When Did You First Realize Something Was Wrong?

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by Annie Kaszina on October 18, 2016

When did you first realize something was wrong with your relationship? When did you first sense that your emotionally abusive partner was not really the right man for you?

Actually, that is a bit of a trick question.

If you are like most other women who end up in an emotionally abusive relationship, you had already met your emotionally abusive partner before you became romantically enmeshed. Chances are, you probably met him in a social, or work context, and thought to yourself,

“Not for me!”

(I know I did. So, too, did an awful lot of my clients.)

Ignoring the Red Flag Detectors

Maybe he struck you as arrogant, opinionated and/or downright rude. Maybe you picked up on a slightly “creepy” charm about him. Whatever it was, your Red Flag Detectors did their best. They sent you a clear “I don’t think so!” message.

But things changed when he showed an interest in you. Maybe even a keen interest in you.

That is certainly how it was for me. When I first met my future wasband, he was a definite no-no! He was rude, brash, arrogant, attention-seeking – and he had the most GRUESOME dress sense.  (Among other things.)

However, something weird happened when this self-important man started to take an interest in li’l ol’ me.

At first, he honestly seemed to find me as fascinating as he was.  The young, vulnerable me  felt rather flattered.  If he found me that interesting, then I had to be more interesting than I had thought I was. (Not hard, I would say now, with all the wisdom of hindsight.)

So, I bought – heavily – into what I fondly imagined to be the Wonderful Alchemy of Love.  Sure, on the surface he looked like an arrogant, objectionable jerk but, underneath that objectionable exterior a warm heart beat – just for me.

Did that make me special, or what?

(How much trouble we would save ourselves if we only gave more thought to the “or what”?)

When the mask slips

Everything was blissfully – or should I say, “wishfully” – happy between us, until the first time the mask of love and wonderfulness slipped.

That was when I first realized that something was wrong. Very wrong. The face behind the mask made my very first impressions of the man look thoroughly wholesome.

All emotionally abusive relationships share the same blueprint. Therefore they all follow the same basic pattern.  Essentially the pattern goes like this:

Something occurs that annoys the hell out of Mr. Nasty.  He removes his Perfect Partner mask.  He expresses his extreme displeasure either by raging, or withdrawing and sulking. Or else, he may well do both. Certainly, he betrays your trust in him. Maybe he will level some idiotic accusations at you.  He may remind you – and himself – of his own irresistibility by chasing other women. One way or another, he will show you that he does not hold dear the “intimacy” between the two of you.

Part of you will express amazement, and horror, at his carry-on.  That part of you already knows the relationship is headed nowhere good.

Whatever kind of hissy fit he has thrown his purpose is to tighten the choke chain of co-dependency around your neck. That first hard pull on your neck destabilizes you.  Suddenly, the relationship becomes horribly complicated. (Actually, there were probably a fair few “complications” before that but, hey, Love changes everything – doesn’t it?)

You realize something is wrong when…

You first – consciously – realize something is wrong when,

  • You feel devastated by what happened
  • You tell yourself you can’t bear to be without him
  • You tell yourself he is worth the trouble
  • You decide to fight for your relationship
  • You appeal to his Better Nature
  • The Post-mortem reveals that What Happened was really your fault
  • You both apologize – or else, you do, anyway
  • You assume something must have been learned
  • You sweep the hurt and ugliness under the carpet
  • You try even harder to love him enough to make the relationship work
  • You are both on your best behavior for a while.

Welcome to the emotional abuse merry-go-round.  Before long, your emotionally abusive partner’s best behavior goes extinct. (It was always on the endangered species, anyway.) . But you continue to  incur his displeasure. Over and over again. He yanks hard on the choke chain around your neck every time.

Getting off the misery-go-round

You will spend a long time on that misery-go-round, before you find the courage to throw yourself off it. (Especially, if you hang around waiting for it to stop turning.)  The longer you stay on it, the faster it will turn.  He soon stops  apologizing, and wasting any energy on  best behaviour. You, on the other hand, end up feeling  permanently despairing and disoriented. (And yet, for the longest time, you tell yourself he really is – or could be – worth it.)

When you first realize something is wrong – or even when you second realize something is wrong – would be a great time to leave. However, in the end, any time is a good time to leave. Any time is also a good time to learn the lesson you missed at the start of that toxic relationship.

You only ever have two choices when you realize something is profoundly wrong with your relationship. You can stay and go through an awful lot of pain – for no gain.  Or else, you can leave, and let go of something that your gut instinct warned you off in the first place.  Honestly, staying in an emotionally abusive relationship really does not make sense. You will always gain more by letting it go than you will by holding on to it.  Please share this post, via social media, for the benefit of anyone who has ever tried to explain away her partner’s damaging behavior. Often, all it takes is to be able to see clearly what is going on, for that person

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline October 18, 2016 at 8:05 am

Wow – you have nailed it again Annie. I’m laughing at the “not for me” part! EXACTLY what went through my mind when I met my ex. But being young and insecure, the flattery of his attention made me feel like he was trustworthy, a keeper. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Keep up the good work! Your blog helped me return to myself after a decade and a half of gas-lighting.


