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Gianna2 07-03-2005 06:38 AM

Just how much attention is enough?
I've been reading several posts here and many of them deal with the subject of one person cheating on the other due in part to a [I]lack of attention [/I] from their partner, whether it be emotional or physical attention. This has made me think about my relationship with my ex and how much attention is enough?

It's been about a month and a half since I've gotten a restraining order against my ex live-in boyfriend. He has severe alcohol problems and anger management issues. He has a long history of cheating on and physically and emotionally abusing former women in his past. I finally got the restraining order against him because he threatened to kill me. This time, a little voice inside me said "no more" as I've already endured his choking, punching, throwing things at me that have left scars, dragging me to the floor by pulling my hair, etc. over the past couple of years. He has brought his ex-wife over to our place when I was at work. Or, he would call her and other women on the phone, telling them how miserable he is with me and how mean, rotten and selfish I am. He lost his job and spent his days drinking. You get the idea!

But, I'm thinking back to conversations that we've had prior to this. He seemed to want soooo much attention, that I don't think it was possible for any one person to provide him with as much attention as he seemed to require.

For example, if I went out for a ciggie break at work and forgot to call him one time, he would become angry and accuse me of sleeping with my boss. If he made me lunch and I didn't thank him enough for it, I was ungrateful and didn't appreciate the things he did for me. It didn't matter that I called him while I was eating it and commented on how good it was and thanked him profusely for it. I mean, how many different ways can one say thank-you! It got to be such an ordeal that I told him to eliminate another fight, maybe I should just make my own lunch from now on. I never asked him to make me lunch in the first place, but I realized that since he wasn't working, he was struggling for a way to feel productive. So, I let him make me lunch and thanked him and thanked him and thanked him.

If he cleaned the apartment and I didn't notice the moment I walked through the door when returning home from work, again, I was an ungrateful *****! I of course would apologize for not noticing right away, telling him over and over what a wonderful job he did, going from room to room hoping and praying that I noticed and thanked him for each and every thing that he cleaned.....but by then it was too late....he would run out the door to go buy more booze because I was so ungrateful and selfish....according to him!

Since his profession during this time was to drink 20/7.....assuming he passed out for about four hours during the course of the day......coming home to an angry, abusive drunk was not exactly sexually enticing! Most of the time, I learned to go into the other room when he was too far gone with booze so that I could remain safe. Many times by hiding in the bedroom, it would give him the opportunity to sleep it off and maybe 2 hours later he would be reasonable again. But, then I was accused of not spending enough time with him and again being accused of having an affair with my boss because, we weren't doing it and according to him, I must be getting it from somewhere!

There were times I tried as gently as possible to tell him that when I came home, and the apartment smelled like a brewery, and it made me sick to my stomach, it was hard to be 'turned on'! I couldn't be in the same room with him because of the stench oozing from his pores! Then of course he would get angry, throw something, threaten to kill me, call me a list of names that I can't mention here, then storm out to the liquor store to buy more booze.

He would come home, watch movies on tv and ask that I watch something with him. Usually it was a war movie or something about people dying violent deaths......well, I'm more of a comedy person and I don't like to watch movies that are violent and angry right before I go to sleep. But sometimes I would watch a movie with him and 10 minutes into it he would be asleep on the couch anyway....which is where he would remain all night.

Sometimes though he would wake up and come into the bedroom where I was sleeping and wake me up by blaring the tv in the bedroom, telling me what an ungrateful ****** I am, and that I'll be sorry one day! Then he would start to cry and tell me that I he loves me. I fall for this of course, then I hold him and try to comfort him, then he would get angry once again and start calling me names again.

I would tell him to go back into the living room so that we can both get some sleep and we would talk about it in the morning. I had to be careful not to anger him further for fear of his verbal abuse becoming physical. So there, I guess I said it...I sent him back to the couch in the living room so that I could sleep. I guess I was selfish and self-centered as he put it. I mean, how dare I need sleep? How dare I not be happy about being woken up 2 -3 times during the night, then have to get up and go to work in the morning? Then in the morning he doesn't remember a thing about what happened the night before, so there is no way to have a follow up conversation as I had promised. The this would go on almost every single day and night!

The point I'm finally trying to make is, that although it takes 2 to make or break it, is it really as much of my fault as he has said it is that he didn't get the attention he felt he deserved? Meaning, is it my fault that we didn't have much of a physical relationship as he wanted? I felt very turned off by his anger and alcohol abuse, and abuse of me. I felt that if I had consented to more active physical relationship with him under the circumstances, I would have been doing it against my will just to 'appease' him. I couldn't do it! And that angered him even more!

