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Finding it hard to be with new bf because of emotionally abusive ex

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for two years with my ex which was my first proper boyfriend. I didn't realise that it was abusive until afterwards.

I found the break up very difficult (probably traumatic as I has ptsd afterwards) not because we broke up but because of how he did it. He kept manipulating me for about 6 weeks being on and off (I just wanted to talk to him about things and sort them out). He gave me silent treatment, lied about things kept telling me he wanted a future and couldn't bear to be without me one minute then dumping me over the phone and dropping all my stuff at my house 20 minutes later. Then getting back together the next day.

It was a mess. And I was a mess a long time after.

He was also physically abusive and I think sexually abusive too but it's the psychological abuse that has messed me up and still leaves it's mark although I'm a lot better now.

After being isolated for so long I got back in touch with one of my male friends. We became best friends and he admitted he liked me and slowly slowly we have gone into being boyfriend and girlfriend. He knows most stuff and my ex and we can discuss it openly.

Even though my new boyfriend seems to be really good and completely different I am finding being in a relationship difficult:
  • I worry when I don't hear from him all the time because I was so used to my ex being controlling by constantly texting and asking what I was doing all the time. My ex gave me silent treatment when he was mad at me so now I worry that my bf is mad at me a lot. I get really bad anxiety and lows when I don't hear from him.
  • My now boyfriend raises his voice at me sometimes and I find it really distressing and triggering, even though it is normal to get angry sometimes.
  • I keep threatening to end the relationship which is not good. But it's a pattern of behaviour I learnt from being with my ex because he wouldn't let me end it.
  • I find it very hard to trust my current boyfriend because my ex lied a lot.
  • I worry he will be abusive too because my ex was and I didn't realise.
  • I worry that he will abandon me too and not tell me why like my ex did.
  • Sounds silly but I am not used to him being affectionate because my ex withheld affection when he was mad at me.
  • If he blocks the way I find it intimidating because he is bigger than me and I worry he will restrain me like my ex did.
Tl;dr: I am finding it hard to be in a new relationship because I constantly expect him to be like my emotionally abusive ex. Can you help me change my thinking?


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    Laura12345Laura12345 Posts: 265 The Mix Regular
    hi supergirl sorry to hear all this, I'm always here if you need help but it will be easier through private message so I fully understand what you've been through if that's okay? x I have been similar things so I know its hard. stay strong
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    GlennGlenn Posts: 52 Boards Initiate
    Hi supergirl

    It sounds like you really went through it with your ex, some of the things you described him doing really made me feel confused and frustrated to the point of hopelessness.

    I also hear you say it sounds silly how you are still affected with your ex, you see to me that does not sound silly at all. You mention ptsd and also how hard it is being in your new relationship. When I read it I was nodding along as it makes sense, it is not helpful but makes complete sense to me.

    I wonder if there is anyone you can talk to who isn't your partner about the experiences you have had. How afraid you must have been at times and how things are reminding you of what he did.

    You see I do not think you need to change your thinking, but if possible allow yourself to feel the feelings you have following what you experienced in the relationship. Why would you feel anything else? It is when we feel ok with our emotional reactions that they can change or be released.

    Your way of thinking with your new partner may be your body protecting itself, looking after you by being cautious. Even though logically you may not want to be feeling that, emotionally it may be doing it anyway with your best intentions as its priority.

    Relationships are difficult but hopefully this one can be supportive and caring too.

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Glenn,

    Thanks for your reply. I think you are one of the only people that has said to me that it's okay just to feel what I am feeling. I normally feel like I just have to shut u about it and cover it up and get on with it.

    When you say it makes you feel frustrated and confused do you mean because of things I did or because I stayed with him?

    I don't really have many other people I can talk to about it because they are fed up of me talking about it really.

    Yes I think it is my body protecting me. I am really angry I have to be so cautious with relationships now . Thanks I hope so
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Laura

    I would PM you if I knew how. Do you think you PM me? Not sure how to use this site! haha.

    Thanks for your message
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    Laura12345Laura12345 Posts: 265 The Mix Regular
    Hi supergirl. Thanks for the reply supergirl. To PM me you need to go on your profile and accept my subscription and then I can send you a message, no problem I'm always here for you

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    Laura12345Laura12345 Posts: 265 The Mix Regular
    Hi Glenn. Wondered if you could take a look at my recent posts specifically the one on Staff pregnancy, pregnant again not planned and Friday Date Awful and if you can send me a PM too that would be good
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    GlennGlenn Posts: 52 Boards Initiate
    supergirl wrote: »

    When you say it makes you feel frustrated and confused do you mean because of things I did or because I stayed with him?

