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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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My current boyfriend used to be involved with a woman I

Customer Question

My current boyfriend used to be involved with a woman I consider to be sociopathic. She is still 'friends with him', but wreaks havoc on my current relationship with him and with the people that we all work with and socialize with. I can see that he still cares about her very much. It bothers me a lot because I know that she doesn't care about others at all, including him. I don't know how to cope with it anymore. I find myself angry and unhappy about it every day. I have tried to have talks with her to explain my feeling but the talks are always met with hypocrisy, lies, and insensitivity. My boyfriend will not have a talk with her about the way she treats me, though he knows how she treats me and everyone else is wrong and seems to be aware of her conniving behavior. I have to work with this person and I see her hurting other people. I don't know what to do. Do you have any advice?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

From your post, it is a little unclear what you want to see happen, exactly. First, it is clear that you are concerned about how this woman treats you----she is probably exploitative, manipulative and untrustworthy with other women she works with as well. You've probably discovered that if you share anything personal with her, she will exploit the information or use it to hurt you or gain some social advantage. You have to work with her, but you should completely 'zip it' with her in terms of trying to share ANYTHING personal. You realize she is a sociopath, so this means you cannot trust her with any information about you; e.g., your heart-felt feeling. You can however, be kind, act toward her in a professional manner, but completely give up the idea of talking to her to gain sympathy, understanding, or to persuade her etc. I think you must protect your privacy about your thoughts, feelings, activities, etc., with her, or others she could pump for information.

Your boyfriend is the real issue for you here. You are understandably jealous because you realize that he is still attracted to her on some level and you feel competitive with her. What do you want him to do exactly, regarding this other woman? I suspect you've tried talking to him---tried persuading him to not have contact with her any longer; but it doesn't sound like he is willing to end his social contacts with her, is he? If he insists on having ongoing relations with her as a friend, what will you do, exactly?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
the work situation is tense because all of us work together, and I'm involved in a personal relationship.
I have tried talking to him, not to restrict his contact with her because I feel that's the last thing that should happen or else he may start to feel unhappy or resentful toward me. What I told him was that I don't appreciate the way she treats me and that I've tried to clear up the problem twice. Since he is aware, and has even SEEN firsthand, her bad behavior toward me, I am unhappy that he won't step up and support me in some way. This is what the talk has centered on; I told him that it would be nice, since he has known her several years and has been in a relationship with her, if he could ask her what her problem is and to try and help me resolve the issue. Apparently he has tried once but she just went crazy and started saying bad things about me. He still has some sort of 'friendship' with her, but I explained clearly that if he wants me to be able to be around her (and I personally want to stay as far away from her as possible and never deal with her unless I have to), that unless she (and she is not even able to resolve problems on a PROFESSIONAL level, work-related) can meet me half-way, any kind of comfortable situation where the three of us are around each other is just not possible at this time.
I am upset because I feel I should get more support, if my partner cares about me and sees me being mistreated.
What would be the next step? I've even considered removing myself from the relationship! But I would feel that would let her win.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
Your boyfriend is trying to 'have his cake and eat it too' with you and this ex girlfriend. I think you can calmly, quietly tell your boyfriend that any man you remain with long term needs to err on the side of putting you first in his circle of relationships. This means that if you are being clearly, obviously mistreated by another friend of his, you expect him to stand by you and politely confront his friend about being more civil or respectful, etc. If the friend then 'loses it or gets 'crazy', you expect that any guy who wants an exclusive relationship from you, would discreetly and quietly cut back on the frequency of their association with such an irrational person quite dramatically. You can explain that this isn't a matter of asking him to simply choose you over his other friends, because you are not asking him to give up his friends. But, you are expecting that if you have an exclusive relationship with a guy, he needs to shows proper respect for the emotional commitment you have made to him. That respect comes in the form of him standing up for you---even if it means that he errs just a bit on the side of supporting you when you might be somewhat 'wrong' or a tiny bit out of line. You can then emphasize that you wouldn't expect him to stand up for you if you were clearly misguided or way out of line in your actions, however.

In summary, I want to suggest to you that you review the way I'm framing this issue about his loyalty to you (above) and find a way to put it in your own words. You rehearse it in your mind until you are comfortable expressing these thoughts; or write it up in a letter and give it to him, so you get the words just right. But I do think your boyfriend is being a bit spineless, so to speak, or he thinks the sociopathic woman is truly a friend he wants or needs, and will sacrifice you just a bit, in order to appease her. What do you think?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
My customer roster shows that this question has been 'timed out'. If you would like to provide a response to my last post, please feel free to do so. Alternatively, please hit the green Accept button at the bottom of this screen so I may receive credit for answering this question. Thanks.