Saturday, April 22, 2023


As I mentioned on March 22, my partner, Anne, has broken up with me. I have been pondering how much I should say about it, since some people might consider it to be in poor taste to discuss it in public. However, I have been thinking about it a lot, as there are many oddities associated with this, and this blog is, after all, about free speech. Therefore, I am going to make at least this post on it.

After Kimberly broke up with me in November, 2000, as described in "Panic Attacks," I placed a singles ad in the New York Review of Books. I was living in Highland Park, Illinois at the time, and one of the responses was from Anne, who lived nearby in Lake Forest. We met on June 2, 2001, and my initial impression was not good: she looked and spoke like a suburban housewife. I later learned that she was taken aback by my jacket, which I thought and still think was perfectly fine. I had been divorced since 1985, and my daughter, who was then twenty, was sometimes at home. Anne was also divorced and raising her children, who were then fourteen and twelve. It was an odd matchup in many respects, because her ex-husband was a wealthy Chicago real estate attorney, and I was just some guy who worked at a printing plant. This was balanced to some extent by the fact that my family background was considerably better than hers. The main thing that we had in common was that we were both born in England and didn't like Americans much.

The relationship was a little rocky at first, because she had a snobby friend who didn't like me, and I didn't like her conspicuously autistic children. I had less of a problem with her daughter, who is now a transgender male, but I was never able to develop the slightest rapport with her son, who is now married to his gay boyfriend and lives in Seattle. By 2004, the relationship stabilized, and in 2007, with both of her children away at college, she bought and moved into a house in Evanston, Illinois, which was closer to her job, which had moved to downtown Chicago. I moved in with her that year, which coincided with the death of my mother, which provided me with an inheritance that enabled me to retire. Anne continued to work until she retired in 2011. During the interim, I researched retirement options and decided that Middlebury, Vermont was at the top of my list. We visited Middlebury in May, 2011, and I was ecstatic. We viewed seven houses in the area and made an offer on the Enos Severance house, where we currently live. We moved here in August, 2011.

The decline in our relationship began gradually after that. At first, there were many things to do, and I painted the house, garage and a new shed that we bought in 2015. Anne became preoccupied with gardening and growing vegetables, while also expanding into the kinds of groups that are typically dominated by upper-middle-class women. Initially, I participated in garden club events, but I eventually found them too boring. By 2013 I determined that our interests were very different, and that I should develop my own hobbies. I bought a 130 mm refractor telescope and mount and took up stargazing, and the following year I bought an 18" Dobsonian telescope. Anne showed no interest whatsoever in stargazing or astronomy. In 2014 I started this blog. Later, I renewed my interest in genealogy and had a genetic test which helped expand my genealogical chart. Anne briefly had her own blog but quickly gave up. She took no interest in genealogy, though I added her family to my tree. Anne, while generally introverted, is extremely social. She took a tai chi class and volunteered at the library. For a time, she worked at a kitchenware shop downtown, though she didn't need the money. She also worked on the Middlebury Development Review Board. After tai chi, she led bone builder classes at a local retirement community and transitioned to doing it online during the pandemic. She has also taken up painting and currently belongs to the local pastel society.

Although we were never in direct conflict, we never took much interest in each other's hobbies. I was basically a relaxed retiree with a few intellectual proclivities and an enjoyment of the outdoors, while she returned to her habits as a hyperactive suburban housewife that placed her in the company of people with whom I would never have contact of my own volition. Most of them were quite old, and some of them have died already. She also likes to go on walks with women friends, but dislikes hiking. Because of her personality, she likes to do things with her hands all day: knitting, sewing, cooking, painting, gardening and cleaning. She always multitasks and listens to books on tape while working. During the evening, she also multitasks by knitting while watching TV. Her multitasking is often, from a social standpoint, quite rude, because she never pays any attention to the people around her, and in order to converse with her you always have to make a special effort to get her attention, which takes several seconds and sometimes upsets her. She is also not a visual person and usually pays no attention to what is going on in her immediate environment. I have often been puzzled by her choice of hobbies, since she does not seem to have developed much of an aesthetic sense and actually doesn't have good fine motor skills. Furthermore, her constant multitasking tends to diminish the quality of her work and causes her to spend a lot of time correcting errors that she's made. Ever since her childhood, she has learned by reading, and that includes the arts, which are more commonly pursued by people who experiment and invent rather than follow instructions.

Anne is usually easy to be around as long as you follow her plan. Since I didn't often rebel, we generally got along, although, over time, her focus on hedonistic pursuits began to irritate me, because she had no curiosity about things that I take seriously. Even so, I gave her credit for being unlike many of the American women in my age group and social experience, who tend to exhibit a mixture of hedonism and narcissism. Another aspect of the decline in our relationship was the disappearance of my physical attraction to her. She took this in stride. When we met she had had a mastectomy from previous breast cancer, and she decided to have a mastectomy on her remaining breast, which not only reduced her future cancer risk but also made it much easier for her to find clothes that fit properly. From the beginning, I had primarily thought of the relationship as being about companionship, so I wasn't bothered. Anne recently seems to be transitioning to a later life stage in which she will place less emphasis on flirting with men and focus more on developing friendships with women. At this point she does not anticipate any future relationships with men.

