HELP! Provocation: am I too sensitive or is he overstepping?

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    So, as I’ve previously mentioned in my topic “how do I not rely on my new boyfriend too much?” I have been with him for almost three months. And from the beginning he has had a very sarcastic and sometimes sharp sense of humor, that I like. But lately it seems that all he wants to do is provoke me. Yes, I might be over sensitive right now cause I have anxiety and depression problems, which he knows about, but it’s just the constant provocation that makes me lose it…

    So tonight I got a little “crazy” because we were supposed to hang out. And usually it’s him who contacts me when he’s out of work. But I texted him and didn’t get any response for more than one and a half hours, which is pretty uncommon. Also, it was already pretty late, so the chances of him working after 8 o clock are close to none. So I called, and called, and called about 10 times. Meanwhile, a good friend of mine called me to hang out in the city. Not knowing whether my boyfriend was gonna show up soon, I asked her if she could come to my place (and also cause I’m sick). Silly, because I should have just made my plans, regarding he hadn’t texted or called me back yet. When he finally picked up I was a little pissed, cause I really don’t like feeling like I’m running after someone. He came to my place to cook after and I asked him “Did you really not look at your phone between 6 and 8.30?!” Cause I know him and he does check it quite often. And he responded: “No. So what you’re saying is that I am a liar?” Without even saying sorry for not looking at the phone when we obviously had plans, he pretty much put all the guilt on me.
    So anyways, after all we all had dinner together. And during dinner he said (he’s Portuguese) “Well if you’re over 30 in Portugal you don’t make out anymore, you say “Hi” and then have sex.” And then I said, well your birthday is tomorrow so you can not know what that’s like. And he said, in front of my friend, as joke: “Well I will be 30 in Portugal”. (He’s visiting his family) And: “And so I will know. Cause I’m hanging out with David, who doesn’t care about cheating on his girl.” Of course my face turned sour and my friend said (he doesn’t speak german so he didn’t understand) “You guys are awfully nice to each other” of course ironically.

    When she left I went to do the dishes, and he noticed I was pissed. I told him that for me it was humiliating that he had said something like this in front of my friend.
    And I really do, I find it disrespectful and hurtful. Even if it’s just a “joke”. So we talked about it after I had cooled off a little and I just asked him “Why do you have to provoke me all the time? How is that positive? How is that love?” (Yes I know, very dramatic, but seriously…) And he said it was just meant as a provocation, as a joke and that I shouldn’t take things like these so seriously. And yes, on one hand he’s right. I take things too deeply, too seriously. But then he asked me: “Why were you so pissed about tonight? If you’re THAT attached to me it’s not good” And I tried to explain it to him. And he asked “Does this relationship bring you happiness” And I responded “Yes”, because it really does. Not always, but it does. And then when I was silent, trying to find my words he asked “So you wanna say this is the end?” And I started crying and getting so upset for him not trying to make things better, but just trying to push me into ending the relationship.

    Anyways, we made up and I told him that’s just who I am and he did say that he was happy and it was ok.

    But I wonder: is it all that innocent to provoke the person you’re in a relationship with so much? To try and punch a reaction out of them and when they get pissed, to get pissed at them?!

    I just really don’t know what to do anymore. Please help me…


    Buddhist Wife

    I think it is really difficult to get to the bottom of this.

    Are you from different cultures? Because humour is strange thing and what is funny in some countries is not in others.

    It’s possible that this provocation thing is part of his humour?

    When you made up, did you have a discussion about how you each view the relationship. I’m curious about his comment about you being attatched to him.

    Do you see this as a serious love relationship with a long term committed future? If so, does he see it the same way?


    Hello Buddhist Wife

    Thank you for taking the time.

    Yes we are from different cultures. I’m Swiss and he’s Portuguese. But I can take a joke or too and give jokes back – he’s just very, very sarcastic. Yeah, he told me that’s just his humour. But it’s hurtful and negative, in my opinion. Which is why I don’t know if I want this in my life..

    Well we were both very tired and he’s asleep now. Not really, that’s the thing. When I try and tell him that I don’t like certain things in a calm way, he acts as if I wanted to break up. But it’s the opposite – I want to work on it.

    Yes, I might be more attached. But it’s also maybe a cultural thing of responding to people when you made plans, and not letting them wait to hear from you the entire day.

    I do. Or I did. I want to have a future with him, and he told me he definitely wants that with me. But now I just feel stuck… He told me numerous times that he will marry me one day (maybe that was just a little blabbering who knows with him..) So I don’t know. Any suggestions on what I should do?

    Buddhist Wife

    I think for now it would be best to take a little rest and give yourself some space to think. Perhaps if you are tired it might be wise not to think too much and not to make any rash decisions. Try to get some sleep and relax.

    You mentioned he is going to Portugal for a while? While he is away you will both have time to reflect on how you feel about each other.


    So he acknowledged that he’s provoking you which means that he’s trying to getting a rise out of you, testing your boundaries, seeing how far he can go before you react. To me, that sounds psychotic. Why would anyone in their right mind do that? What purpose does it serve? What power game is he playing?

    Whether or not your overly sensitive is not the issue here, the motivation behind his action is. It sounds like he’s testing your loyalty. Once again, he knows what he’s doing and very conscious of the fact that he’s provoking you. And do you know who plays these kind of games? Cult leaders! They bring people close to them and constantly berate and abuse them to see if they’ll stay. The longer the stay and put up with the abuse, the more power and control they have over them.

    They’ll belittle them with phrases, “You need to be stronger!,” “Stop being so sensitive!” and of course the person believes the cult leader because they look up him as the stronger power in the relationship.

    It sounds like you’re dealing with a very sick individual who is using you to feed his own ego. He knows that you’re too afraid to leave. You’re too insecure and really desperate to make things work and with that knowledge, he’s taking advantage of you.

    Any person who plays power games in a relationship and sets up tests for others to see if they pass or fail is certifiably insane in my opinion.


    Dear Helen, I don’t want to hurt you, but if you have a negative reaction to his sense of humor, you should trust your feelings. I want to be sincere, his humor is not funny at all. I felt uncomfortable reading the two sex allusions…I really admire you when you said that you explain your point of view to him calm. You have a very good self control. In this kind of situation I don’t. When he is in Portugal, you will have the time to think about your relationship. You don’t have to rush on any decision. take time for you, do something that inspires you, whatever it is and you will see the benefit. I wish you the best.



    In my view, you are being appropriately sensitive. He strikes at you psychologically, you bruise, and he convinces you that the problem is yours. Then when you approach him, he basically says “this is me, you going to dump me?” and you say no, so he doesn’t have to account for his behavior because he throws it back on you.

    I don’t agree to John’s assessment of him being psychotic, but he does sound abusive. Consider, if he does not wish to change, is his behavior something that would be satisfying to you in the long run?

    Were I in your shoes I would walk away, or run. Abusers enjoy the power, and once you adapt to one form of abuse, he is likely to escalate. I’m don’t understand Portuguese culture well, but I do understand intimacy. Consider jokes are only funny if both people are laughing. Otherwise it is something else.

    I actually have a very sarcastic humor as well. I give little Zen pokes to my partner and she loves them. If I go to far, she says “ouch” in one way or another, and at that time the humor drops and authentic love and compassion arise. Otherwise the intimacy erodes. If he doesn’t do that, he either does not see it or does not respect you. Either way its trouble for both you and your tender heart.

    With warmth,


    Dear John, dear Matt

    Thank you for talking the time to respond!

    I dont think hes psychotic. He is just very very confindent in who he is (he turned 30 today) where as I (23) am not yet. By all means I am very upset and questioning this person but on the other hand he doesn’t get just how much it hurts or how annoying his humor can be.

    But if I can really see that he is doing this as a power play, in an abusive way, I will leave him. However I think it is more a way of being very insensitive to my feelings. It has to change either way for me to stay with him, cause I deserve more. I am a very loving and giving person and I want someone who appreciates that.

    Namaste and thank you guys!

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