Monday, May 18, 2015

Emotional Infidelity - An Autopsy

The "Sexodus"

In the wake of the reporting on this recent trend called the “Sexodus” – a sociological phenomenon in which a huge percentage of young men are seemingly giving up on marriage and commitment while retreating to electronic stimulation in lieu of the real thing, where idealized females don’t sue for alimony or even demand that a guy take the garbage out  –  this cautionary tale is mainly for the reader to better understand an under-reported phenomenon of the so-called gender wars:  the Other Man.

Too often our media is full of accounts of rapists (often connected with an accelerated rise in binge-drinking at frat parties), which rightly portray the harm caused by guys who are unable to control their libido while inebriated or drugged, so they take what they want and think they can avoid the consequences.  On a related note, ‘date rape’ has become common-place. We also have the stories of adulterous affairs, and these too usually portray the man as being the adulterer. Even then, they rarely attribute the philandering due to anything other than an uncontrollable libido, or as the buzzword of late has it, “sex addiction”. Often these stories are told by the ‘Other Woman’, who often portrays herself as the victim of an unfaithful husband making false representations to lure her into bed,  and sometimes promising to leave the wife and marry her instead.  Sometimes this is actually the case, but sometimes the craftiness is on the part of the female, who is seeking to acquire the man’s financial and intellectual capital to feather her own nest and provide for a brood awaiting in her own ovaries to spring forth.  And sometimes the story is told by the jilted wife, who may not be so concerned with the physical philandering but the emotional betrayal. To be sure, few of the practitioners would own up to such conniving.

Tales of 'Emotional Abuse'

One such example is that of a woman who I was recently told about, in advanced years and mother of three children in their thirties.  The husband and father had died though he had divorced the woman earlier, some say as a result of an affair though on whose part I wasn’t told.  In the past three years this woman had taken up with a wealthy widower who has been wooing her with gifts, topping it off with an expensive car costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000.  And yet the woman has not – or so she confided – had any sexual encounters with her would-be lover.  Her grown children, when visiting, always call the man “Sugar Dad”, or “Sugar Daddy”, which is the one thing that really provokes him.  Recently a mutual friend, a female, asked this woman as she often does, “when are you going to stop using this man?!”  To which she replied “when the house is paid off”.  What a stunning admission, yet this was said as casually as if asked when a pie would finish baking.  After a pause while this sank in, the younger female then asked her if she had considered what the man would do if he was ever ditched by her, “having invested over six figures in you”.  Apparently the only response was a shrug of the shoulders, as if to say, “I don’t care”.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the answer would be too pleasant, as the suitor is still working beyond retirement age in order to maintain his health insurance plan.  And yet this woman scolds and chides her suitor in public, to which he responds meekly by all accounts. 

Myself, I think it’s a recipe for disaster, and I think there are more examples of this kind of cruel exploitation on the part of many women who have thrown pretext to the wind and have gotten into one variation or another of the gold-digger game in a big way.

(The following account may or may not fall in the same category, the reader can decide.)

The point is that usually these stories are usually told from the female perspective, rarely from a man’s point of view.  This may be a consequence of the male biological wiring that emphasizes sexual contact over emotional intimacy, so it appears that few men seem to be interested in the emotional overtones that tend to permeate ‘female porn’ and the reams of romance novels that girls tend to gravitate to, while their male counterparts are immersed in traditional pornography (this isn’t mere conjecture; a simple check of soon-to-be-obsolete book-stalls and magazine sellers will prove this point).  The rift between them has grown even wider in recent years with the advent of the internet becoming the primary method of communication and stimulation.

Anatomy of an Emotional Affair

Some years ago, a close friend – we’ll call him Brent – was contacted by email through his website, which was conspiracy-related and so attracted the attention of truth-seekers and, well, a few kooks and crazies as well, as the subject matter lends itself to those labels.  At the time, not being aware that there was such a thing, he responded to this one particular girl the same way he would respond to anyone seeking information.  (Other girls had also made contact this same way, some crazier and more flirtatious than others.)  After several replies, they gradually developed a daily habit of spending time on an instant-messenger service.  At the time, Brent had been living with a girl for a number of years, but their relationship had become stagnant, and he felt frustrated and distanced from his live-in girlfriend – we’ll call her Annette.  After some probing by his new friend – we’ll call her Valerie – he opened up and ventured a few questions about how he might be able to re-energize his relationship with Annette, as they had started to talk about other things in life than conspiracy.  A few days later, Valerie asked Brent for his phone number so she could phone him and they could talk more easily than having to type on Instant Messenger (IM). At first, they talked about the JFK and 9/11 conspiracies, traditional pillars of conspiracy-awareness, but Annette overheard them on the phone and asked Brent to take the conversation outside as she didn’t want to have to hear that “conspiracy sh*t”.  Thus, Brent found himself going to his car and talking on the phone to Valerie about all manner of things, and this went on until Valerie’s calling card from Canada ran out of minutes.  Brent was delighted in having a new friend to not only talk to about the Big Picture but also to get advice from about his love life. 

