I have met a lot of successful, beautiful, kind, loving, honest, highly eligible people who were being treated badly in a relationship – often by a partner who isn’t living up to any of these qualities. It made no sense to me- why would the seemingly “less eligible” partner do this, when you’d think they’d be counting their lucky stars to have landed such a perfect partner. And why doesn’t the partner who “has it all” just up and leave?
“What’s going on here?”, I thought, as I started meeting more and more people in this situation, “There is clearly an attraction holding these two together.”
What do I mean by being treated badly?
He doesn’t compliment, but constantly criticises. Threatens to leave the relationship/marriage, going into addictive behaviours rather than sharing intimacy. He gives the silent treatment even when he knows his partner is suffering due to no communication. It’s a familiar pattern that often confuses people. And nearly every time, rather than absolutely not putting up with it, the “abused” partner starts believing she’s not good enough; not attractive enough, that it’s all her fault (which is exactly what he usually tells her).
Understandably, the “abused” partner (who we will call Partner A) then starts to feel terrible. And then he (who we will call partner B) brings on the attack at her for feeling bad. “See,” he says. “You’re messed up. You’re needy. There’s something wrong with you. You’re lucky to have me”. This is where the power trip really starts, in fact. This weakness is an “in” for the partner to really go for it with his attack.
Why on Earth would someone do this?
Some people like to label this type of person – partner A would be described as “anxiously attached” and partner B as “avoidant” – but I’m not going to get into these descriptions. There is a lot written about this, but in my experience, labels can be counterproductive. Labels separate people and make the problem worse: After all, say you label your partner – then what? You’ve still got the problem, but now you have a label for it. In fact the label just gives you an excuse to justify your pain and to be the “good guy” – it doesn’t change anything. At the end of the day we are dealing with people here, not labels.
In a different league?
So putting labels aside, I have my own understandings:
The thing is the “abusive” partner (partner B) has often been talked about (or in some cases, told directly) that they are lucky to have their partner and that their partner is in a different league from them. Often friends have joked about this – in any case it’s understood and often self-evident at the difference in lifestyles of the two. This must be hard to take, especially if partner B has deep insecurities. And deep down, they feel a deep feeling of unworthiness.
What’s going on is that the more connected “bright light” partner A illuminates her partner’s terribly low self-worth and rather than being proud and appreciative – he wants to extinguish the light in her in the hope of extinguishing his own pain.
It makes no sense logically – and this is where the confusion comes in. It makes no sense, just as it makes no sense for someone to run a key down the side of a top of the range sportscar. In both cases, it’s a self-hating declaration of “if I can’t be this, no one will”.
This is how bullies operate. They want to destroy the person who reminds them of what they believe they could never be. It’s envy, plain and simple.
On a power-trip
The more the partner B sees their partner in pain, the more they ramp up their power-trip behaviour – retreating into silence, subconsciously knowing this withdrawal will get the partner “even more into them”. They also constantly remind their partner what is wrong with her, to keep her in victim mode. Partner B’s greatest fear is that his partner becomes empowered, as he believes if this happens then he will be abandoned. Because he feels he has little to offer, this kind of manipulation is what he sadly feels is his only way to keep hold of the relationship.
The shock of being with a partner who seems to want to destroy you seems frightening. It also seems unbelievable – but it’s not. This is how the bully gains a false sense of power – it’s like when you cry your partner is strangely satisfied; you “need” them and that gives them a temporary sense of power.
The confusing things about partner B, due to their less expressive nature, is that they give the impression of being “together” and even having fairly good self worth. But inside they are full of insecurity and self-hatred. Partner B’s way of dealing with problems is to withdraw behind a facade of “looking good” perfection.
When your partner is envious of you, it’s confusing and we often don’t see it, instead thinking we are not good enough. Some men get threatened by beauty and power – when they feel they cannot live up to it. It’s the classic self-sabotage – the dream relationship arrives, and his fear wants to destroy it.
