Emotional abuse in intimate relationships can be seen everywhere. Many people think they are far away from the role of “abuser”, “I love him/her so much, how could it possibly be abusive?” But perhaps, the way you love some is already a manifestation of emotional abuse. I love them, and I have to give them what I think is best. This logic seems to have no problem. But in fact, there is a hidden issue behind this.
My aunt loves her daughter, my cousin Sunny (translated name); Sunny is a very maverick girl. She is very talented in art and loves singing, dancing, and painting. Later, Sunny became obsessed with street dancing. But my aunt despises these “unorthodox” things. She always believes that only good academic performance is the most important. Sunny’s dream is to be a hip-hop coach, while my aunt’s dream is to send Sunny to study abroad and become a doctor.
She loves Sunny from the bottom of her heart. For my aunt, the best thing is to go abroad and get an education. When she really started to raise money to sell the house and save up to send Sunny out, the whole family realized that she was really determined. So, here comes the problem: Sunny is not willing to go abroad at all. She likes her life now; she wants to go her own way. As soon as the two of them mentioned this matter, the aunt would make a big fuss and rebuke Sunny for not understanding her hard work; she has given her all; she is even willing to give up her own life, to provide the best to Sunny, her daughter. How can Sunny not accept it?
“I Would Die for You, But I Won’t Live for You”
“I love you, I have given everything for you, I am all for your own good, I want to give you the best, how can you not accept it?” This is typical emotional abuse in an intimate relationship. We can understand it if I tell the story in a different way: cats love to eat fish; she thinks the best thing in the world is fish. So the cat is working very hard 24/7 non-stop, giving everything in exchange for a large box of fish, then she gives all the fish to the monkey because the cat loves the monkey. But the monkey doesn’t want to accept this kindness: “I don’t like fish… I prefer bananas…”
How dare you refuse my fish? The cat was furious and hurt. But I don’t eat fish. The monkey was feeling sorry and guilty. The two people in this intimate relationship are in torture at the same time. In fact, for the cat who gives love, she has given everything to the monkey and wants to provide him with the best; but for the monkey, the way the cat gives love is unacceptable. However, the idea itself would put the monkey into a pang of huge guilt – the cat loves me so much, she wants the best for me, but this is not what I WANT, and now I feel really bad.
Well, let’s review our own intimate relationships. Have you ever had a similar story with a loved one, parent, children, or sibling? You love them very much; I totally believe that. You want the best for them; I can see that. But have you ever once asked, “Does he like fish?”
True love is indeed the desire to give them the best. However, this “devotion” process is not a unilateral self-satisfaction, self-indulgence process. To be straightforward, sometimes, you give all, but the only feeling touched or moved is yourself. Your contribution is not necessarily what they need, nor is it suitable for them. Moreover, this kind of devotion and love not only did not make each other feel happy but suffered pain and pressure instead.
Stephen Chbosky once said: “I would die for you. But I won’t live for you.” Yes, it’s easier to die for something than to live for it. It also means that I won’t subsume myself for you. I won’t allow myself to be absorbed by you. I will live WITH you but not FOR you because my life and individuality are equally as important as yours.
So, in the vigilance of others’ emotional abuse, we should also not be emotionally abusive to others under the name of love. Before loving someone else, stop and ask yourself, “Do I love him in a way that he wants?” After all, love is the understanding, respect, and love of two people for each other. After all, love is two people’s understanding, respect, and affection for each other. The best relationship is one that makes both parties more mature, considerate, and empathetic.