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dating after abusive relationships. What realisations have you made?

(74 Posts)
chocoreturns Mon 26-Aug-13 08:37:11

I was talking to a friend about this last night who also had an abusive relationship and I found it incredibly reassuring to know it's not just me who feels like a crazy person now that I've dated a nice, normal guy.

So here's a few things I thought I'd share, please add your own experiences so that we can see that we're not mental when we think crazy things with non-abusive partners... things like these crackers - welcome to my internal dialogue!!

"I said I'm not in the mood for sex and he accepted it, no questions asked. Doe this mean he's not into me??"
- NO. He's just not rapey. Well done for finding a nice guy.

"I offered to pay for dinner and he said he would love to pay for me this time. What does he want from me, will I have to pay him back later?"
- NO. He' just wants to do something nice for you. Say thank you!

"He sends me messages after I go home telling me how much he likes me, what's his game? Why do I feel like he's setting me up?"
- HE JUST LIKES YOU. Not every guy says nice things as a prelude to tearing you down. Sometimes he actually just, you know, likes you. You are likeable you know.

"I might have to dump him. I don't know if I can stay with someone who is just so nice. It feels a bit wrong and boring."
- This is the biggest and worst legacy of all. It's ok to not have the crazy highs and lows, nice isn't bad, and nice isn't boring. Being safe is not boring. Being appreciated and treated politely isn't boring. And if you can stick with it and be patient, you might find that actually, nice is sexy as hell because when you stop walking on eggshells and relax a little, you'll find out that it's actually rather lovely to not be waiting for the next drama to arrive!

DragonsAreReal Mon 26-Aug-13 08:40:57

I want this, just not ready to date again after my merry go round with ex. I was convinced for years I had terrible PMT but funny how he's not here that has disappeared!

Dearjackie Mon 26-Aug-13 09:12:39

choco I am going to save this thread for when I eventually start dating again ( nowhere near yet) as I've just been dumped by my abusive BF. I've had every single example you've given done to me, plus more and they all have an ulterior motive. You have to PAY in some way for everything. Yet I still wonder if I'm imagining the ulterior motive. Maybe it's not until your in a good relationship that you realise it wasn't your imagination

mammadiggingdeep Mon 26-Aug-13 09:39:11

I can imagine what mine will be....that moment when the first disagreement/argument happens and it gets discussed.....and resolved....and hugs and apologies exchanged. Think I'll faint.....what no being ignored for a week??? No door slamming? No shouting? What, you're not gonna call me a fucking idiot???

Not ready at all yet....but when the time comes it's going to be great smile

Lahti Mon 26-Aug-13 09:42:48

I'm going to save this for future reference.

Kernowgal Mon 26-Aug-13 10:08:52

I'll save this too. I'm just not interested in dating at the moment but as my ex was my first big relationship I've based my expectations on what he was like, and I now expect every man to be like him, which I know is ridiculous.

somanyfake Mon 26-Aug-13 13:46:22

do they really exist

VelvetSpoon Mon 26-Aug-13 13:57:12

I've only met liars, bullshitters, perverts and misogynsts since my Ex (who was an abusive tosser but at least a relatively honest person) so I haven't found anything positive in it. Its simply reaffirmed my belief that most men are not very nice, and the decent ones have already been snapped up by someone else.

My Ex left my self-esteem on the floor, and being told I am unattractive, too fat, not girlfriend material, or just not good enough for whatever reason by a series of men since hasn't done much to improve that!

ofmiceandmen Mon 26-Aug-13 14:05:58

^I'd like to think they do... but I think you may know them as 'nice' guys grin.

OP this is going to be a slim thread.

It's a tough one. If we build our walls too high - only the idiots are brave enough to want to climb it because of the challenge factor.

We build our walls too low and everyone just tramps in and out as they chose.

Bull shitters say exactly the same thing as genuine people say.

"we get the kind of lover we think we deserve"

use this mantra and you'll weed out the bad treatment early, set your standards high but don't build a wall.

Now I only wish I could take my own advise sometimes. hmm ... ah well!

