22nd August 2021 at 10:17 pm #130450
Hello all 🙂 Thank you for reading my post! I am on the cusp of leaving my long-distance relationship but would like to tell my story as a final attempt to make sense of what has been going on for me. I can honestly say I am mega confused whether my relationship is toxic, a bit heated, or abusive. I hope someone here can help me figure things out once and for all.
My partner and I live in different (detail removed by Moderator) countries and have been together a number of years. We both have children from previous relationships. I first noticed some ‘red flags’ a few weeks into our relationship when he complained about me not being available to talk on the phone at a certain time in the day, when I had been previously. Things continued getting progressively worse from there.
I won’t bore you with years’ worth of examples of our conflicts, but I have recently returned home from spending time with him abroad. In the days we were together, we had an equal number of conflicts/issues/arguments which I would like to share here.
My partner is a stricter parent than me and often faults me on my lack of discipline (but that is normal, because woman aren’t supposed to be disciplinarians, he says). I was tending to my (detail removed by Moderator) child’s personal care, by choice, allowing my child to continue (detail removed by Moderator) they were playing at that time. My partner ripped (detail removed by Moderator) from my child’s hands and passed a comment about how my child was old enough to be doing their personal care by themselves. It made my child cry and I felt ashamed. My partner told me I was robbing my child of gaining independence. I understand this, so why did I feel so terrible and upset inside?
We had a disagreement about some (detail removed by Moderator) – he believed he was right and so did I. The more he tried to push his belief onto me, the more I pushed back, knowing I was correct. It escalated very quickly from a conflict of opinion over (detail removed by Moderator), to him raising his hand and telling me he wanted to hit me. He told me to f-off back to my country and that I was exactly the same as his ex-partner. He ignored me and my child (detail removed by Moderator). When I asked him to please talk things through calmly so we could resolve the conflict, he told me it would be useless talking to someone like me.
The following day he apologised. He said he was sorry that I made him so angry that he said he wanted to hit me. It was my fault because I kept interrupting him and because I did not listen. This is true – I did interrupt, and I did not listen. Was this my fault?
We were woken in the middle of the night by an outside disturbance. My partner slammed the windows shut and pulled the shutters down. It was a very hot night and I began feeling claustrophobic. I was too scared to open the window as my partner was already in a foul mood. The claustrophobia got worse and I began hyperventilating. He laid in bed with his back to me and ignored me. I was crying. He eventually got out of bed, nudged me away from the window, and swung it open. He got back into bed and continued ignoring me. I felt so alone and abandoned. I just wanted him to care and ask me if I was okay. He thought I was being dramatic and pathetic. Am I just ridiculous and a drama queen?
Often when I’m feeling low or sad after our conflicts, my partner will take secret photographs of my face and later show them to me, letting me see for myself how angry and moody I look. I find this so hurtful – is he being a bit mean or is this something much more?
My partner likes to be a bit silly and often messes around, jumping out or poking me for fun. It is usually funny but one time I hurt myself during a ‘fright’. I snapped at him, which was wrong of me, but I was in pain. It triggered a fight and spoiled the day. I wanted him to show me that he cared and hug me, so we could laugh about it after. But he told me it was my fault for scaring myself and therefore hurting myself. Sometimes I just don’t understand the way this person thinks…
There are plenty more examples and these are just a few. It might not be abusive, but the way his behaviour makes me feel is the real issue for me. I’m a strong-headed, independent person and I enjoy having my beliefs and views challenged, but I find that my partner will turn a disagreement into a personal attack and that is what leaves me feeling so extremely low. Somehow I am always wrong, or spiteful, or selfish, or childish, or manipulative, or too negative. I am constantly told that I feel things I do not feel (I just want to break up, I want to leave, I can’t wait to go home etc. etc.), and the tension after conflicts are long and drawn out, sometimes lasting a day or two. There are days when I feel as though I am trapped in a living nightmare, even when he says nothing at all.
Then there are the games. It is so tiring. He might perceive a text message to mean something it doesn’t and then punish me with a ‘t*t for tat’ style reply system. He will keep track of who sends a message first and how often, keeping things at a fair 50/50. He tells me he will never reach out after a conflict as I will come to expect it and elevate myself above him – I tell him I wish I was worth skipping after. I am oversensitive always and ‘everything’ offends me, according to him.
I realise this is a lot! And likely most will be cut out despite my effort to be as generalised as possible. I have stayed in the relationship because I am unable to recognise whether this is abuse or whether I just have a strong partner who stands up to my nagging and strong-headedness. I’ve always dated very submissive men and I was drawn to my current partner because of his masculinity and inner emotional strength, but I worry his lack of empathy and dominance is causing our problems. I am also far from perfect and I can be stroppy if things don’t go the way I expect them to go, and I can say I am sometimes controlling too, wanting the bed to be made in a particular way or the house to always be tidy. But I don’t think I attack my partner’s character and I have never threatened to hurt him or even wanted to.
80% of the time this person is wonderful – he is romantic, supportive, loving, tactile, and gentle. He helps me, cooks for me, cleans, invests quality time with both our children and has remained loyal and committed through a very difficult 18 months of covid. The good times are wonderful, and if it wasn’t for the 20% that is so bad, I would relocate and move abroad permanently to live with him. But after all these years together there is a still a little nagging voice in my mind questioning if what I am in is healthy, because when it’s bad, it feels gut-wrenchingly terrible and depressing. It’s like a friend of mine once said, “Hitler was only 20% bad”.
Thanks for reading this far! I have purchased and read the book ‘the emotionally abusive relationship’ by Beverly Engel which was very helpful, but wanted to post this before making my final decision whether to leave the relationship.
Thank you again – Ghost
23rd August 2021 at 6:54 am #130454BettertimesaheadParticipant
This sounds like abuse to me, there is little or no regard for your feelings, no emotional support and the wanting to hit you rings alarm bells. Giving you the silent treatment is abuse, can you imagine a best friend doing that to you? He does just enough of the good stuff to keep you. I realise now how much I put up with , how abnormal our relationship was but at the time it was just how it was. Please consider you and your children, they do not need this as a role model xx
23rd August 2021 at 8:58 am #130458EyesopeningParticipant
Hi Ghost, that 20% is very important and your nagging feeling, don’t ignore them. I ignored maybe 10% of bad behaviour for years and couldn’t make sense of it. The longer you ignore it, the worse it will get and the harder it is to leave. And that % definitely increased for me.
But abusers always have the nice and the bad. I have been told many times also by others, it always gets worse. It doesn’t stay the same. So that 20% will also probably increase. Especially if you commit and move to his country. This may cause isolation and more power on his side so be careful.
I left recently my abusive situation, but it took 2 years of research and slowly reaching out to finally start seeing the truth. That good guy act is SO confusing and such a good act it’s hard to believe it’s not the real them. I still get confused, and still wonder if that’s the real him. But it’s not. It’s their act to keep us with them.
Keep reaching out and researching x*x
24th August 2021 at 4:23 pm #130519AnonymousInactive
Well done eyeopening I hope your recovery is going ok and your ok too🤗😚🧡
24th August 2021 at 1:25 pm #130515
Thank you so much for your views, it really does help to hear what other people have to say, espechially from those not emotionally connected to me or the situation, like family and friends are.
Bettertimesahead, you are spot on when you say there is little to no regard for my feelings and no emotional support. That has been my biggest complaint from day 1 and despite enormous efforts to change that through communication, he simply can’t show he cares. He has always described the act of caring (apologising or reaching out to make amends following a conflict) as ‘(detail removed by moderator)’, which he believes elevates his partner above him so she can then control and manipulate him. Perhaps the issue here is a power and control one. For me it feels like abandonment.
Eyesopening, moving to his country would absolutely cause isolation and my intuition has always told me so. I focused my attention on whether his country suited me and my children, but never did I question if the person was right. The indecision whether to move or not had nothing to do with the place, as I now understand, but more to do with him and how he made me feel about moving.
I’m sorry we all find ourselves here, but I’m sure there are brighter times ahead.
