Background

30 Reasons to STAY in Abusive Relationship? NOT!

Uploaded 4/22/2022, approx. 34 minute read

Good morning, afternoon, or evening, wherever you may be. This is your iconoclastic professor of psychology, Sam Vaknin, the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism, you know what, Revisited.

And today we are going to discuss yet another controversial topic, the only topics I like to discuss. And this one is, should I stay in an abusive relationship?

Let me give you a hint. If you tolerate abuse better than you tolerate loneliness, maybe you should.

But the answer is not that simple. Like everything else in psychology, there are layers upon layers upon layers. People are very much like onions. They make you cry. And the more you pill them, the less you know about them. So should you stay in an abusive relationship?

To answer this question, we need to have a look at what reasons people give for staying in abusive relationships. Actually, we have multiple studies. We asked many people, tens of thousands, why do you stay? Why do you stay on? Why don't you leave? Why don't you break up? Why don't you divorce? Why don't you just move on?

And people gave dozens of reasons for staying on. Some of them inane, some of them funny, some of them serious, and all of them worthy of consideration, which is what I'm about to do right now.

And so abusive relationships have been described in the 70s and 80s. There was a period when the awareness of abuse had started. And actually, ironically, it started with substance abuse.

Even the concept of codependency usually referred to a psychological condition where a person is manipulated by another person who has an addiction. Originally, codependents were called co-alcoholics. I'm kidding you not. But then gradually, the very concept of a co-alcoholic had evolved and had come to encompass anyone who stays in a relationship because of dependency issues. And so, co-alcoholics became codependent.

And in the 70s, when we started to study abusive relationships, we discovered that people realize actually that there's no point in staying together. Most people know when their relationship is dead, when it's hopeless, when it's going nowhere, and when you have nothing more in common with the person you're with. You grew apart, or he's a narcissist, or you're borderline, or whatever the reason may be, mental illness, circumstances, environment, changes. Another person, if you're in love with someone else, I mean, you fell out of love. There are so many dynamics that undermine the cohesion, the loyalty, and the commitment that are the foundations of trust in a relationship. And yet, even though people are fully aware that the only right thing to do is to say goodbye amicably and to part ways, even so, they remain.

They stay on, they shoulder on. And when we ask them why, some of them describe fear, others laziness, most commonly nostalgia. These are all extremely bad reasons to stay together, but people do.

And so, let's review some of the answers.

Strangely, the most common answer is, I still love him or her.

So, I'm going to use him and her, but the genders are interchangeable. Whenever I talk about a man, it refers clearly to a woman. Whenever I talk about a woman, vice versa. So, just for the sake of the flow of the text.

So, one of the most common answers is, I still love him.

Now, love is a very powerful emotion. It harks back to early childhood. It regresses us in some respects. Our partners acquire parental qualities. And it's very painful to give up on love.

And very often, this love is real. It's not imaginary or delusional or fantastic. It's not infatuation. It's not limerence. It's after years of togetherness, sometimes decades, and it's very real.

But what people refuse to accept is that you can love someone and not like them. You can love him, but not like him. You can love him and find him obnoxious. You can love him and you're not able to share your life with him.

Love is an emotion. Love is not a recipe for cohabitation or commitment or a long-term relationship. Love is one condition. It's not even a necessary condition. Definitely not a sufficient condition. It's there. It's more like a spice than a main dish. And to confuse and to think, to believe that if you love someone, that's enough.

That's all it takes to stay with him. It's a serious mistake. If you've tried everything and it had failed, your love is not a reason to stay. It's very often a reason to leave, but if you love someone, you set them free. If he's not good for you, you're not good for him. If he makes you unhappy, you make him unhappy. And if you love him, you should release him. Let him find someone who would make him happy.

The second most common reason given was because of blackmail. Emotional blackmail. Sentences like, you can't do this to me. I sacrificed my life for you. I gave up opportunities for you. Think of everything we've been through. After everything I've done for you, this is what you do to me.

These comments constitute emotional blackmail. These are clear signs that you are in the throes, in the vortex of a toxic relationship. No partner who loves you would emotionally blackmail you in order to make you stay. That's a serious red flag. Sentences like this are about control, about addiction, about co-dependency or dependency, not about love. There's no love there.

So the first two major reasons for staying together are absolutely wrong for you.

And then the next most common reason is aversion to failure. It's like if you give up on the relationship, if you break up, you admit defeat. You had failed somehow. It's a personal failure.

Some people, especially grandiose people, they can't handle personal failure. They equate being lovable with being successful. They grew up in environments where they had received conditional love based on performance.

And so if they don't perform, they cannot be loved and if they cannot be loved, they will never be loved by anyone. We'll come to that a bit later when we talk about catastrophizing.

