Avatar universal

Mental Disorder

I am concerned about a guy I recently started dating. He can be talking in a normal tone and conversation one moment and then all of a sudden he will laugh in a weird way, he sounds like a different person , almost child-like… and then he snaps back. It kind of scares me…He seems to be an intelligent man, well educated and stays on top of certifications for work… but something just doesn’t “seem right”, with the intermittent laughter and voice change.. I asked him if he notices he does it, he said no…that me asking him, made him feel bad… like 90% of the time the conversation and his voice is fine/ he sounds normal, then he laughs and then switches to a different personality. He’s in his early 40s, and I’d imagine his family would have gotten him help and that it’s something he would have spoken to me about because it’s a major concern. I’m not imagining what I’m seeing, and can’t quite figure it out from googling. A lot of what comes up is mood swings referencing fits of anger. That’s the thing, he’s never once been angry. He’s ALWAYS happy, sweet, overly sweet, helpful, except for when he realizes his episode has scared me/taken me aback, then he’s concerned and asking me if I’m ok….what could his condition be?
4 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
Avatar universal
Asperger's comes to mind. High functioning Asperger people (like myself) can be very intelligent (Sheldon on Big Bang Theory). Sometimes we hide it very well.

The best explanation I have found is, "Whilst adults with autism and Asperger Syndrome are able to detect basic mental states in the whole face, they are impaired at recognizing complex mental states, and are markedly impaired at recognizing such mental states from the eyes alone."

We are bad at reading body language, and see no information in other people's eyes, hence we tend to look at their mouth when talking with them, since that's where the information comes from (for us at least). Tend to be socially awkward. Though we try.

Great benefits of dating an aspie is we are very honest, loyal, have deep feelings despite not showing them in conventional ways (I've been told I have a "poker face".) I was afraid I might not be able to be a good husband to my wife. She replied, "I'm the luckiest woman alive."

Some aspies have difficulty looking other people "in the eye". They say it burns. I just see eyes, and I've been trained to look there because that's what other people expect. (Or we just learn it along the way.) But don't look too long. Look for 5 seconds, look away for 2 seconds, look back for 5 seconds, repeat. Soon I either forget what the conversation is because I'm spending my time counting seconds, or I forget to do it because I'm busy having a conversation, in which case I probably don't look them in the eye as much as I should, as I find it distracting.

