TOXIC ATTENTION: THE JEALOUS BFF

Katy Perry gives Rihanna the ol' side-eye.

Katy Perry gives Rihanna the ol’ side-eye.

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

My girlfriend Josie used to be sooooo cool.  But in the last three months though she has  became the biggest bitch going. We were best friends.  Truly, I love the girl. I helped her get a job in my office and we even live together.  I’m not saying she has to be slavishly thankful. But ever since Todd (the football player she likes) gave her the old razzmatazz and blew her off she’s a different woman.  Now she is so two-faced, making comments implying I’m some sort of slut just because guys like me, especially my actual boyfriend Scott.  Sorry Todd’s just not into you.  Josie’s now the biggest attention seeker going. Always lectures me on how I’m eating the wrong thing and how I am sure to get fat. She flirts with every guy with her vapid baby talk. Then storms off when she doesn’t get attention.  She stalks me and inserts herself into all my conversations, interrupting to say how she likes the colors we’re wearing and taking pictures of me and whomever I’m with (!!!). She gets wasted at parties, breaking lights off the walls, taking her top off and running around in her bra. Now she’s trying to split me and my boyfriend Scott up because she “wants me to keep my options open.” Gee, thanks for your concern. I am running out of patience.  When will my old BFF come back?

-Petrissa Q. 

Hatin'.

Hatin’.

You know that movie Single White Female?  Well, meet Single Black Female.  My boss and I are the same type — Black women in our 20s.  Except I’m a size 4 and pretty (you better be if you want a decent guy in Manhattan). My boss is a big girl, with a big nose, droopy breasts from yo-yo dieting and a bigger ego.  Because of her job title and salary she really thinks she ought to have the best of everything, especially guys.  But the only way she can is to pay for a guy — give a broke musician a place to stay, give a bar guy in Jamaica or Dominican Republic spending money or marry an ex-con mechanic.  Not. My. Fault. But I’m tired of her insisting on tagging along when I go out for drinks or clubbing.  We’re not actually friends and she’s just using me to meet men.

-Alexa K. 

WARNING SIGNS

liono

This person is a little self-hating stalker.  She is no longer a genuine friend.  Don’t be fooled — she’s a little bit in love with you and even wants your attention.  Maybe even all your attention. But right now, she hates you more than she loves you.  And she is actively seeking to hurt you

Will it rise to the level of physical violence? Time will tell.  But the undermining, gossip and innuendo will cost you at work and in your personal life.  Whether on the cheerleading squad, in the sorority, in your neighborhood, yoga class or job.

The aggression is real.  The hater hopes you are weak and will believe her negative comments.  She dreams that you will internalize her hateful bullshit.  From nasty gossip to throwing shade, eye-rolling and sucking teeth, you can’t ignore these assaults.  They are meant to trouble, hurt and intimidate you.

It’s not a surprise when, despite her criticisms she starts talking, acting and dressing like you.  Your haircut, handbag, cut of jeans.  It’ll get much weirder before it gets done.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

As much as you can, cut this hater off.  Cut down on the information she knows about you.  Supply preposterous misinformation to make the shit she talks about you baseless and non-sensical. Tell her your arms and legs are prosthetic, you found out your family is really from Russia, tell her you’re an alien, tell her you’re wearing a wig/ weave, tell her this is not your real name, etc.

As long as the bad behavior persists, make clear to others that she is no longer your bestie and that you do not accept or co-sign her behavior.  Stop socializing with her as an automatic part of your clique.

Every time your hater says something bitchy, say “That’s not a very nice thing to say. Would you like it if I did or said something like that to you?”

Alternately, when your hater seeks attention, completely ignore her, walk away, talk to someone else – don’t even comment. And keep it moving.

Attention seekers love being the focus of attention. When they don’t get any attention, they get bored. Sooner or later they find a new target. Trust me, they don’t see you as a human being, they just see you as a tool to gratify them with attention. You’ll get rid of her sooner or later.

TO TYLER CLEMENTI WITH LOVE

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

My name is Katya and I am loving living away at college in Chicago.  But let me tell you: there’s a lot of pressure and the strange on-campus crimes would blow your mind.  There’s one woman in my dorm — a thick, angry bruiser who acts all super-militant and righteous.  Okay.  She’s not very attractive inside or outside but whatever.  Then I  don’t see her again after winter semester break.  Then I hear she’s been busted and institutionalized for raping a smaller, fellow male student.  Male.  Student.  She raped a male?!  What craziness is in studying our midst?

