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Dealing with manipulative ex

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am at my wit's end. I have been strong, and continue to be so. But my ex continues to insist that I am the one who has all the problems, doesn't act right, and is the reason why he acts the way he does.

Yesterday we met for lunch to discuss the calendar for our two DDs (we do 3 days, 4 days - shared custody). Exh is taking quite a few days off (he has 4 weeks annual vacation - I don't have any because I just started my job) to take care of the kids during their 2 week Christmas break, and so told me he should have extra evenings off. I agreed to this, but then stated I would like to have the 31st free. Originally we had planned to spend Christmas together, for the girls, but now he's saying he doesn't want to (due to my 'attitude' yesterday) and has given me the choice of having the girls December 24/25 or December 31/January 1. I don't mind this, but he sent me an angry e-mail yesterday afternoon, and three this morning. Accusing me of ignoring his emails. I am at work, and have quite a lot on my plate right now (studying for my insurance exam next week on top of everything) so I just don't have the time or energy to feed his anger or to think of a nice whitty statement that would be calm, yet effective.

Because of our two girls, I have to deal with this guy, but how can I ignore his attempts at trying to chip away at my armour??

Anyone BTDT??
post #2 of 21
Holly, I'm *right there* with you, with repeated emails at my place of employment, nasty calls when my boss is standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, texts, etc etc.

So far, what has worked was
a) redirecting his email into a folder call "Moron...read this later"
b) repeatedly responding to whatever he sent with "we'll talk in mediation".
c) only respond to "business items" such as visitation times, dates, details...I ingore all insults, invitations to fight, but log everything in a hand-written journal for future use (I was advised about the hand-written journal by a family law judge I consulted).
d) detach detach detach

You know as well as I that manipulative controlling men will blame-shift to everyone around them to avoid looking at themselves. It's known tactic and it's impossible to deal with.

Since you X is toxic, perhaps avoid meeting with him in person and keep all contact to written form, so that it's easier to remove all emotion from your communication and it gives you time to respond if he does provoke you.

*hugs* consider me your break-up buddy. We should form a club
post #3 of 21
Dealing with it right now....ugh. My ex is of the "nice guy", victim, passive aggressive variety of manipulative. However, he's graduating into sarcasm, strings of abusive text messages, and totally inappropriate behavior. I was really prepared to be friends with him but god, he's toxic. I'm at my wit's end.
I guess the best tactic is boundaries and detachment. Pick your battles, be aware of blame shifting, don't engage, and be thankful you're no longer with him. I think we pretty much just have to be the bigger people. We have to be the grownups, because they certainly aren't doing so.
post #4 of 21
Send him an email back with the angry emails attached. In it, write, "I'm giving a copy of these to my lawyer, would you like to add anything else?" Also tell him you are recording all of your phone conversations, even if you aren't. If you have to see him in person and he starts verbally abusing you, calmly say, "Hold on a sec," and whip out a voice recorder. Turn it on and calmly say, "OK, go..."
post #5 of 21
Originally Posted by *MamaJen* View Post
Dealing with it right now....ugh. My ex is of the "nice guy", victim, passive aggressive variety of manipulative. However, he's graduating into sarcasm, strings of abusive text messages, and totally inappropriate behavior. I was really prepared to be friends with him but god, he's toxic. I'm at my wit's end.
I guess the best tactic is boundaries and detachment. Pick your battles, be aware of blame shifting, don't engage, and be thankful you're no longer with him. I think we pretty much just have to be the bigger people. We have to be the grownups, because they certainly aren't doing so.
This is my ex and I exactly! (kinds nice to know I am not alone in my experience) I agree with everything especially the portion I placed in bold.

The bulk of my parenting plan is all boundaries so that I minimize the toxic energy my ex brings.
post #6 of 21
I like the idea of redirecting to a folder with that title!

My response is to calmly assume that I have 24-48 hours to respond without anyone outside of the situation being upset. Anything within that time period is perfectly fine and even something outside of that timeline is acceptable at times.

