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My eccentric fiance's behaviour is starting to concern me

Tagged as: Big Questions, Dating, Family, Health, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (16 April 2018) 9 Answers - (Newest, 27 April 2018)
A female United States age 30-35, anonymous writes:

Hi... I am looking for some outside advice/perspective on my relationship with my fiancé.

We've been together for two years and are just recently engaged. When we first met, we clicked immediately and have been mostly insperable. I grew up in a very abusive household which then led me to be with a very abusive partner for many years. When I met my current partner, it was like an absolute breath of fresh air. He's unlike anyone else I've ever met and has treated me like absolute gold. I thought maybe his kindness would wear off with time and if anything it's only increased.

The problem is, he's extremely eccentric. At first, these eccentricities were thrilling to me. Example: We went on a weekend long camping trip with my very large family... their first time spending real quality time with him. I was very nervous. He Was very shy at first but then found a piece of wood resembling a flute and proceeded to play it like an actual flute (while whistling) the entire weekend. This then prompted all of the children to follow him around whistling, too, for hours. This also prompted my step father to hand carve him a flute to "play". He also brought a portable speaker and began blaring Buddhist monk chants at the trees, roughly thirty feet away from everyone... not quite engaging. I love him for these things, but you can't help but worry what people close to you may think.

However, the darker sides of these eccentricities have emerged. His sister and husband have been visiting all weekend, we've been driving around a lot on mini road trips with them. On one such trip, he was glued to his phone frantically writing for hours, to the point of being very slow to get out of the car. He finally finished and showed me his story... it was erotica about the two of us. He also showed me IN FRONT of his sister and husband. He didn't verbally mention the content but still. I feel like that's fairly inappropriate and concerning. Sex shouldn't be on the mind so intensely that you MUST write an erotica in the presence of family you rarely see??

He will also do random things such as ... if we are in a store picking up a pizza... as we're leaving he'll shout: "YOU ARE ALL WONDERFUL AND AMAZING PEOPLE" while running out of the door to the building. This is a common occurrence... Most of the time I just go with it but sometimes it just irks me, and I'm finding it harder and harder to take him seriously.

He also lacks common sense. He has left the stove on five times this week alone. In my last apartment he left the gas stove on for Hours while we were out one night. He is also a horrible driver, to the point where friends made him stop the car to let them out in fear of their lives. He has cooked pizza on the peice of card board from the box l, nearly starting a fire.

We've talked about these issues for hours, he's always very apologetic and sad, and tries to do better. He will cry and ask me what's wrong with me?? I also worry my nagging will kill the joy in him, that he'll always be walking on tippy toes around me which I DO NOT want. But, I can't always be checking the stove or doing all the driving... or wondering if he's impulsively writing erotica at a family BBQ or something.

I also have a fear of sabotaging the myself. That perhaps I'm too damaged by my own upbringing and my critical nature towards him could be me missing the version of "love" I used to have in my life.

Is a lack of common sense something I should want to change in him? If I truly love him then that should include the side of him that is like this, right? He's also had a rough life and I dont want me own negativity to just hold him back.

But I have tried being nice, guiding, etc. the only time it gets a real response is if I get actually angry.

Any input at all would be great... I am just feeling a bit lost.

View related questions: engaged, fiance, shy

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (27 April 2018):

Just to add to my earlier post - being on the autism spectrum can often mean ADHD and Dyspraxia are involved (the latter is not a condition of autism but autistic people very often have Dyspraxia) - my ex narcissistic partner had every symptom of ADHD and Dyspraxia so I completely 'get' how this would mean things like cooking a pizza in the box; he once set his flat on fire by forgetting to switch off the gas, constantly broke even my most treasured things, was completely disorganised and slowly but steadily put me in the role of 'angry' carer - like you, the only way he would listen to me was if I got angry with him - and over the years I became an 'angry' person, absolutely worn out by him. Don't fall into the trap of feeling sorry for his background - I did this too and it only traps you.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (27 April 2018):

Trust your gut on this one. Sorry, but I don't agree with the other respondents that he seems like a nice guy. I see big warning signs here. I too came from an abusive family and fell for someone with similar traits - and it did not go well at all, finally making me physically ill with stress.