-Katya W.

During my first year at Fordham, my clothes kept disappearing. From my room, from the washer and dryer in the basement.  Then I hear from other students on my floor that there’s been a rash of clothing thefts from the laundry room and dorm rooms.  Our Residence Advisor called us together to say the clothing stealer had finally been caught. Come to find out my meth-using pre-med roommate Danika had been the stealer the whole time.  She had been stealing clothes and hoarding and slashing the clothing in her room.  Her girlfriend Sarah gave her up to the campus police cuz she thought Danika was out of control. What the?!! Give me my clothing back, you lunatic!!!  Your parents better pay me back at least!!

-Merry J.

WARNING SIGNALS

Oh, college ain’t just for the sane.  Psychopaths come in all flavors.  What’s dreadful about being young is you have very little personal experience with dealing with these nutjobs one usually only sees on repeats of “Law & Order.”  And they are 100% dangerous.  Like any psychopath, the loose screws one encounters in the undergraduate dormitory.

Like Tyler Clementi, we all go to school to live our lives and further our educations and careers.  Exploring our sexuality and relationships is part of that.  How sick is it that your roommate would film, watch, clown and broadcast your private encounters?

Now no coed college student is a forensic or psychological expert.  But amplify your own sense of modesty, isolation, and shame and confronting a bully becomes the hardest thing in the world. Especially when their actions become absolutely criminal.

It is well recognized that a person who has suffered abuse will tend in life to either become a perpetrator of further abuse or become self-destructive.  So maybe there is some grain of “why” inside the perpetrator in these perilous college situations.  Or maybe that’s just wishful psychobabble thinking.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

The greatest sin of the tragedy is that Tyler Clementi’s roommate’s malice took him by surprise.  An unfortunate part of adult life is learning to expect the worst from people.

And also understanding that the rot has nothing to do with you, Tyler.  It’s inside them.

By drawing lines of acceptable behavior, finding safety in like-minded numbers and being aggressive about complaining to authorities when we are wronged, we can start to protect our psyches and lives from psychopaths.

LOVE TRIANGLE: THE JERK’S FAVORITE TOY

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

Alana and I met Toby in a Verizon store in Baltimore. Toby was friendly and we had great chemistry right off. He asked me out for crabcakes but at the end he discovered he forgot his wallet. I paid for dinner. He’s a bartender and I teach third grade.  We saw each other every day. Within four months, he moved into my place.  I was having the best time. Things went mostly well until it seemed like he never had regular work hours.  Then I heard all about him making out with his ex-girlfriend.  When I asked him about it he turned all wet & fed Gremlin-after-midnight. He got angry and called me names. I told him if he wanted her he could move out and go be with her. But then he pulled himself together. He embraced me and said he was gonna be patient and wait for me to get over being jealous and controlling.  Between kisses and lovemaking, he convinced me everything was okay. Like a mama cat petting and cleaning her kitten, he groomed me back into trusting him.

-Catalina H.

My boyfriend Albie and I decided to spend Christmas vacation apart.  I went with my family and he went on a cruise to Jamaica.  He called me late at night on Dec. 25th to wish me a Merry Christmas.  And then he just sat there silently on the phone.  So of course I take the bait and ask. “What’s wrong?” So he ‘fesses up that his ex-girlfriend is on the cruise with him and he cheated. Of course, he explains, “It just happened.”  Merry Christmas, y’all!

-Daniella M.

WARNING SIGNALS

I’m not gonna play Pollyanna and say cheating never happens.  And there is the school of thought that says being honest even after doing wrong is best.  But let’s consider the possibility that telling our loved one how we did them wrong is the point of the whole shady endeavor.

In this scenario, it ain’t enough to just cheat — the perpetrator thrills in rubbing Girlfriend A’s nose in the mess with Lover B.  It’s not just sex the jerks wants.  It’s not just the ability to seduce two different women either.  Keeping one secret from the other just isn’t enough. The kink the jerk really seeks is sexual power at the expense of  the other woman scenario.  Power to deprive, power to humiliate, power to scorn.

