How to Isolate your Boyfriend is an actual how-to article on wikiHow, I kid you not. Follow the link if you don’t believe me. It’s located in wikiHow’s Relationships/Dating/Commitment Issues category. Although, it would be more appropriate in the Should be Committed to a Lockdown Psychiatric Facility or DIY Psycho categories, if such categories existed on wikiHow, that is.
As I read it, I hoped that it was a gallows humor type joke. The post is nominated for deletion with the reason of “mean spirited activity.” The step-by-step instructions begin with the following caveat:
Of course, in a normal relationship, you should never isolate your boyfriend in any way as that is cruel and selfish. Only make plans to “isolate” him if you have a very good reason to do so. There are a few reasons to isolate your boyfriend; perhaps you simply don’t like his friends, or perhaps you want to eliminate all competition for his attention. If you want to have an exclusively close relationship with your boyfriend, isolating him from all other contacts is the most effective way to do it.
Don’t forget, however, that there are much more normal and healthy ways to strengthen your relationship. But if you really want him all to yourself, and feel that the ends justify the means, this is the way to do it.
Only make plans to isolate him if you have a very good reason to do so. Like, you know, if you don’t like his friends or if you want all of his undivided attention because you’re insecure, needy and pathologically manipulative. Nearly every “Am I in an abusive relationship” checklist, quiz or inventory includes isolation from family and friends as a huge, honking red flag sign of abuse. Therefore, this article is a how-t0 abuse your boyfriend article. Over the last two years of writing Shrink4Men, I’ve joked about there being a mythological playbook that female abusers use—looks like there actually is a how-to abuse your boyfriend/husband resource.
The how-to continues:
1. Be tolerable to your boyfriend’s friends. They don’t have to love you, but you must give the impression that you are at least trying to accept them. Ask them about their interests and social lives; feign interest and act very understanding and amiable. Earn their trust.
This shows premeditation. It’s instructing its audience to deliberately pretend to be someone she’s not. Many abusive personalities disarm you with charm and pretend to have similar interests and tastes—at first. Next step:
2. Wait. You will need to wait an indefinite amount of time. Waiting is a good idea no matter what; perhaps you will realize that isolating him isn’t necessary, or perhaps you will grow to like and accept his friends. If not, the waiting period will ensure that you have time to adequately establish yourself as innocent. Tell your boyfriend repeatedly that you love his friends. During this time period, you should also gather information about his friends from whatever sources you can, but make sure you seem benign. You cannot risk anyone catching on- at least not yet.
Predators lie in wait, biding their time and striking at the perfect moment. Next step:
3. Recognize your opportunity. Every friendship has its conflicts, especially close friendships. Everyone makes mistakes. One of your boyfriend’s friends is bound to make him angry at some point. Wait until this happens, and then spring into action. If you can wait until two or more of his friends have upset him, even better. Once his trust is broken, and he is angry at his friends for something he knows you didn’t cause; this is your time to strike.
Again, this is very predatory behavior. Next step:
4. Make up several instances where your boyfriend’s friend/s have betrayed him in the past. Make sure your stories are believable and cannot be proved wrong. Perhaps tell him that you “overheard” a friend badmouthing him. You want him to feel as victimized as possible, so make sure you spend at least two hours lying to him about various things you “heard.” Play off of his insecurities if you can. Perhaps you know he is self-conscious about being left out, for example; tell him that you overheard his friends discussing a plan to intentionally leave him out.
It’s scary, but there are people out there who are this calculating. Next step:
5. Pretend to be extremely supportive to your boyfriend. Comfort him by telling him it wasn’t his fault. Explain that sometimes the world is just filled with bad people. Tell him that for now, he should just ignore all of the people that hurt him. Say, “Aren’t you glad we have each other?”
Explain that sometimes the world is just filled with bad people. For instance, the kind of person who would deliberately isolate her boyfriend from his friends and family who care about him. Next step:
6. If you can, pretend to be the mediator. Talk to his friends and intentionally misconstrue their words. You must not lie outright; you must MODIFY their words and intentions. An example: Perhaps they will say “I just want to know what I did wrong”- tell your boyfriend that they said, “I just don’t think I did anything wrong.” Small changes have big impacts.
