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Author Topic: I seem to attract abusive relationships.
techie
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This time last year, I was in a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship, and managed to completely not notice his abusive patterns – or at least, I did, but I chose to ignore them, as well as the advice people gave me that it was a bad relationship. I don’t even remember being given the advice, though I’ve been assured that it was.

I just got out of an emotionally abusive friendship – well, he ejected me from it. He essentially spent the last 6 months attempting to groom me into a relationship – despite a happy, healthy relationship with my exclusive boyfriend, who I love. He basically convinced me of everything I said here: http://www.scarleteen.com/cgi-bin/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?/ubb/get_topic/f/3/t/011538.html despite the fact that as soon as I saw my boyfriend again, I realised I didn’t feel that way at all. He persuaded me into cheating on my boyfriend with him, saying that I was obviously so unhappy that I deserved to break up with my partner to start a new relationship with him – the only person who could possibly understand me. Once I did cheat, he used that as proof that I couldn’t possibly love my boyfriend – and that I –had- to break up with him, for his own good, and I was just a bad person if I didn’t.

I saw my boyfriend yesterday, planning to break up with him under the influence of the manipulation, but when I saw him I realised I just didn’t want to. I confessed to the cheating, and when I got home, I told the other guy that I couldn’t be with him. He flipped out, and told me I was worthless and that I should kill myself, and that he was going to self-destruct and it was all my fault for using him and being such a selfish whore, and making me feel guilty.

He’s now refusing to talk to me – which I can only see as a good thing, now. But I’m still rattled… how do I let myself get into these relationships? And what do I do now?

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Heather
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These are obviously really big questions, and too, in any relationship, you're only going to be part of the equation.

But if you're seeing a pattern of abusive or manipulative partners or friends, there might well be some things you can change to help break that pattern.

Let me see if we can't establish some basics here that might be involved in this pattern.

• How do you feel about yourself? In other words, what's your own self-esteem and self-image like? What about what great things you feel you have to offer a partner?
• How able do you feel to ditch or say no at the onset to relationships or people? If someone has interest in you, is that in itself something that would draw you into a relationship to them, without shared interest or feelings?
• How able do you feel NOT to be in sexual or romantic relationships. When was the last time you weren't in something, and for how long?
• How do your relationships tend to go pace-wise? In other words, do you take time building trust, seeing how things are before getting very involved or move more quickly?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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techie
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• How do you feel about yourself? In other words, what's your own self-esteem and self-image like? What about what great things you feel you have to offer a partner?
I have horribly low self esteem a lot of the time, and I'm aware of this. I don't think I'm a bad/worthless/terrible person so much as I'm just not... of worth or much good? If that makes sense? Like if there was a scale of worth, being a terrible person would be negative 1, being a good person would be 1, and I'm just 0. I don't think that I'm an interesting person, and I personally can't fathom why people would like or want to be with me. I accept that for the most part, they obviously do, or else they wouldn't, but what with this guy and the ex, I'm starting to become scared that actually people can act like they want to be with me while having more sinister intentions.

• How able do you feel to ditch or say no at the onset to relationships or people? If someone has interest in you, is that in itself something that would draw you into a relationship to them, without shared interest or feelings?
I feel more able now than I did this time last year, which was why I was able to call it off with the other guy, who I'll call M just to relieve any potential confusion between him, my partner and my ex. In the case of the ex though, I did just date him because his interest in me drew me to him, I had no initial interest at the start.

• How able do you feel NOT to be in sexual or romantic relationships. When was the last time you weren't in something, and for how long?
Between my ex and my current boyfriend, there was 5 months. Before that, 15 years xD I'd say I'm quite able to not be in a relationship, but I'd be torn apart if I wasn't with my current partner - he's one of the best things in my life, flaws and all. I think that's him, though, not just a relationship figure. That is him, warts and all, the man that I love, that's one of the best things.

• How do your relationships tend to go pace-wise? In other words, do you take time building trust, seeing how things are before getting very involved or move more quickly?
I tend to take 4 steps forward, 1 step back, as it were. I'll jump into very intense relationships quite quickly, and then draw back from them - and then back forward again. My current partner is the only person I've actually kept at a consistent pace with, possibly because he also had his own reasons to take things slowly. I was very controlled about what we did and where and when to stop, and that I knew I could stop.
With the two abusive guys, I jumped into being with them very quickly. The ex I dated after meeting him only 3 times, all of which in a 'professional' context (two were work experience placements on my part where he was my supervisor, the other was him visiting me at a school performance). The manipulative friend - we just hit it off really quickly. We had strong mutual chemistry, and he confided things in me that made me feel able to confide things in him. Nothing sexual happened for 6 months, because I felt secure in my relationship with my partner, but as soon as I felt small doubts, it only took three days to go from a kiss to manual sex. (I also have some awkward feelings about how consensual those were, but I don't feel quite like I can unpack them straight off the bat, I'm not sure where I would start...)

