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Is It Thoughtfulness or Is It a Conditioned Reflex to Expect Abuse If You Don’t Anticipate Needs?

Is It Thoughtfulness or Is It a Conditioned Reflex to Expect Abuse If You Don’t Anticipate Needs?

It disarmed me when we first got together, how you seemed so curious about me. Interested in me. How you wanted to learn as much as you could about me. And not only that, you remembered what you learned. And applied it.

No one I’d dated had ever done that before. And I dated a lot of people before I met you.

I wasn’t sure what to do at first, how to handle the fact that you did so many thoughtful things that were right on point without my ever having to ask… after all, it was terrifying dating someone who was really good to me. Because it hadn’t happened before.

But after a while, I learned to enjoy it. To accept it. To take it as a sign that you cared.

It would only be later that I’d begin to wonder about it. Much later. When I saw other behavior start to come out — when you seemed to be bracing yourself for me to react badly to things you said. For me to be cruel out of nowhere. To overreact and lash out.

Even though I’d never done these things to you before. Even though I worked really hard to be safe as a partner, because I grew up with a parent who made me expect communication to be peppered with tricks and traps. And I never wanted to do that to anyone else, to make them feel unsafe and like they had to walk on eggshells to stay loved by me.

That’s incidentally why I started to recognize the signs in you. I knew then that what had happened to me had been done to you too. And that you were afraid that things with me were going to take a sudden dark turn and match your past.

Once I realized that, my perspective changed. Looking back on all the thoughtful times early in our relationship, when you anticipated my needs, I began to worry: Did you do that because part of you still expected abuse if you guessed wrong?

Because I love how well you treated me, but I don’t want you to ever do it out of fear. You don’t have to read my mind. You don’t have to guess. And I’ll love you — and treat you well — even if you guess wrong sometimes.


Exciting news! Poly Land now has a private Discord server. Here’s how to access it.

We are smol but wholesome (and growing). I’m very active there, and I can honestly say it’s the best group chat I’ve ever been part of. Hope to talk to you there!

Featured Image: PD – Pixabay