Emotional Abuser or Simply a Bastard?

Dear Dategirl,

I'm not sure if I'm being emotionally abused by my boyfriend, or if I'm oversensitive. He says I'm hypersensitive. We have only been together for a year, yet I'm constantly questioning whether or not it's OK for me to be upset when he acts selfish or criticizes me about everything you could ever imagine. When I speak up, he tells me I'm too demanding and he only wants the best for me.

I have a MBA and a fantastic job that I love, which he constantly belittles. He says it's because he thinks I could do so much better and earn much more money. (I already outearn him by far more than he knows.) My friends are "stupid." My clothes are "boring and unsexy." He has even tried to teach me how to kiss. Well, I'm 30 years old and nobody has ever complained about that before! It probably comes as no surprise to learn that my friends and family can't stand him, so our social life is limited to either us alone, or out with his friends, who are fine, but nobody I'd pick to spend time with. I want to have a family, and he does have many good qualities, and I love him, but I just don't know. He has never raised a hand to me, or even yelled. It's just this constant picking that I don't know how to stop. How can I convince him to stop? Please don't suggest therapy, because he won't go.

—Tired

When I was dating the psychotic closet case, I spent many an hour digging through my assorted psychology and criminology books, trying to discern whether this jerk was a sociopath or a full-on psychopath. It's embarrassing to admit that I seriously thought it mattered. That is, until he "accidentally" nearly broke my thumb and with that pain came clarity: A scumbag is a scumbag is a scumbag. Who cares what the DSM IV says?

You don't need to figure out whether or not your boyfriend is emotionally abusing you—all you need to know is that when you're with him, you're constantly being belittled and told you're not good enough.

And your family hates him? Unless you're a member of the Phelps or Manson families, that is generally a VERY BAD SIGN. That your friends think he's an ass is even more of a red flag. You say he's never hit you (high-five for that, I guess), but what he's doing is isolating you, which can be a baby step toward escalating abuse.

It took me a horrifyingly long time to figure out that your partner's main job (besides being on call for sex 24/7) is to make you feel hotter, smarter, and more charming than you might actually even be. So many people out there are more than happy to tell you that your shoes don't match or your hair looks like crap. Or that your work isn't up to par or your feet stink. You're a businessperson, so riddle me this: Why would you want to emotionally invest in someone who doesn't think you're fucking amazing?

dategirl@seattleweekly.com

 
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