Do not seem to be able to walk away
September 1, 2007 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Relationship filter - Help me be a stronger person...

After having my trust broken for like the hundreth time in my present relationship, i am starting to wonder why i stay in it.

Here is what usually happens - He betrays me by lying about things eg other women (though nothing physical has ever happened the intention was there). I find out - he says sorry - i say i need more than sorry as i have heard it all before - he says he will try harder etc etc - he never does - i end up just accepting it.

What makes it worse is i know i accept it because of my insecurities of being by myself (i am 39 weeks pregnant), and will try anything to make it work. The more he treats me like crap though the more shit i take!

It also seems that he manages to make me feel like the one in the wrong... for example when he fucks up, naturally i get upset and might shout down the phone, or call more than maybe what is normal due to my insecurities. He then says i am in the one in the wrong and starts calling me names or tells me i am metally screwed and should get more help from my therapy.

I guess i am wondering how i can go about what i already know. I know i need to walk away. I know i need to stop obsessing and letting him treat me like this. Problem is, it has gone on for so long, it is hard to break the cycle.

Have started therapy, but am still having problems...
posted by spotty_dog to Human Relations (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
yes, you know what you need to do. therapy's a good start. why don't you also start making a plan for how to leave him? if you cohabitate, start looking for a new place to live.

even if you live apart, gather everything you need in case you need to sue for child support after you split. make sure to put his name on the birth certificate.

how about your other relationships--family and friends? surely they can help you through the birth and settling into parenthood.
posted by thinkingwoman at 11:48 AM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have already moved home with my parents as living together got so bad. I thought maybe this would help our relationship.

I don't want to wallow in self pity. I am so excited about having this baby; she is going to make my life complete in that sense.... i guess i just didn't think i would have to be doing it alone.
posted by spotty_dog at 11:56 AM on September 1, 2007

hundreth time ... though nothing physical has ever happened the intention was there ... more he treats me like crap

this seems strange to me. i can see that you may not want to give details of private issues, but without anything to back up what you say it's possible to read the above as though he's not actually doing anything wrong.

if there really is abuse, fine (in a manner of speaking!) - it looks like you are understanding that and moving in the right direction. on the other hand, from what is written, it's equally possible you're crazy paranoid.

this is so difficult - if you're anything like my partner she will try like crazy to see the best in someone. in which case you are completely right. on the other hand, i always wonder what the other side would say if they were present in these askme questions.

on preview: please also be realistic about what it's like to have a baby. they can make your life a misery. do not count on the baby making things better - you need to make things better yourself.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:58 AM on September 1, 2007

Best answer: Think about it this way: is this guy a model you want for your child? You have kind of a unique opportunity here, in that you know what you need to do, and you're having a hard time doing it for yourself, and normally you need to do these things for yourself and no one else...except you have the best possible "someone else" to do this for.

It's always hard to break a habit. You're going to think about him, you're going to what-if and if-only and think and think and think about it, because that's normal. The standard advice is to keep busy, because you just need to do something else for a bit to keep your mind off the what-if if-only. Time does a fantastic job of providing perspective if you'll leave him alone and let it. You're about to get really, really busy, so if you can just hang in there just a smidge longer, before you know it you'll have the clarity of hindsight to help you along.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:10 PM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The intention of being with other women but never anything physical happening is just an example.

Much worse has happened but if i was to start talking about them, i would risk losing my mind again for the night!
posted by spotty_dog at 12:11 PM on September 1, 2007

though nothing physical has ever happened

I assume you know you have no reason to believe this is true - every reason to believe he is lying about it, in fact, and God knows what else he is getting away with lying about. You are to some degree enabling his behavior by giving him this sort of benefit of the doubt which he unquestionably does not deserve. As an objective outside observer there is no doubt in my mind that if he has the will to cheat he has done so, probably repeatedly.