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Heather
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You know, if and when we think we're crap or of little value, we will tend to only or mostly connect with other people who either like -- for their own reasons -- our esteem being so low or who also think they're crap. And, perhaps obviously, some folks will be decent people who just also have low self-esteem, while others will be people who earnestly are not safe or sound people.

As well, healthy people who think well of themselves and want to think well of the people they get involved with will also tend to shy away from people with low self-worth.

So, one very big thing you can work on to help break this pattern is to work on your own self-worth, and not one you get from others at all, but that comes from yourself, who you are, and what you do.

Too, only five months outside any relationships, especially with abusive ones in the mix since you first started dating, especially long-term ones, very invested relationships, also isn't likely to have given you much time to kind of become yourself on your own, develop that esteem and value and be able to feel a value outside these relationships. Know what I mean?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67925 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
techie
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"Too, only five months outside any relationships, especially with abusive ones in the mix since you first started dating, especially long-term ones, very invested relationships, also isn't likely to have given you much time to kind of become yourself on your own, develop that esteem and value and be able to feel a value outside these relationships. Know what I mean?"

I get what you're saying there, but I'm slightly uncomfortable terming my ex as a proper relationship? Not because what he did doesn't merit him that title, but because we only met a total of 5 times, and the whole thing happened between March 3rd and April 9th. For me, that was 'off the record', as it were - the current boyfriend I have is the only one I'm counting.

As is, I get what you're saying about the esteem thing, and I should really work on that.

I realise I'm going to be completely inconsistent here by deviating from what I initially asked about, which is how I seem to draw these sorts of people to myself, but actually, can we talk about M? This whole thing with him only ended yesterday, and I'll have to see him on Tuesday, and, well, I'm still trying to process whether or not something scary and nonconsensual happened or not.

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Heather
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We can talk about whatever you want to. I'm a bit on and off today, and will be here more solidly tomorrow, but I'm happy to get started with talking about M if you'd like.

(And I only went with the issue of a pattern of abusive relationships because you opened by saying you attract them. That given, I assumed we were talking about at least two, if not more.)

Why don't you get that ball with talking about M and the questions you have about that rolling?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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techie
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For the record, I've had one abusive relationship, and one abusive friendship. Attracting people was probably the wrong term - more that I'm oblivious to them being bad for me until something bad happens, and that I ignore my own suspicions/the advice of others. I guess I feel... more predisposed to them? Rather than attracting them/having a high number.

I'll paste what I said above into here and then kind of... expand on that, I guess:

quote:
He essentially spent the last 6 months attempting to groom me into a relationship – despite a happy, healthy relationship with my exclusive boyfriend, who I love. He basically convinced me of everything I said here: http://www.scarleteen.com/cgi-bin/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?/ubb/get_topic/f/3/t/011538.html despite the fact that as soon as I saw my boyfriend again, I realised I didn’t feel that way at all. He persuaded me into cheating on my boyfriend with him, saying that I was obviously so unhappy that I deserved to break up with my partner to start a new relationship with him – the only person who could possibly understand me. Once I did cheat, he used that as proof that I couldn’t possibly love my boyfriend – and that I –had- to break up with him, for his own good, and I was just a bad person if I didn’t.

I saw my boyfriend yesterday, planning to break up with him under the influence of the manipulation, but when I saw him I realised I just didn’t want to. I confessed to the cheating, and when I got home, I told the other guy that I couldn’t be with him. He flipped out, and told me I was worthless and that I should kill myself, and that he was going to self-destruct and it was all my fault for using him and being such a selfish whore, and making me feel guilty.

M used to be my best friend, or so I thought. But looking at behaviours of emotionally abusive people, I noticed a lot, and I mean a -lot- of red flags.

He isolated me from people - at lunch, if a group of us were all going to town, he'd deviate off into a shop so I had to go with - as I'd be buying lunch for both of us (as he couldn't afford it). He preferred to sit and talk as just the two of us.

He probed - he'd confided a lot in me about his own psychological traumas, so I felt able to confide in him. Once I'd done that, he sort of... pushed at boundaries, to find out where my real insecurities were. At the same time, he'd defend me from guys exhibiting similar behaviours - because he 'understood' me, and they didn't.

He emphasised how alike we were - negative and positive qualities. We were both "uniquely f*cked up".

