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Mental Mondays: 6 Reasons Why You Keep Going Back To Your Abusive Ex And How To Stop

Mental Mondays: 6 Reasons Why You Keep Going Back To Your Abusive Ex And How To Stop


Afractured jaw, a sprained ankle, a wounded heart, yet you remain oblivious about why you keep going back to your abusive ex. It’s ironic how the place that caused you so much pain can sometimes seem like home. Inasmuch as you think your “special” kind of love is reserved for you both, an abusive partner is certainly never a good idea.

Bella doesn’t remember what it feels like to be desired or how to be treated right. All she has become accustomed to is indifference and violence from the person she thought was her soulmate. The weird part is she keeps coming back to her ex even when there is a window of escape. Perhaps, it could be love or a psychological quicksand, she has no idea. However, Bella has taken refuge behind the saying; “The heart wants what it wants.”

These might be the reasons why you keep going back to your abusive ex…

#1. Religious beliefs

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This is most common with married folks who believe they’re bound by a covenant. Ted got married to Grace in their local church and took marital vows to this effect. Months into the marriage and the love they so professed became nonexistent, with bitterness and anger as the order of the day. They eventually got separated, but time could not silence the vows; “...for better for worse” while the priest’s sermon on how God hates divorce tugged at the core.

#2. Unnecessary pressure

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The resounding noise of the biological clock keeps ticking, and with each sound goes Eva’s standard. One fateful day as she scrolls through her Instagram feed, Hannah, her college classmate, is pregnant again. Her friends organized the nicest gender reveal for the soon-to-be-mom, and this further pressured Eva to forgive her cheating and abusive boyfriend.

“He’s a man. All men cheat. He takes care of me. At least, he respects me enough not to rub it in my face. All my mates are married and I don’t want to end up alone.” These thoughts might be why you keep going back to your ex. Breathe. Think. Value yourself to choose your well-being over the opinion of others.

#3. Hope

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Whenever Clara gets upset, she destroys Ken’s property. The last time they had an intense argument, she smashed his tripod stand and MacBook Pro. Expectedly, Ken was so mad and asked for a termination of the relationship. One cold and lonely night, Clara sends a remorseful message, and of course, Ken becomes weak on his knees. “I know she will change. It’s just a phase.” The lovey-dovey atmosphere lasted only for three days before Clara smashed his Canon camera. Apparently, some things never change.

#4. Addiction

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Being exposed to abuse is like drug addiction, and can smack you in the face at any time without notice. Once it does, it can be difficult to walk away and keep the doors closed. This might be why you keep going back to your abusive ex. Your brain tells you; “If I stop yelling, he will not hit me again. If I get back in shape, he might notice me again. If I take care of his chores and pay some of his bills, maybe he would not have to go back to those ladies. If I take cooking classes so my food can be tastier. If I support his football club, maybe he will stop staying out late. The more he rejects these gestures, the chase towards being a perfect partner becomes like a “high“. It becomes blinding and colors perception and reasoning.

I remember back in the University, I had a neighbor who constantly abused his girlfriend. One day, a passerby witnessed this fighting scene and called the school security. She bailed him from the station and went straight back into his arms. In other cases, she would fight with anyone who tries to intervene, albeit, in her favor. Just like every addiction, the cycle needs to be broken or the situation will persist.

#5. Fear

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One major reason why you keep going back to your ex might be the fear of “what will be…”. This could range from financial security to emotional needs. A lot of individuals dating rich abusive partners might remain in the relationship for fear of financial instability. “Who else can maintain my lifestyle?” This fear keeps them enduring abuse for the “greater good.”

Lastly, you fear that your abusive ex might hurt you. The constant threats have crippled you mentally. How can you fight someone so rich and/or powerful? He might hurt you and your family. He might strip you of everything. There is no stopping the length an abuser can go to maintain control over their victims.

#6. You are tired

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Every time you leave and come back, the will to fight dies a little more. You are tired of the back and forth. You are tired of other people constantly trying to intervene with advice and admonishing. You are tired of fighting. In addition, the stress of getting to know someone new afresh feels exasperating, so you crown it with; “the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know” then pack your bags and dive right back into your abusive ex’s trap. You are just tired of running around in circles, and then you settle below par.

What can I do to break this cycle?

Abuse is a crazy thing. How can a person be in such pain, but not want better? The answer controls. The abuser obviously wants to control their partner and would not mind beating them into submission through gaslighting, narcissism, and any means possible. The victim, on the other hand, feels in control when the abuser is remorseful. They feel they can change the abuser, and the remorse makes them feel desired. It’s also living in denial that maybe you made a mistake and should move on. Is that pride or denial? Hard to tell.

Check out 5 ways to stop going back to your abusive ex…

#1. Safety first

Photo: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Before you make any move, strategize first. If your partner is physically abusive, think of a safety plan before leaving. Contact a domestic violence authority near you and follow instructions. When possible, get a restraining order. Think of a safe nest to stay in the meantime. The key is to act in a calculated manner, by avoiding spontaneous actions that might cost you.

#2. Be accountable

Photo: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

A great support system will encourage you not to return to your ex. They’re there to smack the phone out of your hands when your digits feel the need to dial his digits. They can distract you from the issue at hand and serve as reminders of why you left in the first place.

#3. New activities

Photo: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

Nature abhors vacuums, and you start feeling uneasy when a person you centered your life on is no longer in the picture. You’re just sitting here, reading an article on a Monday evening, weird right? “Ah! Monday evenings were our favorite time. We would chill after work. Yes, we fight, but no one’s relationship is 100% perfect.” Wake up girl, that’s withdrawal symptoms setting in. Fill your idle moments with new activities. Some for leisure and others for self-development. That’s a better option than constantly exposing yourself to a toxic environment.

#4. Speak to yourself

Photo: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

The truth is until you make up your mind, the cycle continues irrespective of other people’s opinions. No matter how many times I urge you to leave that toxic partner, it’s ultimately a choice you would have to make. The day you say enough is enough, the strength to walk away surfaces to back up the decision, but you have to remember why you are leaving in the first place. You have to boost your self-esteem and remind yourself of your value. Prioritize self-care and start finding yourself again.

#5. See a therapist

why you keep going back to your ex
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“A therapist? Yes, maybe we could both sign up for couple counseling. Maybe not, especially in the case of constant domestic violence. Couples’ counseling might focus on dealing with communication issues and other factors in a way that spells mutuality and equality. A controller is not interested in equality but would be more focused on themselves and sometimes, playing the blame game. On the other hand, the victim might start to believe the situation was partly their fault and would blame themselves. This further encourages this toxic thought pattern: “If you stop doing things to trigger me, I will stop hurting you.” A fallacious and dysfunctional thought pattern.

Simply put, individual therapy or support group/community is more productive. The abuser needs to focus on his behavior rather than his feelings. The victim needs to understand that it is impossible to change a person’s abusive behavior by walking on eggshells.

Featured image: Alex Green | Pexels

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