Write a response immediately when you have a chance but DO NOT SEND IT. Then wait until you have a chance to breathe and come back and edit it. When he sends multiple emails in one day - especially if they are all about the same topic - then respond with a single email. If they are about different topics, you can choose to respond all at once or individually. It's your choice though. This also gives you a chance to keep emotion out of the emails. Remember, if you are angry once, he WILL hold it against you despite the vast amount of anger that he consistently shows. You have to be the perfect co-parent in this senario.

If he is sending more than one email per day about the same topic, limit yourself to one response per day only. This is plenty despite what he may claim.

If you have still retained a lawyer, bcc your lawyer on every email that you and your ex exchange. Your lawyer will have the total picture this way and will be able to better defend you if your ex claims that you are non-communicative.
post #7 of 21
Oh Mama just read this & feel really bad that you are dealing with this right now during your exam ( congrats & good luck) and christmas time.

I would be calm with him.I used to fight back with my EX. I finally got to the point I would be calm quite and just ignore him.

Can you spend half day with the girls on christmas?

He sounds like a toxic man.

Sending good vibes your way.
post #8 of 21
Originally Posted by EarthRootsStarSoul View Post
Send him an email back with the angry emails attached. In it, write, "I'm giving a copy of these to my lawyer, would you like to add anything else?" Also tell him you are recording all of your phone conversations, even if you aren't. If you have to see him in person and he starts verbally abusing you, calmly say, "Hold on a sec," and whip out a voice recorder. Turn it on and calmly say, "OK, go..."
I love this. I agree that sometimes they are more childish and immature than the actual children involved. I've been single mothering for over 4 years and DD's "father" has not once acted like an actual adult. Not to discourage you! I KNOW it's possible, but we cannot allow ourselves to just trust that they will do the right thing and must always be prepared to step up and well, do things like those mentioned above. Exert the power we have.

Good luck and hugs!
post #9 of 21
Right there with you too, mama. So sorry about all these toxic men.

I no longer respond. He sometimes sends me multiple huge emails going on and on. He tends to have verbal diarrhea like that. I just answer the questions that require a timely answer and let go of the rest.

It's not worth it to get into it with them. That's what they want. They are looking for any way to engage, and when you don't, it pisses them off to no end.

It's hard but you can do it!

post #10 of 21

there is no reasoning with these men. I spent years believing I had mental health problems, was rubbish with money, that I was responsible for everything. I have been free for three years but we have to communicate because of the kids. He is not a good dad and is particularly lacking with one of them who has autism. He does not parent as an adult. After having my eyes open to the manipulation and abuse, the gradual destruction of my confidence-hell he even managed to get me to apologise after I found out about his affair-it was apparently my fault-and everyone else believing him, including my son's social worker, I realised that the only thing I could do was to ignore him. I stopped discussing with him, buying into his manipulations. It was really annoying for him as he couldnt control me any more. If I had responded to him he would have felt justified in what he did to me and he would not feel guilt. I believe he is incapable of thinking about anyone but himself.  These manipulative men cannot reason and you should NOT spend time with him. Make a formal agreement about when he sees the children and STICK to it. There is nothing more satisfying that ignoring the pompous, long-winded put down texts-I dont even read them-just delete them. Eventually people will see him for what he is-they have started to with my ex. I cant believe I spent all those years with him allowing him to put me down. He also badly attacked me once physically although I didnt tell at the time and was not believed when it eventually came out. He claimed he had a book deal for three years and I think he is still telling his family this-its been six years of delays and still this book isnt published......these men take a little chink of weakness in you and use it to destroy you-keep it very business-like as has been said. Its the only way believe me.

post #11 of 21

My ex was/is one of those. It's better now that the divorce is final and he's out of state. 


