How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?

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allsaints

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How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« on: January 31, 2020, 12:13:27 PM »
My partner has a habit of accusing me of THINKING certain things about him that make him feel bad. For instance, yesterday he recounted a story in which he mentioned that his GF (me) doesn't watch TV and lightheartedly said although I've never SAID anything to him about his TV habit, he thinks I judge him for watching TV. I mentioned that it just doesn't particularly interest me (he knows this) but I don't care what others do with their time. Many times in the past (because this has come up before) I've said I don't have an opinion about TV watchers or gamers (he also plays video games)---that I just see it as a form of entertainment like any other.

Anyhow, he then became upset with me and accused me of judging him for watching TV. When I reiterated that I don't judge him for watching TV (I truly could care less), he said he FEELS judged by me. I said I'm sorry he feels that way. I am not judging him, and he needs to own how he feels. He said that that's all he needed to hear---confirmation that I am not judging him---and he "doesn't need to be told what to do" like own his feelings.  :doh:

How would you have handled this? These negative "assumptions" about what I'm thinking happen often, causing him to prematurely get angry with me for "judging" him, "criticizing him" (in my head)... and then fish for confirmation that I am not, in fact, thinking negative things about him. I realize he feels insecure about his TV consumption, so he projects it onto me... And/or HE's walking around judging others, so he just assumes others do this, too. Not surprising, he is highly critical of me (verbal insults about my appearance, character, intelligence, work, etc. or even just frequently telling me how I'm falling short, not doing enough, doing something wrong, etc.) Fortunately, he's learned to control this more over the years, keeping his criticisms about me to himself more.

Another thing he will do is sort of quiz me to test his assumptions. On one occasion, he began quizzing me out of the blue about how many times I think he has had a near-miss riding his bike. (He's an avid biker). I kept saying I have no idea. He became hostile and kept asking me to guess. So I said, "I don't know. Once?" He confirmed that, yes, he was almost involved in a major accident once in his commuting life. And it was terrifying. I agreed that it must have been very scary. Then he gave me the silent treatment for the rest of the evening. Days later, he explained that he felt "unsupported" about the bicycling thing the other day. (I had no idea what he was talking about). He went on to explain all the precautions he takes to be a safe and smart bicyclist. He also said that he read the comments to an article about a biker's death that day. Some commentators apparently blamed the biker for his death. He said he imagined that if he was killed on his bicycle, I would blame him for his death. That I would assume he was not being safe enough, that he's a reckless rider, etc.

I had no idea how to even respond because... there's just so much going on in that thought process. So, I guess he came home after reading those comments pissed off at me because in this theoretical world I'm accusing him of being a stupid and unsafe bicyclist. And when he vaguely fished for reassurance from me (asking me to guess how many accidents he almost had) I simply answered his question, rather than tell him it probably only occurred once because he's a super safe rider...

We talked about it again and I told him that I would be firstly devastated, shattered, etc. and that blaming him wouldn't even enter my thought process... I would think it a tragic accident. I also asked him what made him think otherwise and he said it's because I once or twice (like a year ago) said that I worry about him when he bikes to work... Yeah, I worry about a lot of things. I also explained that I worry about him, not because I think he's a stupid bicyclist, but because accidents simply happen... Regardless of how many precautions you take, you can't control the people around you. He calmed down a bit after hearing me say that I think he's a safe bicyclist. However, that argument ruined my evening.

Any suggestions for how to respond when your partner blames you for negative THOUGHTS they think you MIGHT be having? And/or gives you these vague little tests (in the moment I have no idea he is testing his assumptions about me) to fish for reassurances? A normal person would say: Hey, I read this scary article that made me feel all this uncomfortable stuff. I need your support!" But alas... 
« Last Edit: January 31, 2020, 12:29:28 PM by allsaints »

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Kat1984

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2020, 12:23:02 PM »
Allsaints, I'm sorry you're dealing with this.   My suggestion, and I say this kindly, is to leave him.  He is abusive or bordering on abusive, and he will not change.   However he is now will only get worse with time.    There is nothing that you can do or say in response to his remarks that will change him in any meaningful way.
You deserve much better than this.

 :bighug:

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GettingOOTF

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2020, 12:29:17 PM »
I see this as a form of gaslighting.

My ex was always accusing me of thinking things I wasnt or having a tone. Hed say I know you think ... and then there would be some accusation that put me in a negative light.

After I left him I went to a work event where I realized Id lost the ability to have a conversation with people. I was so used to having to run through all the ways things could be misinterpreted and making sure I had the right tone that all I did was agree with people. Id stopped really speaking and I never ever offered up my own views.

I see he did this to control me. He only wanted to hear what he wanted to hear. He also used me as a way to vent/confirm the negative options and worries he had about himself and his self worth.

There is no way you can ever convince them otherwise. My experience was that the more I tried to placate him the more outrageous and demanding he became, until I realized I no longer had any friends and had lost the ability to have a simple conversation with another person.

I also recently came to see that my mother did this. Shes accuse me of things I hadnt done and then scream at me until I admitted that I had. My upbringing set the tone for my marriage perfectly. I never thought to question the abuse as to me it was simply just how close relationships were.