    All I was saying is that while reading your post I had a reaction inside me. It was my reaction to what was happening to you. I felt that being in a relationship like your last one would make me feel frustrated and confused for some reason. I don't know if that was any help or not but thought I would share it.

    I found counselling was a really good outlet for talking about the stuff that annoyed my friends. I wonder if you have any services near you that you can speak to. There is an online counselling service here http://www.themix.org.uk/get-support/speak-to-our-team

    And we are always more than happy to listen on this forum.

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I see what you mean now! Sorry I must have misinterpreted what you wrote. Thank you :)
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    PositiveAuraPositiveAura Posts: 150 Helping Hand
    Hi supergirl :wave:

    ​I hope you know you are not alone in how you are feeling, the past can creep up on us in many areas of our lives and it sounds like you have gone through a lot with your ex.

    ​I agree with many of the things that Glenn has said above, and if possible, you should allow yourself to feel these emotions. Everything you feel is valid here. Many people almost feel guilty about feeling these things but in fact, it takes a lot of strength to get through the type of relationship that you have.

    ​And now you have embarked on a new relationship, which is a very hard thing to do - this shows the inner strength you do have, even if it may not feel like that way sometimes.

    ​It sounds like you are both taking it slowly and you have been friends for a while. You also mentioned that he knows about your past and it sounds like he is understanding about it. I am curious, do you think you could discuss the things you have listed with him?

    ​Maybe he is unaware that things such as not hearing from him, raising his voice, blocking your way etc. are triggers for you? Then these things are neither of your faults. The way that you are feeling and some of your reactions are caused from the past and how you were treated then. And from your boyfriends side, although he is aware of some things, he may not realise that some things can cause this anxiety.

    A little talk about it may help, rather than keeping it in and becoming even more anxious. Sometimes, new partners can be feeling a similar way - anxious and worried - because they don't want to hurt you further, come across as controlling, or be too distant etc. and loose you.

    ​I understand that you don't want to have all of these thoughts and feelings but I don't believe you need to 'change your thinking' as you said. I think what would help this would be to get reassurance that you deserve to be treated so much better than your ex. Along with reassurance that your boyfriend will be able to do this.
    ​As much as we want to give the world to our partners and hold on to them - it needs to be mutual love, respect, care and support.

    You deserve all of that and when we start relationships it's hard to know what will come in the future but remember how strong you are and what you have overcome.

    ​As hard as it is, do you think you could sit down and speak to him further about your triggers and worries? :confused:

    ​If not, as Glenn said, there are so many other people that you can talk to and offload any worries you have, even if it is online on this forum.

    ​I hope this has been helpful, let me know what you think or any other worries you have. :)

    ​- PositiveAura
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks for your reply PositiveAurora,

    Thank you! A lot of the time I don't feel strong. I feel weak that I am still harping on about it all and crying sometimes.

    I have discussed the relationship at great length and I have tried to sit him down and discuss the triggers. He understood about him blocking the way but he also said it upsets him because he is not like my ex. I have tried multiple times with the raising voice thing and he says he understands but he finds it difficult to control the volume if he gets frustrated. I still find it really distressing so I don't know what to do about that. I don't know if he understands just how bad it makes me feel.

    He has said a few times that he is really scared of loosing me and I don't want him to feel like this. My ex used to always say he was scared of loosing me though and that he would never break up with me but he obviously dumped me very harshly.

    I will try to keep talking to him. SOmetimes I feel I just put a downer on eveythng though.

    Thank you :)

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    PositiveAuraPositiveAura Posts: 150 Helping Hand
    It's great to hear back from you supergirl. :d

    ​It is understandable that you may feel weak sometimes but remember how much you have overcome and all the obstacles that you have tackled.
    ​It takes a very strong person to do that so even when you are down and upset, try to remember that this weakness is just a feeling but it isn't so.

    ​It is good that you are able to speak to your boyfriend about everything. And even though you say you feel that you 'put a downer' on things, you are both in a relationship and it takes team work. Working together, talking, communicating, expressing both of your feelings will help to build that. And then in the future you will be a much stronger couple who understands each other on a much deeper level.

    ​From what I am hearing, your boyfriend does care about you and doesn't want to hurt you, like your ex. Though he says that this upsets him, (and in turn this understandably upsets you also) maybe let him know that all of this that you are both working through is because you do want to be with him and you do want it to be different than your last relationship. It sounds like he is feeling this too.
    That way, as negative as some of these things may seem, it's actually a positive step for both of you. It's positive if you both take these difficult steps to get a mutually happy and healthy relationship.

