The Fine Line

I had an interesting discussion the other day with a friend regarding the fact that she is currently dating a man who has hit her… twice.

Hold your outrage, please.

The first time, he was jealous over her interaction with another man, and when he confronted her about it, he didn’t appreciate her response. He ended up roughly shaking her, and then throwing her. The second time, he was, yet again, jealous over an interaction with another man, and when he confronted her, she fired back at him, resulting in him slapping her in the face.

From her perspective, both of these incidents occurred over a year ago, and nothing similar has happened since, so, although his jealous tendencies are quite prevalent in their on-going relationship, she is inclined to forgive his, ahem, transgressions.

Now, as a friend, I pride myself on my ability to hide my judgements. I don’t want to overwhelm them, after all. I would probably scare her off if I jumped to my feet, shook my finger in her face, and berated her for not having enough self-respect, or self-preservation, or whatever is lacking that makes a woman stay with a man after he puts his hands on her.

But, let’s face it: having never been in that situation, it’s not really fair of me to judge.

But, I think I get it. You love him, he loves you, and there’s that tiny voice in the back of your head whispering, “You’re never going to find someone else who makes you feel the way you feel when you’re with him.

I get it. It’s scary.

You know what else is scary? A ruptured spleen.  You know, the kind you get after your boyfriend throws you on the ground and then kicks you in the stomach? Yeah.

So, here’s my take on the whole “He hits me because he loves me” thing:

Hitting is something we (as humans) do when words fail us. Hitting is literally the act of being unable to express yourself vocally to the point where you feel you need to assert yourself physically.

Take my friend’s situation as an example: Boyfriend was jealous she was chatting it up with another guy, but, unfortunately, did not possess the mental prowess to express himself adequately.  Words failed him, so he did the only thing that made sense in his stunted, emotionally panicked brain: He hit her.  Similarly, when faced with problems of this nature, babies cry, toddlers throw tantrums and teenagers scream “I hate you!

It’s the adults who hit.

Babies cry because they can’t move. As they age, they are able to move, so they upgrade to tantrums. Then, they learn how to speak, but their emotional stability hasn’t caught up yet, so they yell hurtful things. They’re still too small to hit without fear of physical repercussions. I mean, no one likes to hit, and then get hit back. That hurts.

So, at this point, the expectation is that the teenagers grow and mature, obtaining an expanded vocabulary with which to vocalize their feelings and insecurities, so that when frustrated, they know how to adequately express themselves without needing to beat someone into submission.  After all, when you find the person you love, you don’t want to risk really hurting them and then losing them, right?

We grow and learn for the people we care about. It’s human nature. We stagnate in our personal relationships until something, or more specifically, someone, incites us to progress.  You don’t want to be the woman who allows him to settle in an existence of stunted emotional maturity, you want to be the woman who makes him need to be better than that.

Do for them what my mother did for me whenever I got trantrumy as a kid: Cross your arms, raise your eyebrows, and remind them that they won’t get their way unless they use their words.

With all of that in mind, I leave you with one last thing: If he loves you, I mean, really, truly loves you, he will find a way to express his feelings and insecurities in a way that doesn’t harm you, either physically or emotionally.

If he can’t figure out how to do that, it means he doesn’t really care to figure out how to do that.

If he doesn’t care, he doesn’t love you.

It’s a fine line, but it’s there.

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