Mandy Moore on her marriage to Ryan Adams: ‘I was living my life for him’

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Last week, the New York Times did an in-depth story about Ryan Adams’ history of sexual harassment, creepy sexual manipulation, and emotional/psychological abuse of women in his orbit. Ryan’s ex-wife Mandy Moore was interviewed by the Times, and it seemed cathartic on her part, to finally come clean about her years with Ryan and how awful he was to her. This feels like an extension of the conversations we’ve had about #MeToo – there are conversations about sexual assault and rape and harassment, but there are also stories of intimate-partner abuse that don’t leave physical scars. Women need to be able to tell those stories too. Mandy sat down with Marc Maron’s WTF podcast and she spoke with more depth about what her marriage was like, and how she basically had to give up everything to “take care” of Ryan. That’s a pretty classic manipulation.

On her marriage: “I was living my life for him… being the mother… It’s an entirely unhealthy dynamic,” More said with a sigh. “I had no sense of self… I was so small.”

When she knew it wasn’t working: Moore said she knew the marriage was not working when she felt she was “drowning….It was so untenable and unsustainable and it was so lonely. I was so sad. I was so lonely with him. I knew this was not the person I was meant to be with.”

Putting her career on hold for his needs: She explained she knew their marriage couldn’t “sustain itself” if she focused on work full time. “I would do little jobs — it’s not like I completely stopped working,” Moore said. “But it would become abundantly clear while I was working, things would completely fall apart at home. I couldn’t do my job because there was a constant stream of trying to pay attention to this person who needed me and wouldn’t let me do anything else.”

Post-divorce: “Six months later, I got This Is Us.”

[From People]

She spent six years that way, taking care of him, mothering him, putting her wants and needs and career on hold to satisfy him. So many women are taught to do that, we’re taught that marriages should function that way, that it’s not about our needs, it’s about HIS needs and we’re there to serve him. That’s even doubly so when the man is perceived as some kind of genius, or some kind of “name.” That’s part of the manipulation too: I’m the only one who can soothe and take care of this difficult, struggling genius, and his work is a reflection on how well I take care of him.

You can hear the WTF podcast here.

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Photos courtesy of Getty, WENN.

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31 Responses to “Mandy Moore on her marriage to Ryan Adams: ‘I was living my life for him’”

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  1. OriginalLala says:

    I feel for Mandy..I dated a guy like this for a year. He was a classic sociopath (I don’t use the term lightly, my therapist called him this) and used all the techniques in his arsenal to de-stabilise me and make sure I couldn’t do anything but cater to him. It’s emotionally exhausting and devastating. I was unable to walk away from him until he moved away for work and I cut off all ties, changed my number and blocked him on all social media because he kept trying to sink his claws into me again for years afterwards…

    • me says:

      Oh my gosh. Been trying to reconcile with my abusive addict ex only because he came back and was hoovering and i rationalized it because he is in recovery and therapy himself but I finally spoke with my own therapist yesterday and she was like …”RUN, and if you don’t run, DETACH. he may be sober but he’s STILL manipulating you. you are NOT safe yet.”

      I cannot tell you how much talking to a therapist on my own made me feel like i wasn’t crazy after all. after talking to a therapist, I think i am going to have to go no contact and block him on everything to get away..

      • OriginalLala says:

        my therapist told me that going no-contact was my only option or he would just keep reeling me in until I had nothing left. It was frigging hard to do, I literally needed my friends to step in and throw my phone away and help me stick to the no-contact rule.

        You can do this!! You deserve better than him. You are worthy of a love where you will be respected and treated like a partner.

      • me says:

        I have had such a hard time quitting this guy. I talk about him and honestly think – what the hell do I see in him? He’s such an awful person but I take him back EVERY time and MISS him when he discards me. It doesn’t even make sense to me. I’ve never met anyone in my life that treats me so poorly that I’m totally addicted to.

