If you’re dating a ‘loser’, you may recognize in your partner some of these characteristics described by Consulting Clinical Psychologist Joseph M. Carver, PhD. This article continues with a note on dangerous versions of the ‘loser’ and offers guidelines for detachment. Also see the new “Relationship Quiz: True Love or True Loser?”, which may help you to identify and highlight experiences of concern within your relationship.
“The Loser” never sees their responsibility or involvement in the difficulties in the relationship. From a psychological standpoint, “The Loser” has lived and behaved in this manner most of their life, clearly all of their adult life. As they really don’t see themselves as at fault or as an individual with a problem, “The Loser” tends to think that the girlfriend or boyfriend is simply going through a phase — their partner (victim) might be temporarily mixed up or confused, they might be listening to the wrong people, or they might be angry about something and will get over it soon. “The Loser” rarely detaches completely and will often try to continue contact with the partner even after the relationship is terminated. During the Follow-up Protection period, some guidelines are:
- Never change your original position. It’s over permanently! Don’t talk about possible changes in your position in the future. You might think that will calm “The Loser” but it only tells them that the possibilities still exist and only a little more pressure is needed to return to the relationship.
- Don’t agree to meetings or reunions to discuss old times. For “The Loser”, discussing old times is actually a way to upset you, put you off guard, and use the guilt to hook you again.
- Don’t offer details about your new life or relationships. Assure him that both his life and your life are now private and that you hope they are happy.
- If you start feeling guilty during a phone call, get off the phone fast. More people return to bad marriages and relationships due to guilt than anything else. If you listen to those phone calls from a little distance, as though you were taping them, you’ll find “The Loser” spends most of the call trying to make you feel guilty.
- In any contact with the ex “Loser”, provide only a status report, much like you’d provide to your Aunt Gladys. For example: “I’m still working hard and not getting any better at tennis. That’s about it.”
- When “The Loser” tells you how difficult the breakup has been, share with him some general thoughts about breaking-up and how finding the right person is difficult. While “The Loser” wants to focus on your relationship, talk in terms of Ann Landers — “Well, breaking up is hard on anyone. Dating is tough in these times. I’m sure we’ll eventually find someone that’s right for both of us.” Remember — nothing personal!
- Keep all contact short and sweet — the shorter the better. As far as “The Loser” is concerned, you’re always on your way somewhere, there’s something in the microwave, or your mother is walking up the steps to your home. Wish “The Loser” well but always with the same tone of voice that you might offer to someone you have just talked to at the grocery store. For phone conversations, electronics companies make a handy gadget that produces about twenty sounds — a doorbell, an oven or microwave alarm, a knock on the door, etc. That little device is handy to use on the phone — the microwave dinner just came out or someone is at the door. Do whatever you have to do to keep the conversation short — and not personal.
In all of our relationships throughout life, we will meet a variety of individuals with many different personalities. Some are a joy to have in our life and some provide us with life-long love and security. Others we meet pose some risk to us and our future due to their personality and attitudes. Both in medicine and mental health, the key to health is the early identification and treatment of problems — before they reach the point that they are beyond treatment. In years of psychotherapy and counseling practice, treating the victims of “The Loser”, patterns of attitude and behavior emerge in “The Loser” that can now be listed and identified in the hopes of providing early identification and warning. When those signs and indicators surface and the pattern is identified, we must move quickly to get away from the situation. Continuing a relationship with “The Loser” will result in a relationship that involves intimidation, fear, angry outbursts, paranoid control, and a total loss of your self-esteem and self-confidence.
If you have been involved in a long-term relationship with “The Loser”, after you successfully escape you may notice that you have sustained some psychological damage that will require professional repair. In many cases, the stress has been so severe that you may have a stress-produced depression. You may have severe damage to your self-confidence/self-esteem or to your feelings about the opposite sex or relationships. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors are available in your community to assist and guide you as you recover from your damaging relationship with “The Loser”.
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- Stockholm Syndrome: The Psychological Mystery of Loving an Abuser
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All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by