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Deliberate or real misinterpretation?

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I’m hoping someone out there can shed some light on my boyfriend's mind. I’ve not encountered this in other relationships before. There are a lot of problems in our relationship but we’re trying to work them out. I’m unbelievably frustrated at the moment because it feels like he deliberately misinterprets a lot of what I say – as if he’s half-listened but then it somehow gets twisted in his head. Here are some examples:




  • I’ll say (in October): “I’m going to be busy the weekend after next, so I won’t be able to see you.” He hears: “I’m not going to bother seeing you until Christmas”. I’ll say: “But I said I was free every weekend except that one.” He’ll hear: “You just want to see me when it’s convenient to you while I sit around at home.”
  • I’ll say: “I spoke to my friend for a few minutes on the phone before I started work this morning.” He hears: “I travelled 250 miles across the country to spend the whole day with her but I won’t travel five miles to see him.”
  • I’ll say: “I’d love us to sit down and work out solutions to our arguments rather than trying to “win” or arguing instead about the way we argue.” He hears: “I’m not interested in having “fun” with him.”
  • I’ll say: “I think we should take things a bit slower and focus on enjoying the time we spend together so we have a “happy bank” of memories, rather than constantly fighting.” “He hears: “I don’t want to live with you, I don’t see this relationship going anywhere and I’m interested in someone else.”
  • I’ll say: “I have an all-day meeting at work in the city.” He hears: “I’m going out for drinks with other men and won’t be back until midnight.”



This all sounds crazy but believe me, he actually says these things in response to what I say. It turns into a head-banging-against-the-wall experience because I try to counter what he says. Take the last example of the all-day meeting. I’ll tell him that and he’ll say “So I won’t see you until midnight?” I’ll ask him why he thinks that and say I plan to be back at 6pm. He’ll say “Because the last time you went out for drinks afterwards with lots of men and you weren’t back until midnight.” I’ll respond that I have no plans to do that this time, that the last time I went out was in a mixed-gender group of people and it was the Christmas party.” He’ll then say “But it’s the truth, isn’t it? Last time you were out until midnight, so that’s the *fact*.” I’ll say: “Yes, that happened last time but it’s not going to happen this time and, even if I did have plans to go for drinks afterwards, what’s wrong with that?” At which point, he’ll retaliate and say that he’s right, that he’s proved the point and he wishes I would just be honest with him.



The upshot it: I feel like I’m going crazy, like he doesn’t listen to me, that I’ve either not explained it the right way or that he’s deliberately misinterpreting it. I end up not wanting to talk to him because he’ll misunderstand me.



A short round-up of our other problems would be that he’s very jealous of my interactions with other people, mostly men (with no cause – I've never cheated or given any indication of interest in other men, although he's accused me of it many times), but also the close bond I have with my family. He’s never said I can’t do anything or see anyone, but he’ll act aggressively or distant with me when I say I’m going to see a friend or mention anyone’s name. We used to live together but I’ve moved out because I felt trapped, walking on eggshells around him in case I said the wrong thing. He wants me to move back in, have children with him and marry him. I’ve said that’s not going to happen unless we work together to have a better relationship.



I know it’s probably not a relationship worth saving. My question is: is this deliberate misinterpretation, am I not explaining things clearly enough or what the heck is going on in his head?? Is he playing mind games? If so, why? Where does it get him? I feel like I’ve exhausted all possibilities of honest communication with him and often bite my tongue and count to ten when I’m talking to him. Each time I think we’ve got somewhere, he’ll return to an irrelevant point and try to prove it or summarise the entire conversation as something completely different to what we were talking about.



Any advice/insight appreciated.



Thanks so much,



Going-loco …

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It's not you, it's him. That's about as plainly as I can put it.


You come across as a very rational, intelligent person. You realize this isn't healthy. You've even taken the step to move out. Time to cut that last string and get rid of him for good.


As for what's his problem? He is an insecure, controlling man acting like an insecure controlling man. You don't think he is trying to isolate you just because he hasn't come out and said it to you directly? But you see, control isn't direct. Him acting the way he does - making everything painful for you is how abusive control works.


