When I speak to people who have been in an abusive relationship, there are usually common factors. Do you have the characteristics that make you more vulnerable to stay in an abusive relationship? Abuse includes physical, mental and emotional abuse.
Fear of being alone
This fear can be very intense and you will do anything to avoid being alone, including staying with someone who is no good for you. You tend to ignore your own needs and values to keep the relationship going. If this is the case you may be doing things that are not in your best interests. Perhaps you are convinced you will be alone if the relationship ends. It’s normal to feel lonely after a relationship ends but feeling alone is different. It implies isolation and alienation which isn’t normal.
When you are self critica, you become your own worst enemy. It can lead to feeling of worthlessness. If your partner criticises you for the same things you feel insecure about, it’s much harder to maintain positive personal boundaries and counteract the criticism from others.
Being sef critical can be tied up with feeling worthless – a sense that others are superior to you. This belief can make it more likely to go for people who breate you and put you down. After all this makes sense as it is how you see yourself. Being self critical is unhelpful. being discounted, devalued or demeaned by your partner will only increase self ctricism and feelings of worthless. It’s a dangerous downward spiral until you end up a shell of your former self.
Feeling responsible for others’ happiness
If you tend to assume too much responsibility for other people’s happiness, you may be more inclined to end up in an abusive relationship. Narcissists are adept at picking up on vulnerable people who would be easy to manipulate. They love kind, caring individuals with empathy. Thing is they don’t respect that love, they abuse it and use it for their own needs. An abusive partner often uses guilt to manipulate.
Do you like to take care of others? Be careful not to do too much for others. it’s all about balance – a win-win situation where both people get their needs met through compromise and communication. If you are passive, you are essentially giving your partner a message saying their needs come before yours. Never a good idea. When you feel responsible for making others happy, you open yourself up to being an emotional punching bag.
Do you tend to think you have more control over your life than is realistically possible? This faulty assumption leads you to feel guilt and shame for not being good enough when confronted with what you feel is personal failure.You take responsibility even when you had little or no influence over the situation. Your partner can easily arouse these feelings in you because you are convinced that if you were better in some way you would have control and never fail. This is unrealistic and will create added, unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Fear of losing the relationship
Are you hypervigilant about your partner possibly leaving you? This can lead to you trying too hard and putting the balance out in the relationship. You may have deep issues around abandonment and this will create stress and changed behaviour in the relationship that may not be helpful to you. It may end up with your partner taking advantage of your fears and insecurities.
Bad history in relationships
There are very few people who have not had disappointment in relationships. They could be any type of relationship, not just with a romantic partner. This disappointment can carry over into other relationships. For example – if you had a difficult relationship with your parents, this will affect your adult attachment style.
Or if you were betrayed in a previous relationship, you may fear and expect betrayal in subsequent relationships. You may not be able to trust your partner. You could benefit from some self reflection on how previous betrayals affected you and how they currently influence your attitude and behaviours.
Thinking about the above characteristics can help you to be more aware of your behaviours that may in some way be influencing how your partner treats you. This isn’t to say that any abuse would be your fault but in some ways we facilitate the abuse without realising it.
If you find that you repeatedly end up in the wrong type of relationship, it might be worthwhile discussing these patterns with a Psychotherapist to unravel the underlying reasons and find a realtionship you truly deserve.