      • lucy2 says:

        You can silently wish him well in his recovery, but you don’t have to be the one to help him get and stay well. No relationship that involved the word “abuse” is worth rekindling. Your future is elsewhere, so no contact sounds like the best way.
        Glad you are working with a therapist.

      • Ettabisi says:

        Thoughts and vibes to you both!!! Broke up with someone so bad for me and to me for the 3rd time last week…hopefully it’s the one that takes! Thought because he was sober we could try again, but when your herapist says RUN, do it!! Says the lady who didn’t…something about these horrible relationships, it was like I couldn’t breathe with him, but more terrified to lose him.

  2. Jennifer Price says:

    This type of man tends to cheat as well- romantic partners are there to make him feel good. It has nothing to do with you as a person. You need to be small so he can be big. It’s a slow insidious process and hard to catch it as it happens.

  3. rose says:

    Goodness, that sounds unhealthy and the constant mothering of a grown man had to be draining. Glad to hear she got out of that toxic mess.

  4. SarSte says:

    When I was 20, started dating a dude that was 9 years older than me. What Mandy has been describing really struck me – it’s so similar to the dynamic of my previous relationship. It took me a couple years, but eventually I was able to see how manipulative and controlling he was and extract myself from the situation.

    I haven’t spent much time at all dwelling on my previous relationship and always felt I left relatively unscathed – a bit smarter, a bit strong, and a bit more wary… But I am SO happy that the MeToo movement is now identifying this type of behaviour and calling this BULLSH-T out explicitly. No one ever talked to me about guys like this and maybe if someone had, I wouldn’t have stuck around in that relationship as long. Cuz he 100% did not deserve me.

    • jay says:

      Yes to this. I really hope that #Me2.0 centres on sexual/romantic coercion and manipulation. I think patriarchy and outright abuse are only possible if we have a foundation of rape culture that is much more subtle and insidious. If sexual assault and harassment and even murder are at the top of the pyramid…we need to consider what happens at the base. That base is where subtle control takes place, disarming and dismantling women until we cannot accurately identify emotional and sexual danger, assert ourselves, define boundaries, or express our needs and wants in relationships of all kinds.

  5. Lucia says:

    I feel for Mandy. Relationships like that are exhausting. It makes me happy to know she found honest happiness with someone.

    I lived with a man who was like this for five years. He was incredibly narcissistic (and I mean that because during a court ordered psych eval he was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder). He wanted me to give up his life for him. He tried to suck me dry of any energy I had.

    The thing is, towards the end I was just as abusive towards him as he was to me. It bothers me that I sunk so low but I still do chuckle at some of the instances where I went out of my way to not do as he said. I’m still not 100% sure if that makes me a decent person but it is what it is.

    • me says:

      wow… i believe I may be involved with someone on the spectrum…my therapist recommended I get out but if I stay to emotionally detach because he is manipulating me.

      I told her I am ashamed of the way I react to his boundary violations (cheating, lying, abuse) and I get in the shame spiral after I “lash” out. His betrayals and abuse will obviously bring out my worse side.

      He also will spin my “lashing” out in regards to boundaries he violates and manipulate me into believing it’s my fault for communicating with him in an angry way. There’s no healthy way to deal with people like this. My therapist said this is typical manipulation technique.

      • Beatrix says:

        I may or may not be in a situation like the ones being described here…I’m wiped and all these interviews Mandy is giving are perhaps helping me gain a little bit of clarity. Ugh.

      • Lucia says:

        *Hugs* I’ve been there. You become them which in my case is what my ex wanted, I think. I think he wanted me like that so he could be the victim and prove he wasn’t crazy by making me crazy. Narcissists do a lot of projecting, I’ve learned.

        But listen to your therapist and get the eff out. Get out now. I know it can be scary, especially if you have kids. But you are in danger. Not necessarily physical or mortal danger but you are in danger. Narcissists will not stop. They don’t know how. Nor will they care if they steal your sanity or everything else about you. I hope you have the strength to get out now before it is too late.