At first you'll resist it, but then you'll start to yield to his wishes to avoid the pain of fighting and accusations. The longer you stay in something like this, the more it will start to get to you. It's more like the slow drip of poison than an explosion. You don't want to have yet another argument with him, so you pass on that happy hour with your friends.....and the next and so on, maybe in between you still go here and there, but you are starting to drift away from your support system until one day you realize you have no friends left. Meanwhile, not going rewards you with temporary peace with him. I say temporary because he will just start chipping away at other aspects of you until there is nothing left of you but an empty, compliant shell who will tolerate any amount of screaming, abuse, control what have you, because you've literally lost your will for life and no longer know who you are or what you want. Your life is now all about avoiding his wrath, aka walking on eggshells.


Don't go down that path. Your instincts to move out and get away from him are spot on. Now finish the job and send him packing for good.

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My only thought would be that all of these relationship conversations you guys have, should be had with a counselor or therapist involved. Maybe he just needs to hear your words from another person. Maybe he needs someone who is not you to explain to him that he's driving the relationship straight into the ground.


I have to give you credit for moving out, but at the same time, why do you tolerate such disrespect? Accusing you of cheating? Becoming aggressive and annoyed when you talk to someone on the phone? He's basically giving you a constant guilt trip for living your life. Who needs that kind of negativity in their life?

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I've experienced some of the sorts of things you're describing from both my ex-husband and my first serious bf when I was a teen. In my teen years, my bf would even get upset if I was spending the night with a girlfriend. When I went to France with a school group for a month, he was convinced I was going to cheat on him with a Frenchmen, even though I'd always been loyal. I tired of his trying to control me with his possessiveness and dumped him, even though he had many good traits as well, which most people do.


My ex-husand suffered from depression and was overly defensive. One time when we were in the pool, I said, "Oh, your tooth is cracked." He hadn't told me that had happened. He pushed me away and admitted he thought my underlying statement was, "Oh my God, you are so disgusting with your cracked tooth." I, too, felt like I had to walk on eggshells since normal things I said set him off, and what he thought in his mind was way off base.


Perhaps your man suffers from depression as well. If you asked him to see a psychiatrist to see if that's the issue, he'd probably get angry. I know many people falsely see it as a weakness and don't want to admit they have a problem. In my ex-husband's case, he went when I told him I wanted a divorce and he got treatment. He was great for several years but then said he would wean himself off since he'd never meant to be on them for a lifetime. I warned him not to, but he did and then things got worse than even before and that time I did divorce him.


If I'd had a crystal ball, I would've never married him. So that's the advice I'm giving you. Save yourself while you can and walk away. Keep cutting off the ones who aren't good for you as soon as you see they aren't. Older and wiser, I finally found a keeper. I wish the same for you.

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Well, before saying all the bad things about your boyfriend and have everyone here saying you should leave him..... Is there anything you like about him? Does he do things that make you smile? Do you love him? Why do you love him?


I could as well go through every time someone has misunderstood me, but it would drive me quite bonkers to be honest...The truth is that everyone is different, everyone has completely different perspectives and interpretations on just about everything.... You say one thing, maybe they think you mean something completely different...


Have you ever gotten mad at someone and then realized, oh ! I wish I never said that! Well, that is because to you somebody broke one of your 'rules' but that doesn't mean they are the 'right rule's just as everyone has their own take on just about everything....


This is why the importance of "communication" is key....because it is quite possible that people just don't share the same thought process so you gotta just be a bit patient and take the time to communicate until the other person really understands what you mean.... If you don't want to take the time to do that and just get upset...well...that is not going to help either...


And for the jealousy stuff...I honestly don't see a big problem...sounds like he is just letting you do as you please but just probably gets a bit annoyed if you mention you will meet up with some guy....Its not like the guy is locking you inside, checking your phone, reading your emails, showing up unexpectedly at work etc. etc..


I would try and think of all the great things he does for ya....and then ask yourself....do I really want to make him happy? I also heard that true love doesn't keep track of the other person's faults....and if you are to write down every time your partner does not understand something it wont do any good to be honest.....

Edited by willdation
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Is English his first language or had he had a brain injury?

That's a serious question because from what you've shared, it sounds like he has something wrong with his comprehension skills.

