MINIMIZING: HOW HE DOWNPLAYS THE PROBLEM HE CREATED

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

I’m a Virginia native.  Third generation to graduate from the University of Virginia.  I try to be a solid friend and sorority sister.  I met my boyfriend Ethan at Homecoming.  We’ve been dating six months. I’ve tried to be sweet and attentive and pamper him every way I know how. In that time, we’ve gone to dinner and I’ve made him dinners. We’ve become intimate and it has been great.  We’ve spent nights over and weeks at home together.  I’ve given him some small thoughtful gifts — a Kindle, a humidor, sneakers. But he’s never given me not one gift. Ever.  No gifts, not a single card, no flowers.  We’ve never gone away for the weekend together.  We do argue and he won’t apologize ever.  He just explains his position and experience of the conflict issue and then acts like it’s over. He goes to weddings without me.  Now he’s gone to Rome over Thanksgiving weekend and excused it saying all he did was save money by sleeping over at his ex-girlfriend’s home and going sightseeing “by himself.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. Ethan wasn’t secretive about his special jaunt across the pond — no, he’s been quite upfront. I believe he’s asked for his freedom so I’ve given it to him.  Of course, he downplays all this.  Acts like and talks like any problem is all mine in my head.  Of course, he has put his hand on my neck to shake me and make sure I’m listening as he trivializes this catalog of offenses I’ve “imagined in my head.” Really, Ethan? Really, buddy?

-Jimena L.

My fiance Michael is a bit of an egomaniac but I love him.  He’s really busy as a real estate broker.  It is not easy to be involved with him since he forgot my birthday and still feels it’s okay to attend formal balls without me but with “platonic” girlfriends from college. Michael wants to waste hours of my time hanging out and calling me to talk about himself.  He wants to go out by himself, to the opera without me, to business dinners without me. He says “No big deal.” But I think he wants all the goodies of having a girlfriend but without delivering on any but the minimum of the responsibilities.  Clearly I’m just part of his rotation.  His attitude is why am I wanting anything more than what little he’s willing to give.  He discounts my concerns that he is being disloyal and disrespectful.  His “why are you bugging me” attitude is a big reason I can’t see a future for us anymore. I just wanted to find someone to love me. And who I could love. And trust. But this is all I got.  If Michael’s love was weed, it wouldn’t be enough to get high on.

-Maggie R.

WARNING SIGNALS

Wow.  Just wow.  The things we accept are mostly things we’ll regret.  And there are a couple of big red flags just a-flapping in the wind with Jimena’s and Maggie’s relationship dynamics.

Reduction words are tip-offs that try to minimize unethical behavior: “Almost never” “sort of” “barely” “no big deal” “not more than” “only a little” “all I did was” “kind of” “but” “once” “just” “merely.”

But why minimize?  Some guys do it because you’re upset and they don’t think you should be.  Some guys wanna do the deed and skip out on the blame. Techniques range. Denying that he intended to hurt you by cheating is big. Claiming “it just happened” as if the action came from the sky and the mists above.

Minimizing lets you know dude believes he’s more important than you. Like when he insists a teasing, hurtful remark was only a joke.  And then adds he rarely jokes like that when he often does.

The most crazy-making minimizing technique comes down to manipulation.  You didn’t hear what you heard.  You couldn’t have seen him do it because it never happened. Therefore he neither has to acknowledge what you imagined nor deal with the hurtful impact of his actions.

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

You are a grown-up and you don’t require anybody’s help to think any more than you need help to breathe.  By minimizing his transgressions, the person in your life is warning you and telling you he has an abusive nature.

Insults, belittling comments, ignoring you, or acting sulky or angry when you initiate a discussion — these behaviors have no place in a healthy, loving relationship.
And if he does not view you as an equal because he’s older or sees himself as smarter or socially superior, you need to give him his walking papers. It’s not gonna get better.

LOVE & ABUSE CYCLES

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

“Whenever Steve is irritated with me for trivial matters, he throws things.  If he gets my voicemail, if dinner isn’t ready yet, if I’m not looking at him when speaks to me, on and on.  Whether it’s a fork, a water bottle or a pillow, Steve scares me.  When I speak up against this behavior, he kisses me and says it’s only because he loves me so much.  If he loves me so much, why won’t he stop scaring me?”

           -Connie F.

“Dana and I went from being teammates on the high school basketball team, to best friends, to life partners.  We’ve been there for a lot of up & downs.  Her success and earnings have gone way beyond any fantasy — she rich, famous and beautiful.  She makes sure I’m never far from her but when any little thing goes wrong for her, she gets frustrated and tells me I’m not worth s***.  I’m too fat for her, I’m too dumb, too butch, am holding her back because I don’t earn her type money.  I can’t take it.  But if you really wanna she the stuff hit the fan, when I’ve tried to  break it off, she showers me with presents and sexes me up. But always pointing out nobody else would even want me. Which is the real Dana?”

          -Pam T.

WARNING SIGNS

You fight, he gets furious, throws silverware, says horrible mean things to you.  Maybe hits you.

She’s unhappy so takes her negative feelings out on you by repeatedly criticizing your life, pointing out your flaws and saying you’re worthless.

Soon afterward s/he turns into a comforting, sweet partner bestowing his kindness and affection on you.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Don’t fall for it: it’s the classic training program. The cruel words and violence are meant to bring your down and break your spirit. And the lovey-dovey act as the chaser & reward system. He screams at you, you tolerate it.

If you accept the abuse, you thereby have given him or her all the power.  S/he will continue to dominate you and  may reward you for submitting to it.  Usually, more mental and physical abuse is all you get.

Smart money is on getting out if you can.  Be friends, if possible, but do not let this fool hold sway over your self-worth.