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why are some wonen attracted to abusive men

(81 Posts)
londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 09:20:19

Some women seem to be serially attracted to abusive men. Nature or nurture?

queenbitchapparently Thu 03-Oct-13 09:24:16

Nurture. Bad childhood, an abusive relationship, differing things leading to ignoring red flags or not thinking they deserve better treatment.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 09:24:47

I think that's an entirely false premise. Abusive men are not one homogeneous bunch. There are different ways to abuse someone. No-one sets out to get into an abusive relationship.

WeeHelena Thu 03-Oct-13 09:35:01

Think its more like abusive people are attracted to vulnerable and susceptible people.

Abusive people are 'nice and normal' in the beginning of a relationship but slowly or immediately test the boundaries of the other person to see how much they can treat or get away with and chip away at the other persons self esteem depending how much there was in the first place will depend how severe the abuse will be/get at first imo.

I think a lot of it is society and nurture from childhood.
It's often said woman as a whole are expected to work at relationships and tolerate men's bad behaviour and much more.
The nurture applies to both sex's in which you learn how relationships are and what is right and wrong in general by adults around you,it is ingrained in you,this applies to the abuser as well as the abused.

Dahlen Thu 03-Oct-13 09:54:03

I don't think men are by nature more abusive than women. As society becomes more equal that is becoming sadly apparent by the massive increase on male domestic abuse victims and female street violence. However, one of the reasons there remains significantly more female victims is social conditioning. As a PP referred to, women are conditioned to work at relationships more so than men.

Take a look around you socially and you'll probably find many happy marriages in which it is plainly obvious that most domestic work and childcare is carried out by the woman even if she too works full time. It remains the case that women generally earn less than their male partners and in many cases are financially reliant on them. All this benign inequality sets the playing field for abuse to flourish. One couple's normal, happy set-up can be manipulated by an abuser to create a situation in which the woman is constantly expected to wait on her abuser hand and foot and suffers consequences if she doesn't.

While I think the majority of people - men and women - are non-abusive, I think a sizeable minority are abusive. Current figures suggest 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience abuse, and by that we're talking about significant patterns of physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse. Abuse is accepted in our society. Not happily, admittedly, but accepted nonetheless. Court-imposed sanctions for abuse remain low. Abuse is no barrier to the abuser seeing children of an abusive relationship (even though the link between domestic abuse and child abuse is well established). Funding for refuges and emergency funds to help victims flee their abusers and start again have disappeared. Victims are encouraged to stay and put up because leaving and complaining creates a social problem that no one wants to face up to because there are no easy solutions.

Even if you are a perfectly normal, well-balanced person with high self-esteem, it would be very easy to pick up an abuser without being aware of it. There are simply so many of them around. People think some are more easily susceptible because of poor childhoods themselves, but the converse is true as well - if you've had the good fortune to experience a good childhood you can be ignorant to the signs of abuse. If you believe the best of people, it's easy to take the excuses and apologies as genuine.

chocoreturns Thu 03-Oct-13 10:04:39

I can't speak for everyone, but the reasons I have identified as to why I've had more than one abusive relationship are:
- My parents happy, stable marriage led me to believe that you should always give the benefit of the doubt, your partner is always doing the best they can for you, and compromise is worth it in the end. (What I didn't recognise was that I was the only person making excuses, doing my best and compromising myself - until it was too late)
- My early sexual and romantic experiences taught me that men only want one thing from you, so you'd best be willing to give it to them. That a womans worth is tied up in how she meets her mans needs. (I now know this is appalling and I am no longer willing to measure my worth in this way, but it IS ingrained in many teenage girls minds from the get go)
- My first abusive relationship was so goddamn awful that every grade 8 bastard after that seemed like an improvement on the grade 10 one I'd left behind, and the less obvious abuse (financial, emotional) didn't become obvious to me at all until I was well and truly enmeshed.

know it's only my experience, and it's not universal - but that's my two pennies worth.

Keepithidden Thu 03-Oct-13 10:16:53

No-one sets out to get into an abusive relationship

I'm sure the abuser does, hence the seeking out of vulnerable partners to abuse.

OP - I think WeeHelena hit the nail on the head, it's more a case of the victims being sought out, than them seeking perpetrators*. Almost like victim blaming (though I'm sure that wasn't the intent!).

* I'm sure this happens sometimes, as in "I can fix this person" type approach, it just doesn't appear that frequently AFAIK.

sillymillyb Thu 03-Oct-13 10:26:36

I have had a lot of psychotherapy to try and figure this out - in my case I seek out and actively choose men who are "bad" choices, because to me that is safer because it is then a known quantity. I ironically don't trust "good" men because I am always waiting to find out what the hidden abusive side will be. Better the devil you know sort of thing!

