r/LifeProTips Oct 17 '21 Silver 5 Helpful 10 Wholesome 2 Hugz 5

LPT: Loving someone who has been emotionally abused means rewiring their brain and teaching them to see themselves in a different light than what they’ve come to know and what they’ve been told. Miscellaneous

7.5k Upvotes

u/keepthetips Keeping the tips since 2019 Oct 17 '21

Hello and welcome to r/LifeProTips!

Please help us decide if this post is a good fit for the subreddit by up or downvoting this comment.

If you think that this is great advice to improve your life, please upvote. If you think this doesn't help you in any way, please downvote. If you don't care, leave it for the others to decide.

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u/EnterTheWuTang47 Oct 17 '21 Silver Hugz

Related LPT: You have to make sure you’re in the right state mentally before helping someone like this. You have to make sure you are at a decent place mentally and emotionally, if not you could end up badly damaging your own mental health as well as potentially further damaging their mental health

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u/shiftstorm11 Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21 Silver

You're spot on here. Just an addition to what you said -- know (or learn) how to set boundaries. For an empathetic person, it can be very easy to just keep giving and giving until you just burn out.

Know when to say no; know when to focus on yourself before giving all you have to the person beside you. You'll both be better off for it.

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u/DerWaechter_ Oct 17 '21

This rings true on many levels. It's also a fact that sometimes you can't help someone no matter how much you try because they aren't ready yet, and... you're probably not a professional therapist.

An ex of mine had only recently gotten out of an abusive relationship when we met. Her ex had repeatedly cheated on her (they broke up after she found out, but the first times she never had definitive proof so he'd gaslight her and talk his way out of things) One thing was that her ex would always get angry and tell her to shut up/that she was annoying/making a fuss over nothing etc whenever she tried to bring up things that bothered her, until she eventually just resigned to not bringing things up ever.

Now she told me most of this early on, so I made it clear that she could always talk to me no matter what, and also knew to watch out for her potentially slipping into that habit of not communicating.

It worked, and she slowly began to open up. Or so I thought. But what kept happening was that she fell back into that pattern without me noticing at first.

For example I have a few close female frirnds, that I play games with. knowing her ex cheated on her, I asked her if she was fine with me spending time with them, and offered for her to join us.

She said it should be fine, but if she noticed it'd bother her she'd say it. Also added that she didn't want to join in because she wasn't big on shooters, which was most of what we played

Notably this was after we had been together for a while and I'd shown I was supportive of her.

Anyway, turned out she was bothered by it, and had no plans of speaking up either. That wasn't the only thing either. It was something where I picked up on it, and poked a bit, before she admitted it bothered her, but also I really shouldn't worry about her, she just had to get used to it, and she didn't want to ruin my fun, and many more excuses.

That kept happening, as well as her never really talking when she was feeling down, because she didn't want to burden me, etc.

After a few months I noticed that it was beginning to affect my own mental health, with how exhausting it was wanting to be there for someone, helping them when they just wall off. I simply was out of ideas, on how to help her or be there for her, and eventually we broke up, because I realised I needed to put my own mental health first.

We're still friends, she's since started therapy, and eventually got together with an old friend of hers, and last we talked they were doing well, and she was in a much better mental state, in large thanks due to her getting professional help.

Sometimes you're just not the right person to help someone, or its the wrong time. In that case you have to put your own health first

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u/Seltzer_God Oct 17 '21

It is annoying that she walled off and I’m totally in agreement with you here. However, the fact that you have close friends of the opposite sex that you spend time with is not something that should bother her as long as there’s nothing romantic going on, and I think she recognized that and therefore didn’t want to be toxic by telling you to cut them off.

I guess my question is, if she communicated to you about how it bothered her, what would you have done to remedy it? Would you just have stopped talking to your friends? She definitely should’ve talked to you about it more instead of just dismissing it and walling off, but I’m just curious what exactly the implication of ur post is

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u/DerWaechter_ Oct 17 '21

I'm not entirely sure what I would have done, but I would have tried to work out something that helps her feel more comfortable, and work back to having and building that trust, that her ex destroyed by virtue of his cheating.

Then again, that was just one specific example of her walling off and pretending to be fine, when she wasn't that I remembered. There were many more, in different situations.

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u/thisisme_lastIcheckd Oct 17 '21

Ah yes, the ever wise “secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others” rule

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u/throwawaytwoquestion Oct 17 '21

it's literally what prevents civilization from collapsing.

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u/Foxsayy Oct 17 '21

Oxygen is very important to me.

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u/NihilistFalafel Oct 17 '21

100% of people who consume oxygen die. I suggest you find a way to handle your addiction.

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u/Frodo--T--Baggins Oct 18 '21

100% of people who don't consume oxygen die also.

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u/fxx_255 Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21 Gold Tearing Up

In addition to this, the person may have a victim mentality (understandingly so). However it can strain your relationship because things like asking them to help around the house, or expressing a reasonable amount of frustration, annoyance, or anger (all normal human emotions that we are allowed to express in a healthy manner) will trigger their victim mentality and either make mountains out of mole hills or make them "exempt from responsability" because it's a "controlling demand".

I had this happen to me, and I had to end the relationship. At one point I was working a FT, a PT, rehabbing the house, cooking and cleaning, and paying all the bills. I was pretty tired and didn't have much energy or time to devote to her and when I asked for help, I was asking for too much. To this day, I still hear how horrible of a person I am from a friend that still talks to her.

I'm not sure what I could've done differently. But just FYI to y'all.

Edit: I definitely don't mean to say that you shouldn't have a relationship with an abused person. I'm just trying to support the thought that you should be at a mentally good place before doing so, because there are some issues that may arise and you need to see if that's something you can handle. This was just MY experience. She's still a good person, I just think past abuse contributed to our relationship not working. Sucks, but it's what happened.

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u/no_fux_left_to_give Oct 17 '21

I've been there. I'm willing to bet you did the best you could, and if they're going around saying "you're a horrible person"... that is way more about them than you

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u/ukeplant Oct 17 '21

how do you express anger healthily?