When I first heard from Brent about his new-found friend, I cautioned him about getting too enamored of her, but I could tell he was clearly much happier, and he told me excitedly about how this Valerie was more like his ‘dream girl’, and he really wished Annette would be more like her – at least to accept his passion for most things conspiratorial.  Things went on in this vein for several months, and Brent confided to me that he and Valerie had been flirting on IM and she had gotten him so worked up he was on the verge of masturbating with her (shhh!!) when Annette suddenly walked in on him and that put and end to that.  (Perhaps Annette had sensed this ‘other woman’ was intruding on her fiancĂ©, but as it turned out, she herself had been doing the same with a man in California, but instead of plain IM it was in the virtual world known as Second Life – where much of the interaction is overtly sexual.)

Soon afterwards, however, Valerie – while continuing to talk to Brent on IM – went off to question a number of debunkers about things astronomical, while Brent tried in vain to explain to her that the conspiracy forum he had introduced to her harbored many debunkers whose sole purpose was to cast ridicule on anything smacking of a pending pole-shift or Nibiru – which is the ultimate show-stopper among conspiracy [ahem] ‘theories’.  Apparently convinced by the debunkers, who are as well-schooled in using traditional science to debunk heretics as their forerunners in the Vatican were, Valerie and Brent drifted apart. Brent then re-focused his attention on Annette.

However, the next time I heard from Brent, he was moving out from the house he’d shared with Annette – she simply wanted him gone as she had had her fill of anything pertaining to “conspiracy”, and was planning on consummating the relationship she’d begun on the Second Life virtual-world website.  Meanwhile, Brent told me that Valerie had decided to go out West to see what might come of a renewed relationship with a “previous boyfriend”, as he had said he wanted to “give it another try”.  He, meanwhile, was truly heart-broken and devastated over Annette’s treachery and had seemed to have lost interest in Valerie as he was more concerned with moving out of the city and into a less-expensive rural area.  I helped Brent move and we spoke little of Valerie.

Some months later, Brent received an email from Valerie, forwarding an innocuous link someone had passed on to her.  As he later told me, Brent said he wrote her back and explained that although he found the news item(s) interesting, he really did not want to hear from her so long as she was still working on being with her old flame – we’ll call him Matt – because, as he put it precisely, “you’re my kind of dream girl and I’m very emotionally vulnerable right now because of what happened between Annette and I, and it would hurt too much to hear from you though I do wish you and Matt the best, I really do”.  He went on to make it quite plain that he didn’t want to hear from her so long as she was still with Matt.

As it turned out, he didn’t hear back from Valerie for several months, and thought no more of her, as he was still reeling from and dealing with Annette, who deserves her own story in all this of course.  But then, near the end of summer, he started receiving emails and IMs from Valerie again, and again she asked Brent for his phone number.  Brent complied, and then began months of the two of them spending practically every day on the phone together.  Brent told me later that it was over 921 hours from his phone log alone for 3-1/2 months, and this didn’t count the daily emails and IMs that Brent would also reply to from his phone, whenever he left the house and Valerie wanted to chat with him.

You might wonder what kind of content was in all those phone calls and emails and instant messages.  You also might be surprised to hear that there was very little “sexting” involved, as it appeared mathematics was Valerie’s latest interest, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any sexual tension or emotional bonding going on, for buried in all the mathematics that Valerie liked to talk about were vignettes of her past relationships, her feelings of being betrayed by Matt – though curiously not due to anything that Matt DID, but more of what he apparently didn’t do (which was to provide a moment to properly ‘swoon’ in, as Brent later described it to me). 

