One very common problem faced by women who’ve been through the mincing machine of an abusive relationship is: how do you ever trust again? And how do you learn to trust safely, and wisely? There is a massive need abused women have for a surefire way of knowing who to trust, how to trust, and when to trust. If this could be an issue for you, Leia’s story may well resonate with you.
When I spoke with her about her relationship breakdown, at least Leia was in disbelief, not in denial. She said:
“I just don’t get it. How could he keep saying ‘I love you’? A couple of weeks ago, he bought me one of those fridge magnet type cards, which said: ‘You’re my soul-mate.’ When he gave it to me he said, ‘If ever you feel down, just read this and remember how much I love you.’ How could he say that? How will I ever trust another man again?”
Leia, I have to say, is my beautician, not my client. So, she may well not have been expecting answers to her questions. It’s possible she just wanted to vent. But she chose to vent with me. So, I chose to give her some useful answers.
What did he mean when he told her he loved her? she asked.
“Clearly not what you understood by love”, I replied. “There’s a gulf…
“There’s a gulf between what you understand by love and what an abusive man does. Yet, because you both use the same words, you choose to understand that he means the same as you do.
“Of course, you never ask.
“You never say: ‘You say you love me, but what does that mean to you? What commitments and responsibilities does that entail for you?’
“You don’t ask. Instead you simply do everything you possibly can for him, and assume – like Leia – that he will have to reply in kind… sooner or later.
“He might buy you the odd fridge magnet type card, or flowers, or anything that takes his fancy, if he wants to flash the cash. He might even go out of his way for you in some way or other – and he’ll be sure to bring it to your attention for months afterwards: ‘I did this for you.’ ‘I did the washing up for you.’ ‘I put our child to bed for you.’
“But what about what he won’t do?
“What about the fact that he still has his tongue hanging out when he looks at other women?
“What about the hurtful way he speaks to you?
“What about the fact that he doesn’t seriously believe he has a duty to apologize – and make amends – for his bad behaviour?
“What about having a responsibility to consider your feelings, and take care of you?
“Saying, ‘I love you’ doesn’t make acting like he hates you acceptable.”
Leia’s lower lip wobbled as I phrased these ideas in a – marginally – more tactful way. (She didn’t have the wax pot to hand, so I felt safe in being fairly direct.)
“But how will I ever trust a man again?” she went on. “He’s let me down so badly.”
Clearly, she was feeling sorry for herself: how could he do that to her?
She was feeling like the victim of a heartless, cynical brute. The brute in question had been unfaithful, and lied so convincingly that he’d nearly convinced her she was losing her mind. And when he couldn’t lie his way out of it anymore, he’d turned very, very nasty. (Not for the first time but, as I already knew, Leila was good at denial.)
So, how could she trust another man ever again?
It’s a great question.
It implies that, if you love someone, and fall over yourself to please them then, if they turn out to be a jerk, you’re just a poor, hapless victim.
You’ve earned your “Poor me” T-shirt.
And you can wear it for as long as you like, and accessorize it with whatever you like, and that’s okay.
It’s not because it’s profoundly damaging to you.
And there is a serious flaw in your thinking.
It’s the same serious flaw I discovered in myself, and I discover in every abused woman I ever work with: we live life reactively.
What do I mean by “we live life reactively”?
Someone comes along – let’s call him Don Nasty – on a flea-bitten, grey mule. He insists on having your trust. And you give it to him, despite your inner misgivings.
Why, oh why, do we do that?
Why should we trust Don Nasty before we know he is trustworthy? Why would we not take the time, and trouble, to assess for ourselves how trustworthy he is, before we put our heart in his grubby, callous hands?
Why would we not take the time to vet Don Nasty for relationship worthiness before we take over the mule’s role???
There are plenty of foolproof ways of spotting an abusive man before you give him your heart; I break them down into simple steps on my Secrets of Successful Relationship program. Even when he’s wearing his freshly cleaned and pressed Prince Charming uniform (and, quite possibly, enough aftershave to act as a general anaesthetic) there will still be red flags for you to see.
If you will but look.
One of the red flags Leila saw, but dismissed, was the way he talked about his ex (who, actually, wasn’t his ex, but the lady who still cleaned and pressed his Prince Charming uniform so he could charm her successor).
Leila heard what he was saying alright but she forgot all about solidarity to the Women’s Trade Union. She was too fixated on Standing By Her – New – Man. So, instead of thinking, she judged.
“What a bitch!” was her ill considered judgement.
Which is exactly what Leila’s successor is saying about her. Leila knows this for a fact, because she’s spoken to her successor – who is an absolute whizz at denial (too).
Leila’s at a crossroads now. She says it’s over, but she could still weaken and take him back. She could give up on men. She could learn how to trust again.
Or she could learn the proven, systematic way to choose a great partner next time, so she can have a great relationship next time. If she chooses to go there again…
Even if she doesn’t. She still needs to know how to create good relationships. Don Nasty isn’t the only person she’s let take advantage of her trust.
If you’d like to learn the proven step-by-step way to create happy, lasting relationships, I have a very special offer for you. Until Sunday December 4th, I’m making my 7 Secrets of Successful Relationships program available to you, at a massive discount. I’ve never done this before. But I’m hearing there is a massive need my readers and clients have for a guide to creating healthy relationships. If you know you don’t know who to trust, how to trust, or when to trust, this program has all the answers you will need. CLICK HERE to discover the 7 Secrets of Successful Relationships.
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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