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Anyone here experienced with attention seeking personality disorder?

(20 Posts)
Plutonia Wed 08-Jul-09 10:26:10

The ex wife of my husband is an attention seeker. It started off badly about 3 years ago when I first met her - they have a child together, so we all agreed that as the biological mother of the child she should know who I am.

At the first meeting with her she came dressed and made up like going to a catwalk fashion show... then we had the "I don't wear no clothes at all" period, where she tried to gain attention with wearing hardly anything. Everytime I (have to) meet this woman, she has her hair coloured differently (she has gone almost through the whole colour spectrum) and goes from short curly to long straight and backwards within days... basically, she NEVER looks the same twice, and I find it very irritating. I also get the feeling it is all a show for me, to provoke me, or make me jealous or to get attention.

She's a drama queen, pestered my husband with constant phone calls in the beginning, hassled me on the phone over trivial things all related to childcare of course... messes around with handovers for the child... calls us at totally inappropriate times (either very early in the morning or very late at night) and when told off she either starts to cry, or she denies she has done anything wrong... or she gets passive-agressive "paying us back" behind our backs by not showing up at time at the next handover, etc.....

She's also very good in showing off her child - who is adorable and very cute - to get attention for herself. On one hand she has hardly time to fulfill her motherly duties - like dressing her child properly, wash his clothes, make him do his homework, etc. - but she is present everywhere where she can show her nose - every single child birthday or school play or wherever she can display herself publicly...

Needless to say that she is also very good in manipulating other people's emotions and she's been caught a couple of times not telling exactly the truth...

My point is: this woman drives me crazy. I came to a point where I start to dread any kind of interaction with her. I feel drained and the whole relationship with her started to become quite toxic. Even if she is not there, I cannot stop thinking about her and all the things she did to anger me. I read a few things about personality disorder - they say these are the people who appear normal (although they are not really) but drive others crazy! And it pretty resumes my feelings for her. I've also read that the best thing is to cut them off... but I can't because she has a child with my DH and they - and me to a certain extent too - need to maintain a relationship for the sake of the child.

Has anyone here encountered a similar problem and managed to successfully deal with such a person?

CountessDracula Wed 08-Jul-09 10:28:48

I'm not sure she sounds that bad
I have heard of a lot worse

It's not a crime to change your appearance regularly or call the father of your child about issues related to the child.

She sounds slightly odd but no worse tbh

prettyfly1 Wed 08-Jul-09 10:42:10

I think your being a bit harsh - why are you letting someone so obviously insecure affect your sense of well being. So what if she wears certain clothes, so what if she likes attention - who cares???? behavioural attention seeking is compulsive lying and making stuff up constantly. This isnt it. This is just neediness.

I am a step mum too so I know how much it grates but seriously why are you driving yourself mad over this - how delighted would she be - you seem a bit obsessive about her and you need to let it go!!!

TwoHot Wed 08-Jul-09 11:41:07

I doubt its all about you. Why do you think it is?

If you remain polite and brief and let your husband deal with badly timed phone calls everything will probably even out over time.

geordieminx Wed 08-Jul-09 11:42:56

Typical ex wife behaviour IMO

MadameCastafiore Wed 08-Jul-09 11:49:52

Do you have evidence that she pisses others off with her behaviour because I hardly think her pissing you off counts as a personality disorder!

If that were the case we would all have one as I know a few people I piss off - sometimes deliberatley heaven forbid!

Plutonia Wed 08-Jul-09 13:39:40

Well, I am not a psychologist, maybe this is just neediness as some of you think.

Personally, I don't think so. She is known as a manipulator and a bully, but she can be very charming as well, exactly like this kind of people can be (if you read the literature that is out there). My husband's two best friends back then warned him to get involved with this woman, but he did not listen to them. Her own sister told her that, if she does not change her ways, she will end up her days miserable and alone. But I don't care what other people think about her, I care about the effect she has on me.

I'm not saying her behaviour is all about me... her behaviour is her behaviour in general, but it is maybe more accentuated in this situation.

I think it's very easy to say "why do you let her bother you"... because everyone who has been exposed to someone like that on the long run will inavoidably get annoyed.

Yes, my husband deals with her, but she always comes up with new ideas of how to mess up things, although it got a bit better recently.