Hope that makes sense? I have been single now for several years as I have a little boy and would never risk involving an abusive man in his life, for me, dating is still too much of a risk.

Blondeorbrunette Thu 03-Oct-13 10:52:19

My parents divorced when i was 14 and my father would often come home from the pub and sit me down for hours and verbally abuse me.
He would tell me that I would grow up to be a tramp.

I think he singled me out as im the spitting image of my mother. She left my dad for my best friends father.

As an adult I asked my father why he had said those cruel things to me and he denied it. I said how interesting you didnt ask what cruel things and he went bright red.

We did make our peace and I know that he loved me- but the damage to me had been done. My father would often tell me I was very good looking but I had such poor self esteem. In my adult relationships and much to my shame I have caused pain to other people for reasons I just cant articulate well enough for it to make any sense. An example would be when a new partner tells me they love me I will finish it and almost make them prove it. Isnt that dreadful.

In the early days of my abusive relationship I simply didnt read the signs. Now when I look back I can recall them and recognise them as red flag.

I think my self esteem and self worth were through the floor and I fell for a man that presented himself to me was going to be my happy ending. The one I should have got. Once I could see the real him I was already sucked in.

Their grip on you is so strong that it is so hard to put into words.

Dahlen Thu 03-Oct-13 10:57:58

I think a lot of abusers are acting entirely subconsciously rather than purposefully looking for victims. I've seen a pattern with some where they are genuinely bewildered why the vibrant confident person they took up has become a shadow of their former self and are completely unable to recognise that this is effect of their own behaviour which they see are perfectly normal and reasonable.

It's further complicated too by the fact that in some cases the abuser isn't displaying characteristic controlled aggression, but generalised aggression. Typical abusers tend to reserve their aggression for specific people - e.g. on MN we see posters asking if the abusive partner treats their boss as badly, etc. However, there is a sizeable portion for whom violence is a normal social currency. These people can be found lashing out at friends, family and even colleagues as well as with their partners.

I did once come across some research which ties in to sillymnillyb's psycotherapy. It suggested that the parts of the brain connected with fear and sexual excitement are very close together, create similar responses and can become confused. For example, a woman who has been abused before (either in childhood or by a previous adult partner) could subconsciously recognise signs of an abusive personality when meeting someone new and the brain would respond with the fear response. If the abuser was sexually attractive to the potential victim and a relationship ensues, the two elements become connected. If moving on to a relationship after that with yet another abuser, the fear response triggered when the victim subconsciously recognises signs of an abusive personality is interpreted by the brain as sexual attraction. This creates a pattern where the victim is only sexually attracted to those who trigger the fear response. It can be unlearned but obviously requires an awareness by the victim that it's happening.

I'm not sure how common that is though. Bancroft's research, for example, shows that contrary to popular belief, most women get significantly better at spotting the signs of abuse and avoiding it. I wonder if it is linked to how young the victim is when they first experience abuse.

I think Dahlen put it really well.

My mum was a 17 year old runaway who'd had a shit childhood when she met my dad, who was 10 years her senior and a secret alcoholic. He saw her coming a mile off.

I think there's a lot to be said for this 'stay and make it work' attitude and the fact that gaslighting seems to be a common thing among abusive relationships and I think if a person is made to believe it's them that's caused the abuser to abuse and that they're 'mad' or whatever then even if they leave that person, they will take those skewed beliefs with them to the next relationship, which is why I think the emotional damage done by one abusive relationship can make you vulnerable to another one if that makes sense? Not that it's ever the person's fault! It just goes to show the possible extent of the emotional damage that can be done.

^ saying that, after my mum's bad childhood and a few nightmarish years with my dad she's never been in a bad relationship and rarely talks to her parents/my grandparents as they are 'toxic'. She managed to turn it all around, meet a nice bloke and bring us up to have normal self-esteem and a good, close relationship with her.

I study psychology at the moment and there's a lot of evidence to prove that if you have a healthy secure relationship in later life, it can undo a lot of the damage that has been done, even if you've not had a 'secure' healthy attatchment with anyone from birth. It's a strangely comforting thought smile

JuliaScurr Thu 03-Oct-13 11:34:11

men are rarely victims - if they are, usually the attacker is also male

Dahlen Thu 03-Oct-13 11:44:45

The link doesn't work.

The 1 in 6 figure is based on Home Office research (largely based on the British Crime Survey, which has its own statistical failings of course). Violence in same sex relationships are counted for both men and women though and seems to occur at the same level in both (about 1 in 4).

It's worth bearing in mind that the difference between 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men may not sound a lot but if you actually look at numbers it makes a massive difference. Likewise, the fact that men generally don't end up with responsibility for children and on average tend to earn a lot more, means that female victims are more vulnerable than male ones and will find it a lot harder to leave.