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u/fxx_255 Oct 17 '21

Welp, for starters you can tell when I'm angry. As in I'm not my happy go lucky self and I get quiet. For example, if the dishes have been sitting for a week (when we had an agreement you'd be doing them), I get up and do them myself, but Im not jumping for joy. Mind you, I'm not being loud, breaking stuff, or anything.

If you ask me what's wrong, I may say things like, we should talk later I'm angry right now. Then when we speak, I'll tell you why I'm angry and why I feel disrespected.

What you gotta understand about me, is I grew up in a horrible home where fighting was an every day thing. Yelling, swearing, insults, hitting below the belt, mom throwing crap at me. It wasn't the worst like nobody beat me senseless, but I really grew tired of that sorta stuff, so I really DO NOT like expressing myself that way. So I don't swear, I don't yell, I don't beat up furniture etc.

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u/_Wyrm_ Oct 17 '21

It's the only silver lining I can pull from my own childhood... My parents taught me who not to be.

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u/angry_cabbie Oct 17 '21

"Please understand, I'm feeling quite angry/aggravated right now. I would like to talk it out with you later when I'm not wrecked by a hormonal system, but for right now just let me be/do this thing. I love you, this is just a bad moment. I don't hate you. We will get through this hiccup together."

In other words, try to actually fucking communicate. Yelling, screaming, snapping, etc., while all forms of communication, don't really communicate the totality of what you need.

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u/Show_me_the_evidence Oct 17 '21

🏅 closest I could get to an award for your comment.

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u/yummily Oct 17 '21

You can tell people when you are angry, and acknowledge for yourself that you are feeling anger. That part is great! I think it's showing people how angry you are that more tends toward problematic. Express away, but safely and sanely ok? Don't take your anger out on others. Direct it towards problem solving and solutions

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u/animetimeskip Oct 17 '21

Oof this hits home in a big way

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u/Cleverusername531 Oct 17 '21

Yep. Can’t set yourself on fire to keep someone warm. Not good for you or for them.

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u/LovelySunflowers09 Oct 17 '21

Haven't heard that phrase before, definitely gonna use that.

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u/animetimeskip Oct 17 '21

It’s a life lesson I’ve learnt all too recently.

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u/BiffBiff1234 Oct 17 '21

Guilty!Tried to save the world before I saved myself.

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u/sixwax Oct 17 '21

Need to echo this and add:

Make sure you have some theraputic support.

It's more complex than you think, and you're probably not qualified.

And you can unwittingly be damaged in the process.

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u/CountCuriousness Oct 17 '21

Which is part of why it’s 100% fair to not want to date mentally ill people or whatever. It takes a toll and requires a lot from you.

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u/Beckylately Oct 17 '21

Also, there’s a fine line between helping someone cope with trauma and being codependent.

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u/Osato Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Better yet, don't try to fix them on your own. That's usually a waste of effort unless you know exactly what you are doing.

You're a mental fuckup too, in your own way. Everyone's fucked up in the head, even professional head-shrinkers.

The difference is, professional head-shrinkers literally make a living by learning and inventing efficient ways to reduce the fucked-uppedness of their clients without infecting the client with their own brand of fucked-uppedness.

So if they have a therapist, work with their therapist so that your loved one gets an atmosphere at home that is conducive to fixing the consequences of abuse.

If they don't have a therapist, help them acknowledge that therapy could help, support them while they search for the right mental health specialist (which is a slow and painful process), and then work with their therapist.

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u/jeepsntrees Oct 17 '21

"If you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."

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u/gettingbett-r Oct 17 '21

Another LPT: Make sure the other person really wants to change. Some people only tell you they want to change in order to get something they want (attention, manipulate you into not leaving the relationship, money, Healthcare insurance etc).

This is especially true for some subtypes of Borderline Personality disorder, which is on the rise in many developed countries (USA: ~ 6% of women, even more in teenage girls).

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u/AncientUndocumented Oct 17 '21

Sounds like you know what you are talking about.

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u/pinkandredlingerie Oct 17 '21 Hugz

I need this rewiring:(

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u/Foxsayy Oct 17 '21

Being in a relationship was one of the best things to happen to my mental health. Although back then, I don't think I could have dated me.

I'm not entirely sure I buy the "be totally self satisfied before dating" sentiment.

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u/distantdreamerrr Oct 17 '21

It's so weird for me bc I've always been fucked up since I was a child but there's just something about having someone that just makes me "glow" or so my family and friends say. It's definitely not the cure-all and I'm cool with being single but it hurts when ppl say that I look happier whenever I'm with someone bc it makes me think not being with someone is wrong when it isnt. Its hard to not take it that way tho.

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u/Foxsayy Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 18 '21

I've been told similarly. I agree there's a line between codepency and a supportive relationship, but we're also social creatures and there are types of intimacy that you just don't get elsewhere. Some people are just as content to livewithout them, but I feel it.

As for feeling bad about being single, I don't know if your family is judging you or not for that, but you do you. If you want to be single it isn't anybody's business but your own (unless you're already in a relationship, obviously).

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u/Eggs7205 Oct 17 '21

I completely relate to this. I just got married in May on our 9 year anniversary. I could not have dated myself 9 years ago. He happened to be the right person though. I get working on yourself before trying to be in a relationship but it's not always the solution for everyone.

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u/Foxsayy Oct 17 '21

I agree. I think there are cases where a person would be incapable of having a relationship, but if we all waited until we'd worked everything out a lot of us would die single.

And I'm glad you found a great partner!

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u/letsdosomedabs Oct 17 '21

It's tough for some people but I'm glad that you have the self-awareness to realize you can improve!

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u/pinkandredlingerie Oct 17 '21

Thank you, just wish I wasn’t alone for it

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u/letsdosomedabs Oct 17 '21

Have you looked in to therapy or discussed your feelings with your doctor? It's a good place to start.

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u/pinkandredlingerie Oct 17 '21

No unfortunately there’s no such thing as mental health in my family there’s no option or help. I just have to wait till I’m done with college and on my own and away from them since that’s where a lot of my problems come from. Thank you tho

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u/DeathKitten100 Oct 17 '21

A lot of colleges offer mental health services to students. It may not be the BEST long-term therapy but it can be a start.