Unclear if that's what your friend has. Just what came to mind as a possibility.
Helpful - 0
973741 tn?1342342773
One thing I'd like to ask is that when he does the laugh and then uses a different voice, is he in the same moment he was prior?  It is hard to remember what happened to another personality when one switches. Noticing this? He could also be neurodivergent and developed this as a coping mechanism. Not really switching personalities but changing tone and trying to maintain self control.
Helpful - 0
Yes, he’s always in the same moment as prior. He just doesn’t notice the quick shift in tone and movements. It literally lasts a few seconds and then he just…snaps back. Laughter usually triggers the childlike giddy-ness, odd laugh/voice…and when he’s talking serious his voice is lower and he leans in and does a weird thing with his eyebrows ( they raise) and has an odd look and he shakes his head a little… it’s just…. different…he’s what I’d describe as “overexcited” when I greet him at the door, and he texts lots of emojis and tells me how happy I make him and has told me on several occasions that he just wants me to like him… That’s what further makes me think something’s not right, because I feel like that’s more of a child-like mentality, NEEDING acceptance, trying to buy my affections…it’s only been a month, so it’s a bit much for me. I will definitely look into this neurodivergence you mentioned as well. Thank you!
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215   Read this link.  or this one from the Cleveland Clinic  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215.  It's a pretty complex disorder and think it would entail far more than what you describe so  I'm not thinking this is the case, overall. He sounds more quirky to me. Perhaps undiagnosed autistic which can be very subtle. That can look very different in different people. Trouble expressing one self and quirkiness and not quite understanding the emotion of love are common with someone that they term 'high functioning' autistic (kind of an old school term). What 'could' (playing arm chair psychologist here) have is a bit of derealization or depersonalization which they do put under the umbrella of disassociative personality disorder but honestly have only read about it as a symptom of anxiety until now.  This happens also when someone has significant anxiety and depression. It's like an outer body experience, if you will. You are present but it feels like a dream or like you are watching a movie OR you feel like everything is fuzzy around you, fog like. I would look into neurodivergence for sure. But please tread lightly. He's lived his whole life. Maybe he's had problems with people, maybe he hasn't. But these are sensitive topics. You are trying to tell him there is something wrong with him. Maybe something major wrong with him. I would definitely broach it a very different way. Go in tender hearted with the mindset you just want to understand and connect with him better. Otherwise, this is hurtful to him. Understand that.
I'm also going to say this. Dating is for a reason. We are looking for a 'match' and not everyone we date will be one. I don't know if he has so many great qualities that his quirks are worth it. But we do break up with people that don't feel like a match. Make sure that you consider this before doing damage to his psyche. There's a really good chance he's a normal guy with just some weird traits. and if he has undiagnosed mental illness and you believe that, that is a long road to hoe for a new relationship and consider if you want to go down that path. Just speaking bluntly here. Not every person we date are we meant to be with.
I appreciate your perspective and the info provided. I will definitely tread lightly. I definitely don’t want to hurt his feelings or put myself in any potential danger. Sadly, I’ve never had much luck in the dating department. I’m the lady in the office that NEVER got flowers…even when I hinted at wanting them :(……and at 39, this sadly is the closest I’ve gotten to a decent guy. He’s brought me flowers several times in the short time I’ve known him, always ask if I need anything, makes me feel like a Queen. He offers things so freely that I just Know the couple of ladies he’s dated the last few years, totally took advantage of him… (which makes me incredibly sad) and him allowing it further leads me to believe he’s not operating at 100, because no man would have tolerated being used to that capacity……This is an INCREDIBLY difficult decision for me to make as far as on how to proceed , if even as friends. I’d hate to just drop out of his life, but it may be equally painful to him if we scale back. I am starting to lose sleep, tossing and turning because I am putting his feelings above mines, by hanging in there until I can get some definitive answers…because I truly don’t want to hurt this man….but I don’t want to miss out in the end :( ….. If he’s just quirky, I think that’s something we can get through
I think if you are trying to analyzing a boyfriends mental health to the point of losing sleep, the problem is beyond repairing. Just being honest. Not fair to him either. If he is a good guy, he'll find the right person. And you will too. I understand being older and wanting what you see other's as 'having' but at the same time, when it feels so off we have to question their mental state, it probably isn't 'right'. You know? I do appreciate not wanting to hurt him and give things a chance. If NOTHING changes, are you still happy with him? It sounds like you think he's odd and it bothers you.
You have spoken 100% facts… I know what I must do :(  I will offer him friendship, if he wants….but he’s not the right person for me.  Thank you for telling me what I NEEDED to hear.
It's hard for me. I have a son that could be like this man. I don't want him to be alone but he also has to find someone that is comfortable with who he is. And you deserve to be comfortable.
I also want to say that breaking it off doesn't 'have to be'. I'm giving you food for thought to assess. You don't want to throw away a good catch either. But no one is perfect. If he's just being himself and it is odd to you? maybe accept it without the internal dialogue. You know? If you are chasing perfection you will never find anyone suitable. If you can live with flaws, you'll find your partner. Only you can decide where this relationship falls in that.
134578 tn?1642048000
Also, I should add, my grandma used to change her voice when she was trying to be funny or lighten the mood. Like, say in a normal voice, "I've got work to do," and then in a cartoon voice, "Work, work, work!" using a high, sing-song tone or different accent or both. I assume you don't think this is something he's doing when trying to be funny or lighthearted, and he's done it so long that doesn't even realize when he does it?
Helpful - 0
Thank you for your reply. I’ve only known him a few weeks, so I guess I mean I’ve yet to see him in an angry state.

The first time we spoke on the phone, this may sound weird, but his voice didn’t fit his texts . He sounded like what my friend accurately described as a guy named Jeff Spicoli ( I say like the teen age mutant turtle with the surfer accent) from some movie from the 80s… I have never seen the movie, but I got the nerve up to ask him if he notices how he “changes” when he talks, mostly laughs and he was like people have told him that he acts like a real life Spicoli, and that he looks like him as well…when he showed me the pic he does in fact kinda look like the actor also… nonetheless I gather the character in the movie is on drugs, hence the voice and kinda slow/stoned behavior. As far a I know this guy has endured his parents divorce as a child, but nothing more.

It’s the oddest little quirks. We were walking in a store and he excited grabbed my arm in his and started walking so fast he was basically dragging me in the store. At first I thought he was joking around, but I quickly realized it was another “giddy, childlike “ episode…

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being happy, all the time, but it’s like he intermittently switches, it can be mid conversation. He’s not trying to be funny, and he said he doesn’t know he’s doing it. He says his accent he doesn’t realize and maybe he “picked it up somewhere “, umm it makes no sense…

I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with him because I don’t know if he is capable of snapping in a bad/violent way….when he’s speaking as normal his voice is low (now that I think of it, maybe lower than normal), and he leans in close and is very close; he’s not aware of his actions, but I have a hard time believing his family doesn’t notice and haven’t addressed it.

