I’m not only writing this as a dating coach, I’m also writing it as a woman who was in an abusive relationship once. I was only 19 back then, a college freshman who fell madly in love. I truly believed that everything he did was out of love and that I will never, ever find love like that again! I did everything he wanted me to do and suffered incredibly when he blamed me for anything and gave me a cold shoulder.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably suspecting you’re in an abusive relationship, too. And if after you’re done reading you realize you are, I hope you can find the strength to break it off and heal. If you’re not sure how to do it or can’t seem to get over him, let’s talk.
Here are the 3 signs that will show you you’re in an abusive relationship.
You Rarely Go Out Without Him
You don’t even notice it at first: you’re in love and it’s natural you want to spend every waking moment with him! But month after month, you start neglecting your friends more and more in favor of being with him. Some of them may have even told you this, but you have a very specific reason you do that:
He doesn’t like your friends. He thinks they’re a bad influence on you, not good enough for you, and he may go as far as to accuse you you’re likely to cheat on him if you go out and start drinking with them. To calm him down, you decide to stay in. You cancel that one party, then the other one, and another one, and before you know it your friends have stopped inviting you anywhere anymore.
He wants you all to himself because he fears you could find someone better and leave him. My ex boyfriend would say to my face: “I always hope you have a lousy time when you go out without me.” Imagine that! And even then I thought his jealousy was a sign of love.
Everything is Always Your Fault
I remember the only birthday of mine he and I spent together. I invited a couple of my friends to a bar and, naturally, he was invited, too. We all set down and had fun until it was time to play some game. We decided to make pairs the same way we always do - by putting pairs of numbers in the hat, and whoever pulled out the same numbers would play together. I ended up playing with a friend of mine, and even before we left the party, everyone noticed that he was sulking. When we were finally alone I asked him what’s wrong, and he said - get this - that he was disappointed we didn’t play together.
It was such a small, stupid thing I had no control over, and yet, I ended up feeling so guilty!
There were numerous similar situations, and they started happening so often that I was losing my mind - and still, it wasn’t until my own friends told me he was abusing me that I realized - oh, sh*t, they might be right!
And what if you have something to complain about? One of two things will happen with an abusive partner: either he will deny it completely and claim it wasn’t a big deal, or he’ll start blaming himself so aggressively that you’ll start apologizing to him for making him feel bad. Essentially, what he’s doing is called manipulation.
He Withdraws Affection to Punish You
Finally, when you do make a mistake, it’s not like he’s going to talk to you about it rationally. “Hey, look, I was really hurt when you did that and I wish you wouldn’t do it again.” Oh, no! It will be more along the lines of “How could you? I love you and do everything for you and this is how you repay me?” What will follow is his lack of affection. He’ll ignore you on purpose, make you question and hate yourself, and when you’ve had enough and start withdrawing yourself, that’s when he’ll magically get over it.
But he’ll never, ever forget it, and any chance he gets, he’ll mention your past wrongs, especially if you’ve just accused him of something. “Yeah, sure, but remember that time you..?” His middle name is manipulation, and once you’ve been brainwashed, it can be so difficult to get out.
So How Do You Get Out?
By recognizing these behaviors, knowing your own worth, and asking yourself: is this how I want to spend the rest of my life?
It will be so, so tough. Manipulators can make you fall for them so madly that whatever they do, you convince yourself it’s out of love and they’ll change eventually. But if you’ve caught him do all of these things multiple times, you deserve better. He might change, and he’s welcome to - I truly hope my ex changed and is happy with someone else - but it’s not your obligation to take all that because of him. He might not be a bad person (in the case of my ex, he has Borderline Personality Disorder and I know he didn’t choose to be that way), but it’s his decision to keep on torturing you instead of actively working on his issues. You can give it to him plain: either he changes his behavior (which will be hard to do without therapy, but if he’s a narcissist he’s not likely to accept that) or you’re done.
And I know you might be thinking this is the greatest love ever and you’re making a huge mistake, but trust me when I say: it’s not, and you’re not. It’s manipulation, and there’s so many people out there who you will love and who can give you much, much more.