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'I have face blindness, my BF likes to test me. How do I make it clear this isn't okay?' UPDATED 4X

'I have face blindness, my BF likes to test me. How do I make it clear this isn't okay?' UPDATED 4X


There's a massive difference between a prank and straight-up messing with someone in a disturbing way.

"I (25F) have face blindness, my BF (24M) likes to test me. How do I make it clear this is not okay?"

I’ve been with my BF for almost a year now. I love him dearly, and he loves me too (I’m guessing) but there’s one thing that’s causing a lot of issues for us. I suffer from prosopagnosia/face blindness, which means it’s really hard for me to recognize people’s faces. I usually go by other characteristics to put a name to a person, like hairstyle/facial hair, marks, skin color, accessories, etc.

But it’s still really tough. It’s caused me severe anxiety and other mental health struggles. I’m lucky to have wonderful people around me though, who are aware and try to help. They’ll introduce themselves when we start talking, wear something they know I’ve linked to them, or whatever. Usually my BF does this too, but sometimes he likes to ‘test’ me & it’s incredibly stressful.

He shaved of his beard once, a few times he wore a completely different style of clothing, or changed his hairstyle, all without warning me. In those moments he won’t tell me who he is, or say someone else’s name, just to see if I’ll figure out it’s him. He’ll make jokes saying he’ll try to switch with one of his friends and see if I’ll stay ‘loyal’. I usually do realize it’s him, but it causes me a lot of anxiety.

We’ve had big fights on this. He says he’s allowed to change his look (‘I’m not a cartoon character’), I ask him to warn me. Don’t get me wrong. He cares about me, but I don’t think he get’s how stressful it is. How do I make it clear? (We have A LOT of great times together, there’s just this bump.)

Not long after posting, OP shared an update.

Update: It’s hard to imagine I made this post 19 hours ago and now I’m in the middle of breaking up with him. I’m very tired so I’m going to keep this short. I went to talk to him, showed him this & told him he can’t do it anymore. The conversation was...a lot. First he was angry I made this post, then he was angry I was taking it all so serious. Lot’s of apologies and so on.

He again said he was just trying to make a tough situation more light, I said it’s too much. He said I can’t take a joke and I need to let him be him. That he always tells me when he’s been joking and if he was really keen on hurting me he’d just do things and not tell me, so him telling proves he cares. (That one got me very uncomfortable.)

At one point he said he just wanted to test if it was real, because I could just be using it as an excuse to do anything. I left after that cause we were just going in circles. There was a lot of me making an issue of ‘one small thing’. I’m exhausted. He’s still blowing up my phone with love and apologies, but you guys made me realize a lot.

Thanks, really. I’m trying to stay rational about it but it’s hard, because I do care about him a lot. I’m gonna get a few hours of sleep. Thank you again.

The internet had a lot to say in response.

CheapDepth2155 wrote:

He is messing with your safety does he not realise that?

OP responded:

I don’t think he realises how confusing it all is. There’s been a moment he did the opposite, acting all weirded out when I thanked him for a nice date, saying it wasn’t him and though I knew it was, I still started to doubt myself. He did say it was a joke soon after but it caused such a panic. He hasn’t done it again but it took me a long time to feel comfortable again.

sh*tmykidsays wrote:

Making someone feel unsafe is not a joke. Gaslighting someone you care about is not a joke.

blueavole wrote:

Holy smikes that’s terrifying.

Not to recognize a familiar face with a major change like that. - that is like nightmare fuel.

That your BF does it to you, multiple times on purpose is scary. I don’t know if there is a way you can explain it to him if he doesn’t get it. It seems he enjoy your panic. Which is not a good thing in a partner. If this was my partner I would get a tattoo or something. And I don’t have any.

OP responded:

My dad actually got a tattoo on his arm for me, which is a great comfort.

I hadn’t realised how messed up everything is, until reading all these replies.

LegitimateDebate5014 wrote:

Your boyfriend is basically ab#sing you in emotional situations. He thinks it’s hilarious you struggle and get severe anxiety which isn’t normal, nor does it mean he cares about you. This is a huge red flag

OP responded:

Ab#se is a really big word, but I do agree it’s not okay. I’m seeing him soon, we’ll see how it goes.

