How Do You Handle An Ex-Partner Who Is Suddenly Sweet?

by Annie on August 24, 2010

 Nathalie wrote to ask:


“How do
you handle an ex-partner who is suddenly sweet, trying to show he’s changed,
telling everyone how sorry he is and how hurt I am, and trying to negotiate a financial


seems to me that so many survivors talk about their ex-partners being abusive
after the split, but apart from the first few weeks, my abusive partner is now suddenly very
soft (lots of "darling"s and "sweetie"s) and promising to
look after us and trying to prove he’s changed. 


My abusive husband, now we’ve been separated for 3 months, has changed from being
physically aggressive to emotionally abusive to sickly sweet. He is trying to
prove to me and all our friends that he has changed and is capable of talking
nicely and not get angry.”

Sometimes, other people’s problems sound easier to
deal with than our own.

Nathalie’s husband’s behavior is sick-making rather
than threatening.   


Because he’s having a “Mr Nice Guy moment”.  

Don’t get me wrong. 
He hasn’t turned into a truly nice guy. 

He’s just cunning enough to know that, in certain
circumstances, Mr Nice Guy works better than Mr Nasty.

You see, he doesn’t want the marriage to end.  

Maybe he still wants Nathalie around.  It would be far fetched to say he [has
suddenly realized that he
] loves her. 

More likely, he doesn’t want to look bad to other
people.  But…

there’s another much more important reason:
he’s thinking about how much this marriage breakdown is going to cost him

That’s one good reason why abusive men sometimes turn
nice, and sometimes nasty, when their partner involves a lawyer.

They want to minimize the financial cost to them. 

Sorry to sound so cynical, but… 

It’s true. 

The best outcome for them is if they can get you to trust
them to provide for you.

Think about it for a moment – 

Why on earth would you “trust” someone who has a track
record of treating you badly?

So, what should Nathalie do?

I’d certainly advise her to: 

  • Ignore his appeals to her better nature – because to all intents
    and purposes he doesn’t have one
  • Avoid “negotiating” directly with him
  • Communicate, as much as possible, only through lawyers
  • Keep pushing for what is rightfully hers 

If you’re struggling to make sense of your abusive (ex-)partner’s

there is good news: 

Due to popular demand, I’m reopening the:


“It’s Emotional Abuse.  Don’t Try To Fix It” teleclass program for 24 hours, on Thursday,
August 27th for 24 hours only.

So, if you are still obsessing about the Hows and
Whys of his behaviour, this might be just what you need.  You can find out more at. here


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