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A Guy's Abusive Boyfriend

A Guy's Abusive Boyfriend

"When things go wrong, don't go with them." -Anon.

March 5, 2001

See Kyle's earlier email here.

I have a quick question. My boyfriend has not really done anything abusive for 5 months, except to ignore my birthday, which was a punishment for talking about him in front of a therapist. Yuk. OK - not nice, but one can at least understand his point of view here. Really? You have very lax rules, I think. I've kept a very clear grasp of the facts. Nothing I accuse him of is denied. Also, I have very rarely acted out, so he is not able to say I provoked him.  Excellent on this part, but you need to pay attention to subtle stuff and stop excusing misbehaviors or omissions at your expense..

What did disturb me was a comment out of the blue about me being not sensitive at all in most things, but in some very sensitive. I asked him where he found me very sensitive, and the answer was the jokes of twenty months ago, with which everything began, and that bothers me, because he must know by now that I do not wish to hear anything more on the subject.  Knowing that, he found a wonderful "button." Perhaps the best thing to do is own your sensitivity and ask him to respect it. Acceptance of your own sensitivity is also a great way to "remove" a button. 

Also I did not feel it was done deliberately to provoke me. He has also said, over the last months, with reference to the jokes 'I did not want to hurt you'. It was meant honestly at the time, I feel. And he also in an email - in a reply to one of mine where I had not mentioned any incidents from the past - reproached himself for the jokes and then turned on me and said I should think about why they bothered me and what was wrong with me. Why does he keep alluding to the initial abusive incident? I don't know what I can do so that we can put it behind us. Accept your sensitivity. It's OK to have sensitive areas. But, why does it bother you so? Parenthetically, while I'm glad for both of you that he did not mean to push a button, it really doesn't matter. For your own sake, deal with it.

It bothers me also that he once accused me of not being able to forgive myself, as my feelings tell me that that is his problem - that he has never forgiven himself and that this issue must somehow be resolved. That he forgive himself or that you want him to stop projecting his stuff onto you? The latter, I suspect. If so, deal with the fact that his behavior bothers you and change yourself so that you can allow him to project his stuff onto you. Not that his projection is acceptable, but that there is little you can do about his projection other than ask him to stop analyzing you.

These things don't bother me as such, but they seem to be signs of a latent instability in the relationship with the potential to give rise to further attacks. Perhaps. Time will tell. Where other abusive behaviours are concerned I was able to set boundaries and stand my ground - without being accusatory, and these were accepted, so none of these smaller attacks have lead to guilt on his part. Excellent on this, but what you describe is unfortunately what happens in abuse; once you put an end to the big stuff, it gets subtler and more covert. Look here. Covert abuse is why you have to firm up your boundaries and not overlook repeated misbehaviors at your expense. 

And this is my problem - behaviour which is by and large acceptable, but references to an incident which occurred 20 months ago - the initial breach of boundaries. How should this matter be best resolved. It ought to be clear by now that I do not want to hear anything on the matter. Should it also be possible to deal with this by telling him directly - even when he says 'I did not want to hurt you', that I do not wish to hear another word on the subject. Certainly you can do that, but I urge you to take responsibility for your button instead.

You're improving Kyle! You are more within your own boundaries now than you have been in the past. Keep it up!

I want to read the posts.