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“What Makes an Emotionally Abusive Partner Stupid?”

by Annie Kaszina on July 19, 2017

“Why do you call my emotionally abusive partner stupid?”

“Why do you call my emotionally abusive partner stupid?” my lovely client asked. “He was much worse than that.  That just doesn’t convey the mean, sick person that he is.”

Needless to say, my client’s ex-partner is a thoroughly horrible individual.  He is one of those people who,

  • Has a short charm-span.
  • Holds out the promise of happiness but delivers only unhappiness.
  • Sees himself as the center of the known world.
  • Fondly imagines that he wins the Tough Times award. (As if he was the only person in the entire history of humankind ever to go through a tough time.)
  • Feels entitled to make a loving partner feel bad to make himself better.
  • Believes in spreading a dark cloud wherever he goes. Unless, of course, he is intent on making a killer – superficial – good impression.
  • Imagines that Crazy-making is an art form.
  • Never says, or does, a hurtful thing once when he can do it again and again to good effect.

In short, the man is a scumbag.  That’s putting it politely.

Is he a Narcissist? A psychopath?  A sociopath?   I don’t rule out either possibility.

So, why would I label him “stupid”?  Do I really think that all emotionally abusive partners are stupid? Do I think that “stupidity” is a useful label?

Yes, I do – on both counts.  In a moment I shall explain why calling an emotionally abusive partner “stupid” remains my label of choice.  But, first, maybe, I should explain that I totally accept that all emotional abusers are vile human beings to those “near and dear” to them.  I also accept that emotional abusers invariably find themselves lovely, caring partners.   Both things go without saying.  So, too, does the fact that an emotional abuser does untold damage – because,

  1. He can.
  2. It serves him – inasmuch as it makes him  feel powerful.  Plus, it gets him what he wants.

But what makes an emotionally abusive partner stupid – even monumentally stupid?

#1 Emotional abusers are clones 

“How could you know that my emotionally abusive partner did/said that?” another lovely client keeps asking in amazement – looking at me as if I am a witch.  (The wasband would, of course, argue that I was…  am.)

The answer is simple, all emotionally abusive partners behave in the same way.   That is why I say that they are all clones, mass-produced on Planet Zog. They conform to the factory setting.  Some may be a slightly higher spec than others.  However, they all,

  • Play mind-games
  • Love to hurt, humiliate and reject.
  • Get off on power and control.
  • Are monumentally self-important.
  • Accuse others of being selfish.
  • Have an inflated idea of their own importance.
  • Tell self-serving, barefaced lies.
  • Subject their partner and children to appalling behavior.
  • Carry on like they really are God’s gift.

This is how all emotional abusers are.   Mostly, they learn how  to be that way  in their home of origin.  They probably grew up in the shadow of an emotional abuser.

But this is where it gets interesting.  Most emotionally abused women also come from homes where emotional abuse is the norm.  Yet emotionally abused women make a deliberate choice   not to become abusive.  They  C-H-O-O-S-E to show up in the world as caring, good human beings.

Women who end up in relationships with emotionally abusive men have thought long and hard not just about the relationship/marriage that they want.  They have also thought long and hard about who they want to be.  They have vowed to themselves NOT to repeat an abusive family pattern. To my mind, that makes emotionally abused women bright and admirable.

Even when their relationships don’t work out the way they could hope, these victims of emotional abuse remain bright, admirable and intent on doing the best they can for the people around them.

Compare and contrast with their emotionally abusive partners who never bothers to tinker with the factory settings. How bright do these abusers look now?

#2 Emotional abusers opt for unhappiness

Let’s keep this one simple. When you fell in love with an emotionally abusive partner you had no idea who you were really getting involved with.  However, you knew what you wanted. You wanted for the two of you together to,

  • Share love.
  • Build a healthy relationship.
  • Share happiness through the years.
  • Heal old wounds – his and yours.
  • Create a wonderful family and a wonderful life.

That was your masterplan.  In order to achieve it, you were prepared to put up with an awful lot of cr*p from him.

What precisely did he contribute to all of that?

Was he actually working to foster that? Or to undermine it?

Maybe he managed a brief period of playing Mr. Wonderful.  However, before too long, the mask slipped. Then it became apparent that what he wanted was to,

  • Blame, shame and criticize,
  • Avoid or destroy intimacy.
  • Feel powerful at your expense.
  • Make you his scapegoat and dogsbody.
  • Exploit and manipulate you however he pleased.
  • Create a tense, unsafe domestic environment.

What kind of an idiot do you have to be to take an environment that could be good and nurturing and – systematically – turn it into a war zone?

Yes, he was mad, bad, and thoroughly unrewarding to know. However, it takes a special kind of… idiot to deliberately create such a life-denying environment. That’s what makes an emotionally abusive partner stupid.

#3 Emotional abusers should come with a government health warning

Abusers really should come with a government health warning. They are a common enough hazard. They affect 1 in 4 women. They are damaging to the mental and physical health of both their victim and any children involved.  Plus, they are more or less guaranteed to produce harmful financial effects, somewhere down the line.

All of these things need to be said, over and over again.  Not least because, mostly, society refuses to acknowledge that domestic abuse is society’s problem.  How many of us would have ended up in the messes in which we ended up if society would take some responsibility for E-D-U-C-A-T-I-N-G  us?  A little ducation about what abuse is and how it works could have saved us a ton of time and trouble .

In the early stages of recovery, the victim of an emotional abuser needs to acknowledge – to herself first and foremost – that her partner was a monster.  However, once you have acknowledged the truth for what it is, the Law of Diminishing Returns comes into play.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

An abuser is heartless, horrible and inexcusable.  He treated you horrendously badly without any possible justification.  However, every time you talk about it, that only serves to remind you how badly you suffered and how wrong the whole thing was.  That is absolutely true.  But, after a certain point, it does not help you to feel better. Rather, it brings you back to the bad feelings.

The fact is, it is never too late for you to have a wonderful life.  Certainly, you have been through a toxic relationship (possibly more than one).  Life may be tough. However, what stands in the way of you feeling happy in the here and now is NOT what you have been through but nursing those agonizing past hurts in the present.

You need to mourn, of course you do. But you do NOT need to keep re-experiencing the old feelings of anguish.  And you don’t have to.  But, in order to get some respite, you do need to put some distance between yourself and that traumatic – – totally real – experience.

You do not need to keep reliving the awful experience of emotional abuse to make the feelings you have about it true. It happened.

Hence my choice to describe emotional abusers as “stupid”. Defining an abuser as “stupid” puts you on a different – higher – level to him.  As for the fear that, if you do not fixate on his awfulness, you could make the same mistake again, it won’t happen.  You know what it feels like to be badly burnt.  No way will you repeat that.

Besides, happiness is the best protection.  Nobody who is happy will tolerate the millstone that is an emotional abuser around their neck.

You go into an emotionally abusive relationship because you are looking for the happiness that we do NOT have.  You hope that the other person will provide it.  When you are truly happy in yourself, you will not surrender something as precious as your joy to an abuser. Not even if he is doing his best faux Mr. Wonderful act.

Your happiness will keep you strong and safe.

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