LemonDrizzled Mon 26-Aug-13 14:51:24

It was such a surprise when I did meet a nice man who doesn't get angry, sulk, or punish me for stupid mistakes. A hug and an apology fix most things. And there is unconditional approval. It is still astonishing!!

kasareem Mon 26-Aug-13 17:22:02

Oh wow, just stumbled across this thread and realised this is exactly what I was thinking when I first left my ex. 3 years later, I'm now newly married to my amazingly wonderful husband. I still get surprised by how thoughtful and kind he is, but in a nice way, not a suspicious 'what does he really want' way! Hang on in there and give yourselves time. And don't let any amount of awful, mean, selfish abusive men make you expect less than you deserve!

chocoreturns Mon 26-Aug-13 19:42:06

ahh thanks Lemon and Kasareem! lovely uplifting posts. I do believe the nice guys are out there. But it's taken me by surprise how quickly my head has taken to convincing me that I should sling the one I appear to be seeing, because I am so un-used to 'nice' that I seem to insert 'boring' or 'timid' or 'lying' in place. So I'm trying very hard to de-program myself and just enjoy it. I hope that 3 years from now I could be saying something has happy as the last two posters have. For all the rest of us still trying to get there, I'm just going to try and have patience with the crazy nonsense my head comes up with!!

TwoStepsBeyond Mon 26-Aug-13 20:02:42

I've realised that I can't trust my own judgment any more, as I put up with so much crap thinking that it was ok that I really don't know what is what any more!

I've also realised that even when red flags are pointed out by caring friends, that I can justify them and overlook them because my bar is set so low.

I need to raise it and make sure my DP is able to reach the dizzying heights of being a compassionate loving man without a hint of twuntiness. Am I asking too much?!

P.s. N/C from DoingIt x

dandydorset Mon 26-Aug-13 20:11:37

intresting thread

after 6 month split from my physical,mental abusive ex i met somebody a few months ago

its turned into an utter disaster and must have gullable written on my head,i even noticed red flags and tried to ignore them but couldnt

within 3 weeks he was spying/stalking me,accusing me of cheating on 6 guys with him and basically was an utter tosser

we finished this week i couldnt take anymore and wonder if im just use to this type

will i ever learn i dont think i will,utterly depressing

Kernowgal Mon 26-Aug-13 21:55:37

Dandy you obviously have learned because you've finished with him, you know his behaviour isn't OK and you've got out of the relationship.

All the abusive guys are nice at the start, otherwise we'd have never given them the time of day!

Of mice's 'we get the lover we think we deserve' is an interesting thought - I think I'm worthy of someone nice but my choices in men to date have demonstrated that I don't think much of myself at all!

dandydorset Mon 26-Aug-13 22:04:58

i suppose i like to think so somewhat,that i got out before i got hooked

im honestly horrified the amount of women that have/been in abusive relationships

why is this,are men more abusive than women generally??

pretty depressing in genral

mcmooncup Mon 26-Aug-13 22:12:54

Fantastic description of what it's like dating a 'normal' guy OP.

I have been dating for 2 years since my abusive marriage and have run a mile from nice guys because I didn't 'get it' and it didn't feel right. My right, I now painfully realise, is just so wrong.
I still find it very difficult to let someone pay for me.
I still find it very difficult to say my feelings to someone and they understand and listen and that they may actually care, rather than dismiss my feelings and humiliate me.
I still find it hard when I have done something to piss them off and get panicky at how they might flip out.
But overall I am getting so much better. I know my triggers, I recognise that I do a weird 'freezing' thing when I am triggered, I go into a daze, a sort of survival daze - think there is a word for's not fight, not flight, I literally freeze. And I have started to take control of that freezing and see it as my friend to recognise something has been triggered.
It has been known for me now if I am with a guy and this happens, to go to the toilet and just sit there and work out what the fuck is going on. It really really works.

I have recently met someone who I am really fond of. I know he is nice. But I still get triggers, but the recovery is underway and it is the healthiest relationship I have had in my life.

mcmooncup Mon 26-Aug-13 22:14:26

6 months is nothing, dandy. I think you have done great to end this relationship.....abusive men do come in different guises and we have to learn all the signs.
But you have done it. You have ditched him.
Every day is a school day grin

MamaTo3Boys Mon 26-Aug-13 22:16:17

I wish sad

18 months on and I'm still not ready to even talk to guys in a flirty kinda way, never mind date one!

Stepinstone Mon 26-Aug-13 22:22:21

I'm also with a nice guy now ... For me the hardest thing is that I get so stressed if I have to discuss something difficult. I think he will leave or get angry. He doesn't. Everything carries on. He holds me and tells me everything will be ok. He doesn't stop talking to me for a week.

I am so guarded though. Not sure I could live with anyone really. I expect it all to go wrong all the time.