      • me says:

        My ex did that to me. I was distraught over my father’s hospitilization the previous day and then found naked photos of another woman on my narc’s ipad. I confronted him and was absolutely overwhelmed by my emotions and by the timing and nature of his betrayal. He response was cruel, “get over it.” I was distraught and inconsolable and angry.

        He recorded me secretly in this moment and threatened to show it to others to show them how “crazy” I was. The next day, my friends overheard him telling others I had anger problems and was crazy. I was spiraling into the biggest spiral of pain and hurt knowing he was turning on me in my time of need and exploiting me to look like a victim himself.

        Of course, if he did show that video to anyone i’m sure he wouldn’t tell the horrific circumstances leading up to it. It was so unbelievably cruel that he did this. thinking about it just makes my skin crawl.

    • LT says:


      My situation was like that, too. I gave as good as I got, which led to some incredibly toxic fights. My ex had a mean streak and would say some terrible things (and the name calling – that was the worst for me…I’ve never been called the C word by anyone other than my ex husband and it cut me to the core), which would make me go ballistic. It took years before I realized that I didn’t have to argue back to be strong – I could simply disengage and refuse to sink to his level.

      While I wouldn’t exactly say he wanted me to feel small. I did realize that our marriage suffered when I was really busy at work. We were happiest when I was on maternity leave and focused on him (and the kids – but I was so desperate for adult companionship because I wasn’t working that I was very attentive when he got home). For years, I blamed myself for this because I was obviously a bad wife for not giving him what he needed. It wasn’t until after we divorced that I realized it wasn’t my fault.

      In our case, part of the problem was that I was quite a bit younger and was an adoring girlfriend/young wife and he needed that. It was the dynamic we established when we first got together. When I grew up and no longer adored him in the way he had grown accustomed, it totally destabilized our relationship.

      He’s remarried now and, from what I hear, his new wife adores him. It’s what he needs and as long as he gets that from her, I suspect he’s very pleasant to be around.

  6. Lindy says:

    My heart breaks for her to hear this. She’s talented, beautiful, and has so much to offer yet because of this guy’s abuse and insecurity, she was forced to shrink herself into nothing. I’m so glad she got free.

    I was married for 12 years to a narcissist (clinically diagnosed thanks to a mandatory court order during our custody battle). We were in the same, highly competitive field, and instead of being supportive of each other and cheering each other on, he was insecure about my success and hated and resented me for all my accomplishments.

    I still recall graduation day from our masters program; we’d been married less than a year and I won the highest honor/prize you could be awarded at the school. My immediate, first thought on hearing my name called was to panic internally and desperately think of ways to downplay it so he wouldn’t be angry at me.

    I wish I had seen that for the red flag it was and left him before we had a child.

    I feel like there are so many men out there like this, and women are socially conditioned to manage everyone’s happiness but their own, so it’s a terrible combination.

    • me says:

      The hate and resentment is challenging for me. One week my partner has me on a pedastal and the next week, I’m blind sided by his rage and contempt towards me for no reason.

      Did your ex spouse ever look at you with crazy contempt sometimes? My partner will get in these moods where he literally looks at me with hatred and disgust, to the point people in public notice. Strangers will ask him if he is okay. This can go on for several days.

      It’s humiilating and I use to scramble to try and please and cheer him up but at this point – I know it’s useless to kiss his butt, nothing I say or do will make it better when he looks at me like that even if I did nothing wrong.

      • Lindy says:

        Oh yes, contempt is a very useful tool in the narcissist tool box. It causes you to second guess your own value/worth, and over time it’ll make you start believing that he’s right when he tears you down.

