Dear Dr. Love:I am in a very sticky situation. . . I’m in love with a very insecure, jealous and suspicious man. We’ve been together for the better part of one year. In that year, I have been away from him a total of two nights, that ‘s not much if you ask me.When we got together, he found me ‘too independent’ and ‘to much in control’ of the relationship. So I removed ‘the pants’ and put on a nice, frilly apron-so to speak, and consequently live through the most horrific months in my life. I gave up my own apartment, to move into his tiny, stuffy room. I gave up my car, only to be told when and where I could use his. I gave up my job because there were’too many guys asking me out there’ only to be picked on as not contributing to the relationship. He asked me to become more dependent, and then tortured me for doing it.Now, I have moved back into my own place, I’m working again and saving up for my own car as well as secured transportation to and from work without having to beg to use his car (which he promised he’d give me for selling mine).He has backed out on every committment he’s made of any importance, and if he realizes this, he’s a very talented actor, because he seems to be clueless to the fact. He’ll call me names and ‘break up’ with me, only to call me two hours later ‘hey baby, whatcha doin?’I’ve become numb to his name calling and ‘fake breaks (as I call them)’ to a degree that it doesn’t hurt, shock or surprise me any more. It does however, put a real damper on my normally happy-skippy disposition. I know this is all based upon fear of abandonment in him, and self hatred of and fear of abandonment in him, but I can’t stand it. He doesn’t even trust me enough to let me go to the bathroom without saying ‘whatcha doin, babe?’One night, four months ago, (after his NINTH ‘fake break’) I went to my home town (80 miles away from where I lived with him) to be with people who love me, trust me and don’t call me names. I was gone all night. One of the friends is a male. He has not just accused me of, but convicted me of cheating on him ever since – that ‘s where the names came from, I won’t bore you with those!Anyway, now I need my space. I’ve taken it, and it’s time to enforce those boundries. He doesn’t like it, but when I say ‘lump it’ he talks suicide. I know he needs professional help, but I’m not a professional. How can I say’tough, that’s life’ with tough love? How can I get my self respect back, and find some for him?Signed…”Too many problems to know which one to write about…”
You sound like one tough survivor. You ask how can you say,’tough that’s life’, get your self-respect back and find some for him?It sounds like you are on the road to regaining your self-respect ( saving for a car, and you found a new job and an apartment). So, pat yourself on the back for all your strength and courage. And, keep reminding yourself what a winner you are. Avoiding people that abuse you and repeating to yourself what is wonderful about you, will build your self-respect.The fact that you find it hard to say,’tough’ makes me wonder what part of your psyche doesn’t want to give this guy up. It would be good for you to examine what ‘hook’ this guy has on you.Whenever we become drawn into abusive relationships, there is an aspect of our early life that is being replayed. Were you abused as a child or did you see your mother or father being abused? In order for you to be comfortable with letting go and saying tough to this abusive guy, you need to understand what your unconscious mind was (is) hoping by staying with an abuser. As a kid, did you hope that an abuser would stop abusing and love you?When you figure out what type of healing your mind is hoping for, it will be easier to accept that you can’t obtain a happy ending from this man–he’s too damaged. Realizing this, will help you to walk away and say tough without feeling such conflict and remorse.As for the question about respecting him. Why is this so important? He is not behaving in a respectable way, so why do you want to force such unnatural feelings down your throat. I suspect that you grew up with a parent that you couldn’t respect, but desperately wanted to. And, your wish to respect this guy, may reflect the wish you felt as a kid. (If only my parent would change, I could respect him (her).Respect is earned. This guy didn’t earn your respect and doesn’t deserve it. I know it is painful to accept that you can’t relive and rewrite history or change your parent(s) into respectable people.But, keep this thought in mind. You are such a bright fantastic lady, there is a happy ending for you. There is a man out there for you who is ready to love and not abuse you…and this is the man you will be able to respect.Let me know when you find him.