Brent then told me a curious thing, something which has confounded me in all my research into the phenomenon:  her voice provoked an orgasmic reaction, one which startled him when it first became apparent but later proved almost embarrassing.  Eventually this became almost like an addiction, practically a narcotic.  After hanging up the phone with her, he usually had to relieve himself but this also made him even more miserable, as he refused to ‘touch himself’ while on the phone.  There was another curious development as a result of Valerie’s phone calls: he seemed to lose  interest in porn.  If he fantasized at all, it was simply looking at her picture and dreaming mostly chaste dreams, almost always devoid of sex.  It was unsettling to him, though he thought it marvelous.  Valerie herself would express irritation whenever he brought up this curious phenomenon, so he would only rarely make reference to ‘The Reaction’.  Still, it troubled him in that he seemed unable to show any interest in the women that were physically in his life.  Of course he wanted to see her, but it would be months before that could be arranged as she lived so far away, and in another country.

How to explain that?  After thoroughly researching the condition that Valerie had, and coming to a diagnosis of a psychological disorder that had an estimated prevalence of between .7% and 2.5% in the general population, depending on gender, age, and nationality, it appeared that one of the major factors her condition highlighted was an inability to feel comfortable in social situations, which lent itself to an increased use of electronic media to interact with socially.  Brent recalled how – during the early months of their first interactions – she once remarked how nice it would be to simply just chat all day on IM with each other.  This struck him as odd because such a method is only prelude to the ‘real thing’, but this was before he became aware of her disorder.  Essentially, her condition  made for a more alluring and magnetic ‘voice’ that tended to carry more subconscious information in it, much like a blind person uses his ears and the aural environment to help guide him through any physical obstacles while moving.  (For those that are interested, there’s a phenomenon related to clairvoyance called clairaudience, and it appeared Brent was clairaudient; essentially, he could pick up emotional data that was being transmitted with a voice, which is simply a magnified version of what anyone can tell by the sound of a voice.)  While this plays a pivotal role in our particular story, the same type of story could probably be told without it.

In any event, as the holidays approached, Valerie mentioned to Brent that her official boyfriend Matt – who had gone back out to western Canada to live with his mother while awaiting a medical procedure – would be coming back East to spend them with her.  Brent told me later how shocked he was to hear this, as he understood Matt’s ‘betrayal’ to be of such a magnitude that he asked her ‘then why would you be having him back??’.  She told Brent she couldn’t very well ask him not to come, as it was so close to Christmas anyway and that would be “cruel”. 

He told Valerie that he felt like “chopped liver” and that what she needed was a “gay male friend” that she could talk to but wouldn’t be in danger of getting emotionally involved with, and she replied that ‘no, I don’t want some gay guy, I want that male energy from a man that’s interested in me’.  Not long after that she told him over the phone that she had not yet decided on who she wanted to be with, Matt or himself [Brent], and at the time Brent had little idea how little independence she really had, or chose not to have.  In fact, a few days later Valerie kept him on the phone while she cleaned the apt. she had shared with Matt earlier in the year and the one he would be coming back to.  Brent told me later how anxious he felt for her sake as she had stopped vacuuming after the first couple of hours of talking to him all the while her father and brother went to the airport to pick up Matt; they were only minutes away from arriving when she finally finished talking and got off the phone. 

Brent told me later that he had admitted to Valerie that during that last long phone call, it was like she had kept him on the phone long enough “to make sure I belonged to her”.

That was another curious part of the relationship, particularly as Brent has been pretty talkative himself for most of the time I’ve known him.  To hear how he would sit listening intently to Valerie for 8, 9, even up to 12 hours in some cases positively floored me.  He sheepishly admitted to me that he’d volunteered to Valerie that she had him “wrapped around her little finger” and all he wanted to do was please her.  It was a bad omen, as his other friends along with myself tried to get him to see that the relationship was not headed for a happy ending, especially after she had to stop calling while Matt was in the apt. for the holidays.  Most of us thought she was using Brent, that she was “taking the icing off of someone else’s cake because there wasn’t enough on her own piece”.  We pointed out to him that Valerie had told him she wasn’t concerned about “the physical stuff”, as in, she didn’t mind him sleeping with other girls, even his ex, Annette. Brent even confided in me that he wasn’t even interested in sleeping with anyone, other than dreaming of being with Valerie.  

However, shortly after New Year’s, Brent told me that she called him when she was supposed to have gone to work.  Apparently since she knew she was going to be late, and Matt out of the apt. for the day as a result, she called and they spent the day together on the phone much as they had before the holidays.  And then, after a couple of weeks, Matt apparently decided to stay and look for a job, so Valerie started spending more time on instant-messenger with Brent.  They even devised a code to use for when Matt might happen to be walking past her on the computer while they were chatting.  Valerie said that as far as Matt knew, ‘we only talk about math’ when on IM. 