Jan45 Thu 03-Oct-13 11:54:40

Self worth, if you value yourself and expect a certain standard of behaviour towards you from a partner then all should be well, if you don't have self worth, don't think you are of any value then you will attract the kind of man who will treat you with little respect.

I had a friend who was actually beautiful looking but her self worth was rock bottom, no matter how many times you told her she was very attractive, it's mental. I think it all stems from your upbringing.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 12:03:23

I agree with WeeHelena. I think that abusers either deliberately or subconsciously seek out their victims

happybubblebrain Thu 03-Oct-13 12:06:28

I think it's mainly down to low self-esteem (there are many different reasons for this); and mainstream media manipulation - any man is better than no man bullshit. Lots of women will see past the flaws and see the good in everyone because we are supposed to be 'nice' like that. If you are not meeting a man, getting married and having kids you are still seen as strange by many in society. There is nothing wrong with being single.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 12:07:47

"if you don't have self worth, don't think you are of any value then you will attract the kind of man who will treat you with little respect."

It's that word 'attract' that I have a problem with. All kinds of people find all kinds of people attractive and it's often on very superficial grounds. A person lacking in confidence may be specifically targeted by an abusive person as vulnerable but I've seen too many outwardly strong, capable people get into abusive situations to know it's as simple as that. If self-worth comes into it (and I agree that it does) it is the confidence to choose being alone. The physical desire for a companion is very powerful.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 12:10:46

We seek out the familiar. We often don't realise this, but we look to mirror relationships we understand & know how to deal with.

If you grow up in a family, where you are undermined, belittled, the subject of physical or mental abuse - without really know it, you seek out similar relationships because that is what your brain is wired to respond to.

It takes a great deal of effort to step back and recognise this pattern and even more effort to try and do something to break your desire for familiar relationships, even though you know they are dysfunctional.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 12:16:55

"I think that abusers either deliberately or subconsciously seek out their victims"

I don't. I think abusive people are motivated by self. They approach everything in life as being there for their benefit. What they want is so important that how they get it is immaterial. Other people are simply a means to an end, including partners. If things go wrong in life, it's always other people's fault.. out to get them. They have discovered various methods to get what they want and that can include techniques like charm, guilt-tripping, pity-making, bullying, violence... and they'll mix it up as it suits.

So I don't think it's that they seek out victims so much as they regard everyone as a victim as standard.

ChelseaBun Thu 03-Oct-13 12:18:49

As someone who came out of an abusive relationship some months ago, and now await to give evidence at his trial for sexual offences against me, I would never have identified myself as "serially" attracted to abusive men.

My relationships before him were non abusive and I would also say I was the stronger partner in those relationships in many ways.

What does concern me now is that I may be "addicted" to abusive relationships. If I'm honest, the idea of a relationship to a "nice" man sounds lovely but it holds no interest to me.

I fear I have become addicted to the "highs" of the abusive relationship. This is possibly something that should be given more prominence when talking about abusive relationships. Erin Pizzey got a lot of flack 30 years ago for saying this very same thing.

But I feel the continual surge of adrenaline in my body caused by the stress and anxiety during the relationship, has created an addiction in me. I also am sure it has caused a chronic physical condition that has no cure. And this addiction goes on as I await trial and have to deal with police and receive updates on him - it is like we are still in a relationship.

Despite the fact I have contempt and dread of my ex, no one has ever created such euphoria in me as him. And no one has made me sadder. I just wonder if a more middle of the road relationship is ever going to be mine.

Until I've dealt with this through therapy and counselling, I will stay single.

Jan45 Thu 03-Oct-13 12:19:17

Cog, true.

I have a friend who definitely attracts the wrong kind of man, she openly offers sex on a plate and goes back for more even after they have quite obviously ignored her for weeks on end.

I think you can unwittingly get involved with what you think is a nice man but if you have self worth and belief in yourself as a good and decent person then you soon wise up and kick him to the kerb.

If you're with a man who treats you well for years and then becomes abusive, that's a whole different dynamic, and not so easy to walk away from, esp if you have children together.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 12:27:00

"goes back for more even after they have quite obviously ignored her for weeks on end."

That's the part about having the confidence to choose being alone. Your friend is making herself more vulnerable to ill-treatment by behaving the way she does and persisting with something that is obviously not working but, unless she's really unlucky, she still shouldn't be abused. No-one should.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 12:34:46

It is not so much the confidence to be alone, as the awareness of what you are actually doing with your relationships. If you aren't aware of the awful mistakes you are making in your choices of partners or even friends, then you will keep on making the same mistakes.

