Accused of being narcissistic and manipulative

Tickety-boo

New Here
I don't know how to describe this in a succinct way. I guess... I have had a few relationships/feeling out a potential relationship where in my heart and mind and everything, I'm trying to be the nicest person I can be, doing things for my partner/potential partner that doesn't benefit me at all and I ask for nothing in return. Things go well for a while with me being loving and doting and just expecting the other person to act loving and doting in return. Just acting and behaving like they care about me, being thoughtful, empathetic, that kind of thing. When they don't do enough things to make me feel like I'm getting the love and attention I need to be happy (e.g. cuddling in a really present way sometimes, stroking my arm gently - my fav! I'm not asking for them to spend any money on me, or cook me 7 course meals, or do kinky things or whatever) I tell them this and they get super defensive. And if I point out, just as an example, the things I've done for them, just to show I'm not asking for more than I'm giving (just a fraction of it actually) they accuse me of being manipulative. But I'm not really asking for anything beyond the most basic, below minimum level of intimacy and connection that should just be present in any relationship to be able to call it a relationship. I'm not even asking for sex, just cuddles for example. Meanwhile, I do more than anyone I've ever heard of for my partner, just because I love doing it - cooking, massages, buying them nice things, getting their groceries, watching their kids, paying for courses they want to take, etc. plus the usual relationship stuff - compliments, love notes, flowers, cuddles, being very attentive in bed, letting them vent to me at the end of the day, etc. When I'm doing this stuff I'm not thinking about what I'm going to get out of it, it just feels good.

Even now, I tried to reach out to an ex that I split up with 8 months ago just to check in and let her know I still think of her and hope she's doing well and her life is going good and I still care about her as a person and stuff, and I said specifically I'm not sending this to try to rekindle anything or for any other ulterior motive, I just wanted her to know I am in a good place and hold no ill will. I didn't really expect any kind of reply, nor did I word it in a way where she would feel she needed to reply, but she came back quite negative and when I tried to smooth things over she said I was being manipulative. Me trying to be nice wasn't really me trying to be nice, it was trying to change her opinion of me and gaslight her into thinking I was a nice guy because I'm a narcissist. This has been a pattern for me - my ex wife accused me of being manipulative, and when I looked it up online and showed her the articles that listed different kinds of manipulation (monetary, social, sexual, etc) I asked her to show me which I was doing and to give examples because I didn't know I was doing it and wasn't doing it intentionally and if I knew what I was doing I could stop. She said this was also manipulation and gaslighting and stormed off without giving me specifics (after which I kept reading and realizing she did every single one of them, extensively, so not a very healthy relationship there, I just didn't know as I'd never seen a healthy relationship modeled). This was the case with another two women I tried dating briefly - they both would grab onto everything and anything to justify forming a negative belief about me. Eg I told one lady that I got to listen to a really high-end sound system in a sound room and it was amazing - like being immersed in liquid music. And this made me superficial (I just cared about showing off), that I was snobby about sound quality (I'm not, I just appreciate it when it's there), that I don't emotionally connect with the music, just care about technicalities (I do deeply resonate with music), that I'll be a workaholic to afford all these nice things (I'm not), etc. This seems to extend to doing nice things for them - it must mean I'm manipulative and have some agenda. I don't know if I'm just picking the same kind of women over and over or if I'm crazy. Or maybe so many women have had guys that do nice things and then try to take advantage of them somehow. I dunno.

Asking friends, the only thing that makes sense that a few people have said is that no one does all the nice things I do without expecting something in return, so even though I'm doing it because I just like to, they assume I must have ulterior motives. As soon as I ask for anything they grab onto it and are like "Aha! I knew it" even if it's just like "Hey, the last few times you've been over you've seemed really distant, we haven't really talked or cuddled or kissed and when you leave I feel like you weren't even here, what's up?" and they're like "It shouldn't be my job to make you happy!" or "See I knew you wanted something and that's why you were being all nicey nice!". Another explanation is that I attract women who want a "simp" - a guy with little to no self-respect who showers women with praise and money to get in their pants. I have a decent amount of self-respect and if I'm not getting my needs met (which, as I said, are minimal) then I say so in as constructive, kind, positive, non-accusatory way as I can (following non-violent communication practices) sandwiching praise, request, praise, focusing on specific actions, not character traits, that kind of thing. But yeah, I have what I think are healthy needs and boundaries and I advocate for myself.

As my dad left when I was 3, my mom was not someone I connected with (don't want to go into detail about that here), and my first marriage was very unhealthy, and I've been...we'll say 'unlucky' with the people I chose to hang out with (grooming and subsequent abuse) I don't feel like I know how do judge this situation. I don't have a good enough knowledge of what's healthy, what's my fault, how I'm different from other guys, what's normally expected, etc. I'm nice to everyone and super helpful, kind, empathetic, etc. which is what draws some women to me, but I'm mostly an introvert and don't hang out with or talk to friends much (I have some good ones that put up with my long silences). My interests are philosophy and astrophysics and renewable energy and stuff, and I'm probably somewhat on the autistic spectrum, so this relationship stuff is just confusing and giving me a headache. Thoughts or advice? Thanks for reading!
 
I think if you really are doing things because you want to, you wouldn't feel inclined to bring them up to get your own desires or needs met. But that doesn't mean you don't have desires or needs that should be communicated and hopefully met. Though the other person (and yourself) always has the right to say 'no' or 'not now'. So maybe try clearer communication, and see if there is improvement. Those sound like simple requests. You could say. "I would love it if you would/could (x)". But the example you gave was turned back on you. It is ok for you to communicate, and the only thing I could suggest is adding emotion(s). (Such as, "I was a little worried you seemed distant. Is there anything on your mind?")

Best wishes to you.
 

Tickety-boo

New Here
Me mentioning the stuff I did only came up because they were insinuating I was just using them. So my counter to that was pointing out that I'm not asking them to do anything I don't do for them or anymore than I do for them. I also said I don't even like asking and to me that alone says something is wrong, because if they love me they should just naturally want to do things that make me happy (again, we're talking brushing my arm with their fingertips while we watch a movie, or making me some tea when they make some for themself, or bringing me a treat from the bakery, or leaving a lovey note, just something, anything to show they're thinking of me and my happiness, not anything difficult or kinky or involving money or anything!). My last relationship didn't even feel like a relationship for the last six months. When I said I wanted to break up I said we can just call it being friends again because we could literally keep the relationship 97% the same from her perspective - we didn't cuddle or have sex or make out or go on dates or talk about anything significant or our future together or moving in together or anything like that. She just avoided all of it. She just came over for dinner a couple times a week with her kids and left at 8, I gave her and her kids rides from hockey practice, and we went for the occasional hike. But I was still doing all the lovey text messages, babysitting her kids, getting groceries, cooking, cleaning, buying her gas, getting her presents and home decor stuff, new shoes, giving her massages, helping her move stuff, etc. all the stuff a good boyfriend does, and I was trying to initiate couple activities but was mostly deflected and when we did it felt cold. She was going through a lot for a few months and I thought it was just that, but when that was over I thought things would get back to the way they were and they didn't. I tried talking about it but that went no where and after a few months of that I noped out. But now I'm the bad guy...? I just don't get it. I don't understand how I can go into a relationship in general or a specific interaction, with nothing but love and goodness in my heart and a sincere hope of making my person happy with no thought of getting something in return other than just seeing their smile, and then come away being accused of being a narcissist and being manipulative.
 
Top