It’s a common trope among men. “Dude, she was crazy.” “She went psycho.” I know that one of my exes tells his new girlfriend things like that. And I want to unpack it a bit. This is a bit different from a normal article, but I think it’s something that girls in my age group commonly experience, so it’s worth examining.
Women are typically seen as the over-emotional partner in male-female relationships (the only type I can speak on, but there are likely similar nuances to same sex relationships!). It’s an old fashioned theme that dates back many hundreds of years, and I’m sick and tired of it. If women are seen as the excessively emotional gender, that perceived emotionality is exploited in perceptions after breakups.
This is more insidious than just a storyline after a breakup. Women and girls face bias in mental health treatment due to this societally ingrained perception. Their struggles are stigmatized in a unique way, and can be written off as hysteria or PMS.
What is this over-emotionality in relationships? I’ll give an example.
I sacrificed my emotional well being, all of it, for a boy. Women are raised to do such things. I am particularly prone to it, but women and girls are reared as caretakers, even if just very subtly and in the most progressive of households.
My ex went over to my house only once, only met my mother (never my father) once, whereas I went to his house probably a hundred or more times and met nearly his entire extended family. We were together for five months and with each other nearly every day of that span. I live forty five minutes away, but I would always make the trek to his place because he was apparently too delicate to spend time away from home. When I asked for some more time on my terms, he balked. I held him as he quivered and supposedly wept about a hard time he’d gone through, same as he did me. We equally supported each other. I set an alarm in the middle of the night so I could wake and talk him through supposed “panic attacks.” Over the summer, I sacrificed ten pounds and a lifetime of fear and worry for him. Now, I am villainized by him and his new girlfriend. It’s easy to write exes off as crazy, particularly if they’re women, rather than face the truth.
I’ve dated boys and men who were far more invested and emotionally attached than I was, several times. I broke up with them softly and have never called any of them crazy, or psycho. In several cases, I did something that led to the breakup, and I own that. Now, at many points, the aforementioned boy was more invested than I was. I questioned occasionally whether I was too mature for him, too advanced, had my life together more than he did. He was manipulative, constantly lying, and emotionally abusive, and yet I stayed, because women care-take, right? I would be there when his parents and sisters were not, because God forbid I ever abandon someone. My well-being followed his down the drain. Women supposedly nurture. What was I doing if not that?
Today, I’m likely written off as a crazy liar, though he is the one with a diagnosed lying disorder. Of course, the truth doesn’t matter. He’s likely continuing his subtle and mesmerizing cycle of manipulation, will likely call his current girlfriend crazy someday. That’s how men (boys) like that operate. Nothing is their fault, accountability doesn’t exist, and really, they’re the victim, and at all costs!
This comes from the lying disorder, sure. But it’s also a form of sexism that affects women at all levels. Black women are less likely to be taken as seriously by doctors as white women when they describe their pain. Cutting in girls is seen as attention seeking rather than a serious and indicative psychiatric symptom.
I’m lucky to have not encountered this kind of treatment until the last year of my life. No one but my ex and his girlfriend have ever characterized me as a liar. It’ll stay that way. I care far too much, obsessively so, about the truth. I also care about the safety of my readership. Here are the signs I experienced that you should look out for.
You spend most of your time together doing what he suggests.
You suspect that he talks differently about you to his friends and family than he does you (I didn’t find this out until too late and it was hearbreaking).
He calls anyone in his past life who he had issues with either crazy, abusive, or a bully (lack of accountability).
He suggests that you’re needy or ask for too much (this can be true, but often when a boy says this it’s because there is more of a balance than he’d like, and he wants more caretaking).
He flips a switch during arguments (my ex did this a lot, he was a new, vicious person when we argued). He’ll have no problem flipping that switch when y’all break up.
It’s black and white thinking, which if I’m being honest ladies, is a common trait of personality disorders and/or someone with symptoms of personality disorders. You’re either the love of his life, immortal with him, OR you’re entirely written off as crazy. There’s no in between. I am not suggesting that people with personality disorders are undateable, not by a long shot. So many of them find ways to hold beautiful relationships. However, I’m young and chances are, you are too. At this point in treatment, people who behave like this likely have done little soul searching and have made little progress. My ex has done none, he’s a child, and children in the bodies of adults can be very susceptible to societal influences, such as sexist tropes.
Finally, I know his seemingly lovely (very similar to me, in fact) girlfriend reads this blog. Many girlfriends of boys who behave like this likely do. I encourage her, and every other girl who sees their boyfriend in this article, to steel yourself for the inevitable. You’ll be tossed aside and villainized. Remember that you are not what some sick boy says you are, and that healthy people don’t lie constantly, so you are probably just as honest and true and valuable as he says you’re not.
When you hear “oh, she was crazy” and hear outlandish stories about female exes, question that sh**. I’d reckon that the majority of the time, he was the one mistreating her. If you know this is happening to you, stand tall. Everything works out like it should, in the end.