Sometimes, you will even keeping making the same mistakes when you do have awareness, because you are attracted to dysfunctional, abusive people.

These are usually very difficult patterns to break free from. Your brain has been programmed from an early age to recognise and accept certain types of behaviour from the people closest to you. You probably will need some kind of therapy to break free.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 12:35:57

<<<<<<< Nice man, has never abused women. This may make me decidely boring. Which I am not

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 12:36:39

**Errata Seem decidedly boring

Jan45 Thu 03-Oct-13 12:42:04

Cog, no of course she shouldn't be abused but she clearly has very low expectations from men, i.e., any attention is better than none. The way the men ignore her after they've had their fun will not be helping her self esteem either, I wish she did have the guts to actually say no, enough is enough, it's been going on for a while now.

Keepithidden Thu 03-Oct-13 12:43:44

Cog - That "motivated by self" thing suggests a paralell with psychopathy/sociopathy.

Quite a scary thought that there are so many people out there (majority male obviously) displaying these traits. I thought I had quite a lot of faith in human nature, but the stats on abusive behaviour do distort that somewhat.

Londonniceguy - I don't think I have ever abused women either, but having been on this site for a while I've learnt that a lot of my behaviour has been mysoginistic. The line between that and abuse is open to intepretation... ....cue lots of soul searching.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 12:50:43

"Cog - That "motivated by self" thing suggests a paralell with psychopathy/sociopathy"

I think abusive people are sociopaths and I don't think men are in the majority. Men may be more likely to be physically violent or aggressive because they have the size advantage, but I've certainly met plenty of women who use some pretty unpleasant psychological methods to get their own way and don't care who they harm in the process.

PedantMarina Thu 03-Oct-13 13:23:34

Wasn't there a link a while back, to a good explanation of why an abusive man might seem attractive at first. Something to do with how he doesn't respect boundaries that a good man would, and that this seems like he loves the woman, etc. Wish I could find it again.

For the woman's part, there's usually an element of just not having had the upbringing to believe she's worth better, or the "training" in how to see that courtesy does not equal apathy, nor does passion equal stalking.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 13:26:09

Dahlen's replies are perfect imo. I want to elaborate on this, though:

I fear I have become addicted to the "highs" of the abusive relationship. This is possibly something that should be given more prominence when talking about abusive relationships. Erin Pizzey got a lot of flack 30 years ago for saying this very same thing.

I, too, spent many years in therapy identifying this issue and then changing myself. I almost didn't 'see' non-abusive people, as their style made no sense to me. Brought up in an abusive household, the adrenalin cycle was my normal. I described my relationships using popular expressions, like 'passionate' and 'intense', where they actually were abusive. I honestly didn't know my relationship style was abusive, nor that people have abuse-free relationships.

Now I'm aware of the myriad small clues abusive people give one another: they use more violent language, react to stories of abuse with understanding & acceptance, appreciate 'edgy' humour, and even display controlling body language in everyday situations. It's very subtle. These tiny signals show an abuser that a potential target has been pre-trained, as it were, and the target recognises their potential for 'exciting' highs & lows.

Like you, Chelsea, I've ended up with long-term disabilities from the constant cortisol floods to my brain.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 13:28:19

Hi Marina! smile

I think a lot of abusive people don't seem abusive at first. Certainly this has been my experience. Most of them are socially functional, hold down good jobs and appear pretty normal.

It is not until you are considerably further down the road that you discover their abusive traits. At that point, an emotional healthy person, ups and leaves but those people who have many years of practice in dysfunctional, abusive relationships stick around.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 13:30:00

In threads on here, we sometimes see a poster whose abusive partner 'trained' her from scratch, using acclimatisation techniques (frog-boiling.) They are far less frequent than those whose childhood prepared them to be abused, though.

One huge red flag is when a target says something like "I can handle it." The very assumption that mistreatment is something to be handled tells us they've been trained sad

BeCool Thu 03-Oct-13 13:38:10

as many threads on here will illustrate, they often don't start out by being abusive - though there may be red flags early on, often these are easy to ignore/overlook if you aren't tuned into them.

And an emotionally unbalanced upbringing may mean you are not tuned into the red flags at all. Once you are well into the relationship the abuse proper starts.

And if you stay in the relationship then it can escalate.

PedantMarina Thu 03-Oct-13 13:44:00

Hello, back, PBB! Were we on another fred togethere recently?

I also agree to the concept of "boundary pushing", and signals.

I think, bottom line, we all agree that there is no one reason to be "attracted" to abusers, any more than there is no one way a person may become an abuser.

But I do like finding some common themes, like the boundary pushing and the signals.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 13:49:04

YY, both my exes did this thing of turning up in the middle of the night, on some emergency pretext. There were other signals, too, but I was amazed to learn how many other abuse survivors had experienced this late-night boundary check.

