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Qualities which indicate a DP is not a knob

(37 Posts)
ToTheSky Thu 07-Dec-17 14:22:44

I’ve been unlucky in a bad relationship with a controlling man for the past 11 years. Because of low self esteem and being ‘conditioned’ to accept his bad behaviour as normal, I struggle to identify what qualities are the norm in a normal, caring, loving partner, and what is (or is not) acceptable.

Please can all you lucky people who have ‘normal’ caring partners help me out by listing some examples of what I should be expecting and any red flags (aside from the controlling behaviour which I now recognise).

I realise this is quite a broad ask, but would be so grateful if you could just note things which are 'givens’ - as I have so little insight into how 'normal' relationships are and when reading some MN posts about caring partners often find myself thinking ‘Wow – what a lovely person, how lucky they are to be with someone so utterly fantastic….’ then read further down thread and discover that the example given is in fact regarded by most people as just ‘standard’ behaviour.

I am not rushing to get into another relationship but would be really grateful to be equipped when ready to think about it.


jpl888 Thu 07-Dec-17 14:26:59

I think this is a bit too vague. I'd like to help here but not sure how great my compass is either (I'm sure other people might not be either).

What did he do that was controlling/bad? If you tell us that, we can try to tell you what's really overboard and give examples of "normal" kinds of behaviour.

jpl888 Thu 07-Dec-17 14:28:38

I'll get you started - My OH used to switch the shower off whilst I was in it, and stand in the doorway blocking my exit, shouting/having a go, while I was standing there cold and naked. This is not "normal". :P

FizzyGreenWater Thu 07-Dec-17 14:29:58

He's a friend. The same kind of friend your best female friend is. He isn't in a different category because he's male and a partner.

I see this often and think it's at best sad and at worst really awful and a 'route in' for nasty, misogynistic behaviour. Men thinking that their partners are somehow in a different class to the people they'd call friends. She's not a mate, not an equal, not someone I respect and want to have a laugh with and can level with and see spending time with as just genuine fun - she's 'the wife'. 'er indoors'. So he has fun with the boys, and dutifully stays in with his partner. Looks after her maybe, does stuff, but there's an air of the real fun happening elsewhere. Ball n chain innit.

Meanwhile, women expecting the same. Expecting their partners to want to get out of spending time with them, to not see them as real friends. To expect that 'banter' with the 'boys' will consist, in part, of putting them down and laughing at them.

An us and them feeling.

Not all men are like this at all.

Stay away from the 'alphas'. The 'bad boys'. The 'banterers'. The slight misogynists who would never even think of seeing a woman as a friend to just have a good laugh with, as an equal. Nights out with 'the boys' are where a partner isn't welcome.

It's a real truth teller for me, that one.

QueenOfAccidentalDeathStares Thu 07-Dec-17 14:33:53

He respects you.
He respects your decisions, choices and opinions (doesn't have to agree with them).
He respects your belongings.

MrsUnderwood Thu 07-Dec-17 14:34:30

Talks to you respectfully and politely
Does things around the house that need doing, without asking
Doesn’t waste family money on things like gambling
Keeps his promises
Talks about other women in a respectful fashion
Considers other people’s points of view
Polite to people serving him like shop assistants and waiters.
Nice to children
Able to apologise
Doesn’t demand or expect sex
Talks about his feelings
No name calling/ accusations thrown around in an arguement.

My DH has all these qualities. I’m so lucky to have him.

CandyMelts Thu 07-Dec-17 14:35:53

I'm sure there's plenty but I realised then BF was a good un when I urgently needed tampons lying in his bed one morning.
Literally wouldn't have been able to stand up so had to ask him to go buy some, was kind of dreading it... and he happily went off to the shop straight away, didn't consider it a big deal, didn't act embarrassed, didn't ask me for money, basically acted like a grown up.

It was so different to my ex and I've never forgotten that moment.