There is no question that when you start a long-term committed relationship, the idea is for it to lust and to prosper and to thrive and to allow you to grow and evolve and become a better version of yourself. Those are the intentions. But intentions and plans often are frustrated by others, including your intimate partner or by circumstances, environment, events, changes or other people.

You could look at a breakup as a new beginning, not an end. You could look at your decision to abandon the relationship as a success, success at overcoming your resistance, success at loving yourself, success at giving yourself another chance, a second chance, a third chance, success at trying, trying resiliently, fearlessly in the face of adversity. That to me sounds a lot like success.

In the back of everyone's mind, there is the belief that they got what they had deserved. They had the intimate partner coming. They reached their level of competence.

It's like the Peter principle, you know, it's like you climb to the highest point you can.

So there's this implicit assumption, this hidden assumption that your current partner is the best you could do. You can do no better because if you could do better, you would have done better. So your current partner is a seal, an imprimatur, a seal of approval saying, well, this is the best you can do. And so if this is the best you can do, you won't find anyone better.

When the relationship goes bad, you have troubles with self-esteem and self-confidence. Your self-worth fluctuates dramatically, especially if your intimate partner has a disproportional impact on your internal life if he regulates you in some way, like borderline.

So anyhow, you're faced with issues of self-esteem and so on. And if you think that in terms of splitting, this is my partner or no partner, this is the best I can do, everything else is the worst. So if you think this way, if you tell yourself I will never be able to find anything better, I have reached my apex, that's it, then of course you will be setting yourself up for failure.

If you believe that you can find no one better, then of course you should stay in the relationship because that's as good as it gets.

But that's nonsense. It's counterfactual. It's not true. In all likelihood, you're going to find other people, other partners, and they're going to be compatible with you the same way or even more than your current intimate partner.

However, there is a caveat here. Relationship failure is a good prognosticator, good predictor of future relationship failure.

Generally in psychology, past behavior, patterns of the past predict almost perfectly the future. So a dissolved relationship in your past predicts dissolved relationships in the future.

For example, the rate of divorce in first marriages is between 40 and 50%, but the rate of divorce in second marriages is closer to 70%, and the rate of divorce in third marriages is upwards of 80%.

In other words, the more frequently you get married, the more frequently you have long-term committed relationships, the more likely you are to fail. It has nothing to do with the quality of your future intimate partners or even with your compatibility with them. It has to do with a lack of skills or problems with skills of intimacy and relationships, for example, inability to compromise or rigidity or lack of acceptance of the other or passive aggression.

You need to delve deep into the question of why did I fail in this relationship? Why did I find myself in an abusive relationship with an abuser? What wrong choices have I made? And what were my contributions to this pathological dynamics that had led me here?

Because if you don't do this soul searching, your chances of repeating the same mistakes and ending the same way are larger, actually. They increase with second and third attempts.

People give the most crazy reasons for staying together. One common reason, shockingly, is I love his parents. I love my in-laws. There is anyhow a fear of losing the social circle that you had built with your intimate partner. You're afraid to lose your mutual friends and so on.

But relationships with in-laws sometimes are very important. They serve as parental substitutes. This is especially true if you never had good enough parents in the first place or if your parents were dead physically or absent or selfish or dysfunctional or mentally ill in some ways. His parents become your parents. You become a surrogate daughter.

It is not in vain that the term is daughter-in-law. Of course, it's giving up on these newly found parental figures, these newly found mother and newly found father. It's difficult.

And the period immediately after the separation is impossible to navigate. You have to stay in touch with people you like and avoid him, avoid your intimate partner. And sometimes it can't be done. It's a package deal. You give up on him. You give up on them.

And then you feel orphaned and abandoned all over again. It's like losing your parents for a second time.

So it's a bit of a crazy reason to shoulder on, to stay on in an abusive relationship because his mother and father like you. But people give this as a reason.

They give the opposite as a reason. They say, my family likes him. My parents like him. My sister likes him. My brother likes him. It's like your siblings and your parents, they matter.

You don't matter. You are there to gratify them. You're there to make them happy. You're there to satisfy them.

And yes, it's called people pleasing.

And when you resort to these people, to your parents or to your siblings and ask them for succor and for help and for advice, they tell you breaking up is a bad idea. They tell you you should stay on. They tell you you should persevere. You should attempt, you should try to make it work. You should fix this.

If they like the person you're spending your life with and you don't like him, it's a seriously bad idea to rely on their guidance and direction. They may love you, but they're very likely to be affected by their own prejudices and inclinations and proclivities.

Just ignore them. Do your thing. Ultimately, they'll come around and they will understand your decision.

Same goes for mutual friends. Over the years, every couple develops a social circle, a group of mutual friends. These mutual friends can be very, very intimate, very supportive, like a safety network, a safety net.

