In seeking to explain intimate partner violence (IPV), feminist research has shifted its focus from individual explanations to the social contexts of such violence. Adopting such a perspective, we explore the narratives of three men who identify as perpetrators of violence and three women who identify as victims/survivors of IPV. Our analyses focus on how the participants present their relationships, employing the notion of affective – discursive practices as informing, at times constituting, the participants’ experiences. Their stories are characterised by a chronological line – retrospective, present and prospective. Their understandings change in framing their experiences, with the relationships themselves becoming affective–discursive practices, albeit figuring differently in the participants’ stories across time. Our findings also underline the significance of shame as a regulatory mechanism sustaining heteronormative practices.