General Dating Questions/abuse...

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: Hello!

I have been in an on and off relationship since 3 years now. I am 22, he is 26. Our relationship has been through a lot, we used to fight almost everyday to the point where eventually during every fight he would start verbally abusing me. A few months ago, I finally had enough and decided to end this relationship for good. However, a week ago he came back and asked for another chance. He said he realised his mistakes when he thought he had lost me and he would never repeat them again. For some reason, this time I trusted him because his behaviour was so different since it had been from the past 2 years. My heart wants to give him another chance because I think he has changed. Since then, we haven't had a single fight. We have disagreements sometimes but instead of fighting and abusing me, he listens and understands me. He talks to me very lovingly and makes me feel special. We now want to marry each other. I understand why he has been abusive to me in the past, he is from an abusive family background. His father used to abuse his mother and he has grown up seeing this which has made him this way. I just wanted to ask, do these people who are from abusive famillies always become abusive or are there any exceptions? Do these people ever change?
Thanks

ANSWER: Hello!

Wait a minute here - something doesn't jibe.

It takes TWO PEOPLE to have an argument. It's never about just one. Yes, it seems like this guy has changed but what worries me is that it appears you haven't. So he just lies down when you disagree and you "win". Is that really the basis for any healthy relationship you can imagine? It's not one I've ever seen.

Look: I'm glad you're not fighting, but this extreme isn't really any better. It indicates disconnection from him and a lack of flexibility from you. From what you've told me I don't see your relationship as "marriage material" - at least not yet.

As to your question: yes, in fact people often DO change - even after coming out of abusive homes. They find different things that are important and grow up. I don't know the time frames involved here but the amount of time is more a personal factor than something written in a book. Even if it's only been a few months it's possible for someone to grow up that much and for them to change that much.

My (rhetorical) question is: if he's changed like this, what have YOU done? If you're the same girl you were back a few months ago (and I absolutely believe you are!) this lull is likely to be a very temporary thing. At the very least you are NOT ready to consider being married.

Best regards...

Dr. Dennis W. Neder
CEO/Executive Producer
~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.
BAM! Productions
Remington Publications
323.638.4145
http://beingaman.com
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: What makes you say that I haven't changed? We both used to argue before, now we are trying to understand each other instead of verbally attacking one another. I'll admit, sometimes I don't like the things he says/does but instead of getting angry I explain to him calmly how I feel and instead of verbally abusing me and my feelings (like he used to), he understands me. What do you mean by disconnection and that we are not ready to get married? What else needs to be done?

About his abusive father, he died 3 years ago. And my boyfriend moved out 2 years ago but I never saw a change in him until now.

ANSWER: Hello again!

The fact that this is all one-sided. Frankly, there hasn't been enough time for real life-altering, permanent change to happen which often takes many years and a great deal of work to accomplish. On rare (and I mean RARE) occasion someone may do this more quickly. Maybe he's the exception. The very first step in all of that however is accepting responsibility. I don't see any of that from you. It appears (from what YOU have told me) that has all come from him.

Right now you both have had a few weeks to cool off. What's going on now really isn't a good sign of what's to come. After a few months when things are back to "normal" (whatever that is for you two) we'll see just how much "change" has happened.

As to getting married understand this: marriage rarely makes things better. In fact, in the vast majority of cases marriage adds huge additional stresses. When the relationship is in turmoil (which; let's face it, yours certainly is) is NOT the time to be thinking about adding MORE turmoil to it. You both have a lot of work to do to be even close to ready for marriage.

As I constantly say, there aren't too many divorces, there are too many marriages. People get married for the wrong reasons only to discover that after it's too late.

Assuming that I'm right (sorry to be so arrogant, but I am right) what's happening is that you've both forgotten about the stress, pain and anger - all the negative emotional components - of your latest relationship when you broke up. All you both feel is the loss, loneliness, sexual need and other things. To satisfy those things you're both getting back together, but you haven't fixed the original problems! They are still right there under the surface.

What are you going to do the next time things get heated? How are you going to deal with them that is different than how you've dealt with them before? Until you have a clear understanding and agreement between you about that you haven't gone anywhere. Those ugly emotions are still just under the surface waiting to come flooding back the very next time you get frustrated.

This is why it often takes many months - and sometimes years - to deal with these things. There's a lot of growth that has to happen and you don't just flip a switch and get that growth.

Marriage is NOT about the things you think it's about. It's not about love and security and status and family, etc. It's far more about an overarching goal that you both share that is far, far larger than either of your own petty little needs. Being "right" has absolutely no room in a marriage. DOING what's right in order to reach that far bigger goal is - and being absolutely committed to the goals of the marriage regardless of the bumps along the way it mandatory.

You have to be able to constantly put aside (as in "give up") your own needs for someone else's - and that other person has to do that too. I'll bet if we really looked at your relationship that has never happened - not once, not really. Maybe you wanted to see one movie and he wanted to see another and you gave in to see his movie. I'm not talking about anything so petty. I'm talking about life-changing decisions. For instance, one of my married clients has agreed that her husband will leave his safe, secure job of 23 years to go back to school to study law. She's going to have to not only go back to work but take on a second job as well to support the family while he studies - for AT LEAST two years! Then, it's going to take another year or two or three for him to get a law practice started.

Could YOU make such a decision simply because your boyfriend wants it? I sincerely doubt it, but these kinds of things happen in marriages all the time.

These arguments you and he have tell me it's about self - not selflessness. Until that changes for BOTH of you - and you can prove it consistently for at least a year OR TWO, I'd never recommend that you get married.