And so when you break up, you're very likely to lose many of them. Some of them were his friends more than they were your friends. So you can lose many of them, but those you lose, they were never your friends. They were your friends because they were his friends. They were trying to please him somehow or to cater to his needs or to spy on you, frankly, flying monkeys.

So don't regret the mutual friends you lose when you break up, when you abandon an abusive relationship. These friends that you lose probably have never been your friends. So don't hesitate in making the final decision to stay or go based on whether you're going to lose mutual friends.

And many of them describe internal dynamics as a reason to stay.

For example, many people say, I'm staying because he's really trying. He says sorry all the time. He recognizes his past mistakes, actions and behaviors. He apologizes. He says he will make it up to me. So he's really trying kind of.

Well, breaking news, saying sorry is the easy part. And many actions are not mistakes, but choices.

So some actions and behaviors, they can't be swept away by a convincing apology. You need not accept an apology as a substitute for appropriate, respectful behavior. If he keeps wounding you and injuring you and hurting you and abusing you on a regular basis, you could safely ignore his apologies. He doesn't mean them. It's just a speech act. It's perfunctory.

So the root of a problem is his behavior. Don't pay attention to what he says. Pay attention to what he does and how he acts. Apologies, feeling sorry, promises. They are not the guarantors of a stable and happy relationship.

Things like: I promise I will change. We can go to counseling this time. I will do this or I will do that. Don't let it affect your decision. These are hollow words in the vast majority of cases. You have to base your decision on facts and actions, not on apologies and promises. Words come cheap. The BS talks.

And so promises and apologies are an integral part of a phenomenon widely known erroneously as gaslighting.

Now, there's been this recent article in the Washington Post about gaslighting and I'll dedicate a separate video to it because it supports everything I had been saying about gaslighting for years now.

Gaslighting is a highly structured, well-defined phenomenon, behavior in academic settings, in the clinical settings. And the word had been abused by self-styled experts online massively.

But if the apologies and the promises are intended to skew your perception of reality, then they do constitute gaslighting.

Gradually, you come to consider yourself as unlovable, as unworthy of love.

In arguments with your intimate partner, pay attention to what he's saying. If he is trying to imply that you are the cause, the exclusive cause of all the problems in your relationship, if he's saying that you're not doing enough or that you're doing too much, if he puts the blame on you squarely and fully and unequivocally and only you, he's gaslighting you.

Why? Because it's never true. It's never real. Anything that drives you away from reality and makes you doubt your judgment from a position of authority, anything like that is a form of gaslighting.

It undermines your reality testing, your self-esteem, your failing relationship, anyhow makes you feel that something is wrong with you, especially people with autoplastic defenses, people who tend to blame themselves for things going wrong, people who tend to assume responsibility and to people who try to please others.

In any case, a failure is an injury, a challenge to self-esteem. You don't need your intimate partner to add to this, to add to this by constantly telling you that something is wrong with you. Such a partner is not your friend. He's not your friend and he may not deserve whatever love you may be giving him, whatever support and help. He may not deserve your presence in his life.

And so some of you say I'm staying in the relationship because I've invested so much in it.

This is known as the sunk cost fallacy. The sunk cost fallacy is a well-known phenomenon in gambling and in stock investing. Gamblers put money on the table, they lose it and they say, well, I'm going to double my bet and I'm going to get all my money back.

Similarly, people who invest in stocks and the stock tanks, the price collapses, they buy more of the stock and they say, well, now I've averaged the purchase price, lowered the purchase price. So my chances of coming out on top and making a profit are much higher.

That's nonsense. That's the sunk cost fallacy. You never throw bad money after good money.

You fail. The only thing to do rationally is to cut your losses, so that you had been together for a long time, that you have invested in him and in you and in your togetherness doesn't mean that you should not walk away.

If your relationship seems doomed to fail, don't let your past investment blind you or disorient you or misdirect you. Nothing is lost. Everything you've been through, everything you've gone through, everything you've invested in, you ripped the dividends. And these dividends are known as experience. It's a learning opportunity.

So don't mourn and lament the past. You've learned, you've evolved, you've grown up, you've become more of an adult.

There's no price. It's priceless.

You've done the right thing. You've done the right thing. You've spent your time usefully and you've been shaping your life. Relationships are a prime way of shaping yourself and your life.

But staying together because you've been together, that's nonsensical. That's nonsensical.

If the relationship is bad, dysfunctional, abusive, any minute spent there is a minute wasted. You are just adding to the cost and you're sinking deeper. That's why it's the sunk cost fallacy.

So your relationship is limping along. Give it the coup de gras. Just get rid of it. Break free and do not feel guilty.

