This topic contains 24 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by  Cecile 4 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #87620

    If so what kind of behaviours did they display? X

  • #87633

    Showing complete disinterest in anything you have to say. For example telling you to hurry up, or get on with it. Eye rolling, scrolling through their ‘phone when you’re speaking.
    Interrupting you to change the subject to something about themselves, or waiting for a pause and then changing it.

    Lots of passive-aggressive behaviours. Pretending they are into something you like, or want to do then ‘forgetting’ and just brushing it off as not having been important anyway. They’re often very smug about things.

    Everything was an insult or criticism of them, and they were a martyr at all times. He was a master of turning something ordinary I’d said around and saying I’d ridiculed him.

    They had very few real friends and were nice to people’s face then talked horribly about them behind their backs. They also thought they were so much better than everyone else. In his case more intelligent, but they can choose all sorts of characteristics to feel inwardly superior about. He never did anything that could be deemed to be reaching out and had no hobbies, no social interaction beyond what I instigated.

    Any compliments were back handed in a very subtle way, leaving me confused as to whether I’d actually been complimented or criticised. He would seek reassurance that he was clever or special all the time too. He would say he was a victim of my behaviour, that I didn’t give him enough love or reassurance, enough physical cuddling, and that I took my bad days at work out on him and caused him stress. Anything to make me feel small and as if I had to raise him up. He used lots of shaming, mentioning things he knew I was sensitive about often and throwing them into a bad light. Anything to make me feel small.

    He questioned everything I said. Shaking my confidence and belief in myself because he seemed so confident that his way, his knowledge was the right one, and mine was not. Somehow, even with evidence he’d make me feel I could be wrong.

    If he gave me anything it would usually be in front of others, so they could see his generosity. He’d big me up in public too, as a way of having people look at him as a nice person, or to make them admire him. It was never about me. He’d always find a subtle way to knock that pedestal over in my ear afterward.

    Those are some of the behaviours.

    • #89867

      I have just come out of a relationship with a covert abuser- I am trying to put together my life again – discovering the type of individual he is has been one of the most disorienting distressing times in my life.
      A truly truly dangerous individual
      Key traits of key events for me were

      Lovebombing, mirroring, creating a shared vision first (detail removed by moderator) months

      After this ‘ideal’ start I felt a sense of danger and fragility in the relationship

      Me repeatedly trying to leave (detail removed by moderator) times in (detail removed by moderator) months but being Hoovered back in

      Unpredictable changes in his Jekyll and Hyde personality

      A pattern of grooming and destabilisation

      Very sensitive to criticism

      Making all criticisms about you but taking responsibility when that suited his endgame

      High sense of drama that was intoxicating

      Describing the connection as drug like or voodoo

      Getting over the ending is beyond the usual hard time it is brutal – I felt attached to him by a system of invisible threads that made no sense until I realised the insidious control.

      Other things that came out

      Leading a double life

      Adult children have chosen to have nothing to do with him


      Chronic debt problems for years

      Use of prostitutes

      He met both previous partners online – they were newly separated had small children, settlements and property one was pregnant after (detail removed by moderator) months together with the other Moved in after (detail removed by moderator) months and declared bankruptcy a month later.

      The list goes on and on

      If you’ve never been in this situation it’s so difficult to comprehend the effect. It is brainwashing ,Stockholm syndrome, cult type tactics

      Much love to all of you x*x

      Elaborate lies

  • #87635

    My ex was covert as well. The silent treatment, the sulks, the lack of responsibility, the quietly breaking my things then blaming me. Oh yes, the very thin skin. The rages. He treated me as an object as anyone might treat a bike or a shovel or soap. He did things at me including sex. Total lack of intimacy. His words and his actions were completely different. He had a very strange relationship with his mother which he insisted was normal. It wasn’t. She was vitriolic. He couldn’t finish anything. Courses, projects…jobs. He couldn’t process new thoughts and behaved as though he was forever on a hamster wheel of emotion.

    The entitlement was clear. He didn’t have any friends and he made it clear that he didn’t like mine. They were not good enough for his exacting standards.

    The love bombing at the beginning. Although in retrospect he was waving more red flags in front of me than I can shake a stick at it worked. He was a rapist from the beginning. I had stupidly told him that I had been raped and he said he would never do anything like that, that he would always stop, that he would never hurt me. Unfortunately consent wasn’t part of his makeup.

    There was an odd lack of confidence about him and the assumption that people would flock towards him because he was so marvellous despite not knowing he was there.

