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Can emotional abuse be disguised as jokes?


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Old 11th June 2012, 1:36 AM   #1
oso
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Can emotional abuse be disguised as jokes?

I have a boyfriend who is constantly making "jokes" that really feel like put-downs. He also likes to "break my balls". I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is literally almost every other sentence with him, and many of the same ones are repeated over and over.

I have told him many times how much I dislike it and am hurt by it (codependent), but he tells me it is just his personality, that he doesn't know he is doing it, and that if I ignore it it will disappear. He says that I can "fix" him.

So now, although I try to ignore it and am getting better at not getting bothered, and often even find it funny in the moment, I come away feeling extremely uneasy and dissatisfied. I don't know how to stand up to it without being a nag, especially since it's so frequent.

Is this manipulative or abusive? If so, why don't I see more women talking about this on the internet?

Is it possible to stand up to this and repair the relationship?

If so, HOW?

Last edited by oso; 11th June 2012 at 1:38 AM..
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Old 11th June 2012, 1:55 AM   #2
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Hi. I dated a man that man joked about my weight and in the end, he wasn't joking. He was fat and lost weight. But he told me I was too fat for a commitment.

I was in a relationship with another insensitive man. I thought couple's therapy would try to change him. But he only pretended to take the therapy seriously.

I have learned to not try to change someone...either you accept them or your don't. I tried really hard to accept insensitive men, to swallow my hurt feelings all the time so I didn't nag at them, so I could accept them. It doesn't work.

If this person makes you feel bad a lot, I say leave him...period!
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Old 11th June 2012, 2:16 AM   #3
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CopingGal is right. He is making excuses for poor behavior.

I'd also add, that part of the issues may be caused by your codependency? Both in terms of staying in the relationship, as well as the fact that you laugh about his jokes and put-downs?
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:00 AM   #4
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No doubt, the codependency is an issue. But I have come a very long way (at the beginning it was because I felt enormous guilt, which I think he largely manufactured, but since the guilt is gone I'm a 1000 times better). I'm generally a very independent person and I do not need to be with someone. I've been single for years at a time between relationships. In fact I'm quite happy when we break up and are apart and I think it is over (after being sad at first), but when he wants me back I feel obligated to go. So you see I have a very strange version of codependency. I suppose it is a matter of feeling responsible for making him happy and an extremely deep-set feeling of loyalty (and he knows how to guilt-trip me really well.) But also, of course, respecting my needs and feelings less than his.

Re laughing at the jokes. I don't laugh at all of them. Some of them are awful and clearly mean. But others actually ARE truly funny in person, and he is very charming. I can't help laughing with him at something that I find funny on the surface, especially when he's smiling and laughing himself. And if he maintains distance then we see each other again, I suppose I feel relief at just being with him.

It's only afterward, and when it's repeated so often. Also, that there is not NEARLY enough positive reinforcement to balance it out. I told him that last week and he has been trying to be more positive, too.
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:06 AM   #5
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are you waiting to be pregnant and wed with this guy?
if you don't like the heat of the stove get on the kitchen
in your case i'd say run!
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oso View Post
No doubt, the codependency is an issue. But I have come a very long way (at the beginning it was because I felt enormous guilt, which I think he largely manufactured, but since the guilt is gone I'm a 1000 times better).
Whether or not he manufactured the guilt (I don't know a thing about your relationship), this is a huge red flag why you should be very careful with whom you get in a relationship. Bad relationships can increase your vulnerabilities and codependent tendencies. If he has picked up on that, relationship dynamics can get messed up and emotionally destructive.

Quote:
In fact I'm quite happy when we break up and are apart and I think it is over (after being sad at first), but when he wants me back I feel obligated to go. So you see I have a very strange version of codependency.
It is not a strange version of codependency at all. What you are describing is yourself as someone who wants to have a project on her hands, to "fix" a guy. He is well aware of that (hence the effective guilt-trips). You have to ask yourself if you can and want to do better than this.