You don't owe anyone to be his hostage. You don't owe him to be his hostage. You're not a prisoner. This is not a hostage exchange or negotiation. This is not a ransom situation. You've given all you could. He has taken all he could. He had given all he could, however limited.

And one of the things he had been giving you is perhaps abuse because that's what he does. That's who he is. Whichever the case may be, cut loose, put an end to it. Don't look back. Looking back is dangerous because you don't see the road ahead and you may end up in an accident. So don't look back. Look forward.

And a close cousin of the sunk cost fallacy is the future cost fallacy.

It's like you're saying, oh my God, if I leave him now, if I break up, I would have to move. I would have to leave my home. I would have to find a new place. I'd have to furnish it. I'd have to decorate it. And this would take, like, ages and it'll be extremely uncomfortable, et cetera, et cetera.

Yes, you're right about all this, but it's a future cost fallacy. Everything comes with a cost.

There is the cost of moving and refurbishing and furnishing and decorating.

That's one cost, and there is a cost of staying in a relationship where you are unhappy, unhappy daily, where you are sobbing in your room, where you have no sex, where you hate yourself and the men with you and your intimate partner and where things are moving nowhere, going nowhere fast. That's also a cost.

Now, which of these two I ask you is the higher cost?

It's a no brainer.

And then you say, okay, another type of cost is that I have to date. And the dating world is a cesspool, especially now with dating apps and with men's propensity for casual sex. I mean, they are not interested in commitment and investment. They just want to have casual sex one night stands and move on to the next woman.

And if you're a man, you complain about women that they are bossy and they are aggressive and they are disloyal and they are gold diggers, opportunistic and manipulative.

I mean, the genders, it's not a good place nowadays, not a good time. There's a gender war. The genders dislike each other intensely. And I'm using the understatement of the year.

The dating scene nowadays is intimidating. It's painful. It's dangerous. And if you're able to avoid it, best avoid it, best shun it, best not date. Absolutely.

But again, it's a question of cost versus cost. Getting back on the dating scene is not easy, especially if you have kids, especially if you're divorced, we just got out of a long term, very traumatizing relationship. And especially if you're above the age of over 18, because studies show that the attractiveness of women declines precipitously after age 18, shockingly.

So it's difficult. It's difficult to date and best avoided.

But the alternative also has a cost. Everything is a cost opportunity thing, cost reward.

The alternative is to stay in a relationship, which is the equivalent of a cemetery and renders you a corpse, a zombie.

Do you want to live this way? Do you want to be dead inside for the rest of your life? Isn't dating the lesser evil, a lesser risk?

And no, you don't have to rush. You don't have to rush into dating, into relationships, into monogamy. You can play the field for a while. You can meet different people, no pressure, set no goals, see how it goes.

It may not go. I'm not lying to you. The chances are 50-50. And after a certain age, the chances are actually 80-20 that you will remain single, that you will not find another intimate partner.

But my view is better to not have an intimate partner, better to be single and alone for life than to be in an abusive relationship. And that is true.

Even if you consider your partner to be a great catch, like he's perfect, he's good looking, he has a great career, he's a provider, he makes a fortune, he buys me nice stuff, he's seductive.

These are superficial things. These are superficial things.

You can't build a solid relationship on this kind of quality, some of them transient. He is a great catch on paper. Or he may be even a great catch, some other partner.

But not for you. You're not happy with him. He's abusing you. You're at each other's throats. The situation gets worse by the day. You may be cheating on each other. You may be adversely affecting the health and well-being of your children.

So what if he looks good? So what if he has millions in the back? So what if he buys you a Ferrari every time he beats you to a pulp? I've seen such cases. These are not the criteria for a relationship.

You may redefine yourself as a sugar baby or a gold digger and then embark on a transactional arrangement with a gentleman of means. He supports you, a kept woman, you, maybe your children, and you provide him with services, including sex. Usually there's a name for that. But you know, I'm not judging anyone. It's a possible arrangement and many, many women end up being exactly that in today's world where men are interested mainly and lately only in sex.

So don't remain in a relationship because you think you can do no better and your partner is a great catch. Some people are inert. They prefer stability to any change, even a change for the better. They feel safe in a comfort zone. This comfort zone could include domestic violence even. Life threatening domestic violence, but it's a comfort zone. Why? Because it's predictable. It's stable.

Some people are infantile, Peter Pans in the case of men, childlike waifs in the case of borderlines, damsels in distress. These people look for mother figures, father figures, rescuers, fixers, saviors, and messiahs. You tend to be a bit immature or impractical with your head in the clouds. Your partner is the rock. You can rely on your partner 1000%.

That's actually an excellent reason to break up. An excellent reason to break up because he is retarding your growth. He is encouraging your immaturity. He wants you to be dependent on him. He's taking care of you as if you were a child because he wants you to remain a child.

