Wolf in Sheep's Clothing? (Sorry this is so long.)
I would like to use your responses to get feedback on the issues with my former friend, who I think has NPD, or something in the ballpark. I don’t repeat the same mistakes again. While I am a Christian, I am not perfect!
Regardless, my ex-friend's behavior doesn't seem acceptable or healthy in Christian or "nonChristian" circles.
By the way, while try to hold on to Christian beliefs, I don't and won't condemn the belief system or opinions of others. I'd be happy to get opinions and support anyone -- and help and support anyone as we walk our path forward! (I'm stating this because I don't want anyone to be intimidated or feel restricted.)
Now to my story...I have known this man, who used to attend my church, for almost 20 years. He seemed fine at the beginning of the friendship, but after he changed religions about 10 years after that and his mother died, he seemed to change for the worse.
In our church group he talked about the role of the man in the household, how sex before marriage is wrong – even laying together in bed is wrong; how a man and woman should only cuddle, if that, if they are dating; and how a man shouldn’t break a woman’s spirit. (I thought he’d be a great friend to have, maybe more – or just a great mentor. I thought he would be honest and not try to lead me on. Boy was I duped.) He knows the Bible, taught Sunday school, is a hard worker, dresses well and takes care of his health. He acted remorseful if he hurt my feelings, and said right off the bat that he just wanted to be friends. He was very personable and had a great sense of humor.
We dated a few times and he tried to touch my knee, but I rebuffed his offer. He seemed to respect that. (But I thought it was odd that he would try this with a fellow Christian.) I’m no prude, but considering he talked so much about how to treat and respect a women, this would have been a no-no on his list.)
As the years progressed, everything seemed fine…We’d do projects for each other, talk occasionally and visit… I thought purely platonic. He did try to get sexual with me a few times, but backed off when he realized that it would set a bad example for his new church or for the person who may catch him in the act. (I thought it was odd that he didn’t care about my feelings or what type of an example he would set in front of me.) He did say he wasn’t a good leader and did ask for my forgiveness. I did, and we prayed to God, but his prayer was quick and short, and felt like something he just wanted to get out of the way. I prayed and read the Bible, seeking God’s help and forgiveness. I realize now that I gave up too much of my control to my friend, since he was the “man” and leader of the friendship. Do friendships have “leaders?” (I didn’t have much experience with men, having been out of the loop due to childhood illnesses that led to many years of recuperation. (I’m now in my 40s now, and my friend is 60.)
He continued to say that he just wants to be friends with me and got nervous if he thought I want more – even though I assured him that I didn’t want more than that. (I also think it’s odd that he would come on to a woman with whom he just wants to be friends.) However, if I didn’t show interest in him sexually, or wore unflattering clothes (which I thought you were supposed to do to not egg a guy on) he said “Why do you make things difficult.” (If he just wanted to be friends, what am I making difficult?)
Then one time, I initiated a quick hug to thank him for something – He panicked and asked, “What are you doing? Oh, you just want a hug. Okay,” and calmed down. (This was between the near-sexual encounters, which he always initiated.)
After he changed religions and his mother died about 10 years into our relationship, I noticed these situations arise:
He seemed to be more impatient and not as sensitive.
When I’d bring it up that he seemed hardhearted at times, he just shrugged his shoulders.
When I’d mention that he didn’t treat me nicely, he said, “Oh, I can treat people well,” never acknowledging his treatment of me, only that of the people who are his clients and church friends. When I mentioned that it hurts when I’m the person not being treated well. There was a momentary acknowledgement and he hugged me.
When I talked to him about the impending death of my own mother, he did not express sympathy or support, but did tell me that if I was worried about finances, I should tithe more, and gave me scriptures on tithing. (My own pastor didn’t even broach that subject during such a stressful time in my life.)
Later, he said he wouldn’t go to the funeral of an old woman who wouldn’t take her vitamins and use holistic medicines and methods to get well. He also didn’t like that my mom, who had a stroke, kept repeating herself. He felt that she should have told him she had a stroke and may repeat herself. (People who have strokes aren’t always aware of what they do and don’t to.)
He has really become more health conscience and talked of what the perfect woman should look like and act like…right down to certain body parts. He feels that women who take care of themselves should be able to have the body of a 19-year old – even well into their 80s.
He doesn’t want a spouse who complements him – He wants one who is exactly like him. If you have even one interest that is not in alignment with his, that’s a marriage deal-breaker. (Lets say that you don’t like fishing, but he does. Even though you are willing to go with him, but sit with him in the boat and read, it’s not enough – You should be fishing too.)
He even thinks that it is healthy for skinny models to be so thin – otherwise, Hollywood wouldn’t promote it.
He says the world expects him to look good.
He didn’t give and receive when talking to me sometimes. It was more like sitting through a sermon by a bitter pastor. When I tried to get in a word or two, he’d get angry and cut me off. One time I said, “You won’t let me speak!” To which he responded with a huffy, “I have to go,” and left.
He seemed to use the “male as the leader” role to control our friendship, so that he doesn’t have to put forth more emotional effort than he wants to or is capable of, and I think, to make things easier on him. I realize the certain boundaries need to be set, but isn’t a friendship more of an equal participation of two people?
When I told him after one of the near-sexual experience that I didn’t want to be “friends with benefits,” he replied, “Oh, you mean friends can’t do sexual favors for each other?” I said, “No, they can’t. Someone could get hurt. Some women may not mind it, but I don’t do that.” When I tried to end our friendship a year ago after the friends with benefits comment, he said I was right and he was wrong about the friends with benefits issue, and said he didn’t want to end our friendship because I help him with his other relationships. (He didn’t say anything about my sense of humor, his ability to talk freely and comfortably around me or any other reason why he wanted to remain friends, only that that I help him with relationships.)
I see now that I didn’t help matters much by indulging in the near-sexual experiences, but I thought he wouldn’t do that if he didn’t have at least some feeling for me. I had feelings for him, and I could see our relationship possibly developing into something more, but I wasn’t forcing it. We never had sex, and he didn’t touch me below the belt. (I am not only abstaining for religious reasons, even though I did slip. I am also abstaining and very cautious because I have seen what the physical, emotional and spiritual ramifications are of having sex – then being dumped – by listening to my sisters’ terrible experiences.
I gave him a second, or probably by now, a third chance, about three months ago. We seemed to have balanced conversations and he let me talk. He fixed my sister’s bike, and despite not liking her or her cat, he seemed to make a sincere attempt at getting along with both of them.
One comment he made was very bizarre. When I mentioned that I would have let him store his belongings in my garage, after he told me how stressful his year had been, having to get his stuff out of his dad’s house in a hurry, he snapped, “You live too far away.” (Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.)
Still, we got along fine, until he started to get paranoid that one of his church members, who knows my neighbor, would see his car over at my house and wonder what he was doing here.
I began to think he is only an observer in our “friendship,” and doesn’t understand friendship. Tired of feeling like a doormat and upset about our near sexual experiences, I started talking to him about my feelings and how I didn’t like his treatment of me at times. This was during our last visit.
Every time I tried to talk, and for each sentence or two I managed to squeeze in, I got a 10-minute speech about his previous relationships.
When I told him that I had to hold back feelings or not have any feelings around him and how unhealthy it was, he gave me a cavalier/detached look.
When I tried to talk about my emotions and that women have them, he said he’s starting to learn that about women. However, he did not acknowledge my personal feelings.
He said something again to hurt my feelings, and I told him. He said he was learning about that in other relationships!
I asked why he takes what he learns from our relationship and applies it to others but does not use it to enhance ours. He replied, “We don’t have a relationship.” This stunned me. I had used the terms relationship and friendship interchangeably before without him being so cold.
He added that we have a “partnering,” and that it is okay to get information from people to help with other relationships. (I think that is fine, as long has you have respect for and treat the person from whom you get the information with compassion. It also seemed like he learned from how he hurt me/my reaction, as opposed to learning about relationships by asking me what I thought. I am not a human Guinea pig! (I don’t think he realized that he’s killing the goose that’s laying the golden egg.)
He mentioned that we will never marry or be intimate --- although a marriage based on financial security and sex could work. (That led me to believe that he thinks I would want him for money and that my only redeeming quality in his eyes is sexual.) I attempted to express my thoughts on that when he interrupted yet again…This time with a frustrated, “Why don’t you just do God’s will?” This made me think that he meant his will – not God’s.
It ended with him saying that he wanted to be friends and would like to take me fishing in the spring, since my dad hadn’t taken me when I was little. (I told him that my dad wanted to take me fishing, but died before he could.) He also said he wanted to remain friends and that he would be calling me more often for advice and to talk.) He also promised to keep his distance and not touch me in inappropriate ways.
Emotionally exhausted, I just let it end for the evening.
I had a sleepless night, and started to get even more hurt and angry because I recalled him saying that evening that a man should talk to a woman’s parents before taking her out or asking her to marry him. I felt awful. While I knew he didn’t want to marry me, I would have thought he would have had more respect for me or my mom, unless he thought I was prime pickins’ because my mom was so laid back and immature and wouldn’t hold him accountable for anything. He never talked to my mom when he dated me. Which reminds me, one time when he took me out years ago, he said again it was just as friends, but at the end of the evening, he said, “This is the weirdest date I’ve ever been on.” I think it was because I spurned his advances.
I called him the next day (after our last visit) to tell him I needed time and for him not to call me for a while. I also told him that I felt used, and like I was a two-dimensional character in his eyes. He responded with, “I feel used too. Why can’t you just be positive? Why do you have to be so gloomy?” He then started talking about his other relationships and gave me tips on how to be ready for a husband. He did admit that he was “emotionally retarded.”
After thinking about it, receiving advice from a Christian counselor and getting deeper into the Bible/praying for over a week, I wrote and sent him a letter, telling him that I needed to end our friendship. (The one comment the counselor made that woke me up was, “A robin (bird) cannot mentor a coyote.”)
I feel bad because I didn’t do it in person, but he kept interrupting me, ignoring my feelings or attempts at discussing them, and leaving me exhausted. I also feel angry at putting up with all of this, considering I never put up with any behavior like this with non-Christian men. In fact no non-Christian man ever treated me like this.
Any help and insights you can give me will be greatly appreciated. I am working on my emotions, boundaries and spiritual growth.
I thought I had come a long way in forming my boundaries before I met my friend. I guess not. I am trying to overcome everything negative, including growing up with addicted siblings and a codependent mother, in my life and fix and establish my personal and emotional boundaries. I know that there is a life for me out there. It’s just that everything has taken longer for me for various reasons.
I can’t believe I put up with his treatment for so long. I’ve had other men who have come on to me inappropriately, and I saw it coming a mile away, and put a stop to it.
Your opinions will be greatly valued