Lackedpunchesforever Mon 26-Aug-13 22:23:44

I feel way too broken to date. And I feel fine with that. I can't trust my judgement and there is no way I could go through it all again.I've done Journey to Freedom and all it's done is convince me that dating is just too risky.

mcmooncup Mon 26-Aug-13 22:30:03

I completely get what you are feeling mamato3boys and lackedpunches however I did make a decision to say that I would not let my past dictate my future. I have really really enjoyed being single and dating, discovering things about myself, how I relate to men, I really want to get to a point where I do trust my own judgement. Risky I know, but I think I deserve it. Get me eh? wink

kasareem Tue 27-Aug-13 00:05:05

Mooncup, I know exgety what you mean. I was so lucky to have supportive family and friends, and the strength to say that one bad relationship wasn't going to change me. I am a very trusting person, and I look for the best in people and I was determined not to let some bloke change that. As in a lot of cases (I guess...) drink and drugs were a factor in my ex's nastiness.

actually still get the panic when something happens which would have produced a bad reaction from my ex, but it's momentary now and a kind word or hug from hubby soon sorts it out! I know it seems like it would be impossible at the time, but if you think how quickly you learned to be scared and defensive, you realise how quickly you could learn to trust again in the right circumstances. chocoreturns, try to resist the urge to get out of a happy/'boring' relationship straight away...give it a chance! Honestly the peace you get from not living a soap opera life is worth any amount of 'excitement'/fear.

LemonDrizzled Tue 27-Aug-13 00:11:33

Dandy my first date after leaving EA XH was a man festooned with a marquee full of red bunting! There was a red flag thread on here not long ago worth a read. I managed to decide (with help from MN) that he was bad for me.
That freed me to meet the lovely kind sexy man I am with now and to recognize his qualities. Nothing is wasted! Even a bad relationship helps calibrate the Twat Radar

VelvetSpoon Tue 27-Aug-13 00:26:33

I guess you have to believe there are nice men out there - 4 years of singledom and being treated pretty much as badly as I was in my abusive relationship have left me with very little faith that there is anyone nice and single left, let alone that I have any chance of meeting one of them!

kasareem Tue 27-Aug-13 00:36:47

Oh velvetdon't give up, it's such a cliche but the right man is probably not the obvious one. I already knew my DH before we got together, but changes in both our circumstances meant we suddenly noticed each other differently. You have to be consciously open minded or else you can keep going after the same type of man and not give someone truly good a chance

dandydorset Tue 27-Aug-13 00:46:09

lemon thank you

glad uve found somebody you deserve,gives hope to us all

Kernowgal Tue 27-Aug-13 17:58:27

I suppose a good way of looking at the "I'll never meet someone nice" situation is: you are nice, you are single, you exist. Therefore there is a good chance that there is also a man out there who is nice, and who is single. Then you've just got to hope that your paths will cross.

Lovingfreedom Tue 27-Aug-13 18:08:27

Beware love bombing after an abusive relationship. It's great to get presents, compliments, great sex and loads of attention...but beware. You might be in the adoration phase of what turns out to be a new abusive relationship or you might be getting groomed for something. In my experience I've enjoyed every minute of this phase before ditching...but really I should have seen...I did see...plenty of red flags. Could have got nasty.

dandydorset Tue 27-Aug-13 18:18:53

love you summed it up very well,my relationship after my abussive one was worse in some ways,the name calling,accusations started within 2weeks,i could see the flags,couldnt believe it was happening again

though i still blame myself and think its something i must do

MrsSnail Tue 27-Aug-13 18:21:14

I'm just out of an EA marriage and have learnt a lot but its so hard to believe someone else saying nice things actually means them and doesn't have some nasty ulterior motive.

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Tue 27-Aug-13 18:24:49

It's very strange isn't it? I keep expecting my date to force me to do something or to criticise me.

He says nice things to me which is something I struggle with after being with a twunt of the highest order for years.

I find it hard to understand why on earth he would be interested in me (this would be because afore mentioned twunt told me no one would want me).

The man is a nice man. I've never had a nice man. Its strange but I am determined not to self sabotage because I deserve to be happy.

Am a little undecided as to whether or not new man needs to know about the abusive ex. Unfortunately twunt is still in my life due to DD, and still being abusive although now its 'only' sexual abuse, which is a vast improvement.

Lovingfreedom Tue 27-Aug-13 18:26:55

If you learn to trust your instincts and ditch out when boundaries are crossed. Don't accept too many apologies maybe? Shouldn't need to. I feel like I'm learning not to get so hurt but still attracting the nutters so far!

