What was it that really killed your relationship? Was it the cheating, the lies, or something even worse?
So far, I’ve mostly been talking about events which had an instantly devastating effect on me. But was it these big earthquakes that really made me throw in the towel? No. It was the weaker, but constant, aftershocks. It was the little things.
Maybe you’re with an overt abuser who is belittling you, being verbally (or even physically) aggressive. This naturally wears you down. In my case, as I think I’ve mentioned previously, my narcissistic ex was a covert abuser . He didn’t show any “aggression”. His abuse was very “refined”, subtle and psychological.
No matter if you’re with an overt or covert abuser, the one thing they will always show you, is exactly how little you matter to them. In my case, the narcissist found hundreds of ways of doing this, without open aggression. He took pride in that, and made sure to use it against me; “What are you talking about, that I’m abusing you? I’ve never laid a hand on you, never even raised my voice at you!”
I worked daytime, Hero worked mixed schedule, some evenings/nights. When I lived at his place for a while, I rarely saw him. His priorities; 1.Work. 2.TV Sports 3. His hobby 4. His family of origin 5. His friends 6. His possessions that needed to be fixed, ie car/other vehicles 7. His other hobby 8. Computer games 9. Me (girlfriend)
(I sometimes bitterly joked with him that if he’d spend even half as much time on our relationship as he did on his car, we’d be doing great).
The people/items on the priority list could switch places, sometimes his family was more important than sports, for example. The one thing that never changed was that I was always the last priority on the list. When I raised this concern, he denied this: “of course you’re important!” Other times he’d be a bit more cruel, and point out that he “often” gave up many interesting/important activities, to be with me. (Like I was a burden. Also made it sound like he spent a lot of time with me; nothing could be further from the truth! I was lucky if I saw him one night/week).
Being last on the list was completely destroying my self-confidence, little by little. But it was such an “abstract” thing, and hard to bring up, without sounding like a nag.
When I asked for the tiniest thing, like if he could give me some little space in his apartment for my clothes, or if we could take his car to go grocery shopping, anything (basic needs) at all that I needed, it was either a sigh, or a “sure..but later” (then not following through).
But I used to take him to nice restaurants, clean the whole house before he came home, etc. I didn’t do it all the time, but now and then, as a little gesture of love.
He never cleaned the house. (His mother used to come and do that, remember?). He never asked me out to a restaurant. If he did, it was the cheapest place possible. (He wasn’t poor, just didn’t wanna spend money on me). He never bought me flowers/cards/jewellry. (No other romantic things either, like sending me a song by e-mail. Not ever).
He would never say “I love you”, if I didn’t say it first.
I’d stopped hoping for “romance”. My expectations at this point, had been lowered so much, that I’d been happy if he’d just once said; “So what are our plans for the weekend?” Wouldn’t happen in a million years. He informed me of his plans. And then, the “leftover” time became “our time” (if nothing more important popped up).
Neglect is something that not only happens to children and the elderly. Emotional neglect is constant, when you’re with a narcissist. But we all need our basic emotional needs filled when in a relationship; to be seen, to be important. To deny us that, is to deny our human needs, our very humanity; to treat us like things.
I did feel all these little stings, day by day. But I couldn’t imagine the amount of blood it would draw over the years, and that it would lead to this emotional death by a thousand cuts.
Emotional neglect is abuse!