The concept of loyalty is positive in the minds of most people. It conjures visions of devotion, commitment, love, respect, and honor. In a healthy relationship involving two emotionally balanced people, loyalty is appropriate and can cement a fulfilling and fulfilling union for both parties. However, there are cases where “loyalty” can be seriously misplaced. If a partner is being emotionally or otherwise abused by the other person in the relationship, the devotion and attachment shown by the victim is unhealthy. Here are 4 reasons why the concept of loyalty may be misplaced in abusive relationships:
1. Loyalty must arise from love, empathy, and concern for how the other person would react in the event of an unfair action. In other words, when faced with the temptation to do something that would hurt the other party, a loyal person in a relationship acts out of concern for the other party’s hurt feelings from the betrayal. This does not happen in an emotionally abusive relationship.
2. A primary motivator for a victim of an emotional abuser is fear. There is concern about what price, consequence or punishment will come from the betrayed partner if the victim falls outside the parameters of acceptable behavior in the relationship. This is different from true loyalty, as the victim “behaves” because of the intimidation.
3. The loyal conduct of the victimized partner in an emotionally abusive relationship is demanded by the abuser. Your definition of “loyalty” becomes the defining model of the relationship. This asserts control of the abuser. He or she may place what most people would consider unreasonable expectations of devotion or loyalty on the abused partner. For example, the abuser may demand that the victim spend time with friends and family. In a balanced relationship, this would be considered a controlling and unreasonable request. However, in an abuser’s mind, this can become a defining test of her concept of “loyalty.”
4. Instead of empathy, love, and true respect prompting the victim to act within certain parameters, the victim may also feel an obligation and guilt to follow the “rules.” The abuser may accuse the victim of being responsible for her anger and abuse, claiming that the abused partner is disloyal and therefore provoked the abusive reaction. Therefore, loyalty as a concept again loses its true meaning and, for the victim, the main motivation becomes avoiding abuse above all else.
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