ChelseaBun Thu 03-Oct-13 14:05:07

Garlicvampire, I am on the same search that you have been. My counsellor says childhood abuse meant that my boundaries are different to normal people's. And that I'm almost comfortable with abuse- because I understand and react to it more clearly than kindness.

I guess I was lucky to get away with so many years of being in relationships with nice guys and abusers didn't seek me out because I gave out quite an aggressive persona.

I don't believe my abuser sought me out as a victim - I think he was looking for what we're all looking for. But I didn't act in a certain way and it brought out something in him that was already there- no surprise he had an abusive childhood. We were like two peas in a pod.

The turning up at night? Yep I had that - him climbing up a drain pipe to get on a flat roof and come through my bedroom window. He was no respecter of boundaries whatsoever and if I'm honest, it was hugely attractive.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 14:06:03

I think the "coping / handle it" thing is very pertinent. I see myself as one of life's copers. I know I'm good with difficult people. I spend a lot of time in my job being good with difficult people. One of my DCs is autistic & I'm dealing with him, I'm coping, I'm handling it just fine thank you very much!!!!!

I know now in my mid-40s that all my partners have abused me. Not physically, thank god but they've gas-lighted, been cruel, withheld love, emotionally black-mailed me, put me down, undermined me, excluded me, cheated on me, taken me for granted and used me as their own personal human polyfilla.

I've had a fair bit of counselling to recognise that I am attracted to these people because that was what my childhood was filled with. You can add physical abuse in there too, just for good measure - but somehow I have managed to filter that one out, or maybe I've just been lucky.

So, I'm aware but I don't trust myself to make the right choices yet. Consequently, I am single and I think I may be single for a long time to come, because I don't know how to choose well.

I think, as a guy, I can see what LondonNiceGuy is getting at. It's something I saw a lot of when I was younger and hopelessly single. I knew many girls who would go out with total wasters who didn't treat them very well at all, and then see them make the same mistakes again.

The truth is, London, that mostly they don't really know what they are looking at. They think they are looking for exitement and as some people have pointed out, abusive relationships offer high's as well as lows. In most of the cases you are probably thinking of, these women will learn to recognise the signs and who they are going out with.

Seeing one of your posts here stating that having never abused a woman makes you boring, this is decidedly not going to be the case to the majority of women.

True enough, many will (for reasons posted all over this thread). But take a look around. There are many a nice guy in a happy relationship. The horrid ones are just the one's you see often because they are being complained about a lot.

Anohter question to ask, London, is are you attracted to these women who are seeking abusive relationships? Not for the same reason, that's not what I'm saying. Maybe you view them as interesting? Maybe you want to be a hero to someone. In turn, perhaps you to are overlooking the "boring" nice girls out there. There are many of these, as well.

I went through a stage of believing the same thing. I see now that it was me who was making me single back then.

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Thu 03-Oct-13 14:45:53

Garlicvampire I'm really interested in what you've said about addiction to highs and lows. I had an EA childhood from both parents, and now, in my forties, I have escaped a very abusive man. I have many friends who have rallied round, yet I have no idea how to 'connect' with them. They are lovely, but seem bland somehow. I'm always looking for this kind of buzz which is missing. A new female friend has all the buzz I think I need, and I suddenly see how she is the one who crosses boundaries with impunity, who offers 'intimacy' and 'connection', and now I wonder if in fact she is no good for me at all, despite offering incredible help at a difficult time.

Never mind new partners, I don't think I can even handle normal friendships right now. Trying to work out what's abusive, and establish boundaries, when you are drawn to it, crave it even, is very confusing.

MatildaWhispers Thu 03-Oct-13 14:47:21

My parents were actually very, far too over protective, and I can see now that when I first left home and went to uni, I was drawn to someone who seemed so exciting and 'romantic' in comparison. But actually he was abusive, and walked all over my boundaries.

usedandabusedthentossedaside Thu 03-Oct-13 15:15:43

Julia contrary to you post men are also victims of abuse and not by other men. We tend to see abuse nearly always in terms of women being the victims this is not the case. Men are also victims but society seems to play down the notion that men can be victims. A vast majority of social research focuses on women as victims ignoring the reality that individuals regardless of gender are capable of abusing another. Men and women are both conditioned by society to downplay abuse it has only been relatively recently (historically) that domestic/relationship abuse has been recognised for what it is "unacceptable" towards women but towards men is still hidden behind walls of silence which men have been conditioned by societal values to uphold.

Used, that is an interesting point. I would say my father was the victim of my mothers abusive personality. He is a very timid person, and she is quite a vile person.

