Recognizing Charm Syndrome Man

"...miserable though she is, a woman's confidence has been sapped to the point where she feels unable to leave. And, because Charm Syndrome Man sometimes reverts to his old charming self, the one she fell in love with, many women even feel that the abuse is their fault, that there must be something they've done to make it happen."


Fool4Waiting Fool4Waiting
56-60, F
3 Responses Sep 18, 2012

"Is your partner controlling you?
Sandra Horley asks women to answer these questions :
• Do you feel you have to change your behaviour to please him?"

I like a scented candle, but I'm not the type to generally buy them . If I wanted to please my wife, I might feel the need to go to a store and buy one, and then display it pleasingly at the bedside. Perhaps with candy and valentines. This is a change in my behavior.

Does that mean my wife is controlling me? What if I'd rather have played videogames? Of course we do things to please our partners. Who doesn't?

This is such a tyrannical, solipsistic article, designed to cast a wide net and get a lot of heads nodding, as long as they don't think too hard. Just because we FEEL a certain way, it does not mean that feeling is tied to some objective reality. A lot of fights within couples get escalated to chronic levels of dysfunction based on an unskeptical practice of assigning motivations to one's partner.

I recall exploring, across a month of couple's counselling, a particular span of 4 years of my life with my wife, and her explaining the same period. It was astounding how we both had the same landmark events, and such tragic, difficult personal experiences, where, in each of our lives we were so victimized by the other. It was quite a trick for us to come to a place where we each made room to legitimize the other's feelings, based on our own unique partial understanding and perspective of the events that occurred then. When we walked into that room at the beginning we both had fingers pointing at the other as the cause.

I can't help but feel like you're the one pointing fingers now.


The article *is* vague. To me, Charm Syndrome sounds very much like Narcissism. There is a level of manipulation that most any empathic, normal functioning people will fall prey to, or should I say, be charmed by.

The examples that you are using are within normal adjustments, normal issues that are worked about by many couples. In my opinion, the are not consistant to what is being discussed in the article. Dealing with someone that is skillfully manipulating or gaslighting is completely different then you choosing to not purchase scented candles. Two different universes.

The article casts such a wide net, including normal, healthy behavior, and toxic destructive behavior, that the only way to discern between them is by assigning a motivation --likely something done without consultation or cognizance. I'd say that when "Charm Syndrome" is defined by things that feasibly everyone does, and things that only occur in dysfunctional relationships, then the definition ceases to have any meaning except whatever personal experience we bring to it. In other words, this article is astrology. If you feel you have been wronged in your relationship, you are bound to find some "clue" as to a greater plan for malfeasance.

"I can't help but feel like you're the one pointing fingers now." --------vague sniping pertaining to another's intention or motivation is no subtitute for meaningful communication in a conflict. If you have something to say, why not just out with it and own it, so it can be dealt with and move on. In other words, I'm not clear on what this means, except perhaps to express that you are upset with me personally - but I'm not sure.

I'm not upset w/ you.

You seem very defensive.

I find that interesting.

That's all.

I've pondered why the article doesn't sit well for a day now, and "pointing fingers" was the key. There's "Charm Syndrome" man, but what of Co-Dependance?

Nobody's arguing the one who connects w/ Charm Syndrome Man (or Woman) has his (or her) head together. I think what the article is attempting to point out is there are some "tells" that can be used to recognize an abusive relationship before one gets in TOO DEEP; as most of us have. It won't resonate with all people but it may resonate with some at some time, in their hour of need.

Whatever it is, abusive or not, it's dysfunctional, and I see only positive things resulting from taking measures to move towards health, whether that's reconfiguring or ejecting. There's a whole lot of wheel spinning on this forum about applying labels to behavior and apportioning blame, that I think tends to distract us from what's important.

5 More Responses

"As soon as a woman commits to him, his charming behaviour will change. He uses controlling techniques: criticism, undermining his partner's confidence, or jealousy."

This article infantalizes women.

Except in arranged marriages, for a relationship to occur in the first place, someone needs to be charmed. An adult relationship has room for criticism - which, depending on its application, can be a positive force. I can't imagine being in a relationship with a woman who did not challenge my thinking.

As for undermining one's confidence - this is not so much a technique as it is the *result* of a technique.

Jealousy isn't a technique, either -- it is a feeling, and a perfectly reasonable one to have and even to express in many circumstances as a relationship is negotiated. Even in cases where it isn't warranted, the open expression of it and dealing with it would be a pre-requisite to effective communication and resolutions between partners.

I find your analysis "interesting."

Ha. Sounds familiar.