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allsaints

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2020, 02:33:11 PM »
Yeah, I definitely learned to censor what I say around him or don't speak at all sometimes (if I'm not 100% aligned with his point of view). Which makes conversation exceptionally boring for both of us. Like you said, he only wants to hear what he wants to hear. If my opinion differs (about a movie, about whatever) he is sullen or I'm "not listening to him!" or whatever. He's not interested in my feelings, opinions or preferences unless they boost his self-image.

Fortunately, this hasn't affected my behavior OUTSIDE of this relationship. I notice this especially around my family and friends, where I feel like I can relax and just be me. Where I can enthusiastically express my thoughts, opinions, hopes, desires, etc. and feel valued and known. It is still a bummer to be invisible in this relationship, though. Or rather a prop whose purpose is to amplify his ego.

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losingmyself

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2020, 06:32:18 PM »
I'm sorry to say, but I agree with KAT. If I had known the the sentences that always started with "you just think" were going to keep getting worse, until he literally thinks he can read my mind, I would have left. 
Lately, if I don't agree with him on everything, he gets angry and says "of course you disagree, you just have to take the other side" and he'll be angry. So, I have no choice other than to agree. And you're right, it makes for very boring conversation.
And, if I had told someone how he was acting, way back when, when he was being mean to my kids, and I was trying to change him, they would have physically moved him out of my house. I just didn't tell anyone. I didn't use the support I knew I had.
Keep sharing here, and use the support of your family and friends. I am just starting to come back from the isolation that he imposed, reaching out more. It makes me stronger. 

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FoggyBritches

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2020, 09:59:22 PM »
In my experience, the more you try to do to relieve his fears/suspicions, the more they view you as guilty.  As strange as it sounds, the accusations are a way to confirm their negative presumptions about you.  I fell into this trap for years.  I constantly did what would supposedly make them feel better, only to now discover that I have pretty much alienated all my family and friends.  At the end of the day my spouse still isnt happy and still accuses me of a bunch of things that are seen as betrayals. 

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notrightinthehead

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2020, 05:24:04 AM »
Yes, as you say, he projects his thoughts onto you and is abusive.  You could of course, counter his "You think that....." with "Oh, now you can read minds? Right, then I don't need to talk anymore, just read my mind for your answer." and then walk away. This won't improve your relationship. It might make you feel more in control though. It might set a boundary, that you are no longer willing to be treated like that.
 
I urge you to read the toolbox and to start implementing the strategies.

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Fae Greenwood

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2020, 07:42:50 PM »
Yes, as you say, he projects his thoughts onto you and is abusive.  You could of course, counter his "You think that....." with "Oh, now you can read minds? Right, then I don't need to talk anymore, just read my mind for your answer." and then walk away. This won't improve your relationship. It might make you feel more in control though. It might set a boundary, that you are no longer willing to be treated like that.
 
I urge you to read the toolbox and to start implementing the strategies.
:yeahthat:
I have to remind myself constantly that I am responsible for my choices but not the choices of anyone else.

When we have a child, we give a hostage to fortune and to the other parent.

I may not respond as I have to sneak onto this site and more than a quick view is challenging.

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blunk

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2020, 12:54:26 PM »
This came up recently in another thread. It was one of the things that I found most frustrating with my BPDxh. How do you prove a negative? Accusations like that almost force you to JADE. I always felt like that was what he was looking for. Either to start yet another painful circular discussion, or for me to fawn over him and tell him, oh no I would never think anything bad about you...blah, blah, blah.

At one point I confronted him about it. If I disagree with you, you say that I'm being difficult or trying to start an argument; if I agree with you, you say that I'm being patronizing; and if I say nothing then you tell me that I don't care. What exactly could I have said that would have been the right answer. His answer was..."nothing". That said it all.

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StayWithMe

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2020, 01:36:57 PM »
My parents were that way with.  ie "You know what I'm talking about."  Quite often it was when my mother was using cutesy for things and people.  If I told her that I didn't  know who or what she is talking about, I would get that cutting tone of voice and sometimes she would call me stupid.

I did learn that with patience I could shut down conversations by simply not playing ball.  ie.I don't know this person you are asking about that went to my high school.  My yearbook is over there if you want to point her out to me."

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Liftedfog

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2020, 08:45:21 AM »
It is a form of emotional abuse and manipulation just to exert control over you. He is trying to police and control your thoughts your responses and when doesn't like the answers you give he guilts you and berates you. It will only get worse.  There is something wrong with HiM and you will never please him. It doesn't end.  I'm sorry you are dealing with this.  I lived this abuse for 30 years.  Seek therapy to help you see why you stay with him.

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Whiteheron

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Re: How to respond when accused of having certain THOUGHTS?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2020, 08:42:36 PM »
At one point I confronted him about it. If I disagree with you, you say that I'm being difficult or trying to start an argument; if I agree with you, you say that I'm being patronizing; and if I say nothing then you tell me that I don't care. What exactly could I have said that would have been the right answer. His answer was..."nothing". That said it all.

 :yeahthat:

I've had a similar conversation. Apparently the  correct answer was that if I knew him well enough I would automatically know how to respond. That I kept giving him the incorrect response just proved to him how little I actually knew or cared about him... :roll:
It was all a game.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.