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I can't stop this cycle

Community Member
Lately, I've been caught in a strange cycle with my partner of three years. I know about the cycle of abuse, but I don't think this is it. I don't think he or I are abusive towards each other. But it's a strange cycle, nevertheless. I tell myself that I will never fall into it again, but I always do. First, he starts to get upset by my kids. We've been spending a lot of time together and he spends most nights with me. I have three kids from a previous abusive relationship. At any rate, he starts getting quite annoyed and frustrated with my kids. He makes a lot of negative comments about them, and I feel really uncomfortable. Then he says things like, he needs space and more time to himself. He stops telling me that he loves me, and he freezes the kids out, really. There's no warmth and affection for them from him. But he's still affectionate towards me. This keeps going until I go a little insane, and have this big long talk with him (usually in bed for some reason) about how he's free to go if he likes, and that I can tell he isn't committed to our relationship, and how maybe he'd be able to be a good dad if he had his own kid one day, with someone else... And how I've let go of my hopes for us becoming more of a family, and that he has what he wants, which is his freedom. Then he tells me how much he loves me, and that he wants to grow old with me, and that he isn't sure he'd want a kid anyway... That he needs me, and deeply loves me. Then things are calm for a while, and the whole process starts all over again.

I feel like I might be abusive.. Or crazy.. I'm just not able to stop this cycle. I hope someone has some clarity of vision and insight, because I feel so lost in a fog. I feel like I'm mostly to blame for all of this, but I don't know how to stop it.
4 Replies 4

Dear Pawkitty,

We’re so grateful to have you reach out to our community this morning and are so sorry to hear everything you have going on at the moment. We hope that you find our forums to be a safe and supportive space to talk through your thoughts and feelings. Our community is here for you. 
We hope you know that there is always help available to you. feel free to call our professional mental health counsellors at  Beyond Blue (available 24/7/365 on 1300 22 4636). Keep checking back in with us whenever you feel up to it. 

Community Member

I hope things get better soon for you & your Children. He loves you but he is gaslighting. I have been through the same concerns and you have every right to feel upset.

Relationships are very complex and unfortunately we take our frustrations out on each other, because we learn to rely on each other

My X husband & I are ok but there is always the cycle of Domestic Violence that resurfaces when we are unable to cope, feel sad or feel unsupported.

I would highly recommend calling 1800 respect for some professional support.

your a great Mum & that is was matters

be kind to yourself & your not crazy or abusive.. your only reacting to his Gas lighting

take care πŸ™‚

reach out and I hope things get better for you & your partner soon!,

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Pawkitty

I feel for you so much as you face the challenge of identifying the cycle. There's definitely a tendency to cycle through the same old stuff until we start to examine things more closely. When this happens, we can be left with more questions than answers.

Been married for just over 18 years and it wasn't 'til around a year ago that I began questioning what the heck was going on regarding the potentially depressing cycle that had been happening for years. I suppose it was around the time I developed my mantra 'Every challenge has the potential to either raise us or depress us'. I began asking myself 'What really is the challenge here?'

I believe I was being challenged to either end the relationship or reform it. It couldn't keeping going on in it's current form. On closer examination, I had the revelation that it was a relationship based largely on tolerance and intolerance. I'd tolerate my husband's lack of excitement about adventure and things to look forward to, while I was in a happy and excited mood. While I was happy, he'd be happy too, yet he'd be intolerant of me having too much energy and enthusiasm. Eventually, I'd lose heart, and cycle through 'What the heck's the point in making effort' before cycling through the part that had me wondering 'Is there something wrong with me, maybe I'm not trying hard enough', so...I'd try harder. Eventually, my 17yo daughter said 'Mum, you've been trying to make a positive difference for years. You need to end things with Dad before you send yourself insane'. She's a wise one.

I no longer tolerate what I feel is unreasonable, which is liberating. Give me good reason and I'm fine. By the way, 'he wants to grow old together' brought a smile to my face . My husband says the same. My response, 'I want to grow young together. I want to reclaim the excitement, adventure and wonder of a child. If you want to grow old, do it on your own or get with the program' πŸ™‚

Is it possible your partner is tolerating certain family behaviours until they become intolerable? Then he'll voice his displeasure. Does he identify what the behaviours are? Does he know why he has difficulty with such behaviours, why they trigger him the way they do? Does he have a point with some but is unreasonable when it comes to others (can't see or give good reason)? If he can learn to see reason for certain perfectly natural behaviours, there'll be no need to tolerate them because he will have faced the challenge of understanding them.


Community Member

Hi Pawkitty,

I'm sorry you're feeling this way and going through another emotional relationship after being in an abusive one. From an outside looking in it seems your partner is resenting your kids or deep down trying to block feelings of getting close to them. Whether that be that he doesn't want to get close to them or even love them for fear of hurting them should the relationship not last or he resents them for not being his own.

Do your kids like him?

I think you have to ask yourself if you see this as a relationship that will stand the test of time or should you end it now before it goes further?

I think he does enjoy your company and love you, but I think he also loves what you can give him. You give him female companionship without the strings attached. As soon as the strings start to grab hold of him, he reacts until you release them again and apologise for any wrong doing (which is not your wrong doing at all).

Your kids deserve a father figure or role model who will be there for them and love them and respect them. Being a single Mum is unique because you're essentially looking for both a partner and parent figure, if he isn't one of those then you need to work out if he'll ever be.

I hope it all works out for you. Stay strong.