Brent found a GIF image of a fish flopping about on a fishing line after having been caught.  He used it every time he felt Valerie was “toying” with his emotions; as he pointed out, every sentence coming from her was half encouraging, and half discouraging.  I asked him, “does she ever use the word ‘but’?  I bet she doesn’t!”  Brent said, “how’d you know??” I said, “there’s your clue that she knows that using that word might turn every missive from her into a ‘Dear John’ letter, but she doesn’t use it because she doesn’t want to lose you while at the same time, she has to keep you at arm’s length because she has no intention of leaving Matt for you”. Brent got angry at the thought and wouldn’t talk to me for days, probably because he knew I was right and didn’t want to admit it even to himself.

“She’s the only one that’s ever induced in me the desire to submit to her will, and to be happy doing it while knowing it would make me miserable”, he said later when we were speaking again. “Except when it comes to the one thing in my life that had the most impact on me prior to meeting her; she never seemed to accept that for what it was.  And maybe that’s why she won’t even bother talking to me, even to give me an official ‘Dear John’ letter.”

“It’s that damn siren song of her child-like voice”, he added.  “That and the fact she suffers so much from this disorder that she can’t even walk down the street and see her own reflection in the windows of cars on the street. It makes my heart bleed for her.” Apparently his heart continued to bleed for the next 2 years, though they did meet at Niagara Falls and spent the day together.  Matt went back out West, but then returned for the Christmas holidays next year too.  Brent, having spent so much time studying her condition, concluded that one thing that might help her was to get her to take pictures, so she could learn how to be less harshly critical of her own perspective by making an effort to take ‘nice’ pictures.  So he sent her a camera.  He wasn’t sure how she might take it, but she was quite enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged him to send it.  He was reluctant to at first, and even tried to arrange to send it to a different address, but she insisted on having him send it to her at the apt. because, as she put it, “I always get the mail anyway”.  Well, as it turned out, she didn’t get the mail the day it arrived, and when Matt got it he wondered aloud why Brent had sent such a nice gift to someone that was supposedly only a ‘friend’ that Val talked about math with.  It even had a Carl Zeiss lens on it, which impressed him, but Valerie had no idea about cameras as it turned out, and it was probably this one thing that finally helped him to understand his plight better.

The one thing that Brent had gotten her to promise to do was to take at least one picture with it and email it to him, to let him know that at least it worked.  Brent had taken pains to make sure all the cords were in the box, the battery charger, even a case for it.  He even joked that – since Valerie often hated her own image and was not inclined to take pictures of herself – that she could just take a picture of the wastebasket or a garbage can, if she couldn’t bear to take a selfie.  She promised she would, but as the days and weeks wore on and she didn’t send a single picture, it started to upset him.  After all, he reasoned, it wasn’t much to ask of someone when they encouraged you to send them such a nice gift.  Valerie tried to say it was due to her condition, but this is when Brent starting seriously consider that she was using her condition as a blanket excuse for not doing things.  After voicing his concerns yet again, Valerie then sent a slew of pictures with the caption “oh ye of little faith”, but as she was soon surprised to learn, she couldn’t pull that one over Brent’s eyes as he had learned from me early on how to determine the date, location, and camera used from a picture.  Brent used that information to determine the camera used was NOT the one he had sent, and the pictures were from that first holiday season of the “love triangle”, when the pictures that were taken were primarily of the furniture in the apt. Valerie’s mother had lived in before passing away the year before, when Brent and Valerie had first fallen out of touch.  There were even a few of Valerie herself.  However, Brent was upset that Val had lied to him, and still could not understand why she couldn’t even bring herself to use the camera he had sent.

I tried to explain to him that there were two probable reasons for this.  One, Matt – having intercepted the gift – may have kept the camera for himself and Valerie would have been relieved not to have gotten in more trouble with him for having lied about it, or he might have broken it intentionally, as its presence might have been troubling to him.  Two, and most likely, Valerie had probably buried it in the bottom of a drawer or at the back of a closet in the hopes of hiding physical proof of her duplicity, especially since she knew she had been misrepresenting the truth to both men.  To this day the camera seems all but forgotten except in this cautionary tale; some ‘Other Men’ aren’t so lucky, as they get taken to the cleaners and back by unscrupulous women.