We had an argument over a boundary he pushed, and in it, he used all the insecurities I had against me. In his words, "Nobody cares about you, nobody cares about me. Nobody cares if you were raped." He made me feel as if I were responsible for the argument taking place, because my boundaries were so unreasonable. He then acted really 'off' the next day - not talking to anyone, not making eye contact. He said it was because our argument had triggered him - which made me feel horribly guilty, despite the fact that I'd been badly triggered too.

He used to threaten to leave our friendship, because he wasn't any good for me. It made him seem like he had my best interests at heart, but it just made me fight to keep him harder because I knew how isolated he felt and I thought I understood that he was just trying to push me away in an act of self sabotage.

The most recent thing all kicked off with my uncertainty around the recent pregnancy scare - that had put a strain on communication with my boyfriend, combined with the end of the fluffy harmonious honeymoon period of the relationship, left me feeling stressed and a little disillusioned. I confided about this in M, who then began to act on it. He'd offer me hugs because I "needed male support - which you obviously aren't getting from who you need it from".

One day, the day I took the pregnancy test, I was so overwhelmed that I just needed a shoulder to cry on - and to kiss, it turned out. The next day after school, he walked me somewhere private, and started talking about "us". We ended up sitting in a park, and he put his hand on the inside of my thigh, initiating the game "Are You Nervous?" When I initially answered no, he immediately went to touching me between my legs. When he asked again, I didn't answer for a good minute or so, at which point I said "I feel I ought to say no..." and I was stammering. I know that isn't strictly nonconsent, but it wasn't really consent, either. Nothing that would hold up in a court of law, but enough so that I feel... squicky.

The next day he did the same, but told me to beg him to touch me first, which I did. I didn't really feel in the right state, though... I felt quite fuzzy headed, and there was an inner voice saying "No." while I outwardly begged.

He told me that because I'd cheated on my partner with him, I had to leave him - after all, he'd left -his- partner of 2 years just because he liked me, and that wasn't even with hopes of anything happening between us.

I said I would, but... I didn't. I didn't want to. As soon as I saw my boyfriend I realised how sincere and honest his care for me was, and I just asked him to hold me, and I didn't part from the hug for about 5 minutes. I confessed to the cheating, because I didn't think I could carry on lying to him or misleading him.

When M found out, he flipped out - said I was using him, he'd been a tool, I was just like 'all the others', and that I was worthless and had nothing worth living for. He taunted me about my insecurities and was generally malicious. Even when he was doing that, he was saying he still cared about me and wanted to give me another chance. Despite this, he sent me an email outlining the ways in which he never wants me to talk to him again, and how we are to not see each other at our mutual place of education. That was yesterday.

I realise this must be a horrendously long post, and probably not one that makes a lot of sense, but like I said, this has all only finished yesterday, so this is really the first I've processed it. I haven't been thinking clearly the past two weeks - I've been crying, a lot, my sleeping patterns have screwed up, and I've been feeling lonely and lost and unsure about what to do with my life, or what the point was. His manipulation just got to me so much, I couldn't think.

I feel like I'm out of it now because he's refusing to talk to me - which I guess is meant to guilt me into trying to get him back, and to leave my partner for him? - but I know its probably not, because I will still have to see him 4 days a week, and you can't snap yourself out of the effects of 6 months of steady manipulation. I think there's a lot I missed out - I'm not processing this well right now.

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Heather
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Oh, holy bananas, techie, you were put through the MILL by this person. I've no doubt you've been feeling confused and upset. Sounds like there was an awful lot of awful here that really steamrolled. I'm so sorry you've been through all of this.

And of course, abusive or not -- and I'd say this most certainly was -- the loss of a best friend is a big thing, a horribly sad thing, an awful thing.

You know, for as much as you say you didn't see the dysfunction or control here, and maybe for a while you didn't, it seems to me you have a very good handle on it now and are now identifying it all very clearly.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67925 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
techie
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"You know, for as much as you say you didn't see the dysfunction or control here, and maybe for a while you didn't, it seems to me you have a very good handle on it now and are now identifying it all very clearly."

See, that's what kind of frightens me - I was completely unaware, as far as I was concerned, or ignoring it, for 6 months, and then it only takes me a day to identify? I'm scared by the fact that I can be so blind.

I also remember something I said to another friend that I am -kicking- myself over, after our first argument: "You know, I'm kind of getting a feeling that M really, -really- isn't someone I should be close to."
"Agreed. I'm a bit scared, hun."
"Nah, it'll be okay. I'll just stay friends with him - that won't be -intimately- close, so I'll be fine."

I knew and even -admitted- he was a scary person, but I just... arghhh.

I don't get this, at all.

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techie
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Oh, and thanks for the reassurance [Smile]
Posts: 160 | From: England | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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