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Can they change?

(16 Posts)
leopards Mon 17-Jun-13 08:02:56

NC for this but would be very grateful for views. Apologies for the length and I don't know if it will make sense

Essentially I am wondering if people can change? I read about people who have had affairs and then sorted their marriage out and made changes and become fully "in" their relationship.

When people talk about abusers they always seem to feel that it is impossible to change

But how about if you are with someone who is basically a good person. They are hugely depressed and have NO self esteem. They try and please everyone at their own expense but this leads to them lying (not big stuff- stupid little things which are pointless but will stick to the lie even when heavily questioned) to keep people happy which obviously causes massively more pain when discovered (given they are a terrible liar it always is) This leads to trust issues, a constant "shadow", arguments etc but there is genuine love on both sides and a real desire to change

This is my DP. How can we make this better? Can we? This has battered my self esteem because until I realised he was actually lying I thought I was being paranoid and clingy and his went years ago before we even met. He was very good at covering up his lack of confidence at the beginning.

What is the best way to make each of us better individually? And if we can, is there a way back to normal? If he genuinely wants to stop lying can he? How does he help himself? I want to support him but am aware it has to come from him. I don't think we can have a relationship as we are because I do not trust him but I feel like I could learn to trust him again and I feel like it is worth it. Has anyone done this? Does anyone have any suggestions for resources for HIM (I have lots of good books etc for women!)

Thanks in advance

bigstrongmama Mon 17-Jun-13 08:42:22

I'd like to believe it is possible. Your dh's behaviour sounds deeply ingrained and I don't think any book could ever be enough to help him change.

I gave my h another chance and he only got worse. Counselling helped him to see that what he was doing was wrong, but sadly didn't stop him repeatedly going back on his promises, lying and disrespecting me. Maybe years more counselling would help my h, as he is basically a nice guy who does awful things but I am not taking any more crap from him and we have split up.

Can you make it clear to your h that this is a big problem for you, and that if he has to sort it out. I think if he is lying that much, he needs counselling to help him change.

AuntieStella Mon 17-Jun-13 09:00:50

I do believe that change is possible, and that even pretty hopeless looking situations can be turned round.

But I would that this is a very hard path to go down, and that success is uncertain. You can lose a lot of time in trying.

It's worth making the attempt if you have first really looked hard at yourself, what you want from life and whether there is any evidence that the other person is capable of playing a worthwhile role in your future. So issues such as depression can be tackled, as indeed can infidelity depending on the circumstances and the relationship before the crisis.

But ingrained behaviours may not be susceptible to change.

You also have to recognise that it's a long haul for uncertain return. And that you have to put your well-being in the hands of someone who does not currently show signs of being able to fulfill that role. Think hard about that bit. Striking out alone puts you in control of your own destiny - that is often the better situation.

If you do attempt to work it out, the key thing is that only your DH can change his actions and attitudes. This requires a great deal of committed effort over months and years. Does he have the motivation to do the work required? Does he even see a need for it?

leopards Mon 17-Jun-13 09:19:44

He is keen to change. It is only a recent thing (months) that he has started lying to me (he has always been fairly guarded with other people) and it has coincided with a massive dive in his mood.

He is aware this is a bit of a last chance. We have talked before about things and it has drifted back so he knows I have reached the end of my tether and cannot cope with the effect it has on me, my behaviour and my self esteem. I have made it clear he needs to be the one that drives it and wants it although I am aware my behaviour is part of it. He wants it. He says he hates himself for his behaviour and for hurting me. I know it would take time. I wonder even if we will need some time apart for it to really sink in that things need to change.

I just don't know where to start. He is loathe to see a counsellor again (he has been in the past for his mood) as he hates having to tell the whole story of his life and build a relationship with someone when he is incredibly private. He would do it if I asked him but I wondered if he could at least start with some kind of self help stuff. I have found baggage reclaim really helpful in thinking through my issues and she has some courses online but I was kind of hoping there might be a man equivalent...

leopards Mon 17-Jun-13 09:21:50

Thank you both btw for the balance. You are voicing the same thoughts I have been having

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 17-Jun-13 09:37:46

" He says he hates himself for his behaviour and for hurting me."

I don't like people that pull out the 'I hate myself' card. It reminds me of the sort that say 'if you leave I'll kill myself'.... on the one hand appearing to express guilt/remorse/self-reproach but actually a very sly ploy intended to get the other person to stick around because they feel responsible. Manipulative in other words.

If he's the one with the problem, why is your self-esteem on the floor? Why are you responding like the victim of bullying? I think you've been expected to tolerate the crap & put your own feelings on hold because you've been led to believe he is 'basically a good person' but he's 'depressed'... i.e. no fault of his own and he can't help it What if he actually isn't a good person and, rather than depressed, he's just a straightforward liar and con-artist, very expert at manipulating other people's emotions with his Pity Me act?

AnotherLovelyCupOfCoffee Mon 17-Jun-13 09:42:06

I agree with Cogito. He's got you where he wants you, you feel awful that he hates himself. Why did he lie? the lies were pointless and small but did they serve him in some way?

