Counseling Men Blog
Advice for men – and the women who love them!

Living with Emotionally Abusive Men

Posted by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC on Sat, Dec 31, 2011

Emotionally Abusive MenWhat’s it like to live with emotionally abusive men?  Let’s ask Emily.

In many ways Emily and Jason’s relationship looks picture perfect.  In fact, she says that it’s better than any relationship she’s ever had.

But there’s a problem.  Even though from the outside Jason looks like the perfect guy, Emily wonders if he’s really just another version of the emotionally abusive men she’s been with before.

Jason has this habit of denying Emily’s experience of events.  Recently they had a fight over going out with friends.  Since then every time they talk about that night Jason insists that Emily is not remembering correctly what happened, specifically what he said and did, nor does she remember correctly what she said and did.

Jason can be very persuasive and convincing, and he has the ability to describe events in such a way that make it look like he’s done everything possible to resolve a problem and is just the victim of another person’s wrong behavior – i.e. Emily.  As a result, Emily frequently questions herself about her recall of the facts and if in fact Jason is really correct and she is wrong (Tip – when you find yourself routinely thinking this way this can be a sign of emotionally abusive men).

What makes this such a problem is that this happens all the time, over big things and little things.  

  • Jason is right; Emily is wrong.
  • Jason acted correctly; Emily acted wrongly.
  • Jason doesn’t have anything to change; Emily needs to change.

See the pattern?  Abusive relationships have patterns like this.  Additionally, it’s always Emily who considers that maybe she doesn’t remember things correctly and was in the wrong – never Jason.

One way to spot abusive men is that they don’t take responsibility for their actions.  But they don’t have to because in their mind they’re never wrong.  Abusive men also don’t use self-reflection to evaluate their behavior like Emily does above.  They blame.

Unfortunately, relationships with emotionally abusive men are difficult to see.  Abusive men are skilled at controlling the relationship in very subtle ways.  In couples counseling Jason has refused to continue to talk to Emily because she wouldn’t accept HIS version of the truth, and has even ended the meeting to further make his point.

Through couples counseling Emily has learned about abusive relationships and now recognizes she’s in another one again.  Now we’re working together to help her learn how to change it.  If you’ve got emotionally abusive man in your life, you should too.

Tags: Abusive Relationships