I did copy everything to my attorney, and I didn't warn ex at all. Why try to get him to behave better? Let him shoot himself in the foot. Usually I would just reply calmly and CC my attorney with my response and his previous email attached below. Gmail makes it easy to do that. My ex started noticing and got pissed that my attorney was getting paid for reading his nasty emails, and tried to bully me into not doing that. Of course, I ignored him. Money was the only thing that mattered to him, so that was the only pressure point I had on him, whereas he knew all my buttons - custody, visitation, how he treats DD, and financial issues. My attitude toward him was "Go ahead. MAKE MY DAY. Do your worst!" because it would all come back later to bite him in the rear if he tried to twist my arm again. Whenever he'd threaten me with stuff like declaring me an unfit mother and taking "the child", as he referred to DD, I'd just say "That is not going to happen. Go ahead and try!" and laugh at him. I was still a nervous wreck on the inside, but he didn't know that. 


When he'd write particularly nasty things or say nasty things or want to "make a deal", I'd tell him he could reach me through my attorney.  I hate people who act like these guys. Two parents should not be enemies, but these guys make it impossible not to be.

post #12 of 21


Originally Posted by artist1 View Post

Eventually people will see him for what he is


Write this down and post in on your mirror or desk at work if you need to. Sometimes we need to read something over and over before we assimilate it. But it is so very true eventually everyone removes there blinders and sees others for what they really are. Sometimes we see the truth in a person first and sometimes we are blind to the truth while our closest friends and loved ones see it first but in the end one cannot hide from the truth forever.

post #13 of 21

Grrrr. My ex is a manipulative, controlling bastard too. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!!!!! Print every email and make yourself a file. 

post #14 of 21

I feel like I am in a similar situation.  I have decided that I can't pretend we are friends.  He wants to pretend we are friends one day and then I'm chewed out the next day.  It was so confusing to keep up with how he was going to be with me from day to day because I never knew.  I am doing similar things like the PP s have mentioned.  We stick to the court papers.  Rarely do we make our own agreements because those always come back to bite me.  I limit chit chat with him about anything other than the important discussions about the kids and I keep that very brief and formal.  Whenever I get one of the phone calls that turns into everything being my fault and getting belittled by him, I hang up the phone or sit the phone down and let him rant to the table. 


It has taken a long time to even begin to see myself through my own eyes again.  For so long, I only saw myself through his eyes and whatever opinion he had of me.  I assumed that since we were together that he must really know how I am.  I have felt for years like somehow everything really was my fault.  He even blamed me for the break up with his girlfriend.  I am still working on letting go of all that and I have found I do much better when my contact with him is limited.  It's kind of funny to look back and think, wow, if I am at fault for all that goes wrong then I must have been and still be pretty powerful, lol. 


I don't know, I just know life is too short and beautiful to live that way.

post #15 of 21
I am there. I have tried for the last 18 mos to be amicable and be "friends" with my ex. But he just gets crazier and crazier. He got angry redently and told me i need to discuss any purchase over $20 with him! Wtf!! When i tried to fight back, he belittled and screamed and even threatened me with calling dcs.
I'm done. I'm meeting my atty this week to see what my options are legally (there's a ton more than just his verbal abuse). And i'm trying hard to find my backbone not put a stop to this.

Sent from my DROID2 GLOBAL using Tapatalk 2
post #16 of 21

I have been divorced for 2 years now. It was a bitter divorce due to the emotional abuse that I was put through during and now after our marriage. I'm pretty sure he had cheated once or twice during our marriage also. He is brilliant when it comes to manipulating me and making me feel like I'm worthless, then perfect, then worthless again. He would make me feel like dirt then find a way to make it up to me so I would hang on. He would make comments to anything on how I wore my hair, to the color of it, the clothes I wore all the way down to my shoes. Then he would tell me how beautiful I was the next day....total confusion.  I couldn't measure up to this mans expectations. He wouldn't allow me to make any decisions as far as finances were concerned as I didn't have a degree and he was the main bread winner in the house so he could do whatever he wanted with "his" money. I would try so hard to gain his approval. I wasn't allowed to email him at work or call as he didn't have time for me and he was busy working. The man also had OCD tendencies. This I didn't mind so much as I have some of my own, however, if there was anything left out on any counter in the house....I would hear about it. I wasn't allowed to cook meals as it was too messy and he never appreciated them anyway.