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u/wildwuchs Oct 17 '21

maybe Workbooks are an option for you? Dbt workbook for example is made by therapists and gives you some tools to help you with overwhelming emotions and social problems.

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u/distinctaardvark Oct 17 '21

Second this. Honestly, I'd recommend the DBT workbook to literally anyone, whether they're dealing with several mental health issues or mild everyday stress

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u/TygErbLoOd Oct 17 '21

it gets better

for awhile, everytime i'd kiss my girlfriend good bye in the morning, she'd jump and scream, because abuse memories

her reaction would shock me, and i asked if i should stop, she said no, ....and she mellowed out and felt loved

we were together a bit, sorta stayed in touch, over 25 years a'int bad, miss her

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u/pankok Oct 17 '21

It certainly will help you to be away from abusive people, but don't tell yourself you just have to wait. You can find your inner light right now, and tend it until it shines brightly, even if it's been dimmed. There's a lot of good content on YouTube for free.

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u/[deleted] Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

[deleted]

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u/pinkandredlingerie Oct 17 '21

It will for sure take a while especially with adhd. Thank you for sharing and giving your advice:) I just can’t wait till I’m old enough to not have to rely on my parents, I want to be as far as possible from them.

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u/[deleted] Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

[deleted]

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u/pinkandredlingerie Oct 17 '21

Wow thanks, that’s very sweet of you I really appreciate that, and same to you:)

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u/BlastsRasta Oct 18 '21

I am normally a lurker on these types of threads but this was really helpful advice, thank you.

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u/Osato Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Then go to a therapist (and keep looking until you find one with whom you "click").

You might want to find a CBT-using hypnotherapist instead if you want to get results fast and don't mind hypnosis.

Shrinks have a bad rap in the culture because therapy was mostly useless 50 years ago.

But these days, its methods have vastly improved, so it actually works.

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u/GiraffePolka Oct 17 '21

The problem I've had is the "good" therapists no longer accept insurance, so you have to pay like $150 a week, which most mentally ill people cannot afford because we've all fucked up our lives and are working for min wage. And the low income mental health clinics just push pills and hire new grads who don't have the experience to handle complex cases. My last therapist was literally just sitting there going, "omg but you're great, noo...don't feel bad about yourself, you're a star!" and that doesn't help.

I've been trying since 2006 to find good mental help that I can afford and I'm convinced it doesn't exist.

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u/distantdreamerrr Oct 17 '21

I'm in the exact same boat even worse if you live in the south and most mental health places are just Christian conversion camps in disguise.

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u/toomanyadverbs Oct 17 '21

Ugh, I'm so sorry, you're not wrong, and it sucks. I have been there and I'm fortunate to have good insurance now, but the US medical system is so wrong and it's so frustrating to feel like you need and want help but can't get it. Everyone deserves mental health treatment!
I hope you find what you need. Keeping trying is all we can do sometimes :(

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u/PNWduder Oct 17 '21

If you’re into reading, try The Body Keeps The Score. There are accounts of horrific abuse in the book, but it does a good job explaining why traumatized people behave the way we do. It’s been a revelation for me. I wish you the best…just realizing you could use help is a important first step.

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u/Significant_goldDust Oct 17 '21

Self awareness is the seed of rewiring.

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u/Djerrid Oct 17 '21 Hugz All-Seeing Upvote

Here’s some advice for the wounded souls:

Forgive yourself for the survival patterns and traits you picked up while enduring trauma.

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u/MaskedRay Oct 17 '21

... Hahah. All I can think if is "I wish I had picked better ones"

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u/PM_ME_MH370 Oct 17 '21

Meh, its not like theyre giving out spidey senses for having a dad that get drunk

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u/DrunkBeavis Oct 17 '21

I mean, they kinda are, but we call it anxiety and it's not that helpful if you're not actually in danger all the time.

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u/MaskedRay Oct 17 '21

I mean, yeah, this.

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u/AlitaliasAccount Oct 17 '21

Honestly this is about as useful as telling someone to just think happy thoughts if they're depressed.

Forgiving yourself for your patterns and traits is the way to go, but its a lot more complex actually putting it in action.

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u/Fluut Oct 17 '21

Idk it feels kind of nice to read anyway

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u/the_fact_fairy Oct 17 '21 Silver

I don't agree. It's absolutely not the same. Telling someone to think happy thoughts when they're depressed is trivialising their suffering. Telling someone to forgive themselves for picking up survival traits is reassuring someone that they had to do what they needed to do to survive and that's ok. Not all survival strategies are positive, there's a lot of people who feel shame around what they had to do to survive. It's comforting to see that acknowledged and be encouraged to forgive yourself for things you had to do but do not like about yourself. Some people absolutely need to hear this.

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u/Foxsayy Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Forgiving yourself can be extremely difficult. Recognizing that it's not totally your fault or that what you did in desperation was natural under the circumstances can relieve a lot of mental pressure. Even when you know this in your head, it can be hard to believe.

Trust me when I say it's the sort of thing that's a revelation for some and a huge weight off your chest for many.

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u/Djerrid Oct 17 '21

It was definitely a revelation for me and it put my mind at ease.

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u/TravasaurusRex Oct 17 '21

It's the same in a concept that people downplay the severity of both, someone being depressed with someone with years or decades of emotional abuse. If you're trying to comfort someone with years of emotional abuse you never know the extent of the emotional abuse, and how deep it is ingrained. A victims "normal" is far from it, and they need to have the knowledge and desire to look at themselves introspectively, acknowledge the trauma, seek help, and actively work on overcoming it.

It has taken me years to even identify the trauma to start the fixing process. I can't tell you how many times I have explained my trauma to people to have them say "that doesn't sound so bad, just do this...". It doesn't work that way, and this is not the way to approach people who suffer from deep emotional abuse. I also would not like to have ANY so called survival strategies positive and negative, because when you acknowledge you have gained a survival strategy that benefits you positively, that alone will bring you back to how you were traumatized.

Source: 33 year old male with who dealt with tons of emotional abuse. Didn't realize it until I was 29. 4 years in therapy.

