In/Out of Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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    I was in the same position until yesterday when I decided to get back on the path of personal growth and find the love I deserve. I stayed in an emotionally unavailable relationship for 3 years amid my insecurities and became addicted to the pain they caused me. I wanted them to hurt me because it felt pleasing to them and I wanted to please them. This is how warped you can become by staying. You did right by leaving. Keep pressing on! 🙂

    E. Buddha

    Hi Tinywanderlust,

    Well, I am so glad to hear that something so terrible in my life can have at least one positive outcome. If it helps you, that is very good.
    One thing I want to address in your above post, you say:

    Luckily, the energy healer gave me some techniques that are already helping me feel the strength to detach, not just physically, but also emotionally. But, I know this road isn’t going to be an easy one and I also realize there’s some deeper digging I need to do in terms of what drew me to a relationship like this in the first place. Luckily, I have an understanding of where that needs to begin.

    Well, I am not sure what you are thinking here, and I welcome you to say more. But without that, I would like to again advise you on this way of thinking based on my own experience.

    I admire and understand your wish to make sense of things, but I would really discourage you from finding fault with yourself for ending up in a relationship that is abusive. It is something I have heard and seen repeated, even within this thread. There are a lot of silly ideas floating around about why women get together with and stay with abusive men. One idea is that you were looking for this kind of thing, even subconsciously, as in using a phrase like- what drew me to this relationship. If, five years from now, You truly feel YOU are responsible for being abused, then you can afford to be generous and acknowledge that to yourself. For now, rationalizing is not so helpful. Taking that degree of responsibility for the situation is coloring not only how you see the present but also the future.

    I was in an abusive relationship, and I NEVER wanted what happened to me. . Actually, the abusive man I fell in love with was initially not abusive at all, and it really did not become physical until we moved in together. Abusers dont wear signs on their foreheads, and most people who have this tendency are very adept at hiding it. They even cover over it and try to be well liked by being really charming, charismatic, and grabbing the check at dinner. There is no way to KNOW beforehand that someone is an abuser before you fall in love with them. So, you go along, and things change, but you keep remembering the guy he was before everything got twisted. You try to minimize what is happening to everyone including yourself, but some people see through that. MOST PEOPLE DONT. In fact, if I had told this mans friends that he was hurting me, i doubt any of them would have believed me. Because it is hard to believe that people, especially people you like and have known for years are actually monsters in the privacy of their homes. Abuse is an impolite topic, and most everyone will look the other way. I wore longsleeve shirts in the hottest weather to cover the bruises on my arms, and no one ever noticed. No one ever asked why.

    So, you are in the most tender and vulnerable part of leaving. You would like to put this behind you and to do that you need to tell yourself a good story about how you got here and how you can avoid this in the future. Looking into what drew you to him could feel empowering. Like a diagnosis that lets you get on with the treatment.

    This may sound a bit strange, but instead of moving forward which may feel like hacking through the jungle with a machete, you could lift off. You could leave this behind you, below you, and not think about how it happened, or why. Just let it be heavy lying there without you. You do not need to tell any story, you do not blame yourself, you just lift up and out. From there, time and all the wonderful people who love you, and all the wonderful people you will meet in the future, confirm that you are good, and OK, you are not drawing bad ones. Some just turn out to be bad ones.
    Do whatever it takes for you right now. When I was at this point, I moved across the country, and I stayed inside watching movies for one week. I could not face the world. My heart was so heavy. I was so ashamed. I cried and I felt panicky. I needed to be alone with myself.
    When you are alone you will see you are a completely clear glass of water.


    To e.buddha and tinywanderlust, I, too, am sitting here crying my eyes out. I moved into my own place Oct 1st 2013 after only having lived with him for 6 months (over 3 yrs together, though). Our relationship, which was always rocky, just imploded. I couldn’t do anything right, etc. So I found an apt very close to his house with the rationalization that we could save the relationship if I wasn’t under the same roof.. no crumbs found on the counter for him to gripe about. That was the understanding but once I moved out he simply dropped all contact. I had to figure out and decode the message “I’m not good enough”. It’s rejection. Even though every one of my friends and family said I “deserved better” etc. And here I was being dumped. So I was on my own for 3 months. Christmas Eve I found myself alone and reached out to him to see if he wanted to see a movie. Ok, so I didn’t make it through Christmas. We sort of got back together. Whole pattern started again. It hurts so much. I wrote him a letter because he so obviously resents me. With any letter I used to write his response was “blah blah blah” even though nothing in the letters was accusatory. Anyway, here is the letter I wrote him last Thursday. His response follows and that was the last I heard from him. He’s not talking to me now. He’s punishing me.
    My letter to him:

    You mock me. The other night when you asked me to meet you for a drink I came in and said hi and you mocked me. Why? Because I’m “stiff” you replied. Actually I’m quite pliant and flexible and way too fucking accommodating with you. You are the one who is arthritic and stuck, doggedly set in your insecurities and anger.
    And I mirror you? I’m my own person with real feelings, original thoughts, drive, and creativity. You may be apathetic to all of that and so be it, but you won’t ever find me making fun of you or parodying you, to your face or in a bitch session with one of my friends deconstructing your personality. Because the origins of that kind of cruel mockery are rooted in resentment that I simply don’t have for you. You do for me, though, and it’s not good for your health.
    Since you’re so smart you probably already know this but I’ll shine a light on it anyway: Resentment doesn’t hurt the person being resented, aside from their acute suffering in an unhealthy relationship not understanding what the fuck they did that was so wrong. Resentment hurts the one resenting. You’re well on your way to a heart attack with the kind of stress you generate for yourself. And you take your stress out on the nearest person, me, in spades. Stop it! Get counseling.
    Heart disease.stiffening of the arteries, a cascade of triggers from accumulated stress. It’s not me you’re describing. Your disrespectful judgments and sullen withdrawals are abusive tactics that you use over and over again. They only work to keep you emotionally stuck, whether with me or with someone else down the road.
    his reply: I’m afraid u are absolutely correct. I am killing myself with stress. And I am compounding it with you. I will try a different approach.

    This is the last I’ve heard except one big hint that he ran into the arms of another woman this past Sat night (a “friend” who still sees his charm and soulfulness, minus all the bad stuff)
    So here I sit feeling emotionally devastated. But that’s why I’m on this site, too. I can’t go on like this.


    Oh yeah, and two major things complicate it: His sister turns 50 and there has been a trip planned for 14 people (incl me) to go on a trip to the Caribbean Mar 14th. The assumption, I guess, is that I’m still going. Everything is paid for. And actually I can see myself going. that is how dysfunctional all of it is… I can rationalize that its paid for and I don’t get many vacations and its the beach and… And I KNOW he assumes I’m still going. This is a 7 bedroom villa and we’ll be sharing a room. So.. he’s just ignoring me until the trip? I don’t even get it but as usual I’m left to figure everything out on my own because the only time he ever communicates is to tell me I’m wrong about whatever.
    The other thing is, at the suggestion of my mom, I got on Match last night. The thing is, as these emails come in from strange men and nice men and every man in between, I could care less, and I’m still looking for someone like him. I really do love him. My love for him is crazily unconditional. And I do love myself. I make healthy decisions with regard to exercise and diet and lifestyle in general. Yes, I’m optimistic to a fault. That is one of my strongest traits. I guess being stubborn is another one.


    tinywanderlust, to answer your question about the guilt thing.. I haven’t really felt guilty until today. After having mulled everything over and over in my mind since the letter I sent, I came to feeling guilty today just because I’d written it. Like, if I hadn’t have written it, he wouldn’t feel the need to run to another woman for comfort because I wasn’t being supportive enough. It’s BS I know. Rationality and the heart seem to be in conflict, though.

    E. Buddha

    Dear Claire,

    You have not had the DECISIVE MOMENT yet. Instead, you are still in the swinging momentum of together, and apart, and together and apart.
    Your self worth does not depend on the opinion of the man, but if you see it that way your world will become very, very small and fragile.

    When you write a letter like the one you wrote to him, you should reflect on what you are saying. What you find yourself HAVING to say to keep a little self respect.
    Do not expect him to hear what you have to say, especially after the mirroring comment, it means he is incapable of seeing you as a separate person. I have written letters like that, and they were a waste of time.

    Crumbs on the counter. My dear Claire. Do you realize how many truly difficult and painful situations a couple will have to face together in the course of life. A relationship undone by crumbs is also crumbs.

    What you are describing as unconditional love, optimism and stubborness, needs to meet with hopelessness and decisiveness. I think you may be far from that moment just now. It sounds as if you are really hooked so all I can say for now is, imagine another reality for yourself. Do not be so tolerant. Do not tolerate disrespect. Dont rationalize things, and dont follow your heart. Instead, try to pay attention to the more animal level of the relationship. You will feel it like a prickle when a wolf shows his teeth. It is the feel of someone who wants to come into your territory, aggressively. Hairs can tingle on your arms. When that happens you can hold your ground, or leave. Keep your head up.

    Abuse has a weird intimacy which you can mistake for being close to someone. I think you may be making that mistake.


    E.buddha – Thank you. Your words resonate on some level I need to be in better touch with. Filled with gratitude and feeling at the end of my rope. Thank you.


    I am sorry you are hurting. I understand pain and the cycles that we go through in dysfunctional relationships.