He also was a drinker....Not an all the time drinker, but when we went to concerts, out with friends or family he didn't stop until he was hammered. He would get so bad that at one point he was actually (beer) bonging captain morgan and diet pepsi.....yup....then he fell over and smashed his head on the captain morgan bottle....and believe me there is more, but it would be a novel by the time I done.

The one good thing that came from the abuse and ridiculous treatment was our son who is now 3. And.....with all good things that deal with my ex....the bad is always right behind. When I got pregnant my ex and I were so excited....or so I thought. I see all of these women with gorgeous pregnancy photos....I however, was not allowed due to "cost" and the fact that he said he would take some each month so I had a momento of how big my belly got. That lasted one time...then he actually asked me to take photos of himself because he had started the P-90X work out......YUP I had a winner. When I was 3 months pregnant he went to an all weekend concert with his friends complete with camping and drunk chicks. I told him that I would meet him there for at least one concert, but didn't want to stay and camp due to the majorly over drunk people. I arrived and called his cell...no answer...I called and called but nothing. Being pregnant and alone at a concert.....gets you slightly teary eyed. I went to my parents house and spent the night there. I called him in the morning and left him a message saying how upset I was that I couldn't get a hold of him. I tried one of his friends and they picked up. I asked him where my husband was and he said he didn't know. I was very upset. He finally called me back a while later and yelled at me. He said that he knew I would be like this and that I would ruin his fun. Yup......his pregnant wife would ruin his fun. I balled my eyes out. There was no discussion after that. 

Our son was born and due to major complications I almost bled to death. They had to do a hysterectomy in order to save my life. He was there by my side, but not for long.

When we got home it was the beginning of a long recovery process as I had blood transfusions and a very large incision. He got annoyed as we couldn't be intimate for awhile due to the massive trauma I went through. A few weeks later I found out that I would have to undergo another surgery yup.....just what a women wants to hear after almost bleeding out. What my husband heard however....no sex for several more weeks. Hence his infidelities....and that wasn't even the last surgery. I had a total of 3. On mothers day I had the last straw, we had our mothers over for lunch and my mom wanted to take me shopping but he refused to watch our son while I enjoyed a little time away with my mom. I also had to clean up before I left....when my mom tried to explain how grateful she was that I survived and just wanted to spend time with me because she almost lost me his response was...."how long is that going to be an excuse". That month I filed for divorce.

The divorce was awful. I didn't move out right away due to the age of our son. I tried to stay out of his way, but he made it clear that he had found someone new. He told me how wonderful true love felt and how perfect a match they were for each other. He wouldn't stop talking about her. When I saw a picture of her I knew that I had seen her before from some pictures of a party that he had at our cabin the August before....he didn't think I would notice but the divorce was under way and I wasn't about to let him know that I was deeply hurt. He even asked me if I could go away for the weekend so he could have his new girlfriend come over. He even told me that he was taking down our pictures of us so she wouldn't feel uncomfortable when she was there. The verbal abuse was not fun to take and majorly damaged the last shred of self esteem I had. He told me I was fat and the only man that would want me was because he wanted more cushion for the pushing....and even tried to continue sleeping with me during that time. If only his little chippy and now fiance knew that, but I have a little bit more class than that. She will get hers later I'm sure :) I found some texts that they sent to each other throughout this time...yeah I know my fault for snooping but the stuff he was telling her hurt more than anything. He was the sweetest most romantic guy in these texts. Saying they should write love letters to each other so when the relationship hits hardships they can open the letters and remember why they are together....Everything I wanted in a partner...he was giving her. I finally had enough and moved out because I couldn't take anymore of being called trailer trash and everything else under the sun. I found a cute apartment and not even a day later....she moved in. If that's not enough to screw with your head.

