The blog post includes a discussion and details about abusive relationships. Please read with caution if any of these items triggers or upsets you.
It still feels odd for me to say I was in an abusive relationship. The two years I dated this person and two years I was married to them I was blind to the facts. Somehow everyone around me could see what I could not. I was in love and felt sorry for their circumstance so I ruined my own life in the process. Anxiety and depression were always a struggle of mine but they really peaked during that time with the suicidal thoughts and panic attacks.
These are the signs I dismissed as no big deal, when they were huge red flags all within less than a year of when I started dating this person.
When they hate your pets
He hated all my pets, while I’m a huge animal lover. If I baby talked at them and he was around he would become angry toward me. I was big into doing rally obedience trials with my dog, a hobby that really helped my mental health, he put it down as stupid and said how I should focus more on people. When we moved out together and we got different pets in our own home he slowly but surely convinced me to get rid of almost all of them so he could have more of my attention. The things I did that I thought would never be in me to do pertaining to that still triggers my depression to this day.
They hate your friends and family
My friends all noticed how he was slowly but surely isolating me from them and the things I loved to do. I would tell them I was happy when they knew I was not. He would convince me to make excuses to cancel my plans with them last minute to go be with him instead. He would tell me how no one understood and cared about me like he does. He was changing my whole personality to suit his needs even to the point where I cut off my childhood best friend (who is like a sister to me) entirely. When we were married it was the same with my mother who is also my best friend. She comes over to visit too much and I spend too much time with her he would say. I would argue to him he never had any friends and was never close with his family so he did not understand what I was going through, but he did not care. Which brings me to another point:
If They Have No Friends
Not to say this is the only thing to look for. There were long periods of time in my life growing up where I only had one friend or did not have any. However, most of my life I have had long lasting friendships and knew what it felt like to have a real bond with someone. I learned that for it to work there must be some give and take on both sides. Abusive partners are alone for a reason. They never learned this, if they were not able to manipulate the relationship in some way they get nothing out of it. They prefer things one-sided where they always get their way. Other people can see how narcissistic their behavior is and want nothing to do with them. As should you.
If They Were Abused
Again, this is not a clear sign someone will be abusive in and of itself. The closest friends I have ever had came from abusive homes and situations. However, such as in my case, some people learn those abusive habits from their parents and carry it with them in their relationships and throughout their lives. They see it as normal to treat others this way including their significant other. I gave up everything I ever loved in life to get him out of his horrible situation. I loved him and felt sorry for him. Even so what I did was never enough, I made his living situation better but mentally he was the same bitter person. Looking back I wish I loved myself enough at the time to not allow someone like this to bring me down to their level. Which brings me to my last point.
You are never enough for them
They will tell you that you are, but no matter what you do they will always hold a grudge against you over something. You give all of yourself to make them happy, yet they are still just as miserable and so are you. Happiness needs to come from within yourself. When I finally gave up trying to make him happy, and instead learned how to make myself happy through therapy, it was the beginning of the end for our relationship. You’ll be told how they are happy for you but in arguments and disagreements their resentment for the joy you are feeling with life will show.
Just because someone tells you they love you does not make it true. You will make mistakes but you deserve to be loved for the beautiful person you are. Not who someone else wants you to be. You are stronger than you will ever know, and if you do find yourself in this kind of relationship there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
What has your history been like in relationships, whether platonic or romantic? Are there warning signs that you’ve started to look out for if any of them went poorly?