This is the shared fantasy with the narcissists. This is my concept of dual mothering or dual mothership, where both of you play mother to each other. You're not allowing each other to grow, to evolve, to mature, to become grownups and adults.

And so instead of stagnating in a regressive infantile phase for the rest of your life, how about working on yourself, trying to render yourself an independent adult, and then trying again with someone else who won't fall for the trap of, okay, I will be your father, okay, I will be your mother. Someone who would insist that you have boundaries, self-love, self-respect, and that you act as a mature grownup with all the chores and responsibilities attendant upon such a status, chronological status, and more importantly, psychological status.

So if your intimate partner child defies you and you parentify him, that's definitely a red flag and an excellent reason to exit the relationship.

What about if he bribes you? What if he gives you all the creature comforts? He gives you a car? He gives you an amazing home. You go on vacations in the most exotic places. You frequent the Michelin three-star restaurants all the time.

Can you devolve from luxury hotels to hovels? Can you survive on a tight budget when prior to that you had a blank check? Can you wean yourself off his addictive largess?

These are not reasons to stay together. If you're bribed, you're corrupted, and if you're corrupted, you end badly, exactly like in government.

So when you think about being single again, put aside your current lifestyle, the material goods you have access to.

Anyhow, in his mind, these things don't belong to you. These things are his. You will see when you negotiate the divorce.

So you're living on borrowed time. You're given access to these things like a lease. You're renting these creature comforts. They're not yours.

But even if they were yours, are they worth sacrificing your peace of mind, your happiness, your tranquility, your resilience, your integrity, your decency? Are these sacrifices worth it just to be able to drive a Porsche or a Lamborghini or to go on vacation on the Riviera?

These are alluring things. These are seductive things. I know. I've had personal experience of all these things, but they're not worth it. I've given up on them personally.

Same goes when you talk about your abode. Incredibly, people say, I'm not divorcing him because I want to keep the house. I've invested in this house. The interior design and decoration of mine, all my fantasies and dreams are there. I got used to this place of residence.

People place significant sentimental value on their homes, and they don't want to leave. They won't even consider leaving their homes.

It's not only a question of affording something comparable. Even rich people sometimes refuse to leave a physical location, a home. And it's because a home symbolizes the womb, safety, tranquility, stability, all the values that we so cherish. It's a safe base.

People refuse to give up because they feel themselves at home. They feel comfortable. They don't have to act. There's no persona.

But in a home with an abusive partner, you do have to act. You can't be yourself. You constantly walk on eggshells.

Why would you do that? And in which sense is this a home? You can't have a home with an abuser. You can have a shelter. It's a domestic violence shelter, maybe, or a verbal abuse shelter. It's not a home. It feels temporary and transient. It feels unsafe. The foundations are shaking and trembling. It's the epicenter of a constant earthquake, the earthquake which reifies your relationship.

You stay in a relationship to keep your dream home when actually it had long become a nightmare. It's the same if you stay in a relationship for money, it's the same thing exactly. No one is disputing the fact that divorced people are worse off economically, both men and women, worse off economically than married people or people in a committed cohabiting relationship. A breakup is going to have a massive impact on your pocketbook.

One of the major reasons that people provide for staying put in an unhealthy relationship is kids. I have kids with him. Some people even stay in abusive relationships because they have pets, dogs or cats together with apartments. Staying together for the sake of third parties is a terrible idea. You should stay together with someone because he's right for you, because he's compatible, because he enhances you, because he makes you better and more because he pushes you to improve yourself, to evolve, to grow, to develop. It's the only reason to stay with someone. You never stay with someone for the sake of someone because of third parties. And these third parties definitely include your children and your pets.

Your children are not stupid beyond a certain age. They know you're not happy. They witness the abuse. They will suffer any separation and divorce are very traumatic when children are concerned, even if they are well prepared, even if they themselves push you to divorce or to separate.

They're still unhappy, but it's far less traumatic than remaining trapped within a household where the two idols and gods are fighting. There's nothing more terrifying for a child than parents who are at each other's throats.

And of course, I don't know even where to start when people tell me, I'm staying with him because we have a dog together and he wants to take the dog. If we separate him, it's his dog, he wants to take the dog. I grew attached to the dog. Are you for real? Are you for real?

Everyone is scared of the future. What do you think? You're not alone in this. Everyone is terrified of the future. It's called catastrophizing. Change is scary. You don't know what life has in store for you. Life sucks. Life is hostile and dangerous and risky.

You view things pessimistically and you're right to do so. You should not be Pollyannaish. You did not have malignant optimism. You shouldn't expect the best. The best never happens.

But every change is a beginning. Every crisis is an opportunity. Every bad just emphasizes the good. There's no light without darkness.

