Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Is my partner gaslighting me/being emotionally abusive?(137 Posts)
I have name changed for this as it is very identifying. It will be an exceptionally long post, for which I apologise. If you do have time to read it through or skim it, I would be so grateful for your perspective.
I am pregnant, which has coincided with starting a new job in a new city, and moving in with my partner of ten years (we had not lived together full time before that, for various reasons). The pregnancy was unplanned, but we had talked of trying for a baby in a year or two, and were due to get married next spring (when the baby is now due). I'm late twenties, he is mid thirties. Timing was not ideal at all (my new job etc) but I had always said to him that I would almost certainly keep a child if I fell pregnant, and sex was on those terms.
My partner started off being positive about the pregnancy, but there has been a shift in his behaviour since then. I feel like he is being emotionally abusive and could really do with some outside perspectives. I am just going to list things in roughly chronological order, all within the last couple of months.
I was suffering from hyperemesis and fatigue for the first three months; when he said he was going out to an event for the evening, I said I had hoped we might be able to have night in and that perhaps he would cook something. He made me feel simultaneously that I was boring and self-destructive for not going out, and that I was unreasonable for asking him if he would mind staying in (brief context: this was a one-off thing, when I was feeling particularly exhausted, and he is freelance, working a fewer, flexible hours from home while I am the main earner and have unavoidably long hours). Two days later, he categorically said that he was someone who needed to have his meals cooked for him sometimes (I do do this; before being ill and pregnant it was almost always me).
When we were rushing to catch a bus and I was feeling sick, I didn't say I was feeling sick as I knew he wanted that particular bus and would be annoyed to wait and then miss it; when I said at the bus stop that I felt sick, he said I was "immature" for not having told him before, and then insinuated first that the morning sickness was in my head (or I was playing it up), and then secondly that it was real, but somehow my fault. I said in fact, morning sickness was associated with a lower rate of miscarriage, showing him an article after he said he found that "very hard to believe". His response was, "ah, but that is morning sickness and you are ill all day." (This is symptomatic of the fact he has shown no interest in researching pregnancy, yet is full of opinions.)
I had previously suffered an early miscarriage (his baby), during which I woke up alone in bed in a pool of blood. I said it would mean a lot if he could sleep in the same bed with me in the first weeks (bed is a small double, and he said he was sleeping awfully so wanted to move downstairs; in fact, I've had a bit of insomnia and have heard him snoring for hours). He kept saying it was better for me too to sleep alone and I was just being difficult and getting a fixed idea in my head.
At a friend's wedding, he went off in a strop because he felt I hadn't paid him enough attention/been interested enough in his conversation when we were sitting beside one another at dinner.
At another wedding, he got cross with me, which I later found out was because I had allegedly looked at him "with disgust" after he said something or other to the person he was beside. (I certainly didn't.) This bad mood continued the next day, when we went for an early scan and he showed no emotion and said he did not want to talk about it afterwards.
On a train that evening, I wrote to a friend that the weekend had been difficult as partner was sulking, qualifying this by saying things were no doubt very difficult for him. He saw what I wrote, and when I apologised for upsetting him he said "get away from me; don't touch me" and refused to take a taxi home with me, walking instead.
He said my telling my friend this was a "betrayal of trust" and I was "treating him appallingly". He went out for dinner with a friend of his and the next day quoted what he the friend had said to him: "In whose hands was the contraception?", saying it was a "very interesting point". He also laid into me again about telling my friend, I retreated to the bathroom crying, and he said, "Is this the behaviour of an expectant mother? Maybe a sixteen-year-old one."
The next night I came home to a note on my pillow saying "Going out. Tonight. Might stay out. No need to call police etc." (On another occasion, he'd been out till late without saying anything and when he got back I said I had been worried.)
He was out late all that week, while I was feeling very ill, and on the Friday, when I had friends over, he did not come home at all (without saying he was going to stay out).
