Relationship after relationship, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Was I broken or was he? Were all men really the same as my momma had drilled into my head since childhood? As each relationship failed, I failed to recognize that I couldn’t fix it or him regardless of how much I tried or how much I tried to please, or change, or make excuses, or pretend or, most importantly, how much I lost my identity in trying to become the person he thought I should be.
The one thing I later learned with 100% certainty is that my behaviors were the classic definition of codependency.
Codependency is E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G !
If you’re anything like me, you could use some help recognizing red flags, warning signs, the you’d-better-get-out-now signs!
So let’s dive in.
In his eyes, he IS the most important person in the relationship, he IS the perpetual victim and has played no role in your couple problems, and he IS only going to do what he wants with no regard for your desires.
His lack of emotional attachment, his inability to feel empathy for others, and his conditional love (I will love you ‘if’ or ‘when’ you do X), make it impossible to move forward. The relationship revolves around him and his needs only.
These behaviors do not get better with time, in fact, they often worsen. Don’t run the risk of losing yourself in your quest to try to make him happy by succumbing to his wants, needs, and desires. This is not okay or safe.
This is not a relationship.
Do you want to be in relationship with an equal partner or do you want to raise another child? For some reason this guy is carrying some major unresolved issues from childhood and can’t get past them. These unresolved issues come to life with vigor and vengeance when anger strikes or conflict arises.
You didn’t get in relationship with a grown man to raise a little boy. Over time, you begin to feel like his momma as he responds and behaves immaturely in conversation and in conflict. If he’s willing to get professional help to move past this, then the two of you stand a chance. If not or if he doesn’t stay the course of treatment, you have a decision to make.
Whatever you do, make a healthy decision for you.
It’s okay to walk away.
Erratic driving, damaging property, raging, harming animals, unpredictable anger typically over a negligible incident, financial control games, and yes, name-calling. These are the behaviors, seemingly innocent [acts of classic domestic violence], that can ultimately lead to physical violence.
At first you want to dismiss these behaviors away, make excuses, pretend to not see them, or blame yourself for the behaviors (if you hadn’t had done X, he wouldn’t have done Y). And besides, he claims they are no big deal and that you are overreacting if you address your concerns around these behaviors.
You find yourself feeling a little crazy (because he tells you that you are), and walking on eggshells in hopes of preventing an episode, to no avail. The episode occurs or he explodes, then apologizes, has a period of remorse giving you signs of hope (known as the honeymoon phase), only to repeat the process. You find that each incident has a shorter and shorter honeymoon phase, if any, before the next occurrence.
Rinse and repeat.
Girlfriend, you’ve got to get out while you can OR set some serious boundaries by distancing yourself (think personal safety) and getting professional help and guidance to further ensure your safety. If your guy isn’t willing to commit fully to changing these behaviors by immersing in therapy and more, there is no hope for you having a safe place in this relationship. If you’ve already said ‘I do’, I highly suggest you quickly say ‘I don’t’ and get out today!
You are worth so much more.
He picks fights for no reason then takes no responsibility by blaming you for his (drinking, anger, abandonment, rage, erratic driving, fill-in-the-blank) behavior. If he does apologize, his sorry is meaningless as there is no behavior change.
Ladies, if your man, or anyone for that matter, is genuinely sorry you will see behavior transformation. To repent is to change and not repeat the behavior (or at least start taking steps toward this goal).
A couple common lines that will help you identify this red flag are as follows:
You are NOT the reason or the blame nor do you bear responsibility for these behaviors. This relationship is going nowhere fast and will be taking you down with it.
Don’t buy into the lies.
You feel like you are on a constant roller coaster ride. He’s in your life then he’s gone then he’s back in again, behaving as though nothing happened.
He claims that if you don’t let him have time away, that you are insecure and don’t want him to have any fun, and that you need some serious help.
You start to feel like you are going crazy. Are you really being unrealistic in your requests for communication and for stability? These seem like normal requests, but are they?
Girlfriend, if this describes your current situation, I suggest you both seek professional help to equip yourselves with a toolkit that serves to either change these behaviors or, if he’s not willing to get the help, then you will need to end the relationship. STAT. This is a roller coaster you do not want to ride ever again because it.will.not.end.
And you are NOT crazy.
As time passes and he get more comfortable in your relationship, you find that when conflict arises he has some choice names for you and they are not categorized as affectionate. No, these are names like the b-word, the c-word, the effen-B-word and whatever other ugly name-calling word/s that comes to his mind and uncontrollably out of his mouth.
What is in the mind comes out of the mouth.
Is this the life you want to live? You are worthy of so much more.
Do not settle.
He uses threats as a way to try to control you and his environment because he has no personal self control. Threats come in many forms, however, some of the most common come in the form of things that he says you need to change or else (the relationship / marriage is over, I won’t be around, you’ll be single again, no man will ever want you, one day a man is going to beat you).
His primary goal is to threaten you into voluntary submission and fear. The problem with this behavior is that once you change to accommodate one of his threats, another threat follows. You will never be able to change enough to satisfy him. The list will be never-ending until one day you simply won’t or don’t have the energy left to change.
Newsflash, you don’t have to change to make someone happy as this is not your responsibility. A healthy relationship includes both parties working on becoming the best versions of themselves and encouraging one another on the journey.
Are you the best version of you, for you, so that you can be your best for someone else?
After years of choosing men who weren’t right for me, I sat on my therapists chair and cried. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why I kept making the same choices, even when I thought I wasn’t. Oh, how proud Einstein would’ve been watching me prove his insanity theory by repeating the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.
My therapist told me that to change the insanity cycle, for things to change so that I could reach a different outcome, I had to first change.
I didn’t get it, at first.
The more I immersed myself in learning and the more I learned about how our thoughts shape our world and become true, the more I realized that I was self-sabotaging through my own thought cycle. The more I thought myself unworthy, the more underserving I felt, and the more I settled into wrong relationship.
Until one day it clicked.
Things started changing around me. I started seeing things differently. I started setting boundaries for what I would and wouldn’t allow in my life. I surrounded myself with healthy people, including people committed to their own their healing journey.
[By the way, if your man won’t stick to his healing journey, with consistency, commitment, and application, he isn’t the one for you. You cannot cause someone to change who isn’t willing to participate in his own rescue and recovery.]
You are only responsible for yourself and how you see and respond to the world around you. You are NOT responsible for everyone else (also known as codependency).
Sis, it’s time to put on your glasses and see things clearly. To see things differently. To get the help you need. To stop the insanity cycle. To change.
You’ve got this.