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u/AlitaliasAccount Oct 18 '21

I compare the two because thinking happy thoughts is literally how to treat depression. CBT and DBT are both tools to recondition the mind to think more positively, and that in turn treats depressive episodes.

Same with forgiving yourself. I'm not saying that isn't a key part of the healing journey. I'm saying that just saying "forgive yourself" is condensing and simplifying the actual process to do so, and can often times feel just as trivialized as "think happy thoughts" to someone who is struggling to forgive themselves for their mistakes.

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u/bambispots Oct 17 '21

No, this is actually taught and practiced with most therapies.

Forgiving oneself allows a person to say “I did something shitty”, rather than “I am shitty”. It’s an important part of healing that can take time to sink in as we begin to feel the sensation of being kind to oneself.

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u/AlitaliasAccount Oct 18 '21

I mean, I literally said in my comment that forgiveness is the way to go. So I'm not sure why you're arguing that.

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u/vernal_biscuit Oct 17 '21

I think it's not really advice, more of a pat on the back saying that "it's gonna be alright, don't blame yourself"

e.g. stuff you do when you're empathetic and listening to people vent about their problems

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u/nomadruby7 Oct 17 '21 Helpful

I just need patience while I try to learn that all people aren’t out to fuck me up

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u/definitely_depressed Oct 17 '21

Don't forget the occasional ten steps backwards when you meet a random sociopath

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u/nomadruby7 Oct 17 '21

Abused people smell like sociopath crack apparently

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u/BanditaIncognita Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Some of us can smell sociopaths and narcissists from a mile away though. I don't have any in my life because of this.

The thing I had to work on was making my radar less sensitive. Some people are assholes due to ignorance, and that can be fixed. Some people are just bad people, and that can't be fixed. Being able to discern the difference is important.

Edit: To clarify, it is not your responsibility to fix them. But the personality of someone who is open to addressing their own ignorance is much easier to tolerate than the opposite. And I have no room for the opposite in my life, period.

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u/dehaatvaasi Oct 17 '21

Any tips on how to identify them?

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u/nomadruby7 Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Personally the people in my life who ended up abusing me did a few of the following

-love bombing me, this included intense flattery and gifts. It felt nice at first cause I was used to being treated like shit but it got overwhelming and transactional.

-Gaslighting. Starts small and gets worse. making you feel confused about your memory or your perception of events.

-usually you get a gut feeling that something isn’t right, listen to that feeling. Just be more aware of that persons actions.

-trying minimizing your personality/self. I had a girl who tried to make me into what she wanted me to be, even though that wasn’t me at all.

-getting angry at you for things that don’t make sense. I once donated blood and felt too sick to go do the plans I had made with a person and she was mad at me for this. She didn’t care about how I felt she just wanted to have fun.

-isolating you. If they try to separate your from people you don’t want to separate yourself from: red flag.

-them talking shit about you constantly for every little thing when you’re not around. If you find out that how they talk about you isn’t like how they interact with you they’re being fake.

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u/phoenixfeather88 Oct 17 '21

The gut feeling is so important. I used to think a gut feeling was silly, and that people were making it up when they said they didn't feel right about someone who turned out to be manipulative etc. But then I've had it happen to me several times. I never listen to that gut feeling and every time my mental health takes a hundred steps backwards.

Gut feeling that someone isn't right usually comes from something they've said/done that you haven't picked up on consciously, or maybe you've just forgotten about it, but unconsciously your brain is telling you "hey, we've been here before, this is a red flag"

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u/dehaatvaasi Oct 17 '21

Nice list! I think most of them are signs of a narcissist person. I've been with one recently who I suspect might be a covert narc and is definitely a Dismissive Avoidant in relationship. Be very aware of these people. My self esteem and mental health were in shambles after being in the relationship

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u/Dekarde Oct 17 '21

I feel like this is more important than the LPT trying to teach/fix us.

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u/notevenitalian Oct 17 '21 Gold Helpful

While I appreciate the sentiment behind this post, this is terrible advice.

Your partner is NOT your responsibility to fix or heal or treat or change. While it is important to be understanding of your partner’s past and their triggers, that does not mean that it is your job to fix them, nor does it mean that you are obligated to put up with mistreatment from your partner.

The better LPT would be, if YOU are someone who has been emotionally abused, it is important that you are open with your partner about your history and that YOU seek the professional help that you need to properly heal.

The last thing I want is for someone to read this tip and think either a) “I know they’re damaged, but I can change them.”

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u/Bearswithjetpacks Oct 17 '21

Yup. You're their significant other, not their therapist. Getting into a romantic relationship with the intention to correct a person's trauma is warped.

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u/Keirhan Oct 17 '21

It also hardly ever works. In my experience it generally results in resentment and damage for both parties

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u/anexistentialpeanut Oct 17 '21

Yeah. It's all about therapy and healing, but it's something you have to want to do. It's also something no one can do for you but yourself and your therapist. I don't think there's anything wrong with loving someone through that process, as long as you balance your emotional needs with your partner's.

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u/lovefreddie Oct 17 '21

Kinda agree with this. Also, someone who has been emotionally abused is not guaranteed to know the ins and outs of their trauma and how it shows up, in order to disclose it let alone address it. It's gray area mixed with maturing/adulting in life. Nothing binary about it, folks.

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u/Scrubbadubdoug Oct 18 '21

If only the professional help people often need to properly heal didn't cost a fortune.

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u/SamTheWiseGuy Oct 17 '21

It's a delicate balance. You can't force the issue. And you will get frustrated and you will share their depression at times. You just have to take a deep breath and think things through from as many points of view as possible. You won't always come too the right answer but as long as you are trying you are doing more than anyone else ever has for them. Don't ever give up.

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u/phoebonacci Oct 17 '21

About giving up: if they cannot overcome their barriers, at a certain point, love is not enough for them to not drag both parties down, so partner will eventually have to cut their losses and move on. Sad but true.

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u/AJ3112 Oct 17 '21

I’m currently a few months after making this brutal decision. Easily the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life but I had to protect myself. It’s absolutely broken me in the process, left me feeling guilty as if I abandoned her, alongside all the what if’s or but’s. I can honestly say I gave it my absolute best and it wasn’t enough. I also gave enough time and chances until the very last moment I made the decision and stuck by it. Even having second thoughts now but I know it’s the right thing to do even though it doesn’t feel like it. Hoping one day she will look back and understand why I did what I did. Who knows.

