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April 17, 2023 4:22 pm  #1

Being used for my empathy?

I recently was involved in a relationship, that was only 5 months but sent my head into such a tailspin I’ve never seen anything like this.  Im so glad I found this forum, because it seems to explain everything.  I was basically clueless the whole time.  I am angry now, because I feel used - and would have gladly been just friends with this man but he repeatedly refused to define us as such - and this I continue to not understand.

Long story short - our “relationship” is very similar to many of the other stories on this forum,  intense initial connection that I actually thought he was my “soulmate”, with more emotional connection (or so I thought) than I had with any prior relationship.  Was odd and not normal in any way from the start, but then again who is really normal.  Many many red flags that I knew something was “weird”, but somehow I just thought we were just two odd ducks who had miraculously found each other. I unfortunately work in the same area of a relatively high professional level job with him, and no one knows anything obviously at work.  He is also viewed as the most kind, sweet gentle person at work.  I have known him for over 10 years.  But things immediately seemed to not fit and once or twice early on I inadvertently caught him in several large lies, but the reason was not even on my radar.

Our relationship was similar to others on here, when it came to any physical interaction he avoided like the plague.  But of course I thought it was related to any number of other reasons other than the real reason.  He repeatedly brought up and heavily implied that he was seeing a therapist for a possible sexual abuse history.  Which I then thought was the reason for his skittish and lack of any physical progression,  I listened to his repeatedly bring up his being “broken”, and having a “problem” with what I thought was empathy,  I was not pushy about any physical interaction, but was very surprised because I thought the level of communication and emotional connection was not matching up with the lack of physical.  Any attempts at communication brought serious stonewalling, and diversion.  I would have gladly been just friends from the start, so this still confuses the heck out of me why he even bothered doing this.  Repeated reference to his mental problems, which I’m normally not attracted to someone with active problems but because of my longstanding association of knowing him as a kind person, I continued the relationship in what I thought was a slow moving progression due to his recent traumatic breakup (which he described as a woman but I now believe to be a man), and his possible childhood sexual trauma. I began to explain much of this as he had possible impotence and intimacy issues, but strangely I did not 100% connect the dots he was gay.  I think because I did not believe that someone who knew they were gay would waste time trying to date me. I’d like to add, that throughout all this I received many many pictures that involved places that seemed to hold a significance to him as places he might have been with the previous male partner.  He told me that this previous partner had abruptly left him and he was “treated like a piece of garbage” - and seemed very angry and distraught.  I later felt that many of these texts and pictures were actually triangulation with this other partner. 

Long story, but after several months of odd get togethers and zero physical interaction, we had a long hug that turned slightly physical one night - and I literally felt like I had assaulted the guy.  I ended the hug, and he ran to the other side of the kitchen, packed up my things and had me out the door in less than 2 minutes.  I felt so ashamed and almost like a creepy pervert.  After this, I thought he would break off the relationship, but he went out to the car with me, and attempted some very awkward hen peck kiss, and shooed me off.  Next day, even more aggressive texts, apologizing for his “needing to take things more slowly”, and I was surprised because I thought this would be the perfect time to end things.  He instead then asked me out to a hike, to meet his 10 year old son, and actually ramped up the appearance of asking me out.  I began to ask questions, and began to suspect he was actually gay and this was not just an intimacy issue.  The more I asked and offered my support, the worse things got.  He started backpedaling, distancing himself, and eventually abruptly picked up stakes and ran.  I kept thinking I was being supportive, and didn’t quite understand what was going on fully.

Even worse, we eventually had a phone call and he started to imply that he was “going through something”, he was “functional but broken”, but he still refused to clearly communicate just a friendship.  I continued to want to be friends.  But suddenly I received a email 2 days before Valentine’s Day essentially thanking me, but please don’t contact me anymore.  I was stunned that even the friendship was being dumped and I could not understand why.  At this point, I thought he was working with a counselor to come out as gay and deal with his trauma, and I thought I was being a very empathic friend.  I began to look back and analyze nearly every text message and interaction to explain all this, and eventually came to the conclusion that he was lying about EVERY SINGLE thing to a shocking level.  Literally nothing the man told me was true.  I thought the final “truth” was that he was working towards being out and leading a more honest life - and although very sad and disappointed I thought that was the reason he abruptly dumped our friendship and relationship without even the slightest explanation or thought.

Imagine my surprise when yet again, I felt like I was played like a chump.  I ran into him at work in private and again tried to be supportive and indicate that I understood what he was going through,  I really just wanted to maintain a friendship.  I seriously thought he was going through this massive life change.  A couple weeks later, he took a trip to Switzerland.  Prior to this he seemed distressed, anxious, and I thought due to his coming out anxiety.  Suddenly, on return from Switzerland, he is happy as a clam.  Seems to not acknowledge anything at all ever went on with us, and this whole BS about his “problem”, is nonexistent.  I’m pissed because I feel like he has played me like a master.  I listened to all his problems, and I thought I was actually being a good friend.  I feel like the constant reference to a history of abuse was his final Hail Mary.  It is sadly the perfect way to get me to leave him alone.  Right when things were coming unraveled, what better excuse to both get me to never ask about his sexuality, and also to not touch him than to imply he’s been sexually assaulted?  I feel bad for even thinking this, but after reading the other stories in the forum I am stunned that someone could use something like this to garner sympathy and it’s so heartless and sad.  I was so excited to have a start to a relationship, but when that would have not progressed, I would have been ok being just friends.  To have him abruptly dismiss me I believe was because he will do anything and everything to stay closeted.  Just can’t believe someone would spend their life in this extensive of a lie.

And this is also upsetting because we are both in a extremely high stress field that requires honesty, integrity, and a moral compass.  I work with him almost weekly I see him, and now I’m having trouble reconciling the fact that he is perfectly willing to lie and trash people for this purpose and will stop at nothing.


April 17, 2023 6:32 pm  #2

Re: Being used for my empathy?

thank you for your post, Canary, it is very validating.  I think you have nailed it on the head - the thing I finally realised about my ex is that being a liar is a way of life for him, he is fine with it, it is who he is.  And anything and everything goes when it comes to maintaining his closet - it's his home, I was never more than wallpaper for him.

Everybody thinks he's such a kind and gentle man, so trustworthy and though I know firsthand how unkind he really is I also don't feel like I need to warn people.  I think he has done well in his professional capacity.


Last edited by lily (April 17, 2023 6:34 pm)


April 17, 2023 7:21 pm  #3

Re: Being used for my empathy?

I can only imagine the havoc this type of manipulation creates in a life long term.  It has taken me months to sort out and reframe EVERY SINGLE LIE.
The other disturbing thing that he did was he frequently would send texts of pictures of things I could SWEAR were either places he was with men or had been with his previous male partner.  I would get these pictures that seemed odd and had a meaning behind them.  Odd places to vacation.  He would often take me to these places and I can’t figure out why he would do this.  Seems crazy.  He once drove us 20 miles away from the main city to this really weird 2 mile hike that was so nondescript (a simple walk down a dirt road) and out of the way (despite the fact that we live a few miles away from many great hikes), then he kept making comments about how the parking lot was really large and nice.  He took both me and his 10 year old son there, and I could swear it was a meetup place he would go with men to not be seen.  Why he would take me there I have no idea. 
He also took his 10 year old son out on his 10th birthday to a resort that is waaaaay out in the boonies, nothing to do (and he’s not into nature) but sit by the fireplace in the middle of winter.  He took a ton of pictures of his son out at this place, no cell reception, but took great pains to take numerous pictures and even referenced the place later a million times.  I immediately thought it was the strangest and most inappropriate place to take a 10 year old on their birthday, and I later strongly felt like this was a place he had been with his previous partner.  Always had the feeling like he was texting pictures both to me and this previous partner to somehow lure them back, like he was triangulating with multiple male partners and me in the mix.  I would even receive texts of food he was preparing for a dinner that I’m pretty sure was with a male partner.  Odd pictures, odd places, and everything just was weird ALL THE TIME.  Worst part of it was, I largely ignored this all just thinking it was my imagination and he was just a bit of a loner. 
He would frequently pre-emptively set up stories so as to have an excuse or explanation in case I discovered any of his activities.  This started VERY early on. For example, he told me he suffered from insomnia, and frequently couldn’t sleep after 3 AM.  He even went on to describe how he just stays up if he wakes up after 3AM.  Later, I would find that he was getting online almost daily around 3AM or 4 AM on WhatsApp.  I’m assuming he may have been online with men, but I’ll never know.  But the extent of lying and how well planned it all was was astounding.
He also frequently spoke in vague non specific terms.  He stonewalled a LOT.  This is despite the fact that he is an extremely specific and intelligent man.  But I began to notice I could tell when he was lying because he would be slightly vague or ambivalent about something.  The only other marker for his lying was that he tended to have very elaborate lies that frequently involved him playing the victim.  He always tried to seem like life had dealt him the most unfair hand ever.

     Thread Starter

April 18, 2023 6:34 am  #4

Re: Being used for my empathy?

I understand how you feel. I broke up with my gay ex boyfriend two years ago. I just wish that he had only wanted to be friends. He was not honest and that hurt. 


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