Leaving An Emotionally/Mentally Abusive Relationship and Moving On

25th July 2017
It’s been a tough few months, and if I’m honest with myself it’s been a tough year.As you know I got into a relationship with a much older man more than 18 months ago and it was my first serious relationship since my son’s dad.

We had a holiday to Spain in May last year and we did the same again this year, and having that full-on time where we didn’t get on (both holidays) made me realise that I should have ended the relationship after the first holiday a year ago.

I’ve not been happy in that relationship for 14 months out of the 18 months and I’m disgusted at myself for putting up with a relationship which made me so unhappy. What I have come to realise now is that whilst he seemed like a “nice guy” to everyone that knows of him, behind closed doors he is different with his partners.

When I didn’t want to do something, be it in the bedroom or just in general, he would say manipulative things that you could see as emotionally abusive. He would talk about how his previous partners would do these things and would find ways to try to make me feel abnormal or selfish for not doing them too.

If I didn’t act in a certain way or if he did something wrong and I stuck up for myself my punishment would be weeks of him not contacting me.

One of his exes got in touch with me last week (she is happily married with children so is not bitter or trying to win him back) and she told me she endured five years of manipulation, control and emotional abuse from him. The story he had told me about her cheating was in fact him as the cheater. He even hoarded newspapers back then which she said is his form of control. His house is full to the brim of newspapers in every room except the bathroom. I was concerned about this and did often say things to him, but he denied he had a problem.

He had strict routines for himself and had expectations of how I should look and act especially in front of his friends and acquaintances. He wouldn’t threaten me or be obviously manipulative. It would be said with a smile and subtle digs about me wearing trousers and how I looked better with no make up and in dresses and high heels.

Some of his manipulation I managed to avoid because I am stubborn and I won’t be told what to do, but on my weaker days he did control me and I’m angry for allowing him to do so.

I started to notice what some would call gas lighting in the last few months. We would sometimes play fight where I would poke and prod him etc, but he always returned it harder to the point where I would bruise ( I never did it that hard to him hence why he never had a mark). I would show him the bruise the following morning and he would tell me that I must have pinched the area myself to create the bruise and pretend it was him. One bruise was huge on my inner knee, which is an area I cannot accidentally knock and I certainly never pinched myself to make a bruise.

He wouldn’t let it go and continued to make out it was me doing it to myself. The worst was when he hit my ear so hard it hurt for two weeks and the doctor said it was swollen inside. He did it but denied it and then justified it saying I shouldn’t have play fought with him.

I get so cross with people who just settle for someone because they think they can’t get better or don’t deserve better, because that’s no way to live a life.

I’ve been living that life for 18 months. I’m a hypocrite.

I spent three years trying to get over Chunk’s dad and the pain he brought to me and my family, and during this time I seemed to attract guys who only wanted to use me. So when this older guy came along and actually wanted to be with me I gave it a go.

He wasn’t my type at all and I didn’t find him attractive, but people told me ‘it’s not all about looks, and people grow on you’. I didn’t like my son’s dad initially, but when I got to know him and fell for his personality I also fell for his looks. I assumed the same could happen again but it never did.

When I compare my three previous serious relationships with this one, I can see that it lacked chemistry, connection and attraction. Some may call that shallow but it’s really not because without it you are just friends.

Add in that he’s twenty years older than me which brings a lot more problems than you’d realise; He’s hugely set in his ways about even the smallest things. I believe relationships need compromise and you make changes as a couple and as individuals but unfortunately this didn’t happen.

His friendship circle was not at all something I felt comfortable in. They were interested in things I find incredibly dull. They would talk about things from the past that I had never heard of as I wasn’t born at that time. They would have ‘soirees’ instead of bog-standard barbecues or films nights with popcorn. I never stopped him from seeing his friends but I didn’t want to be part of that and preferred him to do it without me.

He would take offence over things I’ve never seen someone get upset about. He shouted at me for two hours once because I didn’t chink his wine glass when he raised it as I was instead finishing my mouthful of food. I didn’t grow up in a household where my parents drank alcohol and wasn’t used to seeing people chink glasses unless it was New Years Eve. He acted like I had slapped his mother or cheated on him. He told me it was offensive not to do it and even when I explained I hadn’t grown up with that he made out I wasn’t normal and he threatened to break up with me. He only calmed down when I chinked his glass a few hours later.