And later, if she gets busted, she can pretend she made an innocent mistake or “heard wrong” or “misunderstood.” Next step:
7. Involve yourself in the argument. Claim that you have been hurt or victimized in some way. Make up stories about instances that you have been rejected or mistreated by his friends. It is absolutely vital that you and your boyfriend share a common ground of feeling alienated by his friends. This will justify his feelings and make him feel like he is not alone- he has you.
When a woman does this, it also serves to strengthen the relationship bond. Her boyfriend thinks he’s defending her/rescuing her from his “jerk” friends, which helps eliminate any cognitive dissonance he may be experiencing due to forsaking his friends and family. Many men don’t stop to think, “Is this out of character for my friends and family? Have they ever treated any of my past girlfriends like this? What’s different this time?” The difference may very well be that he’s involved with an unscrupulous sociopath. Next step:
8. Lash out against his friends in small ways that are not possible to prove. When they confront you, cry to your boyfriend that they are accusing you of things you never did. Make sure you actually cry.
Infants learn very quickly that the quickest and most effective way to get attention and/or to be comforted is to cry. Crying secures the attachment and elicits caretaking from others. Many abusive women, especially if she’s psychologically immature, turn on the waterworks to get her boyfriend/husband to soothe and reassure her when she’s done something wrong, hurtful or underhanded or to get him to back-off altogether if he’s getting too close to the truth. Next step:
9. If you can, frame them. Don’t get caught.
These women should be CIA operatives. Next step:
10. Ask him again “aren’t you glad we have each other?”
These are brainwashing techniques. A woman who does this is making her boyfriend think that she is the only person in the world that he can depend upon and trust. In reality, she is the last person in the world he should trust. Next step:
11. Let him find you crying randomly. Tell him that you’re just so hurt by his friends and what they’ve done to him.
The first time I read this article, I felt like my head was going to explode after reading step 11. Next step:
12. Tell him stories of all the fun his friends have been having without him while he hasn’t been around. Emphasize that they don’t miss him. If they try to tell him that they do miss him, act appalled and say “Can you believe it? They say they miss you, but they don’t even really care that you’re gone.” Cry for him.
As disturbing as this garbage is, it really gives a glimpse into the personality-disordered, particularly the ones who border on sociopathy and/or are full-blown sociopaths. This is how they think or, if they’re sociopaths in denial, they convince themselves that their lies are true and that their manipulations are justified. Next step:
13. As time passes, mention his friends less and less. Encourage him to ignore them. Introduce him to your friends. Suggest that he should just hang out with them from now on.
And this is how an abusive woman isolates, indoctrinates and brainwashes her target into her highly monitored sphere of control. Again, some of these individuals do this unconsciously—it’s a gift. They’re bumbling and budding sociopaths. The ones who engage in these behaviors with premeditation and deliberation are full on sociopaths and are dangerous. If they’re willing to do these kinds of things to gain control over the object of their “affection,” they’re also capable of doing far, far worse. Next step:
14. Enjoy the complete isolation of your boyfriend. Gloat. You’ve worked hard.
Bottom line: If your girlfriend or wife starts trashing your friends and telling tales that seem out of character, go directly to the source. Past behavior is a good predictor of present and future behavior. If your friends and family have been caring and supportive throughout your life and you’ve never had a reason to mistrust them before, it may very well be that your girlfriend/fiancee/wife downloaded this how-to article to her iPhone.
The how-to concludes with the following Tips and Warnings:
- Cry often. Few people will doubt the sincerity of someone who is crying.
- Never get caught lying, and if you do, never admit to it. The isolation relies on complete trust in you and complete mistrust in his friends. If you are confronted about a lie, act appalled and cry. [Nice—the fake outrage-crying combo. Very advanced tactic.]
