Each incident on its own seems fairly harmless. It's when they increase and then become normal and even systematic that they register on the scale as emotional abuse. He starts with an occasional joke about your faults or frailties. I never objected and even laughed because I like to laugh at myself and I usually think it's funny. Except it really isn't. Because I hate myself for those faults. I have to laugh at the fact that I'm late 9 out of 10 times, that life confuses me, I don't seem capable of planning ahead, etc. If I didn't laugh then I'd be home crying.
Part of my attraction to him was that he is good at the things I am so bad at. I hoped I could learn something from him. I even asked for advice and help at times. But then a few weeks ago, his occasional jokes expanded to teasing criticism. Which I let him do because he wasn't criticizing anything that wasn't true; and maybe I needed a kick in the rear end. Maybe it would be good for me. But it got irritating. The first annoying one: "you should have read the articles days ago instead of right before class and that wouldn't have happened." Oh yeah? No kidding.
Then the criticism extended to things that are not in fact problems for me. For example, I just got my student loan money so I decided to get new glasses. I hadn't done that in 5 years, my old ones were disgusting and too weak. On the phone, I told him about wanting to buy new glasses and maybe get a haircut. He responded with, "So now that you have some money you are just going to go spend it all? Don't forget you have to buy medicine and stuff." What? How could I EVER forget that 30% of my income goes to my medical care?? Since when are new glasses and a haircut (the first one in 2 years) frivolous expenditures? That made a little red flag go up. He was getting overzealous with the advising thing.
The next weekend I was at his place and his criticism started getting obnoxious. That's when he said the first really mean thing. I had to go to the store to buy some 'girl supplies'. He didn't want me to leave but this was obviously a necessity he couldn't talk me out of. I wanted to go to the store and then home. He asked me why I needed to go to the store if I was going home? Why didn't I just get the stuff and come back? I told him I didn't think I had any at home either. Then he said, "If that's true then you must be the most irresponsible woman alive." He didn't even try to make it sound like a joke, he was scornful. I found it hurtful. And out of line. I defended myself but shouldn't have bothered.
Another sign of abuse, he never tempers the criticism with compliments. Since November, he has said exactly three complimentary things to me: 'you're funny', 'you have beautiful hair' and 'you're adorable.' The last one doesn't count because he said it on our first date. I have tried to say nice things to him because that's what you do, and I wanted him to feel good. His glaring omission of compliments told me that he has confidence issues. I hoped he'd get over it when he felt more secure with me.
Men with low self-esteem feel they don't deserve the women they are with, and they're afraid the woman will realize this and leave them. So they don't want to do anything that might help her see that she can do better. That means not giving compliments. I hoped it would end there. But, unfortunately, it also means they try to break the woman's confidence. By constantly reminding her of her inadequacies he can blind her to his own. Having learned this by experience, I made two rules to weed out the abusers. 1. Don't date shy men, they have obvious self-esteem issues. 2. Never go out with a man who didn't have the confidence to ask me out himself. The rules worked, I haven't dated another abuser since.
But I broke them with this one. And today he crossed the line with an unambiguous and cruel comment. After being with him on Friday night when he laid into me with some speech about how I need to figure out what I want and go get it because I am too timid. And that passivity is unbecoming at times....and on and on.... I am not a timid person! I'm shy with people, but that's it. So I felt confused this morning, wondering why he thought that of me. But we had planned to spend the day together working. So today, which happens to be my birthday, we ate together and worked on our papers. He teased me some during the day but he said nothing particularly hurtful.
Just before I left he levelled the big ugly at me. I asked if he wanted to keep things on the downlow tonight with our fellow students. He said: Yes, it's best not to be the object of gossip. I said I agreed and just wanted to know what to expect. Then he said, 'besides I'm embarrassed to be with you.' That's not funny. In no context are those words EVER funny or acceptable. I responded with 'Oh, so that's why you never take me out then.' I wasn't joking, he doesn't. He ignored that and instead said, "Actually, that woman who lives downstairs. The one who met you. She thinks you're pretty. She told me so. She told me you were pretty." With a backhanded insult he implied that there is only person in the world who thinks I'm pretty. And that person is not him.
When I left I felt like crap. That comment made me angry. And so did something else. He has 3 parties tonight, so he explained to me that he's coming to my party first then going uptown for an hour and then to a party on 40th street where he'll stay until he's tired. His ordering of events tells me that his friends are more important and/or more fun than the woman he has been dating since November. And he didn't do anything for my birthday, other than to say 'Happy Birthday' and give me a kiss on the cheek. He didn't even bother to shower for me, he wore his dirty sleeping clothes all morning and afternoon. I asked if he was going to take a shower, but he just grinned. Totally disrespectful. I'm not even his girlfriend and he's already dropped the pretense of caring how he looks?
While on the way home, I determined not to go to his house anymore. I'd call him when I got home and tell him so. As I walked, I tried to figure out why I always felt bad after being with him. I started reviewing all the mean things he said and did to me in the past two days...and beyond. By the time I got home I fumed in anger. I called him but he didn't pick up the phone. Even though I knew his sorry butt was home. (He had to have known he pissed me off today, I have a very expressive face.) I left him a message. I ended it by saying he didn't have to come to my party tonight. He was under no obligation.
I'm too old for this. He's so gone. Happy birthday. Oh yeah, he hasn't returned my call. I said he could call me back if he wanted, or not. Does he have the cojones to show up? Place your bets below! I'll let you know tomorrow.