I said, “Brent, remember that old adage, ‘It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all’?  Well, they were on to something, because even though you allowed someone to get under your skin like that, and remember the person usually wants to get under it, it’s the outpouring of love on your part that’s more important than the other person’s rejection in the end.  Typically we punish ourselves for having failed in some way, when in actual fact, that’s not the case.  Of course there may have been something that triggered the falling out, but ultimately if there’s no love there on the other side it’s no use continuing to waste giving it on your end.  It’s true we usually think that if we only try harder, we can achieve that state of mutual happiness, but if the other person makes no effort, shows little motivation to change their circumstances (such as having the courage to tell Matt she wasn’t happy being with him but didn’t feel she could leave him because she would feel guilty after all he had done for her) they’re the loser in all this, particularly if they had no feelings at the outset.  They just wanted to receive the benefits of someone understanding them, someone who had passionate feelings for them.  This might explain why this girl Valerie won’t give you any closure – as far as she’s concerned, you’re but a plate of chopped liver that’s irritating her once you’ve called her out.  She may not even be aware of this fact, either. And remember, you did call her out by pointing out the fact she had previously used another boy for the emotional experience of being seduced when the truth was she had no intentions of consummating the seduction.”

(That was a reference to a story Valerie had told Brent about an incident that happened while she was at university, when she had allowed a boy to take her back to his place and let him seduce her ‘for the experience’, not because she had any intention of allowing the seduction to be consummated – to the contrary, though due to the threat of physical violence she ended up giving in to his demands.)

“Claims of ‘date rape’ to the contrary”, I continued, “a girl who knowingly allows a guy to believe in a lie is different from a situation in which the girl is genuinely unsure and may or may not respond to the seduction, but I know you enough to sense you parsed the situation out carefully when you stepped through the scene she described as you asked her questions.  You know many girls will tell you what they want you to hear, and it’s up to you to figure out what the ‘other side’ would be, even if you love the girl.  You probably should’ve kept your mouth shut, but since you found yourself in the same place, it’s no surprise you reflected it back to her.  Had you been her only suitor, given a fair chance, that’s one thing, but it was known to you both that she had an “official” boyfriend who she was essentially cheating on emotionally with you.  Even though you don't want to admit this to yourself, I think you got her number right in the beginning when you said you felt like she was coming to you for the “icing on the cake” that she hadn’t gotten on her first piece, but wasn’t interested in the cake as she already had a piece ‘thank you very much anyway’.  Brent, the fact is you – like so many of us – were hungry for a loving relationship and she made you feel special enough with her attention that your feelings overflowed.  It’s only natural.  The problem is, as you know, you weren’t given that 'fair chance' yet you opened up as if you had been; think back on what she told you when she kept you on the phone all those hours with her father and brother going to pick up Matt at the airport – when you asked how she could do that, she said she “couldn’t very well tell him no” to coming to spend the holidays with her.  Meanwhile, where did that leave you?  Did she think so much of her own needs that she didn’t want you to take the opportunity to meet someone else?  What happened to that girl outside Detroit, that Danielle girl that wanted you to come visit her?  You passed on her because you couldn’t say no to Valerie’s phone calls, and Valerie never asked if it was okay to keep you on the phone with her.  Stand up for yourself, man!  You might be with someone who wants you for YOUR sake if you had only stood up to Valerie and given her a straight-up choice, because if you were in that other guy’s shoes, you certainly wouldn’t want your girlfriend establishing an emotional bond that went beyond what she had with you, would you?”

“I know, Don, but I couldn’t help it by then. She had me hooked, line and sinker, and she secured my emotional loyalty by crying constantly that no-one truly understood her situation, her feelings of being 'split', of needing to feel 27 all over again because she had missed out, or truly cared enough about her”, said Brent.  “She even told me that she had ‘accidentally’ emailed Matt a reply that she had intended for me, and this is how Matt found out that we'd been writing – even though I knew that was a crock, because as everyone knows an email would have to be copied or forwarded to a specific third party.  She WANTED him to know we had been corresponding, maybe to let him know that he was losing her and simply wanted him to get jealous enough to stop being angry with her all the time and instead act more passionate and accepting with her.  Either way, it opened up an ugly wound and I ended up writing to her father and telling him of my true feelings, and warned that she needed to see a psychologist for a proper diagnosis and therapeutic care.  She dangled my email to Matt as if to say ‘see, Brent knows what I’m suffering from! You should listen to him about it, but disregard all that love-stuff he says’,” Brent said.  "Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve. She didn't seem to care at all about the fact I even HAD feelings for her, feelings she had knowingly encouraged in me. Made me feel like chopped liver all over again."

