Leaving Emotionally Abusive Relationship and Moving On

25th July 2017

It’s been a tough few months, which has included realising I was in an emotionally abusive relationship.

As you know I got into a relationship with a much older man, which was my first serious relationship since my son’s father.

We had a holiday to Spain where we spent lots of time together which made me realise I should’ve ended the relationship a year ago.

I was unhappy for most of the 18 months and I’m disgusted at myself for remaining in an emotionally abusive relationship for so long.

I realise now that whilst he seemed like a “nice guy” to everyone that knows him, behind closed doors he was different with me.

There were signs that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

When I didn’t want to do something, he would explain how his previous partners would do it, and made out I was abnormal or selfish for not doing it too.

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

One of his exes got in touch with me last week (she’s happily married, so isn’t bitter or wanting him back) and told me she endured five years of manipulation, control and emotional abuse from him. The story he had told me about her cheating was apparently the other way around.

She said he hoarded newspapers which she felt was an example of control, and I noticed this too. His house is full to the brim of newspapers in every room except the bathroom. I was concerned about this and often said things to him, but he denied he had a problem.

He had strict routines for himself and 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.

During the last few months, I started to notice what some would call gaslighting, which is common in an emotionally abusive relationship.

We would sometimes playfight where I would poke and prod him, but he always returned it harder to the point 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 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 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 played with him.

Why Didn’t I Notice it was an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

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

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

He wasn’t my type and I didn’t find him attractive, but people told me ‘it’s not all about looks, and people grow on you’.

When I compare my three previous serious relationships with this one, I can see it lacked chemistry, connection and attraction. Some may call that shallow, but without it you’re just friends.

The age gap brought more problems than I assumed; He was 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 would talk about things from the past I’d never heard of as I was too young. They would have ‘soirees’ instead of bog-standard barbecues or films nights with popcorn. I never stopped him from seeing his friends but I preferred him to see them 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 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.

According to him, it was offensive not to do it and when I explained I hadn’t grown up learning that, he made out I wasn’t normal and threatened to break up with me.

He only calmed down when I chinked his glass a few hours later.

I would ask for him to spend time with my son and I for dinner once a week and it rarely happened. He worked all day and long into the night most days.

At times he had late meetings, but there was at least one night a week he didn’t, but he would choose to work at home and only visit once my son was asleep.

We never lived together, or planned to, yet when I wanted a dog, he said he wouldn’t be with someone who had a pet (yet he accepted my indoor guinea pigs).

I wanted more tattoos and he said he wouldn’t date me if I had more.

For sleep, I liked wearing pyjamas and was told that wearing them is ‘a contraceptive’.

He came into the relationship saying he wanted another more children, but three months in, he’d changed his mind.

He was late for most things including 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 arise, but he would often be at home working (which he could have done later on) or pottering about.

I felt like a waste of his time. During the days we wouldn’t see each other every week, I’d call him, and whenever he’d be annoyed, he’d then bring up that I called him for an hour and it wasted his time.

If I would talk to him about my anxiety or my problems he would bring that up in a later argument saying 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.

Belittling and Punishment

If I had a different opinion to him, 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 express my opinions.

If we had an argument, whether I was in the wrong or he was, he wouldn’t contact me until I made the first move. The times he was in the wrong I waited weeks and heard nothing. When asked why, 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.

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 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.

It seemed like he didn’t view me as his equal.

I felt like he would talk down to me like a child, including on our recent holiday when he told me he would only talk to me ‘when you behave”.

My mum overheard him shouting at me, which upset her to the extent she asked why I let him speak to me like that.

When I finally let my guard down for a man after my 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 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 guy for two, three and four weeks at a time and my son never even noticed.

He’s not completely to blame. I can be moody and have anxiety which can cause problems socially and within relationships.

It’s not his fault we have nothing in common or that I got into a relationship when I shouldn’t have.

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 want to risk my heart, head or body again.

It contributed to the recent severe anxiety and depression episode I’m in, (and still trying to get through).

I fell in love with the thought of being in love and being loved, rather than him.

I never got butterflies with this guy- not even at the start. Why did I ignore that?!

I wanted it to get better, and I don’t like quitting, so I think that’s why it lasted so long.

When you feel lonely in the relationship, that’s when it’s time to stop.

I hate myself for wasting 18 months for both me and him, because it stopped us both meeting someone else.

I assumed I loved him and tried hard to do so. It’s crazy how we hide stuff from ourselves!

At times I miss his cooking and his advice, but I don’t miss the expectations, pressure and control.

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.

My mental health isn’t great right now, so I’m exploring ways to sort it, to be the best parent I can.

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


  • 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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