I was once involved with a man who had enough positive intentions to build a fantasy island. His promises were so impressive they distracted me from the fact that he treated me like an emotional punching bag. Ultimately, I found out that they weren’t intentions at all; just blinkers he made to divert my attention away from his behaviour.
Promises of long holidays together distracted me from how rarely I saw him and how often he stood me up. Promises of grand gestures distracted me from how little thoughtfulness he put into our day to day relationship. Promises that he would create a stable life for himself distracted me from the fact that he had reached forty without achieving independence.
The more he promised me, the less truth I saw and the more I forgave. What else do you do when someone swears they’re working towards change? The trouble was he wasn’t working towards any damn thing. He was just feeding me bullshit wrapped up in rose petals.
The best lesson I learned from that relationship was how to focus on people’s actions instead of their intentions. That’s what tells me who they are. The past is the best indicator of future behaviour, so I try not to focus on promises. Nobody ever built a foundation out of those.
Ethical people don’t need to make as many promises as abusers do anyway. Why would they when they can just act on their intentions right now? Why promise endless long weekends together when you can show up at someone’s door with pizza and a smile? Why promise all those expensive gifts when you can cook them dinner at the end of a hard day tonight? In short, why weave fantasies when you can treat people with real love? Why make promises when you can make plans?
Abusive types play out the same script all their lives. There is nothing original to see here, only the same smoke and mirrors you saw with the last abuser you met.
When I was in that relationship, I often used to wish I could see into the future to find out if his intentions to stop his abuse would materialise. Now I know that I could see his tomorrows: they were right there in his yesterdays.