Most women would agree that physical violence such as hitting or pushing has no part in a love relationship. But what about more subtle signs that you are not being treated well? Where do you draw the line between arguments that every couple has, and being in a relationship that is crushing your spirit?
Here are some definite red flags:
1. He is always moody and angry with you
Not just every once in a while, but most of the time. You never know what mood he will be in, or what you did this time to upset him, but he is always sure it’s your fault. Consequently you find yourself walking on eggshells trying to avoid problems, but it never seems to work. You feel a knot in your stomach whenever he is around you.
2. He never agrees with you
No matter what you say, he says the opposite. It’s always black or white with him. He never caveats his views with "I think" or "in my opinion". He doesn’t show interest in how you or others see the world. He tells you you are dumb or naïve or tries to otherwise undermine your self-esteem. Interestingly, while he belittles you in private, he may be quite the charmer in public. This is extra confusing, because none of your friends or family are able to validate what you’re experiencing.
3. He doesn’t trust you
He’s always suspicious. He says you do things just to harm him. He says you flirt with other men, even though you don’t. He calls you names. He checks up on you or makes up rules in order to control your behavior. He hates it when you spend time with other people and uses threats or manipulation to stop you from doing it.
4. You can’t talk to him about your concerns
You’ve tried to tell him about the problems you see in your communication. You’ve tried to tell him about how he makes you feel. Every time it’s been a disaster, so you’ve stopped. He blames you for all misunderstandings, mocks your concerns, and throws concerns right back at you. Now editing your thoughts and second-guessing yourself has become second-nature.
5. You wish you could get away, but you feel stuck
The best way to describe your feelings is "confused". You aren’t happy, but you’re not sure of your alternatives. You’ve become an expert in trying to see the world from his point of view. You have a lot of empathy for him and think that with your love he will change, if only you hang in there long enough. He tells you both, that he loves you, and that no one else would want you. Plus, you have already invested so much effort in this relationship and don’t want to see it wasted. You agree with him that you could try harder. Last, you’re not sure where you would go, or you simply don’t want to be alone.
Now, I don’t know your particular situation and cannot tell you if YOUR boyfriend falls into the abuser category. But if you recognize yourself in these above examples, then you should know this is not normal and not okay. Your relationship is lacking the mutual love and respect that any partnership should have, and that you deserve.This is your life after all!
So where do you go from here? Plan your next steps wisely. Educate yourself about emotional or psychological abuse. Seek the counsel of family, friends, clergy, online forums, professional counselors/therapists, and other resources local to your town. Keep in mind that abusive behavior typically has a circular pattern, so even if things are seeming better this week, the tension may soon build up again, eventually erupting in ugly arguments, and the cycle begins again. Don’t assume that things will get better on their own, in fact, often they tend to get worse over time and might even cross over into the realm of physical attacks. Trying to preserve things as they are in the name of harmony is simply not in your best interest.