I said, “if I’m not mistaken, didn’t you guys have a code worked out, so that when he passed by her computer he wouldn’t see what you two were saying to each other?”

“Yeah,” said Brent; “we spent more thought-time together than she did with him, apparently because he didn't like listening to her all that much, even while they were living in the same apartment”.  I replied, “But what did you get from that? Just the opportunity to feel for and care about someone other than yourself.  You two conspired together in keeping your communications secret from Matt and this made you feel special enough, probably. But did she even want to be with you?  Did she even ask you any questions about your own life, other than the dutiful 'how was your day'? Apparently not.  You may have joked about talking of her favorite subject, which was herself, but judging from where I'm sitting, that's not all that funny though it's true enough. From her perspective, you should probably feel lucky enough to be allowed to love her from afar”, I laughed. “If you keep on like this, you’re going to drive yourself into a deep depression.  There was no ‘there’ there for you, Brent.  You need to get over that.  Remember that camera you gave her?  You told me how it came up in conversation, she encouraged you to send it to her, and you did.  All you asked was for a picture taken with it.  She protested that she could barely look in the mirror, let alone the camera.  Had she told you that before you sent it?  No, and you did ask.  That’s because she just wanted to exert control over you, get you to do her bidding, let you do the kind of things for her she felt Matt wasn’t doing. You said you’d even settle for a picture of a wastebasket, a trashcan.  Anything.  But instead, the boyfriend happened to get the mail that day and was curious as to why you were so generous as to send her a camera. Did she tell him the truth?  No, because she didn’t want to lose him. Or admit that she had led you on.  And once he had intercepted the gift, she couldn’t bear to even touch it. When you pressed her for a picture, which was a reasonable request, she tried to pass off a bunch of pictures taken with HIS camera a year earlier but didn’t realize that you could figure what particular camera they came from.  Did you think she wouldn’t lie to you Brent?  She couldn’t bring herself to so much as look at the camera after that, as it was proof of her duplicity in encouraging you to send it, then making it look like you were “muscling in on” his girl.  Was that fair to you?  No, so you need to get a grip on yourself and chalk this up to experience, to yet another encounter with a tragically misguided soul, one who has isn’t concerned in the least with your own feelings.”

"Furthermore, think of that condition she suffers from.....she often can't bear to face herself, to see her reflection.  Think of that! She simply cannot face herself!  Can't you see that she probably has done something that she's so ashamed of, maybe when she was so very young that an authority figure who may have abused her made her feel that it was all her fault, it was all due to her desire, or maybe it was during a past life that she did something so shameful that she's carrying around some deep emotional baggage she's simply unwilling to face and her reaction to seeing her reflection is shouting out this fact to anyone who cares enough to listen."

“So,” Brent said, “are you saying that it isn’t good enough to simply love someone, to have someone to love?  If I demanded love in return, before I’ve had the chance to properly demonstrate my love to her, well that wouldn’t be true love, would it?  Funny how she actually suggested that a few times to me,” he added.

I retorted, “She said that because she wanted you to feel guilty for even wanting love in return from her, as I gather from what you’ve told me that one of her big problems with Matt was his insistence that she return his feelings, or at least make an attempt to do so. She didn’t want the same problem with you that she had from him, and from everything I’ve heard from you say about Valerie, it seems you're dealing with someone who is extremely narcissistic.  Narcissists like that never really love anyone other than themselves, but they recognize when someone else loves them and, to the degree they can, will keep those people in their orbit as long as they show proper adulation and attention.”

“That's okay,” insisted Brent.  “I don’t mind, but what I do mind is not being allowed a proper chance to prove myself.”  “Don’t you get it yet, Brent?” I said; “that’s never going to happen.  If he leaves her, don’t think you’ll be happy to take his place; on the contrary, you’ll be the one she’ll cheat on emotionally next, because even you – as much as you think you won’t mind being miserable if only she’ll talk to you – won’t be able to give her as much as she needs.  She needs as much as she can get, not just one person, but as many as possible, particularly guys - and that's mainly due to how most women seem so week and deferential, and there's always a bit of conquest involved when a debate is between genders.  It seems your little Valerie is to conspiracy-theorists what groupies are to rock-stars, but now she wanted to be more than just a groupie, she wants to be a rock-star herself and have her own male groupies.” Brent said, “oh, I knew that already, I joked to her that she always seems to be collecting acolytes”.  I said “so you think that’s funny, eh? Maybe when you realize that a girl like that can’t be happy with someone who holds a different opinion than her, or who won’t allow themselves to have their opinions molded by her, you’ll change your tune.”  