I had people like her in my life before, as flatmates, work colleagues, etc. ...and in my experience it is best to cut them out of your life. But her I can't... and I find it difficult. That's all... and I am interested if other people have made the same experience and how they deal with it.

ElenorRigby Wed 08-Jul-09 13:49:40

How often do you speak to her? I'm a step "mum" but I do not speak to my DP's ex at all apart from a polite hullo at DSD's b'day party.
Does she have your mobile number? DP's ex does not and will not have mine.
Of course I am very involved in my DSD's life but I am not seen to be involved IYSWIM. DP deals with her day to day.

MorrisZapp Wed 08-Jul-09 13:50:06

'Please help me. My DH left me and my DC for another woman and I dread facing her. I have to see her out and about but I worry she's so much better looking than me, I'm in a rut with my looks anyway and this just makes me feel worse'

Cue MN advice: change your hair colour, make an effort, treat yourself to some new clothes and makeup etc, and don't even think of backing down, hold you head high and go to all the places you used to before DH left you.

Have you thought why she might feel insecure? Presumably her DH left her and her DC? Or am I totally wrong with that, did she leave him. Doesn't sound to me like she has any disorder at all.

Jux Wed 08-Jul-09 14:13:11

You need to stop bothering about her hair and clothes first. That's the easy bit and if you can't do that, you're doomed! I know a woman like that, by the way, constant changes of hair style, colour etc and is constantly reinventing herself using different styles of clothes. She may be insecure or attention-seeking but I think she's really nice and very interesting. Of course, she's not really connected to me in any substantial way, so what do I know?

What this woman wear and how she looks is irrelevant and you are allowing yourself to obsess over irrelevancies. Don't do it.

As for the rest of it, typical First Wife behaviour.

MorrisZapp Wed 08-Jul-09 14:19:07

Two people on here have said 'typical first wife behaviour'. Can I question this?

Isn't a first wife a woman who has been left by her husband, and as such, entitled to understanding and sympathy, as given on the many many threads here by women in those situations?

Or do we abandon all sympathy the moment the OW becomes the new wife and expect ex wife to shut up and lie down?

It just seems so annoying and indeed sad to me that here on MN we have so many labels for nasty women 'OW, MIL, first wife' etc that all seem to let men off with any responsibility for what happens in their personal relationships.

In another thread, this OP would be 'OW' with all the vicious stuff that comes along with the label.

RenagadeMum Wed 08-Jul-09 14:21:57

Wow. This is one of those postings that says as much about you as it does her.

I bet she does drive you mad and would me as well But to have a go about clothes, makeup, and where she is allowed to turn up (birthdays etc) is a bit hmm

Why has she not got enough time to do motherly things? Does she work? She can't be all bad as you have said, the child is adorable. Why does she phone when she does? Is she working during the day? Could you talk to her about appropriate times?

I think she is probably as driven as crazy as you. The problem is, if you cut her out it hurts your DH and his child. So you need to be the bigger person here. If it really is obsessing you, you need to step away for a while.

CountessDracula Wed 08-Jul-09 14:32:24

hang on where did the op say that she was an ow??

ElenorRigby Wed 08-Jul-09 14:39:33

First wives often leave their husbands Morris!
Oh and new partners/wives are often not other women!

blondissimo Wed 08-Jul-09 14:51:29

You have described perfectly a situation I was in up until recently - 4 years of it I endured, although much, MUCH worse. I was called every name under the sun, she tried to split us up, ruined holidays by guilt tripping my dp over going away without his dd, demands for money, threats, police and lawyers involved, the list goes on.....
Only I was not the OW, she had left my dp for someone else, and I came along a year later. In hindsight I should have confronted her at the start, but she wore me down, and my dp, drove a wedge between us with her emotional blackmailing.
We nearly split up over it.
We eventually started talking last year on the phone twice - very civil. But there have been major fall outs since, mostly her having a problem with the fact that I was pregnant, that we were selfish, didn't tell dsd in right way, etc etc.
But she has since apologised, and for some unknown reason has started to be really nice. It feels like a massive weight has been lifted from my life, and I even met her for the first time a few weeks back. (I know, how did I avoid it so longgrin. She was very pleasant.
Do you have anything in common with her that you could chat about? It seems to me that she is probably making all this effort as she is perhaps envious of you?
Hopefully you can get to a place where she is not taking over your life - I do know how you feel x

Plutonia Wed 08-Jul-09 15:30:20

Guys, you really make me laugh with all your assumptions here... but that is hardly useful.

