Tag Archives: getting over a narcissist

Dear Aunt Alex – 4/17/13


Dear Aunt Alex,

In my head, I know that my narcissist ex will never love me. Why can I still not get him out of my head?  I just don’t know how to move on. Knowing he hurts me isn’t enough. any ideas please? I haven’t been out in two months and am suffering.



despair signs

Dear Missy,

Oh, Sweetie.  ::hugs::  This is the whole reason The Army has a base camp on the Internet: The devaluation hurts so bad.  It’s confusing and devastating and dismissive, and feels like you’re being abandoned and thrown away.  There is nothing festive about that.

despair 2

The psychiatrists in cheesy movies say, “Tell me about your parents,” and it’s funny because it’s cliche’ and feels useless.  But it turns out the parents are a superb place to start.  The first cut is the deepest, and the kids of narcissists have a primal, very early punch to their boundaries that most other people don’t.  When a child is ignored and gaslighted by a screwed-up toad parent, it feels confusing and devastating and dismissive, and feels like abandonment.


The boundaries get distorted by the tiny, tender psyche so that the poor kid can survive, and the longing for healthy care and bonding is never forgotten.

Let’s be perfectly clear:  These adult children do not, do NOT, deliberately seek out narcissists so that they can replay the childhood abuse and “fix” it.  That victim-blaming, offensive theory can’t die soon enough for Aunt Alex.  The adult children are more vulnerable to these buttholes because the boundaries are pretzel-twistied.  The narcissist parent punched a hole in the boundaries and that hole remains, and the future toads in her life smell that vulnerability from a mile away.  And those future narcissists stomp, waddle and slither through that hole in her boundaries and munch away freely on her heart and soul.

Now Missy, before Auntie Alex gets quicksanded by her own metaphors, let’s talk about your moving on, and let’s start here: Either you had a narcissist for a parent, or you didn’t.  But the process of moving on and getting him out of your head is essentially the same.

It’s going to take time.  Your heart doesn’t have an on/off switch.  Your affection doesn’t have an “uninstall” feature.  Just like a broken ankle or a case of mono needs time to heal, so does the damage caused by the narcissist.  It runs deep, and it takes more than two months to heal because it’s not superficial and trivial, it’s about betrayal and love and being told you’re a loser and it’s all your fault.  This stuff is A Big Deal.  So, step one: Forgive yourself for being a normal, healthy human being who’s been through a trauma.


Forgive yourself for being kind and vulnerable and emotionally generous and loving.  What happened isn’t your fault.  It’s his.

Step two: Get mad.  He killed your hope.  He lied.  He manipulated.  He tried to stomp down your self-worth so he could feel better about himself.  He did all of this on purpose, and he doesn’t care that you’re hurt.  He’s hurt others before you, and he’ll hurt others after you.  He’s like an opportunistic mosquito: If he’s shooed off of one host, he moves to another.  And then maybe goes back to suck off the first host again.  He doesn’t care who he’s sucking at the moment.  He just wants blood.  And he’ll suck off of hosts for as long as he lives.  Those damaged boundaries make you feel at least partially responsible for the failed bonding in the relationship, but you’re not.  He is.  He fucked the whole thing up.  He wasted your time and your effort, he devalued your love and your appeal, and he insulted and used you and continues to take up real estate in your head.  Ask yourself: Why aren’t you furious?  If someone treated your child or your sister like this, would you be sad, or murderous?  YOU GOTTA GET MAD BEFORE YOU CAN GET OVER IT.

mad baby

Step three: Clear your head (Man, those yoga mindfulness meditation people have got this down pat),  and replace the gross, useless thoughts of the narcissist with MUCH more pleasant things (which is pretty much anything).  No one can just “stop” thinking about something that’s been grinding at them for years.  It leaves a void in your head, and the old, familiar thoughts rush in to fill the space.  What do you love?


Your familyfriends, hobbies, work?

friends on beach

Do you love animalsreadingmovieswriting?  Drawing on your fingers?

friends fingers

If you say, “I tried to go out, to do things, to pick up a paintbrush or write a card to someone, and I just can’t,” that’s your mild, understandable depression lying to you.  You can; the mild depression just doesn’t want to because it wants to be, well, depressed.  It wants you to be uncomfortable so that you’ll try harder to bond with the narcissist, because depression isn’t very smart.  It’s primal and only knows how to “feel”.  You most certainly can start folding real, sweet, enriching things into your day, and getting over that feeling of weakness, getting over that “failure barrier”, is going to take practice.  You have to force yourself to do it the first couple of times, and once you see how doable it is and how much better you feel, it’ll get easier and easier.  For those first couple of times, you have to force yourself to get up, clean up, get out, and DO.  GIVE your brain other things to think about.  Those fresh thoughts and feelings aren’t going to plant themselves in there all by themselves.


