“Why is my emotionally abusive partner doing this to me?”

by Annie Kaszina on March 17, 2015

Your emotionally abusive partner doesn’t want you to recover from his emotional abuse. Why would he? There’s nothing in it for him. Emotionally abusive partners are, by definition, dogs in a manger. Whether or not they move on, they don’t want you to. They measure their power by the power they have to make you miserable.

Since you don’t operate like that, it can be difficult to understand. Look at it this way: if you’re like most women you probably have a few items in your wardrobe that you know are past their sell-by date.  Maybe you’ve grown – or shrunk – out of them.  Maybe you’ve fallen out of love with them, or can’t bear to wear them any more. Maybe they’re damaged, or worn out.  Maybe they’ve undergone a horrible accident in the washing machine – or is that just me? You know they’re history… but you hold on to them. Just in case.

That’s something a lot of emotionally abusive men do – even after they’ve replaced you with a brand new model. They still, mentally, keep you at the back of their ‘wardrobe’, just in case.  Just in case they need to remind themselves that they can still do Nasty like a pro.

And if you still don’t quite get it, here’s the thing: you love to do Nice. You’re driven to do Nice in part because you hope other people will give your credit for your Niceness. But mostly you do it because being Nice makes you feel better about yourself: you need to see yourself as Nice.

Now, you can’t expect Mr Nasty to love doing – and being – Nice. But you can – and should – expect him to LOVE being Nasty. He just A-D-O-R-E-S it.

Is that a nice way to be?

I’d say not. But none of the hundreds  of emotionally abused women who’ve  told me their story have ever said that their partner was a nice guy.  They’ve said that he had the potential to be a nice guy – if only he’d:

  1. Amputate his Nasty Side
  2. Have the personality transplant

But none of them has ever said to me that their emotionally abusive partner was nice – which tells you a lot.

One of the key pieces of work I do with my group and individual clients is helping them to understand that an emotionally abusive partner is a different kind of animal entirely.  A bit like polar bears.

cutepolarbearI personally think that polar bears are cute: after all, they stand on their back legs, and they’re really furry and cuddly looking. It goes back a long way: when I was a tiny child, I was given a teddy bear, and I just loved him.  Since I live in a village in England, the only bear I’m ever likely to encounter is a teddy bear. So,  if I want to permit myself the luxury of a misguided belief I can… If I ever happened to hang out where polar bears run free, and chose to try and foist my belief on them, I’d likely come to a sticky end rather quickly.

Lots of women persist in thinking that their abusive man is tamable  …really. Despite all evidence to the contrary. Despite getting attacked on a regular basis.

For most of us the realization – eventually – sinks in that our emotional abuser is a bit of a predator, and we need to detach ourselves from him.

However, we still want to hold on to our Little Miss Nice badge.  (Boy, have we worked long and hard for that badge: it represents a HUGE investment of time and effort. So, there’s no way we’re in a rush to let it go.)

Since he’s just ‘a bit of a predator’, surely we can do this like civilized people.  Right?

Except that he’s not just ‘a bit of a predator’, any more than a polar bear, or a lion, is. He’s a predator: predators are not sweet-natured. They do what they do – because that’s how they survive.

Your emotionally abusive partner has many options that are not available to a polar bear: he can buy his food from the supermarket, he can do therapy, he can quit having temper tantrums and act like a grown man for a change. All of that is within the range of possibility –if not probability.

As he’d tell it, he has NO choices – you leave him no choices. His behaviour may leave something to be desired, but it’s all your fault. Allegedly.

An emotionally abusive partner is not a polar bear, but he acts like he is. So, here’s the thing: you can keep asking yourself: “But why?” if you want to. It won’t get you anywhere, at all, but you can if you want to. Or you can get the point: it suits him to behave like a polar bear, which means he’ll eat you alive, if you want to stick around him.

It’s just a case of priorities: are you going to prioritize his next meal, or staying alive.

If you’re struggling to grasp how your partner really is, and how he operates, you can end up feeling like you’re going crazy. The way you feel is telling you something: it’s tell you that you need help specificially tailored to take you from where you are now, to  where you know you should be. Fortunately, that help is at hand. When you are truly ready to live all the pain and the crazy-making behind, there is a program that will help you recover from emotional abuse, and guide you step by step through awareness, and healing, to hope and happiness.

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