Emotionally Abusive Relationships and Excuses
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute mental health advice.
I was inspired to write this article after several conversations with different women from all walks of life who have one thing in common: They make excuses for the men who are emotionally abusive towards them. Please share this article if you know any women who make the excuses for emotional abuse on this list and feel it could help them.
"He Didn't Mean It."
Everyone makes mistakes and says things they later regret. The question to ask yourself is, was it a mistake or is it a pattern of behavior? Saying hurtful, negative things and apologizing later can become a cycle of emotional abuse if there is no genuine effort to make a change.
"He's Not Like This All the Time"
Research shows there is a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions that allows people to feel fulfilled in a relationship. In other words, the frequency of negative comments has a much greater impact than the severity of those comments. Hard to believe, but it's backed up by social psychology research. This is the main reason why women stay with men who say terrible things. The majority of the time, those same men may be nice and charming. This concept is related to the "critical positivity ratio," which distinguishes happy people from unhappy people by the ratio of positive to negative emotions they experience.
"He Loves Me."
Too many women conflate emotion "love" with love-love. True love builds you up as a person. At times, it may be challenging, but it is never abusive or degrading or tragic. Love is not pain or tragic romance. Love is not waiting at home alone wondering which version of your significant other is going to walk through the door tonight. Love makes your life better, not worse.
"No One Else Will Ever ___"
"No One Else Will ___"
Yes, they will. It doesn't matter whether this blank is filled in with, "take care of me," "love me the way he does," "be able to look past my flaws," or "make me feel safe." An emotionally abusive man may seem like the best at one thing or another, but he is never the best thing for you. The biggest lie abusers of all kinds tell their victims is that "no one else will ever ___." This is often sadly accompanied by a perversion of the concept of soulmates. Many women stay with abusive men because they believe that he is their soulmate. In reality, the only thing an emotional abuser is for certain is replaceable.
"He Has a Point."
The hard truth here is that some abuse stems from genuine criticism, but it is always twisted. How can you tell the difference between emotional abuse and constructive criticism? Constructive criticism may be hard to hear but it always comes with a way out. An action you can take to better yourself in some way. Emotional abuse is designed to create a dead end where you feel trapped, broken and irreparably flawed. This puts you in a mental state to continue accepting the emotional abuse because you feel that you deserve it. It can be difficult to tell the difference, especially if your emotionally abusive husband or boyfriend picks targets that hold a grain of truth. Let's look at some examples of emotional abuse vs. constructive criticism:
"I love you and I'm worried about our health after those tests results we received at our physicals, so let's try to support each other by going for walks and cooking more meals at home."
"With all the weight you've put on lately, you'd never find another guy."
The key difference here is that the first comment may be difficult to hear, but the motivation is genuine concern for the partner's wellbeing and a desire for mutual motivation. The second comment is designed to tear her down and diminish her self-worth while increasing her emotional dependence on him.
"I see where you're coming from, but I don't think that's a practical solution to this problem because ___."
"What a stupid idea." "Why would you even suggest that?" "Are you kidding?"
Notice that the first example doesn't simply dismiss an idea the other person doesn't agree with. Constructive criticism rarely ends at the criticism itself. True to its name, it may address a problem in an underlying behavior, action or idea, but it is always with the aim of building the person up or constructing a better solution. On the other hand, the emotionally abusive responses are dismissive, infantilizing and downright mean.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
If you are being abused, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−787−3224.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.