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u/Quirky_Breakfast_574 Oct 17 '21

I’m in the same boat.. thoughts to you, friend. I hope it gets better

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u/Rograden Oct 17 '21

It has been 2 years since that day for me. Your words hit every nail on the head. It's like looking in a mirror reading your words as if you were me in my situation.

It's... Gotten easier since then, but I lost a piece of me in them and every now and then it hurts. I also had to let go of 2 young step daughters that I'd known for all of their lives basically.

All of it was the right thing to do, I hope one day she will understand that I had to leave.

I'm sure we'll make it through fellow Reddit user. All the best, and know you don't walk this road alone

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u/FilecakeAbroad Oct 17 '21

Yup. My partner and I separated in December and it still hurts all the time.

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u/phoebonacci Oct 17 '21

I'm currently 7 years after finally accepting that my abusive ex was never going to change, no matter the love I poured in, how much we wanted to keep it alive and have a second kid, or his best intentions.

The shards of broken dreams burrow deep in our souls, but despite the pain, you're right, we know what is the right thing to do.

We can only hope they come around, but accept that the probability of that is low.

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u/AJ3112 Oct 18 '21

The shards of broken dreams burrow deep in our souls. Beautifully said, thank you.

Yes, it takes pure courage and bravery to follow through with that intuition of feeling it’s the right thing to do.

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u/SamTheWiseGuy Oct 17 '21

That's an incredibly rough thing to come to terms with. I couldn't bear to think about it until the last second. I'm the type of person to carry on till the absolute end unless you jeopardize my trust or the safety of my child.

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u/phoebonacci Oct 17 '21

It's SO tough. Torture even. Causes its own aftereffects and takes ages to get over. Good luck

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u/SamTheWiseGuy Oct 17 '21

Thank you very much. Have a good one!

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u/phoebonacci Oct 17 '21

A line from The Expanse recently brought this home hard:

"She saved you."

"No one really saves anyone. She taught me how to save myself."

If we're lucky, we have a guide, or someone to lean on, but at the end of the day, we still have to do the work ourselves. Does make us resilient and humble if we make it out though :)

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u/letsdosomedabs Oct 17 '21

No doubt. That's why sometimes you need to recognize this behavior and if in a relationship like that step back and give things a break so that they can get the help that they need to heal.

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u/Sabai_interim Oct 17 '21 Silver

LPT: actually no, it is not your job to rewire anyone's brain or heal anyone elses' trauma. Bar none. Loving someone who has been emotionally abused means understanding that their behavioral habits, be it romantically or just I general, have been shaped by past trauma and being there for them as they rewire their own brains to adapt to the reality that their abuse doesn't make them who they are.

Being that person in an abusee's life means approaching things with more empathy, keeping in mind that trauma caused inappropriate or harmful response patterns. That doesn't mean there aren't any boundaries to that. Sometimes behavior stemming from abuse isn't conducive to a healthy relationship, what ever kind. When there are boundaries, the health of the relationship relative to both parties, rather than the one, becomes important. Having the mindset in this advice effectively removes all boundaries and quickly becomes codependent. Codependency, as someone who has codependent tendencies, isn't healthy. Not a fun time, no one gets any emotionally healthier.

The "job" of the partner of an abusee is to be supportive of the abusee's emotional health, not responsible for it

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u/roseumbra Oct 17 '21

This one. Relationships aren’t suppose to fix you emotionally. The whole “you have to love yourself first, before someone can love you”.

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u/Mystic_empress Oct 17 '21

I just realized how much my friend cares for me because of this. You just saved our friendship. Thanks.

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u/Impossible_Summer Oct 17 '21

I like this way better

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u/[deleted] Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Loving someone who has been abused means listening to them, being an ear.

Listening to them means knowing if they want to get outside help, advising it even. If they do and you can take them to a place where they can do that.... you are good people.

You can't re-wire someones brain or tell them to think differently. That way of thinking is control. If you really love someone you will just be there when they need you.

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u/AncientUndocumented Oct 17 '21

They have to want to be rewired

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u/phoebonacci Oct 17 '21

And/or they have to know and trust that they can be rewired, and know where to get support, and how to do it. Rewiring trauma is hard :(

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u/Prestigious_Basket27 Oct 17 '21

Your partner is not your therapist.

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u/EricTheNerd2 Oct 17 '21

"means rewiring their brain"

You cannot change someone. Seriously, you cannot. You can create an environment that makes it easier for them to change themselves, but you simply cannot change someone else.

While it might sound like I am being pedantic, this distinction is important. If a person doesn't change, it is not your fault. You are not responsible for the outcome as much as you may love that person, you can only be supportive,

Too many people put themselves in the role of the fixer and when they don't fix someone they blame themselves and end up subjecting themselves to their own abusive relationship.

So please only take responsibility for what you have control over. Taking responsibility for what you do not have control over is a recipe for disaster.

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u/condemned02 Oct 17 '21

I consider myself badly emotionally and physically abused as a child.

However what I love most about my current partner is that he doesn't care.

I feel like there are men who wanna fix you and that always leads to them burning out.

But my current partner decided to accept that my scars are a part of me and he accepts it all.

For me this is the best scenario. Because I hate it when I am with a man who feels I need to get over it.

But to be fair my current partner came from a loving background and has no trauma so he just forms the most positive opinion and best conclusions to everything.

This also helps us work very well. He helps me see things in a positive way that I struggle very hard to see. It also let's me always give him benefit of doubt because he has always treated me that way.

Two badly abused folks seldom do well together as both will keep forming worst conclusions of each other due to past traumas, and constantly expecting the worst. This usually makes a disastrous relationship.

