How to tell if I am being mistreated in my relationship

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endlessfnords
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19 May 2024, 3:13 pm

Hi all!
I am a middle aged male, currently awaiting my ASC diagnosis, in a long term relationship of 7 years.
Without going into my personal issues... I'm struggling to parse out the intentions of my partner, after a series of interactions that have left me feeling misunderstood, demeaned, and mis-represented.
I was wondering if anybody knew of resources for spotting and making sense of patterns of mistreatment in relationships / how to navigate healthy communication when it comes to issues of feeling not believed/ invalidated?
Thanks yall!



Mona Pereth
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19 May 2024, 6:40 pm

On what general kinds of issues are you feeling misunderstood, demeaned, mis-represented, and invalidated? Is it primarily on autism-related or other neurodivergence-related issues, or is it a more pervasive problem?

From what you've said so far, there's no way to tell whether your problem is just ignorance (and resulting wrong assumptions) on your partner's part, or a general pattern of abuse.


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endlessfnords
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19 May 2024, 7:58 pm

Thanks for following up, Mona. As I've come to understand new concepts of autism, and how they relate to me, I've been eager to share my findings with my partner. At first, I felt that she really doubted me, and I had a difficult time with teasing comments like- "well, what if you're not on the spectrum?" after I sincerely share this deeply meaningful info, and how sensitive I felt about it.
A large part of it does appear to be from a misunderstanding of the condition and how it relates to me/ it being a new thing for her to view me in a different light. I was dumbfounded when she told me she thought I was using a diagnosis as "an excuse" for my difficulty with the nuances of a couple of social conflicts that we've found recently. I'm not great with my words, and I tend to overshare and often feel like I'm being too much, and feel that I am frequently being perceived as selfish/ immature in situations where I've acted with best intentions for all. There seems to be a strong difference in narratives when it comes to how I perceive myself/my confidence/ my actions, and how she frequently sees me as in the wrong.
I keep finding that when I communicate proactively about my needs/ boundaries and attempt to share information, she doubles down and presents new insults.
The issue is, I have no idea, because she tells me she believes me and supports me, though I rarely feel it. I struggle with the complexity of social nuances so I feel that I don't know if I'm being irrational, or if I'm not feeling it because I am simply confused and overwhelmed by the heavy drama that it all causes.



Mona Pereth
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19 May 2024, 9:44 pm

endlessfnords wrote:
I keep finding that when I communicate proactively about my needs/ boundaries and attempt to share information, she doubles down and presents new insults.

That certainly does not sound good.

If you feel so inclined, perhaps you could give us some specific examples of things you have tried to explain to her and her specific responses to those things? This might help us brainstorm possible ways for you to respond, and might also give us more of a feel for whether she is just being ignorant or willfully abusive.

Also you might perhaps find some of these tutorials on assertiveness helpful.


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autisticelders
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20 May 2024, 6:40 am

I learned how to spot being manipulated, intimidated, "guilted" and used/ abused with a counselor who worked with me through the book "when I say NO I feel guilty" by Manuel J smith. It is out of print now but you can find it anywhere used books are sold online or in used book stores. It teaches new healthier ways to set limits and boundaries and how to enforce them. I needed the help of a counselor because my autistic rigid thinking kept me from seeing I had alternatives, could make choices in ways to respond to the demands of others. I learned to make healthier choices and how to recognize the ways others might use or abuse me. I had to learn how to say NO in healthy ways. Many of us did not have good healthy role models to learn from as kids, but it is not too late to learn healthy communication and better ways to make choices. If you are a reader, I highly reccomment this book. It ( along with a good therapist/counselor) saved my life and my sanity long before I knew I was autistic. Maybe it will help you in your relationships as well.


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LittleBeach
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20 May 2024, 11:21 am

A good way of communicating with your partner is to simply and honestly state how things made you feel.

“I felt X when you said Y”

If she denies, ignores or deflects your statements about feelings, this is unhealthy communication. You should be free to express your feelings to your partner and have them acknowledged. Of course this works both ways, and you should acknowledge your partners feelings too, when raised.

Healthy communication involves first acknowledging and empathising with how the other person felt, and then working together to find a solution.



endlessfnords
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20 May 2024, 3:13 pm

Thanks all, for your support!

Mona- your linked information on assertiveness helps me so much!

autisticelders-
Thank you for the book recommendation (I just ordered a copy) and encouraging words! That helps me a lot to know that I can develop those skills, as you have exampled. I definitely have a life long pattern of giving too much to demanding people and struggle with saying no / people pleasing.

and

LittleBeach-

Thank you for your clear and simple understanding of healthy communication. That provides me with a very helpful starting point going forward.



Cornflake
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20 May 2024, 4:37 pm

The following was contained in a report on this post, earlier - viewtopic.php?f=6&t=420778#p9507386
I'm sure it was intended as a response to the thread so I'll copy it here:

endlessfnords wrote:
Mona, thanks again! I'm working my way through this terrific information on assertiveness, and this is so helpful. I'd prefer not to go into any deeper specificity at the moment. You've been so kind and informative!


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ToughDiamond
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20 May 2024, 11:50 pm

I've sometimes been uncertain as to whether or not a partner was "actually" being manipulative, abusive, etc. But in a way it doesn't much matter. If your experience of them is making you feel terrible and all attempts at fixing the problem fail, the choice becomes one of whether or not you feel able to continue with them under those conditions. Even if they haven't done much that the world would consider wrong, it if hurts too much, that's a valid reason to quit if it's the only way to survive emotionally. Of course that's not to say that it's not important to try to identify communication problems and sort them out.



endlessfnords
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21 May 2024, 6:34 am

ToughDiamond-

Thank you.
My inner voice keeps telling me this, but I think I'm going to lengths to not believe that the life I've worked so hard to set up has to be leveled again for the nth time, (as far as relationship, living situation, lifestyle goes). Some kind of forward thinking/ planning is definitely in order. Appreciate your feedback, it helps me sense of it all.