The 2 serious "first love" and "second love" relationships in my life ended with affairs.
I was once told by a close girlfriend that it was me.
Because if several men all did the same thing to ME, but several women go on dating without being treated this way, then I must have caused those things to occur.
That I must also be one of few to actually experience cheating.
Older me now knows SO MANY PEOPLE cheat and GET CHEATED ON.
Wiser me now knows that people who cheat have mental issues.
Someone who cheats experiences something either in their brain or their "mind" that is unhealthy or not working efficiently.
Either they have awareness of their actions but rationalize cheating due to an insecurity or a flawed view of themselves.
Or they lack empathy, compassion, and consideration for the person they are with and are cheating on. Also linked to disorders and mental health issues.
● So what will a healthy person in a relationship do INSTEAD of cheating or hurting their partner?
A mentally healthy person will:
1. Speak with their partner about an incompatibility or relationship issue INSTEAD of finding a better compatibility with someone else while still in a relationship.
2. Speak about their sex/love life with their partner INSTEAD of seeking it elsewhere in secret.
3. Break off a current relationship if they are not happy being in it or being with that person INSTEAD of being with someone else while still in a relationship.
4. PRIORITIZE the moral, fair thing to do when handling a romantic relationship INSTEAD of putting their own feelings first.
● To address what mentally unhealthy partners do, we first have to ask: what kind of mental health issues are we talking about?
What kind of people would cheat, abuse, neglect, and hurt their love partner?
Here is what the science says:
■ Narcissist- Narcissists suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and it is defined in the fifth edition of the DSM (DMS-5). Narcissists are characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or in behavior), a constant need for admiration and a lack of empathy. [As well as dozens of other characteristics of self importance and lack of care towards others well being].
■ Psychopath-In order to be considered a psychopath, many other psychopathic symptoms such as a lack of attachment to others, superficial charm, dishonesty, manipulative and reckless risk-taking come into play. Psychopathy can also be called psychopathic personality disorder, suggesting, of course, that psychopathy is a personality disorder; however, it is not listed as such among all the others in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) created by the American Psychiatry Association. The closest the DSM-5 gets is specifying a person with antisocial personality disorder as also a psychopath, but most researchers agree this isn't adequate. Many would argue that psychopathy needs its own diagnosis as a personality disorder separate from antisocial personality disorder. To make things more complicated, some people call those with antisocial personality disorder alone "psychopaths" but this is not accurate either (they would typically be known as sociopaths.
■ Antisocial personality disorder- Antisocial personality disorder is defined in the DSM-5 as a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others and the rules of society. As stated, this diagnosis cannot be given to non-adults but the following features must be exhibited before age 16 to qualify for the antisocial personality disorder diagnosis:
Repeated violations of the law
Pervasive lying and deception
Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
Consistent irresponsibility in work and family environments
Lack of remorse
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Younger me surely never knew that I was victim to a specific type of partner.
And to the girl who told me it was me, that I chose it or that I caused it..that is false.
I never wanted to be with someone who would would play games with me or hurt me.
I was always faithful and outspoken about my desire for monogamy.
So what gives?
I was with the same KIND of unhealthy people. Over and over.
As a trauma survivor and victim of long term abuse since childhood, I was easily picked up by partners who fit these illnesses.
None of them SEEMED abusive.
In fact, they were each charming and sweet. They listened to me. They complimented me. They wanted to take me out. And they said all the right things.
So I felt no different than my friends who shared with me how they were courted and loved by healthy, non abusive partners.
Or at least I thought so when I was less aware and educated in mental health and wellness.
Probably because I had no guidance or security from parents growing up.
Probably because my own abusive parents were mentally ill, so i did not differentiate between what is healthy and what is not.
I had no fucking clue.
All I knew is I was dating like anyone else, but constantly getting the shit end of the stick.
And what was worse, was how my closest friends and theirs often completely excused or denied the abuses.
No close friends of the guy were ever going to say "he is an abusive narcissist."
What I now know is that the closest people, the inner circle to which abusers surround themselves with are often a clan of enablers.
The manipulation and emotional abuse tactics that are used within a romantic relationship by an abuser are ALSO used subtly between the abuser and their most trusted people.
That goes for family, friends, and exs.
What I also now know is that the glamour a narcissist has over others reveals their own deepest insecurities.
Often, family and friends will describe this person as generous and outgoing, charming and loving.
And close guy friends may even "admire" or compliment him for how macho or manly he is.
So how the hell are you supposed to know or find the moment in the relationship when abuse starts?
It is nearly impossible when you think of it that way.
So no one sees it, not even you.
That is until you become aware and awakened to mental health and psychology.
You start to psychoanalyze your world and the people around you.
Then all the abusive, shitty people start to have an ultrasonic glow. A toxic, green light that alerts you.
I am kidding of course.
The truth is, a healthy person will never do things that are unhealthy.
So whether or not your partner is abusive is an easy question to answer.
Humans make mistakes.
Even cheating can be a mistake.
And we know relationship definitions are subjective.
But are they?
Not someone violates YOUR CODE.
Not if you have made it clear what you want and they disobey or betray that.
Sort of. But that leads to victim blaming.
The truth is that a healthy person WILL have empathy, respect, love, honor, loyalty etc.
And even little mistakes that deviate us from making the right choices stem from insecurities which are [say it with me] UNHEALTHY.
You have a lot of healing, reflecting, and mapping out to do.
So you can understand what traps you fell into, what mindset you had, and how you can both identify and avoid these relationships in the future.
And you need to understand, with extreme confidence, that the MOMENT someone becomes UNHEALTHY in your life, that is when you no longer need them.
No matter how long you are in it, how much you have sacrificed, how much you share with them.
No matter if their are kids, but especially when you have kids.
Do that hard inner work.
Get to a safe place and a safe mindset.
You are amazing, unique, and beautiful. And no one has the right or any excuse in the world to abuse you.
Dysfunctional is not a relationship status.
So I say this with so much sincerity:
Love yourself enough to be healthy and happy.
Love yourself and find someone who will love you just as much, with no excuses.
Published by Jean Soto JS Jaded Savior blog: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Soto, mother of 3 and wife, is a writer + artist in the Hudson Valley, NY community.
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: email@example.com
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