J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: From Money to Sex: My Older Partner Controls Everything I Do

Dear Ms Peirano,</p>I (31) have been with a much older man (Arno, 54) for almost two years.

J. Peirano: The Secret Code of Love: From Money to Sex: My Older Partner Controls Everything I Do

Dear Ms Peirano,

I (31) have been with a much older man (Arno, 54) for almost two years. When I met him, I was going through a difficult phase. My mother had died of cancer shortly before, and I have no contact with my father. I had accumulated debt from my mother's funeral and my acting training and felt very sad.

Then Arno came into my life. He met me in the wine bar where I waited tables and showed great interest. He came often, made me laugh, gave me lots of compliments and had gifts for me. My life was beautiful again. He is a successful businessman and has a wonderful life, at least on the outside. I dressed differently and, at his request, moved in with him in his luxurious apartment. As banal as that sounds, it was great not having to worry about money anymore.

After a few weeks, the first strange things started happening: he kept me from seeing my friends and put them down. Not only men, who supposedly all wanted to sleep with me, but also my girlfriends. We only met his acquaintances and he made it a point to show me around. He laid out the clothes for me to wear (always sexy, short skirts, wide necklines). After a few months he sent me to a plastic surgeon friend of mine and I had my breasts and lips done.

He took more and more control of my life. He was against me waiting tables, even though I liked the colleagues. I stopped because otherwise he would get offended and wouldn't talk to me for days. He expected me to accompany him on his activities and to have dinner with him several nights a week. Honestly, I then took the days to go to the gym so I wouldn't gain weight. He loved and desired my body, but there were conditions. He often spoke derogatorily of older women (over 40) and women who let themselves go and had a few extra pounds (and that's already over a size 12). With Arno, the good sides and the bad sides were close together and could change quickly.

Once he locked me in a room for a day, which he later claimed was accidental. I'm not sure... He often goes away for a few days and doesn't tell me where he is. From hints from his friends I think women are involved too, I've picked up the word "escort girl" more often. He denies that.

His lust for me is huge, and there is no such thing as a no during sex. But I would never say it so clearly if I didn't want to. He's taking Viagra, and when he walks up to me and has that certain look in his eyes, I know there's no escaping it. At first I felt wanted and chosen. Now I let it happen to me more often or try to distract or avoid him. He's into anal sex, which is very painful for me. We never talk about what I want.

I now have the feeling that he totally controls me and that I'm actually living his life. I live in his apartment, spend his money, meet his colleagues and acquaintances, drive with him to the hotels he chooses. And he stays with me all the time. When I go to the buffet in the restaurant, he puts his hand on my bottom and breathes in my ear. I can't read in peace on vacation because he always wants to watch TV and I'm supposed to watch TV with him. And of course the sex.

It sounds absurd, but on the other hand, he's also like a father I never had. He takes care of me, pays my medical bills and knows where life is headed. I don't think I'm ready to go.

Somehow I know I have to go, but I'm afraid he won't let me and I don't know where to go. I don't have a life of my own anymore. And at the same time, in the last few weeks, I see him looking at other women (all younger than me). Eager. He's on the phone a lot, but hides what he's doing. At first he was only focused on me. That's actually how it started with us, and now I also know that when we met he had a girlfriend who he then broke up with.

What am I supposed to do?

Many greetings

Elena T.

Dear Elena T,

I got a little dizzy reading your story. It sounds like you've fallen into a pretty dangerous trap with Arno. What initially looked like a solution to your problems with Arno has meanwhile turned into the opposite.

In the beginning it might have seemed as if Arno would give you freedom. Now you are very unfree and can only do what he wants. It almost sounds like you're his prisoner. It controls your movements, it has driven a wedge between you and your friends and your social circle, leaving you alone and weakened. They have no money of their own, but rely on his support. And he makes sure to always be in control and have the upper hand.

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. In my PhD, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.

Do you have questions, problems or lovesickness? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.

I assume that he deliberately sought out a girlfriend who is much younger and who is also in a life crisis and has financial problems. In the constellation, the balance of power is clear from the start, and he has consolidated it even further in the relationship.

Of course, as a therapist, I'm not allowed to diagnose people I haven't seen in person. Still, I find it helpful to have certain diagnostic features in mind as a guide. Arno's behavior bears the hallmarks of a narcissistic disorder. Apparently he pushes through his own interests ruthlessly, also sexually (!), doesn't tolerate any contradiction and uses such manipulations.

He is not based on partnership and on an equal footing. This would be reflected in the fact that he also has your interests and your future in mind and supports you in building a professional future. Instead, he uses you to have company for his own interests, showing off to his friends, and of course his sexual preferences.

I can imagine that you were traumatized by the relationship. Therefore my recommendation that you look for a psychotherapist with whom you can work together in the long term. There are several issues for you: the illness and death of your mother, your role as a fatherless daughter, your professional future, setting limits and breaking free from the relationship with Arno. It will probably also take a long time afterwards to process the relationship and to cope with the traumatic events. Such abuse usually leaves traces.

First of all, I can recommend a book to you in which a woman, Sonja R., suffers in a relationship similar to yours. The book was written by her therapist Bärbel Wardetzki based on her story: "And that's supposed to be love? How to free yourself from a narcissistic relationship" by Bärbel Wardetzki and Sonja R.

From my point of view, the overriding problem is that you are completely alone with your situation. The only one by your side is Arno, who hardly helps you to break free. Based on his patterns, the most that could happen is that he replaces you with a younger woman. But that would be an even harder blow to your self-esteem. According to the motto: First he builds me up, "beautifies" me and gets everything he wants - and then he puts me down. It would certainly be better for you if you broke away from him beforehand.

But on your own it will be very difficult. You are very much alone, and the only person close to you is Arno, the "perpetrator" himself. Is there someone else you trust who knows and represents your own values? If yes: Can you contact this person without Arno noticing? Can you get a cell phone he doesn't know about? Do you occasionally go out alone without accounting for your time?

I wish you a lot of strength and courage to free yourself!

Best regards

Julia Peirano