Is he ultra sensitive about the words you use? You might want to move on ASAP.
As a body language expert, I observe the ways couples interact with each other. Over the years I've identified several types of toxic relationships that fall into a category of romance that I've termed "psychological demons disguised as love." One of these types of toxic relationships I call the "Gamer." As the romantic partner of a Gamer, you feel like you have strategize what you say and how you convey your thoughts and feelings so that your partner will even listen to you. It's almost as if your playing a game of chess, trying to outplay your partner just to be acknowledged.
Take the following scenario as an example:
After two years together, Jackie felt defeated in her relationship with Mike. She knew relationships weren't suppose to be a battle, but she felt like she was entering a war with Mike whenever they had a disagreement. Mike was particular over her word choices. Whenever she expressed herself using words that he thought didn't describe him or the situation accurately, he wouldn't listen to her until she changed her language. He'd say "I didn’t say that. I said that.” He wouldn't hear her out until she used his word choices. He didn't like when she brought up situations where she felt he let her down. He'd tell her if she appreciated him then she'd understand him better and there wouldn't be a need to point out such trivial matters.
She spent so much time defending her communication style that she'd end up apologizing for hurting his feelings. Her concerns would be forgotten and she felt dismissed. She didn't understand why Mike constantly made everything about himself. He didn't accept her concerns at face value. He turned her concerns as personal attacks even though she didn't present it that way. He accused her of not respecting him and thinking poorly of him. Jackie didn't know if he couldn't or wouldn't accept responsibility for his contributions to their problems. In Jackie’s opinion, Mike just wanted to stifle her and win the arguments at all costs.
Signs of a Gamer
- Challenges your thoughts, opinions, perceptions of the argument
- Refuses to listen until you adapt their communication style
- Turns a disagreement into a personal attack against them
- Dismisses your concerns
- Nitpicks your word choices
Underneath of the criticizing of your communication style and feelings of being emotionally attacked, a Gamer is protecting a fragile ego. A Gamer will use any tactic to maintain their perceived high self-esteem. This is the reason they analyze and criticize your communication style and word choices during arguments. They will engage in a circular argument until you give in and adapt their communication style. Only then will they listen to you. Their image and self-worth is threatened whenever you perceive them in a negative way. At some point in the argument, you'll find yourself apologizing to them. As a result, your concerns will be pushed away and forgotten.
How Can You Identify a Gamer?
A Gamer is like a narcissistic lover whose charm and attention will sweep you off your feet in a one second then suddenly leave you feeling empty and confused the next when you point out problems in your relationship. You begin to over-analyze yourself and find ways to restore your partner's self worth. They'll shower you with love and attention until you speak up for your self and point out situations where they've hurt you.
How Can This Type of Love Be Salvaged?
Handling a Gamer is tough because they're relentless in correcting you and making you adhere to their style of communicating. To beat the Gamer's strategy you need to make your own rules and follow through. You shouldn't settle for their wishy-washy love style. Make it known that just because you choose different ways of expressing yourself doesn’t mean that you don't understand them or respect them. However, many Gamers only recognize they communication style as the right way and may insist that you adapt to their way of thinking. When there's no more room for compromise then it's in your best interests to end the relationship.
How Can You Save Yourself?
Remember that it is not your job or your place to change someone else. As much as it may hurt, in this type of love scenario, all you can do is accept the ugly truth and either put up with the inconsistencies of your partner or walk away from them. Unless they make an effort to change their ways, the confusion and emptiness you feel will persist and quite possibly lead to more serious psychological upset. Learn from your experience and be perceptive in future relationships, making sure to listen to your inner voice, as daunting as it may be. Find someone who views relationships as a partnership rather than a dictatorship.
Blanca Cobb, CEO of TruthBlazer, is a nationally recognized body language and lie detection expert who uses her behavior analysis expertise and psychology background to get to the truth. She is also a Senior Instructor at the Body Language Institute in Washington, DC. Blanca is an ‘in-demand’ media guest, speaker and coach who breaks down the complexities of human behavior to help people succeed in life. She’s been featured on HLN’s Dr. Drew On-Call, Good Morning America, CNN, USA Today, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC affiliates as well as quoted in the New York Daily News, The Root, and Cosmopolitan magazines. Since deception can infiltrate all aspects of life, no topic is off-limits for Blanca.