Invasion of the bunny boilers

#1
The Times

Invasion of the bunny boilers
More of us than ever are experiencing a version of the psycho avenging lover made famous in Fatal Attraction. Cosmo Landesman hears some scary tales


Have you ever been bombarded with text messages from a man who says he wants to marry you and make babies — after only one drink? Have you ever had your suits slashed by an ex-girlfriend or wife? If so, consider yourself lucky. You got off lightly. Last week a crown court jury heard allegations that a man responded to his wife’s request for a divorce by burning down their house, though he denies it.
But these days there are many examples of hell having no fury like a man divorced or a woman dumped. Or so says Paul Duddridge in a new book entitled Ever Dated a Psycho? It’s a collection of true-life tales of dates from hell. Reading Duddridge’s book, it’s tempting to conclude that we have become a nation of emotional nutters.



Clearly something has changed in relations between the sexes. In the old days a man could expect a slap in the face from a woman scorned. Now she will attack a man where it really hurts: in his phone and e-mail contact lists. One contributor to Ever Dated a Psycho? tells of the time he had been dating a girl for just a few weeks when, “One morning I woke up and checked my mobile for messages. When I looked in the contacts list on my phone all the numbers for females had been deleted. She had even deleted numbers that were my family, ie my mum and my gran. She said I didn’t need any other girl’s numbers now I was with her.” He made his excuses and left. For good.

Duddridge’s book is full of wonderful girls who turn into “complete bunny boilers overnight”. Although Duddridge claims that women make better psychos, he fails to point out that the really terrible acts of violence are mostly committed by men. Instead he concentrates on the loopy side of male lovers. His men hide in gardens to spy on ex-girlfriends, they are obsessed by Rupert Bear, they cut their hands and threaten to kill your budgie. And it’s amazing what a girl can discover about her ex. “I met this guy in a bar and we ended up dating for six months,” says a contributor. “I only found out after we broke up that whenever we had a big argument he would use my toothbrush to clean the soles of his feet!”

All these crazy people, where do they all come from? And more importantly, how do you spot one? Duddridge claims, somewhat facetiously, that there are telltale signs like a passion for Sylvia Plath, Björk or Edvard Munch. An obsession with an unlikely public figure is a sure give away. One contributor to Psycho says: “My ex-girlfriend was obsessed with Alastair Campbell. She used to cut out his picture and add it to her shrine.”

The contributors tend to label anyone who is jealous, possessive, suspicious or emotionally excessive as some sort of terrifying bunny boiler. But often it’s a fine line between true love and true lunacy. One woman complains that she discovered her ex-boyfriend had gone “into my house to talk to my mom and tell her about how in love with me he was. He had to go”. What’s wrong with telling your girlfriend’s mum how much you love her daughter?

The thing about these “psychos” — or people with emotionally unstable personality disorder, as psychiatrists prefer to call them — is that they are practically impossible to recognise straight away. They are your nice work colleague or the charmer you had dinner with the night before. And yet you soon discover that they occupy a parallel universe, one where reality as we know it doesn’t exist. They are beyond reason and refuse to take no for an answer.

Dr Sandra Scott knows all about dealing with people who do weird things: she is a consulting psychiatrist for Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! Scott believes that since the success of the film Fatal Attraction we are too quick to label all people with love disorders as bunny boilers. “There are really three distinct categories of this type of behaviour. At the most extreme end are the ‘bad’ — those are people who are totally delusional and may use acts of violence. But they are a small minority. Then there are the ‘mad’ who will do crazy things like send hundreds of e-mails. And there are the sad: those people who do silly harmless things. Most of us have dealt with the sad as opposed to the really mad.”

No one knows for sure if this sort of behaviour is on the increase, but there is lots of anecdeotal behaviour that it is. In the latter part of the 1970s I had my first date with a psycho in New York. It was a casual fling. Or so I thought. Then the crazy letters came. She said we were in love. She said we were going to be together for ever. I said: go away. More letters came. I was living 8,000 miles away in London. I was safe. And then one morning she turned up on my doorstep with suitcases in hand to tell me she wanted to be my slave.

Back in those days friends were amazed when I told them this story. Now nearly everyone I know has a similar tale of unwanted and unrequited love. Once we sat around campfires telling tales of vampires and monsters; now we stand around the office cooler frightening each other with tales of scary men and women that came into our lives.

One measure of the increase in such strange behaviour can be seen at the most extreme end of “psycho” behaviour known as stalking. Many people think this is something that happens to celebrities but mostly ordinary people are its victims. In 2004 more than 150,000 cases of harassment were reported to the police nationwide, which was a 26% increase on the previous year.

How are we to explain this phenomenon? We have become an increasingly atomised society where without the support of family and community we are much more dependent on the kindness and affection of other people. When they reject us, there’s no one to turn to so we turn into emotional limpets instead.

One reason for the change is that modern therapy encourages us to let our feelings out; to express our rage and anger. Just as the incidence of road rage has increased so has love rage. Another important factor has been the flourishing sexual freedom that began in the late 1960s. Today people find that they have virtual strangers in their beds before they have time to get to know them, and are shocked to discover whom they have let into their lives.

And perhaps most important: the rules that once regulated the behaviour between men and women have become less clear. People — especially in the age of the internet — are more likely to misread each others’ intentions and expectations. Put simply, one man’s one night stand is another woman’s act of commitment, or vice versa.

Still, it’s nice to know there are cases of Psycho dating that do have a happy ending. Writer Toby Young tells me of the time he had to deal with a female stalker in New York.