Annie Kaszina October 19, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Dear Caroline,

I’m glad the blog has helped.

It drives me crazy to know that other women have suffered because they did not listen to their own Red Flag Detectors.

Fortunately, you found the strength and got out. Another comment, that arrived within hours of yours, tells a very different story.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,



Carol çurwen October 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Hi iv been receiving the emails about emotional abuse for a long time now. I read them and no deep in my heart that it is all true. My mother went thourgh the same sort of thing with a guy she meet after my mum and dad divorced. He came across as a nice guy. He would take my mum out lovely places buy her expensive gifts. He had a good job at the time. He had nothing really he lived in a room not far from our house. Anyway this did not stop my mum. She had not long been out of hospital she had a break down and had suffered depression on and of all her life. Mum was a very pretty petit women. This guy was over 6 ft big built all the things my mum thought she wanted and needed in her life. I never did like him. Anyway to cut a long storie short he moved in our family home and one by one he manged to some how get us moved out. He would start drinking and my mum who had never really drank like that. He got all us kids/ teenagers out. I was happy to go. He even hit me. Although I’m not proud of it I hit him back. Once we had gone from a lovely house. They moved into a tower block. It was horrible. U couldn’t even c out of the windows. My mum had began to drink heavy and her lovely face and small slim body was slowly going. She didn’t dress smart anymore. It’s like he had taken something from her. It was horrible to watch and there were many times my brothers and I said things were going wrong. He would tell us if love ur mum and she would sit next to him on her sofa and stick up for him. He used to take her out to the locial pub but that soon stopped. She used to come shopping with me that stopped. In the end she never left the flat. He would do all the food shopping and buy the acholic drinks cider vodka. Anything . It became so bad my mum balloted in weight began to lose her hair. So of course she didn’t want to go out of the house. He did tho and would go to the pub. Chat up other women . Yet he was horrible to look at but seemed to be able to draw attention to himself good or bad mainly bad. I moved away with my 4 kids. I also had to leave a man that beaten black and blue. I ran. My mum on the hand was to far gone by this point. I asked her to come with me make a fresh start. She couldn’t the drink had a hold of her. He left her in the end. I would drive miles to bring her to my home when she was left alone. She had to have booze ever were in my car in my home. I didn’t like it around my kids. I don’t like booze in the house or drinking in my home. Unless it’s a special occasion. I had arranged for my locial council to move my mum almost next door to my house in a lovely brand new one bed flat. She begged me to let her live with me but I couldn’t because of my very young kids and the drink my mum was doing. It was when .she went back to her flat he came to see her. She didn’t say much don’t even think she remberd much. It was on the 30th of October 1995 my mum all alone took over 100 sleeping pills and died on her own vomit. They said at the autopsy that she had no acholic in her body at the time and must of saved the tablets as she had planned this. She killed herself on his birthday. All I can say to any women our there is please don’t take any kind of abuse. I have twice in my life. Iv learned now to spot the signs. My mum really didn’t stand a chance she was weak and vulnerable. He broke her down bit by bit over years. He killed my mum. I belive she thought she couldn’t live with out him. To me she had died long before as the once lively pretty mum I new had been taken by drink. That man killed my mum. Thank you for reading this. I hope it may help other women think long and hard if they have any questions about a guy.


Annie Kaszina October 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Dear Carol,

What a dreadful, tragic thing to happen. I feel so sad for you, your mother, and the whole family.

As you will know from reading the blog,most of the time I like to focus on the happy outcomes – which many women finally achieve.

At the same time, it pays to know that there is no limit to how bad, and destructive things can become for women who stay long after they should have left.

It breaks my heart that your mother’s life should have ended that way.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,



Cindy October 21, 2016 at 9:49 am

Not only did you hit the nail on the head, but your writing craft is amazing. “When I first met my future wasband.” Jump off the misery-go-round ! Wow ! Thoroughly enjoyed reading this as I could related so much.


Annie Kaszina October 21, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Thank you, Cindy. I am delighted you enjoyed it.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,



Susie October 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

I had two children with a man like this. I ended up staying “married” to him for 45 years. There was physical abuse at times and constant emotional abuse. He never did anything in front of my sons and I let them grow up believing their father was perfect. Finally, at the age of 66 I left him. Yes, I’m a slow learner. I wish I had known what was going on and that there was support out there. Thanks.


Annie Kaszina October 21, 2016 at 2:10 pm

What a shame for you, Susie.

You’ve done, essentially two life sentences with him – and then some.

Now, finally, you are free to have your own life.

Even more reason to enjoy it to the full.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness.



Debra November 3, 2016 at 8:07 pm

I am going thru a divorce after 12 years with a verbally and emotionally abusive man.I am so thankful for this website and hope to get thru this divorce in one piece, The final straw was calling me ac*** word over and over.. just vile. I told him as he has done this before it happened again I was gone. He and I have also had physical abuse.. life s too short for this


Annie Kaszina November 10, 2016 at 5:48 am

Absolutely, Debra. 12 years is way too long to be with someone like that – actually, 12 days is too long. But we mostly learn the hard, slow way.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,



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