As long as you are engaging him emotionally, fights, shouting etc., you are inside it, playing his game. Have you specifically talked to your therapist about leaving him? You need to completely throw out the idea of any chance for this relationship, tell your therapist you want to leave him, even though you don't know how and are struggling hard with the idea, and start working from there. You need to tap into your personal support network and form a plan to leave. He should not be involved in this plan, he'll just suck you back in again. You need a place to stay, you need to figure out how to to quickly move as much of your essential stuff out as quickly as possible, and you need to start figuring out how to file for child support and what sort of life you're going to put together as a single mother.

Given that you've given it a week I imagine you're going to end up staying with him until after the birth, and I imagine that, typical of this sort of asshole, he'll probably clean up his act for a while when the baby comes, and be "so sweet," until he gets bored with that and starts chasing tail and whatever else again. At which point you can dig this thread up and review it again. I hate to be tactless about it but this is the way these sorts of things usually go. I honestly believe you'd be better off trying to get out before your child is born.
posted by nanojath at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you for responses - everything you all say makes sense.

Nanojath - i am in discussion about leaving him with my therapist.

I know it probably sounds pathetic, but even when you know what the right thing to do is, sometimes it is just so damn hard!
posted by spotty_dog at 12:50 PM on September 1, 2007

It seems like making these types of decisions WOULD be hard, especially when you are pregnant. My sister went through something similar 16 years ago. She had the great good sense to dump him before the baby was born. Was it sometimes lonely and a little scary doing it on her own? Yes, absolutely. But a helluva lot better than doing all of the work needed to have and raise a baby with her albatross of a boyfriend hanging about her neck. She went through therapy, got her act together, finished her ungrad degree, is a terrific mom, and married an absolutely great guy 4 years later. Today, they have an amazing 16 year old son and a lovely daughter.

Having a baby is wonderful and very, very hard. It will turn your world upside down. It's somewhat easier with a good partner but hell on earth with a bad partner. Sounds like he would be a bad partner. Cut him loose.
posted by jeanmari at 1:19 PM on September 1, 2007

Ugh, so sorry you're in this spot. 2nding/3rding the above sentiments that caring for a newborn is already one of the hardest things on earth so if you know you're going to walk away, it makes a lot of sense to do it now. You will resent and chafe and be sucked dry by every interaction that is not directly and positively related to caring for your baby. And that's in a good relationship! Getting your legal ducks in a row is also good advice as you don't want to be scrambling to deal with that stuff six months from now when you emerge from the fog of childcare. You may want to wait until after delivery if you think your ex will make a fuss about paternity if you split sooner.

What Lyn Never said about your guy being a model is one aspect of the dynamic you're in. But you're the other half of the equation. Do you want your daughter to grow up learning that the way mom lets herself be treated is how she should be treated?

Maybe try envisioning yourself a year from now looking back on today's self and saying, "Wow, that was a hard year. But it was better than being scared of the person I'm with and hurt all the time."

Good luck and I wish you an easy delivery!
posted by cocoagirl at 1:39 PM on September 1, 2007

What makes you think that caring for a child by yourself is going to be harder than taking care of two? This guy sounds like a selfish, useless, immature prick. Just go.

Don't even do it for yourself. Do it for the person who didn't ask to be born into an abusive relationship.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:35 PM on September 1, 2007

Best answer: spotty_dog, I've been in a similar kind of relationship, and it took me over a year to get out, so don't be too hard on yourself. It takes a while to figure out how to get unstuck from these things.

1. How to break the cycle, how to not let him treat you like this? Practice. Start with small things. Practice is key. Do you know the phrase "the hand teaches the heart?" It means that the best way to teach yourself what something feels like, or how to do it, is to just actually do it. It won't feel natural at first, but do it anyway. "Fake it till you make it."

I was the same way you are -- I knew in my mind I shouldn't let myself be treated certain ways, but I put up with it, maybe because I didn't believe deep down that it really was wrong. I had to teach myself it was wrong by taking little baby steps where I showed myself what it felt not to be treated that way. I would never have suddenly been able to leave without taking tiny baby steps based on the idea that I deserved better. Practice, little steps, are how you break the cycle.

