I’m sorry to tell you this but I don’t normally enjoy your column! The reason is that you tend to be too judgmental and autocratic. Maybe you are thinking now that I’m being defensive and reactive because your answers touch a soft spot with me. You may very well be correct but I believe the reason is because nothing is ever so definite and ‘black and white’ in any relationship. Though we always do feel as though this is true – the old big, fat ego again.
I have attached one of your previous column’s which my boyfriend put next to my bedside and gave some of our friends a copy to ‘prove’ to them that I was such an awful person and exactly what you had written applied 100% to me. Very hurtful!
I wrote that letter to our psychologist who we were seeing for help in our relationship. I now go alone as he says I am the one with the problems, I am the one that needs to change and he is perfect – yes, 100% correct and with no personality flaws.
With regards to today’s question and answer: I do identify with this woman as my boyfriend does attack, insult, character assassinate and yell at me. a couple of months ago I used to react equally as provocatively and angrily. I now do not react as I have realised it is when he is inebriated, worrying about his Mom who has cancer, or his business which is in dire straits or all of the above. This by no means justifies his behaviour but at least I am not perpetrating the behaviour or getting caught up in the lose-lose situation. He inevitably calms down and carries on as though nothing has transpired.
His ‘good’ side is 80% of the time and he is the most generous, affectionate, fun-loving, passionate man I have ever known so it far out-weighs the dark side!
However, I have stayed in destructive relationships prior to this for the simple reason that I have had to believe and ‘buy’ and allow the verbal abuse – e.g. I am stupid, argumentative and have serious mood swings for no rhyme or reason – because if I didn’t I would have to walk away because nobody can believe they are loved if someone accuse you of these atrocities and they are NOT true. Do you understand the logic here? I’m finding it difficult to articulate. I just mean you have to buy into the story so that you believe the love is there and that person can help you change and then, only then, will the relationship work. Psychi of an abused woman?
Anyway the other issue is, to quote you, “Tell me what keeps a person in a relationship that apparently offers nothing but pain and humiliation?” We stay in relationships like this because it does not just offer pain and humiliation! We don’t discuss or question the beauty and joy and comfort and compassion because there isn’t a problem on that side and we desperately want to correct and heal the dark side. Also it seems that in some relationships we desperately want the roller coaster ride because without the lows and dips they can’t have the elating, endorphin releasing highs. another reason for staying or being ‘trapped and the victim’ is low self esteem – get them to watch Oprah’s show!
I adore all your advice re kids, parenting – single and step! Thank you for that! God bless and I’m sure you’re helping hundreds of people.
Durban, South Africa