One of the most unexpected and sneaky tactics of a veteran narcissist/Asshat to keep you in an emotionally abusive relationship is ... drumroll please ... the C-word. Not that C-word! Jeez, guys.

No, the word I'm referring to is CRITICISM.

It would be unfair to say that, prior to the Asshat coming along, we had unmitigated self regard. At least that wasn't the case for me. When I started college I was just emerging from a fairly horrific awkward phase which included that Triumvirate of Terror:
  1. Zits
  2. Naturally frizzy hair aka pubic head
  3. Non-existent breast flesh.
Having said that, by the time my freshman year of college rolled around the zits were gone, the boobs filled a small B-cup and the pubic head ebbed and flowed with the ever-evolving curling iron/hair gel technology. There was a light at the end of that spit-curl tunnel. But then I fell in love with the Greek God. I've mentioned him previously and have to reiterate that there was some real love in our 5-year relationship, but it was always undercut by a current of Asshattery on his part, and masochism on mine. When the three-month honeymoon period ended that C-word reared its ugly head. We were sitting on my dorm bed. I was wearing shorts when he reached over, pinched my thigh and a few little dimples appeared. "Oh man, you've got cellulite," he said. "Cellulite?" I queried. At 18 I didn't know what cellulite was. I'd spent puberty and beyond pretty much skin-and-bones, just wishing I could put on a few pounds to fill out my Jordache jeans, so cellulite was, as yet, unknown to me. I learned a great deal about cellulite from the Greek God.
  1. It's disgusting and verges on sinful.
  2. It's caused by laziness and lack of discipline.
  3. It's unattractive and makes men not want to have sex with you.
  4. You'll never be good enough until that cellulite is gone.
This is what I looked like with my cellulite: [caption id="attachment_14601" align="aligncenter" width="600"]signs of an emotionally abusive relationship This is a blurry action shot, but I think you might see the point I'm making.[/caption]

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship!

You know you're doing it, aren't you? Giving the Asshat credit for doing the absolute minimum required to keep a relationship trudging along? What do I mean by Asshat? This:
  • They don't call when they say they will.
  • They don't show up when expected.
  • They brood at social gatherings with friends and family.
  • You're fairly certain they're cheating on you in office cubicles, toilet stalls and perhaps even in your own bed.
These are all the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. There are some people for whom the dyed-in-Charmin Asshat holds no charm. These emotionally healthy people kick Asshats to the curb once they've disappointed them for the very first time. Then there are the rest of us. We will suffer Asshats gladly for weeks, months, nay years at a time. I was an Asshat-magnet for approximately ten years. Asshats could sniff out my needy co-dependence from 100 miles away as the crow flies. And one of the things that kept me trapped in my Asshatalicious relationship FOR FIVE YEARS was my ability to take the Asshat's bread crumbs and whip them into a rustic loaf, because I absolutely wanted to make a case for staying in the relationship. For example: