be reasonable,” is a perfectly constructive and rational response to a partner who is out of control emotionally, and it is what you would expect to say to someone who was your equal. Men who think it is out of the question to expect emotional maturity from women are the ones with the most trouble wrapping their minds around this.

And this is exactly what this is all about; treating yourself and your partner as equals. With that in mind, here’s a quick list of what equals don’t get to do. Keep in mind I am assuming you are pretty much average and try to do the right thing in your relationships. On the outside chance you’re a dick, none of this will help much.

Your equal doesn’t get to demand spot answers and stand there with her toe tapping, waiting for an answer. When you see her as an equal, that sort of behavior looks pathetic. You reject being treated like a bad kid in the principal’s office.

Your equal doesn’t get to ask you a question, and then refuse to actually listen to and consider your answer. She has to try to have at least some awareness that two people are involved.

Your equal has to be accountable for their mistakes, just like you do. “I’m sorry, but you made me,” is NOT accountable. Trying to reason with someone who is blaming you for their own mistakes is a guaranteed waste of energy. Don’t do it. Disengage and refuse them an audience until they pull themselves together. Til they “woman up,” if you will.

Your equal can’t dole out treatment that she won’t put up with herself. You have the high ground when expecting her to not be hypocritical and to reciprocate the accountability and fairness you bring to the table. If you retreat from that, it is because you propped up her pedestal with your failed integrity.

Your equal can’t expect you to entertain any of her concerns unless she is bringing them to you as an adult with agency, accountability and in a genuine search for a solution. You know the difference between that and someone just mad and venting, don’t you? Well, do your business with the grown up and tell the little girl to respectfully go take a hike. If she has been successful in getting you to lose your cool, this is a change you can make to stop that from happening.

People who summarily and immediately reject communication with someone throwing a tantrum usually have far fewer reasons to boil over. It is simple math.

But if you listen to a ranting child, and try to solve whatever her problem is, and then it blows up in your face, then you need to get real. You are fully responsible for creating that monster in your life.

Now, I am not an expert on how to make a relationship work. I am pretty sure that no one is. But if I had to guess at what would give two people a fighting chance to find any semblance of peaceful, mutual respect for the long haul, it would start with the assumption that it is easier with two grown-ups on a level playing field. I also know for a fact that level and pedestal don’t fit under the same roof.

This is why I think it is very important that we teach our sons the dangers of allowing themselves to be inhibited in their conflicts with women. Boys really need parental figures of both sexes to sit them down and tell them that women are supposed to be fair and reasonable, and when they are not they should be called to account; not by trying to change them, but by ignoring them till they figure out how to change themselves. If they are interested in staying, they will learn. If not, it is no great loss. But of course, if you have them on a pedestal, you won’t know that.

In fairness, I have to say it really is hard for men to do this. It runs against a lot of rote programming. There are many that I believe are simply incapable of it. Those that can do it, the red pill guys, are ones that are able take a look at themselves and make a conscious choice to dismount that white horse for good in their own minds; to see their women as full adults, with all expectations associated with adulthood. They are willing to face the fear of loss, and loss itself if need be, to get the job done.

There is no chance at a good relationship, and no possibility of toppling that pedestal, unless you have to capacity to let someone go who needs to go.

Thanks again to Paul Elam for such a no nonsense approach to the problem with putting anyone, woman or man, on a pedestal. – Dr T

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Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.

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  1. tenquilts says

    How DO we teach our sons, Paul? Is there a post on that for starting the conversation while young and first slightly interested in girls on through the teen years? I think they must learn as much if not more from watching their parents’ dynamics, but reinforcing through words would be great if I could decide what should be said and when.

    My husband gave up on trying to talk his ex down off her pedestal but he will NOT put up with it in his daughters when they mimic the same behavior. Coaching them to be responsible for their feelings and accountable for their words, and walking away when they’re unreasonable is challenging though, because he really feels their pain, even if he knows that they’ve manufactured it for themselves.

  2. Paul Elam says

    Hi Tenquilts,

    Thanks for your question and thoughtful comment. It is a very complicated subject, but I think that some of the answers start with what we model for them; with the boundaries we display every day. You said this:

    “My husband gave up on trying to talk his ex down off her pedestal but he will NOT put up with it in his daughters when they mimic the same behavior.”

    Perfectly good start. All of us should give up on trying to “talk someone off a pedestal” and just not put up with it.

    I am sure that I, and especially Dr. T, will have a lot more to say on this subject as we do more shows, but for now I would point to that, and to the idea that it is ok to simply teach boys about princess mentality in some girls, using those words, and just tell them over and over that they have to choose whether they want a girlfriend or a puppet master. Again, I would not shy from those words. We need to look our boys in the eye and say “Princesses are for fools and the desperate,” even as we encourage them to follow the pursuits of their heart.

    And then of course, as your husband has, we – that being men and women – need to openly shun pedestalized behavior at every turn.

    • tenquilts says

      Thanks, Paul. I hope you will keep it in mind during future shows. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the more we can shape the thinking of the next generation, the fewer men will suffer as time goes on. I hope.

  3. Verbal says

    Paul, I think your advice and insights here really only apply to non-disordered women. These are the ones who are basically normal and just need a good healthy reality check.

    PD women react with hostility to reasoned arguments and calls to accountability, and can escalate as a result. When you fault her emotional reasoning, she receives it as an assault on her very being — a direct personal attack.

    This is the same reason that couples counseling with a PD partner is a waste of time and money.

    • Paul Elam says

      I understand what you are saying, but I don’t apply any acknowledgment to disorders here for a reason. This is not about diagnostics, but behavior. If she cannot or will not respond to reason, regardless of whether she is “diagnosable,” then it is time to move on, directly and without hesitation.

      Figuratively speaking, I don’t even need to know if the woman I just left behind was on a pedestal because she was PD or because she was just a spoiled brat. The fact is that there are women who will respond to reason and I would rather spend my time with one of them.

      • Verbal says

        Thanks Paul.

        Back to the topic of pedestals… TCL (The Crazy Lady) like to repeat a phrase that she heard uttered by one of the (many) castrated husbands on The Real Housewives of East Buttfuck. It is, “A happy wife is a happy life.”

        We can infer then that the husband’s happiness is irrelevant. He could be happy, or unhappy, or just muddling along. Previously I had believed that a happy *couple* is a happy life. I have since disabused myself of this notion.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      Hi Verbal,

      I’m not Paul, but would like to respond.

      Nope, a PD’d individual will not take kindly to setting boundaries and depedestalizing. They’ll most likely escalate their abusive, domineering and other noxious behaviors. But there are a lot of immature folks who are not PD’d and removing them from their pedestals may go a long way to helping the relationship.

      Lots of men who come here are in the process of divorcing or are single after having been involved with high-conflict and or PD’d women and I think this information will be invaluable for them if they decide to wade back into the dating pool.

      Shrink4Men has been growing beyond the subject of relationships with high-conflict and/or PD individuals. There will still be articles and other material addressing these topics. My overarching goal has always been to help men have healthier and more satisfying relationships and material like this is part of what I envision for the future of this site and my work.

      • Verbal says

        Thanks Dr. T. I have noticed that your blog topics have broadened in the last year. Your coverage of PD women is quite comprehensive, and we have your wonderful archive as reference. One doesn’t want to risk repeating oneself.

  4. ron7127 says

    paul, this is a very helpful and insightful article. One thing that makes it difficult to step back and use these techniques is that many of us were unwilling to lose our spouse. Essentially, I felt that I needed to make the marriage work at all costs, even though it was killing me.

    Initially, I would do reasoned battle, expecting that my wife would discuss our issues. eventually, I just gave up, resigning myself to the futility and just going along. I did this so much , that I lost who i was. And, that is my greatest source of shame post divorce. I was weak and allowed myself to be bullied.

    Recently, one of my siblings who is a bully and disordered began to try to engage me in the typical disordered dance. I had learned by then that the best way of dealing with someone intent on picking a fight for no valid reason, using the typical attack tactics, was to just walk away, as you suggest.

    It has worked beautifully, as the conflict is over. I took my ball and just refused to play.

    I spoke to my therapist, post infidelity discovery and described all the abuse and all the compromises I had made in my marriage to appease my wife. I inquired if, perhaps, I had been stronger , I could have affected some change in the relationship.

    In retrospect, i agree with his take. He said that no, it would not have worked, as she is disordered. But, it would have got me out of the relationship much sooner, before additional damage was done.

    Richard Skerrit writes about how many men wait too long to leave, thus depleting themselves and not having the reserves needed for the disentanglement battle.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      This is so true:

      “Richard Skerrit writes about how many men wait too long to leave, thus depleting themselves and not having the reserves needed for the disentanglement battle.”

      Thank you for making this point, Ron.

  5. Mellaril says

    One thing I kind of disagree with is the concept that we put them on pedastals. While that’s true in some cases, I don’t think it’s true in many cases. I think a more accurate description is we simply allow them, and often enable them, to ascend their own pedastal. It’s a Sh-t Test Chutes and Ladders. They give you a Sh-t Test. They win, they go up a step. They win a big one, they skip several steps. You win, and they fail to advance or go back a a few steps. If you’ve been raised to believe women on pedastals are normal, it won’t spook you as they gradually assume their place at the top.

    As for avoiding the Pedastal Predicament, my father put it to me this way. “There’s nobody you can’t live without. If a women doesn’t respect you and treat you well, go find one that does.”

  6. jefe says

    I’m certain that what causes most men to place their women on a proverbial pedestal is SCARCITY.
    They’re convinced that they’re somehow ahead in the game if they’re with ANY woman, not just the one they’re with.
    The alternative to losing this woman is to go solo.
    They wind up willing to accomodate any of her petulant demands– after all, it’s how we’re raised– to be “Team Players”. We’re expected to be ready to take a hit for “the team”.
    One of the biggest lessons the modern dating coaches- “PUAs” and “Dating Gurus” try to get across is the idea of projecting wealth, not scarcity. Not monetery wealth (nothing wrong with that!), but a wealth of OPTIONS– ie, OTHER WOMEN.
    When a man knows for a fact that he can go out and find someone new in a very short time, he’s a lot less inclined to accept cr@p from whomever he’s with.

    • tallwheel says

      jefe, get out of my head!

      I think one of my problems is that I seldom meet women who truly interests me. When I finally find one every 3-5 years, I’m so determined to keep her. I feel like I’ll do better next time, though, since having found this site.

    • ron7127 says

      Rudov talks about this thought process and attributes men’s willingness to defer to and to chase women to a misunderstanding regarding their sex drives. Seems we are taught that they are less desiorus of sex, and so, in order to have accesss to sex, men cow-tow.
      He feels that, in fact, mnay times a woman has a higher sex drive, as evidenced by their ablity to be multi orgasmic and the lack of need for recovery time.
      If men would understand that women want sex as much as they do, they would be less willing to be subservient.

  7. Kay says

    I found this article, and the webcast in which it was included, very helpful. It reinforced my (and my husband’s) decision to just walk away from the ex-friends rather than allow the wife to continue ranting and raging at me. She tried to make it sound like she was being an “adult” who wanted a “conference” with me in which she would tell me things I supposedly “needed to hear,” but we knew better. Someone who rants and rages and cusses and belittles and humiliates, has no interest in a mature, adult discussion in which different points of views are expressed and everyone hopes to find a solution to satisfy everyone. She just wanted to be right–and to be “heard,” as Dr. Tara said in the webcast. And of course, when I walked away, she told me I could come back when I “decided to GROW UP” and stop being upset over the consequences of my behavior. Yeah, right, lady. No, *you* can come to *me* when you’re ready to be an adult about this and accept that I have an entirely different point of view about this whole situation, that you’re not right about everything, and that yelling and screaming at people is not the way to solve problems.

    You hear about how you should listen to the concerns other people have, and I often second-guess myself, wondering if I should have done this “conference” thing. But my husband and I both knew that she would just turn this into a crap-slinging fest. This webcast just reinforces that belief.

    I’m quite certain that she behaves the way she does (borderline, malignant narcissism, or both, is quite probable) because her husband puts her on a pedestal. He believes you should let the woman be right and have her way, that this is “respecting” women. My husband and I–and a mutual friend–all saw this as him letting her run over him, letting her abuse him again and again and again. He may have put her on a pedestal, but this did not make her into a happy, calm wife. Rather, she just kept verbally (and occasionally physically) abusing him and the children. He also apparently expected us to put her on a pedestal as well, expected us to put up with whatever she dished out. Well, that’s not gonna happen. Like some of his other friends, we got sick of her crap and walked. I can’t say I’ve had peace of mind ever since, as I constantly re-analyze whether I did the right thing, misjudged her, etc. But it’s certainly been peaceful outwardly, because we haven’t had to deal with her anymore. I just have to deal with what she did in the past and my emotional reactions, and not things she’s doing in the present.

    I know that I myself had many bouts of immaturity in the early days of my relationship with my husband. I was very young, and had just come out of an abusive relationship, with lots of baggage. But the difference is, I was able to change over time. Over time, my husband’s complaints began to sink in, and I began to behave better. He’s also done the same with his own behavior. I don’t think he has me on a pedestal, because he’s always expressing his own opinions about things. :)

  8. RTMan says

    “Separate Checks, Please” should be the new motto for modern, equal partnerships (and your radio show?). While feminism has played a role in creating a vision of social and economic equality between women and men (one that might be attractive to men who desire truly equal partners), missing is a corresponding plea for equal responsibility. Why don’t we also hear feminists champion equal *contributions* to a couple’s financial, emotional, and domestic needs and responsibilities? Is there any doubt what good this would do for relationships? At a time when many women, looming from their pedestals, are demanding “Entitlement!” men will increasingly pass on marriage and insist on “Separate Checks.”

    • RecoveredAlpha says

      to wit …

      Why don’t we hear feminism championing female draft and equal opportunity to fight in the next war? Last time I checked, only boys were required to register for the draft (via signing up to have access to student loans/grants/etc). Why not girls when they turn 18?

      Just say’n …

  9. cuatezon says

    Good stuff & topic. I’m not so sure its a pedastal thing these days. For me, its more of fear of being ostracized by other men & women. Here’s why. I’m pretty articulate & becoming much more emotionally intelligent. I can hold my own in discussions with women. women are intimidated by this fact. I’m not harsh or mean, its just that I can often support my opinions with facts and a calm perspective.

    However, for a man to outright challenge a woman in this culture often results in vengeful & punitive behavior from both men (mostly Manginas) and women. If a man dissents & disagrees w/ a woman, he will face mocking, brutal criticism, and alienation to name a few.

    Where I work at an insurance company (office work), unless he’s a top executive level, men DON’T DARE disagree or challenge a woman. When men do, they are psychologically & emotionally brutalized. I’m not exaggerating. Its happened to me & to many others. I just quit challenging women and avoid those career-damaging moves. Better to keep to myself. This is no joke. Its quite sad too. Its a rigged game then; women continue pushing men & other women around, and when no one challenges them, it reinforces their erroneous belief that men are weak & dumb…and of course when a man does challenge the woman, he’s alienated & ostracized and viewed as a boor.

    Summarizing: I don’t fear debating with or disagreeing with a woman one-on-one, fair-and-square. That scenario never happens though as there are always extremely negative consequences to doing so.

  10. cloudslicer says

    Excellent post! Very much appreciated. I consider myself a red pill guy, who has woken up and realized (in theory) what reality looks like. Acting according to this wisdom is not always easy.

    I have almost daily struggles with my wife’s behaviour I consider inappropriate between equals (in fact almost all of the points you mention in varying combinations). So far my efforts of setting new standards have not been very successful, although I keep making myself clear to her. My big question is:

    Is there a reasonable time you should give a woman to adapt and live up to your standards and how long would that be?

    I’m in principle ready to walk away if her non-respectful behaviour doesn’t stop – in spite of having a 17 months old son together. The problem is my hope that she will eventually change. I don’t want to draw the line too early and have remorse afterwords. On the other hand I don’t want to wait too long and waste my “best years” over a potentially hopeless case. I know ultimately I’m the only one who can make this decision but it’s so damn difficult to tell whether a situation is hopeless or not. If only there was some kind of test… Any experiences?

    • chester says

      I tend to think that many peoples first year of marriage can be tough/goofy…testing…power struggles and all. That’s about all I think anyone should give things to change. I wish I would have followed this advice! Instead, I put up with disrespect and crazy for many more years. I’m embarrassed over what I put up with. You probably think its failure- to give up now…the real failure is staying for years…when you deep inside, you know better.

    • cuatezon says

      Agree w/ Chester and I add emphasis on exit strategy now. I so wish I’d bailed so much sooner and saved myself a lot of heartache. Its heart-wrenching when a child is involved, I know. Yet your mental & physical health will suffer if you don’t get out. If it helps your conscience any, set a date in the near future – 2 weeks – and if things don’t change 100% (not improve, I mean completely change) then leave. Otherwise, she’ll milk it out with ‘little improvements’ or this and that and in the end nothing has changed except that you’re more mired in the situation. This isn’t the 1950s anymore its a new paradigm so as a man you too should be empowered to do what you need to do for your own serenity and peace.

  11. says

    Wow, Dr.Palmitier, this article was exactly what I needed to read.

    I’ve been with my wife for four years, now, and in October, we will have been married three years (knock on wood). When you marry someone who is in their late 30’s who has never been married before, that is certainly a red flag, and while we were dating, there were a LOT of flags that went up. Temper tantrums, emotional manipulation, verbal abuse, etc.

    Being a Christian man, I felt that I needed to be patient, loving, and understanding of this behavior, telling myself that it was the product of many, many years of wounds and hurts from past relationships, daddy issues, and a mother who raised her to believe that men are stupid, lazy, lustful, cowardly, abusive, and unnecessary.

    I strove to see beyond the behavior and separate her from it. As a result, I unwittingly placed her on a pedestal. Every “shit-test” that she gave me, I failed spectacularly. In a nutshell, I taught her that it was OK to treat me any way that she chose and to use the excuse that she couldn’t help herself. My previous marriage was exactly the same. In my efforts to be the mature one, I took the blame for all the problems in our marriage and, as a result, created a bubble of infallibility around my ex-wife.

    Because of all her past circumstances I mentioned, I did not expect or demand emotional maturity. Instead, I justified my current wife’s emotional immaturity.

    After reading this article, yesterday, something snapped. I finally realized that I DESERVE to be treated as an equal, and I would NEVER tolerate the same treatment from any other person. We’ve been fighting like hell for the past two days, and yesterday I finally said, “Come back and see me when you can be reasonable.”

    After four years of being a doormat, I’m sure you can imagine the shock that this statement produced. Today, in the midst of a come-to-Jesus meeting, I expressed my intention to enforce my boundaries and refuse to tolerate her disrespect, any longer. I told her that I love her and will do anything in my power to save our marriage and help her find contentment but that I would not be her bitch, any longer. I explained that if my getting healthy causes her to put on her big girl panties and make positive changes, then we both win. If, however, it drives her away, then she’s obviously not mature enough to be in a healthy marriage with me, and I still win.

    We have a 13-month old son with another on the way in November. This fact has kept me imprisoned to the idea that another failed marriage would sound the death knell for me, emotionally and financially. However, I realize that many other men are in much worse situations than that and are surviving.

    Thank you for all you do. Your site has made a tremendous difference in my life.

    God bless.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      Hello recondaddy and thank you for registering with S4M. I’m glad the information here has proven helpful for you.

      I wish I could take credit for this article, but it was written by Paul Elam.

      I applaud the stand you took with your wife. Is she still in shock or have there been repercussions for setting boundaries with her?

      Dr T

      • says

        Actually, a couple of hours ago, she texted me that she was sorry for everything. She said that when she tells me to leave (her solution to every challenge in our marriage), it’s only because she thinks that I can do better than her because she’s so “incredibly bad”.

        I told her that I appreciated her apology and apologized for the times when I haven’t handled things as well as I should have (keeping my side of the street clean).

        She admitted to me that the last time she hated me this deeply was when she was pregnant, before. I asked what we can do about that, and she said that she needs to see a therapist for her own self-loathing and a host of other issues that she is dealing with. She has been in recovery for drugs and alcohol (with no relapses) for the past eight years, but she’s been out of the recovery community and hasn’t been working the steps since we met.

        She has already found a local therapist who also specializes in addiction, so that’s encouraging.

        Based on a lot of research, I have no doubts that she probably suffers from NPD, but perhaps the extensive in-patient therapy she received during the early years of her recovery has made her more self-aware than the average narcissist.

        Thanks for your reply, and many thanks to Paul.

        • Free at Last says

          Recon daddy, I too applaud your courage in standing firm with her. However, her recent “apology” has a pretty powerful stench of “Pity Ploy.” It’s very likely that she’s simply adjusted her manipulative tactics, looking for one that will get her out of the jam she’s been in these last few days. It might not be a sign of self-awareness at all. I’m sure she sounds very sincere, but let’s not forget the motto of narcissists and sociopaths: “Sincerity is the most important thing. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made!”

          Words (and lies) are a dime a dozen to disordered people, and she can say whatever she wants to you and the the therapist (especially if you are footing the bill). Look for consistent and permanent improvements in her behavior over the next few months, and if they’re short-lived or inconsistent, consider planning an exit strategy. And don’t get caught in the Christian guilt trap – YOUR love, kindness, patience and understanding will NEVER compensate for her lack thereof. My very best wishes to you.

  12. cuatezon says

    Hi Recondaddy, thanks for sharing. Your story sounds very similar to mine. I tried enforcing boundaries, tried crying, smiling, pleading, more niceness, less niceness, and even went to ‘Christian’ counselors who read scripture to me and told me to be patient, loving, kind etc. Which of course kept me in a very sick situation and actually began to cause physical illness. I had to get out b/c literally my health/life depended on it.

    I don’t know your wife, but from reading your words she sounds like my ex, and someone who will manipulate and never change. This may sound harsh, but I’d suggest planning an exit strategy soon. I’d love to see your relationship succeed, but I also don’t want you to go through what I did b/c I (and others) were in denial about the ex’s mental illnesses.

    Keep coming back to this website its very helpful & supportive and Dr. T does a great job.

  13. damaerean says

    This post is what I’ve been looking for for awhile. I just got out of a tortuous relationship wherein she was offensively pedestalized. After the breakup is when I realized this, and all types of anger flew into me. When I look back thinking where I went wrong, it’s difficult. It’s difficult because I allowed myself to be trampled on because I wouldn’t hold this screaming child accountable for being an adult. Our relationship was over the moment she was allowed to play by her own rules in arguments.

    One thing that needs to be said here is this: There is no situation that can justify one person attaining power in arguments over another. NONE. Sure you messed up. Maybe you messed up so bad that it’s ludicrous to think you aren’t the bad guy. The only thing that matters in this situation is that you’re still the equal. My (now) ex still tries to bring up how I “created” her and how everything is my fault. Unfortunately for her ego, I just recently swallowed the red pill. I know that when she starts talking like that, she gets hung up on. She always will, and she can’t try that shit with me. Even if she threatens to kill herself and won’t talk to anyone about her problems, I hang up promptly and call her family. That’s right, if you come at me with that emotionally charged heap of BS you will get called out. It’s how I would treat anyone. Because there are no pedestals for anyone, anymore.

  14. killswitch says

    As a Christian, I was taught to treat my spouse with the love of God, mercy, patience, grace… but somewhere along the line, the pastors forgot to mention that there are crazy women sitting in the pews, too. Yes, there’s a HUGE focus on encouraging and empowering abused women. However, the lack of mens’ groups talking about abusive women. The attitude is: “You made your bed, lie in it. Take it like a man. You should have known better.”

    I don’t subscribe to that notion. When I put up my boundaries and kicked my spouse off her pedestal, she HULKED out. Withing 12 days of marriage, she took off her ring and declared she wanted a divorce.

    The bottom-line, she didn’t get to exhibit the fullness of her savagery. I walked out. Yes, there were a few times I gave her an opportunity to redeem herself. But she became Mr. Hyde after a couple of days. Finally, I hit the “kill switch” (hence the user-name) and slammed the door in her face. At first, she didn’t believe I would do it, until I texted her that I was on my way back to NY. About a week later, she emailed me that she wanted my address so she could send me the divorce papers to sign. I simply replied, “No.”

    A couple of weeks after that she tried to goad me into giving her my location by accusing me of being bitter. Complete blackout; I haven’t responded.

    Guys, this procedure is going to take gumption (re: balls of steel) because she’ll test your resolve. She has no problems taking it beyond the limit, so be prepared to walk out the door… for good.

    There’s no middle ground on this one. Either we choose to live healthy lives or we choose to bend over and get it straight up the backside w/o Vaseline. Please forgive the graphic metaphor but this is what it becomes ultimately: slavery.

    She may back off and get it. Anything is possible. However the probability of a positive outcome is almost nil.

    To be fair, separation and divorce sucks. It’s painful. There are days that I miss her. But I also know that I miss the mask, not the beast. The pain is getting less and less. It’s also a new beginning for new opportunities. I found this site and it’s been a salve to my wounds. I am healing and I look forward to the future.

    There is a future for us. Blessings and take care.

  15. giantsboy says

    First off thank you for this post. Its really helped clarify what I have been witnessing with my best friend over the last year and a half.

    My friend Bob has always been the type to put girlfriends or significant others on the “pedestal”. Hes a young guy, 23 years old, and I think developed these habits because he sees it in his parents relationship. Over the last year in half he has been dating and now engaged to a women that is verbally and physically abusive to him and he is starting to walk down a slippery slope (marriage, kids, etc…) He is a very intelligent person and everything else in life he takes calculated risks and makes good decisions. Unfortunately in this situation he cannot seem to see the light. As a very concerned friend, I have tried numerous way to get him to see whats going here… talks in person, sending emails, sending articles and advice like this forum and he continuously disregards it, gets defensive and tells me that his relationship is not like that.

    I understand that ultimately he is the one who needs to see the light for himself but I was wondering if anyone has feedback for hints or ways I can get him to see the the pain in misery he will go thru later in life with this person. His wedding date his scheduled for November 2013 and it pains me every day to see my friend going down this path. Any ideas or suggestions on what I can do in this situation????

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