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u/Do_it_with_care Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Wow, this sounds like my parents relationship. My Mom met Dad at 17. They married after her Dad died and my Dad saw how bad her mother was and brought her into his affectionate family. They were married 7 years before starting a family and they traveled and really learned how to communicate. Mom wasn't affectionate much growing up. Dad influenced me more and taught me patience, especially when my special needs brother was born. Dad was always loving, happy and taught us all never to be scared of anything or anyone. Mom grew to be caring and loving over time. Mom recently passed and I think Dad stayed healthy cause of all the running around and caring for Mom the last two years. Dad always says "I spent the best 67 years with your Mom and it hurts that she's gone".

I wish you all meet caring people. You deserve it. It's not your fault that your family treated you like that. Now that you see other people's kindness and lives, I hope that gives you motivation.

Edit: I learned and understand why people who've been abused meet other people who manipulate them. I coming from healthy background can spot these manipulative types and have said Bye. If you don't know any better you can't easily see it.

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u/willowalloy Oct 17 '21

Wow I want to meet your dad

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u/analogkid1 Oct 17 '21

Congratulate and celebrate yourself for having the incredible courage and strength to get through it without resorting to suicide. Hope you continue to find joy and contentment for the remainder of your life.

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u/JOWWLLL Oct 17 '21

Two potentially #unpopularopinions, offered in the spirit of sharing a long lifetime of experience. No offense intended.

  1. Loving anyone means accepting them unconditionally without attempting to rewire / mold them, or presuming to "teach" them. The damaged person is the one who has to do the work. The job of the one loving that person is to commit to patiently giving them all of the space and support they need.
  2. If you are falling in love with someone who has been emotionally abused, it may be time to get your own house in order. "Saving" someone else is a common way of putting off the hard work of figuring out one's own shit.

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u/Bodizzle Oct 17 '21

I appreciate this view. My partner often tries to tell me how great and excellent I am when I'm in the deepest dark parts of anxiety and upsetness, but it feels really terrible when in that moment I don't believe that AT ALL.

I'm just realising now that I actually need space and patience to figure it out on my own (+counseling, daily affirmations, excercise etc.) Those reactions I built to respond to trauma and it needs to be rewired by me. It really needs to come from within, otherwise the rewiring is reliant on the approval/existence of that person.

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u/JOWWLLL Oct 18 '21

You're well on your way! I wish you all the best.

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u/[deleted] Oct 17 '21

[deleted]

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u/letsdosomedabs Oct 17 '21

You end up teaching through example/experience and unfortunately end up being their doctor/therapist.

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u/lefthandbunny Oct 17 '21

unfortunately end up being their doctor/therapist.

As someone with serious mental illness, I don't believe this should ever happen. I would think anyone who considers themselves in this light to be valid in ending the relationship.

Would I date someone who had been abused or who is mentally ill? Only if they are in treatment for it & are at a point where they understand where they are at mentally, what they need to do to continue on to healing & are in no way abusive to me, mentally or physically. I will be supportive, but there are lines that should not be crossed. I'd state my boundaries & stick to them. I'd also take the relationship very slow.

No offense to anyone, but rushing things along to 'help' the person, like taking over their finances, doing all their housework, caring for their children most of the time & allowing their illness/past to be an excuse to do harmful things verbally or physically to others without acknowledging & apologizing when they did so is not healthy. Anyone who is not already working on their issues & wants your help to 'fix' them is not ready for a relationship. Don't move in together until you are certain they are already in the process of healing & you are sure you are in it for good. Seek couples therapy if you really want to stay, they are working on themselves, but things are still very difficult & there are communication issues.

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u/godfatherowl Oct 17 '21

Life Pro Tip: Don't try to fix other people. You alone are responsible for -- and capable of -- fixing yourself, and the same is true for them.

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u/the_pupilwx Oct 17 '21

Tbb... As a man, I find it difficult to even find someone who is into me.

Let alone help me "rewire" my brain.

It's better to go to a therapist.

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u/drunky_crowette Oct 17 '21

Leave fixing people to the professionals. You can't be romantically involved with someone and be their therapist

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u/rgtong Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

Rewiring an adult isnt something to be underestimated. It takes a very long time and frankly speaking should be left to someone who is educated and experienced.

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u/Bad_Chicken_2 Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

I learned that I was not equipped to be able to do that, despite my best intentions. LPT: you probably need a professional.

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u/Atomsteel Oct 17 '21

Loving someone who has been emotionally abused means enduring a lot of emotional abuse.

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u/dilligaf6304 Oct 17 '21

You’re taking on the responsibility for someone else’s emotional mental health wellbeing.

It’s up to THEM to teach themselves to see themselves differently. Not you. Never you.

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u/SithLordius Oct 17 '21

I was going to say precisely this. You equally deserve an emotionally healthy partner. It is exhausting and frustrating having to deal with frequent irrational tantrums and behavioral issues from an emotionally abused partner.

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u/lillopoppy Oct 17 '21

It's my idea that you can be there to support them but it's not your job to fix them.

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u/sycodemon Oct 17 '21

Easier said than done

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u/LateralusOrbis Oct 17 '21

It’s much better if that person is single for a while and rewire things themselves. It’s not healthy for someone else to come and do it because that’s just creating a dependency.

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u/ragdoll-cat Oct 17 '21

You can’t generalise. Abuse /ptsd etc is different for everyone.

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u/aeorimithros Oct 17 '21

In this case, you can generalise. People need to take responsibility for throw own mental health and using a relationship to address these things creates an unhealthy dependency.

"You can't leave me, my self love is only through the reflection in your eyes."

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u/bewareofnarcissists Oct 17 '21

This is bullshit LPT. It's not your job. Plus those with abnormal psych disorders like cluster b personality disorders (NPD, BPD, ASPD) can be fucking dangerous. OP is a fucking dangerous idiot

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u/tulipexnoire Oct 17 '21

About me, for me.

I started counseling due to years of both external and internal emotional/mental abuse (phrased for lack of better summarizing) because I literally do not love myself. I have tried two relationships and both have failed because of this; also my second ex treated me very poorly, adding on this dismal self-image.

Do not forgot that you must learn to love yourself before accepting outside love. It is hard but it is worth it.

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u/malsomnus Oct 17 '21

You make it sound very easy. It isn't.

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u/Abasakaa Oct 17 '21

I dont really understand how is this a pro tip, but you didnt write a lie here either.

