At some point between 2-4.5 years (we dated for four and a half years), I knew something was wrong. When he was verbally abusive and emotionally abusive in private, and when he denigrated and yelled at me in front of others, it hurt me, humiliated me, and subsequently made me very angry – as it would anyone. That’s normal, in fact. To top that off though, he blamed ME whenever he did this. That DESTROYED our friendship, trust, and thus, our relationship.
His answer to being confronted with HIS impatience, HIS hostility, and HIS inability to properly handle it towards me in public – to humiliating me in front of other people:
“You DESERVE to be humiliated in public! You bring it on yourself!”
However, *I* was not and am not responsible for his anger, his irritability, his impatience, or his handling of it in any situation. HE is. He needed to control HIMSELF, not ME.
It was clearly a destructive pattern. Although we were still able to spend time together and have a good time and the sexual aspects were still OK, the abuse and verbal hostility and nastiness was increasing. When I confronted him with it, it got worse. During the last year we were together, it was totally miserable. I was constantly being belittled, insulted, criticized, badgered and sometimes yelled at in front of friends and neighbors.
Did I still love him? NO. I was staying for OTHER reasons. During our ‘courtship’ he was very nice and I was totally in love with him then. But as time went on, he starting being abusive, and that abuse just escalated gradually, slowly destroying the love, trust, and friendship. By the time I realized something was “wrong”, the love was gone – and then I hung on for other reasons.
I stayed out of habit, out of still enjoying some of the good times we did have, out of hope the love and care he’d shown me in the beginning might return, and out of not wanting to spend weekends alone.
Had I read some books and researched a little into what was going on I’d probably have realized it was VA/EA and demanded change MUCH sooner. That is ultimately what happened at 3.5 – 4.5 years. After some research and reading, I was agog at what I’d been putting up with and then realized why I felt so bad all the time and why our relationship had so much baggage (NO issue EVER got resolved. Not ONE. EVER. For 4.5 years). It was starting to affect my health, sleep, work, etc.
Of COURSE he refused to change. Confrontation with his abuse only resulted in more justification and blame. Even when a qualified counsellor confronted him with it. After that, he RAN. OUT of the relationship. I let him. It was the only sane thing to do. We ended up in counselling after he blew up in anger at me one night. After that, I threatened to end it if his behavior didn’t change, and he demanded couples counselling instead – and his behavior became more cruel and hostile, meanwhile. He thought counselling was going to fix ME since in his opinion *I* was the cause of all our relationship issues.
But WHO blew up in anger that night – AFTER yelling at me in a restaurant and causing a scene, first? That’s right. HIM. In counselling, he quickly found out that HE and his own anger which he wasn’t dealing with directly and the resulting hostility and verbal abuse from that — AND his blaming ME for it all the time, was causing our issues. Not only had I confronted him with it, but the cousellor did, too.
After that, he was OUTTA there.
His message: NO! I am NOT going to change my behavior – even if it IS abusive! I’d rather end our 4.5 year relationship than stop abusing you!
And so it ended.
It was more important to him to have POWER OVER me than to have a relationship with me. It was more important for him to be AT WAR with me and to WIN that war at all costs than to have a relationship with me. Those were his priorities. Nothing I could do about that.
Before that, though, when things were gradually escalating and I started feeling bad, I was NOT taking care of myself. I did not have the knowledge or skills to recognize or protect myself from his abuse – AND I stuck around for the wrong reasons. None of the reasons I stayed had to do with love – except for the dream of having back the love we’d shared in the beginning. I was still holding on to that. But I had to realize it was just a dream and didn’t exist — and likely never really did — it was just the machinations of a narcissistic romance addict.
Bottom line is that if a relationship or person is regularly making you feel bad, making you feel hurt and/or angry then that is a signal that there is a problem. Staying with that relationship/person anyway “for the good times” or “for the kids”, or because you loved them once and want that back, or because you don’t want to spend Saturday nights alone is NOT taking care of yourself.
Calling out their behavior, naming it as a persistent problem, trying to discuss it directly, and setting boundaries might work.
In most cases, it doesn’t. Then, the ONLY sane choice is out. And OUT is something I should have demanded much sooner than I did. And the reasons I didn’t had NOTHING to do with “love” – because our love and trust and friendship had been well destroyed by his verbal and emotional abuse by that time. I was holding on to nothing.