“She’d read an article I’d written for an American magazine about internet dating and decided that I was the man for her and managed to winkle my e-mail address out of the magazine’s editor. She started bombarding me with over 100 e-mails a day, each one containing a mobile phone number, and threatening me with unspeakable violence if I didn’t dial it.”
Young decided to call her and ask her out on a date. “To my astonishment, the girl who was waiting at the bar of the Plaza hotel that evening carrying a red carnation turned out to be an absolute knockout. Was this some appalling prank being played on me by one of my friends? There was only one way to find out. I marched up and introduced myself.



“ ‘You’re Toby Young?’ she said, seeming slightly taken aback. ‘Yes.’

“ ‘The guy I’ve been e-mailing, like, 100 times a day for the past month?’ “ ‘Yes, that’s me’.”

Looking at the bald and rotund Young the girl said, “I’ve made a terrible mistake”, and walked out of the bar. Young was one very disappointed, unboiled bunny.
Beware, they're out there.
 
#5
I've always thought the term Bunny Boilers referred to women but couldn't think of the male version, is there one?
 
#7
One woman complains that she discovered her ex-boyfriend had gone “into my house to talk to my mom and tell her about how in love with me he was. He had to go”.
Sounds like he was the one who had a lucky escape.
 
#8
"jealous pyscho bastards"

Ah, that's the one, fitting description! Present company excluded, of course. :D
 
#9
gentlesoul said:
I've always thought the term Bunny Boilers referred to women but couldn't think of the male version, is there one?
I believe the word 'men' said with an accompanying exasperating sigh is universal enough to cover that.

Failing that, "weirdo-stalker-man" could work :-D
 
#10
flowers said:
Failing that, "weirdo-stalker-man" could work :-D
You called?
 
#11
flowers said:
gentlesoul said:
I've always thought the term Bunny Boilers referred to women but couldn't think of the male version, is there one?
I believe the word 'men' said with an accompanying exasperating sigh is universal enough to cover that.

Failing that, "weirdo-stalker-man" could work :-D
Oh, I thought it was a term of endearment :( I'm not weird, I have character :D

Flowers, we've only brushed past each other in this crazy virtual world, but my fingertips buzz with emotional energy everytime I read and reply to one of your posts. Your demenour suggests an intelligence, a beauty and a personality that doesn't mind about my inability to spell, punctuate, woo, or indeed have a normal physical or emotional attachment to a woman.
 
#13
crabby said:
flowers said:
gentlesoul said:
I've always thought the term Bunny Boilers referred to women but couldn't think of the male version, is there one?
I believe the word 'men' said with an accompanying exasperating sigh is universal enough to cover that.

Failing that, "weirdo-stalker-man" could work :-D
Oh, I thought it was a term of endearment :( I'm not weird, I have character :D

Flowers, we've only brushed past each other in this crazy virtual world, but my fingertips buzz with emotional energy everytime I read and reply to one of your posts. Your demenour suggests an intelligence, a beauty and a personality that doesn't mind about my inability to spell, punctuate, woo, or indeed have a normal physical or emotional attachment to a woman.
Crabby,

I think you should know that Flowers is actually a 6'6" RLC Storeman built like a brick outhouse....

Litotes
 
#14
Litotes said:
crabby said:
flowers said:
gentlesoul said:
I've always thought the term Bunny Boilers referred to women but couldn't think of the male version, is there one?
I believe the word 'men' said with an accompanying exasperating sigh is universal enough to cover that.

Failing that, "weirdo-stalker-man" could work :-D
Oh, I thought it was a term of endearment :( I'm not weird, I have character :D

Flowers, we've only brushed past each other in this crazy virtual world, but my fingertips buzz with emotional energy everytime I read and reply to one of your posts. Your demenour suggests an intelligence, a beauty and a personality that doesn't mind about my inability to spell, punctuate, woo, or indeed have a normal physical or emotional attachment to a woman.
Crabby,

I think you should know that Flowers is actually a 6'6" RLC Storeman built like a brick outhouse....

Litotes
Won't let that get in the way of true love

Anyway, I'm useless at stacking blankets, Flowers could come in handy :D
 
#15
milsum said:
I wish I had a stalker. Apparently everyone's got one. I feel left out 8O
Awwwwwwwww.

I'll stalk you.

pm me your email address and location and I'll see what I can do.

How do you like your rabbit soup sir?
 
#16
shrew said:
milsum said:
I wish I had a stalker. Apparently everyone's got one. I feel left out 8O
Awwwwwwwww.

I'll stalk you.

pm me your email address and location and I'll see what I can do.

How do you like your rabbit soup sir?
Is there a vegan option?
 
#18
Litotes said:
crabby said:
flowers said:
gentlesoul said:
I've always thought the term Bunny Boilers referred to women but couldn't think of the male version, is there one?
I believe the word 'men' said with an accompanying exasperating sigh is universal enough to cover that.

Failing that, "weirdo-stalker-man" could work :-D
Oh, I thought it was a term of endearment :( I'm not weird, I have character :D

Flowers, we've only brushed past each other in this crazy virtual world, but my fingertips buzz with emotional energy everytime I read and reply to one of your posts. Your demenour suggests an intelligence, a beauty and a personality that doesn't mind about my inability to spell, punctuate, woo, or indeed have a normal physical or emotional attachment to a woman.
Crabby,

I think you should know that Flowers is actually a 6'6" RLC Storeman built like a brick outhouse....

Litotes
That's absolute boll0cks Litotes!!!

You know full well I'm 6'2", you couldn't help yourself from commenting on the fact that my stubbley storeman chin was grazing the top of your baldy head, when we were last caught el flagrante 'pleasuring' each other....



*sometimes I disgust myself
 
#20
What about the guy who, on being told that he would have to give his partner 50% of everything he owned, promptly took a chainsaw to the whole house and cut everything in the house and the house itself in half.

Would he be classed as bad, mad, sad or just "Good onya son. That'll teach the bitch"?
 

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