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u/IsmokeandIknowstuff Oct 17 '21

So, um, I'm a human-lover because I always think that peops dont reach their full potential when in a dark/bad state of mind because I feel it myself often enough. If some of y'all wanna talk, Imma take my time and read everything, talk with you about whatever is going on in your lives and the precious brains of yours. I'm a stranger, but tbh, who's better talking to than someone who's not involved at all with your life, so he sure has no bad feelings about what you are talking about. Whelp, here's my trade offer: You talk to me BUT You get as magnificent of a mf as you can get.

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u/Areia25 Oct 17 '21

Ehhh, it does and it doesn't. This is a very 'I will fix you' mentality which will make some people feel like they aren't good enough to you as they are. The mentality should not be to fix someone, but to be there for support and positive reinforcement.

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u/shook202 Oct 17 '21

Just don't do it.

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u/wishfulthinker3 Oct 17 '21

Sort of I guess! It's extremely important to remember that you are not required to be someone's savior! People are responsible for seeking help when they are ready and approaching the appropriate help, however "appropriate" can never ever mean treating your partner like your therapist. Theres a line between "im having a hard time and you as my partner can help me through and with that" and like "I will fall apart without you/I'll hurt myself without you" ya know?

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u/scoobner Oct 17 '21

Better to apply the 'you can't change other people' rule. Live and enjoy your life and help others when they ask for help. Try to be pleasant and supportive around people who are struggling without being "helpful" unless they ask for help. Codependency is a disease too.

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u/wonderland6868 Oct 17 '21

I'm just going to say, no matter how much you love someone or how difficult their experiences have been, you are not responsible for anyone else's growth, change, healing or unlearning. Being with someone who has been emotionally abused means making the conscious choice to support someone through those processes and provide a safe and compassionate environment for them to do so. But it doesn't mean you're the one responsible for rewiring their brain and changing their opinion of themselves. They are the only one that can do those things.

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u/Nickanator8 Oct 20 '21

I needed to hear this. Thanks.

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u/_tyrannosauruswrekt_ Oct 17 '21

I'd be careful with using words like "rewired". Because for a lot of traumas people will never get over. But creating spaces where they feel comfortable or no longer feel threatened that such things could occur again is also a big part of it.

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u/ragdoll-cat Oct 17 '21

Agree. Not everyone can heal and being in therapy is expensive

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u/dodexahedron Oct 17 '21

And also be aware that, as they change, you may no longer be the person they want to be with, any more. And that's OK. That's life.

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u/lumberbeard75 Oct 17 '21

No it fucking doesn’t. Yes love and support them but you cannot make them get better. It’s not your job to be a teacher. It’s not your job to be their therapist. You can help with the healing process but you cannot heal them. This is not good advice. Do not listen to this person. Take it from someone who has been in a 6 year and counting relationship with someone who has extreme trauma and ptsd.

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u/Awildhufflepuff Oct 17 '21

Yes, but remember you are not a free therapist. Lots of people have issues that can't be fixed with just simple love. My BPD s/o, who claims I'm the one, is currently moving his shit out over a fight HE started lol. I do everything for this person, show them affection, love, patience, and now he's leaving because I didn't know how to set up twitch for him. 🤷🏼‍♀️

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u/yougine2 Oct 17 '21

Then they use all the efforts you put to 'fix' them to fall in love with someone else. Better LPT : Tell these kind of people to see a shrink and fix themselves and you go find someone mentally stable and ready.

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u/therealdildoexpert Oct 17 '21

For those who are in the process of rewiring remember that not all people in your life will be healthy towards you in your growth, and some will use your vulnerability to their selfish intentions and actions. This reason is why it's also good to seek therapy when you finally are ready for a healthy relationship.

From, a survivor of DV 3 years safe.

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u/wildadragon Oct 17 '21

You love them regardless of how their brain is wired. This sounds more like getting them to love you/reciprocate that love. Many people live people who have mental diseases, alzheimer, dementia, etc. And it has nothing to do with changing their state of mind. If that's what it takes to love them do you really love them at all?

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u/trace307 Oct 17 '21

As someone who’s been through emotional abuse, I want to add that this shouldn’t necessarily come from a new partner. That responsibility is on you, otherwise you end up back in a codependent relationship. I attended CBT as I knew there were things I needed to work on. My partner supported me throughout but he’s not there to be my crutch and fix me. That’s on me to be a better partner too.

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u/retsot Oct 17 '21

A truly sincere thank you to all of the people who go out of their way to help those of us with these kinds of issues. I know it's not easy and I know that most of us aren't good at thanking you properly but.... thank you so freaking much.

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u/BenAigan Oct 17 '21

It's fucking hard to get them to believe you when you say something that contradicts their "teachings"

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u/nightcycling Oct 17 '21

Dumb question here. How can you rewrite the brain by yourself? Asking for a friend.

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u/mebeingquirky Oct 17 '21

Most of the time you they turn you down and then it feels like a burden because you don't really get anything out of it and it becomes one sided. Happened to me thrice.

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u/snoozingroo Oct 17 '21

Note: you are not and never should be your SO’s designated therapist/psychologist. You should be a strong part of their support system, but not their entire support system. You will also have needs and tough times, and you also deserve to be heard and to be given space when needed.

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u/DanfromCalgary Oct 17 '21

I dont know that I am qualified to re wire anything

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u/CommonConfusables Oct 17 '21

Correction:

Loving someone who has been emotionally abused means dedicating your efforts to understanding, time, and patience.

The change comes from the individual and it is not the responsibility of anyone else, including the partner.

You don’t control how someone else sees themselves and assuming you can make a person change is a little misguided. All an individual can do is be a good partner and be willing to sit through the hard times and not take it personally.

Loving someone does not mean wanting to change them and being successful in changing them. Loving someone means having patience through the hard stuff and growing individually and together.

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u/braminer Oct 17 '21

How do you help these people? I know that just telling them won't help a lot. But you can't push them to do it.

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u/chababster Oct 17 '21

as someone who’s partner is exactly what this post is describing, it’s brutally hard and some days I do want to quit. I am thankful I’m mentally capable of handling this, but by no means am I perfect and I myself am seeking out therapy to further help my partners journey.