He left after she threw a hot pan of beans over him, and proceded to stab him with a kitchen knife. She would regularly through household crockery at him and was one of those people who really gets into verbal abuse.

Yet he is still too embarrassed to call this what it is.

jasminerose Thu 03-Oct-13 15:27:47

Low self esteem or poor childhood role models. Abusers can see vulnerability/low self esteem and prey on it and thats why it happens over and over again to those people.

NutritiousAndDelicious Thu 03-Oct-13 15:36:20

I think as a whole it's society, women are expected to 'fix' bad relationships and damaged men. And nurture.

My own personal reasons, I think were:

Emotionally cold parents who put me down and critisied me continuously. I've never had a compliment from them. But practically they were always there. So my perspective of relationships was the practical matters, my emotions don't.

Very low self esteem and eager to please, due to above.

And as a defence mechanism, I somehow became a 'fixer' I used to be convinced I could love anyone better no matter how vile or useless. hmm

I was just used to it, and thought its ok I can take this, I'm strong I just get on with things.

Secretly I had an awful fear of abandonment and to be honest, deep down I knew I was better than them, so that gave me the comfort of thinking they would never leave.

Fucked up I know!

After counsilling and a period of singledom, focusing on myself and raising the bar and realising my self worth,hopefully I've broken this pattern.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 15:44:26

TheKnightsWhoSayNi . I recognise women who are seeking abusive relationships very quickly. They will do things to try and provoke you, which is a waste of time with me. I just ignore it. That is a clear signal to me to steer clear of them.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 15:51:46

Wow, londonniceguy - that is quite a strong statement. I think a lot of women don't know they are seeking abusive relationships. They have been abused all their lives & don't know any better. I'm not sure that categorises them as "seeking abuse".

I don't think I've ever been provocative - far from it. I'm the eternal pleaser, smoothing over rudeness, unkindness, cruelty, adultery etc - because i'm a 'fixer' convinced that my abuser is loveable and I can polyfilla over all the cracks and make it better.

As most of the posts here are trying to show you, these particular women you are referring to are likely suffering the aftermath of some sort of neglected or abused childhood. I sense a real distaste towards them coming from that post, which is a little concerning.

I have known many women who've been in abusive relationships and some who have searched them out. And many nice girls. I've never experienced anyone who deliverately tries to provoke a me into attacking them. Except for when my DW does it during one of her bipolar episode, but that's quite rare and it's not really her.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 15:58:00

Postbellumbugsy, of course i didn't mean all women. I love women totally and love their company and femininity. But there is a small minority who i avoid like the plague. Your good with polyfilla? OOoooo please message me

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 15:59:03

While I agree with all the above, I think verbal, emotional & financial abuse of men by women is very under-rated (not the right word!) I see and hear it all around me, especially in 'naice' couples who are supposedly on best behaviour. I'm sure I'm sometimes looking at an abused woman who reckons she's handling it, and equally sure I'm often watching a man being systematically undermined. Pat Craven, of Freedom Programme fame, recognises the phenomenon. Probably a hangover from the days when women dared not be overtly aggressive towards men ... Agreed, too, that social pressures still urge women and girls to play nice, give in, submit and generally expose themselves to poor treatment - as well as urging them to manipulate men, which is pretty abusive to begin with.

If it's only a small minority, how can it be nature? And if you're avoiding them "like the plague", then why are you so concerned about being too "boring" for them? Why do I detect so much distaste towards them?

NutritiousAndDelicious Thu 03-Oct-13 16:02:08

There was a thread a while back, with a link to a list of red flags, does anyone remember it/have the link?

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 16:05:13

garlic, I'm fairly sure most of people have a degree of dysfunctionality. They don't handle criticism well, they will tell small lies to make life easier, they find it hard to say no. Many couples work well together because they compliment each others dysfunctions. So one will be feisty and a bit aggressive, whereas the other is cautious and more restrained.

I think the problem lies where one partner is calling all the shots and holds all the power in the relationship. That is where there is abuse, rather than just dysfunctionality. When one person is using either emotional or physical abuse to control the other person that is an abusive relationship.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 16:08:03

Knights of course it could be nature, even if it was just a small minority. Because some humans exhibit minority traits and behaviour. "Distaste" Your words not mine. I think you would have paraphrased me better by saying "wary of them" I'm not concerned about being boring for them at all. Because as i stated i am not interested in them. Compris?

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 16:11:36

NotQuite - In the cycle of abuse, the flashpoint is a highly exciting time of raw emotion, supercharged energy, a sense of being in the middle of something momentous! Then it all crashes down. There is pain, misery, loneliness, fear ... If you're lucky, you make up with a honeymoon phase with lots of oxytocin & serotonin. Then that settles, normal service resumes ... and it all feels a bit meh. Time for another flashpoint.