24th August 2021 at 4:16 pm #130518AnonymousInactive
Ghost your partner does sound controlling and definitely has anger issues, I’m agreeing with everyone above, not for the sake of agreeing but because I just do, hitler was a mental serial killer who used his victims skulls as bowls to eat out of and their skin to make shoes as lampshades!? ? ? I can’t find any good in hitler at all! He was one of the biggest psychopaths going and other serial killers have copied his work, anyway your partner does seem to have some issues, what you do with all the information is up to you.ps I like your name I adore paranormal things, good luck whatever you decide I hope you keep us posted 👻🔮👽
24th August 2021 at 4:46 pm #130521Wants To HelpParticipant
Do you and your partner have children together or are your children from a previous relationship?
If you have children together, please research the Hague Convention of International Parental Child Abduction and fully understand the implications of this BEFORE you consider moving to another country. If you do move with children, and the abuse gets worse and you realise you made a mistake, you WILL NOT be allowed to return home with your children without his consent. You will be trapped in the other country until the child/children are 16. This is a very complex piece of law and is not very well known until you end up caught up in it all, and if you flee DA with your children and come home, you just get ordered back to the other country again with them. The legislation does not take in to account a reason why you left a country with children if you have left without the consent of the other parent.
If you wish to know a bit more about it, there is a charity called GlobalArrk who specialise in this area of law, you can Google them and make contact to find out more. They deal with hundreds of women who are trapped in foreign countries with their children and unable to return home after leaving a violent relationship.
24th August 2021 at 5:58 pm #130528
Hi Auriel, love your alias! Big fan of angels and on the edge of my seat waiting for Halloween to arrive 🙂
You are absolutely right about Hitler of course – he was a barbaric l*****c with less than 0.0001% of kindness in his bones.
Thank you for all that vitally important info, Wantstohelp. I don’t have any children with my (ex)-partner luckily, and have decided not to move. Thank you!
24th August 2021 at 7:40 pm #130536AnonymousInactive
It’s a name that used to pop into my head when I was younger, take care, hope you keep posting so we can see how your getting on, and your in a good position to give advise too, so it’s all good 😊 👺🎃🧛♂️🧟♂️🤡
24th August 2021 at 8:21 pm #130542EggshellsParticipant
Womens Aid have this questionnaire that might help you. https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/am-i-in-an-abusive-relationship/
It’s a good starting point. I would also recommend “Living with the Dominator” by Pat Craven. After I’d read that, I was in no doubt about whether or not I was in an abusive relationship.
Lots of people might tell you it’s abusive but it may not really sink in until you’ve done enough research to come to that conclusion yourself. Even then, you will have times of doubt.
Ladies on the forum often suggest that you keep a diary or log of incidents that you feel are abusive. It’s a really useful record for when you have those “Did I imagine it?” Moments or “Did I blow it out of proportion?” doubts. A journal can really helpful.
24th August 2021 at 9:31 pm #130546AbbeyRoadParticipant
Your story is similar to mine, no two stories are exactly the same but the struggles and the doubt is there. For weeks I have had the most amazing man,I felt that’s it we’ve turned the corner, i could marry this man its gotten that much better. Then on (detail removed by moderator) he flipped as we came home from a weekend away, threw our (detail removed by moderator) and put me in a threatening hold in front of people who came to help but I walked off home with embarrassment. No he would never hit me, I dont believe he would he’s had many chances too but never does, but the emotional abuse thats just as bad, draining and wearing. I left this chat group as I felt things were getting better but without him trying to make himself better with professional help it wont be, people with that much anger in them that they take it out on the person they love they need professional help and that behaviour doesn’t just fade away. I am like you not ready to make a permanent decision on ending it, and theres no pressure on you to do that. People on here and friends say leave him, it will never change….but this is about your journey through it. Take the time you need, I would say dont leave your friends and family though keep that support network around you you’ll not think straight without them, stay but learn the lessons you need, when you do you will have no doubt it was the right decision for you.
