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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » ignoring red flags

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Author Topic: ignoring red flags
polyprotic
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Member # 45568

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I got out of my first long-term relationship a few months ago. I left things on fairly good terms, explaining that we just weren’t compatible. That’s all it really seemed like at the time. But alas, I just found out that he’d been having sex with his friend after we’d decided to become exclusive. That made me reflect on all the little things I should have seen coming a mile away.

For example, he’d say some really off things like “I own your body” and when I experienced pain/bleeding during sex, he was pretty nasty about it, refusing to believe that it was because I wasn’t aroused enough. Before I was ready to engage in intercourse with him, he did the hounding/guilt trip routine, even admitting that he’d thought about being forceful. His charming commentary on the SlutWalks included “Men should not get robbed. Let's get all the men together and throw our money in the street. That'll teach those pro-robbing assholes!!!!” All this after I disclosed my past abuse to him. And the biggest issue was that he pressured me into having unprotected sex. He told me he’d been tested for all STI/STDs. I later found out he lied about that, having only been tested for a very select few. He also told me he had no sensation while using condoms (which I knew was total BS all along) and refused to try other brands/styles. So eventually we ditched them, relying on my oral contraceptives. Mind you, most of this was through some pretty subtle, crafty manipulation.

You can see how angry I was about his infidelity based on the health risk alone. Luckily I tested negative for all the usual asymptomatic suspects. That just left me feeling stupid and quite hurt. How the heck did I let him pressure me into having unprotected sex, despite every ounce of my better judgment? Why did I stay with him after all of those nasty comments?

Tl;dr: It wasn’t at all that I missed the red flags. I guess I just ignored them, and I can’t figure out why. I so wish I could chalk this up to a learning experience right away, but I don’t know exactly what I (should have) learned from it. Does anyone have any words of wisdom on how to avoid things like this in the future? Those of you who experienced mostly unhealthy relationships growing up, how do you know what is normal and what isn’t in your adult romantic relationships?

Posts: 97 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
moonlight bouncing off water
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I haven't experienced anything along these lines, so I can't offer any advice from that perspective, but I'll give you my observations none the less.

This guy was abusive, manipulative and he put you in a lot of danger (both emotionally, physically and health-wise). You cannot blame yourself for that and you cannot blame yourself for ignoring the red flags. You're out of the relationship now and that is really, really good.

You seem very clear minded about this, you're doing a really good job of laying the facts out and looking at them and that is something to be proud of.

I'm not really sure if I answered any of your questions, but I hope my response helps a bit.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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polyprotic
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Thanks for your kind words, moonlight.

I know there's no silver bullet for getting out of these patterns. I was just hoping to hear from someone who's made some progress in this area.

[ 01-15-2012, 01:47 PM: Message edited by: polyprotic ]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Well, I do think it's important you're fair about your expectations of yourself. Expecting to be great at this right at relationship one of a serious romantic or sexual relationship doesn't strike me as reasonable to expect of anyone. With these relationships, just like with anything else, we learn as we go, and what level of life experience we have or don't have is a big factor, you know?

But now you have something you do know about, have experienced, and know to look out for. That's a good thing, even if it came from bad stuff.

Moving forward, if you feel like or know the only models you have ever had for relationships are unhealthy, have you done any reading here or elsewhere about healthy relationships? What about any work with a counselor to help you with this as you move forward? If, as it sounds, you were very vulnerable to someone like this, that often also means you could probably stand to get some help and do some personal growth work when it comes to your self-esteem: when our self-esteem is low, it's very easy for abusive or manipulative people to wiggle their way into our lives, and much harder for us to see what's really going on.

(Just another PS, coercion isn't something someone "lets" someone else do. If and when we are coerced we've been worn down or manipulated. That's how it works. So while, for sure, I think you can move forward and make some different choices in partnerships based on what you know now, nothing makes being manipulated or coerced something you did or your fault.)

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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: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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Hi, polyprotic. I've experienced a number of different kinds of relationships that were different stripes of abusive or unhealthy, and can't think of any healthy models of relationships while I was growing up.

For me personally, Heather's points about counseling/therapy and about deliberate learning of healthy models are huge points. Therapy helps me to learn that I am worth and deserve more than being treated badly, and is somewhere I can learn more healthy, practical ways of relating to other people, and where I can gain confidence in that. I've learned a lot by reading a lot, particularly in really reliable places like this. Reading general info and advice given to others about lots of different situations in relationships has helped me build up a much better picture of what healthy relationships look like and how to achieve one, what a healthy response to something would and wouldn't look like. I think that if we didn't have the chance to learn this from models, we probably need to learn it more consciously and deliberately later.

Also, I think you're doing pretty ok having these thoughts just a few months on. It took years for some truths about a not-great/abusive ex to dawn on me. I think it would be expecting too much of ourselves for us to figure out what our learning message is from something as soon as it happened, particularly if we've not had good models before. It's ok for us to take a while to figure it out.

One thing I think is important is that, even apart from any personal stuff with us, there's always a reason that we don't leave that is created by the abuser. When we ask ourslves "why did I stay?", there's always a situation that they created that meant we stayed. They can scare us, make us feel helpless without them, make us think it's our fault, or treat us so wonderfully half the time that we couldn't possibly imagine leaving - and various other things. It's really good for us to learn how to be healthier and how to try to watch out for people like that, but "why did I stay?" is never our fault. They create the situation where we stay just as much as they create the situation where they abuse us.

As for what's normal and what isn't, I reckon I still have no idea. I think I never will; but what I am getting is a sense of what's healthy. I don't think it matters whether we're like most people or not, but instead whether we can negotiate meeting our own and other people's needs, giving and receiving respect and compassion. Observing the world, often I think that what I see taken as "normal" isn't actually that healthy. Maybe this is just a really personal thing, but I find that abandoning an attempt at "normal" and going for "healthy" is a really helpful strategy, as I'm no longer trying to figure out what I'm "supposed" to be, but have the freedom to take notice of what actually seems positive to my life and what doesn't.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I just had to say that this is so, so, spot-on:

quote:
One thing I think is important is that, even apart from any personal stuff with us, there's always a reason that we don't leave that is created by the abuser. When we ask ourslves "why did I stay?", there's always a situation that they created that meant we stayed. They can scare us, make us feel helpless without them, make us think it's our fault, or treat us so wonderfully half the time that we couldn't possibly imagine leaving - and various other things. It's really good for us to learn how to be healthier and how to try to watch out for people like that, but "why did I stay?" is never our fault. They create the situation where we stay just as much as they create the situation where they abuse us.
Amazing contribution, Redskies. I've rarely seen someone put that better.

--------------------
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: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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