Brent said, “but I WANTED her to mold me to her ways, her thoughts; I think it’s a most beautiful thing to give a girl, to allow them control.”  “Think again, buddy”, I said.  “It may be arousing to you, but that’s because you’re so hungry for someone with a high IQ to want you that you’ll put up with anything, but trust me on this”, I said.  “She may need a lackey, but unless she thinks she’s won one through a lot of hard work, she won’t respect one.  If you go down that route, you have to re-learn how to play those games like we all did back in junior high-school. Worse, after you allow her to put a leash on you, she still isn’t likely to respect you.  It’s better you stand up for your own principles, and stand by them, too. Especially if you truly want to help her.” 

“Good grief!” Brent said.  “You make it sound like she’ll only be happy when she’s screaming bloody murder, and only able to have an orgasm after a big fight!  I can’t believe it!”  “Believe it”, I said.  “There are indeed women out there like that, just like there are guys out there that will commit date-rape or slap their wife around, all the while looking the part of the injured, innocent lamb.  You act like you believe that fairy tale about how girls are made out of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’.  Some are, and worthy of being your goddess if that’s mutually agreed to, but others are more like the wicked witches of the land of Oz, and you have to learn how to spot them before you let them under your skin unawares. Like all of us, they're simply poor lost souls trying to have an impact on their world, to be heard and paid attention to, even if they use surreptitious methods to get the attention they crave."

“Furthermore”, I went on, “while I’ve heard you say that Valerie told you that Matt had complained about you ‘muscling in on his girl’, we both know that you had done no such thing and had in fact respected him at the outset when you kindly asked her not to write to you so long as she was in a relationship with him.  Remind yourself that it was not you that approached her but the reverse; it was you who took her calls at her instruction to call her back when she rang your phone with two rings.  Remind yourself that 90% of the conversation was her talking to YOU.  If anything, Matt wasn’t taking enough care of her to keep her from preying on other guys emotionally; maybe you should ask HIM to tell her to give you closure.”

Well, the ‘affair’, such as it was, lasted about 2 years after that summer of 2011 when the long phone calls began.  Sometime in the spring of 2013 Brent finally ‘stood up’, and that day he refused to take Valerie’s calls.  Maybe it was this that pushed her all the harder to try to reach him, and when he finally did answer, she said that she was finally ready to come visit, to be with him.  Brent told me later that he did insist to her that if this was true, that she give him an “honest opportunity”.  Valerie then said, “oh so I have to ‘be’ with you, is that it?  I have to be your girlfriend?”  Brent said “no, it’s not that you have to be, but you have to at least give me an honest chance to become a boyfriend, and not based on a lie. That means maybe yes, and maybe no.  And that’s the only way it will work because otherwise, it’s not fair.  Either to me or to Matt.”

Soon after that, on another phone call, when Brent asked her when she would be coming to visit, she started a long dissertation that spoke sorrowfully about Matt, how she had been so faithful (Brent interrupted her with ‘whoa! You’re not being faithful either to him or to yourself by suggesting that just because you won’t allow another man’s penis inside you you’re somehow being ‘faithful’!! If I were in his shoes and knew this was going on, I most certainly wouldn’t think you were being faithful!!’), and how he had sent her money on all those occasions in the past when she needed it, and this wasn’t fair to him, and other plaintive sadnesses that had her on the verge of tears, and him too.  I said “Brent, tell me you called her out for slowly ripping your own heart apart as she made the case for going back on her word!” Brent said that he couldn’t recall what all he had said – other than to insist to her that she was certainly NOT being faithful by talking like that.

Finally, a few weeks later, Valerie had started to admonish Brent for his beliefs, for thinking and talking the way he did, and though at first he was civil and even teasing in responding to her, she kept at it and finally Brent exploded.  As he explained it, he felt that she had been slowly attacking him, and not only couldn’t respect his own beliefs, she never thought enough to even ask him about his own experiences and why he believed as he did.  As Brent told me later, he said some cutting things about people with “small minds”, though it was always in the third person and not her in particular, and continued on in that vein until he had vented enough about being attacked, and apparently that was the end as far as Valerie was concerned.  She wrote him back and said that she wanted him to stop writing to her, “before you make me hate you”, as she put it.  Brent thought that was rich, as he was always the one who was expected to be there for her phone calls, and even emails and instant messages.  He did ask why, as they had had similar arguments before, but she would only say “like you always say, the heart has a logic all its own”.  She refused to give any reason, other than to say she had been “confused”, and said she was blocking him from emailing her thereafter (she had done that the year before, causing him to set up a new email account), and then said that because she did not want him phoning her either, would allow him to send messages to her youtube inbox.