    I am going to be honest. As someone who does not know you or your boyfriend, take this for what it’s worth: I think your letter was very judgemental and reads as though you are full of anger and resentment. If that’s the case, you are entitled to those feelings and you have your reasons for feeling that way, no doubt. “You’re the one who…” (judgement). You tell him he feels resentment for you, but claim you have none toward him. You tell him to get counseling, you “warn” him of the physical toll his stress will bring him. You mention your “real feelings” (implying his feelings aren’t real?) The tone does not convey the “unconditional love” you say you have for him. It comes across as an attack. You have every right to attack if you feel so inclined but you might consider taking a look inward and ask yourself honestly, “Am I angry? Am I resentful?” If you feel this way about this person, why do you want to be with him? What good is he bringing to your life? It sounds awful. I’m not surprised his reaction was to “try a different approach” and take a step away from the relationship. I wouldn’t know how to respond to those words either, whether they’re all true or completely off base. They don’t read as a call for help or a desire to work on the relationship. Quite frankly, they read as one big final F You. What kind of response were you hoping for? An apology? I think his response was civil and reasonable. But again, this is just a stranger’s two cents worth.

    I think it’s unfortunate that your takeaway from him cutting contact is “I’m not good enough” and feeling rejected. Do you think it’s possible you’re projecting some of your own insecurities onto him? That you’re looking for him to be the villian so that you can continue in this victim role?

    I realize my words are not very kind or loving and I’m sorry for that. Believe me when I say that I am asking you to consider a different perspective because I care about you as someone who is hurting. What can you do to heal yourself? Why are you looking for him to heal you?

    Take some deep breaths and realize that your worth is not wrapped up in what he does, says or feels. Your feelings of self-worth come from within.


    Hi Claire-

    Couple of things– I have written so many letters/texts/emails similar to yours. In the early days they were much more rational, but as time went on they took on a different tone. What I read in yours that I found to be true in mine is that at some point, I was clearly seeking validation from HIM. It was as if I was trying to help him make sense of his monster-like ways and in doing so, maybe I would finally get acknowledgement of the behavior, an apology and have him make some sense out of it. I obviously knew better, but it didn’t stop me from trying.

    Ultimately, Kelly is right- we often project our feelings in these reach outs. You probably are trying to project feelings onto him. You probably are seeking validation. You probably are conditionally loving him at this point. Even if all of this is true, there’s another truth here— GET OUT. STAY OUT. From there you can do whatever work needs to be done on your end, just as E. Buddha has mentioned.

    And as far as Match goes. I’ve been dabbling in online dating and all I’ve come to discover is that A.) I’m not ready B.) I seem to only attract unavailable men, likely because I am also emotionally unavailable at the moment. Despite online dating, I still went back to my ex. And guess what? He said if I had dated and at any point been physical with anyone else, then I was, “tainted”. So, guess who then had to live with lies over completely innocent things, in the back of my mind to avoid further abuse and the fear of being viewed as “tainted”. I mean, how completely absurd on all levels, from both sides. That I would choose to go back knowing that way of thinking is emotionally unhealthy AND immature.

    I think E. Buddha is right that you haven’t hit that decisive moment. You don’t owe anyone anything in regards to that trip. My guess is, you’re going to go on that trip. If you don’t, I’m so proud of you and if you do, I don’t blame you. Getting out of these relationships isn’t easy. You have to decide when enough is enough. It’s all up to you. But, I hope this forum is helping you feel less alone. It’s certainly helping me and every post inspires me more and more to continue staying away from that monster.


    HI E. Buddha,

    I like getting your replies. It’s sweet of you to take time to write to some of us who are in the midst of all of this, even though you’re past your situation.

    I don’t blame myself for the abuse at all. I know it’s not MY fault he’s an abusive guy. I do know that in relationships like these, things become a vicious cycle and that as the waters become murky and the abuse goes on longer and longer and anger and resentment build up inside of me, I become reactive and I stoop to a level I don’t like or want to stoop to. I also know that it’s hard to control that when you’re in such a messy, complex situation. Making sense out of abuse and the dynamic within abuse is a lost cause.

    What I meant by my statement is that, I have always logically known this relationship was wrong. I’ve always logically and consciously known better than to go back. I’ve done a lot of work and a lot of “lifting off” and even thought I had other decisive moments in the past. But, I also think there’s a deeper attachment issue going on for me that’s pulled into the feelings from the abuse.

    The one thing I haven’t shared is that I was abused by a family member when I was a little girl. It’s something I spent years and years working on and getting past. I actually had gotten to a really good place with it and thought the baggage was behind me, but being in an abusive relationship only added to both triggers and to an innate pull towards the feelings from the abuse. It’s all very complex, but I’ve become aware of it.

    It’s also tricky because my ex uses my past as a crutch for his manipulation. That I do X, Y, Z not because of the abusive dynamic we’re in, no way- it’s because I was abused as a child. I try to stay on the side of logic as much as possible, but there’s a very delicate place inside that can get really muddled when you have a guy who is emotionally abusing you, playing into a very insecure place inside. I run from him, rather than “communicate” through our issues, because I’m a runner due to my former abuse. Although, ever single time I have tried communicating in a rational manner, go figure- unless I take all the blame, we end up in an hour+ convo where he does most of the talking and blaming and it’s all about what I’m doing wrong. Never about him.

    Anyway- I know all of this is wrong. I’m done dealing with it with him, and writing it out to you ladies really helps me realize how completely RIDICULOUS the whole thing is.

    I, like you, never WANTED or even thought I would wind up in an abusive relationship. Part of why I did so much work to move past my former abuse was to try to avoid being in a relationship like this. But, like you said, men hide the behavior and then it comes up once you’re so hooked and in love with the person you THINK they are. Then you get stuck on this IDEA of who they are and who they “could” be and if only they could be that way you hope they would be, the relationship could be wonderful.

    I was the same way. It got intolerable after I moved in with him. I moved out within 3mo and never moved back in, but I kept going back to the relationship. He’s always blamed me for being “one foot out of the door” and because I’m that way, it doesn’t lend itself to being able to work things out. Yet, my stipulation was that if I was to be “two feet back in”, he needed to do the work on his end, he needed to take responsibility for his part. Big shocker- never happened, and the issues post- moving out were then all my fault. That’s when the area became grey and messy. At the end of the day, it was always me taking ownership of things I started to say out of anger. Be taking ownership of my triggered responses to him and how those don’t help us. YUCK.

    Okay, okay I’m all over the place here, and at this point in this post, just using it as an outlet to get thoughts out. But, thanks again for your replies. They’re insightful.


    Kelly, thank you for what you wrote. I am very angry with him. Villian/victim… well, it is here that I’m tempted to launch into “you have no idea, he did this and he did that… stonewalling, cheating, etc ” but I’m the one who’s stayed in it and am responsible for my actions and choices. I’m really glad I included the letter because the outside perspectives are the only feedback I’ve gotten. And I will read what you wrote again when time permits later today. Thank you so much for the objective, honest perspective.


    Kelly, thank you so much for the objective, honest perspective. I’m glad I included the letter.. it helps to have any feedback. Villan/victim.. I don’t know. It is here I’m tempted to launch into “you have no idea…he did this, he did that..” but I’ve made the choice to stay in it and am responsible for it. I will re-read this later today as time permits. You’re right, I am angry with him.


    apologies for the double post.. the first didn’t show up for me right away 🙂


    i have been out of a long term on and off abusive relationship for 1 year with no communication at all and still find it hard not fantasize about what the relationship could have been. i also understand for those of us who were abused when we were young that we are seeking the love we missed as children in these abusive relationships as proof that we are actually lovable. I will say it is not an easy road but it is the road i am going to stay on . i dont want to inflict any of this emotional turmoil onto my future self , im trying to make her life better.. i still cannot imagine dating another man , but i dont need a relationship to be happy . i just need my inner self back.

    a big thankyou to who quoted : abuse has a weird intimacy which you can mistake for being close to someone…
    it helps to understand my feeling without blaming or being harsh on myself for missing someone i know only wants to harm me.

    there are alot of men out there that werent parented properly and have absolutely zero respect for woman just because they are woman not because of anything they have done wrong.

    E. Buddha

    Hi Again Tinywanderlust.

    I am really glad you dont blame yourself. I also understand what you describe as stooping to his level. I did that too, basically because it was something I hadnt tried before, and I was willing to try anything. But remarkably, when someone is losing it in front of you, for example, throwing things, also picking up and throwing something to try to learn the language is just NOT effective. In fact it makes it more confusing than when you can just maintain dignified composure. That is what I learned, and what you write reminds me (so very closely) of what I went through.
    The abuse within your family is another matter. I am so sorry this happened to you. It is so utterly wrong for this guy to use the pain in your past as an excuse. Someone who really loves you will be gentle with the areas of your heart and your past which are tender and painful. I am glad you recognize that what he is doing is wrong.
    Your story about the commitment hokey pokey is also what I went through. To the point that marriage was discussed, buying a house together was discussed. But it was painfully clear that was an insane idea when everything nice in our little apartment had been quite literally smashed and broken.
    Anyway, I will check back here now and then to see how you are doing. It sounds like you are on the right track, and besides having been there, right where you are, I just want to shine a light on a brighter future… its possible! Keep going!

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