He worked all day and long into the night most days. He’s self-employed and could be flexible with his time, but I would ask for him to spend time with my son and I for dinner once or twice a week and it didn’t happen. Yes he had late meetings often but there were at least one night a week he didn’t but he would choose to work at home and only visit once my son was getting into bed or asleep.

I wanted a dog, he said he wouldn’t be with someone who had a pet. I wanted more tattoos and he said he wouldn’t date me if I had more. I liked wearing pyjamas and was told that wearing them is ‘a contraceptive’ and when he said stuff like that it made me feel like I didn’t dress well enough for him. He came into the relationship saying he wanted another two children. Three months into the relationship he said he didn’t want anymore children.

He was late for most things including to some of my family functions such as Mother’s Day lunch. It got to the point where whenever he said a time, I knew I had to put at least another hour on top of that, sometimes much more. It felt like I never mattered enough for him to actually be on time. Sure we all get stuck in traffic or emergencies come up, but he would often be at home just working (which he could have done later) or pottering about.

I would call him during the many days we wouldn’t see each other and he would later bring up that I call him for an hour and it wastes his time where he could be working. I felt like a waste of his time. If I would talk to him about my anxiety or my problems he would bring that up in a later argument saying that I’m needy.

Needy for opening up about my worries to my own partner? Needy?! I’ve been taught your partner is your best friend and you confide in each other and you’re a team. He believes in self-regulation at all times. It’s hard trying to love someone who doesn’t let you in and doesn’t show how he feels.

If I had a different opinion to him or just wanted to tell him something I thought, he would often actively look for proof I was wrong whilst we talked. Sometimes healthy debate is fine, but to continually try to disprove someone stopped me wanting to get into these sorts of conversations.

If we had an argument, whether I was in the wrong or he was, he would not contact me until I made the first move. The times he was in the wrong I waited weeks and would hear nothing. He would say he was waiting for me to calm down. If you care about someone and you don’t want to fight, you get in touch. I told him from the start I don’t like going to bed on an argument and he agreed but his actions showed otherwise.

It got to the point where he wouldn’t see me all week and would only be in touch if I initiated contact. Even when I asked about this he would just say that it was hard to want to be around someone who was moody. Is that a mature response to problems? If there’s problems you see each other more to sort them out, not run away- I’ve learnt now not to assume with age comes maturity.

He would say he wanted a lover not a fighter. I’m not a fighter, but if someone is being out of order or not treating me the way I feel they should, I will openly say this. He felt this was picking fights, but it was sticking up for myself. It’s hard to be loving when your partner didn’t initiate texts or calls to show you he’s thinking of you, and who kept his feelings and worries inside. There was a barrier which over time pushed me away.

I felt like he would talk down to me, including on our recent holiday when he told me he would only talk to me ‘when you behave”. I felt like I was being spoken to like a child.
I felt he never saw me as his equal. My mum overheard him shouting at me on holiday and it upset her to the extent she asked me why I let him speak to me like that. I imagine she was shocked because in public he’s softly spoken and always polite.

When I finally let my guard down for a man after son’s dad, I wanted it to be someone who would want to spend regular, quality time with my son and I like a family. I always wanted that family life.
I want the guy who will play with my son, who will get excited about day trips and holidays with us.

There were times I didn’t see this older guy for two, three and four weeks at a time and my son never even noticed.

He’s not completely to blame. It’s not his fault that I am moody and that I do have anxiety which can cause problems socially and within relationships.

It’s not his fault we have nothing in common and that I got into a relationship with someone I wasn’t attracted to. It’s not his fault I would push him away because I was scared of getting hurt again.

But his need for control, his manipulation and his emotional abuse are his fault. NOT MINE. I didn’t deserve that and neither did any of his exes. This has knocked my trust in even the “nice guys” out there and I don’t ever want to risk my heart, head or body again. It contributed to the recent severe anxiety and depression episode that I have had and am still trying to get over, and I will never ever let a man make me feel that way again.

I fell in love with the thought of being in love and being loved. I know that because I’ve not felt ‘in love’ with him for over a year. I’ve cared for him but not in that way. Why did I put up with it for so long?

If I don’t feel at least the same desire, butterflies and love I did for my son’s dad then they aren’t worth it. I shouldn’t assume I will never meet someone who makes me feel like he did. It’s wrong to compare partners with exes but the other two guys I was serious with I also had butterflies etc, and I loved them, but not as much as son’s dad. They’ve all shown me the key elements I want and don’t want in a relationship.

