I am in a very serious relationship with my best friend of 12 years. We have been together the better part of 2 years and it has really been a struggle. He has a very abusive past and learned as a child that people are innately cruel and manipulative. We've come a long way but he still doesn't really believe true open love exists with no walls or barriers, and showing him how I feel when he doesn't even think how I feel exists is really a challenge. I'd like to think I wont go my whole life never knowing true intimate love with him, but I don't know what things to do to help him out. He has trust issues, abandonment issues, and seems to seek out cruelty in others even if it isn't there. He's open to working on it, but I don't know where to start. Are there things I can say or do that may trigger something good in someone with an abusive past?
It's a real challenge to be in an intimate relationship with someone with this sort of abuse trauma. If he's truly willing to take responsibility for his own behavior and his own healing, I highly recommend that he try Meridian Tapping/EFT as a way to resolve his childhood abuse traumas. It may take some real persistence if the abuse was extensive (which I imagine is the case). But he may be able to have some profound breakthroughs using this technique (tapping).
It's often ill-fated when a person tries to hard to fix, heal, or rescue their emotionally wounded partner. If he uses Meridian Tapping, you could maintain more of a boundary, be supportive, without feeling like it's up to you to heal him.
It might also be a good idea of him to see a therapist.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist
Tapping Into Joy: Meridian Tapping and Mindfulness for Depression