On the morning of my booking appointment, I asked if he wanted to come. He said "If you had wanted me to come, you would have told me before." I had told him, put it on noticeboard and put it on Google Calendar. I said that, being positive, should I book a taxi to allow him time to get ready? He eventually said he would come so that I didn't have the opportunity to tell lies about him to a stranger. At the booking appointment, when the midwife asked if I had any serious psychiatric disorders (this is separate from the depression question, which I had answered -- I have suffered from depression in the past), he interjected with "I think there are some undiagnosed ones."
I had previously mentioned I might go to stay with a friend for a couple of weeks to get through to the end of term (teacher); he was out every night, would barely make me a cup of tea, and was just being so negative. At this point he offered to stay in and make dinner, and after doing so added that he would "love to hear" what I say to my friends about him not making me dinner, when in fact he does. He then said that on the advice of a family member, he had decided it was worth talking to me to see if he could change my mind about moving out. This talking to me mainly involved reading out a list of my faults and those of my family, with the occasional, "I'll leave those ones out; I think they would be too devastating for you to hear," culminating in saying that despite all this, he loved me and wanted to fight for this and make it work. He was then all affectionate, but I did move away as planned.
We met up to open the results of a prenatal test together, and at this point he was very emotional and apologetic, saying he could never make things up to me but wanted to try to make things up to our child, and that whenever I was ready to move back, he was ready to try to make things up to me and look after me. I didn't move back at once, but did spend more time with him on weekends. When I asked if he had had a chance to research pregnancy, morning sickness etc, he said he had not and was "not naturally inclined to do so" and maybe I needed to be with somebody "straight-laced" (the implication being, I suppose, that artists such as himself cannot be bogged down with the mundanity of medical facts!). We watched a documentary about pregnancy and childbirth, which I had suggested doing after he had talked about "managing his expectations" concerning the birth (I'm favouring a home birth or one in the Midwife Led Unit), which he had imagined as being "like in the romcoms, with the man supportive while the woman swears at him from the hospital bed". He watched this very grudgingly, and afterwards said he could not relate to any of the people in it and birth should be a private thing.
One Sunday, he said he wanted to make sandwiches for lunch then go to the park. I said could I take him out for a panini, instead of making sandwiches (it was already after 2pm). After eating, I asked if we should go to the park. He said "It's always on your terms; you always get your way." Later, he called me "uptight" for suggesting the baby should have both our surnames (not just his) and said his mother said she had been like me once, and that she hoped I would "grow out of it". Afterwards, I was enthusiastically preparing for a special event at school; he said I was putting too much into it, and when I said I was enjoying it he said "when you give to one part of your life, you are taking from another."
I did eventually move back at the end of term, as planned, and we went out for the evening, with strict instruction from him to focus on us and not talk about the baby. I was getting extremely bad stabbing pains in my stomach and called 111 to check if it could be related to the pregnancy. The next day, he said I had been making sure I was "as in pain as possible". He also complained that since I have been pregnant I have started to "look different". I think this is weight-related but not sure.
When I invited him out to town he came along for a bit and then said he could "picture in his mind" that he was going to have a bad time with me, and left.
This is getting far too long, but in general he is always saying that I am the only reason he is miserable, that I make him miserable, that I have changed, I am not the person he knew, I am the one who is mentally ill. He calls any disagreement a "circular argument" and refuses to engage with it, so it is extremely difficult to move forward. He feels I "abandoned him" by temporarily moving out to get through the last weeks of term. He will say he is not sure he wants the baby (and when the baby was already twelve weeks, and he had known about it for seven, he informed me that he had been considering persuading me to abort it as we would have another chance to have a child [not necessarily true: I have suspected PCOS, as he knows]), that he is resentful of his loss of freedom, that I have been unreasonable in asking him to give up his career (I haven't; as he works part-time on a freelance basis in the arts I had once mentioned there is a lot to be said for a steady income, even if this is just from a job for a couple of days a week; but this was partly as he'd said he was finding it hard to concentrate on his projects because of money worries and the fact his time was taken up with lots of bitty side-jobs here and there). He also says that I am abusive and it would be abusive of me to take the child away from him if I suggest we could be be better apart.