You know, all these cliches and all of them are 100% true.

Being alone and single gives you a chance to find new love with a positive attitude. Is this a very high chance? No, it's not. When you're age 40, your chances of finding someone are 23% in the United States. It's a low chance, but it's better than zero.

And right now what you have with your abuser, you have zero. So I put it to you that 23% is infinitely better than zero.

When you live with someone you hate, someone who hates you, when you live with someone in adversarial conflict conditions, it's a war zone. It's a civil war. Why would you insist on staying in the battlefield? Don't have false hope.

I mentioned magical thinking, Pollyannaish thinking. That's not what I'm telling you. I'm not telling you that once you break up and abandon the abusive relationship, all will fall into place and you'll be a lot happier immediately or even in the long term.

No one can guarantee this. When you try to convince yourself that everything will work out magically, when you start to believe in it, that's a bad sign. It's a bad sign. If you are in an abusive relationship, the chances that everything will work out and miracles will occur, chances are zero. You need to end the relationship.

When you find yourself talking to yourself in the mirror and looking at yourself in the mirror and talking to yourself and saying, listen, it can't get worse. It's only going to get better. It's time to get out. False hope is the beginning of fantasy and delusion.

Fantasy is a defense mechanism. It means you can no longer sustain reality, can no longer countenance reality. You're escaping into your mind. It's a serious bad sign. Don't lie to yourself about your current relationship and don't lie to yourself about the future without him. It's going to be tough, but in your relationship, you don't stand a chance and outside your relationship, you stand a chance, however minimal.

You may be too old. Single at age 50 or even single at age 40 is a problem. The statistics are against you.

You know me. I don't mince words and I always tell you the truth. The statistics are dead set against you.

The likelihood of you ending up loveless, lonely or alone and single, these chances are very high. The world is stacked against you.

There is a kind of expiry date, especially if you're a woman. Men reach the peak of their attractiveness at age 50. Women at age 18.

Shocking, shocking numbers.

So yeah, of course you could stay, of course you could stay alone, but you are alone in an abusive relationship. You are alone. There's no bigger loneliness than being in a relationship with the wrong person. That's the most extreme form of loneliness. Hell is other people.

So anyhow, you're alone. Leap of faith, take a chance and don't anticipate regret.

Every big decision means excluding something. Fear of missing out, you know, FOMO. Of course you're missing out. Opportunity costs. You choose butter, you give up guns, you choose guns, you give up butter. Everything has a cost.

So when you make a big decision, like breaking up, of course you may be making a mistake, but anticipating regret is a vicious circle. Am I making a mistake? Will I regret it? What if? What if? Forget all this.

There's no way for you to anticipate the outcomes of any action, let alone such a major decision. Just go for it. See what happens. You may end up not regretting. You may end up regretting.

That's the meaning of being a grownup. That's the meaning of being a grownup. We assume risks. Nothing is riskless. Life is about risk and about loss. We are driven forward by failure and loss. These are the engines, the twin engines of growth.

And so yeah, you may end up being alone and you will have no one to share the chores with and you will have to do everything by yourself. And it's going to be tough. It's going to be onerous.

But sharing responsibilities and chores, sharing the burden, is this a reason to stay together with someone who makes you feel terrible, who abuses you, who puts you down, who gaslights you, who demeans you, who robs you of your self-esteem, who defeminizes you?

These are costs which are incommensurate with any benefits that I can conceive of.

And don't stay with him out of guilt. Don't let him emotionally blackmail you, remember?

Guilt is one of the strongest emotions. When we leave anything, we leave a job, we leave a partner, we let our children go, we feel guilty.

You feel bad because you believe that you are causing pain. No one wants to cause pain intentionally, an exception maybe of statistics psychopaths.

But if you're relatively empathic and healthy person, then you would feel guilty. Breaking up makes you feel guilty. It's a fact.

And yes, you are causing pain and consternation and anger and other negative emotions. I'm not telling you you're not. Of course you are.

But don't stay because of that. Don't stay because of it, because you owe him nothing.

You owe your partner nothing and your partner owes you nothing. It's not a transaction. It's not about give and take.

It's about growing together. Love is about enhancing each other, not about taking from each other, not about merging, not about fusing.

And there's no guarantee that you will not cause pain to each other. There's no such promise anywhere, not even in classical marriage vows.

Your heart tells you to live, follow your heart and gut.

So don't let him emotionally blackmail you into staying. And don't be so terrified of being lonely.

Who will I have dinner with? Who will I watch television with? Will I grow old alone?

Yes, the chances are you will.

But it's better to grow old alone than to grow old with someone you seriously detest and hate, hate and hold in content.

Being alone is scary. Of course it is, especially as you grow older. But there are many scary things in life and we take them on.