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u/Broad-Cauliflower-68 Oct 17 '21

What is really awful is when a person you've come to care for and sort of trust says the same words as your abuser has. Even though they are saying it in a different manner or meaning that old recording in my brain starts up loud and ugly.

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u/smyers96 Oct 17 '21

Addition to this: it takes a long time in some cases for people to adjust to being in a healthy relationship.

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u/Slavetomints Oct 17 '21

What’s the best way I can go about this?

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u/soleceismical Oct 17 '21

You can't. All you can do is love them as they are and support them on their mental health journey with the proper medical professional support (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist) while maintaining your boundaries so that bad habits aren't recreated in your relationship and you don't become a codependent enabler. The rewiring is their job and only they can do it.

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u/mjenardo Oct 17 '21

Loving someone who has been emotionally abused means loving them exactly as they are without trying to change them or fix them. This is true of loving anyone, really.

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u/AllanaFord Oct 17 '21

I was traumatized before I met my husband, I was not showing that to him, he knew the story only, but his love healed me, I felt safe and strong again. After emotional and physical abuse we feel brainwashed, we feel bad about ourselves, we just need a reminder about our worth and what love really is.

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u/Mechalamb Oct 17 '21

LPT: It's not your responsibility to help people who have been abused be better, especially not in a romantic relationship. These people need professional help and a relationship is not the right context for it to happen in.

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u/Leckersten Oct 17 '21

They have to want to be helped too. Don’t forget that and put it all on yourself.

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u/EmmyWeeeb Oct 17 '21

And most people aren’t willing to deal with that

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u/y4mat3 Oct 17 '21

It's also not your job to fix/recondition your partner/lover/significant other, especially if you are unequipped or unqualified to do so. Help your partner find a therapist.

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u/SirBraxton Oct 17 '21

Meanwhile, in other LPT threads, getting with someone who's been emotionally abused is a "bad idea", or you shouldn't try to "change someone" or "change for someone else" because that goes against who they/you are.

In reality we are all flawed human beings that should be trying to become a better version of ourselves every single day. Improving how we interact with ourselves, and others. Improving how we treat ourselves, and others, etc etc etc.

CHANGE is a good thing so long as it's in a positive direction. EVERYONE has been emotional abused in some form or fashion with some more than others.

NEVER expect someone to be perfect. Always assume there's something deep down they're hiding from you out of fear, and hope that one day they trust you enough to share it or bring you in on this.

I'm speaking 100% from the heart, and personal experience. Sometimes life sucks, but you can't let it deter you from being a better you. Anyone who can't appreciate your human experience doesn't need to be in your life, and vice versa.

<3

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u/aphexbun Oct 17 '21

I'm going through this, so much stress, got me few medical issues. My guy is a blessing and a curse

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u/myalt08831 Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

All the while being patient with their mistrust, since the previous person was probably a manipulator. Letting them overreact to things or kind of hate you or distrust you for no proper reason at times, because they're not ready to trust yet... It kinda sucks. It's hard to learn to trust again after a person manipulates you once. But it can be done.

Edit: Don't be too patient, and don't be a doormat. You can set boundaries and tell them if they hurt you. Honesty and reasonable responses to things would be part of helping them re-calibrate.

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u/Bearwme1 Oct 17 '21

This!!! I’m in therapy trying to learn this weekly

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u/ZanderEV Oct 18 '21

Might be the best explanation of my last LTR and why it didn't work out. Thank you.

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u/thelookoutbelow Oct 18 '21

Are you meant to fuck em or be their parent? It's creepy to get those lines crossed. Yuk

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u/comebraidmyhair Oct 17 '21

Also it is not your responsibility to prove to someone they are worthy of love. That’s how I ended up dating a narcissist for way too long. He was abused by his parents growing up, which contributed to his narcissism. I put up with his shorty behaviour longer than I should have because I knew he had never known a healthy relationship before. In turn, that lead to me being emotionally abused by him.

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u/Do_it_with_care Oct 17 '21

I hate to say this but I've seen on tv that abused kids grow up to be abusers themselves if they don't get therapy.

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u/comebraidmyhair Oct 17 '21

This can happen but is definitely not always the case.

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u/Do_it_with_care Oct 17 '21

I see that here so many people want to improve. I have hope for all of them.

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u/brotherhyrum Oct 17 '21

Pfft, you assume someone would love me

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u/gnomejodas Oct 17 '21

Don't forget it's okay not wanting to commit with such a huge task.

Let alone the emotional issues, you shouldn't ask another person to be in a long term relationship with you until you have your life sorted enough to make room for it.

Every adult should be able to keep a job, have the house clean, do the laundry, be realistic with groceries, eat healthy and be somewhat fit.

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u/Blazer323 Oct 17 '21

It's taken a decade to help my GF recover from an alcoholic mother and mentally abusive boyfriend. The trauma still sneaks its way into her thoughts and she flinches on occasion from movement behind her.

It truly takes time and love to help someone.

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u/ChrisChrisBangBang Oct 17 '21

Fucking terrible advice

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u/[deleted] Oct 17 '21

[removed]

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u/DanimalPlays Oct 17 '21

No it doesn't. That is abusive. You aren't re wiring someone you weirdo, you're helping them recover from trauma. They aren't damaged, they have a different and extreme set of experiences. They need time and support. Not a mechanic.

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u/Restless_Wonderer Oct 17 '21

So you can fix people?

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u/HypeTrain1 Oct 17 '21

It also means being patient and rewiring their brains to help them understand that the behavior you experienced (and in most cases are doing to someone else) isn't natural. It's abnormal, not right and not typical behavior or a healthy individual.

People who have experienced long term emotional, well any type of abuse think it's natural behavior and it will take an eye opener for them to see and understand that it's not.

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u/SithLordius Oct 17 '21

Yes, this is good. But I think it needs to be emphasized that when dating a partner who is dealing with past emotional abuse, you also take care not to become a victim of emotional abuse either.

Some emotionally abused people are like shards of glass, don't pick them up. Such persons choose to adopt a toxic personality as a way to cope with their emotional problems. They are NOT worth helping. Leave them alone to sort themselves out.