I guess I'm feeling some guilt, as I'm considering the fact that I may not be looking at his point of view as clearly as I should because I was so concerned about my safety...both physically and emotionally and trying to keep the peace! I was exhausted all of the time! I'm not sure that anyone would feel sexually aroused under those circumstances, but I'm wondering if I should have somehow tried harder! I'm wondering if something was wrong with me that I couldn't have separated myself from my fears and just given in. I'm wondering if I had, would it have made a difference?

I guess I'm just second guessing myself because what happened is what happened. I'm just wondering if I should have handled it differently, and if so, how? Any insights would be appreciated because no matter how much I try not to think of this, I dream about it at night, and I can't stop these thoughts of guilt from entering in my brain everyday.

Hiya 07-03-2005 06:56 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
Hey Gianna - thanks for sharing your story. First off, let me say the whole "you didn't give me enough attention so I went out and had an affair" thing I don't think ever washes. When something's wrong in a relationship, you don't fix it by bringing another person into it and breaking the bond and trust.

In an otherwise healthy, normal relationship, jobs, careers, school, kids, the house, bills, etc etc can get in the way and one partner can be left to feel neglected. But I really don't think that's what happened in your relationship that you just told us about above. Your ex ws a very very sick man with a lot of serious emotional problems. We all have our bouts of insecurity, but he sounds just very developmentally arrested, blaming all his bad behavior on you. It does take two to make or break a relationship. He also had a duty to take responsibility for his own behavior and if he was feeling neglected, to deal with it in a mature, healthy, effective way, not rant and rave, throw things, smack you around then go get drunk again. Every human being alive on this earth deserves to live a life free of violence and fear for their safety. I wouldn't waste another second of your precious life feeling guilty if I were you. You were not responsible for this guy's problems that he came into the relationship with already.

daylight568 07-03-2005 06:59 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
What a jerk.You did absolutely nothiing wrong.You deserve to be treated much better than that!

Dido_H 07-03-2005 08:56 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
But can he do anything sexually when he's drunk? I think he would have only fallen asleep this time too!!!!!!

plumbcrazy 07-03-2005 09:36 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
The only thing you did wrong was stay as long as you did. NO ONE deserves to be abused verbally, emotionally, or physically. It is HIS problem, not yours. There was nothing you could do to FIX him, he has to take those steps himself. NO reason to feel guilty whatsoever.

Gianna2 07-03-2005 10:42 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
Thanks so much for your replies.

Actually, he had, or rather, I'm sure he still 'has' a tremendous tolerance for alcohol. It never seemed to adversly affect him in 'that' department. We used to have a very active physical relationship. And yes, he was drinking and quite heavily then too....the difference was that he hadn't become abusive yet, and I wasn't afraid of him at that point. And, most of those times were initiated after he woke up from 'a nap'! Hmmmm.....

But as time went on, things changed, why, I'm not sure. For example....

Just a couple of months ago, I had my hair cut and colored (first time in 5 months) and he swore I had met my boss after work and that's why I was late. I had reminded him twice during the day that I was getting my hair done right after work and I would be home a little later than usual. When I came home I re-wet my hair....never liked how they styled it! Well, he saw me re-doing my hair and accused me of getting ready to "go out to meet someone". I tried detaching from the situation, as calmly as possible tried telling him why I was doing my hair and that I wasn't going out. Then he grabbed me my the throat and pushed me up against the wall and told me he would kill me. Then he started lowering me to the ground, my face was just inches away from the glass dining room table...I though he would smash my face on it. Then he pulled a wad of my hair out before pushing me to the floor. Then he said "you call that getting your hair done? It looks like _ _ _ _!"!! I went into the bedroom and couldn't stop shaking. He passed out on the couch and later, asked if I was ok and why I was crying. When I told him, he didn't remember any of it!!!!

If he was truly having blackouts and [U]didn't remember doing these things to me[/U], I could see how he might truly feel neglected and think that I was mean, moody, and emotionally and physically unavailable to him.....and perhaps didn't really love him. It is that part of him, the part that doesn't remember how violent he was that was asking for me to love him and that part of him that didn't understand why I was so stand-offish. But it was the abusive part of him that I tried to distance myself from. I saw him as 2 different people, or 1 person with 2 different personalities. I never wanted to run from the loving was obviously the abusive one that I ran from. But, I never knew which one I was gonig to meet when I came home from work. He never understood that.

He was lucky in a sense....he had the protection of the blackout to keep from remembering things he did to me....I on the other hand had no protection...I remembered everything he did to me and I guess it showed. According to him, I neglected him, but according to me, I was protecting myself. This is why I feel guilt and why I feel I failed - failed him, me, and our relationship.

Was I wrong for pulling away the way I did? How could I possibly make him understand if he didn't even remember those violent episodes in the first place? This is were I get stuck every single time. I keep searching for an answer, and I'm afraid there might not be one!