ToTheSky Thu 07-Dec-17 14:37:45

Sorry I know it's vague, but I guess I don't know what I don't know (never having experienced it).

I have had
- threats to hang himself if I leave
- yelling at DC telling them off for complaining to me when he has been unkind to them or slapped them - because 'they' are then getting him into trouble - talk about indoctrinating victim blaming into a 4 year old angry
- no access to joint account
- cards taken away
- followed and shouted at in street and outside school
- taking out loans without talking to me
- not allowed to go anywhere alone
- not allowed time or space to myself to do anything or have a break alone - because that is 'selfish'
- not allowed to do anything at home - i.e. paint a wall if I want to
- not allowed to buy anything for myself - i had to save together money out of the householding / groceries cash which was doled out to me. (Luckily I once had saved enough to tax the car as he hadn't.)
- not being able to go to social meals etc at work because 'we couldn't afford it' (although he always went to his meals and I had to drive him so he could drink)
- stopping me talking to my relatives / creating trouble between me & them
- saying I'm causing an argument if I ask for help with getting groceries in / opening front door / putting shopping away etc when I get home from shopping and he is watching TV
- saying he isn't hungry when I ask what he wants for lunch and just saying - 'oh I'll have anything left' and when there isn't anything left storming off in a huff because I haven't prepared his lunch...

I could go on.

ToTheSky Thu 07-Dec-17 14:44:02

Thanks for responses so far.
I guess turning cold and nasty(ier) on me when I decline sex when I popped home during work break is BU then..! I forgot to mention that one.

fredericapotterslawyer Thu 07-Dec-17 14:51:33

You want someone kind, above all else. As you probably know, having a relationship with an unkind person becomes very difficult after a while. You want someone who treats everyone around him - family, friends, pets - with kindness. Who finds it easy to empathise with other people. And who thinks about others before himself.

Someone who can handle conflict and criticism, because if you're in relationship, there's bound to be a time when they upset you (and you them). So someone who won't stamp off in a mood, shut down the conversation, dismiss your feelings, and tell you you're 'imagining things', 'overthinking things' and 'being oversensitive', but will listen and give your feelings the validity they deserve.

Someone who respects women in general. If he goes to prostitutes, strip clubs, uses excessive amounts of porn, and talks about women in a demeaning way, he won't treat you respectfully for long. Even if he treats you as a special case initially, it won't last. Personally, I would give any man with no sisters and/or female friends a very long look. As a previous poster said, you don't want someone who believes you're a different species.

Someone who listens to you, respects your opinions, and believes that you should get equal billing, on decisions that are going to affect both of you.

Someone who respects your autonomy, and your right to say no. Your body is not their territory, or their possession, so steer clear of men who use that kind of language, and behave as if they have a right to it. Watch how they respond when you say no to sex. It will tell you a lot.

NotTheFordType Thu 07-Dec-17 14:57:38

Agree with a PP that talking politely to customer service people - restaurant and bar staff, hotel staff, the shop assistant - is actually a very good early indication of character. Of basic levels of respect for other people as human beings, not as "lesser" items.

People who are self-confident have no need to be rude or abrupt to bolster their own ego. It is only people who are hiding insecurities that feel they have to put others down in order to make themselves feel stronger.

jpl888 Thu 07-Dec-17 14:59:25

I think @MrsUnderwood above gives a great reply there, in summary, but I think applied examples would help illustrate.

Yikes he sounds like a real bad egg.

It's kinda triggering me actually.

Normal people don't do that - they can only "control" themselves, they can't/won't use a threat of harming themselves to control a partner's actions.
Obviously, if you haven't got your own money then he should provide access to some.
Normal people don't follow others around like that, shouting at them, especially in public.
Big financial decisions should be consulted.
You should be given space - my OH does what she wants and I don't hassle her when she's out (don't call at all actually but that's by the by. ;)
It's your house too, so you should get input in there in terms of doing things.
Obviously you should be able to buy yourself something.
You should be allowed to go out on your own when you want as long as it's not all the time (and even then, it's still up to you, all he can do is leave if he doesn't like it).
You should be able to talk to your rellies without him causing trouble because of something he perceives you or they have said.
You should be able to ask for help, within reason.
You shouldn't be put into "impossible" situations - this is a very strong characteristic of BPD.