- If your boyfriend attempts to make any new friends, quickly squash the friendships before they become serious. You don’t want to have to repeat the entire process over again.
- You may end up losing your boyfriend. If you are not a skilled manipulator, this plan could fail. Make sure you cover your tracks. Make sure your lies are vague and cannot be refuted.
- Once his friends catch on, they will all hate you. If executed correctly, you can use this to your advantage in further victimizing yourself. But know that it is inevitable.
- If you actually follow through with this plan, you are a terrible person. Don’t let that discourage you; perhaps you don’t care. But you should know that you are.
Okay. It’s supposedly a gag, although it’s still not funny. Nevertheless, I wonder how many women/men arrive to this how-to because they’re seriously looking for instructions on how-to isolate their partner? Also, was it flagged as “mean spirited” because isolating your boyfriend from his friends is a terrible thing to do? Or was it flagged as mean-spirited by a woman who was actually seeking tips on how to isolate her boyfriend and was upset by the “you’re a terrible person” admonishment? Guess we’ll never know.
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I had a feeling this was a load of horse-hockey. My ex-wife did it in two or three steps.
Jesus H.C.~ Don’t scare me like that!
It makes me wonder, though, how many women actually DO think it out like that. Whoever wrote that obviously has had some very intimate time with a ‘woman’ like that.
Cripes…it’s as bad as a ‘pretend / gag’ How-To on how to molest your neighbor’s child/ren or How to terrorize small-town USA. Yikes!
Not funny in the least.
By the time a girl is old enough to read this on the Internet, she probably has a PhD in Manipulation.
Don’t underestimate the power of pop culture. When I was in graduate school, one of my classmates was being chased by a young woman in class. He wasn’t really interested but she was fairly persistent. One time he remarked he couldn’t understand where she was coming from as she seemed to shift tactics from week to week. This was in the late 90s when “Ally McBeal” was very popular. People in class talked about it so I started watching the show. What was happening was this girl was taking her romance cues from Ally’s latest episode. I kid you not. I pointed this out to him and he started watching the show, too.
A few weeks late he says to me, “I thought you were crazy but you were right.”
Cousin Dave says
A couple of paragraphs in, I was certain that this was satire. Then I read some more and I’m not so sure. The author describes the steps so precisely. And then there’s that odd qualifying statement at the end, which comes across as being the exact sort of abrupt psychological shift that BPDs are noted for. If it’s satire, either it’s too subtle for me, or it’s written by someone who doesn’t know how to write satire. I didn’t find it humorous; I found it scary.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
I agree. It’s scary.
“Phew! It’s a gag.”
I couldn’t disagree more. If a person is manipulative enough to formulate this manipulative “how to” then they are manipulative enough to mockingly write something like, oh by the way, this is horrible don’t do it. And then snicker to her self as she submits it, knowing that it will protect the sacred tactic from being deleted.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
I still find this how-to disconcerting. I felt some relief reading the last bullet point, however, I agree, it’s still a very disturbing piece. Particularly because this is how isolation occurs in many cases.
Yeah the gag thing seems a bit deadpan, to be charitable.
Kind of like putting a training guide online for, fill in the blank: murder, rape, paedophilia, home invasion and summary execution, etc … then after describing it in accurate and sickening detail, plopping an “lol” at the end.
Cousin Dave says
Yes, the article itself strikes me as an example of what NPD/BPDs consider humor: a bunch of degrading and insulting behavior, followed by, “Hey, it was only a joke! Can’t you take a joke?”
Yes – but worse still – it’s not ONE author, and they aren’t even ALL female. There are men on there teaching women how to do this to their boyfriend.
“This page was last modified 22:18, 27 November 2010 by wikiHow user Oscuro1987. Based on work by Sara, Travis Derouin, Rob S, Tom Viren, Maluniu, BR, Zack and Harri, wikiHow user(s) Flickety, Six Degrees, Knowledge Junkie, WikiWarrior, Catspjs01 and Oscuro1987 and Anonymous.”
It was last modified by Oscuro – who is actually named Emmanuel — which is a guy – not a female.