The problem comes in when the “abused” partner takes it personally- and becomes a victim. So instead: Stay in your Power
What I would say to the partner A, is to stay in your power: Keep on shining. You probably have many knee-jerk ways to give up your power – such as get into trying to fix your partner or change yourself to “be better”. This is all a trick – and it’s a waste of time. The solution is to realise your greatness, now.
Your shining isn’t just for you. Think of how a lighthouse supports all those around it.
Don’t drop your standards and go running for “breadcrumbs”
I remember when a polite text message would be enough to have a friend running back to an abusive relationship. Then another friend told her to not be tempted by “breadcrumbs”. In other words, if someone wanted her back, they could make more of an effort rather than to have her dimming her light and accepting mediocrity.
And so you may want to reconsider immediately replying to a single “nice” text message after a barrage of abuse, or other such knee jerk, desperate reactions. Pause. Count to ten. Wait for guidance.
You don’t have to go cold turkey – in the meantime I would suggest you start writing lists of appreciation on men who have attractive, self-loving qualities. This isn’t about choosing unappealing “boring but nice guys” – but empowered, real men – who would be naturally generous with their love; a fellow bright light.
Withdraw from situations where you are banging on the door and getting no response. By stepping out of this power play, the whole thing collapses.
Reclaiming our power
As we condemn, we are condemned – feeling superior to another doesn’t help: So it’s not about judgement but rather understanding. From this understanding we can realise what it is we need to do: Step into our self-confidence.
The way to get through this situation for both is that partner B learns to love himself – and shine brighter – and so does partner A: she needs to keep on shining no matter what, not going into that default of dimming her light.
The answer is to keep on shining – in practical terms keep on appreciating, meditating, centring into your power.
We don’t have to decide if they are a match or they are not – Life will sort that out
Like a professional runner running with an amateur – partner B will step up their game and catch up – or not. When partner A “gets it” – they’ll either “get it” too and catch up – or partner A will outrun them and another, better matched partner will appear. The key is to keep our focus on our race.
A final and important note to the partner A’s who are feeling abused in all this: Don’t take it personally. This is not about you but about his inability to make the relationship work; he simply doesn’t know what to do; he’s out of his depth and like someone who can’t swim panicking in deep waters, thrashes out all over the place creating chaos. No matter how calm he looks – that’s what’s going on under the surface. All you can do is sustain yourself and then he may or may not catch up.
What I would say to both partners: Both require self-love and self-approval
Of course, in truth, this relationship is not a mismatch at all – but the perfect match which has come about not as punishment, but as a gift of potential awakening for both partners. No one partner is better than the other, both are in pain and both are actually more similar than it initially appears and the perfect mirror for one another: Even though the behaviours are vastly different – both require the same healing: self-love and self-approval. But only they individually can give it to themselves. No one can be forced to do this; Both have to decide to do this by themselves and then put in the work to achieve it.
And then, both partners will come into their full power. Both will wake up in their own way – perhaps the “abused” partner A will realise her self worth and gravitate to more nurturing relationships and the “abuser” (partner B), now loving himself, will become more nurturing and feel worthy of a loving relationship. Both will feel good, be more loving – and able to sustain loving, trusting, intimate relationships. Perhaps with one another, in time.
Meeting your twin flame
When one relationship chapter is over and you dwell on them you’ll find you feel drained – which will make you think you miss them as they are. But that’s the trick: It’s like kryptonite in the film Superman. The thought may be compelling, but it feels depleting. You will discover that the impulse to miss them only happens at times when you are feeling off-centre; it’s like a drug craving rather than a genuine excitement or love of something.
Get a hobby you can get passionate about; shine brighter. Realise how many amazing men their are out there, waiting for you to align and be brought together. Use this episode as an excuse to step up and be the light you were born to be and then, before you know it, and often when you’re least looking for it, you’ll turn round and there will be, quite literally, your “twin flame”; another bright light and the perfect match. It may be your current partner made anew, or it may not. But either way, you will have exactly the relationship you want.