What emotional abuse teaches you about love

14 Feb 2017

Emotional abuse SUCKS!

Emotional abuse sucks.  Abuse is a hideous, scarring experience that nobody deserves. First, it rips the ground from under your feet. Then it leads you into the black hole of self-blame. It is a journey through hell. Finally, sooner or later, you will discover what emotional abuse teaches you about love.  This article is about the things that emotional abuse teaches you about love, with a view to speeding up the learning process as much as possible.

Today is Valentine’s Day, the one day when everybody is meant to be placing their offering on the altar of Commercial Love.

It is the day of days when sickly-sweet notions of what love should look like are everywhere. Plus “Fifty Shades Darker” is probably playing in a cinema near you. That fact alone should speak volumes about the trash that passes for Love, Passion and Romance in popular culture.

Most of what popular culture teaches about love sets women up for a number of falls, with its “If-At-First-You-Don’t-Succeed…” message.

Anyone who has ever loved an emotionally abusive partner has not succeeded – because success was never going to happen Still, that is not enough to stop the victims of an emotionally abusive partner.  They try, try, and try again – without ever succeeding.

One of the things that emotional abuse can teach you about love is that failure lies in the very DNA of emotionally abusive relationships. Of course, there is more, as well.

How emotional abusers worm their way into your heart

Emotional abusers tend to worm their way into your heart by playing “The Love Card”.  Somewhere along the line, their little reptilian brain registered the power of “The Love Card”.  They only have to play “The Love Card” enough times for it to work its magic spell. It will turn an otherwise intelligent woman into a grateful, little servant who is deaf and blind to the reality.

Emotional abusers use “The Love Card” to build brand loyalty – to them. But how do they respond? They may, or may not promise you the earth (the Abusive Man’s Handbook leaves that option entirely open.  Some abusers will, and some will not.  Romantic-sounding promises are simply another tool in their tool-kit.)  More to the point, will abusers actually show you basic consideration by?

  • Keeping their word.
  • Not leering at other women.
  • Treating you with the respect worthy of an equal.
  • Being careful of your feelings.
  • Making you feel like the most important person in their world. 

Highly unlikely – except, possibly – on a very short-term basis. 

Top Dog

Emotional abusers love to be Top Dog in the relationship. That means you have to be Bottom Dog.   Abusers don’t need you to like being Bottom Dog. All that matters – to them – is just that you accept the rules of the game. Plus, you are free to make as many excuses and allowances for the situation as you like. In fact, an emotional abuser is very happy for you to make excuses and allowances for him. However, they expect you to understand that you are not free to alter the (im)balance of power in the relationship.

After a while, you register that this unequal relationship does not feel terribly loving. However much love you give, not a lot is comes back to you.

Emotional abuse teaches you that not everything that goes under the brand name of love is terribly loving. Emotional abuse is tough but it certainly is NOT love.  An abusive relationship is a tough scenario, not loving way to relate.

What emotional abuse teaches you about love is how NOT to have a loving relationship.

An emotionally abusive relationship is all about Mr Top Dog, inasmuch as it is constructed to serve him – by making him serve you.

Is it really “all about you”?

Most commonly, an emotionally abusive partner will tell you that you try to make everything about you. You do this – allegedly – by having,

  • feelings
  • opinions
  • your own sense of right and wrong
  • standards

An emotional abuser always makes you wrong. Having your own feelings etc. makes you wrong.  But, ultimately, your breathing, tone of voice, facial expression (or lack of facial expression) will be enough to make you wrong – in his eyes.

Where on earth is the love in that?

An emotional abuser has no intention of ever walking any distance at all in your shoes. He regards it as beneath him to engage with your feelings in an authentic way. What is in it for him, after all? He is smart enough to see into your feelings, and use them against him. However, he has no interest in empathy.  He does not need to be empathetic.

What emotional abuse teaches you about love 

What emotional abuse teaches you about love is how toxic love looks, feels, and operates. Every emotionally abusive partner is forever giving masterclasses in toxic love.

Emotional abuse teaches you about what love is not. 

Nobody should have to give up on love because they have had the misfortune to spend time with an emotional abuser. Emotional abuse leaves you with a love and happiness deficit.  It is normal, and appropriate to want to make good that deficit. The important thing is to know exactly how to do so.

What emotional abuse teaches you about love is how to spot a toxic person.  A toxic person is, quite simply, a person who displays toxic behavior by,

  • playing the Love Card
  • making you feel bad
  • pushing you around – emotionally, first off
  • making you feel inferior
  • withholding loyalty
  • judging and criticizing

What emotional abuse teaches you about love is that real, healthy love is the diametric opposite of abusive “love”. Instead of playing “The Love Card”, a loving person,

  • Shows love through their behavior.
  • Makes you feel good – not by flattery, but by seeing the best in you.
  • Does everything he can to fit around your wishes – as opposed to pushing you around and diminishing you.
  • Lets you know that you are more than good enough –E-X-A-C-T-L-Y as you are.
  • Shows constant respect for your feelings
  • Is supportive of what you want to do in your own way, and gives you the benefit of any possible doubt.

Emotional abuse teaches what NOT to settle for

In the end, what emotional abuse teaches about love is what not to settle for.

Do not be fooled by the old emotionally abusive programming into believing that less abusive is good enough for you.  It absolutely is NOT. Besides, what emotional abuse teaches you about love is that abusive love is all downhill. Less bad can never be good enough.  You just start a little higher up that slippery downhill slope. Healthy love is not a downhill slope. Rather, it is a level playing field.  Anything less than that level playing field is not safe for you. Going forward, you deserve ONLY the best.


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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