He also wrote an article on Prentending to faint. He seems to be quite the con artist (or at least wants people to think he is.)
I just can’t fathom for the life of me why a man would want to help teach a woman to manipulate a man.
These are the same tactics a lot of women use to alienate children from their fathers, too. It’s sickening.
Frankly this article is child’s play compared to what I’ve endured. My last girlfriend did much, much more. She subtly, over the years, would say things like, “Your my strongest weakness,” inherently implying I was a bad guy that she had pity or something on. Always started fights with accusations and suspicions, never stopped. And silly me, never walked, on the contrary, I would defend myself of her accusations and suspicions. She always walked around with her nose in the air in reference to almost everyone I knew. I couldn’t talk to a female without her feeling and acting like I was doing something wrong. When I would tell her I can’t talk to a female around her, she adamantly denied and made me feel like I had to question myself, to the point I stopped conversation with females in her presence. like I was the one doing something wrong. Then when she stepped out, it was my fault, I drove her to it. Funny thing, it was her decision. She knew, it was catching up to me and her. I’d gotten to the point, I wanted to break up with her simultaneously I loved her. So when she stepped out, I was the one trying to get her back. Someone finally put it right when I asked, “How do you think I can get back with her?” They said, “Why Jim, she just made you miserable when you were with her.” It took a long time for that to sink in. I’m so glad she’s gone and I was the one that felt so bad that I thought I was the bad guy. How do I know the difference now? I looked back at my actions, I didn’t cheat, start fights, cause trouble outside of defending myself in fights where I would finally tell her to leave my apartment because she was a trouble maker. And so the contempt built on both sides from then on.
I think the most accurate part of this is that some people really are like that. they say they’re falling so deeply in love with you, that you’re the perfect person for them… then they change pieces and parts about you, push you to be this way, pull you to be that way. and in the end they’ll say “golly… you’re just not the person i fell in love with”.
gee… i wonder why…
like many, i thought the article HAD to be satire because some parts are so blatantly childish with the instructions. then i thought to myself, “yikes! if the person didn’t see thru the obvious, this is crazy enough to work”.
and i have to admit that there were times when i ignored the obvious.
perhaps the mark of dark humor is that its funny enough to elicit a chuckle, yet true enough to chill your bones.
I added a response which was deleted within five minutes!
I will leave it here for posterity…
I am an advocate for victims and survivors of abuse and a board member with a crisis and counselling service in my state.
It astonishes me that this piece was ever permitted to remain. It is a training manual for abusers. It is no joke. There are no lines to read between. It is vile in the extreme. I would point out also that many of the behaviours suggested are identical to the grooming tactics used by paedophiles.
The normal experience for male victims – even boys – of female abusers is to be mocked and ridiculed. This fits the pattern to perfection.
To all those viewing it as a joke SHAME ON YOU. To the owners/moderators of this site GET RID OF IT.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Actually, I only had the above comment from you in my moderation queue. Nothing was deleted. The “How to Isolate your Boyfriend” piece was not written by me or anyone affiliated with Shrink4Men. I posted it to show how despicable this kind of behavior is. I even stated that even though the author(s) of the original post seem to be trying to be funny—or is it an attempt at satire—it is still unsettling and in bad taste.
I was referring to a post I left on the wikiHow site. I reproduced it here because of their censorship. Sorry about the confusion.
I’m not joking when I said it was removed within minutes. I will be attempting to communicate with wikiHow via other means.
OK. After some badgering they’ve let it through.
Unfortunately I’d bet they haven’t learned anything.
Is there a way to tell if this was edited to add this awful person part later? I wonder if they wrote this expecting who knows what?? and when things didn’t turn out as THEY expected – they say it was a joke, they were testing us, or some wacky mreason they say after being exposed or not getting the response they expected.
when I say not the response they expected
I mean it had negative consquences they didn’t plan for for *them*
I’ve seen a friends gf do something similiar about a year – it was so crazy
her story changed it to all being a joke, it being this or that (it kept changing), and even to the point of trying to blame the person she told (me) for the consequences she faced due to exposure. When she started this blame garbage on me, I told her right away she exposed herself, she hung up. I didn’t know about BPD at the time.
