Tell Me About It

I’ve been emotionally battered but I’m still in love with him

My partner told me to move on with my life but I’m finding it incredibly hard

PROBLEM: I have come out of a two-year relationship emotionally bruised and battered. It all started that I was unable to tell my partner certain aspects relating to people close to me in my life as I did not want to break their confidence. I should have been up-front but hindsight is a great thing. This summer my ex-partner met me with a barrage of questions over my mortgage, bank accounts and my father (who was recently in hospital for a period). I answered as best I could but was blindsided by the whole thing. I was told “you should stay with your parents tonight’’.

I was in complete shock as were my parents. I returned back to his house where I had been living for the last year and a half and as soon as he saw me coming up the driveway he pulled the curtains. I rang the doorbell even though I had keys to enter. He came out and locked the door behind him.

He told me that I was the love of his life, however on many occasions it was an emotional rollercoaster whereby he would be up one minute and down the next – silent treatment, then shouting and screaming. I always tried to calm the situation but was on eggshells constantly in case I had the wrong opinion or said the wrong thing. He wanted his “easy life back”. I recognised that I was not up-front about certain things and vowed to be up-front in the future.

While in the relationship he would also comment on the clothes I wear, I’m no supermodel but I am not a bad looking girl. He would not like it if I wore low cut tops or short dresses when we went out and would often say “it embarrasses me in front of my friends’’. He would tell me I am wearing the wrong bra size and one evening while I was having a bath he came in for one reason or another and “joked” about peeing on me. I was horrified by this but made light of it.

He is seen as an all-round good guy who has been unlucky in love but at 48-years-old I found this difficult to believe. He told me to move on with my life but I am finding this incredibly hard as I am in love. So as of this week he has finished things in dramatic fashion by announcing he cannot trust me. I really am at my wits end and don’t know how I can label this relationship or if I am to blame as he keeps reiterating for “lying to him’’. Previously, I had been in a very toxic relationship where I was physically and emotionally abused. I need some sort of closure and I am not coping well mentally at all at the moment.

Advice: You have been in this relationship for two years and it seems that a pattern has developed where you are on edge all the time waiting for the criticism to arise. This is not a reasonable way to deal with anything and it might be worthwhile asking yourself if you have had a lucky escape. Your boyfriend has been unreasonable, volatile and abusive and yet you continue to seek his approval and I wonder if this is a good time for you to reassess your relationships and look at how you might seek someone functional and kind in the future.

Women’s aid have an on-line quiz that might help you assessing your situation and from this you might begin to realise that you are very vulnerable in such a volatile situation and you might begin to unravel this pattern in your life. You say that you have been in a previously abusive relationship and now you might add a second experience to this list – some self-reflection in the form of psychotherapy might be very useful at this time.

We often need a crisis to get us to address something in our lives that needs changing so perhaps this is your opportunity.

Some of the issues you raised do need challenging. When someone close tells us something in confidence, it is respectful and necessary to hold that confidence. Our partners do not have to know everything (that is not related to them) and I would question the requirement that this is a condition of the relationship – it signifies a huge insecurity and lack of trust. Secondly, when a partner is controlling in terms of how someone needs to dress or appear, it is a real signal of manipulation or coercion and this needs to be tackled at the outset in a relationship.

Your partner clearly has good qualities and his declarations of love for you are probably genuine at the time but he sounds like someone in need of help and it is rare that the romantic partner can be the source of that help. It is troubling that he expressed a wish to pee on you; this can be something that some couples have in their relationship as part of wider sexual experimentation but in your case it seems to further your sense of alienation and objectification.

That you are sad is very understandable but that your mental health is suffering is something that needs attention right now. You might be feeling better had you been the one to end the relationship but it is important that you take this opportunity to find relief in its end and begin the process of understanding how you managed to stay so long in something that was clearly not good for you. From now on, only surround yourself with people you know to be good and kind and if you are doubtful, ask your family or a friend for an observation and take their advice. When you recover from this ending, you can look forward to life without eggshells and one where you are valued and respected.