Why men (and women) stay in controlling and abusive relationships

I’d only just finished writing a post for the Parship Blog in response to an article about why men “secretly love bossy women”, when this article came up on the Daily Mail site, asking why women stay in relationships with controlling men. I thought it was going to be the perfect balancing answer to the other article, but, being the mail, it’s more about celebrity gossip and personal story telling, without actually getting into the real reasons as to why women are attracted to bossy men. All it tells you is that women who are in such relationships blame themselves for their partner’s behaviour and let them get away with it. Why do these often intelligent, attractive women go for such men? Short of saying “low self esteem and boredom”, the article leaves you in the dark.

Now, this article talks about the extreme cases – stalkers, utter control freaks, people who could even end up being violent. There are obviously controlling relationships that aren’t so extreme. So the question you need to ask is what do the women engaged in such relationships gain from them in order to keep them there? Is it a validation of their home lives as children? A validation of the guy’s passion and interest in them or, as in the men in the relationships I discussed in my Parship article, the freedom to not worry about the hard decisions one generally has to make in life. You can talk about these things for days, but ultimately, if you’re one of these women, then the only reasons you should be looking at are your own. Once you realise you’re in a controlling or abusive relationship (and for that, as much as I hate to say it, articles like this one are actually quite useful, as they lay down the symptoms and name the disease) then you should do your own soul searching, possibly with professional help, to see what it is that attracts you to a man that holds you back so much.

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