Coming from an abusive family can mean in most cases that you accept far more unusual behaviour from people than most others would - ie. you can be far more accepting of mental illness, neediness, people on the autism spectrum, people who are extremely needy AND narcissists. All of the conditions I've listed here can mean that the people involved are effectively emotionally unavailable to you in terms of bringing a full spectrum of emotions to support and nurture you in a healthy way, but they can also completely leach off of you because you are probably overly-empathetic with them and have a weakness for the kind of charming mannerisms they have. YOU won't have realised whist growing up that your family were emotionally unavailable at the time because, growing up with it, it was 'normal' for you. I am 50 years old now, and it has taken me this long to get my head around a lot of this stuff.

What ALL of your guy's behaviours have in common is a need for attention - very intense attention. Even when he was writing erotica about you in the context of a family trip, he would have known that a. he would be drawing attention to himself because the others would wonder what he was writing and b. he would get a LOT of your attention at the end of it. His other behaviours - shouting out to people in public places, pretending to play a flute etc. are all geared to one thing - being the centre of attention. This is very similar to how my ex partner behaved and it took me a long time to realise that, underpinning that, was narcissism and a need to have everything revolve around him. What keeps you 'hooked' on this is the charm and the childlike "innocence" of the behaviour - it really can feel like a form of innocent love that is so far removed from everything abusive and horrible that you become addicted to it.

The downside is that these people are often abusers in disguise - when they are NOT able to be the centre of attention they will basically find any number of ways to undermine you and cause scenes which disempower you so that you keep them at the centre of your life. They are often totally incapable of functioning in any practical, adult sense and will leave the hard work of organising and all other kind of adult skills for you and others to do. Eventually this can totally wear you out. You will be constantly second guessing and doubting yourself - in fact this process has already started for you right now - because their behaviour will still seem so innocent and loving on the one hand BUT please realise they are slowly and steadily putting you in the position of carer and or as 'echoist' - that is, the opposite of a narcissist (or as someone who lacks self love and is only able to 'serve' narcissists). You are getting warning signs from yourself (which is good) but you don't know what to do with them or how to tune into them. You are sometimes annoyed by his silliness - you should be because it does not seem counterbalanced in any way by mature and caring behaviour towards you. For a guy to want to spend hours writing erotica about you whilst driving with family is to be extremely emotionally immature and needy - at best it will confuse and embarrass you, but, believe me, there is a dark side to this kind of behaviour - his way of dealing with any potentially intimate, group situation, is to act up and draw attention to himself, rather than just join in and relax like a mature adult on an equal footing with everyone else. His need to behave in this way should be ringing alarm bells because when that need is not met it can tip over into abuse.

Try seeing how this person reacts when they are NOT the centre of attention for a prolonged period, or when someone else is instead. See if they automatically find ways to either a. gain attention from others or b. undermine you and make you feel bad eg. by withdrawing or sabotaging something you are doing. Also - Go and get some counselling for yourself because you are right to think that you will be vulnerable coming from an abusive family. I honestly wish I'd had advice about this when I was much younger, so that I could have watched for red flags that, in retrospect, are so glaringly obvious but that I was blind to at the time.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (27 April 2018):

Trust your gut on this one. Sorry, but I don't agree with the other respondents that he seems like a nice guy. I see big warning signs here. I too came from an abusive family and fell for someone with similar traits - and it did not go well at all, finally making me physically ill with stress.

Coming from an abusive family can mean in most cases that you accept far more unusual behaviour from people than most others would - ie. you can be far more accepting of mental illness, neediness, people on the autism spectrum, people who are extremely needy AND narcissists. All of the conditions I've listed here can mean that the people involved are effectively emotionally unavailable to you in terms of bringing a full spectrum of emotions to support and nurture you in a healthy way, but they can also completely leach off of you because you are probably overly-empathetic with them and have a weakness for the kind of charming mannerisms they have. YOU won't have realised whist growing up that your family were emotionally unavailable at the time because, growing up with it, it was 'normal' for you. I am 50 years old now, and it has taken me this long to get my head around a lot of this stuff.

What ALL of your guy's behaviours have in common is a need for attention - very intense attention. Even when he was writing erotica about you in the context of a family trip, he would have known that a. he would be drawing attention to himself because the others would wonder what he was writing and b. he would get a LOT of your attention at the end of it. His other behaviours - shouting out to people in public places, pretending to play a flute etc. are all geared to one thing - being the centre of attention. This is very similar to how my ex partner behaved and it took me a long time to realise that, underpinning that, was narcissism and a need to have everything revolve around him. What keeps you 'hooked' on this is the charm and the childlike "innocence" of the behaviour - it really can feel like a form of innocent love that is so far removed from everything abusive and horrible that you become addicted to it.

The downside is that these people are often abusers in disguise - when they are NOT able to be the centre of attention they will basically find any number of ways to undermine you and cause scenes which disempower you so that you keep them at the centre of your life. They are often totally incapable of functioning in any practical, adult sense and will leave the hard work of organising and all other kind of adult skills for you and others to do. Eventually this can totally wear you out. You will be constantly second guessing and doubting yourself - in fact this process has already started for you right now - because their behaviour will still seem so innocent and loving on the one hand BUT please realise they are slowly and steadily putting you in the position of carer and or as 'echoist' - that is, the opposite of a narcissist (or as someone who lacks self love and is only able to 'serve' narcissists). You are getting warning signs from yourself (which is good) but you don't know what to do with them or how to tune into them. You are sometimes annoyed by his silliness - you should be because it does not seem counterbalanced in any way by mature and caring behaviour towards you. For a guy to want to spend hours writing erotica about you whilst driving with family is to be extremely emotionally immature and needy - at best it will confuse and embarrass you, but, believe me, there is a dark side to this kind of behaviour - his way of dealing with any potentially intimate, group situation, is to act up and draw attention to himself, rather than just join in and relax like a mature adult on an equal footing with everyone else. His need to behave in this way should be ringing alarm bells because when that need is not met it can tip over into abuse.

Try seeing how this person reacts when they are NOT the centre of attention for a prolonged period, or when someone else is instead. See if they automatically find ways to either a. gain attention from others or b. undermine you and make you feel bad eg. by withdrawing or sabotaging something you are doing. Also - Go and get some counselling for yourself because you are right to think that you will be vulnerable coming from an abusive family. I honestly wish I'd had advice about this when I was much younger, so that I could have watched for red flags that, in retrospect, are so glaringly obvious but that I was blind to at the time.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (16 April 2018):

[EDIT]:

"So most of the personality quirks you can adjust to."

" He's not a child, and if he has to be reminded of that; you can says so in those words."

I would make sure he resolves his issues with absent-mindedness. That could dangerous. He may have adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Mainly, he's just an oddball and creative person; and it may take some adjustment to come to terms with some of his weirdness. Delay marriage until you feel absolutely comfortable with his ways. Don't force yourself into a marriage you'd ultimately regret!

It wouldn't hurt for him to see a therapist about the absent-mindedness. He may have a problem with his short-term memory; only because he has so many things happening in his head at the same time. That's typical of ADHD.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (16 April 2018):

He's a quirky person. He does odd things around people; but he gets a positive reaction. The erotica stuff is easy to resolve. Just ask him not to share such things with other people. All done.

He is agreeable and of a friendly nature. He aims to please and bring out good things in people. So you most of the personality quirks you can adjust to.

Stupid things like leaving the gas on, forgetting to turn-off the burners, and not removing pizza from the cardboard require you to keep a eye on things around your house. You should constantly remind him until he hears your voice in his head. I said remind him, not scold or take a nasty tone with him. He's not a child, and if you has to be reminded of that; you can says so in those words.

Never kill the spirit and good-nature in happy people. Just address the issues that bring you angst or concern.

If your fear is he's too absent-minded with gas and fire; then maybe you shouldn't marry him, or leave it up to him to use the stove. If he's a regular customer, the pizza parlor employees are familiar with his antics; so you can relax about that one! Sounds like the kids in your family took to him!

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (16 April 2018):

Anonymous 123 agony auntHe probably thinks that being flashy and loud is his "thing" that sets him apart from others. Sometimes creative people can be very weird.

What does he do for a living?

Is he a good boyfriend and a good person? How does he treat you? How does he treat others around him?

My guess is that he's a good guy who's genuinely fond of you but doesn't know where to draw the line with his enthusiasm and over-eagerness. He may even think that his eccentricity is endearing and may have been encouraged early on to act like he way he does.

As regards the stove incident, my best guess is that he has ADHD.

The question now is, how willing are you to put up with all this for the rest of your life? Keep in mind that these eccentricities might just increase with age rather than get better. He will most likely embarass you in front of your kids, embarass them in front of their friends and you will have to keep covering for him.

On a different note, you need to stop questioning yourself. You are not sabotaging yourself and you certainly don't sound "damaged". You seem like a very rational, logical and a good person who's looking for the best in someone that she loves, but just because you love someone doesn't mean you don't have the right to question what you think is odd.

It's you who needs to now think if you can live with this guy and if good eccentricities are a deal breaker for you or not.

Personally if I were you then I'd keep my options open. I would find it very difficult to live with someone who's behaviour always kept me on tenterhooks. Walking on eggshells day in and day out would be way too stressful.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 April 2018):

Here is my opinion for what it is worth. I think that he has fallen more in love with you and you are the main focus in his life. He has a childlike quality about him and i do think some people are simply this way and it would be a great shame if he had to change, because YES we are all different and unique in our own ways. What i honestly think you need to work out is can you accept his eccentricities because you make a clear link to your upbringing which i am going to take it there wasn't much fun and laughter. I get that i really do, i honestly think this man adores you and wants you to smile, he may very well overdo things for that very reason. When it comes to the cooking how about you simply agree that it is left to yuo to do that chore. My daughter is not eccentric, however she has a mind like a sieve and does these kind of things, rahter than banging your head a against a brick wall trying to get though to him just agree that you are better to do some things. His own upbringing may very well affect who he is now and he acts out this way to avoid negativity, unless he wanted to explore that through counselling we cannot draw that conclusion for him, you know him better than we do of course. You need to weigh it all up and work out if you can accept him how he is (though compromise is not out of the question), i doubt very much you are going to make any big changes in who he is and after all since he was a breath of fresh air to you and is by all accounts a very loving boyfriend does he really need to change?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 April 2018):

I giggled. he's a bit of a live wire. It sounds like you're looking after a big kid who's extremely quirky. I once had a boyfriend who was eccentric like him, he had to be admitted in the end because it just got out of hand. he could be real mean. But your man doesn't sound mean unless he's leaving the stove on purposefully? Once is understandable, twice is questionable, more than that - I would be concerned about his sanity (and mine).

It sounds like he's wearing you down OP, this is something you should not ignore... do not put your fire out so that another can leave theirs on! (I just made that up ;)

So. His adolescent side, although slightly amusing is bordering on dangerous and quite selfish. It's a strange one the erotica story. Why oh why, I'm sure you have wondered and it sounds like he's doing this to grab all the limelight whilst you are cowering in awe and fear of his crazy shenanigans!

I didn't enjoy it with my crazy boyf, I'm so relieved that I got dumped by him. he got madder and madder and it's not fun to watch.

he would shout at horses because they were looking at me.

But that's my story...

So just be cautious and look at this through - sane - rose tinted glasses.

Good luck.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (16 April 2018):

Honeypie agony auntI think you have a couple of options here.

1. talk to him. He might think his behavior is endearing and charming... but to you it's a little alarming.

2. accept that this is who he is - then you can choose to stay or go.

3. knowing that YOU can not change who he is but but talking about it he might rein in the ... eccentricity a tad, you never know.

Loving someone doesn't mean you have to LOVE everything about them. But it does mean that IF you plan on spending the rest of your life with him, you NEED to accept that the eccentricity is part of who he is.

Can you live with it on a daily basis?

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