If you grew up with emotionally and/or physically abusive parents, it’s likely you fear any individual who makes you feel threatened or unsafe. Tens of thousands of grown men and women are afraid to leave a dangerous and toxic relationship dynamic, due to this childhood programming.

Males who’ve married emotionally volatile borderline disordered females seem a lot more like mice, than men. Their persistent passivity in these relationships, regardless of how much abuse their wife dishes out to them, echo this fact.

Learned Helplessness simply means that a person was so thoroughly conditioned to NOT fight back or act in his/her own best interest from early childhood onward, they can’t even consider leaving the source of their agony. They’ve accepted and embraced the fallacy that they have zero options with respect to altering their horrific condition, and resign themselves to feeling hopeless.

These folks (and I’ve worked with some in my consulting practice) are incapable of thinking rationally and logically about their situation and even considering an exit plan! The reason they feel hopelessly trapped inside their nightmare, is they’re reliving the sense of helplessness they had to endure when they were young and defenseless, and could see no way out of it, back then.

Human beings are easy to brainwash and program. If you grew up with parental units that were unloving and disapproving of you, you automatically presume you are unlovable and not good enough. You are continuously told You are the one at fault for their unhappiness or stress, and you deserve whatever punishment befalls you.

People who suffer from Learned Helplessness are intimidated by and afraid of anyone that they perceive holds authority or power over them. Men who’ve grown up with parental abuse give a BPD wife or partner way too much control over them. Their sense of feeling ever-trapped in the abuse she doles out is exacerbated by the wild, manipulative, often illogical threats she spews if he dares to leave~ or challenge her in any manner, regarding his children’s well-being. If you’ve ever been married to one of these deeply dysfunctional females, you carry post traumatic memories and injuries from exactly what I’m describing here.

But don’t we have to consider what kind of man is willing to surrender his testicles to an impaired female partner?? It’s typically one who’s grown up with fixing and rescuing traits, which his entire sense of worth has depended on since early boyhood. Quite often, entrenched people-pleaser behaviors attend this personality dysfunction, if this child had a discontent, unhappy, volatile or cruel mother. He learned to be hyper-vigilant as a kid, just to avert being punished or beaten, and he has since chosen romantic liaisons with females cut from the same cloth (as Mom), because he grew up associating feelings of love with pain, and vice-versa.

If this boy’s mother was a long-suffering, unhappy gal who couldn’t be pleased, if she felt victimized by her spouse or life events in general, if she routinely exhibited a sad affect, her child would have desperately tried to relieve her unhappiness. Why? Young children are naturally joyful and full of exuberance and energy. When their primary attachment (Mom) displays opposite feelings, the child begins to question whether his own emotions are acceptable and valid. He’ll often feel guilty for feeling good, when his mother’s emotional affect does not mirror his.

This child is left with only three choices: 1) To mirror and join Mother in her mood to feel close with her. 2) To try and fix or change the terrible darkness he sees in her, that’s dissimilar to what He is experiencing, or 3) spend as much time as he possibly can, OUTSIDE the home. Many children’s lives are saved by hanging out with a little friend and his/her family, just to gain a different frame of reference for what ‘normalcy’ within family life feels like! One client years ago, spent her days inside movie theaters, continually watching reruns of wholesome family movies, that presented radically different interactions between family members, than she was able to observe in her own house. I’m quite certain, this childhood strategy saved her life!

The object of this post is to enlighten you about how and why so very many adult children of abuse stay in toxic relationships, long past their shelf life. It’s literally what feels “normal” to them. 

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  • How Learned Helplessness PREVENTS good men and women from leaving highly toxic relationships.