If you are experiencing ongoing emotionally destructive patterns within your relationship, you will find it near impossible to focus, be productive and stay in your creative flow.
My mission from day one of my work as a counsellor has been to empower women to stand up for their lives and stop tolerating things that aren’t helping them to thrive.
One area I have worked with so many burned out, high achieving career and entrepreneurial women around is their relationships with men who are disengaged, disinterested, critical, unmotivated to change and grow, and in some cases, even covertly emotionally abusive.
I help women who are experiencing subtle, hidden, covert emotional abuse in it’s milder forms (not that any level is evet OK) but they have enough positives within the relationship that there is desire and room for growth.
I also help them to heal themselves, and step into their power so that they don’t repeat the same patterns with a new partner.
There are some types relationships that cannot be healed, and sadly most relationships with someone on the higher end of the spectrum of narcissism (NPD) are one of those types.
Because those with severe NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) do not have the self awareness necessary to first admit they have a problem (somehow it’s always you that is the issue) and secondly they will not seek help for their mental health and dysfunctional patterns.
You will hear everywhere that if you have a partner with narcissistic traits, that there’s no hope for them, and all you can do is leave to save your health and sanity.
And, in most cases this is true.
There is no hope if your partner isn’t ready to get the help he needs, and to take the steps toward being 100% accountable for his behaviour.
In the case where you know you are experiencing some emotionally destructive treatment (or are also dishing it out on occasion yourself), you and your partner both want to make the relationship work, and experience a healthier connection, here are some tips to get you started.
- Get clarity on the problem behaviours: Subtle emotional abuse can be so difficult to pinpoint. A little jab here a little comment there, a snide remark, or “joke” designed to hurt the other are things we can all find ourselves doing in long term relationships (not that this is conducive to a thriving relationship)! But when this is an ongoing daily occurrence, and you find you can’t relax and be yourself around your partner, experience anxiety and depression around the relationship, or you have lost all desire for intimacy, physical closeness and sex, these are big signs something more is going on that needs to be addressed if you want to stay together and build something healthier.
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- Set a Strong Boundary: If you’ve asked your partner for change and he isn’t receptive, or he changes for a little while and you’re back to old patterns, this could be the cycle of abuse in action. In order to reduce the harm to you of living in this cycle (you can’t control it, only the one driving the cycle can) you can develop the awareness of the cycle, and set some boundaries around it. For example, when your partner is critical, you can set the boundary you will leave the room rather for some self care or pull out a self healing tool like journaling your feelings, rather than getting emotionally reactive. If your partner can get on board with working toward breaking this cycle, and is open to learning about how to do that through his onw self healing and growth work, this Is a sign that your relationship might be workable
- You are Committed to Changing Your Own Part in the Dynamic: You are doing your own work, and are committed to learning about yourself and your part in the dynamic. And in some cases where there is no chance for change, staying is your part in the dynamic. But if you are ready to roll up your sleeves, get empowered to do your own work, and your partner is 100% on board to do the same, and you are able to heal the pain and wounds from the past then this is a sign you might be able to save your relationship. When we are in a relationship where one person is more problematic or emotionally abusive, it can be really easy to point the finger and avoid looking at the part we are playing in it. I am NOT saying that his behaviour your fault, or that you are to blame for his treatment or actions. Each person is solely responsible for how they behave, their own reactions, and for the energy they are bringing to the relationship.
Sometimes we hit an absolute rock bottom that created an awakening for both people to see what they are about to lose, and it shakes them awake to make the changes necessary for both partners to thrive and flourish within the relationship.
And other times, based on the 50% divorce rate, most times, couples don’t make it without seeking the right support.
Sometimes there isn’t’ enough left to build from. The foundation is in rubble, and the benefits of staying are nearly non-existent.
Some of these cases are extreme and volatile emotional and psychological abuse and control, physical abuse, infidelity, and other forms of dishonesty and manipulation.
Only you know if what you have is worth saving, or if cutting your losses and moving on is what is best for you and others involved.
There are many things you can try to see if your relationship can be healed, and in most cases I would suggest exploring all of these if you have any part of you that wants to stay in the relationship.
The first step is to commit to yourself, work on your own self healing, and set some new standards and boundaries within your relationship.
Would you like some support with digging deeper into your situation, and getting some clarity, advice and guidance for your next steps? Are you feeling totally burned out and don’t know what to do next to improve your situation and relationship?