25th August 2021 at 12:27 pm #130572ISOPeaceParticipant
Hi Ghost, well done for getting close to leaving. It takes a lot of courage. I just wanted to comment on a couple of things from your post. Firstly, you say how his behaviour makes you feel is what matters you to. That is really wonderful to hear. You are absolutely right. How somebody makes you feel really does matter and while abusers try to get us to distrust our feelings, it sounds like you have not stopped listening to yours. Even if he were able to concoct some story about why someone else would be ok with his behaviour (which would be totally twisted or total rubbish), the fact is that it is not ok for you and you always have the right to decide what is ok for you.
Secondly, I wanted to comment on the 80% good, 20% bad. I think this is a really common way of seeing an abusive relationship. For the majority of the time I was with my ex I would have said the same (although the percentages would have varied over time). However, having read a lot about abuse and reflected on my experience, I honestly believe that this is an illusion. Normal relationship rules don’t apply when it comes to abuse. In a ‘normal’ relationship it’s normal to weigh up the good and the bad. But the bad in an abusive relationship is not separate from the ‘good’. At least some of the good is part of the manipulation and it’s all on his terms. And none of it is genuinely loving, supportive, respectful behaviour. All the ‘good’ is there against the backdrop of the bad. The bad is there to create the control and the power imbalance and that has influence over the whole relationship, even the ‘good’ bits. It’s like there is a ton of bricks over you. Maybe 80% of the time you are not consciously aware of it, you may even feel grateful that it’s still above your head and not on top of you. But deep down you know it’s there and you know that when he decides to or finds an excuse to, he’ll drop that ton of bricks on you. However good the good bits feel, he does not respect your needs, thoughts, feelings and boundaries as a separate person. He may appear to respect them in some ways but when it comes down to it, he has no issues in trampling them down. And he wants you to know that.
They psychology of abuse is really complex and trauma bonds seriously screw with our perceptions of good and bad in an attempt to try to make us feel safe. When I was in the ‘good’ times, I would have said I felt safe and happy, but looking back it was a kind of clinging feeling. I can see how I mistook it for feeling safe, that’s all part of how abuse works, but it wasn’t the same as feeling the safety of being free of abuse. I’ve read that the highs in abusive relationships are so high because of the abuse. So without the bad 20%, the good 80% wouldn’t be so good. Apparently some people find non-abusive relationships dull in comparison to the highs and passion of abusive relationships.
I read a great analogy in Dana Morningstar’s Out of the Fog: abuse is like poop in your soup. The soup may seem absolutely amazing but even if you scooped out the pieces of poop, it would still make you ill, because it’s part of the soup. xxxx
11th October 2021 at 11:27 am #132356
I’m sorry to bring up old news and dig up this post from a few months ago after so much advice and kind words, but I’m struggling emotionally and I wanted to reach out for a chat.
I left him^^ and he was understandably upset, but didn’t ask me to change my mind or reconsider, at best he basically wished me all the best in finding a new man and said goodbye. Maybe he just didn’t care, and maybe that’s why he was so hurtful towards me generally.
Moving on a few weeks, I panicked and wanted him back but on the condition he would treat me better. I knew deep down nothing would change and that I have a trauma bond and this was why it felt so difficult to move on. He blew me out and said (detail removed by moderator). I tried to explain that he left me no choice. When someone makes you feel so awful so often, it wears you down and breaks you. He said he loved me and missed me and (detail removed by moderator).
Every logical part of me knows this breakup was best and he’s done me a favour in refusing to try again. So why is this so painful? Why do I feel like I love him so much still? I think about him all the time, about all the wonderful parts of him that did make me happy and I don’t believe I will ever meet anyone like that again. It sounds crazy to say this after how he treated me, but he was everything I ever wanted in a partner – loyal, committed, secure, independent, romantic, funny, handsome, generous and a good listener. We had so much in common and could talk for hours and hours even after all the years together. We wanted the same things, the same future. We had plans, dreams, a bucket list! We spent thousands travelling back and forth to see each other and did so much, saw Europe, brought so much happiness to our kid’s (from previous relationships) lives. I am so angry and sad that he had this side to his character that was so nasty. He could hurt you so badly and not feel a bit of remorse. He had to have the power and control always, and any time I tried to stand up and speak, he would get nasty to put me down in my place again.
I feel like I’ll never move forward or stop hurting. I miss him so much, and I’m so angry… I feel like he is punishing me for breaking up with him, even though I left him because he hurt me.