    He had a ‘friend’ once. When he spoke about this friend, I recognised it as supply.

    His adult children are almost no contact which raises alarm bells.

    I think for me it was the words and actions that got me most. I loved him and I wanted to believe what he said.

    Very slow, very subtle, very damaging.

    There is masses of information on Youtube. My ex ticks the boxes of a covert. The abusive behaviour we describe is based on personality traits and very few people are diagnosed with NPD.

    The name-calling, the imitation of my behaviour.. On and on it goes!

  • #87637

    Thanks for your responses. My ex would sit and pretend to listen but he looked miles away… but he actually knew everything id said…. like he were making mental notes… he used to say we would do something but when it came to it its like he had forgot he had said it… he wrapped up half a bottle of wine for my b day out of his cupboard… i challenged him over it he said he had no idea it were half bottle. Yet when we fell out he said he were going home to drink a full bottle of wine. He said people in society will think hes my psychiatrist. But he said it so calm and smug… he holds people to account for a living hes such an attitude. Every women hes had as left him x

    • #87662

      Hi Maddog. In what way would you say the relationship with your ex and his mother was strange? My ex’s mother smothered us as a family, I felt suffocated! She was obsessed with him saying she missed him and worried that because he had me she wouldn’t see him and then became obsessed with our daughter once she was born. We weren’t allowed the space to grow as a family. She would constantly emotionally blackmail me or him into seeing us. If I didn’t comply I’d be bullied by the pair of them in one way or another! I dreaded any visits as she’d always have something to say about how she thought we or I was intentionally not wanting her around, then I’d be made out to be unreasonable. It was so bad I felt ill at the thought of having to see her. Hated his phone going off Incase it was his mother asking to see us or moaning about how she hadn’t. I always had the pressure put on me to see them. The anxiety was unreal. I just didn’t stand a chance with those pair. I felt like she was the other woman in our relationship as she meant more to him than I did and her opinion mattered and her feelings were always valued. Not mine x

  • #87657

    Ladies, you could be describing my ex partner too!

    Don’t know about you but I didn’t realise a lot of it WAS abuse. I can see now though, making me worry and feel sorry for him but putting me down at the same time. Saying I did nothing for him etc, then in the next breath I was the best thing ever.

    He has hardly any friends which I now see as a red flag but can’t help feeling guilty he’s on his own

  • #87761

    Between you, you have described my ex. It was so subtle it took me ages to realise what was happening and it is difficult to explain to others as each trait then taken on its own sounds like nothing. When put together thought it makes life very unpleasant. The things that I related to were looking at his phone, not looking at me when I was talking with him, interrupting when I was speaking, telling me he had similar qualifications or interests when he didn’t, that I was ridiculing, criticising or insulting him. He had very few real friends and didn’t like my friends. We were never invited round to friends for dinner; this was always my fault and not never because he always talked about himself and interrupted others all the time. He would use people until he no longer needed them and then be unkind about them and made it difficult for me to maintain friendship with them. He sulked and never took responsibility for anything and never said sorry. he was very think skinned. His behaviour was always my fault. I made him do or feel things. He would tell others how marvellous I was but always to make him look good. He did the same with our children and used their successes to make him look good. He didn’t like my friends and I had to ask if I wanted to meet with them. He never finished anything be that gardening, housework, decorating etc. He would buy random presents at Christmas or birthday and then tell me that he knew I had always wanted it. He had a strange lack of confidence but hid it to others. He too had an odd relationship with his mother. I don’t think I was every good enough. They were always round at our house and stayed too long. He could do no wrong in her eyes. I either never chatted enough with his parents or allegedly spoke to much. I could never get anything right. It has taken my a long time to appreciate and accept the nature of the abuse and that was what it was.

  • #87767

    I’d mention something from a conversation we’d had or something that had happened (good, bad or even innocuous) and he’d look at me, all bewildered, and tell me it didn’t happen, that I was ‘imagining things again’, that I was ill and needed to rest, etc etc.

    If I tried to challenge this the mock sympathy would slip and he’d get gradually more aggressive, positioning his behaviour as a reasonable response to my argumentativeness. And when he lost his temper he’d just come right up to my face and point at his head while screaming ‘you’re a l*****c’.

    He used to take me to the doctor and get me to try and explain our arguments to them while he sat in the background pretending to be empathetic and tired. He wanted them to tell me I was sick and the sad thing was I ended up so confused and so worn-out and diminished that sometimes it worked. He positioned himself with me and with everyone as my carer when the only thing wrong with me was my relationship with him.

