Let’s talk a bit about devaluation and discarding. For further purposes, and because I’m lazy, we’ll steal AlwaysJan’s abbreviation of D&D. If you are at the point in your interaction (not relationship – N people don’t have relationships) with an N where you’re walking on eggshells because nothing you do seems to make this person happy, and you’re wondering what you can do to turn things around, stop wondering. NOW.
It’s not you. It’s the N. I’ve talked in prior posts about how N people view humanity. Humanity is there only as a mirror for them to look in. If they don’t like what is reflected back at them, they will break the mirror into tiny pieces and throw it away. Don’t think for a minute that an N will simply throw the mirror, whole, in the garbage. It’s essential that they break that mirror; crush it; destroy it so it can never mirror again.
Interacting with an N is a rollercoaster ride. One minute you’re up, the next you’re down. You’ve been on this rollercoaster for quite awhile and by this time, you have no idea when to expect which direction. This is part of the devaluation stage. At some point, you reflected something less than 100% positive feedback to your N, and they became enraged.
My N was very good at internalizing his rage and he expressed his rage by saying I’d done something to him and now he needed “time.” Withdrawal. Punishment. Another direction on the rollercoaster.
Here’s a great example: My N had emailed me one morning, as he did every morning, to say hi and asked how I was. He didn’t want an answer that said “hey – I’m great.” Nope, he wanted details. At first I thought this was a marvelous thing. I’d hit pay dirt. A man truly wanted details about how I was. Some men do want this, but N people only want details so they can sniff out something that might be deemed a criticism of themselves or something they can squirrel away to use to hurt you with at a later date.
So I told him. I’d just received an email from a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer. A very good friend. This came on top of my father having a seizure and me losing 15 weeks worth of much-needed income-producing contract work. I was crying. I also had ice on my eyes to reduce the swelling because I had a student in 30 minutes. So I told him ALL of this. His reply?
Now I’m thinking I must not have communicated it well enough and tried again. No reply. I went off to teach, came back, called my mom, talked to her, and then was on the phone with my friend off and on for the rest of the evening regarding her cancer and other things that were going on in her life.
I fully expected I’d hear from my N at some point regarding the emotional downturn in my life. Shortly after midnight, when I got off the last phone call with my friend, I realized I’d not heard a peep from my N. By 1:00 a.m. I was hurt and angry. At 5:41 a.m. when something told me to go online to the dating site where we’d met, there he was, trolling. He gets up at 5, ostensibly to get his son ready for school (and this summer, for summer school) and to be able to be at work by 7 or 7:30. Yet the FIRST thing he did was hop on a dating site and troll.
I fired off an email that told him I was disappointed not to have heard from him and in light of the fact that he was online at a dating site at 5:41 a.m., yet didn’t have time to offer me comfort after specifically asking me what was wrong, and that his presence on the dating site communicated to me that I was not the “special person” he said I was and that he was not pursuing the “long-term potential” he saw in me, I felt it best if we did not see each other anymore. I BROKE IT OFF WITH HIM.
He replies with:
Wanted to write ” I forgive you” but rather write “I still think a great deal of you”. I am going to need some time to think now. Just as you finding me insensitive enough not know you needed a call yesterday rocked your boat, the result has rocked mine. If you really need to talk, call at any time. I may be only listening for some time as mentioned above, I need some time to think. Your expectation that I would call was a test and I don’t like tests. If we are to continue I have a request. If you feel a need to talk, call me. Say that it is important. Or I am certain I will fail another test.
And I thought that in replying with: “I understand. Take all the time you need” was a good way to end this thing. Oh silly me. The idiot bat was still in motion – but I now know it wasn’t my fault. He was wielding the bat. I had no control of this other than to just walk away, but my heart was engaged and as much as I wanted to walk away; as much as I was determined to walk away, I couldn’t walk away.
Let’s deconstruct this:
- He wanted to write he forgives me, but instead writes that he still thinks a great deal of me. What did I do that he felt needed forgiveness? I dumped him, that’s what. So he reels me back in, not by admitting any fault, but by saying he still thinks a lot of me. “still?” When did he not think a lot of me? Oh that’s an easy question to answer.
- He is going to need some time now. He’s punishing me. He’s withdrawing. I am no longer a good little mirror.
- He admits that what he did rocked my boat (as he intended) but provides no apology for it; there is no accountability for his behavior. He simply states what he read in my words. He’s feeding me back to me. He feels nothing.
- He tells me that what I did rocked his boat. Of course it did, I dumped his ass and N people can NOT allow themselves to be dumped. So instead of acknowledging his accountability and making apology and/or feeling sad or asking if we can discuss this, he tells me he’s going to withdraw (he has to take control somehow!). This is punishment. It is devaluation.
- Then he tells me that if I really need to talk to call him anytime but to know that he’ll be mostly “listening” for some time as he needs time to “think.” He is attempting to lure me back in by inviting me to call him, so he can listen for anything that he can perceive as a poor reflection of himself. He does not want to hear what I have to say, he wants to hear me tell him I was wrong, that nothing is his fault, that he is perfect, and if he doesn’t hear that, he will continue to punish me by taking even more “time.”
- He states that my expectation that he would call was a test. Of course it wasn’t a test. It was a normal and healthy expectation of someone with whom you believe yourself to have a relationship. It’s a normal expectation of a man who has been all over you in email, phone and says he just “can’t wait” to see you again. It’s a normal expectation of a man who, up to this point, has appeared to actually CARE about you. For him, though, it was a “test” and since I was so cruel as to point out that he’d failed it, miserably, he creates a rule for me. See #7.
- He has a “request” that if I have something “important” to say to him to call and let him know it’s important, otherwise he is certain he will fail another “test.” This is a rule and it applied only to me. It was not a request, it was a command.
- He writes “if we are to continue.” Huh? I’d just broken it off with him. Totally. Yet he assumes there’s a continuance?