Imagine this. You buy a car for $2000. You spend a little money and fix it up. You name it even. 'Ben,' it's a manly car. A year later, right after you replace the alternator for $300, it gets crushed by a semi.
Vinnie's towing service shows up. You casually say "But I loved Ben. That's its name." Vinnie says to you, "You know it was falling apart anyway. But for 25 grand, we can fix 'Ben' up for you. 2003 Ford Focus, good car. Sport package. Nice. That's a really pretty red."
You call your best friend, "Should I fix Ben?" There's a deafening silence on the other end of the line. "Really, it had such nice seats, leather, heated, and I drove it to California, and back."
And your friend answers, "And you had it in the shop six times, and it just failed inspection, and you could literally buy ten of them for $25,000."
"But Ben was the ZTS, in candy apple red, custom paint." We can all (I hope) see the insanity in this, until we change Ben from a car to a person.
I had a woman call me last week. Her Ben has a nice family. They liked to eat the same things. At one point in time, he felt really good. Now, it's been a little more than a year. Ben's become abusive. He ridicules her, says he can find another, suggests he'll always stay young because he is well-used, and even comments that he has violent tendencies. Their dates are dollar coffees, and weekends at his house. On one weekend, this woman was so afraid of physical abuse, she locked herself in a bedroom, and then escaped the house when her Ben went to take a shower. He won't kiss her. He lies. He makes fun of her. But now and then, he hints that he could marry her. If only she would share with him where she lives, then he could trust her.
Her excuse, "But I fell in love with him." Well I call bullshit on this. I am not saying he doesn't have a good side, but she doesn't love what this has turned into. She loves an image of a man that he has proven himself not to be. But since she's got a few grand in and some nice moments to reflect on, she somehow holds on to the idea that there might be something to salvage here. There might be, but at what cost.
At some point in time, a person's just got to get that putting any more into a dysfunctional relationship is just a really bad investment. Her experience right now is not one of being loved or celebrated. It's worry, and ridicule, and sometimes fear. I suggested to her that if we turned the timeline around, she wouldn't say she loved him. If she saw the ugly first, and then the nice, there would be no question. So it's time to take stock.
She was really taken in by a certain face he displayed. She calls this "fell in love." She's now discovered it's only part of the picture. The whole picture isn't that pretty. Seeing it for the first time today, she never would buy it. That being the case, the only healthy course is to step out, no matter what the good points may have been. And as she moves forward to set notice the signs that she overlooked here.
She can do this. We all can, but it takes a shift in how we look at things. "I fell in love" means nothing if there isn't love or respect present. And if there isn't, maybe it's best to say "I fell in love with something about him. I liked that. But it's not enough, and it isn't worth another minute of my life to try to turn this toad into a prince."