During the divorce it was non stop arguing over our son. Where he should go to day-care even though he was already established, having his new girlfriend now picking up our son from school and whenever I didn't agree to his demands he would resort to name calling and threats of mediation. He even was feeding a line of BS to his friends about how I was trying to take his son away from him. No offense to woman who actually try to do this, but I'm not one of them. I also contain a very large amount of common sense and know that the likely hood of taking him away is zip. I also know that I decided to have a baby with him and he is his father.

After several looooooong months it was finally over. The divorce was final and I thought I finally had reached emotional freedom from this man. I couldn't have been more wrong.

The only way I communicate with him is through email due to his lack of being able to keep his opinions and insults to himself, however, this did not satisfy him. Emails are wonderful. You can choose when you open it. You can choose when to respond and you have documented proof. I started to see a counselor and that has been very helpful. My counselor says that I suffer from battered wife syndrom as I keep trying to look for his approval and I will never get it. I have been going through great times of sadness and panic attacks because I'm always afraid of the emails or texts. I have finally found peace and the ability to stand up for myself. I found a man that loves me with every fiber of his being and also has a daughter my son's age. He has been my rock through a lot of this continued abuse.

My ex and I continue to go rounds. He tries to tell me how to parent and I choose to ignore which only makes him angry. Then my last straw was met. He told me that he had to go to Florida and that his fiance was going to be taking his place on his days/nights that he was scheduled to have him. I told him no. She has no legal right to our child and you are not allowed by law to lend out your placement times to someone other than me. I told him that I will be picking up our son on his days from school.

His fiance actually had the nerve to contact me and told me that I needed to tell my son that he is no longer allowed to go to her parents this week as she didn't want to be the one ripping the boys heart out. I sent her an email back letting her know that until she has children of her own she has no opinion or say in what goes on with my child. She is my ex-husbands finace and soon to be wife and nothing more. I said she would do well to remind her self that she is not his mother. This really pissed off my ex. He sent me an email stating that my treatment to them is completely wrong and that I'm a horrible co-parent. He told me that I use our child as leverage against them and that I need to be stopped and is contacting a mediator. Major drama session if I do say so myself. I responded to him and said that his fiance has no legal right to our child. When he cannot care for him our son will be with me. It's the law and if he feels he needs to hear it from a mediator bring it on.

He then went into a song and dance about how I'm not a good Christian for doing this to his fiance and her parents and asked me what Jesus would do. He told me that I will be judged one day and that the law cannot make my child love or respect me. He told me that I am not a nice person for "ripping" our son away from his fiance....I was just thinking to myself isn't it a little presumptuous to think that she has any legal right to take over while he isn't there? Then I actually started allowing him to get to me and make me feel guilty. I have every right to have my child with me. I am his mother and she is not, legally they have nothing to say about it. Anyway I get to go back to mediation and hear him slander my name and try to sell me as the bad parent while trying to make himself and his new fiance look like the victims.


Does anyone have any answers on how to handle this from now on?


Am I wrong in thinking that my son should be with me if his father can't instead of his fiance?


If the custody is 50/50 time sharing and placement do I HAVE to discuss things with him if not necessary? Obviously with decision making issues I would, but I don't want to have to be in constant communication with him as I'm done getting verbally abused via email.


I don't want to be face to face with him. I'm terrified I will crumble like a piece of paper and resort back to allowing him to run my life and my emotions.