For a disordered, power-hungry man, there’s no richer set-up to derive this power than through triangulation: flaunting a new fling to his girlfriend and instigating hatred and jealousy among his conquests.  All the while he is solely to blame and can often be still highly desired by the women he wronged.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

There’s a lot rotten with this picture.  But how do you avoid or stop it?
See beyond the glittering, desirable surface. The winning smile, the passionate embrace, the romantic talk of being together for the future are the sales points. The intensity and singular, focused attention of our lover may blind us to his or her real intentions. This is how he grooms and positions you to gratify his ego & sexual desires by using you as one corner of the love triangle.  If nothing else, the fact of the revealed love triangle should tell you he’s not quite as interested in not hurting you, or giving a damn how you feel when he clowns you by cheating.

Know your weak points. A love con artist is looking to lure you in.  He will give you something you want to position you as his victim.  Your loneliness, romantic ideals, openness to companionship or ticking biological clock are all detectable vulnerabilities.  Ruthless Romeo will zero in on and  exploit your weak spots to his advantage.

Don’t give up on your love quest.  But do tuck knowledge of these behaviors into your tool belt. Beware and take steps to nip this in the bud.

WITHHOLDING – BULLY BOSS

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

I’ve been working for two years as a Content Director for a short films website.  I bust my a** and then some.  I do my job, create entirely new projects that drive users and revenue.  I’m trying to save up for a house and to get married.  So two days ago, I prepared super-well for my performance review. So my specific gradings are all superlative in all categories then my boss invents some BS about “You’re not a strong communicator and can’t build business relationships.”  If I’m not doing that well, who is?  “No promotion for you” and not even a decent 10% raise is all I get for my hard work.

-Lorilei C.

I’ve been subbing for my alcoholic boss over half this year.  He is Plant Manager at our ballcap manufacturing plant and warehouse in Colorado.  I support his trip to rehab but to overlook my contribution above and beyond my title and salary is beyond insulting. But I heard my review from the brothers who are the owners on the fly as they wolfed Subway sandwiches.  The bottom line? The younger brother grunts at me: “Only giving you a Cost-Of-Living raise this year.  You’re lucky to have a job in this economy. And don’t think I haven’t noticed you sucking up to the Investors when they stop by to see our new lines of hats. Watch yourself cause we’re watching you.” WTF?

-Cameron T.

WARNING SIGNALS

Often in the work world, cruelty is a commodity. There’s a difference between a strong, assertive leader and a secret sadist. There is a tinge of exploitation as you’re encouraged to work super-hard for a merit bonus that never comes. As the victim, you are compelled to keep the secret to keep your job and pay.  To your Bully Boss, your orchestrated fear, failure, depression, hostility & loneliness is entertainment, especially for managers who are personally unhappy at home. I always joke: people who don’t get any are the worst people to work for.  That’s true talk.

The sad reality is some managers invent and augment crises to “solve” and negative dynamics they can “overcome.” They seek to be the Protector of the Purse Strings, Viking of the Economic Downturn, Saber Rattler at Wayward Staffers. Holding the carrot of merit just out of reach endlessly strings you along their impossible obstacle course of performance.  By surrounding themselves with purported stupes and nincompoops like you, these supervisors seem most valuable or interesting to their peers and superiors.  They shore up this perception by tearing you down or forcing you to fall apart. Or quit. If you’re a manager looking to be admired but willing to settle for negative attention, baby, you can get become the Red Queen or King by humiliating others.  But why do these bosses need to demean their employees so badly?

The essential & foremost function of the bureaucracy and the bureaucrat is to perpetuate itself. They wanna keep their jobs at any cost.  Fair or unfair doesn’t enter the equation.

And please don’t doubt our employers are being coached by their masters and mentors on how to be mean with means. Money and benefits are the only reasons any of you are there.  And they often wanna be stingy and hurtful on purpose.

I strongly suspect it’s some part of unspoken corporate hazing.  Perhaps they had to suffer through it and couldn’t understand why. Like so many victims of trauma, they strive to understand abuse by inhabiting it and perpetrating it.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

Bide your time.  Look for job opportunities in other departments and companies.  The most eloquent and safe answer to your Bully Boss’s provocations will eventually be the severing of all ties.

YOUR MONEY BUT HE’S IN CHARGE

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LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION Janet is a top television executive who essentially married a subordinate, a vendor.  Her husband Barry ran a penny-ante production company that made short interstitials for her channels.  So they get in the family way with two … Continue reading