    You said about his frustration and raising his voice too, I understand that is something that you are weary of and affects you. If talking hasn't helped this much, maybe you could do things as a couple to relax and bond more too? Activities that are specifically calming and relaxing.
    ​From things like yoga, stretching and meditation (you can even follow videos for these) to smaller things like listening to relaxing music, tv, even herbal teas or any other hobbies you have.

    ​Let me know what you think and how you are getting on. :d

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    Laura12345Laura12345 Posts: 265 The Mix Regular
    supergirl wrote: »
    Hi Laura

    I would PM you if I knew how. Do you think you PM me? Not sure how to use this site! haha.

    Thanks for your message

    ​Hi Supergirl. Sorry taken a while to get back to you , I have sent you a PM it should come through on your messages xx take care and I'm always here x
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hiya it's been a while since I checked this website, sorry!

    I felt a bit happier and settled with my bf for a bit. But he had another incident where he flipped out and shouted at me really badly. This time shouting and being angry over what was such a small thing and I knew it was completely his fault. He said some really horrible, low things to me that have really affected my self esteem. He essentially got some of my worst flaws and shouted at me and ridiculed me for them and made me feel so small.

    We are since 'okay' and most of the time have a nice time together. He has apologised sincerely and all that. But I still am convinced he will do it again and if he does I don't want to be with him.

    I feel angry that he knows about my history and yet still acted in such a disgusting way.

    I don't really know what to do; I am a bit confused. I'm sort of just waiting to see whether he does it again or not. I know I would be fine single and not fall apart this time, however.

    If you guys are still there, what do you think?

    I'm feeling very conflicted.

    Supergirl x
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    GlennGlenn Posts: 52 Boards Initiate
    Hi Supergirl

    So things settled down and then he flips out and says things which make you feel really bad and small. Even though he knows how much it hurts you he still did it, but then things go back to being nice again or 'okay'.

    So you hope he doesn't do it again, but he's already done it more than once. I just wonder how many times is too many? When is it too much?

    You say you would be fine single but you must like him too. I struggle to see why you would let someone keep hurting you. I'm not saying it's clear or easy but I don't think you deserve to feel like that.

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    PositiveAuraPositiveAura Posts: 150 Helping Hand
    Hi Supergirl, it's good to hear from you! :wave:

    Firstly I want to say that it's good to hear that if you were single, you would feel comfortable and better than before. One of the most important things is you feeling better within yourself.

    I can completely understand why you may feel confused and conflicted. It is hard to feel affection and like someone when they change the way they are in certain situations. Your first post seemed to be about yourself and you worrying about how you reacted to him, but it seems now that it is the other way around. Now that you have communicated with him and you have opened up about your past and how you are feeling, he should be understanding and take that on board.

    ​But it sounds like he hasn't and this is affecting your self-esteem and mental health. Like I said, it is so important to notice that you are feeling more comfortable and confident about being alone and staying in the situation you are now in may affect this in the long run. You deserve someone who will learn of your past and treat you better because of it rather than using it against you and purposefully saying hurtful things.

    ​When we have disagreements in our relationships, it is healthy to talk about it and work through it rather than reacting angrily. Perhaps your boyfriend is having some issues of his own? Could this possibly be why he is reacting in certain ways? :chin:
    Just an idea to see it from his perspective. Because you did mention that he apologised sincerely which suggests to me that he knows he has upset you and he knows that he didn't treat you well in that situation. If this is a one off then this can be overcome, but if it is not then that's a bigger issue.

    ​You have been through an emotionally abusive relationship before and if you are unsure whether you want to be with your current boyfriend, maybe it is time to see what you really want and deserve. Because now you know what you don't want and maybe this is progressing into a similar situation?
    It's good to hear that if he reacted that way again, you wouldn't be with him. It takes a lot of strength to decide that and know what you deserve.
    You have mentioned the things he has done before (when you weren't sure if he knew how it affected you) and all these small things add up too.
    So you have to ask yourself how often are these things happening? Maybe it has already been too many times?

    In the end, it is all about your happiness and what you deserve. Like I said, one angry reaction and incident can be explained and overcome. But when it's more often than once and already knowing your past, you don't deserve that.

    ​With all that being said, I suggest rather than waiting around to see if it will happen again, do you think another conversation about it would help you to decide what you want to do about the relationship?

    ​For instance, perhaps mentioning that it upset you and worries you and if your boyfriend was to act that way again it would risk the relationship? Then you'd be able to see what he thinks and ask why he did that. And if he values the relationship enough to be better you can move on from there if you choose to, but if he was to respond in the opposite way, then you'd know that you deserve so much more and consider ending things.

