An Abusive Partner Really Can Help It

18 Sep 2018

Have you ever struggled to believe that your abusive, narcissistic partner can help it? Have you ever explained and excused their behaviour on the grounds that they don’t mean it or else have been so damaged that they can’t help themselves? If so, you might like to consider the different ways in which you and they view the world.

One of the things that make the union of an empath so appealing – from the point of view of the abusive, narcissistic partner – is this; the empath doesn’t see the abuser coming. We empaths are  caring, naive souls who choose to cherish a rosy view of the world.  In the empath’s ideal world, you would  only have to brandish your “niceness”, like a magic wand, for nasty people – especially nasty family members and partners – to drop their nasty mask. Your niceness would reveal them as not just your soulmate but – why not? – your niceness mate, also.

The Niceness of the empath

The reverse side of the coin is the empath’s Rush to Understanding, Compassion and ForgivenessThat Rush to Understanding etc. is what you do when you feel sad for whatever has hurt the abusive partner and made them into the damaging creature that they are.  You perform The Rush in order to hold on to your Nice Person badge quite automatically.  The Rush is so ingrained in you that you do it quite unconsciously.

As far as I can see (as a lifelong empath) being an empath definitely has its downsides –  not least The Rush.  We empaths know that it is not Nice to have not nice feelings.  Therefore we feel an urgent need transmute feelings of hurt, anger and disappointment into Understanding, Compassion and Forgiveness asap.  That way, we get to confirm our claim to the moral high ground (after all, any consolation in tough times is better than no consolation.)

The Rush into Understanding, Compassion and Forgiveness

Besides, a quick dive into Understanding, Compassion and Forgiveness means that we can cling to our sanitized worldview.  Even though we know full well that the world is not a  cozy, pink and fluffy place, we can rebuild our reassuring fantasy of how it should be. (Empaths spend a lot of time doing that.)

Of course, this all begs the question,

“Why do we even need this cozy, pink and fluffy vision?

The answer is simple?  Because that was not our experience.

Anyone who ends up with an abusive, narcissistic partner does so because they have been around abusive, narcissistic people from a young age.  Understandably, they found that early experience damaging, painful and, also, extremely difficult to process.

We made a decision

But here is the thing, somehow or other we empaths did process that experience.  At least, we made a decision, – whether conscious or unconscious, about which side of the – moral – fence we wanted to sit on.  We decided that we would rather commit to an unconditional belief in the values of caring, consideration and empathy than follow the abusive line of contempt, disregard and discontent.

The choice that we made was vital in terms of offering us something to hold onto despite our difficult personal circumstances. That choice works for us. But how does it work for us as regards the people around us?

Often not so well, I would say.

When we launch into the rush to Understanding, Compassion and Forgiveness we patronize and infantilize the toxic people in our life.  Admittedly, as I have already stated more than once, abusive, narcissistic “loved ones” are emotional toddlers.  However, this is not because they cannot grow up.  They simply will not grow up.

We made a choice.  So, too, do they.

Toxic loved ones also make a decision

That is the point. We empaths do an awful lot of denying and/or understanding and attempting to show compassion and forgiveness for the bad behaviour of toxic “loved ones”. In doing so, we have to overlook, or deny, our own feelings of hurt.  Not that we find that too difficult, on one level.  Most of us have been taught to do that from the time we could toddle.  Or before.

So, we make the choice to safeguard our Nice Person badge, at the cost of disregarding our feelings.

Now, we may be empaths, but that doesn’t mean that we like to feel unimportant. And yet, we visit that old pattern of disregard on ourselves.

Maybe all of this sounds a little convoluted. If it does, there is a reason for that.  It is convoluted.  Did anyone ever say that being a natural born empath was easy??  The interesting thing about this convolution is that it distracts us from the key issue which is, “What do I need to learn from an abusive partner’s destructive behaviors?”

What do you need to learn from an abusive partner’s narcissistic and destructive behaviors?

In fact, there is plenty that you could learn from it.  But, in this article, let’s just stick with the issue of accountability. The bottom line is simple, you either,

  1. a) cling on like crazy to the Nice Person badge – in which case you can’t hold them accountable for what they do and they can’t help it, or
  2. b) you stop obsessing about the Nice Person badge – because you can hold them account able and they can help it. (And you are not a Girl Scout, anyway, so you don’t even need that damned Nice Person badge. Do you?)

So let’s get rational.  What grounds could you have for deciding that they can’t help it? In the areas of their life where you do not figure, I’m guessing that they probably show a fair-good level of competence. They are selective about who, when and where they attack.  If they react badly when drunk or high, they still made the choice to drink or use.

Then there is the fact that they show an impressive level of sophistication in the manner in which they attack. True, all narcissistic abusers sing from the same hymn sheet but, still, they calculate how to wound you.  They made it their business to store a wealth of information that they can use to wound you.  That explains how they are able to wound you with such devastating precision.

Do you really think they could manage that on autopilot? 

Why abusers and Narcissists can help it

Abusers have the intelligence and the sensitivity to know exactly where to land their psychological blows.  (Their physical ones, also, if they physically violent.)  They are calculating in a way that we empaths are not.

Admittedly, it is hard for us empaths to understand the cynical, calculating minds of people whose inner world is so different from our own.   We are always moving in one direction or another, on the crest of a wave of feeling.  That makes it hard to grasp that our abusive loved ones might actually be plotting their next moves.  When we spend our time running fantasising about our potential Happy Ending how can we begin to imagine that they are meticulously plotting every move, playing out war game in their own mind?

In short, Narcissists and abusers are different to you – very different – and they absolutely can help what they do.  Just as you have opted to be a nice person, they have opted to be the top dog in their dog eat dog world. They made that choice not once but repeatedly in the course of your relationship. The time has come for you to stop trying to help someone who does not want your help, is perfectly happy doing the hurtful things they do and absolutely can help it.


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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