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

24 Aug 2010

The problem of the ex-partner who is suddenly sweet

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
asks Natalie. 

It 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. An ex-partner who is suddenly sweet 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 financially.

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 ex-partner who is suddenly sweet,  there’s just one question you need to ask yourself: 

“What’s in it for him?”

Then turn your focus back to you.  Now ask yourself:

“My ex-partner who is suddenly sweet isn’t remotely interested in my happiness, and never will make me happy, what am I going to do to get my life back?”


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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