And that was it.

At first Brent felt much the same way about her as she about him, as he was still angry for her having attacked him “out of the blue”, as he told it.  He’d done nothing wrong, as far as he was concerned; in fact, he was the one who had put up with her phone calls and having her string him along, had studied her condition, had phoned dozens of therapists and counselors, plastic surgeons, psychiatrists and other specialists on her behalf, had researched moving to be closer to her, had sent her gifts and all the little things people in ‘electronic affairs’ do, but felt it had all been for nothing.

However, in the months since, he found he couldn’t keep his mind off of Valerie.  He thought of her every day, even as he started dating local girls, and even developed another ‘electronic relationship’, but nothing seemed to make him happy.  He’d find himself deep in thought when with other girls, and even made the mistake of calling a couple of them by her name.  On the rare occasion he did speak of her to another female, they would either show jealousy, contempt, or even anger.  Some of his female friends were compassionate, one called herself and his other female friends his 'Valerie doctors', but most told him that he was much better off without Valerie in his life, and could find someone who at least showed some interest in his own thoughts and feelings.  I told him the same thing, but I knew the pain and knew he wouldn’t respond to logic so I told him that if he had hopes of ever moving on and making a clean break of it, he should write to Valerie and ask for the closure he didn't feel he had been given. 

“You need some form of closure”, I told him.  “You’re wasting yourself over some girl that could care less if you live or die, and your heart needs to see the proof of how cold and removed she really is”, I said.  “I think that if your heart sees the text on the screen, or hears her voice tell you the reason Why, tells you what the logic of her heart was when she wrote that final line that she was “confused”, then maybe you will have some peace and can move on to love someone that’s worthy of your love.”   

Brent told me that he had written on occasion to her YouTube inbox, telling her he still loved her, sometimes sharing a link or two, though she had only responded once – to his Merry Christmas message that 2013 holiday season in which he had said he was sorry for having failed her, also that he was sorry that “[we] failed each other”, to which he got the curt reply “merry christmas”, but despite writing to a mutual friend out of concern that she was okay (she was, and “doing fine”), she still to this day has not given him any closure.  To hear Brent tell it, he even sent several messages with “multiple choice” options, he even begged her to be as “blunt as necessary” to give him closure, but no.  Not even a 'Dear John' letter. Nothing doing.  It’s as if their emotional connection never happened, as if they never met. Brent recalled over and over one phone call when Valerie had broken down into tears, her voice breaking in huge sobs as she described how people she knew previously would cut off their friendship with her time after time......and as he described it to me later, "I tried to reflect that moment back to her, to remind her that it was by her choice to cut off so abruptly, so cruelly, and I wonder how she sleeps at night doing the same thing to others that she complains people do to her?  Don, it's beyond hypocrisy, but I don't buy that it's to be excused because of her condition.  Am I wrong?"

I finally said "now you're getting it.  No, you're not wrong to think that, but we can never judge what someone else does even if it hurts us. Just keep reminding yourself of that phone call, so that your natural inclination to love isn't blinding you to reality.  Also, remind yourself of how close this person was to what you expect in a girl, but go out and find it in someone who you can truly respect, who will respect you.  Establish boundaries early on and stick to them.  It'll be hard, but that's my prescription."

So I leave it to you, dear reader. Did Brent in fact fail Valerie?  Did she fail him?  Did she merely use him, and if so, how can one tell? Is it wrong to expect “closure” in this day and age?  Is it okay to use others emotionally, that it’s their own fault if they get used for that "male energy" (or "female energy") and emotionally abused like that, especially if a person warns before-hand they're "emotionally vulnerable"? What about if they don't say anything?  Is it wrong to get upset, is it wrong to insist on some form of final ‘closure’ after the moments of anger have passed in an emotional affair, or do feelings just evaporate after an argument?  Or is the problem simply a case of Cupid falling down on the job, as it were?  Or maybe a case of rose-colored glasses, due to such a lack of love and compassion in the world that 'anything goes, as long as you can get away with it, do what thou wilt'?

 What are your thoughts?