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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 2X

'I have face blindness, my BF likes to test me. How do I make it clear this isn't okay?' UPDATED 2X


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!

It seems like OP is dodging some serious grief by getting out of this relationship sooner than later.

Sources: Reddit
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