Best regards...

Dr. Dennis W. Neder
CEO/Executive Producer
~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.
BAM! Productions
Remington Publications
323.638.4145
http://beingaman.com
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Firstly, we have already discussed all the things you just pointed out.
Secondly, you are just judging unfairly. It is difficult to write down ALL the details here since I would be here all day and I'm sure even you don't have the time to read everything! Trust me when I say this, he has A LOT of girls to choose from. Most of those girls are far more pretty and independent than me. I am neither attractive, nor independent but according to him he came back to me because I am the only girl who has made so many sacrifices for his sake. This is what changed him and now he wants to keep me happy and is willing to make sacrifices for me too. That is what he said though. We have discussed what we want and expect from each other and the relationship, and from marriage too.

I still don't understand what makes you say that we are 'disconnected'. I also thought I should point out that he went back to his country to visit his family for a few weeks, he is there right now and that's when I started seeing this change in him. My friends told me that perhaps he needed some distance to make him realise what he really wants. What do youthink about that?

Answer
Hey!

Yep - as I said, this is all about you, You, YOU! I'm sure YOU have years upon years of experience, hundreds of personal examples to draw from and being only 22-years-old is just "inconvenient" and doesn't reflect reality. I'm sure that; while millions of couples in your exact same situation DON'T make it, YOU somehow will. You're just that good! You've already talked about EVERYTHING and you're sure he's absolutely committed to making YOU happy. And, even better, YOU don't have to grow or change or commit or do anything because HE'S going to find a way to make it all work just for you.

Good luck with that.

I didn't say you both were "disconnected". I said HE was disconnected. That's how he's choosing to deal with the problems of your past relationship. He has to be because nothing has actually been fixed. Sure, you've talked about it. More to the point; you held his feet to the fire, made him jump through a few hoops to "prove himself" to you and now that you're satisfied that he's paid enough penance you're all ready to jump right in a get married!

Good luck with that too.

Oh, and while we're at it; he has to get space and leave the country in order to get perspective so that all this can be worked out. Is that how you're going to handle every other problem you have in your marriage? He's going to leave the country? That's going to get pretty expensive and in fact, isn't going to solve any problems at all. It'll create new ones.

A "couple" is a "team". One person doesn't run off to a foreign land in order to "find him/herself" and come back with renewed understanding and commitment. A team works TOGETHER to solve problems. They do it together because they realize it's BOTH their problems - and has nothing to do with location or proximity at all.

And now that the pressure is off because he's miles upon miles away, you can somehow see through the ether and read his mind. What you're seeing now is "reality" - not all that nastiness that caused the last break-up. He's "different" now - and that's somehow supposed to last the rest of your lives once you get married. Seems like a pretty good plan to me!

Look: I know you're 22-years-old and already know everything, but I'm going to offer you some advice anyway (how naive of ME, huh??)

While you think you do, you obviously don't have the skills or perspective or maturity to pull off a marriage. People with tons more than you have can't do it. You don't have even the right focus and it's obvious to me you are going to need many years yet to grow up. You think this is all about him - what he does, what he says, the promises he makes and even what changes he makes that your friends can see. Sadly, none of those things mean very much. YOU aren't taking responsibility for anything!

Remember when we began this little dance I told you that; whenever there's a problem like this in a relationship BOTH people are responsible? You obviously don't want to believe it, but it's true. I don't see you taking any personal responsibility anywhere or asking for your own personal growth-steps. Again, it's all about HIM.

You didn't come to me for help at all. You came to me for justification to believe that your boyfriend is a terrible person and who maybe; just maybe, sees what an incredible, valuable, beautiful, worthwhile individual you are, went off for a few weeks, made all these changes (which take normal people years to make) and now; because YOU are so incredible, things are going to be just great! That's some ego you have going there! It's almost big enough to challenge my own!  ;)

Or, maybe it's insecurity?

I take no joy in telling you these things, but I'm not just going to give you what you want because you want it. (It looks like that's your boyfriend's job!) I'm here to lay it out to you straight. I know that hurts but if just maybe I can spark even the smallest question in your mind, just maybe you can turn this around and prevent a whole lotta pain for a whole lotta people - not just yourselves.

Best regards...

Dr. Dennis W. Neder
CEO/Executive Producer
~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.
BAM! Productions
Remington Publications
323.638.4145
http://beingaman.com
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”

General Dating Questions

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Dr. Dennis W. Neder

Expertise

I'm able to answer any sort of question related to the approach, meeting people, dating, sex, relationships, break-ups, non-legal marriage and divorce questions, and anything in between. I've helped over 30,000 people with their individual issues. IMPORTANT: Please, PLEASE don't ask me, "what was he thinking..." or "why did he say..." types of questions! I DO NOT READ MINDS! There are 1,001 reasons why someone does what they do, says what they say or thinks what they think. If you *REALLY* want to know what they were thinking, saying or why they were acting that way - go ask them! Be sure to check out my FAQ's on my website at: http://beingaman.com. You can email me directly at: dwneder@beingaman.com.

Experience

I am the author of the books "Being a Man in a Woman`s World I & II" and "1001 Places and Techniques to Meet Great Women" and 11 others. I`ve spent the last 20 years studying the art and science of every aspect of relationships, and have answered over 30,000 letters from readers all over the world. My main focus is men`s relationships with women, but I also have many female readers and answer questions for them regularly as well.

Education/Credentials
Doctor of Philosophy

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.