Could someone with a psychosis or on the spectrum be capable of being extremely intelligent/ hold an important job/title, for all intents function normally, but intermittently snap…. Without being on any medication at all? I feel like he’s otherwise a great catch and that there’s no way he’d have made it yo his age still being single with such great things going for him, but I’m starting to see other women probably realized something isn’t quite right , and rather than address the issue and get him help,  the few he dealt with just used him for his resources(his words)…

It makes me sad, and scared, and I want to get him help, without offending him, but I need a starting point to reference. I will definitely research DID; thank you. The closest I could gather was Pseudobulbar, but I’m assuming if he had lesions in his brain he’d have been informed…. Unless his very small family chose to shelter him and ignore it..,

I feel horrible if I don’t have the ability to help him, and want to make sure I will be safe if I were to end a romantic possibility and just be friends…I don’t know if he’s capable of crying or causing harm.. and for that I am having bad anxiety. I think he overdoes the texts, flowers, compliments,offering to buy me things (which I’ve declined, I’m not a user), and telling me thank you ALL of the time, when I’ve literally done nothing…he tells me thank you for liking him… which makes me think he may have been abandoned a lot by women…. I just don’t know what to do :(
I was reading the McLean Hospital site about DID, and they made the point that it's a myth that people with the disorder are dangerous. Here's from the site:

"It can feel confusing to interact with a loved one who is dissociating. While signs of dissociation tend to be subtle, sometimes people with DID may suddenly appear disengaged, frightened, or spacey. If you notice such behaviors, remain calm and remember that people with DID often dissociate automatically as a way of feeling safer."

If you haven't run across that link yet, it's:

I'm not saying this guy has DID, I'm not at all qualified to judge. But I do think people who flip a switch and do something distracting, are usually being self-protective. This phenomenon is seen in comedians (I don't necessarily mean professionals) -- if they are uncomfortable, they race into a joke and try to make everyone laugh. This might be something similar.

Good luck, I hope you find a professional who can identify what your boyfriend has and then suggest to you some ways you can get him to seek help.
Thank you so much for this information! It is a great place to start. He’s been so kind, consistent, intentional, a true gentleman…I don’t want to count him out just yet, and am determined to get him the help he needs….or perhaps I’m the one that needs help, to not care about how others perceive him, as long as he makes me happy. Thanks again!
If he truly makes you happy, see if you can learn about what his "quirks" mean without telling him that you think something is wrong with him or trying to "get him help." It doesn't sound like he will ever think he "needs help," and to suggest someone needs help can really hurt their feelings.

To me, he doesn't sound dangerous. Even if it's a form of DID, it's manifesting by being giggly or childlike. If you decide to stop seeing him, please don't tell him that you're scared of him, that will REALLY take him down. Find a more neutral reason, so he can save face and not be hurt.

134578 tn?1642048000
Dissociative identity disorder comes to mind. Did he ever endure a lot of trauma, either as a child or in the military? DID is a way of suppressing painful or traumatic memories. The way he behaves  doesn't sound like the classic description where someone manifests different, obvious personalities (a main one and sometimes a bunch of less prevalent ones), but possibly it might be related, or a very mild case. Part of what suggests this is that he never is angry. (I mean, everyone is angry sometimes. Someone who is overly sweet all the time seems like they might be suppressing normal reactions to life's upsetting moments, maybe because emotionally in the past it hasn't been safe to do so.) Does he laugh and so forth in the way you describe, when if he were a more average person he might be upset? If so, it could be a way to stuff anger or avoid it.

Anyway, whether or not that is what's going on, it sounds like you are going to difficulty convincing him that he does this laugh thing. I guess you could try to record him. Try not to be scared of it, apparently people with such disorders need the people around them to be supportive and calm. And odd though it seems to you, it doesn't actually sound dangerous.  
Helpful - 0
sorry, dropped a word -- going to *have* difficulty
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Mental Health Issues Community

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Can depression and anxiety cause heart disease? Get the facts in this Missouri Medicine report.
Simple, drug-free tips to banish the blues.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
For many, mental health care is prohibitively expensive. Dr. Rebecca Resnik provides a guide on how to find free or reduced-fee treatment in your area