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UK Relationships/If my partner loves me, why does he treat me so badly?


I am 46, my partner is 49. Our relationship has lasted 3 years but we live 50 miles apart which is tough practically. I suffer from mild anxiety, depression and stress but I self help. I believe he is the main cause of my conditions as our relationship is fundamental to me yet upsets me constantly.
I have never heard of or experienced such a bad relationship. We have so many problems. We have got this far as we have a very deep connection and we would rather be together than apart. We do have some great times together and I don't doubt that we are in love. We are very physically attracted to each other and sexually compatible.
However, here are the problems:
He is very critical. He unnecessarily criticises his children: their make-up is too heavy, their clothes are too short, they look fat, their diet is bad, they live in a rough area, their mother doesn't look after them properly, their lifestyle is objectionable.
He is horrendously critical about my job. He says that I am more committed to it than to him. He regularly says I handle staff badly. When a customer upset me recently he really yelled at me for getting too emotional, saying that the staff all saw it and thought I was weak. This is after sending me a Christmas card saying how proud he is of me. I tell him when he is being offensive but he continues being abusive and uncaring. He speaks to me in a cutting tone and insults me. When we discuss his behaviour, he blames my actions for it.
He has no compassion or ability to sympathise. This I find is the centre of our problems. When I want to talk about things that upset me, he can't say 'poor you', he has to criticise me for being so weak. Every time I raise an issue he turns it around and makes me think I am (equally) at fault. He makes decisions that affect me without including me. He went on a dream holiday recently without me (saying that I didnít decide quickly enough and that I would spoil it for him). He shouted at my daughter and reduced her to tears. He is a bully and verbally abusive when drunk. It's scary how desperate he is to win games at the expense of falling out with everyone; he always has to be the best and to be right. He tried to warrant his spread betting phase (which keeps re-occurring) as the only way we can get a nice house as he says that my job is never going to get us richer. He refuses to use contraception other than the withdrawal method despite my quoting of statistics at him and although he is adamant he doesn't want another child. He has broken up with me twice, stating that I bring him lots of trouble and I am always in a bad mood. When I am down and ask him to help or I have a problem, he kicks me harder. When there's something he could do to alleviate my workload he sits and plays on his mobile saying that itís not his problem and I should be more organised. He never suggests that we do something to benefit me yet I cut his hair and do his accounts and care about him. After three years the only commitment he has made to me is the joint purchase of a hedge trimmer which stays at his house. He won't, for example, open a joint bank account. He says he wants to marry me one day, but there's never any action, only words.
He's been in trouble with the law between age 14 and 34, a career criminal really, and has unspent convictions for burglary mainly - all in the past - but that time of his life was very physically and emotionally traumatic; parents divorced, relationship problems, street violence, incarceration. He is now decent and law abiding and has a good job.
I have calmly explained to him how inconsiderate and selfish he can be and that his behaviour is unacceptable. Four weeks ago I gave him an ultimatum as I said his behaviour was too hurtful but I offered to stay and help him through it if he would recognise a problem. I asked him to tell me the most traumatic incident in his life and he said there were too many of them, yet he insists that there is nothing wrong with him. He can be very charming in public so no-one else is aware of our problems. He has not addressed my concerns yet despite saying he will do anything it takes to stay together and he keeps making excuses. Whatís wrong with us please? I love him and I prefer to find a solution than walk away.

Hi Lyn,

All your relationship problems stem from the same thing - there is one single root problem to everything you have described. I completely understand what you are describing and how you are feeling. Everything can be sorted out, but first let me explain the root cause to you.

Everybody on the entire planet absolutely craves feeling loved. In fact, feeling loved is the essence of being a human being - it is absolutely essential to our very existence. Unfortunately, most human beings have absolutely no idea how to properly love someone else. There are two types of love - unconditional love and conditional love. Most of the world operates on conditional love and this form of loving simply doesn't work - conditional love is selfish love and people intuitively feel it's selfish.

Unconditional love is selfless. It is caring about someone else's happiness without wanting anything in return. If you are at all selfish, you will want something in return, and therefore can't be properly loving.

Unfortunately, we were taught all about conditional love as children. Virtually every parent on the planet, whilst caring for their children, do not actually demonstrate unconditional love towards them. Let me explain. How many parents need their children to behave 'properly'. How many parents get irritated or cross if their kids misbehave or do something wrong or don't do well at school. You see, by needing your kids to be a certain way, you are placing conditions on them - if you are good, I will be pleased with you, if you are not, I won't. This is not unconditional love. Unconditional love is loving someone regardless of the mistakes they make, loving them even when they are flawed and inconvenient - loving them for exactly who they are.

In the absence of this unconditional love, we go looking for substitute love wherever we can get it. We need unconditional love to survive, literally, but without it, we hurt, we feel lonely, we feel real pain and emptiness and in order to get away from these awful feelings, we will do anything to make ourselves feel better. To make ourselves better, we go looking for what I describe as imitation love, and this is the lie that society and life has sold us and keeps selling us - that imitation love is the real thing, it's not. Imitation love ALWAYS wears off, leaving us on a desperate and tiring quest to go and find some more. Real unconditional love lasts and stays with us and gives us a real deep sense of being eternally cared for. Most people are too selfish to ever be able to make us feel like this.

There are four types of this imitation love, Power, Pleasure, Pleasure and Safety. And in order to get imitation love or to protect ourselves from the pain of not having any imitation love we use five different behaviours , attacking, lying, running, clinging and acting like a victim.

I am going to assume that both you and your boyfriend have not got a regular source of unconditional love in your life. I say this not because I am judging either of you, but simply because of my experience of helping hundreds of couples just like yourselves who came to me originally with similar problems, and who once they found true unconditional love, were able to completely eradicate all the problems in their  relationship.

Neither of you have yet learned how to make the other feel as if you care for them completely without wanting anything in return. From your question, it is abundantly clear that this is how you feel. And this is how he will be feeling too. This is the central core of all your problems. Your whole question could be summarised in one sentence "I don't feel loved by him". If I asked him the same question, his response would inevitably be the same.

So, if he doesn't feel loved, he will use behaviours to get him some imitation love and you will feel that this is unloving. If you don't feel loved, you will do something to get some imitation love and he will feel this is unloving. And this is a circle that most relationships go around and around in until inevitably they collapse in bitterness and pain. He attacks you because he is in pain. He criticises you because he is in pain. Everything he is doing is because he is in pain. He was in pain way before he even met you. He has been in pain ever since he was a little boy.

Sweetheart, there is a lot of information here. Some you might be aware of, some might be completely new to you, but until both of you learn how to be unconditionally loving, your relationship will continue to demonstrate all the problems you are experiencing right now. It will lead to nothing but pain, anguish and fear.

The solution is to unlearn what you think love is, and be open to accept and learn that there is another way. Relationships flourish with unconditional love. I am more than happy to carry on answering any further questions about this - but unconditional love really is the key.

I am willing to help you both

With love

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Pete Uglow


Marriage, relationship, divorce, infidelity, cheating, surviving an affair, individual counselling, couples counselling, coaching, life-coaching, parenting.


Together with my wife Nikki, I run Real Love UK, the only fully certified Real Love coaching organisation outside the US - also the only Real Love coaching organisation anywhere in the world that specialises in healing the pain of marital infidelity and relationship breakdown - anger, addictions, depression, break down of trust, lack of intimacy - in fact any relationship issue.

10 Steps to Help Your Marriage Survive an Affair - An Introduction to the Amazing Power of Real Love. (Nov 2012)

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