He is skilled on emotional manipulation. It works to some degree because she's still with him and trying to figure out which end is up

I know I stuck around longer than I should have because after all couldn't you just talk some sense into them? . . Not

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From your thread you posted in June 2017:


"I've asked him to leave me alone (after he sent almost 10 long emails in one night explaining himself, going round and round in circles, making more things up, retracting them, insulting me, claiming to love me, etc). Now he's removed me from his Facebook and blocked me everywhere. For doing NOTHING wrong.


My family and I are arranging a van to collect all my possessions from the house tomorrow as I'm afraid he's unstable enough to destroy them."


What on God's green earth made you decide to go back after the events that happened in June???

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Thank you so much to everyone who replied, it’s really helped to clarify things for me.



DancingFool and boltnrun, you’re right. At first I cancelled plans for him a number of times in order to make him feel more secure and to “keep the peace” between us. Then I stopped doing that because I felt he wasn’t (as patronising as this might sound) “growing” through his insecurities if I simply capitulated to what he wanted. I thought it would be better if I continued socialising as I always have and he could learn over time that there’s nothing to fear from me doing so. But the arguments just escalated and he would snidely say things like "We're so different - it's so nice for you that you have lots of friends, but I don't need that because I'm happy with my own company", suggesting there's something pathetic with me enjoying the company of other people. Or he'd say "I really think we should keep our relationship problems to ourselves as the picture you paint of me must be so hideous". I'd rush to reassure him because I'd long since stopped talking to my best friend about him, but then I realised I didn't have anyone except him to talk to and wondered if that was his plan all along - to isolate me. Surely it's "normal" for people to discuss their relationship problems with their friends?



Anyway, I feel I'm wise enough to his manipulation tactics but it's this deliberate twisting of what I say that just baffles me. I've wanted to believe that he really does want to work it out between us, but this is so counterproductive. I now feel I don't know what to believe anymore and, while wanting on the one hand to run in the opposite direction, on the other I feel trapped.



The pattern goes like this: happy day, then he brings something up that's WAY out there, some enormous and untrue assumption, such as I'm only seeking a promotion at work in order to be closer to another man. I'll calmly disagree. He'll try to prove his point. The argument escalates. It will go on for hours round and round in circles while I get increasingly more frustrated. He gets defensive against everything I say, so I start getting quieter. When I've had enough and I'm tired and say I need some space, he'll suddenly say how much he loves me and he supposes he has difficulties with this topic because every single one of his exes cheated on him and he can't believe he's met someone who won’t, and he has to “learn” a new way to relate to me. Then I feel sorry for him and tell myself I must prove even more than I'm trustworthy... etc. Maddening. Eventually I got tired of proving anything as it only made things worse - he chooses to believe what he wants to believe.



indea08 – we did go to counselling. The counsellor told him he had issues around jealousy and control and was “chipping” away me piece by piece. My boyfriend later said I’d manipulated the counsellor and he hadn’t been very impressed with him. We didn’t do that again.



The reason why I went back is that he said he was genuinely sorry for it all and would love the chance to prove that to me. Still being in love with him, I cracked and agreed. Unfortunately, he’s proved nothing except clarified the reasons why I left him in the first place. Now I feel trapped and reluctant to say I’m not interested in reconciling anymore, because of the drama that involves. I’m really fed up with all the drama. When I met him, I lived in a house I owned, had a large circle of friends and a really great, professional job. Now I’m living with my parents (as I rented out my house when he put the pressure on to live with him), I’ve not spoken to some of my friends for a year and I’m in a not-so-great job. Just writing this down makes me realise how much of my “power” and my life I handed over to him in a misguided attempt to make him happy. I feel resentful and angry that none of it worked. He’s in the same position he was in when we met. He wants me to move back in with him and I’ve said absolutely not, that we need to resolve our problems before we make any steps towards a domestic future together. But I’ve run out of fight for this and out of energy … I just wanted it ended.



If anyone has a suggestion of a way I could end this without the drama, I’d be so grateful!



