Today I am going to describe a pattern that sometimes plays out with when a woman is struggling with a partner who doesn’t treat her right. If it sounds familiar, you’ll find it helpful to recognize it and not let it happen again. And if you haven’t lived this one, you can think ahead about how to make sure you never do.
It goes like this: First, you find yourself mired in one of those periods when he is just being rotten to you day after day, and you feel like you just can’t take it anymore. You rant to some of your closest people about what a jerk he is, and they are right behind you on it. You say you’re done with him, and they cheer you on to give him the boot, helping you to plan how you’ll do it. You’re all a team.
But over a period of days or weeks you are feeling less and less sure. The thought of ending your relationship starts to feel overwhelming, and the loss seems too great. He senses that you are leaning toward the door – or you tell him outright – and he improves his behavior some and promises to make bigger changes. The upshot is that you are going to give it another try.
Now comes the tricky part. You’ve been bonding with loved ones about how awful he is, so how do you explain to them that you’re staying?
And something else starts to happen, which is that the crisis of your relationship almost coming apart makes you and your partner feel closer. He’s being sweet, and you’re feeling a little resentful towards people around you for being so negative about him. You tell yourself that they don’t really understand him, or you for that matter; in fact, you feel like he’s the only person who really gets you.
So now you and he have become a secret society, a special team together against that hostile, non-comprehending world out there. You have a deep connection with each other that they just can’t grasp.
In short, you have two reasons to keep them all away; you are a little ashamed in front of them, but at the same time you are feeling that you and your partner are a little bit above them.
But what is really happening is that you are growing more traumatized and more isolated. Your partner is drawing you into a traumatic bond, and leading you away from your support system. Your secret society is not a healthy place to be. It’s an illusion, and a destructive one.
Your people love you. Don’t cut them out. Whatever you decide about how to handle your relationship, keep reaching back toward the hands that are reaching out to you.
“I can’t ever let my partner come between me and my people. I have to see this for what it is.”