Sounds like a very similar kind of relationship to the one I'm in. Not had great experiences with the opp sex either, generally. Got myself further into it because I didn't have the self-esteem to leave before house/children.

Shoxfordian Thu 07-Dec-17 15:02:21

Someone who is kind is so important

He should treat you as an equal partner in your team. Controlling or jealous behaviour is never ok. He should respect your bodily autonomy- if you want to say No to sex then you shld be able to without any negative consequences

pog100 Thu 07-Dec-17 15:13:46

OP, you know already, don't you, that every one of your examples are classic abuse and together they make quite an extreme environment that you and your children quite urgently need to escape.

pog100 Thu 07-Dec-17 15:15:09

Sorry! I'm not usually so careless in reading. I see you are out of it, well done.

TonicAndTonic Thu 07-Dec-17 15:17:31

He's a friend. The same kind of friend your best female friend is. He isn't in a different category because he's male and a partner.

^^This, definitely. DP and I hang out with each other the way really good friends do, as well as doing all the romantic relationship stuff. I think guys that are capable of sustaining female friendships as well as male ones are generally a much better prospect that guys whose entire social life is 'out with the lads' while GFs/wives stay at home.

Also, with DP I feel my mood lift a little when he walks in the room. Every single time. smile

Movablefeast Thu 07-Dec-17 15:24:22

I guess a good sign is having lots of healthy relationships with friends and family, treating strangers with respect and kindness. My husband and I are really good friends and that is the foundation of our marriage - although we also really fancied each other grin!

I would say red flags when you just meet someone is over-intensity, I think it is sometimes called "love-bombing" when they must be around you constantly and encourage you to cancel arrangements and commitments to other people to just be with him.
A certain fearfulness in him that you have a lot of your own life, paranoia that you're not available to him.
Any immature and manipulative emotional behavior such as sulking or refusing to talk to you.
Not having many, or any, friends. Or having friends you don't like.
Talking negatively about other people, blaming and not taking responsibility for their own actions.
Is irrational or moody.
Quick to anger.
Violent or aggressive in any way.
Unpredictable and unreliable.

Positives to look for:

Hardworking, responsible, has commitments they meet.
Emotionally mature: able to sacrifice, put other people first and apologize if appropriate.
Good sense of humor, able to bounce back from adversity without needing to turn to alcohol, drugs etc
You like his friends, like their company and find them kind and welcoming.
He has a functional family of origin who treat each other well and are also happy to get to know you and welcoming.
(Dysfunctional people often come from dysfunctional families so play close attention to his family relationships as they will tell you a lot.)

He enjoys children and behaves appropriately when around them.
Is trustworthy, reliable, tells the truth and does what he says he is going to do.
Willing to compromise and be flexible when appropriate.
Can have fun and can "play" as an adult and enjoy life.
Is considerate and shows care and concern in small ways such as filling up the tank in your car if he uses it, happy to go good shopping and cook for you without it being big deal, makes you a cup of tea in the morning without being asked, does his share of any chores without complaint.
Basically functions well as an independent adult as has a range of life skills.
Enjoys your interests and encourages you to continue or try hobbies and interests you have.
Is thinking about your best interests and able to share and cooperate so you work as a successful team.

Offred Thu 07-Dec-17 15:33:18

Do the freedom programme and spend some time single would be my advice.

Apileofballyhoo Thu 07-Dec-17 15:46:08

Normal behaviour:

His presence in your life makes your life easier.

Notices when you look well and says so.
Notices when you look tired/stressed/upset and asks what's wrong.
Tells you where he's going, with whom, and how long he expects to be there.
Cares about the people you care about.
Automatically shares chores.
Makes an effort to go your events.
Has a job/business or is seriously looking for one.
Pays his fair share.
Cleans up after himself.
Has friends/family.
Is respectful to staff in shops/restaurants.