Lovingfreedom Tue 27-Aug-13 18:30:36

I think it's quite dangerous to accept compliments from a man when your self esteem is low. Better get some of that bolstering with help of friends and/or family. You lay yourself vulnerable.
Still getting sexually abused by ex? This is very concerning.

ivegotaniphone Tue 27-Aug-13 18:38:02

I'm so pleased I found this thread... I left STBXH 6 months and have recently been out with what seems to be a very nice man, who I knew before my marriage ended, but not very well. STBXH is still in my life (and my house sometimes unfortunately) due to DS. I have checked and checked for red flags with new man but cant find any, but also doubt my own judgement. I have run some things by a sensible friend, who tells me he is wooing me, which is strange but rather nice

Dahlen Tue 27-Aug-13 18:38:25

I can only make my comments retrospectively. After I left my abusive X I quickly discovered that I loved life as a single person and remained that way for many years. If you'd have asked me in the early years of that if I was over my X I'd have said 100% yes.

I wasn't.

I was over him sure, but I hadn't even begun to process the lessons from that relationship about how abusive relationships work, about why I didn't see the signs for what they were, about why I didn't leave earlier, etc. What he did was neither my fault nor my responsibility to prevent, but until I totally rewrote my own role in relationships, I couldn't have prevented it from happening again.

I would say that it took me two years to do that. It took me another year to find normal, because having opened my eyes to red flags I suddenly saw them everywhere and became convinced that 99% of the males I met were abusive. Since I knew men who categorically weren't abusive, I realised that I still hadn't found my baseline and had simply gone from being too trusting to too distrustful.

In all, I would say it was about a good 4 years before I was totally ready to participate in a normal relationship without either overanalysing everything or casting caution to the wind. It was 2 more years after that before I actually met anyone who interested me enough to want to bother.

We are now a year down the line. It has been the easiest relationship I have ever had. Absolutely no angst or game-playing. We are both able to be direct without being confrontational. Even when we want has been in conflict, we have been able to sit down and chat about it calmly and rationally without it descending into a row. And none of it has required any effort whatsoever. It is totally unlike any relationship I have ever had (only my recent X was abusive, in the relationship before that I wore the trousers). I will hold up my hands though and admit that if I had met him a few years earlier I wouldn't have been ready for him.

Bant Tue 27-Aug-13 18:38:30


I think there is some myth that people who have been abused must attract abusers again and again - they must give out some signal, which can lead into a negative spiral of self-blame even apart from those problems in an abisive relationship itself.

Whilst there may be vulnerable signals given off by some people, it's much more likely that abusive men are approaching everyone - but get told to fuck off by many women. The only way abusers are 'attracted' is if they're not rejected.

Most men, believe it or not, are actually decent people. But the abusers and arseholes just cycle round more often, online or in real life, because the decent ones get taken off the market and stay off the market. Abusers and twunts and players just keep on popping back up and seeing who's around who will accept their bullshit.

Those with decent self esteem will spot the flags and feel fine about telling them where to go, thus freeing themselves up for the next decent guy who comes along. And if he turns out not to be so decent, then they'd tell him to get bent too..

Fozziebearmum2be Tue 27-Aug-13 18:38:31

Some of what others have said reminds of when I met dh :-) ie not quite understanding when dh was lovely to me, 'was he after something?'

The other incident I remember was early on dropping some plates/cutlery in his kitchen when I was sorting out a nice dinner and I completely freaked out. He came in and asked if I was okay (after hearing a massive crash!) I panicked and apologised 100x and he was completely shocked and couldn't understand why I was worried. Also started shaking and ended up crying over him and explaining all about previous partner. He understood and was so supportive, he gave me the reins in the relationship so everything was at my speed, exactly what I needed! grin

MamaTo3Boys Tue 27-Aug-13 18:44:31

Wish I could find some of the strength you guys have got.

I'm totally off men and the idea of a relationship altogether.

I suppose I'd go as far as saying I'm quite bitter about the whole situation. I get angry about it mostly when I think of the "relationship" I had with xp.

Not sure if thats normal or just my way of coping with it really.

I refuse to let some other guy treat me like that again and so, stay away from them altogether x

Lovingfreedom Tue 27-Aug-13 18:47:52

I wasn't saying that certain people attract abusive's a matter of identifying red flags and not accepting unreasonable behaviour I think. But if you have low self esteem after abuse you can be vulnerable...easy game.

Bant Tue 27-Aug-13 18:51:42

Yep, I agree. But some people think in some way that they deserve it, because they've had their self esteem so damaged.