I think bringing children to the world is definitely a terrifying experience. Luckily, women are in charge of that.

There are many terrifying experiences. Flying, if you stop to think of it, flying in a tin box in the air called an airplane, it's a bloody terrifying thing.

Yet we take them on. We do these things.

We drive cars. We drive cars and the statistics are against us. There's a serious chance of injury and death.

It is true through exiting by exiting your comfort zone, through facing the adversity of what life can throw at you, confronting the inbuilt hostility and risk of the universe, the indifferent universe.

It is through this that we discover who we really are, what we're made of, our metal and we are able to develop, to evolve, to grow.

So that's just another scary thing, being alone or being lonely. But you have to take it on. And will you be alone forever?

Possibly, yes. Yes, depending on your age. And by the way, your education, the more educated you are, the more likely you are to end up being alone, a lifelong single. The older you are, the more likely you are to end up being a lifelong single. And that applies to both men and women.

And yes, about one-third to one-half of all adults in today's dystopian modern world, they are singles. And so the chances are yes.

And if you do get married or hitched a second time and a third time, your chances to break up are much higher than the first time.

So ultimately, yes, the answer is yes. If you are unlucky enough to make the wrong choice with the first intimate partner, in all likelihood, you will end up your life being alone. It's a fact.

But why drag it on? Anyhow, you're alone. Emotionally, you're alone in a relationship with the abuser. Will you survive? If I'm single for the rest of my life, won't I die? No, it's not lethal, you know.

And you can discover the joys of being alone. There's no need for drama. It's a condition of life, like disability. What if you develop, I don't know, a chronic condition? It's aloneness, loneliness is a chronic condition similar to diabetes. Or, you know, I've just discovered I have diabetes.

It's not the end. It's not the end. Sometimes it's the beginning.

And what other people might think of you really is besides the point.

Why do you worry about what other people may think of you? Why do you fear judgment and the opinion of what other people, of other people?

You break the news to people you can trust. Don't break the news and don't share with people who put you down. These are not your friends.Actually, a breakup is a wonderful opportunity to find out who your true friends are.

So don't involve everyone in everything, in every single detail of your life. This is not Facebook. It's a breakup. Be wise and discriminate.

And don't be nostalgic for the good old days. And yes, they were, of course, they were good old days. Some of the days were good, otherwise you would not have ended up with him.

But do not spend time looking through photo albums, social media, videos of your happy, happy moments together. Why are you doing this to yourself? Why are you stirring up memories? Are you trying to reconsider your decision to convince yourself otherwise? It's unwise.

And finally, many couples stay together because of the sex. The great, unbounded, dysregulated, mind-boggling, kinky sex and the partner's acceptance of every fantasy. That's something rare. And so people get addicted to such sex. Sexual intimacy is important in a relationship.

But again, it's a question of price. If sex matters to you more than absolutely anything matters, if you are, for example, a masochist or a submissive, if you get off, if abuse turns you on actually, then maybe sex is a good reason to stay together, if it's great.

But otherwise, the quality of sex is likely to be intimately connected to moments of conflict and adversity, a kind of reclaimed sex.

So there's a vicious cycle here. In order to have good sex, you would first need to confront each other, to fight, to argue, to beat each other up, to pulp. And only then you can have great sex. That's a masochistic, sadistic cycle.

If you don't mind being trapped in such a cycle, and the great sex is ample compensation, then yeah, some couples can survive based on sex only. And they survive for decades based on sex only, especially if they introduce third parties or fourth parties into the mix.

But otherwise, the quality of sex is actually likely to deteriorate as your relationship does. And so you need to take this into account.

The sex may be great now, but the abuse in your relationship portends, prognosticates, a collapse in the quality of the sex, a few years hence, there's a kind of a delay, a delay time.

So sex is not a good reason to remain in an abusive relationship in the long term.

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself only one question. Am I happy?

Not even does he make me happy. He has no obligation to make you happy. It's not his responsibility.

You need only ask, am I happy?

And if the answer is no, walk away and don't look back.

It's as simple as that, really.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

7 Signs of Abusive Relationship: Ask DAILY (Intimate Partner Abuse)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses abusive relationships and provides seven questions to ask oneself to determine if they are in an abusive relationship. The questions include whether one treats themselves with dignity, sets clear boundaries, tolerates abuse and aggression, is assertive, knows themselves, treats others the way they want to be treated, and if they are habitually disrespected. Vaknin emphasizes the importance of honest communication, self-preservation, and self-love in relationships.


How to Fix Your Dead or Abusive Relationships

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses abusive and dead relationships in a three-part video. He describes the cycle of abuse outlined by the Council of Europe and the impact of abuse on victims. He also explains the signs of a dead relationship and offers advice on how to address issues and potentially revive the relationship. Vaknin emphasizes the importance of honest communication, vulnerability, and seeking support when dealing with these relationship dynamics.