I know one or two women who has done this, one of my friend is with a very controlling woman. (they even have a child together)
I think he did the mistake to think that she is doing it out of love. I always thought i could never fall for such thing, and of course I haven’t, but it was very close, as i dated a girl who seduced me and try’d all the tricks in the book. Lucky me who found this site (in time) and gained more control over my life and the situation i was put up to handle.
Thanks for sharing!
My ex would also resort to a few additional techniques. If you mentioned that the behaviours she described seemed out of character for your friends or if you questioned her in any way, she would say that “You always pick them over me. You are supposed to be supportive of me. I’m your spouse. I’m supposed to be special. Maybe you are just not man enough to stand up to your friends. Maybe you aren’t man enough to stand up for me.” Usually this would be followed with the her pretending to be mad or offended/disappointed and perhaps even throw in some tears and lock herself in her room.
It gives me the shakes just thinking about it! Brrrrrrrr.
My husband’s ex would say and do the same thing about his family. He is very close to them and she did a pretty good job of isolating him from them – including insisting on moving 2000 miles across the country from them.
Mother Figure pulled that same crap – say the most cruel, hurtful things, then act all innocent, saying, “I was only trying to be funny!” (then of course, cry or pout, feigning victimhood).
Well they forgot about a more clever technique..”Your friend don’t care about me”..” Your brother and his wife didn’t care to call me”..I.e. Making up excuses and you are not allowed to go out with your friends alone..see your family alone..no social calls ..except when you are at home..checking your phone for outgoing calls..list goes on and on..justificatioin”this is what I need..you have to respect my needs”
Gallows humor or not, I wonder how many sick women out there will stumble across it and put it to use. “Let him find you crying randomly, Tell him that you’re just so hurt by his friends and what they’ve done to him.” Yeah – I’ve seen my kids do stuff like this. Crying randomly because they couldn’t have something they wanted. This whole article is childish. I personally hope it IS removed. The scary thing is that there is a whole SLEW of authors – not just one and several of them were men. Yikes! Why do that to someone else, dude?
I just need the HOW TO on WHAT TO DO after THIS has been DONE to YOU only son. Yep, that is what I need.
Wow! Also confused by this but I recognize the behavior. In my case – been married 17 years and likely, divorce is imminent (separated at present from abusive wife). What I recognize here is the technique and theme. In my case, not only was I isolated from friends, but from family as well. Even when we were just dating there were fights between her and my family members – and although I maintained most of those relationships, she succeeded in convincing me not to trust even my parents or sister, and put emotional and physical distance between us. And, as is recommended in the above article, she pointed out, and still has as recently as two or three weeks ago, that she was there for me, I was lucky I had her, and she was my ticket to having a real, caring family.
Dr. Palmatier and Others: Any thoughts, experiences concerning isolation from family, as I describe?
OMG. My daughter-in-law surely downloaded this play-by-play and put it into action. My 27 year old son has been completely out of contact with his family since they married 2 years ago (no announcement to us nor invitation) but the isolation began as soon as he got involved with her when he was only 17. He will not return phone calls from any of us (including his little sister who is still in high school). He and his brother were best friends growing up until she entered the picture and ruined their relationship. It’s incomprehensensible to me how she could so thoroughly brainwash him – but she has. It killed me to watch his father and older brother’s heartbreak slowly turn to anger towards him over the years. I pray that he will eventually come to his senses and when he does, I want the family to be waiting there for him to welcome him back in. While I understand how, for their own sanity, they had to “let go”, I can’t seem to figure out how to do that. Then I read stories like Jaguar1965 and it gives me hope. AFter 17 years, he was able to extract himself from the abusive relationship. I wonder, Jaguar, if you’re still out there…were you able to rebond with your parents and sister?
As of July 29, 2011 the article has been removed. I don’t know when it was actually removed, I just know that it is no longer there.