Quote:
It's only afterward, and when it's repeated so often. Also, that there is not NEARLY enough positive reinforcement to balance it out. I told him that last week and he has been trying to be more positive, too.
Changing the appearance of something that is broken, and does not work for you, does not mean it is fixed. It is merely hiding the defects.
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:21 AM   #7
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That is a form of emotional abuse/verbal abuse. Making disparaging jokes about you, and then acting like you are lacking in humor or can't take a joke when you object to his put downs disguised as jokes. Get rid of this guy. He's abusive. Don't try to figure out how to handle him. He will only get worse over time. If you want to read about the dynamics of this type of abuse, you could buy the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. In there, you will see this behavior portrayed, what causes it, and how to respond to it if you decide to stay with the guy. But I would very much recommend you let this guy go. That's not the kind of bf that makes for a good relationship, and his passive-aggressive form of verbal abuse will only get worse over time.
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:21 AM   #8
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If I can't make fun of my friends, they are really not my friends. I say things like, "woman, please" and things like that but you can tell if someone is angry or not afterwords.
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:24 AM   #9
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We each feel that we have strengths that the other lacks. We've discussed that. We each feel that we can grow through the relationship.

As I said, the codependency has improved. I've become stronger. In certain areas of my life I am stronger than I was before the relationship, he has helped me to be less emotional and to take more action in my life.

You may be right that I want some kind of "project" on my hands, but no less than him. We both want to change the other, to an extent, and yet at a certain level we respect our differences.

At a very basic level I'm trying to understand what it means to have emotional intelligence and to sit with another person without judgment but perhaps be loving at the same time. I've been asked my whole life to be this for others, I was "parentified" or whatever, and I've unfairly asked it of my parents, too. I was always angry with my parents, and I'm afraid my children will be the same with me and I won't be strong enough to deal with it appropriately, as my parents were not strong enough. I know I'm not supposed to "parent" my boyfriend, but I also care about him immensely, and I certainly don't try to control him.

I dated another man who was incredibly nice an giving in all the opposite ways, but JUST as mean in different ways. Every person on this earth can have a mean streak myself included. Maybe it would be easier to hash out problems in a more stable relationship, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be there to deal with just the same.

Project or no project this may be, I'm very busy with many other work and life goals and friends.

Last edited by LoveShack.org Moderator; 11th June 2012 at 10:11 AM..
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:34 AM   #10
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Trip Line,

I make fun of my friends too. In fact his manner of joking has rubbed off on me and I do it with a lot of them, work colleagues too, and they all usually like it. The difference is that if they were to ever tell me to stop, that it bothered them, I would instantly comply. And nothing is mean-spirited. He has told me that sometimes he jokes when his feelings are hurt, and I can tell he gets mean-spirited at those times. I think you know when the joking has gotten to be too much or it's mean.

Why this is troubling is because it can be hard to tell.
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Old 11th June 2012, 3:56 AM   #11
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what exactly are these jokes? what does he say?
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Old 11th June 2012, 4:03 AM   #12
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Life is too short to be around people that say they care but act like your boyfriend does.

If these are your friends, then who needs enemies? You can stay and be the butt of his jokes and suck up the way you feel, or you can get rid of him and meet someone that won't treat you this way.

Do not waste your best years with someone that treats you in a hateful way. Being alone is better.
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Old 12th June 2012, 11:10 AM   #13
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This is a form of verbal abuse, absolutely. I know this because I had to seek professional help after my last long-term relationship ended. He was exactly what you have described. These jokes are his own way of taking out his true feelings and frustrations on you wile maintaining an excuse for being an ass because he's jus "joking".
I'm not going to say leave him NOW. I believe that when two people really love each other that they are capable of overcoming anything. However, it is not your job to "fix him". That is on his hands, and if he's not willing to do it after a certain amount I time, then you don't mean as much to him as he does to you. If his is the case, then you deserve more than this. You are diamonds and gold.
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Old 12th June 2012, 1:37 PM   #14
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It's NOT a joke if only one person is laughing.
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Old 13th June 2012, 2:15 PM   #15
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Thanks guys, that helps a lot. Really.

There is this person on the web who feels that it really is possible to repair a relationship. I guess the secret is to learn to somehow assertively NOT accept the abuse while not really getting angry and still being available for the other person. I've been trying to do that but I know I'm not getting it right. It's extremely hard and painful and maybe subconsciously I just don't want to do it. I feel like I should though for some reason but it's so much pressure and I'm not happy.

Middle chid. Peacemaker in my family since I was a little girl. Stood up for and took care of my siblings and even my mother against my stepfather even when they wouldn't say a word and not for me either when he went against me. arggghhhhh
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