The real troubles in our relationship seemed to arise suddenly in 2021, with a confluence of events. Her younger son in Seattle bought a new house and kept his old house, eventually offering it as a residence to Anne. My daughter and her family moved to our area, and I think that this interfered with Anne's need for control. Moreover, my daughter and I have a long history of discussing psychiatric issues, based on the difficulties that she faced while growing up with her mother, which were resolved by her moving in with me in fifth grade and from eighth grade onward. Anne was already extremely leery of my tendency to psychologize, and she may have felt as if she were being double-teamed. Over a very brief period, she went from being supportive and friendly toward my family to being critical and insulting. Eventually, my daughter and son-in-law decided that my grandson should no longer be exposed to her because of her abusive behavior.

Though I was used to the fact that Anne tends to act unilaterally without any discussion, I was shocked on March 20, 2023, when she suddenly announced that she was selling this house in Middlebury and moving to her son's house in Seattle in the fall. We have never, even today, had any discussion of why she made this decision or what my options might be. Consequently, I have made my own plans, and I am purchasing a house in Brandon, Vermont, not far from Middlebury, in June.

I had often wondered about Anne's psychological makeup, but never made much progress, because she refuses to discuss it in any detail. In this instance, it seemed as if she had gone through some sort of psychiatric event, which I have been studying since then. I never met her mother, but apparently she was diagnosed with depression and exhibited symptoms before drug therapies were available, causing her to be hospitalized. During one such hospitalization, Anne was sent to a foster home, where she says that she was abused. Anne's mother also had a daughter out of wedlock, whom I have met. This half-sister has lived most of her life under state care in England, and I believe was also diagnosed with depression. Her brother didn't exhibit any obvious psychiatric symptoms when I met him. I have spent a lot of time with her father, who is still alive, and he has autism symptoms. Anne's nieces, whom I've met, also seem autistic. Anne was diagnosed with depression and has been medicated accordingly for many years. Anne's eldest child has been more proactive about his psychiatric state and I think brought to Anne's attention that she could have autism and ADHD, which has since been confirmed.

What I have observed, especially since late 2021, is that Anne's behavior tends to be cyclically manic, with infrequent bouts of depression. The manias are usually not conspicuous enough to be identified as bipolar I disorder but fit within the definition of bipolar II disorder, which involves hypomania rather than mania. Bipolar II disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression, because the hypomania symptoms aren't recognized. Another possible diagnosis is cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar I disorder symptoms include the strongest depression and mania, bipolar II disorder symptoms include depression and hypomania, and cyclothymic disorder symptoms include weak depression and weak hypomania. These are probably somewhat arbitrary definitions, because the symptoms for all of these diagnoses are probably produced by slight variations in genetic bundles. There are other risks associated with these bundles, such as psychopathy and early dementia.

I should also mention that I know of two instances of Anne alienating a close female friend. One case involved an English friend whom she knew while living in Lake Forest who explicitly told her that she no longer wanted to have any contact with her. The other occurred more recently in Middlebury when one of her closest friends suddenly stopped communicating with her without providing any explanation. Although I don't know exactly what happened in each case, I would guess that she engaged in socially unacceptable behavior of one kind or another and was unapologetic about it. There is probably a similar pattern in these two examples to the current situation: Anne behaves in an offensive manner towards a friend, the friend responds negatively, Anne isn't circumspect or remorseful, and the relationship abruptly ends. It would be interesting to see how a psychiatric researcher might evaluate these examples. Autism seems like a handy explanation, but the harshness of Anne's stance may be indicative of something more serious than autism: psychopathy. She may be prone to discarding people when she determines that they no longer serve any purpose for her. It currently appears that she may never again see me or any member of my family after I move out. And, since I'm still here, I can see that she isn't exactly crying herself to sleep.

During the months leading up to the March 20 announcement, Anne went through cycles during which she would obsessively clean the house. She rose earlier than usual and went to bed later, and when she was up, she was usually so loud that I couldn't read. It is hard to know the exact timing of her decision-making, but it would appear that she went through hypomanic cycles while thinking that the house should be spruced up for sale and cleaned for viewing by potential buyers. A separate hypomanic cycle seemed to be related to an obsessive period of concern about her physical appearance, which was related to cataract surgery and new glasses. I think that could have been part of an unspoken plan to move away and begin a new identity. She currently seems to have started a new hypomanic phase, in which she is obsessively sorting through all of her possessions even though she may not be moving for several months.

Since I will soon be out of the picture, I have communicated with Anne's psychiatrist and her children. None of them expressed any agreement with my statements, but in my view I have adequately warned the children that Anne may have more serious episodes in the future, and it will be their responsibility to assist her, not mine.

My primary reaction to Anne's recent behavior is that, though I can deal with it and am doing so, she has acted in an offensive and socially unacceptable manner and has not apologized or acknowledged any wrongdoing. I think that this is the most appalling action that I've been subjected to in my entire life. I realize that she is behaving in a self-protective manner because that is the only way that she is able to deal with this situation, but she also has accountability to others who will never forgive her. It seems possible that she is unwittingly benefitting from the female victim narrative that became part of American culture in the 1970's. In that context, not much explanation is required by a woman when she breaks up with a man, because the assumption is always that the man was a jerk and was mistreating her. The feminist view simplistically makes no allowance for the possibility that the woman herself may be a female version of Hannibal Lecter.

I know Anne as well as anyone, and I am certain that she will be in contact with me in the future and attempt to interact with me as if nothing happened. I am not holding a grudge, because I know her limitations. I am changing my focus to finding a new companion who is more stable and less problematic.

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