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Potential Abusive Relationship(3 Posts)
I've name changed for this as my friends know this story. The point of my posting here is
to vent to say thank you for all of the wonderful and straight-talking advice posters have given over the years to people in abusive relationships.
The 'is this normal' threads are fantastic for helping people to see the wood for the trees when in the early stages of a relationship, and having been in a few long-term abusive relationships in the past, I now think 'if someone posted this on MN, what would everyone (including me) say to them?'
Anyway, I've been on four dates with someone this week starting with last Saturday. That may seem like a lot, but she's only here for a short time, and
that's what lesbians do I really liked her. We've been to the theatre and out to dinner a few times and all was fine and dandy.
She's quite confident/arrogant and always has to be right. I'm pretty outspoken, but I found myself backing down with her and saying to my friends 'I'm glad she's only here for a short time or this would be a recipe for disaster'. She's has had some challenges in her life and has been on the receiving end of an abusive relationship herself, and while she's picked herself up and got on with her career, started presenting as more masculine, etc, she also (understandably) feels quite burned by everything she's been through. Except she can't see it. She thinks everyone's wrong and she's right and that she's all sorted.
We dtd on Tuesday, which was fine apart from the fact she doesn't really want to be touched, which I get, because of everything she's been through with her ex. She's bigger and stronger than average and quite boyish, but obviously the abuse was partly psychological and emotional too and can happen regardless of their physical strength.
Because of the short time she's here for (just this month), I started to let things slide a little bit, like my joking that something I said was a bit overly dramatic and her then telling me I was being over dramatic and playing out the literal meaning of what I said to make it sound absurd. I was thinking 'yes, I did just acknowledge that', but it then became what she would say (i.e. that it was my fault and I was making a big deal out of nothing) if I said anything that was contrary to what she thought.
She's pretty into the BDSM scene and I've had my fun with that stuff in the past. I don't need it as part of my life now, but I don't judge anyone who does, for whatever reason (including just for fun, if that's what you're into). But she kept pushing for that stuff and maintaining that I just needed to have some positive experiences and then I'd get back into it again. She then sent me her profile from one of the kink websites, which upset me a bit as it felt like a business transaction and not the spontaneous fling I was hoping it would be. Kind of like she was giving me a menu of things I could choose from . She talked a lot about negotiating scenes before doing anything. I told her I wished she hadn't sent me the profile and she, again, accused me of being dramatic (I was perfectly calm, I just felt that we were after different things - we could have had a wild romantic fling but that clearly wasn't what she was looking for).
Things were already a bit strained between us because of this spat, but we arranged to meet up last Thursday to hang out and so I made my way down to hers on the train as planned. From the second I got her text which told me that she'll be at x pub, here's the address and that she'll "probably bring a book, lol" (!) I obviously felt like she didn't really want to see me and I didn't feel welcome. Then she said she might be somewhere else, actually, and I nearly turned back at that point because it felt like she was giving me the runaround, but thought I'd give things a chance. So I said I'd call when I got there to find out where she was. I'd texted 15 mins before arriving, then again when I was there. She then didn't answer when I called her (surprise). So I start walking to the pub for which she'd given me the address, thinking 'right, if she's there, then fine, if not, I'll have a drink and then go home, you win some, you lose some
and what a bitch'.
When I'm about halfway to the pub, she calls me and tells me she's still at her apartment (near the station, so basically where I started from!) and says there's no food at the pub so come back the other way. So I do. I'm conscious of the fact that her apartment window overlooks the road I'm walking down and she called me when I was literally half way there.
We walk around looking for food, but she's not staying in a particularly happening area, so there's no much open. As we're walking along in silence looking for somewhere, it's really awkward and she's obviously really pissed off with me. While we're walking, I make four attempts to make general conversation, each of which she shuts down (mid-sentence) with a snarky comment and an eye roll.
After a bit more awkward silence, I say 'ok, I'm gonna go' as she clearly didn't want me there and the whole thing was really unpleasant, and she looks at me as if I'm mad and says 'why?' I explain that I feel unwelcome and that my being there seems to be stressing her out, and she says 'well, why didn't you just say that instead of being so dramatic all the time and saying that you're going home?' (I wasn't being dramatic, I was having a shit time and wanted to go home!).
She then apologised, said she'd had a stressful day at work and said she'd be fine after a beer or two, so I agreed to stay for a bit and go to the pub we'd found for some food (and drink). So we had some drinks, the pub was fantastic so all good. We talked about work stuff, which was all fine. Moved to another pub, live music, lovely people, again, good fun
apart from the fact we aren't really talking to each other.
Then went back to hers and things got weird again. She basically seemed to want to punish me, and she wasn't happy that I wasn't doing everything she told me to and that I talked to her in the bedroom . It felt like she was taking out all the anger she felt at the world on me and it was thoroughly unpleasant. Not in an assault kind of way, as I was pretty assertive about what was and wasn't ok (which pissed her off even more). Just awkward, and like she hated me with a passion. It was like she wanted to get off on my being afraid of her somehow, and it felt like she had her own agenda outside of our just having fun together.
Anyway, she got really angry with me for not doing as I was told to the point I think we both thought she was going to punch me. So I left and that was that.
It's taught me a lot about myself and has helped me to make sense of my past experiences (I am ridiculously drawn to broken people under the misguided impression that I can save them), and has reminded me that if things don't feel right, it's better to get out. No harm was done and I'm fine about it all (if it hadn't been that she's created all these rules for interactions to protect herself from past trauma, which is very sad, I'd even find it slightly amusing that anyone could take sex that seriously..).
I know not to put myself in a position where I'm alone with her again as she does feel dangerous now
and a tad psychotic, whereas in the past, I'd have gone back for more on the basis that I felt sorry for her and wanted to help her.
So thank you mumsnet for helping me to see what's what and for helping me to spot potentially abusive behaviour!
Too much hard like hard work tbh, you dont need that in your life
Yes, The awareness/warning/support about abusive relationships is one of the finest MN things.
Something on my mind recently, how much better it would be if really young women and girls could learn this. To spot coercive control and EA before our self belief is undermined. To see the red flags and respond to red flags when they first arise, and see, as you have so well described here , that the dynamics in some relationships are never going to end well.
Hope you're feeling OK now.
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