If there’s one thing we women do amazingly well…
It’s making a bad situation work.
No matter what we’re given, we can find a way. We can do a lot with very little. We just adjust our expectations and feel grateful for what we have.
And yet this beautiful trait of ours can also shoot us in the foot…
Because we can’t walk away from bad situations.
A relationship has to go past the breaking point before we’ll start to question it.
Even if we do manage to leave, nagging thoughts linger in the back of our minds:
Could I have made this work? Is there something I didn’t do? Something I could have tried?”
We can’t let love die without a fight.
As beautiful as that it is, sometimes fighting for love keeps us in harm’s way.
We let the man we love hurt us. Our love for him is more important than keeping ourselves safe.
It’s time to leave a relationship when you are being harmed and safety is not possible anymore.
How much you love him is not relevant. I am so sorry.
It is 100% possible to deeply love a man who is destroying you.
And, to me, you matter. A LOT.
It’s not a loving relationship if you’re doing all the giving and not receiving.
How do you know if your relationship has crossed a line?
Your relationship might feel something like this…
You Know You’re in a Bad Relationship When…
- You can never say anything right to him.
- You’re constantly controlling what you say to avoid setting him off.
- He thinks worse of you than even the people who don’t like you.
- He accuses you of awful things that no one else has ever accused you of before.
- He puts words in your mouth. He accuses you of motives you don’t have. When you explain yourself, he says you’re lying. He knows what you really think and feel.
- He rewards and punishes you. He approves of your obedience. But anything he doesn’t approve of brings on his rage or irritation.
- He can act however he likes towards you. His story is that you provoked him and so whatever he does is justified.
- His story that he is the victim and you are the aggressor.
- He is a martyr. He complains about you but won’t tell you how you can make things better. (If you do manage to get a suggestion out of him and put it into action, he’ll get angry and deny he ever wanted you to do it.)
- When you ask him if he wants to do something, he might say yes but actually mean no. You’re supposed to read his mind and know that he meant no, despite what he said.
- The problems in his life are always someone else’s fault.
- If you cry, if you’re sick, if you show weakness, he gets angry at you. It’s not even that he ignores your feelings or doesn’t support you; rather, he gets mad at you for having feelings.
- He doesn’t have to work on the relationship. He never asks, “How can I help you?” or “What can we do to fix this?” Instead, he denies the problem and says that the problem is you—you’re being negative.
- When you ask for help, it enrages him.
- You try so hard to be positive and brave. You spend so much time and effort squashing down your feelings and being constructive… but it never changes anything. You could have screamed at him and got the same outcome.
- He will not learn or grow. He decided long ago what he believed, and that was that.
- People think he’s a “nice guy.” They can’t understand what your problem is.
- You are peripheral to his life. He may have a great love—an ex, his mother, his child, his hobby, his music, his career—who is not you.
- He tells you that if you ever broke up, he’d be just fine.
- He wants your body. He’s disgusted by your heart.
- You can’t understand why he’s still with you if there are all these things he doesn’t like about you.
- You’ve adjusted to the thought of never having what you wanted in a relationship. You gave up those dreams because you loved him.
- You doubt yourself. Sometimes you think you must be crazy. He tells you you’re crazy. You feel like you can’t tell anyone else what’s going on; they wouldn’t believe you.
- Close friends say that you’re not yourself.
- You’re starting to experience depression, insomnia, fatigue, constant colds.
- You feel so alone. You just wanted a partner who would recognize you as a unique, magnificent, valuable woman he never wanted to lose. You didn’t get that. So maybe you are the problem?
- You will do anything to fix this…. anything at all.
But I’m Not the Sort of Person to End Up In a Bad Relationship!
Of course you aren’t!
We have an idea in our heads of the kind of “weak” “unself-aware” woman who would end up in a bad relationship.
Surely, a woman with your self-knowledge and your life experience and your deep understanding of relationships would never get herself in this kind of mess.
You’re exactly the kind of woman who ends up in this mess.
Let me guess. You’re a strong woman with so much to give.
You’re self-sufficient; you don’t need a lot. You’re emotionally self-contained. You’re able to take care of your own needs and generous with time and support.
You see your role as lifting other people up. So you hardly notice when your needs aren’t being met.
Even if you do notice, you tell yourself that you can’t expect others to fulfill your needs. It’s up to you to take care of your own needs.
When you met him, you just wanted to take a leap of faith, because it felt so exhilarating to be in love.
Why did it matter if that leap gave him all the power? Love requires sacrifice and taking on someone else’s dreams.
You were just doing what you thought you were supposed to do to show how much you loved him.
And you wanted so badly to be a supportive partner.
So you became hyper-vigilant, attuned to his every gesture, tone, and nuance. You knew immediately whether he was being curt, abrupt, sarcastic, petulant, or off somehow.
Your first instinct was always, “What have I done?”
Your second instinct was to try to lift his mood.
So you joked, soothed, were extra nice. If you were lucky, his mood would break and everything would go back to normal. If you weren’t, you’d pay for your role in causing his mood and for your attempts to repair it.
You feel so ashamed.
He’s saying such ugly things about you—why would he say them unless he had a reason?
You know relationships aren’t supposed to be easy. You’re supposed to have to work at it. You want peace in your own home. You’re the woman; you feel like it’s your responsibility. You want everyone to get along.
So, when he tells you awful things about yourself, you try to be even nicer. You lock down more of your feelings. You squish yourself into a tiny box for him. Because what’s the option?
He won’t change.
It’s impossible to leave, because you cannot fail at this.
You had so many hopes and dreams. You love him, even when he treats you like this.
And you know how awful leaving will be, with him acting this way.
How it will destroy you financially and emotionally. How he’ll never stop pursuing you.
In my next article, I’ll talk about what it might take to leave.
In the meantime, you might be interested in finding out more about toxic relationships.