Falling in love happens to us―usually before we really know our partner. It happens to us because we’re at the mercy of unconscious forces, commonly referred to as “chemistry.” Don’t judge yourself for loving someone who doesn’t treat you with care and respect because by the time the relationship turns abusive, we’re attached and want to maintain our connection and love.
There may have been hints of abuse at the beginning that we overlooked because abusers are good at seduction. They wait until they know we’re hooked before showing their true colors. By then, our love is cemented and doesn’t die easily. It’s difficult to leave an abuser.
It’s possible and even probable to know we’re unsafe and still love an abuser.
Research shows that even victims of violence on average experience seven incidents before permanently leaving their partner.
It can feel humiliating to stay in an abusive relationship. Those who don’t understand ask why we love someone abusive and why we stay. We don’t have good answers. But there are valid reasons. Our motivations are outside our awareness and control because we’re wired to attach for survival. These instincts control our feelings and behavior.
Deny to Survive
If we weren’t treated with respect in our family and have low self-esteem, we will tend to deny the abuse. We won’t expect to be treated better than how we were controlled, demeaned, or punished by a parent. Denial doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s happening. Instead, we minimize or rationalize it and/or its impact. We may not realize that it’s actually abuse. Research shows we deny for survival; to stay attached and procreate for survival of the species. Facts and feelings that would normally undermine love are minimized or twisted so that we overlook them or blame ourselves in order to keep loving. By appeasing our partner and connecting to love, we stop hurting. Love is rekindled, and we feel safe again.