I’ve been dating this guy since September but since we came back to college in January, he’s been extremely controlling and definitely emotionally abusive. He calls me pretty horrible names and accuses me of cheating. He actually cheated on me but claims he doesn’t remember because he was drunk. We always break up and I always get back together with him but I know that I shouldn’t. How do I end things permanently?
You have to decide that you are more important to you than he is. Focus on being smart and caring toward yourself, not on being “nice” to him. One of the most damaging behaviors ingrained in girls is to be nice no matter the circumstances. Respectfulness, kindness, courtesy and friendliness are lovely qualities, but they should not be employed when dealing with an abuser.
On an unconscious level, you may have been seduced by fairy tales to maintain hope despite the odds. Stories like Beauty and the Beast seem to say that a man who behaves irrationally or aggressively will eventually transform into a prince—if he is loved and cared for through the dark times. But that’s a fantasy.
Magical stories (folk tales, nightly dreams) impart a larger truth about our interior life. To gain that wisdom, break open the symbols. Beauty and the Beast reveals the importance of integrating the broken parts of ourselves and reveals how to do it.
We all have aspects of our personalities that are well, beastly. When we understand why we behave the way we do, we grow in compassion for that aspect of our nature. At that point, we can begin to choose how we act. We are no longer automatically triggered into lying, screaming tirades, cheating, isolating or other troublesome behaviors. We learn how to care for ourselves in the face of personal difficulty or abuse. In other words, we grow up. So happily ever after is the interior union between the unhealthy ego and the healthy ego. Or, in fairy-tale terms, it’s the marriage of the Beauty (in us) and the Beast (in us).
If you’re ready to begin healing, try this: Imagine that you have a severe allergy to your boyfriend (after all, your self-esteem does). Avoid him at all costs. Severe allergies can land you in the emergency room, right? Delete his phone number, block him from social media and avoid the places you hung out together. You can also write him a short note to break up, if you prefer. But, keep it simple: “Hey, it’s not working out, so let’s end our relationship.” Don’t explain your feelings. Don’t write a litany of everything you tried to do to make it work. Don’t say you know he tried. All of those behaviors are manipulative because they invite him to respond. Make a clean break. Remember, he abused you. You deserve better.
My boyfriend has a friend who always drops something inappropriate into conversations. She’ll say, “I was washing my car in a halter top and my tits nearly fell out” or “Some guy grabbed my butt and I liked it.” My boyfriend knows she’s desperate for attention so he ignores it. He hangs out with her because he’s known her since high school. He’s super loyal, it’s one of the things I love about him, but she’s so low-class it’s sad. Will she ever get a clue?
Probably not and he might not, either. He confuses loyalty with a shared history. There’s nothing wrong with letting go of people from your past who are unwilling to evolve. Be glad, though, that your man has enough common sense to realize how desperate his friend is. He’s too smart to be baited, but if he’s a real friend, he’ll challenge her to develop self-respect.