Thanks for listening, again!


LilLove 07-03-2005 11:08 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
You were not wrong at all for pulling away from the relationship for any aspect. He was drunk and never remembered the abuse he put you through. That is uncalled for on his behalf. You could have never made him understand, Im thinking if you would have tried he would have become angered again. So its like a vicious circle. You did the right thing so dont ever think you didnt.

Goodluck with everything and I hope your life becomes better in time! :)

Dido_H 07-03-2005 11:30 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
I am very interested in your story because it bears very very big similarities to one of my friend's!!! It is a quite diffcult to reconcile the two people in your head...very frustrating. But you know staying with him would never have helped you or HIM. On the contrary, he would have thought that he could always abuse you and get away with it. I hope that he is learning now that you refuse this treatment. If he loves you truely, he would do something about it. How long did he drink for. Gianna, you don't need to watch until he kills you and then has a blackout. An alcoholic partner is the worst thing that could happen to a human being. It's like living with a mental, being constantly threatened. I saw it everyday for a year. I saw this girl suffering. I relived those days when I read your message. He used to hit her, accuse her of developing relationships with another man, kissed girls in front of her in a nightclub then regreted it massively and couldn't remember and it won't happen again. But this vicious cycle of abuse never stopped. She went to work with black eyes, was constantly shaking and worrying in work about his and her safety. She couldn't trust him to go out to the shops for 5 minutes because he will just be boozing somewhere then come back aggressive. She told me exactly what you said about losing interest in him, and everything. IT IS UNDERSYTANDABLE. Please don't blame yourself for being soo brave. Staying with him would only make him feel that you accept it. He should seek help if he loves you, otherwise, try to get over him.

Hiya 07-03-2005 12:50 PM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?

Was I wrong for pulling away the way I did? How could I possibly make him understand if he didn't even remember those violent episodes in the first place? This is were I get stuck every single time. I keep searching for an answer, and I'm afraid there might not be one!

Thanks for listening, again!


No, No, No, No, No!! :nono: You were not wrong at all!! These memory lapses sound awfully convenient. If someone I really loved told me I behaved like that and I couldn't remember, I'd run my butt off to the doctor post haste and try to get fixed whatever the problem was. This guy was hateful, abusive, and he was destroying you, and he was refusing to take any responsibility at all. PLEASE don't take this on yourself! You must try to see that as adults, we all make choices. This guy made the choice of behaving like a spoiled big baby, he chose to place the blame of all his problems on you. You were smart to get out while the getting was good. Now, just please try to concentrate on not letting thoughts of guilt or second guessing enter your head. I know it's hard when you feel that you need the person who treated you so badly to fess up and acknowledge his bad behavior in order to validate your feelings, but sometimes the world is a cold, harsh place. We don't always get an apology when we deserve one. Repeat to yourself that you were protecting yourself, and rest assured that you did what any one of us here, or what any sane, self-respecting woman, would have done in the same position. :angel:

ScruffyGuy 07-03-2005 02:34 PM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?

I would like to suggest that you seek some counseling. Now, don't get defensive about this -- I think it would be of great benefit to you.

Reading your story, the first thing I thought was "why would anyone even bother to care or think about this drunken ex partner anymore?"

Generally speaking, I often suggest that it is a wise and healthy idea to at least TRY to see things from the other person's point of view. In other words, it is admirable of you to be considering what HE might have felt or thought. But you are nearing obsessive thought patterns here... it is time to let this go and start your new life.

You were dealing with an alcoholic. Much of his behavior can be attributed to the alcoholism and whatever other psychological issues helped him to manifest the alcoholism. He was abusive on many different levels. His motivations here do not apply to you at ALL. You did nothing wrong -- and quite frankly, even if you actually DID make a mistake or two -- so does EVERYONE in a relationship sooner or later. This does NOT excuse an abusive partner. There is NO justification for abuse.

Perhaps Al-Anon would be of some help to you. PLEASE give this some thought. You seem to believe that somehow you are responsible for what HE did. The FIRST thing Al-Anon will tell you is that YOU are NOT responsible for anyone's alcoholism and you are NOT responsible for their behavior. This is SO important -- alcoholics often try to blame others and this is VERY difficult for most people to deal with. That is why Al-Anon exists -- to help those who have had or are currently having problems with alcoholics in their lives.

Face the facts: the man is a drunk. He is not rational, responsible or trust-worthy. YOU are not to blame.

You wrote a LOT of descriptions about things that happened to you. And I'm sorry... but it seems to me as if you are obsessing FAR too much for your own good right now. Explaining these situations in detail is pointless -- the man is a drunk!

Just like a few other folks who have been here lately, YOU also need to "forgive" yourself and move on. Though in your case, the only thing you have to "forgive" is your own ILLUSION of guilt.