Probably I’m just over-thinking things. He is a logical person himself and perhaps he just knows the relationship won’t work. I just thought that when you really love someone, you fight for them. But he didn’t fight for me and that hurts so much 🙁
This is an emotional post and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think I just wanted to get it out. Thanks!
11th October 2021 at 12:57 pm #132358EyesopeningParticipant
Hey Ghost, I totally understand you and know how your feeling.
I went through the same thoughts since leaving my ex.
I think you hit it on the head when you said : ‘I feel like he is punishing me for breaking up with him’.
Just like my ex did when I left him, he wanted to punish me and turn the tables around (as always) to be the victim. To be the one who decides if we get back together or not.
All the good things don’t really matter when you have the big problem of: ‘He could hurt you so badly and not feel a bit of remorse. He had to have the power and control always, and any time I tried to stand up and speak, he would get nasty to put me down in my place again.’
This is also cognitive dissonance. Its a cruel game they play on us, mixing the good and the bad to confuse us, to keep us with them.
After I left I was weak and tried to see if we could make things work. He said no. Thankgod. Since then, I blocked him and all mutual friends, got off social media and have tried to heal & move on. At first, I will be honest, it was more then hard. But actually, I got through it and I am doing so much better already. I think you have to feel pain and cry and just get through the first hard days. Then you start to feel better. Time and no contact will heal you. There still more work to be done, but the severe emotions are behind me.
Things that got me through: posting here when I needed confirmation that I was doing the right thing. Reading other peoples posts on here. Talking to my local DA services & getting counselling from them. Support from friends and family (though they do not fully understand abuse which is why the former is very important).
Yoga, Medication, eating and sleeping well, lots of treats for yourself, like baths. Being around people who love you. Getting into your hobbies again. I made a list of all my hobbies and any free time is spent on them. Exercise is essential. When you feel absolutely terrible, you have to get out of your head and into your body. Run, cycle, anything, be in nature whilst doing it is even better. Reconnect with nature, be in nature as much as possible. Think only about yourself, become a whole again, reconnect with your inner spirit. Journal. Let emotions run though yourself, cry, hurt, be angry, feel the emotions and let them go.
It really does get better.
‘Where focus goes, energy flows’ – this is so true, so focus on yourself
11th October 2021 at 12:58 pm #132359Wants To HelpParticipant
Losing someone you love hurts so much, I know. Regardless of whether they were abusive or not, when you really loved someone it hurts when they are no longer in your life. A living bereavement can be just as hard as losing someone through death.
I think it is really good that you left this relationship. Although it may not seem like it now, your future will be brighter in the long run. I don’t think he is ‘punishing’ you by not taking you back. It seems to me that he has been quite clear now that from his perspective the relationship is over and you need to learn to accept this in your next steps to recovery. He has not ended this relationship, you have. The pain you are feeling is grief / loss.
Eggshells posted something yesterday called Sunk Cost Fallacy and reading your post reminded me of that. You have put so much in to this relationship over time and you are now doubting whether you have made a mistake or not by giving up on it?! You have listed all of the things this ‘wonderful’ man was to you, but not listed one of the bad things that concerned you in the original post – it’s so easy to forget those things isn’t it?
The only way to get through this is by living those painful days of grief and loss, there is no way of fast forwarding through them. Emotions change.
You know this though don’t you. You have articulated that you know this. The logical ‘you’ knows what is going on, but the emotional ‘you’ is clutching on to the nice memories and thinking there may be some hope left. This is the stage where I was at and made my mistake. When I heard he’d moved on with someone else I panicked. Him no longer wanting me, no longer pre-occupied by me or our separation sent me in to a sudden ‘need’ to get him back. I too was convinced I’d made a mistake, that he was ‘the one’ after all, and I begged him to come back. Unfortunately, he did! If only he’d have told me “no” my life could have been so different.
Please don’t make the mistakes that we all have. You are on the right path here. You WILL get over him and find happiness without him. Hard as it is right now, it’s the best thing.
Try and find something to do today that you find happiness in and motivate yourself to do it. You will feel so much better for doing so.
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