Dissonances, Anxiety, and Addiction (Intl. Conference on Addiction, Psychiatry and Mental Health)

Dissonance, or inner conflict, is a powerful force that can lead to addictive, traumatic, or post-traumatic behaviors. While cognitive dissonance is widely discussed, there are many other types of dissonance, including volitional, emotional, axiological, deontic, and attitude dissonance. Dissonance can arise from conflicting thoughts, emotions, values, duties, and attitudes. When defense mechanisms fail to cope with dissonance, severe anxiety can lead to self-medication and addiction, which can engender trauma and personality pathologies such as narcissism.


Closure is Bad for You

Closure, a popular concept in psychology, originally came from Gestalt therapy and referred to image processing. However, it has been inappropriately expanded to include trauma, relationships, and more. Many experts and psychologists now consider closure a myth and even counterproductive. Instead of seeking closure, one should focus on embracing and integrating pain and negative experiences as part of personal growth and development.


Interacting with Your Abuser

Sam Vaknin advises those in abusive relationships to work with professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and therapists to extricate themselves from the situation. He suggests maintaining the minimum contact mandated by the courts and avoiding any gratuitous contact with the abuser. Vaknin also recommends exposing the abuser's needs and filling one's life with new hobbies, interests, and friends. Finally, he warns against discussing personal affairs with the abuser and disconnecting from third parties who may be spying on one's behalf.


Silencing Denying Your Pain Betrayal Trauma And Betrayal Blindness

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses betrayal trauma theory, which suggests that trauma is perpetrated by someone close to the victim and on whom they rely for support and survival. Betrayal trauma can lead to dissociation, attachment injury, vulnerability, fear, relationship expectations, shame, low self-esteem, communication issues, and barriers to forming new relationships. The section also explores the relationship between betrayal trauma and Stockholm syndrome, with the former being more common. Treatment for betrayal trauma is new, and relational cultural therapy may be the best approach. The section concludes with the idea that trust is essential in relationships.


Closure with Abusers

Closure is necessary for victims of abuse to heal their traumatic wounds. There are three forms of effective closure: conceptual, retributive, and dissociative. Conceptual closure involves a frank discussion of the abusive relationship, while retributive closure involves restorative justice and a restored balance. Dissociative closure occurs when victims repress their painful memories, leading to dissociative identity disorder. Victims pay a hefty price for avoiding and evading their predicament. Coping with various forms of closure will be discussed in a future video.


Re-integrating the Narcissistic Personality

The lack of emotional self-acceptance is a problem that cannot be solved by cognitive substitutes. The root of the problem is the inner dialogue between disparaging voices and countervailing truths to the contrary. The disordered dialogue, the dysfunctional, the non-performing dialogue, involves widely disparate, different interlocutors. The first step is to clearly identify the various segments that together, however incongruently, constitute the personality.


CPTSD or Personality Disorder? (Compilation)

Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of late-onset trauma and its potential to cause enduring personality changes that could be classified as personality disorders. He explains that while early childhood trauma is often linked to the development of personality disorders, catastrophic events experienced in adulthood can also lead to significant and lasting changes in personality. Vaknin argues that the diagnosis of Enduring Personality Changes After Catastrophic Experience (EPCACE), which was included in the ICD-10 but removed in the ICD-11, should be restored as it captures the unique and severe impact of adult trauma on personality. He emphasizes that EPCACE is distinct from PTSD and CPTSD, as it involves stable changes in personality resulting from extreme events such as torture, life threats, or prolonged captivity. Vaknin also critiques the current diagnostic approach that lumps various trauma-related disorders into a single category, suggesting that this leads to a lack of specificity and fails to account for the diverse ways individuals react to trauma.


From Insecure to Flat Attachment: Narcissists, Psychopaths Never Bond (Compilation)

Sam Vaknin proposes a fifth attachment style called "flat attachment," where individuals are incapable of bonding or relating to others at all. They view others as interchangeable and dispensable, transitioning seamlessly from one person to the next without mourning or processing grief. This style is common among narcissists and psychopaths. Vaknin also discusses the confusion between intimacy, emotions, sex, and attachment, emphasizing that intimacy does not necessarily involve emotions, and emotions do not always lead to intimacy. He highlights that attachment styles are stable across the lifespan and are influenced by early caregiving experiences, shaping one's expectations and beliefs about relationships. Vaknin's work suggests that individuals with cluster B personality disorders, as well as those with complex trauma, exhibit insecure attachment styles, which can manifest in behaviors like stalking, and are often rooted in dysfunctional early relationships with caregivers.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2023
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy