I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched women stay in a relationship with an abusive man. My words of “leave” “press charges” or “come with me” seem to have always fallen on deaf ears. And I never knew why she couldn’t see what I saw. Is it possible to get in so deep, we’ve lost all sense of reality? Have we distorted the meaning of love into some definition that fits our circumstances because we don’t see anything better? We don’t see a way out?
It is so easy to fall into this trap and not even realize it. Here are eight reasons why we choose to stay when we know we should leave.
- We excuse or justify their behavior. They are only acting this way (insert something from their past or circumstances here). Our pasts help us to understand where each other is coming from; they are not an excuse to treat the ones you love poorly.
- When they are nice, they are really nice. They make you feel so loved by the things they do for you and the things they get you. We have to understand that motives here are everything. We enjoy the nice things but we have to be mindful of the strings that may be attached. If you think someone loves you because of their nice behavior, what does their cruel behavior tell you?
- We blame ourselves for their behavior. We know we aren’t perfect so we start to rationalize. If I was a better boyfriend or girlfriend, they wouldn’t have reacted that way. He/She wouldn’t have gotten mad if I didn’t do that. I really could have said that nicer. The truth is sometimes we all mess up and act in ways we shouldn’t. But we should never blame ourselves for someone else’s decisions.
- We take responsibility for their life. This one is closely related to the one above but instead of taking responsibility for the way they treat us, we take responsibility for the way they treat themselves. We don’t want to hurt them. We don’t want to cause them pain and we blame ourselves when they call crying. They say the pain is too much if we were to leave them and they may even threaten suicide. If this is the case, they are manipulating you or they need professional help. It is not healthy to stay with someone because of fear.
- The jealousy is cute at first. We like the attention. We like someone fighting for us. And we justify it because at least they care. But oftentimes this jealousy can become obsessive and possessive. And then they start to blame us if someone else flirts with us. It’s nice for someone to care about us; it’s not nice be afraid of how much they “care.”
- We think they will change. We believe the best. They just don’t realize how much we love them yet. Maybe when they are more secure. They apologize and say sorry so at least they know it’s wrong. They felt really bad. So we hold out for another day. Another week. Another month. Another year. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. Sometimes people do change. But sometimes they just mask their behavior temporarily until it’s safe again. See if they change for themselves or see if they change for you. Know the difference.
- They give us ultimatums. They threaten that you don’t really love them if you don’t do something they want you to do. They want you to prove your love to them by doing certain things. They play subtle mind games in an attempt to control you and your behavior. No one who really loves you should ever threaten you or make you feel less than because you do or do not act the way they think you should.
- We become dependent on them. This is probably the scariest of them all. They slowly remove everyone and everything from your life and make it so they are the only good thing in your life. You don’t even realize it because you become so caught up in what you think is love. You look around and you realize you have nothing else. And you don’t want to lose the one thing you have left.
These are so so powerful. They slowly strip away every ounce of our self-confidence until we forget who we really are. But I think there is a way we can see more clear. A way for us to be above this trap. And that is total and complete dependency on God. I think sometimes we make people an idol and don’t even realize it. It’s during those times we are able to be controlled and manipulated because we found something other than God to bring us what we feel would make us happy. It’s our attempt to better our lives, we lose them. But God tells us, whoever will lose their life for His sake, will find it. I pray we are humble enough and strong enough to let God take over and never ever fall into this lethal trap.