HatsandTopCoats wrote:

"I want to be 100% clear on this: Taking advantage of my disability to trick me is not okay. You know that's what you're doing and it's insulting when you expect me to believe that you're not doing that. It's extremely upsetting to me and I don't know why you would want me to feel anxious and terrible. If you care about my feelings you will stop doing this."

If that doesn't make him stop, then you need to stop telling yourself, "Oh, he just doesn't realize that this bothers me even though I've told him repeatedly that it bothers me!" When you've made your feelings incredibly clear, the answer is not that he doesn't understand, it's that he doesn't care because he'd rather f#$k with you for his own amusement.

OP responded:

Fair enough. Thank you for replying. I’m not looking forward to having this kind of conversation with him, but it’s needed.

A few days later, OP shared another update.

Hi y’all. Hope it’s okay I post a little update. Things went bat-s**t crazy. A lot has happened in the last days. I’m really grateful to you all, honestly. I wasn’t aware about the real meaning of his ‘pranks’ and what it said about him and our relationship. I went to talk to him the same evening I made that post, with the intention of making clear he can’t pull all that anymore.

The conversation ESCALATED. We talked for hours into the night and every day since. There’s been a lot of messages. He got angry about the post I made (I showed him), angry at you guys, angry that I couldn’t take a joke and listened to strangers. Said things like he in the beginning didn’t believe I actually suffered from it, and would use it as an excuse to cheat on him.

That now he does believe, but due to bad break-ups in the past - he has a hard time trusting I won’t use it as an excuse regardless. Said he was joking about it because he wanted to make a tough situation lighter and that’s just his sense of humour. That if I loved him, I’d accept that. When I made it clear I was done, it got even worse. He began apologising a lot.

Said he didn’t realise it was such a big thing for me (again, didn’t make any sense with all said before.) In the same breath he said that he at least told me. (To the people who thought he actually had planned to trick me by using one of his friends, I think y’all may be very right.) To be honest I was done. I do care about him a lot (can’t just shut that off), but it’s never going to work.

There’s been many many messages/calls/etc. He dropped some vague hints that sometimes he pulled ‘pranks’ I wasn’t aware of. I don’t know if that is true, or he’s just in a bad place right now. He also came to my place to apologise again. But I suspect he didn’t expect I’d immediately recognise him, as he didn’t apologise till I said his name.

He’s not evil, but just very messed up rn. I blocked him everywhere, told him not to show up anymore and that a friend would give him his stuff. I’m going to delete this account soon but, I wanted to thank you guys for helping me realise it. I genuinely don’t think I would have. I’m heartbroken, but a bit relieved as well. Thanks for all the support and kindness.

The internet continued to have OP's back.

trippyhippy wrote:

I'm glad you broke up! Someone who loves you shouldn't ever do that to you.

Just curious about your condition. Do you also have issues with recognizing voices as well as faces? I can only imagine how hard it must be to deal with.

OP responded:

Actually voices are one of the traits I go by to recognise someone! Voices, posture, tattoos, hairstyle, and so on. Thank you loads.

Massive_Letterhead90 wrote:

It's great that you blocked him. He's still trying to f*ck with your mind, now by implying he's done bad things you haven't picked up on. The idea is to leave you twisting and turning with worry. He's most likely bluffing to punish you for daring to leave him.

At the same time he's getting his kicks from sadistic "jokes," just like when you were dating. You'll feel much better and more confident once he's properly out of your life.

Still_Actuator_8316 wrote:

Good for you. I missed your original post so I went back and read that too. I can't understand why some people pull those stupid pranks even after they are told not to do them He FAFO that he is single now due to his stupid pranks. Hope he learns from this. But you be strong. And rock the world.

NoeTellusom wrote:

FWIW, I had a boyfriend who kept coming around to apologize, make up, argue, etc. I literally got to the point where I'd respond by quoting the last horrid thing he said to me. He'd call me or come my place, and I'd say the horrible thing he'd said last argument then hang up or shut the door. He's told you who he is. Believe him.

JustLivinLifeIGuess wrote:

I find it baffling that he acted like you were the one escalating something small, when it could have stayed “something small” had he just acknowledged your feelings and apologized and agreed to stop with the prank. He was the one escalating the situation by defending himself and getting angry. Good on you for standing your ground!