Edited by mommajlove - 10/20/12 at 10:15am
post #17 of 21

Do you have a right of first refusal clause in your parenting agreement? If you do then he has to let you have the child if he can not. If there is no such clause then I am not sure where you stand.  he sounds like a total nightmare!

post #18 of 21

I don't think it's written in there, but in speaking with my lawyer he said my ex cannot by law give his placement rights to someone else in his place if he is unable to care for him.

post #19 of 21

You have the same type of ex as my stbx.... mine was a "pastor" , or self-proclaimed. He has no MDiv or bible degree. He has a music degree. He is manipulative, passive aggressive, and yep, loves money or manipulating others into paying for him. They will shoot themselves in the foot. As far as you've gotten, MommaJLove, I believe you and I are experiencing the worst of the manipualtive feed- the mediation, lawyer bit. I would just make sure that you always have a lawyer by your side that you trust, and that is a woman. Women lawyers are key in this chess game, (unfortunate as it is, everyone knows it, whether it is "let's play nice" collaborative or down right nasty litigation), and having someone you trust is very key. My ex uses his new found freedom (calling & leaving messages for our sons & telling them he's going to play basketball, something I never "let" him do) to push into my heart the fact that he doesn't have to get a real job, since I'm the one that moved us out of state.  After he achieved his bachelor's degree, while I was pregnant with, working & continuing our family (yes , I had three children in teh span of his 4.5 year school career, and he's the one who gets all the pity, puhhleasse), he looked for an out-of state job. I had just started my undergrad. I had gotten a full 1 year schoalrship to the private school of my dreams, and I did it on the weekends, so that he couldn't come up with any of his usual objections. Well, I was duped into beleiving that if we "just moved, things will be better for our family". He has been the one using the children as leverage, for as long as I can remember, playing on my heart strings to achieve his dream of a degree, being a worship pastor, etc... while others have done the back-breaking work of raising up his family (which apparently, is what he was all about in the first place, NOT).


 Narcissistic men will remain the same. They will always try to involve you, always. They will always appear to be "the nice guys" to those who are naiive enough to believe them at first sight. I found a man who knows what it's like to have a job as a job, and to bust your back for your family every day. He has a much different outlook on life, and not once have I heard him criticize me. He understands what it is to actually TALK and communicate with someone, to put yourself on the line with honesty, to risk your heart. Controlling, narcissistic men are incredibly FEARFUL. I know that sounds oxy-moronish, but it is true. They lack self-confidence when it comes to being alone, and build up a shell of acheivements and friends in big circles so that they will always have "backing". However, when they are alone with themselves, it's a horrible reality of constantly checking their reflection in the pool (narcissism picture - google it), and being sucked into themselves. They do not realize that there is no guarantee in love, that you HAVE to be honest & vulnerable & allow the other person to choose you, or to walk away. They try to tie other people to their sides, and with a spouse, for them it is a guarantee of not having to be alone to sit in the mess they've made.  I am glad that my ex will have to be alone with himself. Perhaps when he actually stops and gazes inward, as his past mentors have suggested, he will deal with his hurting and hidden heart that I was never allowed to see. I would rather be alone & parenting our three children than to be trapped in eternity with a stranger and married under false pretenses.  I have already been put asunder by the church for choosing divorce, which to them is a sin. God knows your heart, only HE can judge you. While there is justice on this earth, get a lawyer you trust. You may need her longer than you think. I always have one that I can run to should things turn sour.


Good luck my dear, God Speed confidence and resolution to your situation.

post #20 of 21

oh girl, I've been dealing with this kind of stuff for years! After terrible domestic violence and then divorce and continued harrassment, put downs, manipulations, I am only now just finally feeling capable of handling my daughter's dad. He just got out of prison, and right away I put my foot down nicely, stating my concerns about getting them back together after so long. He tried manipulating me, cursing at me, and telling me how bad my life is right away! I simply hung up, texted him that I will not talk to him when he insults me or says anything negative, and that I WILL talk with him when I feel respected. I just stuck to my guns. I knew that he was supposed to start getting visitation back, but I didn't care if either one of our lawyers was going to try to make me think I should deal with his manipulation. He didn't see her for the first month he was back. No one gave me any crap about it. Now, he talks to me nicely. :) Don't let ANYONE make you think you have to deal with your ex until he gives you proper respect. Any judge will understand and applaud you.

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