I was talking to a friend of mine who just got out of an abusive relationship about this, as it'd been an idea I'd been harboring for some time.
Abusive relationships are no fun. They put you on the defensive, they make you feel inadequate, question who you are, ache in pain, and they even make you feel challenged. Now, one of the reasons that a person might continue to stay in such a pain in the ass situation is that they may feel they won't find love anywhere else if they leave. Another reason is low self esteem, etc. -
However, I think there's another reason that some people unconsciously know, but don't really entertain the thought of. Picture this:
In school, let's say someone insults you. Not in the "your ___ looks weird" way or the "you talk funny" way, but they make a snide, intellectual insult at you like "You have an immature Holden Caulfield complex" or "You always overreact first and think later". Use your imagination, you get what I'm talking about. People have various reactions to that - they may feel hurt, angered, or they may be able to brush it off, but sometimes, there's also the desire to get revenge. That's right - to insult them back. Part of you wants to stick around and observe this person, talk to their friends, note some of their own weaknesses in secrecy while they're laughing at you to your face - and then you want to come out one day and slash them back 10 times as hard.
What I'm thinking is, maybe there's another reason we sometimes get into, or stay in, abusive relationships - a desire to beat the person at their own game, covertly.
If your boyfriend or girlfriend is sometimes passive aggressively sneering at you or making backhanded comments, you sometimes feel the need to gather some dirt on them and then challenge them with everything they've ever said to you, and then overpower them. Sometimes you want to cut them back and then revel in delight at the expressions on their faces when you've made them think they were never in control of the situation to begin with.
At least, that's definitely how it can start out. Do you agree?