A week and a half later, OP shared another update.

This is probably a bit stupid but that boy has got me questioning my own mind. Either way, sorry if this is a bother. I broke up with my bf a few weeks ago. I had realised - in part thanks to the internet - that some of his behaviour was absolutely not okay & when I tried to talk to him, the conversation escalated to me breaking up with him.

I have a pretty severe case of face blindness/prosopagnosia. It means I can’t recognise/remember people’s faces & go by other characteristics to try & put a name to someone. (Voice, (hair)style, posture, etc.)

People around me know & introduce themselves when we meet & other things to make it easier. (I have a lot of anxiety because of it.) He used to try & test me, which gave me a lot of stress. Changed up his look without warning to see if I knew it was him, and a lot more.

He called it pranks. (He is a jokester.) So, we broke up. It’s been a lot. He’d been calling/messaging non-stop with both apologies & non-apologies, ‘till I blocked him. In moments of a lot of emotion I said things like I never wanted to see him again, and he’d reply that he was hurt, that I wouldn’t even know if it was him & I was lucky he wouldn’t do it.

Made me feel icky. He’s contacted me again yesterday - through a new account - saying he just wants one more face-to-face conversation, if only to give him his stuff that is still at my place & get some closure so we can both move on.

I said my plan was to get a mutual friend to bring it over to him. He was hurt. He did seem a lot more calm than before & told me we were together for a year, he just wanted one conversation after I suddenly broke things off.

That he had some time to process now, etc & that he doesn’t understand how he suddenly - after a year of loving each other - became so evil I couldn’t have one chat with him. But I don’t feel good about it. My gut’s telling me this will not be a good conversation, my worst fears are telling me he might play a trick to prove some point. WIBTA if I don’t reply anymore/just say no?

Edit: I didn’t expect all these replies. I hope it’s okay I respond like this. Thank you all, really. I think I knew already but somehow started to doubt myself. (The past weeks have been a lot.) I really appreciate & needed these words. I’m ready for all of this to be over & done with. Also just a little thank you in general.

The internet continued to offer support.

marv115 wrote:

I would not do it, you told him why, more than once to stop, even his message that it out of the blue proves he still don't understand. This conversation will bring you nothing but more deflecting and avoidance.

OP responded:

Thanks for this.

Herm_in wrote:

« he doesn’t understand how he suddenly became so ev*l I couldn’t have one chat with him »

So everything is your fault and he did nothing wrong? You shouldn’t bother, it won’t be productive conversation and you’ll probably feel worse.

Jeezus_Christe wrote:

Stay away. NTA.

If you suffered from regular blindness and he tripped you all the time would it be ok?

Maryanna0601 wrote:


This isn’t just a relationship issue, his past behavior crossed the line into being abusive. Being alone with him in an apartment is not a good idea. Now if you want to give him closure then there are some ways you can do it.

Meet him in a public place (restaurant) with friends or family at a nearby table.

Let him come get his stuff but have 2 friends or family members present. Make sure one is a man or a woman with self defense training.

Personally with his past behavior he lost the right to closure. Have a mutual friend take his stuff back to him and block him on everything. Stay safe.

OP responded:

This helps a lot, thanks.

PatchEnd wrote:

NTA. Get his stuff out today! Right now, stop waiting. Don't go see him, he's going to try and manipulate you. I bet if you DID (pleaseeee don't) if you DID go meet him, he will have completely changed himself to completely f#$k with you. Like fully change hair color, grow a full beard, go and get fake contacts and blah blah.

He can't "see how he became so evil in a year..." HE KNOWS HE'S EV*L, he's being smug.

Get his stuff out today, block him every time he makes a new account. He's a nutjob.

A few weeks later, OP shared another update.

Hi! It’s been a wee bit, and since I’m still getting messages about this, I thought I’d just give one big update for this. So more than a month ago I broke up with my BF because he kept pulling ‘pranks’ involving my face blindness. (I can’t recognise faces & am dependent on other aspects to recognise someone, and even then it’s still confusing.)