Suffering abuse in early childhood actually changes the brain's development, making us more prone to dysfunctional relationships and programming us to expect these cortisol floods. The same areas of the brain are affected, in the same ways, by cortisol and by amphetamines. Unfortunately, long-term high levels of cortisol can disable the immune system and many other functions of a healthy mind & body. If you're interested, have a look at information on the LHAP axis (limbic, hippocampus, adrenal, parasympathetic) and the HPA axis (hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal).

Which reminds me to do a bit of my mindfulness meditation grin

feelingdizzy Thu 03-Oct-13 16:13:17

Am watching this thread with interest, I have been with emotionally abusive/absent men who have messed with my head.

In the rest of my life I have it fairly sussed, I have a demanding job which I do well ,am a good (single) parent to my kids. However I just keep choosing bastards. I have now got to the point if I find someone attractive I think nah, because I fancy him therefore he must be a prick.

It's like I don't see 'normal' I only spot the dickheads, I am nearly 40 and have had one normal relationship (I dumped him!!) .I see loving couples sometimes and wonder how they do it ,its like I'm viewing a different species ,a group of people to whom I couldn't belong.

I would love to get it sorted, I would love to have a good relationship. I will be watching.

WeeHelena Thu 03-Oct-13 16:17:27

Nutriciousanddelicous sounds like we had the same type of parents among other factors that I won't go into too long a story I believe this has contributed to my self worth and my 1st abusive relationship.

And I can relate to being a fixer and I felt responsible like I owed it to for my abuser I eventually left but the damage was there for a long time.

I'm now in a seemingly respectful and committed relationship but I still almost anticipate certain behaviours from him like my ex, he has never done so but still I'm ready to assert myself.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 16:18:46

I thought what London said made sense confused We were talking about boundary-pushing upthread: this is what you meant about behaving somehow provocatively, isn't it, London?

Not long ago I was in a group of people, where one man told a little story about horrible abuse by his father. The reaction he wanted, of course, was massive sympathy so he could proceed to depict himself as damaged but heroic. He got it, from another woman there. A few years ago, he would have got it from me.

I'm aware that some victims are pure victim, patiently soldiering through their abuse in a state of irrational optimism, That doesn't describe the vast majority of abusive relationships, though, Bugsy. Most of us give it back, too.

ChelseaBun Thu 03-Oct-13 16:22:47

Thanks for that garlic. I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease more than a year ago. It all fits into place. While I was in the relationship I could actually feel the damage it was doing to my body - hard to explain.

I'd like to know what you mean by trying to provoke you. That's almost like the words of an abuser. "She was trying to provoke me." It's a blame thing.

And I use the word "distaste" from the tone of your words.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 16:24:11

its like I'm viewing a different species - YES! I recognise that!

AlisonClare Thu 03-Oct-13 16:25:00

Another persepctive: the father of my children was an alcoholic and I would now describe it as an abusive relationship, although I couldn't see it at the time. Fast forward to a few years after his death and I'm embarking on another relationship. I can remember acknowedging a huge sense of insecurity within myself when I knew that the man was a 'good' person. In my relationship with the children's father, even though he treated me badly, I was secure in the knowledge that I was the 'good' one. That is, I needed to be the 'good one'. This was a scary awareness, obviously linked to my emotionally abusive childhood, and I'm not sure that I've fully dealt with it yet.

MatildaWhispers Thu 03-Oct-13 16:26:54

I absolutely never tried to provoke, it felt like the opposite. I was frequently provoked but became conditioned so that I didn't respond or rise to it. I thought I had to cope with whatever crap came my way.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 16:42:35

Yes garlicvampire . That is precisely what I meant, pushing the boundary of normality to generate a reaction. TheKnightsWhoSayNi Please see garlicvampires post for an explanation of provoke.
PS Your starting to stalk me across all my threads now aren't you. You naughty boy xx

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 17:00:32

I hate to say it, but I do know people who's lives resemble East Enders, with a veritable torrent of arguments, drama and childish behaviour. This is precisely the type of women I avoid TheKnightsWhoSayNi, as characterised in that particular Soap Opera. I'll name one of the characters to help you Kat Slater for example... A classic.

headinhands Thu 03-Oct-13 17:00:48

I don't think abusive people are often actually self aware enough to consider themselves abusive. I know my ex wouldn't consider himself so. Apparently he still refers to himself as a pacifist He himself saw abuse growing up and assumed that it was the normal way to operate. Read a while ago that early intervention is our best chance of breaking the cycle ie tackling these attitudes at primary age.

wordyBird Thu 03-Oct-13 17:30:53

I've also seen a few women I know get into abusive relationships when there hasn't been any clear cut pre-conditioning there, such as abuse in childhood.

