“Why Can’t He..?”

16 Nov 2011

 “Why can’t he behave like a normal person?” Geri asked.

Because I was pushed for time, but wanted to reply, I gave her the short answer.  I’ve no doubt your head already knows the answer as well as I do, but maybe your feelings play tricks on you, just like Geri’s feelings do.

The short answer goes like this: “He’s not behaving like a so called normal person, because he chooses to behave like a jerk.  That is the job description he chose for himself in his relationship with you and – most probably – with other women also.  It’s not about you.  It’s about him.

“As regards his normality, you might find it easier to put him in some kind of context that makes sense to you, if you could tell yourself he’s NOT normal, but the chances are he is normal.  Being a jerk is not proof of abnormality, merely nastiness.  Some abusers are narcissists, and/or sociopaths, but most are not.  Most are merely immature bullies.”

But there’s rather more to your question than that, is there not?

The really important stuff is what is going on inside you…

So, let’s start somewhere near the beginning.  You’ve had a bruising, damaging relationship with someone with an impressive capacity for nasty, destructive behavior.

He started out wearing his: “Look at me, I’m Prince Charming” T-shirt – and you were wooed by the T shirt. He looked good in the T-shirt. He talked a good game.

He told you a story that was calculated to appeal to you.  Most likely he went for either:

a)  I’m a pretty sophisticated, successful, worldly person, with a lot going for me, and being around me adds kudos to you, or

b)  I’ve had a tough time (with women) and I need someone to love me, and help make me whole…

But he could have spun you an adroit combination of both themes:  e.g. I’m wonderful, and I’ve suffered at the hands of cruel people who didn’t recognise my true worth.

Together you created a fantasy of what your life could be like, with him playing a starring role in it.

Notice what happened here: you somehow consented to play second fiddle in your own life.

How did he do that?!! 

Somehow, from very early on, you agreed to be junior partner in the relationship, in return for his love and attention – and getting to stand on his rather lovely pedestal, every so often.

The Prince Charming T-shirt was taken off for laundering, and he never bothered to put it back on again.

Rather, he selected a very old, very grungy T-shirt with a fairly violent image on it, and he’s been wearing it ever since.  Night and day.

The Prince Charming T-shirt has been hanging in the wardrobe ever since – where you can see it, when you put his neatly ironed clothes away.  He may even take it out and try it on occasionally, just to remind you how cool he looks in it, and how attractive he can be…  But he certainly doesn’t feel the need to wear it around you any more.

It’s a great ploy on his part.  It makes you feel disregarded, and worthless.

Monsieur Grunge, as he now is, reminds you at regular intervals that he could do – and be – so much more, but why should he bother for you?

Now, the sensible reaction to that kind of approach is to say: “Okay, I understand you are a rude, rejecting pig of a man.  Thanks for sharing, and you need to know that I’m tired of sharing a sty with you.  I’m outta here.”

But feelings are not sensible things.  In fact, they are rather mouthy, attention-seeking, demanding things, with a decided penchant for co-dependency.  Feelings have their own – tiresome – agenda.

So what do they say?

The kind of thing they generally bleat includes:

  • “He can’t say that to me.”  (Absolutely wrong; he just did.”)
  • “How can he say that to me, when I…?”  (S-I-M-P-L-E. It’s NOT a problem for him. See above.)
  • He has to understand how I feel…” (No, he doesn’t.  You want him to, but that’s your  problem, not his.)
  • “I’ll keep on until I’m blue in the face to make him see…” (See if you can spot the causal link – I certainly can’t.  You can keep on, and he will surely see that you’re blue in the face.  But what else will he see?  He’ll see what he wants to see.  And the thing he wants to see is that he can have fun turning you blue in the face any time he likes.  That constitutes FUN in his book. Your point of view isn’t fun, and it isn’t interesting, from where he stands.  Being blue in the face won’t change that.  Period.) 

In short, your feelings are doing you no favors.  Actually, they are ‘doing your head in’.

Your feelings offer you a skewed vision of how his world works.  Your emotional truth has no place in his inner world.  It’s as simple as that.

Your feelings are telling you that – with enough pressure from you – his emotional world will work exactly the way you want it to.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary. 

If you could have changed him, you would’ve done so already.

If he had wanted to change, he would have done so, already.  He’s pretty good at organizing his world in a way that gives him the kind of pay-offs he wants.  Those pay-offs may be nasty and dysfunctional, but that doesn’t mean he has a problem with them.  Au contraire. 

You want to rewrite his reality, and his world, to suit your desires.

Now, I know that may be hard to take on board.  But, still, it is exactly what you want to do.

In the end, you know a lot more about loving, and living harmoniously than he does.  In terms of principles, and aspirations, you are on exactly the right track.

But with entirely the wrong person.

He has his feelings, aspirations, and desires, too.  They may be totally wrong – from your point of view – but they’re his, and only he can engage with them successfully.

Your feelings are telling you that you can change another person. Hmm!

Do you remember the old light bulb jokes? 

How many abused women do you think it would take to change an abusive man?

Answer: as yet, no woman has ever done it successfully. The abusive man is not broken.  He simply has no need, and no desire, to change.

Your feelings will tell you another story.  That’s okay.  They can live in Lala land if they want to.

But you can’t afford to.

And, BTW, you are not your feelings.  Your feelings are simply the noisiest, most attention-seeking, demanding part of you.  You are much more than your feelings.

Your abusive partner is what he is.

You are not yet all that you can be.

Turn your attention and love on yourself, and you will be massively rewarded.

And forget about the Prince Charming T shirt.  It’s so last season…


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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