Is it Love or Something Else?

You are overwhelmed by a powerful feeling that you just have to go back to your abusive partner after you’ve gone through all of the difficulty of leaving the relationship. You have allowed enough time after the relationship to start dating again, but you don’t feel love with the same intensity that you felt it for your abusive partner. No matter how you try, you continue to have thoughts of the “good times” and wonder if you’ve actually made a mistake.

I have read posts from victims who have left and have found themselves in one or more of these difficult positions. Most of the time, the powerful feeling that causes a victim to believe she needs to go back is misinterpreted to be love. It may feel so intense and so difficult to overcome that the only explanation that seems possible is love.

There is another possibility . . . . .

It goes back to what attracted you to your abusive partner in the first place and it has everything to do with what was missing from you during childhood that drives your relationship choices today.

One of the characteristics of abusive relationships is that they begin very quickly. Within a very short period of time, a person who wants to get into relationship in order to exert power and control over you will tell you everything you always wanted to hear.

“You complete me.”

“Where have you been all my life?”

“You are so beautiful.”

“You are my princess.”

“You deserve all the best the world can offer.”

“When I look into your eyes, I know we have met before. We are destined to be together.”

The perfect lines come from all of the perfect fairy tales we’ve told ourselves about what “Happily Ever After” would look like.

Staying in the abusive relationship is partly fueled by the everlasting hope that he won’t hurt you again when things are “calm” and the apologies and pretty words he says after he hurts you (during the “Honeymoon Phase”).

After you leave, there is no more hope. You must abandon the wish that things can get better and adjust to the fact that the relationship cannot give you what you had hoped for. You have to abandon hope that he will change. You have to come to terms with the reality that he cannot fix the hurts of your past.

Childhood Pain

Childhood Pain

Like it or not, we all subconsciously choose romantic partners based on our childhood experiences unless we have done the work that it takes to make more healthy choices.

If the relationship created an ongoing cycle of old-familiar hurts, what you are calling “love” is more likely a compulsive need to feel accepted, safe and to belong. These things can never come from outside of you if you didn’t get them in childhood. The work of healing those old pains is yours alone.

When you can see yourself clearly, you will understand that love is kind, gentle, responsive, attentive and nurturing without the drama and intensity that abuse adds to the mix.

To hear more on this topic, click here.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2014 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.


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