  7. maggi says:

    My heart feels a bit warmer for having read the comments on this thread.
    I am currently in a new circle of hell where I have cut ties with a narcissist who has professionally abused me for 3 years. So although I have carved out a bit of safety, I am still deeply rattled and fearful and clinically depressed.
    And wondering how the hell a full time 30 year career as an RN could be ended by some guy with a mood disorder and a commitment to break me.
    I try to limit screen time but coming here to read intelligent comments from the community of Celebitches helps me, so thanks y’all

  8. cannibell says:

    I see so much of my first marriage in this, and I don’t know that I’d’ve ever had the courage to leave if he hadn’t finally given me an ultimatum – I was copy-editing the alternative weekly for which I’d started freelancing for the princely sum of $5/week (it was 1989/90) and had discovered that I loved journalism. (I was being paid separately for the stories – $5 for a book review, $25 for a 2500-word feature article.)
    He was making lots and spending more (I had no control over our finances) and one day a phone conversation that started out “Do we have enough to buy a pair of shoes for Middle Kid” ended with him saying “Quit your job or get a lawyer.” When I said I was getting a lawyer, he said, “I’m coming home to kick you out.”
    To give you an idea of just how beaten down I was, I put the two little ones (4 & 2) down for a nap and started packing. To this day, am not sure I’d have had the courage to leave him if he hadn’t given me the ultimatum, or if I’d known how hard and scary it would be to become myself, a journey that took more than a decade.
    Good for her for getting out from under him and his evil nonsense.

  9. Winnie Cooper's Mom says:

    I’m angry at him and all people who do this to their partner. The behavior seems more prominent with men doing this to women. Not sure if it’s some kind of 1950’s fantasy, keep the little wife at home so he can shine? What she describes sounds like the situation I’m willing to bet Katie Holmes went through, but we will never know in that case, given their child and probably all the NDAs she had to sign. No one should tolerate an abusive relationship like this and I like that she is sharing her story; some people may need to hear this to be encouraged to break away from their own toxic relationships.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Narcissism is more common in men – at least in American society. I attribute it to the power structures in place that teach them its acceptable to put their needs and desires above anything and everything else. It inherently fosters men who value nothing but themselves. Not that narcissistic women don’t exist, but their behaviors aren’t encouraged by society. Women are punished or viewed negatively for ambition, selfishness, lack of empathy, and assertive aggression, while some of those same characteristics are considered fundamental aspects of strong American men.

  10. Jane Doe says:

    So encouraged by the naming of narcissistic personality disorder in these comments. It is such a complex layered form of psychological abuse. This makes it hard to identify. Finding supports to escape from the abuse and recover is a challenge.

  11. Meg says:

    These comments make me feel less alone but also very sad that this behavior is so prevalent. I wonder if toxic masculinity has a hand in this-so many men get screwed up messages about what ‘a man’ is and how ‘a real man’ behaves that are just wrong. I remember female friends dating jerks in their late teens and early 20s who treated them like this too, they became these clingy quiet girls clutching their phones because he’d get mad if she didn’t respond right away and their personalities were just gone. They started questioning themselves doubting everything being self-conscious no matter what they did. When you’re excessively criticized you end up like that. Many ended up with much better men but some didn’t, some stuck with these awful guys and are still with them-having children. Its so sad as they now justify his actions and say things like, ‘that’s just how he is’ as if it’s a hobby like board games or liking star trek-abuse is not a hobby or a preference or personality type.

  12. Cdnkitty says:

    I’m so glad MM is sharing her story – it sounds so much like the marriage I ended in September, except I spent 13 years in that slowly simmering pot of water, losing more and more of myself. We all deserve to be loved for who we are and lifted up by our partners, not submerged and smothered.

  13. Natalia says:

    I am getting out of a relationship because I had a dream that I was drowning, slipping under water. I woke up while shouting silently in the dream “I’m not going to die, I’m not going to die.” Partner too controlling, too suspicious, too angry… amongst other things.

    Too many men make women feel small. Enough. They’re good in the beginning and then it literally falls apart, more often than not. If women stay with that it’s on them, not the man.

  14. Reeta Skeeter says:

    The right partner should make me feel secure, loved, cherished. It’s like a quiet serenity. Love is after all a peaceful, safe feeling. I too have my experiences of shrinking into an insecure, unsure girl because of previous relationships with men who found any reaction to their bad behaviour a sign that I was ‘being a child.’ It is so hard to get away, especially when someone treated you so well to begin with.