You point this out yourself. You say, "the more he treats me like crap though the more shit i take!" You have to get this feedback loop going in the other direction -- the more you protect yourself from being treated like crap this time, the less and less shit you will be willing to take next time!

2. Okay, what should you practice? Disengaging. Walking away from situations that feel bad, and walking toward situations that feel good.

Why disengagement? Because he knows how to win the fights and make you feel bad. Because nanojath is right, whenever you're fighting, you're hooked in, you're stuck. You're there in some situation where you can't control him, and he's doing something that makes you feel bad.

You have very limited control over what he does. But you have a lot of power over your own body. So, are you feeling bad in a certain situation? You don't have to be feeling that. Leave, walk away, hang up. Go do something that makes you happy instead. The bad news is, you probably can't get him to stop lying to you or insulting you. The good news is, you don't have to! You have a much easier option -- just walk away. Physically move your body into a situation where you're not having to deal with him and his tendency to hurt you.

A personal example -- this bad guy I was dating was often really angry and would stay angry over tiny things. Normally, I'd plead with him to stop being mad. This time, I apologized (like normal), but when he stayed mad, I said, "I already apologized, and I hope you'll accept my apology, but if you don't want to, that's your choice. But I don't want to be around you if you're mad at me. So I'm going to go out." Then I left, and went out to see a movie on my own. It was amazing -- it was so easy! I didn't have to get him to stop being mad! I just walked out the door and went to see a movie! Like magic, I wasn't hanging out with someone mad at me!

So, start with the small things. Unhook and rise above all the negativity, in little ways at first. Practice. Break the cycle, starting in small ways. It won't take long to get even stronger and break it in bigger ways. You could start with the namecalling and insults. You could just make a policy that he can discuss your behavior, but as soon as he insults you or calls you a name, the conversation is over. Then, if he insults you, don't let yourself be insulted -- go do something fun instead. Let us know how it goes.

3. Finally, set a bottom line for yourself. People's behavior often gets worse so slowly that it's easy not to notice. Draw a clear line in your mind what you absolutely will not tolerate. What ways will you not let him treat you or your child? Decide now what line means you are 100% out the door forever.
posted by salvia at 11:08 PM on September 1, 2007 [16 favorites]

Okay, now I feel bad for having made it sound like there are a few simple step-by-step instructions for getting out. The one thing I know from my experience is that it was not easy to get out. I often found it perplexing that I was continuing to put up with it all and incomprehensible that I didn't just leave. I got really frustrated, and had big battles between the "just leave now!" side of myself and the side that resisted. It's not easy. Having gotten yourself some outside help and having already moved out were already really smart moves. Best of luck.
posted by salvia at 11:19 PM on September 1, 2007

Not an answer, but I want to say that you nailed it when you said it's hard to get out because the pain has been with you for so long. From my own experience and that of my close friends, I'd say it's much more difficult to break off a bad relationship than a good one. You feel like you've put so much into it, and you don't want all that effort to just be for nothing. And you've been holding on to a thread of hope through all of it -- relinquishing hope is terribly sad. So if you're thinking, "What's wrong with me, why can't I do the obviously right thing and dump the MFA," be kinder to yourself. It's very, very hard for anyone in your situation.
posted by wryly at 9:01 AM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

2nd a lot of andrew cooke.

i am 39 weeks pregnant

Your problem might well solve itself. I had a baby very recently, and it takes no small effort now to sustain a relationship even with the guy who gets up in the middle of the night with me. Some bozo I didn't even live with would be the furthest thing on my mind right now*; any pre-baby relationship drama would've gone out the window in no time. I'm happy and exhausted and have no time for non-wonderful people; hopefully you will be too. You'll barely have time to think about him, let alone see him, so -- my advice would be to forget the guy for the time being, and let things naturally fall by the wayside over the next few weeks.

* Yeah, it does sound silly to claim oh-so-busy while posting here, but
posted by kmennie at 10:30 AM on September 2, 2007

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