I never got butterflies with the older guy. Not even at the start. Why did I ignore that?! I wanted it to get better, I don’t like quitting or giving up so I think that’s why it lasted as long as it did. But when it gets to the stage where you feel lonely in the relationship, that’s when it’s time to stop regardless of whether you settle or not.

I hate myself for wasting 18 months for both me and the older guy because it stopped us both meeting someone we did want. I genuinely didn’t realise that I was doing this. I assumed I loved him and tried hard to do so. It’s crazy how we hide stuff from ourselves!

I used to criticise my sister for always picking older men as I felt she was looking for a father figure. I’ve never had that desire but I feel that I picked someone who I felt could look after me. I was in a bad place, and I wanted someone to fix me. It’s embarrassing to say this because I never saw it at the time. I hate myself for doing that to me and to him.

I already miss talking to him as he gave great advice. I miss his cooking. I miss watching films with him. But we weren’t happy and I don’t miss his expectations, pressure and controlling behaviours.

Apologies for the long post. I don’t care if people want to use this to laugh at me or feel sorry for me. This is me and I will not hide what life throws at me. I make mistakes, and I use this blog to talk about them in the hopes I learn from them.

I’m so scared to let someone in again. I always worry that they may be lovely initially, wait for feelings to kick in and then be awful to me, or worse, to my son. I wish I could give my son the family he deserves, and I don’t want him looking at me and his dad and thinking that relationships are things you throw away whenever they get tough. I feel a lot of guilt over not giving my son the stable family he would love, but at the same time I have to have faith that this has all happened for a reason.

Maybe it’s the karma I deserve, or maybe it’s to teach me about things to enable me to move forward.

All I know is that my anxiety and depression are not great at the moment and I’m trying to find ways to sort them out so I can be the best parent and person I can be.

It’s time for me to start living again and to stop hiding.


  • Anonymous

    26th July 2017 at 6:04 am

    Hey, once upon a time I fell in love with a man child too. Everything you explain here sounds familiar. But when we care about someone, we stick it out and fight harder. It took me a lot longer to realise I was never going to be equal in the relationship (9 years!) so take this one thought, at least you realised in a relatively short space of time. I have friends who are still in these relationships.

  • Arabella

    26th July 2017 at 8:54 pm

    I'm not sure when or how we learn our lessons but it sounds like you have learnt one of yours. I too have met people like your ex but it has never gone past a few dates before I bolted. That said, I have known people who behave like that and they have milled around in common social circles for years under what appears to be a conspiracy of silence. You are damned if you warn others and damned if you don't. Relationships are complex with no clear answers but you are now free and wiser to seek that which you deserve and not that others may feel inclined to impose upon you. I hope you find your slice of happiness.

  • Anonymous

    7th August 2017 at 5:44 am

    Look for kindness in a man – it's a quality you can judge by how they behave with other people -and for someone considerate and loving towards you and your family. Pick yourself up, start looking again, and be quick to end something you KNOW is not right.

  • Anonymous

    17th August 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I've been working with a terrific therapist to steer myself towards good men, after a relationship with someone whose actions were constantly at odds with his words and self-image as a good guy, and who found ways to make most of it my fault. The two main things I'm working with are that I stayed with him because deep down I believed I didn't deserve better and I also have a strong gut-level sense of truth, of what's real, that I can learn to listen to so that I don't fall into this kind of trap again. The second part has been the easier work. The first part–learning to believe that I do deserve to be loved, accepted and respected both in words and deeds–comes more slowly. And it starts with recognizing, as it happens, how when I meet someone who seems nice, I subconsciously make up reasons why it won't work out with him. I have added incentive because I want to set a good example for my daughter so that she can find the love that she deserves when she grows up. I want her to see what self-love looks like, and what a healthy and rich romantic relationship looks like.

  • Shiney Shoo

    20th August 2017 at 4:15 am

    After some disastrous relationships in the past and much like you holding on, despite knowing it wasn't working and I I was was far from happy, having my energy and confidence slowly sapped away.. I spent the past 8 years working on myself, alone, bringing up my twins in a happy and secure environment, trying to teach my twins that love is unconditional…. I thank those bad relationships for teaching me to first and foremost love myself, all my warts and all and I look forward to the day that I find someone who I can love the same way!, although I won't hold my breath!…

  • raheel

    10th October 2017 at 4:58 am

    You should not take decisions impulsively or else you will regret all your life. Do not act rash if you are frustrated because of not having gone on a date for some time. Best Relationship Advice For Couples

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