I'm currently visiting family, and on the phone today, after he had said within five minutes I had made him miserable after he had been joyfully happy for days, and I again said maybe we need to think about one of us moving out, he said "I am not going to let you ruin my life, Worried, I'm just not" and hung up.
I feel he is very unwell and needs help, but I don't know how to get him help because he projects it all on me, and says I am the cause of everything that is wrong while simultaneously not wanting to let me go. I find a lot of what he has said and done extremely hateful, feel gaslighted, and do not see how I can stay with him. But I am worried about being a single parent, and sad and in shock, because I have loved him so much and although the last years were not without problems, there had been nothing like this.
Has anyone been in a similar situation? What is the best thing to do? We are tied into a rental contract together for several months. I am the main earner but will only qualify for Maternity Allowance once I go on leave, as I was already pregnant when I started my job. I had been relying on either his financial support while I was on maternity leave, or on his support with childcare if I went back to work sooner.
There will be people along who will be able to give better advice than me but in answer to your question - yes he is abusive.
Do you have family/friends who could support you? You don't need this selfish knobhead in your life - I would dump him.
I did read to the end, but there was a lot there, so i wont address everything.
At the start i thought there were problems on both sides - for eg, it did sound slightly unreasonable for you to ask him not to go to his event because you weren't feeling 100% and wanted him to cook ( as long as hes not out loads and this wasnt a special event ).
However, he doesn't sound emotionally ready to take on the responsibility of a baby, he sounds as if he's regretting it and being an arse about it. Maybe trying to get you to leave without looking like the bad guy. I dont think he's gaslighting or is unwell (why do you think that?), but this constant behaviour could be seen as being abusive.
As the main earner, i would look at how you can be parents while living apart. Make sure he pays what he needs to and also plays a part in the hands on parenting. Tough when baby is small, but the space may make him realise his responsibilities. I think your relationship would only get worse if you are living together during this time. If he doesn't step up, at least youve already structure your life to continue on by yourself.
Do you have any other support at all?
I think you have got the just of it perfectly op! He is manipulative, abusive, gas lighting you and re writing history whilst projecting his own mental wellbeing and behaviour onto you! To be honest he sounds rather like a narcissist I know, he is also an artist, life is very much all about him! Your dp's jealousy about your unborn child is very typical! You can't bring an innocent newborn into that relationship and atmosphere!
Do you have family you can stay with? You can put your little one into full time nursery once you are finished maternity leave! Life will be so much calmer and enjoyable without this 'cocklodger' draining your finances and all of your energy and positivity!
Please don't feel bad about being a single Mother, you are not the first women to have their previously lovely spouse turn abusive in pregnancy! Staying with an abusive man will drain you completely and be a toxic environment for your baby! You have a fantastic career which will allow you to spend lovely holidays with your little one. You are young and you have plenty time to meet someone who will love, cherish and respect you!
He sounds absolutely awful. A complete and utter prize sample of an abusive turd.
Very few threads have me wanting to leap out of bed in my pyjamas and go and rescue the person. This did.
What are you going to do now that us few (& I’m sure many more to follow) have confirmed that you are being abused?
Please get this real with talking to someone as soon as possible - parents/friends.
Being a single mum is a piece of cake compared to having this vileness on a daily basis x
O and don’t feel sorry for him, he isn’t unwell or nor does he require fixing he just has a terminal case of cuntyitis
He sounds horrendous. Please get yourself away from him. He is an emotionally abusive bully, you can't help or fix him. He will get worse when baby is born.
Do not subject an innocent child to this man, please.
Also, make sure he doesn't come across this thread. Stay safe.
Being a single mum is a piece of cake compared to having this vileness on a daily basis
I was a single mother from the word go and it is lovely, especially when you don't have to deal with someone like this as well. I am no expert, but I suspect these abusive men cause their partners to suffer PND. My ex was awful in a different way and I'm sure if I had stayed with him I wouldn't have got anything like the same pleasure out of being a mum.
Run. Get out now. And that is my first LTB. He is a complete bastard. You don't want your baby growing up thinking the way he treats you is normal..