I stole the husband away from her, I label her as evil, I am jealous, I am ugly and resentful, I am bad.... etc... well, none of that is true. On the contrary I'd say.

It is annoying and draining if you have someone in your life who uses every possible opportunity to draw attention to themselves, and any attention is good, even negative one. I'd love to step back, but shall I go on holiday from my family life? That cannot be the solution. Some people advice to ignore these people, others tell you to confront them. None of that has really worked for me. Well, I did not confront her, DH did.

Btw, I am not saying that everyone who changes hair colour frequently and likes to dress up has a mental problem! However, the other way around is very true, people who lack of substance and have a self-esteem issue use their appearance to get attention! Because by just being normal or themselves they won't get enough and they crave it. Just google "attention seeking behaviour" and you'll see....

I think part of the problem is that I had to take on so much shit of this person over the last few years, that I feel my defences are down now.

Can I just re-itinerate - I would like to get HELPFUL comments from people who have been in MY situation... not nasty comments from people who can identify for some reason with the person I describe here (maybe all the first wifes who felt treated unfairly or who have been cheated on?) and who feel the need to put me down. That's unfair. This is not what a forum is about.

Plutonia Wed 08-Jul-09 15:39:05


finally someone who UNDERSTANDS me and my situation. Thank you!

Yes, it is a MASSIVE burdon.... my background is very similar to yours. She has tried to split us up in the beginning and it took DH quite a long time to put his foot down, mainly because nobody wants to cross the mother of his child... fearing it could affect the child negatively.

This woman caused me a lot of hassle in the past... I know it is because of HER own issues... she's had always had them. She is an envious person by nature, I know that from different sources...but other people have the choice to walk away from her... and I don't...not really. Yes, we have set her boundaries now, I hardly talk to her and see her now... but the energy is still there somehow.

I wish she'd appologise for all her unreasonable behaviour... that would make my life a lot easier and I'd feel more relaxed about her... but I do not really see that happen.

I am still working quite hard to find that space you are talking about... X

MorrisZapp Wed 08-Jul-09 16:35:39

I did ask, am I wrong, did she leave him? My apologies if that is the case.

I don't agree that a forum is a place for telling people that they are right no matter what they say.

From what you've said, I can't see any evidence that this person you describe has a personality disorder. Your focus on her hair and outfits suggests that you have as much of a toxic reaction to her as she does to you.

Unfortunately, she is the mother of your DHs kid, so she will be in your life for as long as your DH is. I'm sorry if I sounded unsympathetic but to me it was odd how you complained that she turns up to school events etc - isn't this what all parents do. If you're there too then I guess she could say the same of you? I don't mean to sound accusatory but just seeing the two sides here.

blondissimo Wed 08-Jul-09 17:32:04

Sorry, I meant to ask, how is her personal life? I only ask because throughout all the shit that we have gone through, the ex was going through a lot with her husband. Now that they have separated, and she has found someone else, it is like a different person has been born. I am not excusing her behaviour, as what she was going through had absolutely nothing to do with me, but it's just interesting that it has happened this way. She denies it, but I am convinced she was jealous and wanted to get back together with my dp. Now that she is happy with another partner, and my dp and I have a child together, I think she knows there is no going back there IYSWIM. Do you think this might be the case with her?

blondissimo Wed 08-Jul-09 17:38:58

Also Plutonia, I think one of the worst things for me is that I felt my dp was betraying me as he would never completely stand up to her. They always had arguments, but the minute she hurled a threat his way. he would back down, or she would ring up in tears saying that she didn't have any money and that they had no food in the house etc. I think it must be hard for a man to hear this and consider his child in this situation, but things like this used to hurt me, as I knew it was blatant attention seeking, but he couldn't see that. He also used to avoid telling me about things like parents evenings until the last minute which caused massive arguments if we had plans. He once went out to the cinema with the ex and dsd the day after my grandad died, as she bullied him into it. I was left at home alone grieving, and he knew I wanted him to stay with me. It still upsets me to this day that he chose that over me. It is very difficult I think for other people to understand what it is like in this situation unless they have been in it themselves.

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