Dating itself can give people more self esteem, but they have to be in the right place to spot the flags and not accept them to avoid the tossers, and get to the point where they can accept a decent person for who they are

MrsSnail Tue 27-Aug-13 18:52:14

I've had that fozzie, freaked out apologising over spilling a drink and the poor guy had no idea why I was so panicked

Lovingfreedom Tue 27-Aug-13 19:00:45

I don't agree Bant. I think if you look to dating for your self esteem then you are at a high risk of getting hurt. It's too easy to get into the mindset of feeling grateful to whoever is going out with you.

VelvetSpoon Tue 27-Aug-13 19:11:34

I completely agree that relying on dating to boost low self-esteem is potentially fraught with hazaard.

It always makes me wince when posters say that dating has been great for their self-esteem, because so often that isn't the case. It worries me vulnerable people are encouraged by comments like that to rush into dating looking for a self-esteem boost, only to get caught up in game playing and twattish behaviour (of which there is a huge amount) and end up feeling worse rather than better.

I think the only way to approach dating (and the inevitable disappointments and lows that will result) is with a large and healthy self-esteem. Whilst dating might give you a boost, often it won't. I have seen too many people (mainly women) grateful for the flattery and attention of a man who is obviously an arse, just a different kind of one from their ex. It rarely ends well.

i'm going to watch this thread! I panick just by the thought of talking to guys.

Fozziebearmum2be Tue 27-Aug-13 19:55:27

Totally agree Velvet spoon, its best to stay alone until (and I know this sounds cheesy) you've built up your self esteem and are ready to meet someone again, no-one else can restore it, only you.

After my abusive rship, I rebounded into another disastrous relationship and then once that ended badly (he cheated on me loads) I resigned myself to be single and enjoy myself as a single girl with my mates (I went on one date in over a year). Cue dh, who chased me for 9 months... I didn't go out with him as wasn't ready, but when I was, he was there for me, and I realised that he was the one for me smile

It's not been plain sailing (I've had my issues to work through) but he's understood and been v patient. It's about meeting the right one, not meeting loads of men to boost your self esteem. I can't see how that would work, least not for me.

comingintomyown Tue 27-Aug-13 20:03:53

All I know is this :

Age 14- 44 in a constant relationship/marriage and up and downs

Age 44-47 single and carefree, happy and tons of self esteem

I am still far too busy bathing in the surprise and joy of being single so dating is out of the question. Men and relationships are very overrated I think , its a shame really.

Bant Tue 27-Aug-13 20:04:35

I should rephrase. I think if you have a healthy self esteem, then dating can boost your confidence as it gives you the opportunity to meet people who think you're great and decide if they're good enough for you - and you may decide they're not, and move on to find someone better. You have to have a certain level of self esteem to do it though.

I've seen lots of people (metaphorically) come back from dates feeling that glow of feeling good about themselves, and also being reassured that it was okay to dump someone who was showing red flags.

Other people who aren't in the right place yet though, it can be a negative experience.

So if you're feeling okay about yourself, dating can make you feel better. If you're not yet, then avoid it as it might hurt you more. The tricky bit is knowing what you're ready for. Dating can't give you self-esteem, it can just reassure you and improve what you already have if you're ready for it.

chocoreturns Tue 27-Aug-13 20:56:52

the one thing that is helping me to be ok with dating right now is the fact that I have done Freedom 3x (lol) and over the past year of doing it, I've met a group of amazing women who are also restoring their self-belief and esteem. We have dinner together, playdates with our kids and talk through the crazy thinking and cry about the awful memories. I feel normal even though some of my experiences haven't been normal.

I totally agree though it's a case of taking time to know yourself before you try to date. I had an horrifically abusive relationship in my twenties, out of which I gave myself a huge 3 months to be single before meeting my STBXH, and getting engaged to him a whole 4 months after that. I was incredibly broken back then in terms of self-esteem and saw no red flags, as I was so grateful that he wasn't as overtly abusive as the XP from before. Over time, his abuse was just as damaging. FA, EA, SA etc etc. The difference is that between the first ex and my early marriage I suffered depression and anorexia as coping mechanisms, while depending on a new relationship to fix me. This time I've spent 18 months attending Freedom, seeing a domestic abuse support worker and really learning about myself - what I like, what I want, and who I would like to be.

This time, even though I freak out and laugh nervously, while rushing off to make a calming cup of tea, if the new guy compliments me... deep down I'm starting to accept that maybe <just maybe> it's because he is just into me and nice. And maybe I can be ok with that. I'm still taking it slowly though!!