However I would agree that the 'I can handle it' attitude was/is there. I'm strong, I can cope, other people crumble but I can take the pressure without complaint kind of thing. This strength becomes a weakness in the context of abuse.

I'd also say there was a powerful compassion and willingness to give the hand of friendship to someone behaving badly, or in a damaging way.

Again this is a strength in some contexts, but in the context of an equal relationship, it could lead to excusing abusive behaviour as something justifiable or unavoidable, or to blaming oneself.
Not arguing this is common or even true: this is just how it appeared to me...

headinhands Thu 03-Oct-13 17:39:58

It was interesting what a poster said upthread about the addiction to the drama, I can identify with that too. In my head the amount of drama equated to the strength of feeling which is obviously nonsense to me now but at the time the rollercoaster was down to how much we felt for each other confused

headinhands Thu 03-Oct-13 17:50:08

While I agree that's it's seen as more feminine to 'defer and accommodate', up until we hit our forties it's more likely to be women who file for a divorce. So not sure how that fits in?

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 18:03:49

Head - perhaps because men are more often caught cheating? Also, a lot of mothers draw the line at physical abuse of their children (not the mothers in my family, regrettably.)

I love Eastenders smile I'm quite aware of why I find it so interesting! Sociopath Square; it looks familiar, somehow ... I want to marry Masood.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 18:07:17

garlicvampire As an aside I met Brian May and "Angie" last year. She is a good laugh, had quite a chat with her.

wordyBird Thu 03-Oct-13 18:10:00

Sociopath Square!
I hope it's not wrong to laugh at that, because I did ..

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 18:10:35

I do, Wordy grin

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 18:28:10

There are some really interesting posts on this thread. A lot of self-insight - kinda refreshing in Relationships wink I hope it'll develop, so that some readers might recognise bits of themselves here and do the hard thinking about their relationships. It's really difficult, that shift of perspective, isn't it?

Lazyjaney Thu 03-Oct-13 19:50:08

I thought divorce rocketed till the 90s then stabilised?

When I was in my 20s and footloose, some of the men (boys?) I knew reckoned that women didn't like "nice guys", or similar comments. I've not heard it much since, but there are definitely women I know over the decades who are in a repeat loop with unsuitable men (and vice versa for that matter) that everyone else can see are crap from miles away.

I think 2 things have changed - firstly more economic independence so less need to take crap, and secondly a higher expectations of marriage and less willingness to take the rough with the smooth.

YoniBottsBumgina Thu 03-Oct-13 21:32:19

I read an article once which claimed that every single character on eastenders could be diagnosed with some kind of personality disorder, going by the DSM-IV.

YoniBottsBumgina Thu 03-Oct-13 21:45:33

I think also OP what you say is very true -people with healthy emotions can very often spot someone who is in an unhealthy relationship headspace and steer clear. This definitely happened to me a few times. This leaves only a pool of either people who are emotionally unhealthy themselves and don't notice, or don't care, or predators who are specifically looking for someone vulnerable. I think this latter category of abuser is rare. I think abusive relationships come from people playing out unhealthy dynamics, and unfortunately for women, our culture is very much a man's world, still. So the person who expects more often ends up being the man and he will go to ridiculous lengths to get what he feels he is entitled to. The woman steps easily into the scapegoat and peacekeeper role and the abuse dynamic is set. It can happen the opposite way, or both parties can be manipulative in equal measures, but let us not forget that relationships don't happen in a vacuum. As long as society tells us even subtly that men are on top, certain men will fight to keep that position at home.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 22:11:35

Ha Yoni. I only watch it occasionally, but they all seem to shout and scream at each other. They are all sooo dysfunctional. The dynamics of male - female relationships are extremely complex and sometimes unfathomable

OhDearNigel Thu 03-Oct-13 23:12:47

I heard one eminent lecturer in domestic violence describe it like this:

Children and their parents make a jigsaw. If your parents are in an abusive relationship, the pieces of the jigsaw might be differently shaped to normal jigsaw pieces, jagged, mishapen if you like. The little girl's brain is wired to fit the dysfunctional jigsaw of her family life.

When that little girl is growing up and looking to make her pwn jigsaw puzzle, she might find a lovely, kind man who is a regular shaped piece of the puzzle. He's great but he doesn't really fit into the jagged edges that she's used to, the jagged edges that her subconscious needs to feel "complete". So they split. Then she finds a new guy. He's a bastard, treats her badly and makes her cry. Just like her dad did with her mum. But he has all the jagged edges that fit neatly into her mental jigsaw. This is why DV victims go for the same man, over and over and over again.

I think there might be something on her website - Zoe Lodrick

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 23:21:09

OhDearNigel That is a great analysis, I must say

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