This time around... YOU are the victim. You MUST stop trying to find ways to justify his behavior -- his actions are NOT excusable and the booze is just a catalyst for his abuse.

Your question of how much attention in a relationship is enough (average, acceptable, normal, etc.) is simply not valid here -- you were NOT dealing with a rational individual and you cannot interpret what happened between the two of you as any standard on which to base what level of attentiveness is "normal" or not.

Consider Al-Anon, even for just a few meetings. You'll meet other folks who KNOW what you are going through.

I hope you can get back to living a happy life, free of abuse.

Dido_H 07-03-2005 02:45 PM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
Scruffy Guy
I think that you gave wonderful advice here. At least if you Gianna go to Al-Anon online room for families and friends, this would be definitely helpful, in case you have work pressure that restricts you from going to f-2-f meetings. I know this unfair feeling of being responsible because he hurt himself and did stupid things. Gianna, he ruined one life, please don't let him two.
Please be strong

Gianna2 07-03-2005 04:50 PM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
I thank everyone for the thoughtful advice you have given me here. And no, I'm not offended by the suggestion of therapy.

I have gone to quite a few Al-Anon meetings in the past, but the problem is, there are so few of them around as compared to AA meetings. The first group I attended was more advanced, and although they told me I was welcome to attend, they suggested a beginners group might be more appropriate for me. The 1 beginners group I found was sooo small and unorganized - - sometimes the meetings began a half hour to 45 minutes late that me and the other 1 person that was there...another newbie, just kind of looked at each other for awhile. Yes, we started sharing our own stories, but it hardly seemed worth it.

I'm currently attending a domestic violence support group and I find I'm getting some support from there.

I've made some progress, but what is triggering me lately is I'm packing up his belongings and am arranging to drop them off to his friend, who will in turn get them to my ex. You see, my ex violated the restraining order by contacting me and was arrested again. A new court date will soon follow, and I may have to testify again. And now the police will not escort him here to get his stuff. They said he blew it and they're not going to help him. So, to make sure I comply with the restraining order, I will return the items listed on the restraining order as deemed by the judge.

I was making progress, and doing much better emotionally, and actually thought I was doing quite well...that is until I started packing up his stuff. After he left, I rearranged the furniture and made changes just so it didn't look like our place anymore, but rather mine. I didn't have to open the closet doors where his clothes were. Even though I knew they were there, it didn't bother me if I didn't see them.

But now since packing everything up, there are memories associated with each piece of clothing. Many bad memories, but many good memories too! I guess it could be considered I'm obsessing, but maybe it's just another part of the healing process.

Anyway, I've taken up enough of your time. Thanks again for listening and for the helpful advice. My best to all of you!

Oh, Dido_H, how is your friend? Is she still in that same relationship?


Snails 07-04-2005 05:49 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
Wow Gianna, you really seem to be making a lot of progress and doing a great job recovering from this relationship. I can understand why you wanted to pack up his stuff and erase his presence from your place--I did the same thing following a recent breakup, and I think it helped a great deal. The same was true of seeing a therapist/support group and finding a healthy outlet where you could be honest about feelings and experiences. I was seeing one in regard to my chronic pain already, which helped because they helped me with that AND the breakup, and I'm sure that's also the case for you with a domestic violence support group. Anyway, I really think you should be congratulated on having coped and moved on as well as you have. I would suggest now trying to pack his things as quickly as possible and then either throwing it out (or having a friend pawn items of value before donating the rest to a charity?), and try to come to some sort of resolution with yourself about how you did you best and have no reason to feel badly about moving on with your life. Then I'm sure you'll have little trouble keeping busy with friends, family, work, and maybe some new activities or even dates when you feel up to it again. I hope other women who have been abused and/or stuck in with an addicted partner will see your story as a positive sign that it can and is possible to get an ex out of your life and seek legal recouse along with therapy for the abuse you did absolutely nothing to deserve. I wish you all the best of luck in the future keeping your life positive and happy without any trace of your ex :).

Dido_H 07-04-2005 07:46 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
Best of luck Gianna. My friend is, unfortunately, still stuck in this abusive relationship but I will ask her to read your post definitely. She might find the strength.

Gianna2 07-04-2005 09:27 AM

Re: Just how much attention is enough?
Thanks Dido H.

Here is a good book for your friend to read...."Why Does He Do That? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men" by Lundy Bancroft. It's like a bible to me. Although I find myself having to read and re-read it over and over again for some of these points to get through to me. It's not hard's just a process that I need to go through.

If your friend does want to read this book I just want to caution her not to let him see it. She should try to read it at work or maybe you could hold onto it for her and give it to her to read when she has some time away from him.

There's also a section in the book for friends of the abused that is good reading!

I'll keep her in my prayers.



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