In the previous post we talked about making a list of what we did and did not like about our partner. Reviewing that list helps us remember why we left. We can see that what we did love about him is far outweighed by what we didn’t. In most cases, we discovered that who we thought our partner was, Mr. Wonderful, was not who he really is. The person we loved was the facade our partner presented to get what he wanted. It wasn’t him.
We can expect that as soon as we leave, Mr. Wonderful will reappear. However, below that mask is a cold, calculating mind working against us. We need to recognize the games he plays to subvert the power we’ve taken back. Once we understand the way our partners are trying to manipulate us, we can emotionally step back and call the behavior what it is. I suggest you give the games a name.
The Gonna make you act-out Game - He will try to come across to others as calm, collected, the sane one. He will tell outrageous lies designed to rile you and make you come unglued. His intention is to point at you and tell the court system, child protective services, friends, “Look how crazy she is. See what I have to put up with.” Don’t fall for this game. As angry as he makes you, remain calm and let the system work. Your peaceful demeanor may very well rile him, causing him to expose his true self. Stay steady and speak the truth no matter how embarrassed you feel. The shame belongs to him.
The Garner Sympathy Game - He knows the statements that have worked in the past. When they don’t work, he’ll come up with others. “I can’t live without you. I’ll kill myself.” “I thought you loved me.” “You’re taking my children away from me.” “You’re deserting me just like everyone always has.” “I’m in therapy. I need your help to change.” “The police took me to jail. It’s horrible. Do you know what miserable things I’m suffering here? Sleeping on a cold slab?” “The other inmates are threatening me.” “I don’t think I can survive much longer.” And thousands of other statements designed to tug at your heart or guilt you into giving in. If his behavior made you leave or put him in jail, it’s his fault, not yours. For years he’s taught you that you must fix everything for him, take care of him, cover up his bad behavior and clean up his messes. It’s his job to clean up his messes. As long as you do it he will not take responsibility for himself. You are only responsible for your behavior. He is responsible for the consequences of his.
The It’s Us Against the World Game - “Our love is so special/unique that no one else understands it.” “Other’s want to destroy us. We have to stick together.” “Other’s are plotting against us.” “You’re parents always hated me. They’re making you do this.” These are some of the declarations he may use to solidify your relationship and make other’s/the system the enemy. He’s blaming the outcome for his behavior on others.
The False Concern Game - “Are you and the children okay?” “Are you having any luck finding a job?” “We don’t need 2 attorneys. Most of them are sharks. I have someone who we can work with.” “I want what’s best for you and the kids.” These are attempts to awaken the fear-based messages you received throughout the relationship; you are not capable of surviving without him, you don’t make good decisions, you can’t provide for your children, or survive alone in this dangerous world. No matter what your partner says, most definitely, hire your own attorney.
The Easing His Way Back into Your Life Game - “It seems foolish for us to pay two rents/house payments. Let me stay in the guest room (downstairs, or share one of the children’s rooms.) That way I’ll be there to protect you and the kids.” Once again, he’s playing the fear card.
He may also try to re-hook you emotionally with sex. "Even if we’re divorced doesn’t mean we can’t have sex. Remember how great it was?" Never have sex with your ex.
The We Need To Talk (About the Children, Money, Property settlement, etc) Game. He want’s to meet with you alone. He may lure you with the promise of money or some item you cherish that’s in his possession. This may be a ploy to put you in a vulnerable position where he can terrorize you or harm you. Don’t buy into it, it’s too dangerous. Even those who have not been physically abusive, may, in desperation, step up their aggressiveness and harm you. Never meet your soon-to-be-ex alone or in a secluded place.
I’m sure you can come up with other games. I suggest you list the statements you expect your partner will use against you. Identify his intent with each statement. That way when you hear it from his (or her) mouth - try not to laugh aloud - you can mentally tick it off your list, “Oh, yes, this is the sympathy game. I refuse to buy into it.” This will redirect your thoughts, help you step back and not get caught up in the drama.
I’d love to hear the games you’ve come up against. Please click on the comment link below and tell us what innovated game your ex plays. Feedback is available for those who ask.