Bant Tue 27-Aug-13 21:14:53

choco - after dating for a while, I'm now seeing someone who I really like a lot. It's a long distance thing, unfortunately, but we skype every day for an hour or so (we did meet in person originally but she lives away)

And I tell her she looks great, that I like her smile, that I miss her. The only reward I expect for telling her stuff like that is to see her smile again at the compliments. I tell her because they're true, and it's nice to say nice things to nice people. And many, probably most men are like that. There is no ulterior motive, we just say you look nice because you do.

I can relate to a lot of the posts here. I am nearly 11 months out. Had a short fling, but recognised I'm still not ready to try again.
A major thing for me will be trusting that mistakes can happen or things go wrong and that nobody will go mental, shout or throw things.
The guy I had the fling with was complimenting me all the time and full of how perfect I was, but I just can't believe stuff like that after 8yrs of being criticised for every little thing.

currentlyconfuseddotcom Tue 27-Aug-13 21:38:46

Matchsticks yep me too, I've realised that I'm not ready. I didn't realise how insular and downtrodden I'd become and still get a bit startled when I talk to friends now and they yelp 'he hit you?' and 'he got arrested?' etc - I hadn't realised that I'd stopped telling people what was happening, I was a ball of terror for a while.

I've been really disappointed that I haven't just snapped out of it, so to speak. It's going to take a long time. Some people say they feel much better after they've left the relationship but I just feel a bit bewildered still that I let it happen, it changed me for the worst, and it took up so much of my life. Hoping to snap out of this eventually confused

chocoreturns Tue 27-Aug-13 21:40:02

Bant thank you for posting that, it's really helpful to hear a guys point of view. Timely too, as I just got off the phone from my guy, and he's just been bloody lovely again. And I've been slightly thrown by it all again.

Which I confessed to, because I realise that the only way for me to not make him feel weird in return is to at least try and explain a little bit when I find the compliments and thoughtfulness all a bit much. So we had a kind of mini chat about it tonight, and he said it's nice that I appreciate him, but he's a bit sad that I appreciate his niceness so much, because it tells him something about the other men I've known.

It's telling me something about myself too. I think it's going to take me a long time to be comfortable with a healthy relationship. Just as a random example, talking tonight about a hobby I'm into he offered to buy me something (in a slightly jokey way, but still) and I really felt uncomfortable - so he asked me if I can handle being spoiled a bit, and honestly, I just said no. Not really, so please don't do that, not yet anyway. It's weird when things come up that trigger the panicky feeling because I don't really know what will and what won't yet.

Montessorisam Tue 27-Aug-13 22:41:40

Chocoreturns - I can relate to everything you have just said too!! I have met someone and he is bloody lovely and caring. It is a beautiful thing and at the same time scary! Can I really let him in and trust him? I would truly like to but it will take time.

Strength to everyone on here. xx

BerylStreep Tue 27-Aug-13 23:45:33

Choco I was on your previous threads, and haven't caught up with what you have been doing for the last 5 months or so (although I have often wondered how you are getting on <stalker alert>)

I am delighted to hear you are dating. Enjoy!

Dearjackie Wed 28-Aug-13 06:32:19

I haven't started dating yet and won't be anytime soon as oly 4 weeks out. I think I will be terrified of the person leaving me as all through the relationship he did that if we had an argument, or I said something he didn't like/ want to discuss.

I became more and more insecure and predictably the arguments were then about my insecurity which actually he was causing. It was horrible. I don't think I'll ever be the same again certainly I'll never be relaxed. He used to say he loved me more than anything, he'd never leave me, he wanted to marry me. I'm only just realising the damage. Is it possible to come through it??

getmeoutofthismadhouse Wed 28-Aug-13 08:53:33

For me it was not having that feeling in my tummy when he came home from work like I used to with my ex. It took me a while to relax . Not having to worry that the house Wasnt tidy when he walked through the door. I was seeing the new guy for 3 months and it took me a while to figure out why when we had disagreements he didnt just kick off. Then I realised ... he wasn't my ex. He wasnt gonna smash up my house. I half expect it though. I expect to be spoken to like I'm nothing. The ex gives me abuse most days even now and somedays I would lie in my new fellas arms and feel relieved that the abuse wasn't in front of me anymore.

I split up with him last week though and partly because I am so used to drama and being around an abusive man , a normal laid back man I find boring and I was turning into a controller because I haven't had control of my own life for so long . I need to be on my own I think a while longer .

