Reader Question: What to do after an emotionally abusive relationship

I just ended my four year engagement to my fiance, bc he was emotionally abusive and scared me bc of his erratic behavior. He was also loving and affectionate and very generous at times. How do I deal with this situation? I’m so confused if I did the right thing. Do I try to date again? Or do I just stay single for a year like my friends and parents are saying?  I feel like I’m in limbo.

what to do after an emotionally abusive relationship
Thank you for your question. First off, I’d like to say you did a very hard thing when you ended your engagement. Loving someone but ending the relationship because you know it is unhealthy is one of the toughest decisions…so good for you…you took the first major step.

Ok so, emotionally abusive relationships have this way of making us feel crazy for the very reason you described: he was abusive and erratic and then loving and generous. Usually this type of partner is really charming which is why it is so easy to get sucked into the relationship and also why it is so hard to get out. Also, the unpredictability in an abusive partner’s behavior is what helps them maintain the power in a relationship. Which is the only way they know how to relate: in terms of power. I would guess that you spent much of your relationship walking on eggshells because you couldn’t predict what would tick him off and what wouldn’t. This type of relationship, especially when it lasts for years, can really cause deep self-doubt and emotional wounds. With all that being said, here are my recommendations:

  • Cut all ties. Do not go back and cut off all contact with your ex. I repeat DO NOT! Not even just a little text or anything. This is critical. Like I said, these partners can turn on the charm and suck you right back into the relationship vortex and each time it is a little more difficult to get out. It is best to stay strong and remove his info from your phone and ignore any calls, texts, emails etc.
  • Learn new information. Either seek personal counseling to talk through your experience in this relationship, what attracted you to someone who ended up abusing you, how can you be sure to catch it earlier next time, and just to heal from the 4 years of emotional abuse. If that seems like too much, I recommend reflecting on your relationship and learning new information about these types of relationships so you can spot common warning signs and avoid choosing a similar partner next time. PS I have an amazing book recommendation on this subject. See the link below.
  • Take some time. You are being told that you should wait a year to date. I think that this brings up a really important point which is that sometimes our family and friends shed light on our blind spots. I am not saying you need to take a year, that’s a long time. But I think that getting some opinions from your loved ones and close friends can help you to gain some insight and taking some time to recover from your relationship and reflect on it is a good thing!

This is your time to focus on recovering and moving on. I wish you the best!

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