You’re doing just fine, Sweetie.  This is how it’s done, with doubt and discomfort and reaching out; it feels futile, but you’re doing beautifully.  Keep up the good work, stay away from the toads, and you’ll have a bright, fulfilling future.







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Freedom means doing a hard thing.

Bridge du Toad

Bridge du Toad

It’s hard for emotionally generous people to burn bridges.  And yet, that’s what you gotta do to get rid of the embarrassing rash on your life known as the narcissist.  It burns like iodine on a knife wound, and I assure you it makes no more sense to keep a toad in your life than it does to deliberately infect and pick at that knife wound in order to keep it sore and in your life as long as possible.



Bridges keeping alive a relationship with a toad benefit the toad, and only the toad.  They’re really unhealthy for you.  So, whether you blow it up in a blaze of fireworks, quietly burn it in a private bonfire, or reduce it to a pile of rubble in a final earthquake of ceremony and pomp: Get rid of the bridge allowing the toad access to your heart.  That bridge leads to Misery, and Gaslighting, and Lies and Manipulation and Torment — all places where he lives, and where sane folk don’t wanna go.  Look at it, closely: it’s not even that great of a bridge.


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Viva la Voice

lamott quote

Preach it, Sistah Anne.

Troops, if you ever feel like you need to edit your own pasts to protect abusers, or to give toads the benefit of the doubt, or to keep from making waves (all MUCH more honorable reasons than the narcissist’s reasons, when he edits the past just to get what he wants), well, let those days be over.

Talk about, write down, and/or think through what happened with clarity, confidence and honesty, and let the responsibility for events fall where it may.  You know the reality, and it’s time to trust it.  The Army is protecting YOU.  It’s giving YOU the benefit of the doubt.  It’s calming things in YOUR mind and YOUR life.

End the voicelessness.  Tell your story.  Let the healing begin.





Note to give props: ‘Boy Reading to Elephant’ is by one of Aunt Alex’s favorite artists, Gregory Colbert.  You can check him out at gregorycolbert.com.

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The Toadbuster Calendar

Narcissists hate momentum. To narcissists, there is nothing good about momentum. Momentum is powerful, positive, and takes on a life of its own — all things that terrifies a narcissist. And with momentum, you expect more of those things as time goes by, not less.

Aunt Alex’s Army loves momentum. Momentum is powerful, positive, and takes on a life of its own — all things that energize and empower the Army. And here’s one way to get your own momentum rolling.

As you detach from the toxic fun-as-cholera psycho known as the narcissist, every day counts. Every hour that you don’t respond to him or have any contact with him at all, counts. This is because it gets easier with time, especially when you have supportive people, like friends and family and the Army, around you keeping you focused. You want those hours to grow into days, and you want those days to accumulate uninterrupted.

So, get yourself a calendar. Lots of businesses have them for free, especially this time of year. If you can’t find one or buy one right now, make one.

Every day that you don’t have contact with the narcissist, cross that day off with a big X. If you respond to the narcissist, or have contact with him in any way, don’t put an X on that day. What you’re looking for is a long chain of crossed-out days on your calendar, unbroken. This might not happen right away, but I promise you — as your rows of crossed-out days on your calendar grow, you’ll be able to see why it is that you’re feeling gradually healthier — and gradually better. Like you’re recovering from cholera.

If you’re the competitive type, put yourself to a 30-day challenge, of good eating, good projects, and staying the hell away from assclowns. Let the considerable power of momentum start to carry you along, as your commitment builds and shows itself, and the only rule is to take care of yourself.


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Good on ya, Part II


Just an updated shout-out to the Friends who left reviews over at Amazon. Reviews help readers make a choice. The comments posted there, they rock, and Case, Melanie, Annie, Avenging, Caroline, Abbey, so do you. It’s not easy, putting yourself out there like that and expressing a strong, positive public opinion about a snarky book. Amazonian Commenters, if you want to email me your snailmail address, I’ll have the elves at the Distribution Cottage (love those elves) send you a paperback copy of “So. You’re in Love With a Narcissist.” The paperback has two typos (what the elves might lack in perfection, they more than make up for in their coolness factor). Those typos, they’re no extra charge.



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Good on ya.


Just a shout-out to the Friends who left reviews over at Amazon. Reviews help readers make a choice. The comments posted there, they rock, and Avenging, Caroline, Abbey, so do you.

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The First Cut is the Deepest Part 3

Aunt Alex’s Army has a dry-out tank.

Let me explain. A portion of the emotionally generous population (that would be us, Friends) have narcissistic toads as parents (that would be Fake-Mom and Destructo-Dad; hey, let’s call them as we see them). This messes with the kids’ boundaries, because from birth the tykes try to bond with the toad parents in a normal, healthy way, and the psycho parents will have none of it. They use and abuse, just like all other narcissists. The boundaries get bent. And for some emotionally generous kids, along with this can come a craving.

That craving — it’s for the love and bonding of the parents, and for little kids it’s very healthy. Bonding with your parents increases your chances as a growing and developing human. Narcissistic parents fail pathetically at bonding and completely let the kids down. Then the kid grows up, and in reality the parents become essentially obsolete. But — the primal craving lingers. And the boundaries are bent. Hello, recipe for disaster.

Guess how the cravings are fed? Not with healthy relationships, because the cravings are for the love and bonding of the actual parents. You guessed it. With relationships with people who sense that craving, AND the emotional generosity, and who swoop in for the kill. Toads. And narcissists. And assclowns. Oh, my!

This is critical: THE CRAVINGS ARE NOT YOU. They’re SEPARATE and APART from you, an unwelcome stow-away and a relic from a horrible childhood. They’re scars that flare from time to time. They’re not a disease, or a personality trait, or a weakness. Those cravings are just old aches from war wounds, wounds suffered in the battles for health and normalcy when you were a little child. Old aches from old scars.

Fair enough, but sometimes those cravings are nurtured and nourished by modern romantic narcissists into full-blown misery and trauma, when the toads play on all this old stuff in your head and heart to their own advantage (which they all do). The cravings become large and looming, sore and ravenously hungry. What then?

Then, it’s off to the dry-out tank with you. Those cravings are NOT an addiction. But it works to treat them like one, and the battle can be just as hard. A narcissist lures and taunts actively and with full voice, like a glass of wine passively and quietly lures an alcoholic.

Some people have such a rough time with this craving, that Aunt Alex is going to build a dry-out tank. This will be a closed and private support group to supplement any current support groups or recovery help a person uses, where we only deal with the cravings, 12-step fashion. Dropping the defenses. Admitting this isn’t the way you want to live. Focusing on that first cut. Reviewing how you got here, building the boundaries, and taking full control over your own narcissist-free future. Marching on toward management of the cravings, not toward trying to pretend they don’t exist. Virtual coffee, cider and fresh doughnuts will be served.

And it’ll go like this:
“Hi, my name is Alex, and I have cravings.”


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The First Cut is the Deepest, Part 2

We were talking about narcissist-mom and toad-dad, and how they can bend a person’s boundaries. I person with bent boundaries can be pretty vulnerable to future predators of the personality-disordered variety, until those boundaries get fortified through time and work. Narcissists are like hyenas — very opportunistic, and always on the prowl for the easy, emotionally generous catch. (Plus they smell and whine and have greasy fur.)

This connection of the current narcissist to the crappy parent can be seen pretty vividly in the messages in the heads of the emotionally generous when we respond to narcissists and other toads. Look at what people say when they describe their reactions to these guys:

“I feel lost without him.”
“I felt this connection that I desperately need to feel again.”
“I love him. We had something so special, so unique.”
“I just need to have him back. I can’t explain it. But he has this effect on me that just goes through my whole body.”
“I need you. Jesus, just get normal about this, will you?!”

Now, these might sound a bit over-the-top to anyone who hasn’t been mauled by a narcissist-hyena, but they’re taken straight from the testimonials of survivors. This is the way toads WANT to make people feel — like they’re very special, gifts from the Gods, and irreplaceable. And they succeed in making people feel these things, but especially, and most viscerally, in people who have felt this way before.

Look at those statements. And put them in the mouths of kids, little ones, who are being left out in the cold by their parents. Then those statements make a whole lot of very clear sense.

Those feelings don’t get shaken off right away when a person gets to adulthood, because this is primal stuff and it leaves a mark. The statements above get applied to a manipulative and crafty toad when they tromp through the EXACT same breaches in your boundaries that the crappy parents did, the breaches in your boundaries that the crappy parents created. Your psyche is no dummy — it recognizes this, and remembers the pain and the anxiety from childhood. It remembers these things very well. And never forgot how important that connection was. That memory wakes up. This makes the toad feel even more important to us, along with the rest of his BS. Those effects — the breached boundaries, the memory of our childhood emotional starvation, and the current Toadcraft — all swirl together into a downward spiral. Hello, tornado-o’-misery.

This is fixable in emotionally generous people. All of it. The current toxic relationship, the emotional memories that take over, and the bent boundaries all can be straightened out with time and work. There’s more than hope; there’s pretty much no way you CAN’T fix these things, with some time and good work. This is in contrast to narcissists and other toads, who can’t be fixed, or improved, or trained, or helped. They’re permanently rotted out. They’re screwed.

If you got short-changed by a narcissistic parent, then you’re able to show yourself something remarkable. Write down in words the way you feel when the current Toadboy has you feeling your worst. Then look at those words, and imagine them coming out of the mouth of a kid to his crappy parent. I bet you’ll be astounded at how much more sense those feelings make when they’re applied toward the person for whom those feelings are really and originally meant — the person who cut you first.


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The Safety Zone

One of my all-time greatest heroes (admittedly, I have many) is a chap named Abraham Maslow. Maslow was a psychologist in Brooklyn, NY, who created the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. Now, don’t worry, Friends, you’re not going to get ambushed with some dry, pointless pontificating here; that’s what toads are for (and, oh, they are good at it, aren’t they?). No, the point about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that applies here is a brief one and a simple one: You can’t be yourself if you’re busy worrying about being safe.

Like many things that we talk about, that’s an obvious point on paper, but it gets a whole lot harder when we fit it into our lives. You may not feel like the narcissistic toad in your life is actually threatening your SAFETY, but he is. Safety, and health, includes having a mind that knows it’s safe to rest, to muse, to create, to think about nothing, zen-style. And if you’re with a toad I’ll bet my buttons it’s been a long, long time since you’ve been able to relax like that.

You can’t recover from a trauma to your soul that you’re still experiencing. You can’t recover from an emotional beating you’re still taking. You can’t recover from the abuse of a toad when you’re still with him.

The whole idea behind recovery is to get to where you feel safe so that you can move forward in peace and with energy, and be the person you were “meant” to be. This is so key, so pivotal to our mission, that you can use it to identify toady behavior in any situation and with any person. Sometimes in life we ARE unsafe, in ways that don’t involve malice or predation, like when a hurricane is barreling through town (hi, Irene), or when our company is announcing layoffs, or when a child is very sick. These are times when you set aside your calling in life, and your work at maximizing your potential, until the danger has passed. But sometimes people threaten your safety for their own purposes, or just because that’s who they are (and what they do). If it seems like you might be in such a situation, you can ask yourself — Is your peace of mind being threatened? Is it being threatened purely on the whim of an assclown? If so, things aren’t safe, and you can’t be relaxed until they are. You can’t be yourself until the toad’s effects on your life have been neutralized.

Toads aren’t safe. At all. If they can, they’ll stomp all over your life until there’s nothing left, and smile and tell you everything’s terrific while they’re doing it. You can’t recover from this when he’s still in your life, and your life is begging you to be safe so that your life can relax and be at its very best. Your mind wants any danger, famine (including emotional famine), and threats you encounter to be rare, and brief, not a lifestyle.

If your house, and your time, were true sanctuaries of safety and creativity, would the toad be invited in them? Would he be sitting at the kitchen table, smiling broadly while lying, manipulating, and talking about himself?

I bet my buttons he would not.


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Book Section from Toads, and The Women Who Kiss Them.

As promised, Friends, here’s a sample from the Toads tome

(  http://tinyurl.com/3j49a6a  ).

It had some critical input from a social worker at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, NH, named Sonya Mastersen, MSW, who edited for continuity and provided ample mental health info as well as helped the theme stay focused. 

Tell me what you think, because we’re all Friends here and we want to make sure Aunt Alex didn’t wander into the Feeble Zone whilst listening to herself talk.


There are several different kinds of toads, in ALL shapes and sizes and varieties of scumbag, but here are some common traits.

### The only thing that fuels his motor is self-interest.  The SELFISHNESS factor in toadcraft is off the charts.  No matter how gifted of a manipulator he is, or how smooth his lies and deceptions are, his partner has noticed — often — that with this guy, it’s all about him.  And it is.  Without that normal, healthy ability to empathize, he can’t think of people, anybody, as even remotely important or even very interesting, except for what they can give him and do for him.  Taking that a step further, it’s all about what they can do for him to make his life at any given moment easier or more entertaining for him, or to make him feel like a fabulous guy right that minute.  He hurts others without guilt, he takes what he wants from others without remorse, he lies with revolting ease and has so little problem with it that he forgets his lies equally easily.  He wants people to be appliances, dispensing what he needs when he needs it, and quietly out of the way when he doesn’t.

### Most toads like to be busy, often with COMPULSIVE little preoccupations.  This helps keep him from thinking and feeling, things a normal person would actually enjoy doing.  Toads don’t really like thinking or feeling because they’re unable to bond, and the consequential loneliness is desperately, bone-crushingly desolate and sad.  His thoughts and feelings are steeped in self-loathing and anxiety.  No wonder he avoids them.
The Truth is, he grows bored with a woman very quickly.  Now, this is NOT a reflection on the woman.  He grows bored with EVERYTHING.
A novel: Gripped, then bored.
A celebrity: Enthralled, then bored.
His old girlfriend: Fascinated, then bored.
A sports game: Jazzed, then bored.
Aliens landing in the backyard: Riveted, then bored.
He’s addicted to adrenaline because it makes him feel alive, and he’s bored more easily than a monkey in an empty cubicle.  And that’s a hopeless combination.

### His MOOD SWINGS can give a person seasickness.  His memory for loving gestures, kindnesses his partner or others show him, ways they try to bond with him, gifts they give to him, anything good, is nonexistent seconds after it happens.  He can’t retain feelings and build on them because he doesn’t have that bonding “glue” that holds it all together.  After he gets what he wants, the “feelings” dissipate, the time together is forgotten (completely, as though it had vanished), and he’s on to what he wants next.  If he’s getting something, he’ll purr like a kitten right that moment.  If he’s being “refused” (even if it’s because she has an emergency and can’t come over right then, or she’s sick, or she got in a car accident, or is justifiably mad because he’s been a jerk, or, really, anything), he’ll have a tantrum like a spoiled and not-quite-right-in-the-head kindergartner.  He also gets moody very easily because he doesn’t have the mental health to handle even a little stress or anxiety, moderate life challenges, frustration, or disappointment.  He’s perfectly OK with rampant mood swings.  He doesn’t see them as a problem or even as at all unusual, because they reflect the tornado of contradictions, struggles, and chaos in his head.  When a sane person feels peaceful, they like having peaceful surroundings.  When a frog Prince feels energized and excited, he likes exciting surroundings.  Well, toads feel miserable and crappy all the time, and that’s the joy they want to spread around, all the time.  Frog princes are able to keep aware of the big picture.  Toads can’t.  They don’t have the mental parts.

### He’s DESPERATE FOR ATTENTION.  Lots of it.  He’s never so comfortable as when the attention is on him, the drama is high, or he senses that his lies are being bought and believed, lock, stock and barrel.  They love to screw up other people’s birthdays, celebrations and holidays (he doesn’t feel special, so why should you?), and prevent anyone but him from being the focus of happy attention.

### He expects his partner to be able to read his mind, all the time.  Not little messages at rare times, like he sent his partner a private “let’s leave” signal in a crowded room that she didn’t pick up.  Neither are we talking about minor differences in understanding about agreements, for which neither of them in the couple feel particularly responsible.  That’s occasional healthy couple stuff.  We’re talking MAGICAL THINKING, where he gets furious if she didn’t just magically know he wanted her home early, or just magically know he wanted her to seduce him with a certain sexual fantasy, or that he wanted to be left alone on a certain day.  She’s supposed to know when to be fully available and when to be scarce, when to baby him and how much, what to say, how to say it, when to call, what to offer, and when to be “challenging”.  She’s supposed to know what he wants, and want the same thing herself.  She can find herself feeling like she’s dealing with a three-year-old, except three-year-olds are (A) adorably innocent, (B) trusting, and (C) can be soothed with hugs, reassurance, and ice cream.  Toads just keep that toad tantrum shrieking away until he either runs out of steam, or she leaves, or he wants something else from her.

### He’s DEFENSIVE.  He’s ridiculously defensive.  He’s not just “sensitive”, he gets head-spinningly enraged at comments or looks that weren’t even criticisms or accusations.  The chip on his shoulder is so big, it’s a wonder he doesn’t tip over.  He can’t handle the most gentle conversation about something he could do to improve the relationship, or something he could change about the way he does things for his partner or her benefit, or even his own benefit.  He would call his defensiveness “explaining”, or “responding” to her harsh criticism or attacks, but all that’s really going on is his lashing out at her when the compost tornado in his head gets to spinning out of control — and just like with a tornado, there’s nothing she can do but take cover.  He’s so emotionally weak that he can’t engage in the slightest introspection without lashing out with all guns blazing, nor can he hear anything about the smallest discomfort or dissatisfaction on her part without taking it as a massive assault on himself.  It’s bizarre, and very destructive.

### The frequency of PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE behavior is off the charts with toads.  This means that he does mean and nasty things out of a desire to hurt and bother others, but usually in a sneaky, underhanded way that he can try to play off as a mistake, an overreaction or misunderstanding on the woman’s part, or something that he can try to pretend is thoughtful and meaningful on his part (when in fact it’s mean and nasty).  He does this because he’s got a whole lot of anger, hatred, loneliness, frustration and negativity in his head, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and passive-aggression lets some of it leak out to give him a little relief, while not making him suffer all the consequences that overtly aggressive and obnoxious behavior would.  Hurting others makes him feel impactful, and makes the outside of him more like the inside, a harmony and cohesion which we all seek.  (That’s why validation feels so good and why we enjoy calm, relaxing surroundings.)  There are thousands of ways passive-aggression can show itself.  If he’s not particularly smooth about it his plays can be pretty obvious, such as when he outright asks her what she wants, and then says in the same discussion that she can’t have it.  Passive-aggression using sex is guaranteed, especially in the way he’ll treat her afterward — like she’s in the way.  Denying her things (visits, plans, occasions, sex, anything), mentioning other women in pointless contexts, mentioning things he’s done without her that he knows she wanted to do with him, being late, being annoyingly early, canceling at the last minute, withholding answers, breaking promises, calling her with an invitation to a trip an hour before he’d pick her up, while knowing she therefore can’t go.  He can get very creative with his passive-aggression.   His passive-aggressive withholding and denial can even be about something that he wants too, but his compulsion to be passive-aggressive is so strong that it overrides rational thought, his own plans, and his own strategies.  And then he’ll get mad about how his own passive-aggression has messed up what he wants, and takes that frustration out on you.  Yes, it’s that crazy.  No, it can’t be fixed with therapy or love.

### This trait is critical, and universal across the toad board: He’s a huge CONTROL FREAK.  It’s his way or the highway.  He’ll be a rigid, bossy jerk.  He can be pretty sneaky about this, also, if he wants to be:  “Your making this easy for me is part of why this works.”  But more often, it’s more like,  “This is a way we can do things.  And if you don’t want to, that’s your choice.”  (Comments like this make it sound like she has a choice, when he’s actually toaded things up so badly that she has no such thing — she has no input or leverage in this “choice” except to take it or leave it. )

Some common (but not universal to all toads) ways they control things include:

~~ Laying a huge (and sometimes screaming) guilt trip on her if she wants to spend time with family or friends, even only occasionally or for special events.
~~ Going through her cell phone to see the numbers she’s dialed and received.
~~ Telling her how to dress (not preferences, but instructions or manipulations, as in, “If you love me and want me to be happy, you’ll dress this way all the time, except when I tell you to do differently”).  Hair’s too short, not enough makeup, her favorite lingerie is too lacy or not the right color.  He’ll imply that if she doesn’t wear what he wants her to, they can’t be together.
~~ Telling her she’s selfish and a poor partner if she wants to do things once in a great while that don’t include him or that he doesn’t particularly want her to do, like visit people important to her that he doesn’t like, or relax once in a while by herself with a video or the Internet, or take a nap.
~~ Threatening to end the relationship over stupid little things, or things completely out of her control.
~~ Suicide threats, threats of worsening his tantrum, or threats to withhold — anything he thinks might “get” to you.

He even wants to control the conditions of an argument with him — if he feels like fighting and she doesn’t, she’s “refusing to talk to him”, she’s being withholding, or a bitch, she thinks she’s superior, etc.  If he is being intolerable and she needs to talk to him about it, she’s not allowed to bother him with her “petty nags and bullshit”.  Period.  God help her if she’s got a good point to argue and a mind of her own, and wants to press the issue; if she stands up for herself, he’ll have a complete meltdown.  Sometimes he can be so ridiculous about it that it’s easy to think he might be joking.  But he’s not.  Keep in mind, it’s not about the issue at hand, whatever it is; it’s not about family, or what to have for dinner, or what his partner wants.  It’s about control.  If he can’t dominate her and his surroundings, he feels like things can — and will — spin wildly out of control, a possibility which terrifies him.  He doesn’t have the emotional health or substance to be able to see otherwise, no matter how many times he’s shown or told he can share control in a relationship and it will be OK.

“Toads are people too!”
— So are child molesters and pornographers.  Doesn’t mean you should bring them into your life.

### Something that gets a toad really, over-the-top nasty is some natural healthy boundaries on the part of people around him, in his presence.  His partner tells him she doesn’t want to talk about something right now, or do something with him because of her feelings or beliefs, or that she doesn’t want to get into an argument with him about the topic at hand because it’s too volatile or uncomfortable for her.  Toads HATE BOUNDARIES with every cell of their warty little being, and if she has them, he’ll attack them until they’re dust at her feet.  It’s partly tied in with the control thing, where he wants her to have nothing that’s really to herself, including feelings and information.  It’s also partly tied in with his wanting to be able to shame, hurt, and manipulate her if needed, and the more private the details behind the boundaries, the more he needs to know them.  He desperately needs to be able to get to her (to “smite”her if ever need be, as one toad put it).  But mostly his hatred of boundaries has to do with his total and complete self-loathing.  A woman’s healthy boundaries let her keep dignifying and identity-building things to herself, and protect her most primal, vulnerable core, that tender “inner child”, against assault, even in a healthy relationship. Toadboy takes her boundaries so personally that he’s sure she’s telling everyone everything, and sharing all of herself with everyone, except for him.  His damaged psyche tells him that the reason she has boundaries is because she thinks he’s not good enough to “know” her, and that she shuts him out only because he’s a warty loser.
Now, it’s absolutely true that he’s a warty loser and that she probably does have some huge red flags about him and wants to protect her tender inner self from him and his toadcraft.  But these aren’t the only reasons she has the boundaries he hates; it’s because she’s taking care of herself.  One of the most common ways toads exploit boundaries is the Machiavellian “trust and faith” move.  Toads want to be able to tell a woman to trust him and have faith in him and in what they have together, and have her buy into it, all in, so that he can exploit her easily and maximally.  If he can get her to believe in his BS with no evidence he can be trusted, or why she should have “faith”, he can feel like he has that power, that control, that ability to “get” a woman.  The kind of “trust” and “faith” he asks for requires a woman to abandon not only her boundaries against being manipulated, but also her common sense and her own wants, needs and plans.
Healthy trust and faith have substance, a pattern of performance, a history of worthiness to back them up.  In healthy relationships, trust and faith aren’t just words.

“I once met a guy who, on the first date, told me I was inflexible and impossibly rigid because I said that betrayal in a relationship should never be tolerated.  Is this something a toad would do?”
— Yes, but he’s also being an impossibly ineffectual one, showing his toad cards on a first date like that.  I don’t know what’s more appalling, his toadery or his stupidity.  But I thank him sincerely for saving you the trouble.

There are lots of terms that overlap here.  Narcissist.  Sociopath.  Antisocial Personality Disorder.  Borderline Personality Disorder.  Psychopathy.  Huge Jerk.  Same BS, different costumes.   The beauty of Aunt Alexandra’s Army and its work is, it isn’t the partner’s job to “diagnose” the toad, or to go looking through a copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, otherwise known as the DSM (and don’t get me started on the DSM), and try to sleuth out exactly under what category his toxicity falls.  If her stomach is in knots and she feel like something is wrong, and he’s got the toad traits mentioned above, he’s a toad, and Aunt Alex’s Army the right place for her.


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