He may or may not be basically a good person but whether he is or he isn't it would not make you a 'bad' person if you decided you'd had enough. You aren't obliged to prop up somebody. Whether he's basically good or basically bad! Either way, it'd be your prerogative to end the relationship. It sounds draining. You're not obliged to be the stooge to his poor me routine and it sounds very tedious.

leopards Mon 17-Jun-13 10:03:47

Hmmm. Those thoughts have crossed my mind. I guess I want to believe he is genuine because he can be so wonderful and the relationship has been good in the past. The lies were self serving in a way- for example saying he was doing something he wasn't so that he could have some space alone (and yes I have proof of where he was so I know he was telling the truth when he finally admitted it) I did not understand why he did not just say he wanted some thinking time, he said he felt I would be hurt that he did not want to spend time with me when we both work very long hours and have limited time together.

I see his bad bits, I can see his behaviour and how it affects me, I can see why he has got to this point.

Sometimes I do wonder if he is manipulating and I have said that to him. But how do you know? And like you say at what point is it too exhausting and do you leave it? I know it sounds stupid but I really love him. The underneath him that he sometimes lets me into. Probably being naive and stupid though aren't I?

leopards Mon 17-Jun-13 10:06:01

Also I don't think it is fair to pin it all on his behaviour. I have not been perfect

AnotherLovelyCupOfCoffee Mon 17-Jun-13 10:09:35

I think he is trying to make you think he can't help it, but if the lies were self-serving he decided to tell them. A lie is never instinctive like breathing. It's not. He chose to tell not just a random meaningless pointless lie, but a particular lie which served his needs at the time.

He prioritises his needs over being truthful. He doesn't feel he owes you the truth, in fact, he makes up more crap about being damaged, and lays it on thick about being basically a good person.

I'd be losing patience tbh. What does it all mean for you. Are your needs met? Are you supported? can you lean on him? Can you count on him? or is it all.relentlessly.always.all.about.HIM?

AnotherLovelyCupOfCoffee Mon 17-Jun-13 10:12:04

You're not obliged to be 'perfect'. NObody is. But not being perfect doesn't mean you're obliged to tolerate being lied to.

It just all sounds exhausting. If you had behaved badly, would that mean you were 'obliged' to stick with him? Does he subtly remind you that you have done x,y&z.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 17-Jun-13 10:12:29

You know by your reaction. In a good relationship you should feel happy, secure, relaxed, confident, that kind of thing. What you're describing is none of that.... you use words like 'exhausting', 'paranoid', 'clingy', 'battered self-esteem'. The main reason for feeling this way is entirely down to his behaviour.

Of course you really love him because that's how he's set himself up, isn't it? This loveable, damaged, pathetic creature that 'hates himself' for the bare-faced lying and needs your help to be a better man. hmm You can almost hear the violins in the background. Very flattering but it's all a big act.

The point at which it's too exhausting is entirely up to you, of course. But, as long as you stick around, pandering to this rubbish he has zero incentive to change.

AuntieStella Mon 17-Jun-13 10:18:55

Yes, there may indeed be things about yourself that you need to examine and change, and that needs to be tackled whether you stay together or not. It's about learning from your experience and living your future life in the light of what life has taught you.

It's not an excuse for him.

It might be part of what you do together if you decide to try to make a go of it.

A word of caution: someone who wallows in "I hate myself" is having a pity party. If that spurs action, fair enough. But it can be an excuse for inertia. Someone who says "I want to change" hasn't actually changed and your time is too precious to spend hanging around waiting for someone else to act when all that is actually being done is the dangling of a prospect that things could be different. If he means it, he needs to show he's acting on it - booking counselling, etc. if he wants to find self-help books, he needs to take the initiative (if he needs assistance in finding useful ones, has he asked for it? He shouldn't expect you to be more engaged in finding his way ahead than he is).

leopards Mon 17-Jun-13 10:21:03

I don't know. I feel like he is there when I need him too. But I can completely see what you are saying. I don't know why I feel like I need to try so much but I don't think I could not at least try one more time. It is scary how much sense you all make which makes me think you may be right

I guess we need to have this talk and make a plan. At least I feel I am in a place where I know I can walk away if nothing changes. I have not been at that point before

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 17-Jun-13 10:28:43

I was once in a relationship with a man that appeared to be damaged, depressed and so on. He oscillated between being lovely and caring, selfish introspection and being very hurtful. He appealed for my help .... but never helped himself. He also lied and behaved badly, sobbing and saying he hated himself afterwards. All the time I thought if I loved him and could just find the key, just be a better person, just help him through it, just try a little harder ..... he'd be lovely all the time. Of course, that never happened. He just wanted to string me along. It's called 'Emotional Abuse' and it's soul-destroying.

Talk and plan if you think it'll help but, as you do so, make sure you keep a very critical and very cynical eye wide open.

AnotherLovelyCupOfCoffee Mon 17-Jun-13 11:52:40

yes, my x made me feel that every woman had let him down and that it was my job to prove that all women let you down. in the end I realised that he could think what he liked while I got on with having a happy life.

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