TwoStepsBeyond Wed 28-Aug-13 10:00:23

GetMe that really rings bells with me, that panic that he was due home any minute and the kitchen wasn't tidy and there were shoes near the front door, so I'd get the kids to rush around making it all look ok for him (and he'd still moan about the mess the second he got in).

I have also become a bit controlling, as ex had such specific ways of doing things that I had to adhere to, which I'm now passing onto my DCs and my new bloke. He says its hard to help me because he has to ask if he's doing things the right way all the time, I have trouble letting things go and just allowing him or the kids to step in and help imperfectly but then feel downtrodden because I'm doing it all!

I don't want to become the control freak who picks up on every little error, but when you've spent 10 years thinking that you can only use certain cups for certain drinks or that its the end of the world if someone gets crumbs in the butter, its difficult to let it go!

ResNullius Wed 28-Aug-13 10:17:33

"You look lovely" ....isn't a prelude to insisting on sex before going to wherever it is you had just finished getting ready for. Its just a compliment.

Compliments are not the leadup to a put-down punchline. They are just nice things he says because you deserve them

"What are you having" means you really are free to order from the menu and not have your selection rubbished, and changed to something which will go better with his wine choice.

"Let me help" is a genuine offer, not the opener for a 30 minute lecture on how something is supposed to be done, and your inability to perform any task correctly.

Laughter is shared about something, not his enjoyment of your stupidity

"I think I would like to keep my own bank account" is totally accepted - no rage until you agree salary can be paid into a joint account which you somehow never get the card for

God ...this list could be endless

DragonsAreReal Wed 28-Aug-13 13:15:19

I think I'd really like to be with someone who wanted to make plans and go on holiday with me instead of saying certain things like oh I'd never go on holiday with you all you would do is moan and I'd have to leave you there, or if we ever got married you do know you would have to buy your own ring and mine if you want me to wear one....

Someone just being nice would be nice, I like nice but tend to feel safer with not nice.

themidwife Wed 28-Aug-13 13:43:59

This is really interesting! I'm currently reading "women who love too much" & it's like reading about myself (& many of us on this thread perhaps). So worth reading! Because of the way my emotional needs were ignored as a child I have chosen damaged emotionally unavailable men because that feels normal. I have confused sexual attraction with love & friendship.

Not sure yet how that cycle is broken & my current partner is on his own journey to change too but it's so hard isn't it?

Stepinstone Wed 28-Aug-13 14:29:34

I remember the first time I cried in front of my partner, and I was so shocked when he just put his arms around me and comforted me.

I thought he'd storm out or shout that I was being manipulative! hmm

MarlboroughMillie Wed 28-Aug-13 17:56:21

I have only just seen this thread, and I wasn't sure I would identify with it - until I saw the bit in your original post about it feeling uncomfortable with someone who is consistently nice.

I have had a series of unhealthy relationships, and after the last one ended, I just despaired - I couldn't work out what I was doing to keep attracting people who treated me like crap. Even though they seemed so different on the outside, sooner or later the behaviours all seemed the same, and I felt worthless.

I saw a brilliant counsellor who helped me to see that just because somebody said something bad about me, it didn't make it true. That their opinion was simply that - an opinion - and no more valid than my opinion. It sounds so simple, but when that penny finally dropped, it was a lightbulb moment, and changed the way I viewed myself. Through my own eyes rather than reflected in someone else's.

After a year I met my current partner (OD does have some success stories!) and I can honestly say I NEVER had any idea that a relationship could be this easy. I worried terribly that the lack of drama would be boring, but it so isn't! My friends were tearing their hair out that I might throw away something this good. He moved in a few months ago, and life is so calm. I can't remember the last time I cried, whereas it used to be a daily occurrence. We are equal partners. He cares what I think, looks out for me, and me for him. He's great with my DCs, my parents, my friends.

I can't believe I have waited almost 50 years to discover that this is what my friends meant when they said they were happily married!

Hang in there and believe in the good when you find it. If you give it a chance, it might just really be as good as it seems!

chocoreturns Wed 28-Aug-13 18:58:49

all the positive stories are really helpful to hear, thank you for sharing! I knew I couldn't be the only one who was totally weirded out by 'nice and normal'. I think it's really great to remind each other (and especially the posters who have only just or recently left an abusive arse) that recovery is a process, not an event. You don't just wake up one day fixed because you changed the locks. It takes time, and the good times are sometimes just as challenging to adapt to as the bad times!!