For those of you who says he must have good points, of course he does. He’s very intelligent and we have lots of interests in common. He’s generous (often after an argument … hmmm). He can be very funny and we’re both introverts so like spending time away from other people. Even though it sounds like I was “always” going out with my friends, this can’t have been more than four times in our one-year long relationship and the people I went to see those times were female – I’ve avoided all my male friends (platonic friendships). The problems really started up when I got a new job that meant I had to travel to the city more often (we lived in the countryside) for meetings and social events. During those times, I suppose I was out of his watchful eye and control, so simply MUST be cheating on him, right?



Anyway, thank you ever so much everyone for taking the time to read my post and giving me your comments.

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From your thread you posted in June 2017:


"I've asked him to leave me alone (after he sent almost 10 long emails in one night explaining himself, going round and round in circles, making more things up, retracting them, insulting me, claiming to love me, etc). Now he's removed me from his Facebook and blocked me everywhere. For doing NOTHING wrong.


My family and I are arranging a van to collect all my possessions from the house tomorrow as I'm afraid he's unstable enough to destroy them."


What on God's green earth made you decide to go back after the events that happened in June???

Sounds like a brain injury or mental illness to me. He probably doesn't even know he's like he is. That being said, Bolt has a good question. I wonder as well why he's still in your life.

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It's somewhat difficult and cathartic to read your experience.

My experience is almost the same. I have a therapist that helped me with my divorce and went and saw him during one the break ups I had with this bf I speak of.


This is what my therapist told me:

That he treats his insecurities as some sort of disability that you are supposed to accommodate to. But his insecurities are HIS to work on, not yours.

You didn't create them, you shouldn't have to pay for them.

You will acquiesce to his demands in the name of love and making him feel safe, but he'll continue to move the goal posts and hold the insecurity card over your head to make you feel guilty.

You get caught up wondering if you only loved him enough and more than the others before you, he would feel safe. But as you have learned, it's pointless.

When I finally realized that this dynamic worked for him (at least with other women) I realized he wasn't going to give it up.


My therapist actually challenged whether all these women actually left him. After time I started to see that even tho had been cheated on before (and honestly, who hasn't)

he was the one actually the one that typically left the relationships.

Besides, if someone tells you that women always cheat on him then you need to see that as a red flag and wonder why.

My therapist said somewhat jokingly and with sarcasm. `by the time he gets done with you, you'll want to cheat on him too"

They learn it becomes a powerful tool to control women.

When I first met him I was naive enough to think he was really brave to admit to me that he had been hurt like that.

But's the hook that works for women like us.


The nonsensical conversations are sometimes referred to was 'word salad'. I prefer the term 'head f'ing' It's designed to keep you off balance.

And as you have noticed. . it works, doesn't it?


Even after my visit with my therapist I return to the relationship. I spent the last 5 mos of our relationship walking on egg shells and not being myself.

I was always on edge and carefully navigated the land mines that triggered him. Which as about everything.

Sad thing, with these types, if you don't give them something to poke you with, they'll go as far as to making something up, right?

Armed with the knowledge of the dynamic, yet hopelessly in love with him I watched as he baited me over and over.

I refused to do the crazy dance.


Anyway. . I am rambling. 7 mo's out and looking back I am still learning how bad it was as the dust settles around me

I am dating someone new who is nothing like this. I find myself a little hyper vigilant waiting for dark cloud to come over everything,

and. . it doesn't. He's secure and confident and being with him is . . .just easy.


How do you end it? You just do.

Remember, it's not open for debate. Just tell him you can't take it anymore. No point telling him the error of his ways.

He will find a better suited submissive partner the next time. It's just not you.

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It's difficult to read your follow up post. You are neck deep into an abusive relationship and make no mistake about it, he is an abuser and he is abusing you and has gone pretty far in breaking you down. Abusers do not change, do not get better, do not become a better person. You will never ever fix them no matter what you do or try. In fact, this thing that you have inside of you that wishes to fix is what makes you a good victim - you will bend to their manipulation in your desire to fix and lose yourself in the process.


Only way you get out of this is cold turkey. Tell him it's over and block him from everything. Warn whatever remaining friends and family you have not to speak to him no matter what crazy stuff he tries with them. They need to block him too. Warn your employer that you have a problem and that if he shows up at work, he needs to be chucked out. Yes, you need to go on that kind of an attack to protect yourself and finally get rid of an abuser. The easy way is total blackout.

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