Why We Settle For An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

22 Nov 2016

Why do we settle for an emotionally abusive relationship?

You and I have never met. We’ve, likely, never spoken. Yet we have an awful lot in common. Not least, the fact that we could settle for an emotionally abusive relationship.

If you can recognise your emotionally abusive (ex)partner from my descriptions of the archetype (who was also my one-time partner), then  there is an awful lot that we share.  And not just as regards the choice of partner.

You see, I reckon, that It was a similar emotional state that took both you, and me, into that abusive relationship, in the first place.  We’ve both been through a similar kind of hell – even before we got involved with Mr Hell-on-Wheels.

No judgment

So, let’s start with the basics.  What you need, right now, is to be in a judgment-free zone. Take it as read, that this is a judgment-free zone.  I know how easy it is to look back and ask yourself, “How could I do that? How could I be such a complete and utter idiot?” I also know that questions like that really don’t do any good at all, on two counts.

  • They don’t make you feel any better – at a time when the last thing you need is to rub (any more) salt into your gaping wounds.
  • Telling yourself that you are stupid more or less guarantees that you won’t arrive at a better answer than you have found so far.

Instead, let’s look at all the reasons – and there are a fair few – why you end up in an emotionally abusive relationship, in the first place.

Why you fell for him, in the first place.

  • You were hungry for love. You grew up in a place where what looked and felt like love was in short supply.
  • You had a low opinion of yourself. Somebody powerful in your life managed to make you feel un-special.  So, you wanted somebody else to turn things around by conferring that “specialness” on you.
  • You were not in a great place. Sure, I’ve heard it from so many women that they were doing just fine when they met their abusive partner. But that is not entirely true. They were They may even have been quite successful. However, they weren’t happy. They wanted more.
  • You needed a husband/partner so that you could start a family and/or prove something to yourself/your family and/or the world.
  • You thought that if he was prepared to say “I love you.” and be with with you that meant the Happily Ever After was, more or less, bound to happen. Sooner or later.

Needless to say, things did not pan out the way you would have liked. The only resemblance the relationship bore to the fairy tale you were looking for was Beauty and the Beast on rewind.

An emotionally abusive man is someone who deteriorates on knowing.

That is a sad thing to have to admit to yourself.  It’s even harder to have to admit that to the world. That has some bearing on why we actually settle for an emotionally abusive relationship.

Why we settle for an emotionally abusive relationship

  • It’s humiliating to have to admit to failure. When you don’t feel too good about yourself to begin with, chalking up a major life failure is the last thing you want to do.
  • You are still heavily invested in the relationship. You love him for the man that he is NOT – but you still hope that he might yet be.
  • You believe in all the wrong fairy tales. If The Beast could turn into Prince Charming, surely Mr Nasty has it in him to be half-way decent. If he could be on his best behaviour at the start, why can’t he be on his best behavior all the time?
  • You can’t manage without him. Really??? Since you are struggling to manage with him, you tell yourself you couldn’t possibly manage without him. This is, actually, counter-intuitive, given that it is his crazy-making, temper tantrums, and endless criticisms and undermining that have sapped your sense – and your sense of self.
  • You tell yourself that staying with him is the best thing for the children. This is highly unlikely to be true. The modus operandi of an emotionally abusive partner is to manipulate the children to take sides against you. (That is, when he can be bothered to even spend time with them, and listen to them.) For an emotionally abusive parent, it is never about either what the child wants, or what is best for the child. The only thing that counts is what is best for himself.
  • You don’t think you can rebuild your life, anyway. You tell yourself that you’re an empty husk, a broken woman. It’s all over for you. Some clarity is needed, here.  The relationship is well and truly over. However, your emotionally abusive relationship is NOT your life.  It is the drain on your life.
  • You need him. No, you don’t! You really, really don’t. You don’t need him any more than you need in-growing toe-nails, impacted wisdom teeth, or hemorrhoids. In fact, all of these things are preferable to him – because ridding yourself of them and getting over them is relatively easy.
  • “It’s not all bad.” Define “bad”. Certainly, it’s more than bad You never feel safe, you spend your life trying to keep him sweet, and worrying about upsetting him. You are terrified of his mood swings, and his nastiness. That is bad enough, in my book.
  • You “love him really”. Honestly, you don’t.  You don’t even like him. You definitely don’t love him. There’s not a great deal to love about him, in point of fact. He’s hurtful, selfish, manipulative, cold, uncaring, bossy, changeable, unreliable, dishonest, untrustworthy, two-faced, bad-tempered, demanding, unappreciative, attention-seeking, a drama queen… and the list goes on. What’s to love?
  • “It’s an addiction.” No, it’s not. It’s just plain old co-dependency. You wouldn’t want that for your children. Why would you settle for that for yourself.  You can grow beyond co-dependency. He probably won’t. But that’s his problem.  Don’t make him your problem, any longer.

We settle for an emotionally abusive relationship, over and over again, because the reasons we tell ourselves sound good – until we start to listen to them.. When you start to listen to them, they stop sounding good.  In fact, they stop sounding like reasons, at all.  I know just how powerful they can sound, and I know that Life, and everything that would bring joy into your life, is on the far side of those reasons. Don’t let them cheat you out of any more of your life.  How much more do you need to suffer before you stop telling yourself that it is okay to settle for an emotionally abusive relationship.


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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