Merrz Thu 07-Dec-17 16:10:56

Wow your ex sounds like a right arsehole!
I know this sounds like a total cliche and is probably not much help but when you find a good decent man that is suited to you, you will just know it's right.
I'd try not to get too caught up on the whole checklist of what to look for. My ex of 5 years treated me rubbish, not to the extent yours did but he would always be in the pub, not answer his phone or let me know when he'd be home, never invite me out to meet his friends, made me sit around waiting for him blah blah blah but as soon as i met my now DH i just knew it was right, we have such a laugh together and just felt like we can talk about anything, our friends/families are very similar type of people which i do think makes a huge difference and he just makes me feel like he really respects and loves me. Don't get me wrong we still have our arguments and he's by no means perfect (who is) but i just know 100% i wouldn't want anyone else and when you get that feeling you'll just know, no-one can explain it to you.

AFistfulOfDolores Thu 07-Dec-17 16:10:58

He takes responsibility. Not just for his share of the family, household, and finances but also for his feelings, his happiness, his past - essentially, his "shit".

mindutopia Thu 07-Dec-17 16:16:44

I dated a lot of wankers before I met my dh, who is lovely and completely unlike anyone I've ever been with.

What has always been obviously completely different about him compared to anyone else was that he was dependable and kept his word. If he said we were going to do something on a given Wednesday night, he always kept his word. He showed up exactly when he said he would, not mysteriously 2 hours later with no explanation. He never had nights where he disappeared and I couldn't reach him and he wouldn't return my calls or texts. Sometimes he was busy and we didn't see each other all the time, but if he was unreachable for whatever reason, he'd let me know, or he'd be in touch and not be weird or elusive or ghost me for days at a time. He did what he said and was always really reliable.

This also maybe isn't so much a personality trait, but it was something I noticed right away that I thought was unusual about him compared to other guys I'd dated. He had close female friends who trusted and respected him. These weren't like girls he had dated (he's never dated any of them, they're still friends now), they weren't like annoying girls he partied with or who just hung around, but like genuinely good friends who were other women. They had serious long-term partners and he had also become good friends with their partners. At first I thought it was odd and was a bit jealous, but actually it makes a lot of sense. I have a few good male friends who I would never date (and never have), but who are genuinely kind, trusting guys who I've known forever. Like I said, I would never date them because that would be weird (they're like brothers to me), but I'm friends with them because they are genuinely good people. In retrospect, it was definitely a sign that he had a lot of qualities that women not only look for in a friend, but also ultimately in a partner and that's been true.

Lastly, there was never any drama. He didn't run hot and cold. Like I said, he was dependable, always did what he said, had no weird suspicious relationships with random other women, he didn't tell me what to do or restrict my life or pressure me for sex or do any of the things you've described. Your ex sounds horribly controlling and I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

TinklyLittleLaugh Thu 07-Dec-17 16:24:17

Well there are no "not alloweds" in my relationship for a start. And there is a decent amount of spontaneous kindness: cup of tea and a biscuit brought to me at my desk, car de iced for me in the morning. Last night we were running late and I cooked dinner in a bit of a flap while DH went for a run. After I'd dished up I dropped the serving spoon on the floor and splashed tomato sauce absolutely everywhere across half the floor. DH told me to sit down and eat my dinner while he wiped up all the mess.

FizzyGreenWater Thu 07-Dec-17 16:29:46

... and they don't hit four year olds angry

TinklyLittleLaugh Thu 07-Dec-17 16:30:42

The family issue is a contentious one. I'd be a bit wary of dating someone who had a crap Dad and no decent male role model growing up. I know its quite discriminatory against people from less than ideal backgrounds, but looking at some of the lads my daughters have dated, it does seem to be an issue when it comes to treating women respectfully.

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