    ​I hope some of this helps. A lot of reminders of that you deserve happiness, care and mutual respect. *hug*

    Let us know what you think and how things are going.


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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Glenn,
    Thanks for your reply.
    That's true I keep thinking he's only done it once which was more recently but he has had other times where he's shouted at me over nothing, and scared me. It just hasn't got to this extreme of getting personal. Plus the other tie I slightly excused because I could see I had done somethings wrong.

    This time more recently it was completely him.

    I think if it happens again that's definitely it.

    I obviously do like him which is why it is hard.

    I don't really have an answer for why I keep letting him hurt me. Maybe I am too gullible but I just hope he won't do it again.

    I don't really know what to do. Still confused

    Supergirl x
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Positive Aura,
    Your post has helped me so much so thank you.

    I'm struggling to know what to reply for the facts of:
    Yes I want to stay in the relationship at the minute because I like it when it's good and because I am attached to him
    But I know that it is a potentially risky situation and I don't want to put myself in harm's way again. I know how he acts is really bad and it makes me said because I realise I shouldn't be with him if it carries on.

    I'm just so confused because I want it to all work out.

    I just want a nice boyfriend and I am starting to doubt that I will ever get one.

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    Lucy307Lucy307 Posts: 1,171 Wise Owl
    Hi Supergirl

    We're still here for you! It sounds like you're having a very difficult time with your BF. First of all, it's completely natural to want a relationship to work out and to feel this way when things start going wrong. Well done for reaching out and talking about it, I'm glad you are not suffering through this alone.

    I understand you want to stay in the relationship because it makes you happy when it is good. How often would you say it was good and you are happy? Although you feel attached to the relationship, remember earlier you said you believe that you would also feel comfortable single. You said you don't want to put yourself in harm's way again. It sounds to me like you are stronger than you think, and you want to (and can) look after yourself.

    Do you feel like usually these arguments are happening for a reason? I'm hearing that you are occasionally excusing him for his actions because you feel you have done something slightly wrong - do you genuinely believe, every time, that you have done something to deserve this?

    Please do not feel hopeless about wanting someone nice. It's not fair that you have had some really bad experiences, but it's normal. Ever heard of kissing frogs to find your prince? :chin:

    All the best
    Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend
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    PositiveAuraPositiveAura Posts: 150 Helping Hand
    Hi supergirl!:)

    ​That's great to hear that our responses are helping you, like we all say, we are always here to help and listen. Sometimes the best thing is to talk it out and release all of your thoughts in order to make sense of them. It helps to write things out, visually see it and it can work through the confusion that you are feeling.

    @Lucy307 has given some great input here and I agree with this especially :
    I understand you want to stay in the relationship because it makes you happy when it is good. How often would you say it was good and you are happy? Although you feel attached to the relationship, remember earlier you said you believe that you would also feel comfortable single. You said you don't want to put yourself in harm's way again. It sounds to me like you are stronger than you think, and you want to (and can) look after yourself.

    ​When we are in relationships sometimes it is easy to fall for someone and become attached to them but the question is: do you want to be?
    ​Because like Lucy mentioned, you seem so much stronger than you think. You believe that you would be comfortable alone and you know that your safety, your mental health and what you deserve are the most important things.

    I hear that you want a 'nice boyfriend' so to me it sounds as if you know that the current situation that you are in isn't what you want?
    Try not to doubt that you will find someone because you have been through a lot and deserve better. If this is the only thing that is holding you back, you shouldn't let it.

    ​Like people say, someone will come along when you least expect it or, the sweet is never as sweet without the sour.

    ​I especially liked the frog one above! :thumb:

    ​I always say, never settle. Never settle for someone who doesn't treat you like you deserve. Mutual support, love and respect, that's all it takes. But this has to be mutual.
    Too much time is wasted settling in an unhappy place because you aren't sure if you will find anything else. You've healed so much and you have done that on your own so it shows that you don't necessarily need your current boyfriend like you might think you do.

    I know you are confused and I hope that you are able to work it out soon.
    ​Have you considered another sit-down, calm talk with your boyfriend to work through it?
    ​Like we've discussed before, you've opened up to him and he is aware of your feelings, past and worries now...but has it changed for the better since?

    The main thing is that you do what you want to do and what is best for you.

    If the relationship is predominantly making you unhappy, anxious and disrespected rather than happy and fulfilled then you have to ask yourself if this person is who you want to be with.

    I know you must have so many questions in your head but here is a few just to think about to perhaps help you decide.
    Is this the relationship that you want?
    ​Will things change for the better, can he be better and give you what you want?


    Let us know your thoughts and how things are going, we are all here.


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