I'm really happy for you guys who have stuck it out with lovely new DP's, and discovered that it was worth it. You're giving me confidence to do the same x

Misspixietrix Thu 29-Aug-13 00:06:12

"you don't just wake up one day fixed because you changed the locks" <<< This! I was seeing someone for a while a few months ago and I couldn't get over how NICE he treated me. He was nice when we got together (didn't rush me) nice whilst we were together and even nice when I decided to end it. I think it hit me at the beginning when he said to me "MissPixie I don't think you're used to anyone paying you a compliment are You?". Still kicking myself for letting that gem go...

themidwife Thu 29-Aug-13 03:30:38

Miss Pixie could you get him back?

Misspixietrix Thu 29-Aug-13 10:32:16

Yes probably. I'm still in contact with him. (see? Nice?). Lol. But I know I'm not in that place right now and I would feel a right bitch messing him around. Will always thank him though for showing me how a woman should be treated grin

themidwife Thu 29-Aug-13 11:27:09

Yes that's good. Our perception of a normal relationship is skewed isn't it?!

Lweji Thu 29-Aug-13 11:47:39

Interesting, I don't think I was surprised to be treated well, maybe because I never really felt like my relationship was normal, as such.

I am in contact with lots of nice men and I was painfully aware of exH's faults.

If anything, I may have the bar too high now. confused
Although perhaps not, as I think I still let nice people in. But I am very sensitive to any off behaviour.

Even today with a friend, when he suddenly told me "this is what you will do", with a long description of what I would say. Erm. No. And he was told that.
If he was a bf, he would have been told off immediately for expressing it in those terms.
And a yellow flag would have been raised for future reference.

Kernowgal Fri 30-Aug-13 19:47:19

My parents' relationship is so dysfunctional that it's no surprise that I ended up with the man I did. I have no idea what a good relationship is like. I just expect there to be sulking and shouting and point scoring and a general feeling of walking on eggshells.

How shit is that!!

Montessorisam Sat 31-Aug-13 18:58:43

My ex has just found out about new man and he has upped the abuse big style tonight...just been told he is gonna knock my effing block least Ex is showing himself up to be the abusive man I knew he was!!

chocoreturns Mon 02-Sep-13 10:53:23

Hi Montessoriasam I hope you're ok - that sounds horrible sad

I've just had a rather lovely weekend. I think I'm starting to relax a little bit. Having said that, some of the really nice things that are happening seem to come with a surprise kicker - the latest one was seeing new DP with my eldest DS, just chatting about something, but in a really lovely way.

Then realising that a) it's possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen, and b) I've never seen a man do that with my son before. It never happened with his dad. And that bit makes me incredibly sad, for DS1, for DS2... it's just so weird and unsettling. The good things about the new guy just seem to highlight the total shitness of my twunt, and I have all kinds of upset emotions that really have nothing to do with new DP.

I'm taking a step back to process how I feel about it. Not back from the relationship as a whole, but from the stuff with the kids. I'm glad he's met them and it's clearly going to be absolutely fine in the long run, but I don't know that I am ready to have someone (even someone bloody lovely) to be involved with them very much for now.

Montessorisam Mon 02-Sep-13 20:52:29

Hi Choco yes, it is horrible. EX appears to want to make my life as miserable as possible and is still doing a bloody good job of it! My new realisation is that I'm still very wobbly about everything and very very insecure!! Hate that idea but that's what comes of living with someone who disregards your feelings constantly....

Taking a step back seems to be a good idea and think I will follow your example....I feel all mixed up and confused about everything right now and feel that I should 'emotionally detach' a little bit from new man!

Whenever I have a lovely weekend or a fantastic time with new man I then feel sad that I have to go back to my stressful life with ex giving me grief and I feel guilty for being happy!! Would love to just feel happy without all the extra add-ons that come with it!

AintNobodyGotTimeFurThat Thu 03-Oct-13 17:49:08

*"I said I'm not in the mood for sex and he accepted it, no questions asked. Doe this mean he's not into me??"
- NO. He's just not rapey. Well done for finding a nice guy. *

That's really true actually. I didn't consider my ex partners to be that bad in comparison to a lot of other people's partners. He was horrible sometimes and very forceful, but I just thought that kind of happened. When I started going out with someone else, who was a friend at the time and really lovely and who I am still with I asked him to stop during intimacy once, can't remember the reason. He stopped straight away and I burst out crying. I was so shocked that he had stopped, if you see what I mean. He realised then how traumatic it actually had been for me, because that isn't really a normal response. We are great together and I love this man lots and lots.

I hope you all find someone deserving, if you haven't already.

I have a beautiful little girl with this man and I wouldn't change ANYTHING.

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