We lost our son 10 months – 17 days ago to a very manipulative young lady and her family. Every step spelled out above was played out in advance. She was a master at it. Her family was also a master at it. Unfortunately for us, RELIGION was also used – a very sick religion – on top of everything else. This stuff happens. It is real. Our son was brilliant and talented – had everything going for him. He was a National Merit Deans List college student. He was both a theater and marketing major. He was popular. He had more high school year book entries than anyone else in his class. He had a supportive family (mother – father – siblings) who loved and adored him. He was the first born son and grand child. He was kind. He was respectful. He had never been in trouble for anything. He helped everyone. He was giving. He would have given the shirt of his back to anyone. He was picked ahead of time by the family. They planned it masterfully even driving within 20 miles of our home and inviting him to dinner before he ever dated this girl. They had some of the same classes at college for a year. That summer, they (the family) drove a 6 hour trip and arrived about 20 miles away from our home. They called and invited my son to dinner. They said they were in the area for a night and wanted to know if he would have dinner with them. Our son even asked our permission before he went and showed us their message because at 19 – he was the kind of kid who still showed us this kind of stuff and shared it with us. We made the mistake of encouraging him to go having no idea what he was walking in to. This was the night that changed everything but it would be a year exactly before he was stolen from us and 11 months later they are scheduled to marry. All ties have been severed by him (because of them) with everyone who was ever in his life from birth to age 20. (Friends, family, teachers, etc.) It is as if he never had a life until the age of 20. Sad thing is that he had the best life a kid could ever have – private schools, a family that adored him, world travel, wonderful neighbors, great home, two younger sisters that adored him and the list goes on and on. He will marry and not one person from his past (his former life) has been invited. We found out about the wedding through searching day in and day out for 10 months and we stumbled on to a remote posting that led us to the information. These things happen. They happen to good families. That is what these predators seek – good kids from good families. Every move is calculated. They get away with it. I pray that there is a HELL and that Hell has a special place for people like this because my family and I have lived in Hell for almost 11 months. We have faced Hell on earth losing our only son. I can only PRAY to God – if he is out there and pray that they will have to answer for what they have done if not in this life – the next. I also have to pray that some day our family can find a way to move on. We have made it through every Holiday – birthday – special day and every M-T-Wed=Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun which was once so normal. At this point, we have to find a way to bury it OR we will lose our sanity. That is correct. I read a post on this site where someone in a similar situation said just that but they also said they had no idea how to do that because it feels like the impossible thing do. We are dead to our son. If he walks in our door – it will be the happiest day of our life. We will throw a party. We will rejoice. With that said, our remaining family can no longer live this way – in such daily grief. So much has been taken from us while these people smile – laugh – and pretend as if they love our son. So, somehow…we have to see if we can bury all of this – put it somewhere – just so we can move on and yet the question remains – HOW?
Sorry to hear about your situation. Dr T has several blogs that can explain what may have happened but the reality is that your son will have to be the one to decide when he’s had enough to try to escape. If you search for Brainwashing on the Index page, they’ll pop up. The more you know, the better position you’ll be in to help him when he does and he’ll likely need all the help he can get.
Please check out the Forum. There are several moms with adult children in abusive relationships that post there. Good luck!
I was appalled by this article until reading the last line. I think it is meant to be satire, along the lines of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in which he seems to advocate the eating of poor Irish babies. Because most people in England at the time believed it was ok to treat the Irish badly, Swift was trying to shock people out of their complacent ideas and make them think. There is a cultural consensus that it is ok for women to do things to men in a relationship that stop just short of abuse. An article that seems to advocate abuse until the last line might get people thinking about what we think is ok in general.
I do have two remaining issues with the article. I agree the how to element is dangerous. I don’t think Swift included any step by step recipes. Second, the end line should have been phrased in stronger terms like “Congratulations on completing these steps. You are an abusive woman.”
Almost everything can be misused and almost every article here on this site can be used as an instructions on how-to abuse and brainwash your “loved one”.