This behaviour will only get worse. As your pregnancy progresses and the more vulnerable you get, he will ramp up the abuse. Please end this relationship now.
He is completely unsupportive and emotionally abusive. Please don't think it will get better or that you should stay because of the baby.
Unwell my arse, he's an atrocious prick. Selfish, manipulative, lazy arsed, self centred, gas lighting cock. Fuck this shit-get out.
OP this is definitely abuse. I know you’re scared about being on your own but you’ll be so much better off (emotionally) then you are now. This is the perfect time to do it so your child is least affected and doesn’t grow up seeing you bullied. I think children living in a home where one of the parents is gas-lighted is devastating for them. Can your parents support you to move? You sound like a lovely person and he is treating you so badly. Unfortunately lots of men change when they are faced with the prospect of becoming dads (obviously some really step up too!) I agree with a pp. He doesn’t sound mentally ill to me. Obviously I don’t have all the facts. But I don’t think you should waste energy giving him too much empathy right now. Your priority is you and baby.
Run, run, run and keep running.
I think he is jealous of you.
He will definitely be jealous of the baby taking all your time up
He won't ever change and obviously didn't want a baby, he probably feels trapped now.
I would go back to my own home and prepare to be a single parent. If you continue the relationship, keep him at arms length and on your terms.
Why are you with him?
It appears you were in your teens when you got together and he is a bit older.
Are your family close by? If not I would be looking at moving ASAP. Don’t put him on the birth certificate, give baby your surname.
He doesnt want a baby. Is angry your pregnant. This won’t get any better, he sounds awful. As for him supporting you financiallly,
Or looking after baby - he won’t make you a cup of tea or research morn8ng sickness. Can see him leaving baby in a dirty nappy until you are home.
Good luck with baby and congratulations.
Speak to your landlord, mention you may have to claim housing benefit - he or she may let you move early especially if properties rent easily.
He sounds absolutely awful, and unfortunately it probably will get worse. Best to get out now.
He wrote a list of what he thinks are your faults, read them to you but didn't read them all because you're too fragile to cope, then said despite all of your faults he wants to fight for you? Wow.
Yes, he's abusive. He's a prize cunt for that matter.
You seem quite confident in your post but staying with someone like this as the abuse ramps up will wear down your mental health eventually. Being a single mother would be far preferable.
In separating I'd recommend no contact with him at all and put the onus on him to see if he's going to show commitment to seeing the baby, because I wouldn't be surprised if he focuses a lot more on how his life is ruined, how he's been treated etc, rather than wanting to be a dad.
I didn’t even need to read to the end. Get out, it’s never going to be a healthy relationship. I too would go no contact and see what he does. I wouldn’t want him having parental control based on what you’ve said.
I’ve been there with a similarly emotional abuse husband and leaving was the best thing I did in that relationship.
Dont care if its intentional or not (suspect it is though) thisperson is a hugh drain on everything that makes your life managable now, and in the future. If you dont move on now, you will be wishing you had and in a couple of years you will be so worn down it may be nearly impossible.
You have an awful lot of evidence, dont get rid of it and read it and all the answers you get whenever you feel you might waver.
Op he sounds horrendous you need support and help from the off set not this kind of behaviour also once the baby arrives it only makes it harder for couples you get times when your both exhausted because the baby won’t sleep or one of you needs a break and it can be tough but when your with the right person you take the rough with the smooth and you support one another along with raising your child together
Also with regards to what one person commented on PND coming about from destructive relationships that isn’t always the case my mum had it and my dad is anything but abusive he is a kind loving gentle person who’s always been there for both my mum me and my brother
I just wanted to say that I ended up on my own, pregnant and with hyperemesis after splitting with an abusive prick just like this. It was the best thing I ever did. He begged to come back after the baby was born but I knew my life would be awful with him and I’m so much happier now
OP he is vile and abusive. You need to get yourself away from him for you and your babies sake. He will only get worse. I can't believe he said that at your booking appointment. He is belittling your pain and your morning sickness. Imagine how he would react when you're in labour it doesn't sound like he would act in your best interests. Please speak to people in RL and have a get out plan.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.