Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Does It Really Matter If He Loves You?

Recently, my parents and I were talking with this one woman. She was complaining about her husband's abusive behaviour and the negative impact it's having on her, and we were just trying to support her. At one point, since I'm a psychology major, my parents turned one of her questions on me.

Does he really love me, or is he just trying to manipulate me?

Now, the research on this question is quite mixed. There are different subtypes of abusers, some of them truly love their partner and are showing it in an unhealthy way, while others are just coldly manipulating her to serve their own ends. I could've gotten into the different subtypes and tried to figure out which one her husband is, but instead, I asked her a completely different question.

Does it really matter if he loves you, if the way he's acting is hurting you?

I think a lot of abused partners (male or female - let's keep in mind that spousal abuse happens to both genders) fall into a trap. They feel like if their partner loves them, that means they should put up with the abuse, or that this love will eventually make the abuse stop. They feel like the simple fact that their partner loves them means they shouldn't give up on the relationship, that if they try hard enough, they can make it work.

The problem is, that's not true.

Love doesn't conquer all. Sometimes, one person's psychological problems are just too big for love to fix. Sometimes, keeping yourself tied to them is doing them no good and dragging you down. Sometimes, they need to be alone to realize they have a problem and put in the work to start healing. Sometimes, they'll never get better, and you just need to minimize the harm they can do to you or your kids.

Not all abusers are coldhearted manipulators. Some are caring, miserable people, who try to find love but can't help destroying it when they touch it. They are worthy of sympathy. But you don't have to be their punching bag, physically or emotionally. And you're not helping them by sticking around to be abused.

So when it comes down to it, when you're being abused, it doesn't matter if he loves you. Abuse is abuse, whatever the motivation.


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