“I never thought it could happen to me”

“Why didn’t I see what was coming?”

“I can’t believe it.”

“I knew it was too good to be true.”

“I had the feeling something wasn’t just right.”

Do these phrases sound familiar?

Unfortunately, some people don’t understand until very late in their relationship that what they believed to be an equal partnership, and a loving partner, was an illusion. It can take years to understand that you have been the victim in a relationship, subject to constant emotional manipulation by your partner. 

Initially, the love of your life idolises you and makes you feel incredibly special – as if you are the only person that matters in the world. They are charming and you feel like you have found a soulmate. After a time though, some small incident will happen and you’ll see a glimmer that they are not the same person you met and fell in love with.  

You’ll be unsure in your doubts, despite finding yourself all too often making excuses for his or her behaviour. This can go on for a very long time. Then you start finding fault with yourself and accepting the blame for everything that goes wrong. You start to live in a delusional world, slowly feeling like you’re going crazy as you struggle to comprehend that the person you fell in love with has become an abuser. 

When the penny drops, and you realise that you live with someone who is clearly a ‘narcissist’, ‘sociopath’, or ‘borderline personality type’, it is shattering.

As you observe, you may see more and more evidence of these personality types in patterns of behaviours. A simple Google search makes you 100 percent confident.  This is an incredibly scary and confronting time. How has a beautiful, amazing, kind-hearted person like you attracted this kind of toxic partner?

It is not a coincidence – they carefully select an empathic person as their victim. The worst part is the deception - you don’t know them anymore; they are not the person they presented themselves as. Instead, he or she is a toxic and sick person who is draining your energy and manipulating you, blaming you and disparaging what you say even when you know you are right. I understand, it is terrifying when you finally comprehend what is real and what is not.

At this stage, many of my clients start to blame themselves for not seeing this coming, or not recognising their partner’s toxic personality earlier. The understanding, when it comes, can be like an avalanche of overwhelming emotions - self-doubt, destroyed confidence and feelings of failure and frustration that they didn’t see what was right in front of them.

Relax, you couldn’t know. They are too good. They are professionals with thousands of faces so it’s very hard to tell an abuser from the outside. They make you feel amazing in the beginning, building your confidence and your emotional investment in the relationship, then they relish slowly tearing it away from you, piece by piece.  They are very dangerous to deal with, especially if you are the partner.  

Once they understand that you are ready to leave them, they will become the best version of themselves to draw you back into their web of deceit.

Then, at the moment you relax, they will hit you double strength. You can’t predict their actions and you can never win if you try to fight them. The only way to survive is to become aware of who you are dealing with and know what you really want for yourself in life. You have to escape from your situation and this is not easy – you have to play it smart. 

If you are serious about breaking free from this type of abusive relationship, you need to understand that there can be no sympathy for your partner. There is no point in hoping that they will change, believe me – they possess deeply-ingrained flaws in their hard-wiring when it comes to relationships. There are different avenues available to help you break free from your situation.

It is also timely to ask yourself, is this same problem happening in all your intimate relationships? If so, then it is critical that you look closely at what is happening beyond the superficial to understand why you continue to fall for these unhealthy intimate relationships. 

It is never easy to look at the pathways in our own life which lead to toxic situations but it is actually the first step to change the situation for the better.