  • #87806

    Great question – so so covert – this list probably doesn’t even sound like abuse:

    So much attention at the start

    Wanting to be with me a lot

    Wanting us to have a shared vision

    Buying me presents I didn’t want

    Telling me he loved me, but me not feeling loved

    Not being present or doing anything of real benefit for me

    Telling me how great he was

    Telling me how great other people were

    Telling me he was sad (playing victim), and brining the mood down

    Never praising me or asking me how I was

    Asking me to help him with things he could do himself

    Changing the subject if I spoke about my stuff

    Taking forever to get me a painkiller or similar

    Taking up more physical space that he should have for his size

    Always ‘winning’ arguments by saying confusing things

    I COULD GO ON WITH MANY MORE OVERT THINGS BUT ACTUALLY IT IS THE COVERT STUFF LIKE THE ABOVE THST CAN BE SO DANGEROUS BECAUSE IT MAKES US QUESTION OURSELVES AND PREVENTS US SEEING THE ABUSE. Thank goodness my therapist so quickly worked him out which gave me all the information I needed to get out. No more abuse!!

  • #87807

    So many similar things here,

    His mum is what it think has stumped his emotional.development
    I never get nasty or argue with my own family.but his mum has pushed me quite a few times with her criticism and demand for respect !

    As he control and realise I will.never take out another loan or borrow.monet from my parents for him ever again he ramped up the scare stories – drug dealers were going to carve him up or his classic one lately – he will kill himself … But then will sort something out and be far from suicidal.within a day or two ..

  • #87813

    The covert abusers are the most dangerous. My ex was waving red flags all over the place from the beginning. What he said about his mother didn’t match with what he did about her. She had vented her vitriol on me and he sought to protect her. This confused me. She was awful. I understand his father was quite the misogynist, and my ex worshipped him. This is as far as he would let me know. He used to say his upbringing was completely normal and his parents were fine and all was good. His mother was certainly toxic, and she may have smelled a rat in her son.

  • #87845

    God no. Mine was violent and aggressive and in the end he didn’t care who saw, what he did to me

  • #89894

    He is and the more I read, the more I see how he is. He was very charming at first, trying to buy me expensive gifts, I always declined and I still do. When our kids were very young he moved out for various lengths of time, because he wanted to give us the space to become stronger but he would turn up at the house at random times and it was only when he accused me again of an affair that I flipped and told him our marriage was over that he suddenly decided he needed to come home. How I regret not forcing him to leave. I have lived with silent treatment, affection withdrawal, everything is my fault, if only I would do X and our marriage would be so much better. He criticises the choices I make but in such a subtle way I am left upset and bewildered but can’t explain why. I have no friends anymore because he would sulk for days if I saw them saying I was awful to live with after spending time with them.
    The list goes on but the most painful has been him ignoring our youngest for 3 years. Our middle child had him arrested for assault, I was at work at the time so I have no clue what went on. Charges were dropped but when our youngest reached a certain point she defied him one night and left the house to see friends. This child still lives at home so you can imagine how hard it is. This child has some issues, struggles socially, tells a lot of lies and finds it hard to keep jobs.
    I once told him how ill it was making me and he brought up stuff from years ago when I had caused him pain.
    Rather reacting to the stuff he says I tend to withdraw into myself so then I worry I am becoming like him. I still ask how is day has been, always bad but I never volunteer any info on mine now. He never asks. But I am normally very touchy feely but this last few months I rarely reach out to him. So then I feel bad because I don’t want to end up like him.

  • #89897

    I’ve tried to explain and search to answer the questions about the things you’ve all mentioned above.. has driven me mad as I’d say he’s so subtle the things he’s done, now you’ve all hit the nail on the head..Thank you all, once again you’ve helped to describe the hidden abuse that I couldn’t find out about..

  • #89898

    Thank you. This accurately describes my ex!
    If it were to come to light, his family would normalise his behaviour and I would be responsible for how he acted. His mental health was always an excuse
    They had a warped relationship with their mother too

  • #89909

    What a great question! Things such as when they carp on about x or y person, or this and that situation, and you make some suggestions as to what they could do to change things, then you are criticising them. After which they adopt a hurt expression because you’ve been so nasty to them. It’s never “thanks for that suggestion, that’s a good idea, I’ll have a think about it”.

    They don’t like you expressing a view that’s different to theirs because that’s being confrontation and critical.

    They’re great at playing the innocent party as in “I didn’t know about that” and use it to justify why they didn’t help you with something, or notice when we are sick.

    They’re able to convince others that you are the problem in the relationship, and that they are doing their best to help you and try to keep the relationship on an even keel. I’ve lost count of the number of people (friends, family) earlier in my relationship who told me I would benefit from counselling, but they never once suggested it to him; or considered that perhaps I was experiencing some form of abuse and my withdrawal and anxiety was due to that. Like many posting here I didn’t think at the time that it might be more covert abuse. Thanks for your posts for helping me see it for what it was.

    And yes, he doesn’t have many friends either.

  • #89984

    alot of this rings true for me too….I do feel like my husband doesn’t realise what he’s doing but maybe I am naive? I’ve spent ages trying to work out whether he is a n********t or is on the spectrum and there seems to be some cross over and he has some of both…however what I need to ultimately come to terms with is that his behaviour doesnt make me happy, is messing with my head and it’s not healthy. Based on that I need to leave but I just keep questioning myself, maybe I’m making things out to be worse than they are etc….so so hard!

  • #90012

    Mine has no friends or if he does he sees them once a year perhaps.
    Keeps everything and everyone family wise very very close all the better to control them.
    Tried to bludgeon me verbally into having the same politic views, he was is a facist (if i’d known I’d have had nothing to do with him)
    Extraordinarily nosey what did you have for dinner?who did you see where did you go? Questions all the time.
    Never had any money paid for nothing. Made sure however that he paid for first round and made a big deal of it.
    Went to members of family for years telling outrageous lies to make him look all the better, didn’t know until I decided I couldn’t take anymore.
    Used prostitutes obscene web sites porn, again very secretively.
    Completely seperate life maintained through work and going out for a message that took hours. Weekends were his.
    Bad mouthing people he claimed to like but in actuality never said a bad word about his friends who from what I can see are very similar to him.
    Asked friend to set him up with a new woman (detail removed by moderator).
    Compulsive lying always making up convoluted stories to cover tracks.
    No real hobbies or interests picks up information or ideas like a sponge and then passes them off as their own.
    Impossibly sensitive to any perceived slight.
    Prone to horrible screaming rages that go on for hours.
    Highly manipulative manages to get people to do the most ridiculous things.
    Covetous sees a fiver, you pick it up will tell you that it’s his because he saw it before you.
    Takes drugs and drinks and then drives.
    Hates fat people. Yet he encouraged me to eat all the time.
    Fauns over people he thinks have money in the most nauseating way.
    I was not allowed to have anything private he went through my belongings handbag diary anything to get a handle on me.
    Stole from me and then convinced my family I was thief.
    As his good looks have faded through incessant smoking his personality has got worse.
    A stress freak. Lives on his nerves worried about his facade coming down.
    Hates illness or anything that reminds him of the frailty of human life, ignored his dying mother who I was forbidden to bring the children to see.
    Thinks everyone is a thief liar etc and out to get what they can.
    Finally a very miserable person with little or no joy in life at all.

  • #90063

    Wow all your comments describe my ex to a tee. Apart from the mother issues, his was really nice to me and used to stick up for me when he decided to accuse me of stuff. But his brother was so much like him in every way, and he didn’t like me one bit and every chance he got he’d make snide comments to my ex who never stuck up for me.
    My ex would tell me things and then totally deny them the next day saying I was lying, or miss bits out and then accuse me of not listening to him, or just deliberately not tell me something and say he did when I argued that he hadn’t and that would make me think I was then losing my mind. He had no friends, he acted like he was close to work colleagues but never went socialising with them and then proceeded to call them names behind their backs when he saw fit. When I first met him, it wasn’t long after my mother had died and I was struggling with her death and he love bombed me saying he would take care of me, wanted to spend loads of time with me, and I felt so special.
    I always knew when he was having affairs, as he would accuse me of seeing other men when I wasn’t, so he could get away with it. I worked during the week so always did my cleaning at the weekend, but he would then do the cleaning on his day off and when I said I was going to do it at the weekend, he would call be fat and lazy, and that I had no intention of doing it. He’d start arguments and bring up everything I’d done wrong in his eyes over the past years, I would never be able to win them. He always broke my stuff and yes it was always my fault. He loved money and we ended up with huge debts cos he wanted everything brand new. The bills were paid by my wages and then he’d make me feel small cos I’d have to ask him for money and act like he was doing me a favour by giving it to me.
    He was a compulsive liar and tripped himself up often and if I pointed this out to him, he would become very aggressive.
    He definitely thought he was a cut above everyone else and no one was as good as him, very delusional.

  • #90064

    The word ‘clones’ springs to mind. All the same. Not even original in their abuse. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Onwards and upwards ✊️

  • #90067

    the thing I don’t get with all this is do they actually realise what they are doing or is it just natural to them….is their intent bad? I’m so confused!

  • #90090

    Wow, so similar to mine too!
    Spent all our time together right from the start
    He had no friends and made me feel guilty about seeing mine (made me feel like i was abandoning him). If I saw them more than once a month it turned into a falling out.
    All his moods were blamed on me and my responsibility. If he got into a bad mood it was me that had put him in it.
    Never had arguments. Everything was passive aggressive, moodiness, silent treatment… making up was just a cuddle and never saying ‘i’m sorry’ (because he wasn’t)
    His mother was controlling and manipulative too. No one was allowed to say anything to her that might hurt her feelings, to the extent that I had to subtly put a meal she made me into the bin because it had meat in it and she knew i was a vegetarian. But I wasn’t allowed to mention it. She treated him like a child and always made me feel like i wasn’t feeding him properly.
    Talked to like a child and not an equal. I’d get a condescending look if i hadn’t done housework to his standard, or he’d ‘tell me off’.
    Huge lack of intimacy. Never snogged. Rarely had sex and what we did do in the bedroom was cold and clinical.
    Quiet, introverted man with a lack of confidence. Needed me to reassure him constantly. Would try to take credit for my achievements, as if i couldn’t have done it without him.
    …and on and on and on….

  • #90100

    Good post and I can relate to a lot of answers, especially @lightness but also a few others. My list is:

    Having to check with him before I do things (eat food he’s bought, the way I parent the kids etc. He says this is respectful)

    Getting angry with me if I do something he has ‘told me not to do’ then making it my fault because I haven’t communicated effectively that I didn’t agree with him when he told me to do it/not to do it.

    Telling me I’m mad/insane messed up/need help

    Threatening suicide

    Being ‘sad’ all the time and making me feel like I can fix it somehow, possibly by being more communicative/affectionate

    Not taking responsibility for his part in any argument but expecting me to ‘own’ it

    Always some kind of issue with my friends/family or me seeing my friends, if I want to see them he expects me to let him know well in advance or it will cause an argument.

    Being critical of my friends and family, then making out he is only pointing this out for my benefit because he thinks they are not making enough effort with me.

    Not having many friends himself.

    Having rules about what I can talk to my friends about and also certain words I use to explain things.

    Saying he doesn’t get angry, he gets upset (but it feels like anger to me).

    Ranting at me if I haven’t done what he has asked.

    Not answering my messages.

    If I have ‘upset’ him, sometimes I can hear him downstairs punching things and clattering stuff about.

    There are probably more things but I will leave it there.

    Lots of love to you ladies x

  • #90113

    All of the above and more…’s a relief to read these. The mother is an issue for me as well, he and her other sons can do no wrong in her eyes and the entire family are very aggressive as individuals alternating with blasts of charm and faux kindness. I had wondered if my perpetrator was on the spectrum as well but this was just because his ‘act’ is so ingrained. Now and agin he leaks profound flashes of insight into others that demonstrate deep understanding of other people’s perspectives. It’s just he chooses to block this. Or use it to hurt and control others, I.e, me.

    I am so brainwashed I am seriously struggling to get away. I have to. Small incidents of unsettling control recommenced today by him. He got in my car uninvited as I went out. My old habit of not wanting to be insensitive or rude takes over when surprised so I said nothing. Stupid. The journey ended with him him repeatedly making little gasps and clutching his seat when another vehicle approached (I was doing ten mph on a lane) or stomping his feet as if I was about to crash. It was bizarre and unsettling. Then the usual cynical underhand little insults to me. I had a shower, he opened the bathroom window to its widest when I left the bathroom. I didn’t even know he knew where I was, sneaked in and did it surreptitiously.this May sound trivial but he used to rant and rave about people not opening windows after showers. Ranting and raving over time on the same obsessive issues became violence and control. It’s a little message. He is hyper vigilant to me all the time and will try and subvert or disturb or control me in any unsettling petty way he can. It really is utterly wearing.

    I know I need to just get out, but had some health concerns that needed tests. Now I have the results bar one and all ok.

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