What Others Might Think: Reason #3 Women Stay in Bad Relationships, Pt. 2

(Update: All the posts of this series have been collected into one piece, Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them.)

I have collected all my posts in this series into a 41-page document, entitled: “Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships (and How To Defeat Each One of Them),” and made it available here on Scribd.com for free downloading and/or online reading.

In my last post I wrote about the (too easily underestimated) role that fear of public embarrassment often plays in keeping a woman mired in a bad relationship. While choosing personal pain over public shame is certainly a human enough choice, it’s one no one should continue to make once the cost of that trade becomes too consistently oppressive. Eventually, it’s just not worth it. If the fire in your house is between you and your clothes, sooner or later you must run out of your house naked. Emergencies prioritize needs, every time.

If you’re a woman who’s beginning to question whether the natural and understandable kinds of fears I wrote about in my last post are worth what it’s costing you to remain in a bad/abusive relationship, consider the following two points:

1. No one cares that much. One of the weirdest things about being human is that we all think we’re starring—or at least have serious supporting roles—in the life of everyone around us. But that’s just a crazy delusion God thought it would be funny to hard-wire into us all. The truth is that we’re each starring in our own show—and there’s just not a lot of room on anyone’s stage for anyone else but them. One of the great things about the intensely focused centrality of everyone in what is to them the ongoing, dazzling production that is their life, is that it means that nobody really cares all that much about what’s happening in the relationships of other people. Sure, they might care for a minute or two; everyone’s always down for a little choice gossip. But, unless they drop dead on the spot, what inevitably happens is that while they’re thinking or talking about you, their life continues—and then they’re right back on their stage again, totally engrossed in the sheer drama of their own life. If everyone around you gets suddenly shocked by your revelation that, instead of being happily married, you’re leaving the man whom you say treated you terribly, they’d totally think and talk about you for about fourteen seconds. And then they’d move on. Think about it: That’s what you always do whenever you learn about some drama in someone else’s life, especially if—as is true with marriages and relationships—that drama was a direct result of what amounts to choices made by the parties involved. If you heard about someone else breaking up with their husband or wife, you’d kind of care. But mostly you wouldn’t. The key is to remember that everyone else is just like you.

2. It’s wonderful to know who your friends are. Let’s say there are some people in your life who condemn you for breaking up with your man. Cool! You want a spotlight on those people, so that you can finally see them for the low-life cretins they are. Think of the money you’ll save by not buying Christmas and birthday presents for those losers! As I said in my last piece: a person not impressed and encouraged by another person radically improving their life is a person wasting away in their own toxicity anyway. One of the great benefits of going through the kind of personal cataclysm that can be breaking up with your man is that all around your life it rattles away the wheat from the chaff. And a big part of what that means is that you really and truly find out who your friends are. And that’s always surprising in two ways: By how destructively useless some of your “friends” turn out to be, and by how many people whom you may have never even considered friends step forward to love and support you. And the latter group always outnumbers the former; for every one “friend” that effectively turns against you, three other people in your life will surprise you by the quality of love they will show you in your time of need. So don’t worry about what other people will think of you if you break up with your man. You want to know how they’ll react, so that you can discover who they really are. You can’t flush out a skunk without beating the bushes. And when the skunk finally does come out, all you can do is hope it doesn’t spray too much on you, and then let it scurry away to stink up someone else’s life.

I have two more huge things I want to say on this on this subject, but this post is already too long. So tomorrow!

Hey, please pass this post along to anyone whom you think it might help. Thanks.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • FreetoBe

    (Hey John, love the new look!)

    Your comments here are sure to help a lot of people, not just women, and I look forward to the next post.

  • can't say

    not true – the bit about for every 1 who turns against you thereare 3 who you didn't know would support.

    in leaving my husband I found my rather large family reduced to just 1 cousin and a couple of friends. The rest couldn't care less, other than to tell me to go back to the abuser.

    so on that point you don't know what you're talking about.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I'm terribly sorry to hear about …. well, your terrible family. Do you have any sort of group or collective of friends or even associates that you can naturally access? A church group, perhaps, or a support group that you know of that you can approach? How are you planning now on transitioning from where you are to the next place you'll be?

  • http://morsemusings.wordpress.com/ Dawn

    There are a number of things in life that if you have not experienced them first hand, you cannot understand the terrain.

    The man who wrote the book called Malignant Love http://samvak.tripod.com/abuse.html comes as close to really understanding abuse fully.

    I hope that reader’s who walking through wars of this kind will check out the site and consider me a friend who understands where they may be on their path.


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