26 December 2022 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
I was married to an Adventist for 25 years of total mismatch—emotionally unavailable.
Then I dated non-Adventists, and met my current husband of 4 years, a Jewish man. This marriage? Sexual betrayal. Pornography addiction. Narcissistic emotional abuse.
I’ve spent over $30,000 in therapy to work on myself. Now I’m facing divorce, and my mental, physical, and emotional health are suffering.
All I wanted was a loving relationship with someone I could grow old with. What advice can you give me?
Signed, From Bad to Horrible
Dear Bad to Horrible,
Aunt Sevvy’s heart goes out to you. It sounds like you have had spectacularly bad luck in relationships. As Aunt Sevvy has said often before: there are worse things than being alone.
People who have high traits of empathy and compassion tend to attract narcissistic predators. Narcissists look for someone like you who has a big heart, who is willing to forgive and believe the best in them for much longer than they deserve. These sorts of people take your strengths and use them against you.
If you ever decide to date again, a good practice for anyone who is dating or looking for a partner is to look for relational red flags. Here are some that you might be on the lookout for:
- Overly controlling behavior
- Anger management problems
- Saying or doing things that cut you down
- Overly jealous behavior
- Gaslighting, or denying something you know to be true
- Lack of communication, especially during a conflict
- Demonstrating very different behavior in public and in private
- Disrespecting boundaries
- Dwelling excessively on past relationships
- Their behavior makes you feel insecure
Aunt Sevvy has a friend who deliberately makes a small change to first date plans to see how the other person responds. She might ask to change the time, or the venue, or the day of the week. If the person becomes offended, angry, or hostile (indicative of some of the above problems) when she makes a change, that is a good sign he isn’t a safe person to be with.
I hope you can find other divorced women to connect with. There are many communities out there with women who have experienced such things. If you get into a relationship with someone down the line, it may be hard to see the red flags, and having a community of experienced women is a good safety net: they can help protect you, or give you advice when you feel unsure.
You are a person worth being loved, wholly and without reservation. It is not fair that you have been hurt in this way. Aunt Sevvy wishes you growth and healing in therapy, and peace and happiness through the rest of your life.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.