After that he’d been bugging me that he wanted to meet up, so we could get some closure. My gut was telling me not to, but I felt guilty. With you guys’ advice (& my own gut feeling) in mind, I decided not to go.

I asked a friend, Roger, to go bring him his stuff & kept him blocked - including blocking the new accounts he’d made. Roger came back with a letter from him, to me. The letter in itself was v apologetic. He even said he was grateful for our time together & took full responsibility. It ended with him saying he’d respect it if I chose not to reply or message.

Honestly, a lot of very respectful words. I still decided not to get in touch. (Still trying to get over the break-up myself.) But I did appreciate it, till I found out he wasn’t letting go like he said. Roger & some other mutual friends let me know he was asking them about me A LOT, if I had read the letter, if I was seeing someone else (already?!), and so on.

Couple of days ago he showed up at my place. He was clearly not sober & v upset. He just seemed so broken, so I - stupidly - let him in. For a while he was just being miserably nice, while I got him water & stuff. But the more sober, the more angry he got. At that point I messaged basically everyone I knew to come. I didn’t think he’d hurt me, but I didn’t feel comfortable being alone with him regardless.

Among the many accusations of me not even having the decency to reply, that I clearly never cared about him & that I was a horrendous person, he told me ‘I cheated on him & didn’t even know it’ so how could I blame him for not trusting me? I’m not gonna lie, I was trying to stay calm but failed. (And I know I should have not lost my cool.) I screamed at him, asked him what he was talking about.

Apparently on a night out with him & others, he asked his friend Mike (who knows of my face blindness & has similar characteristics as my ex, part from a very different voice & smell) to ‘swap’ out with him, and kissed me. And I didn’t know. I don’t know if he’s lying or not. But knowing I was drinking & in a crowded, loud room, I know it’s a possibility.

Especially since Mike tried to kiss me another time, though then I immediately realised it was him & lost my s#$t at him. (When I told my then bf, he was more angry than I had ever seen him, so idk if that time was a ‘plan’ as well or not. Either way Mike is a disgusting human.) I know it’s ‘just’ a kiss, but it did make me feel sick to my stomach just thinking about how they might have played me.

I told him to get out, he didn’t. Luckily it didn’t take long for some people to arrive & get him out. I’m endlessly grateful for the people I have around me. I’m staying at my parents’ place now, took a break from work & am looking into therapy. My mom & dad (who got a tattoo years ago just so I would never doubt it’s him) are treating me like a princess & reminding me of the kindness people deserve.

Haven’t looked into a restraining order, but might if it continues. Thanks to you all for helping me see what’s right in this situation. Reddit has been a wonderful community I am very grateful for. I probably won’t update anymore, as this is over & done with. But I’m glad I got to pour my heart out to y’all.

Commenters continued to have OP's back.

YourMysticVixen wrote:

That guy has some major issues and I'm glad you're out of it. No normal, sane, caring person sets their partner up for failure. Swapping out then being angry at you for not noticing is entrapment. How long until he would have done it with s#x and not kissing? How can you trust someone who ab#ses your trust? Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Unique_Status3782 wrote:

The swapping out almost sounds like s#xual ass*ult or coercion. She didn’t consent to kiss that other dude. That’s really weird and gross. That really made my stomach turn. I can’t imagine how OP felt hearing that.

Edit: I think it’s weird that people are coming for me for using the word “almost”. I definitely said it was done without her consent. Like why not go pick a legitimate fight with someone who actually denies s#xual assaults.

VegetableBusiness897 wrote:

Christ, I remember your post and I think we were all saying he was going to pull a final prank for fun...but in reality he might have actual subbed his bro to do what??? To take it how far??? To SA you??

Holy crap GF, your ex is a psycho POS. Nice to know that even with your face blindness you're not blind to Aholes, and their 🚩🚩🚩🚩 Congrats on being free, stay safe, go for the RO especially with their planned SA(since he admitted to it).

YomiKuzuki wrote:

"Apparently on a night out with him & others, he asked his friend M. (who knows of my face blindness & has similar characteristics as my ex, part from a v different voice & smell) to ‘swap’ out with him, and kissed me. And I didn’t know."

This is s#xual ass*ult.

Your ex is a piece of s#t.

Sources: Reddit
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