We have all heard the saying “love is blind” and there is, oddly enough, some scientific truth to this. When in love, the brain releases chemicals that increase feelings of euphoria, happiness and even something of a “high” that has been equated to intoxication. We all know that we don’t always make our best decisions while intoxicated, don’t we? Love can help us to “overlook” some otherwise unattractive or undesirable behaviors; that is normal and part of the experience (Our biology is designed to keep this species going). Nobody is perfect and everyone has moments when they are not at their best, but excusing unacceptable behaviors is a surefire way to create the relationship of your nightmares instead of your dreams.
There are behaviors that should NOT be overlooked in any relationship and they are important to watch for. Domestic violence is a serious issue, and any of the behavioral patterns listed here show a potential for growing into a full blown unhealthy and abusive relationship. One of the most difficult challenges in stopping domestic violence and abuse from developing is that many victims often don’t recognize the behaviors as unhealthy, abnormal and dangerous (they may have witnessed these in their parents or others to the point of some of these appearing “normal”).
Here are 8 clear behavioral patterns that every person needs to be aware of. If you see these behaviors in your relationship; either by your partner, or by yourself, do not ignore it, accept it or excuse it. This is not an exercise in “if you have two or more of these, get help”. Have NONE of these for a healthy relationship. Period. If you see yourself in these, don’t wait, make changes; get help.
- Overly Critical. Nobody wants to live on eggshells out of fear of doing something wrong. Nobody wants to feel like they are not good enough or can never quite measure up. Name calling, disapproval done through ridiculing, negative cutting comments or making the other person feel ugly, stupid, worthless, crazy, inadequate, or always “wrong”. Watch out for an over-zealous need to be right, or smarter, or better than your partner.
- Too Intense. It may sound strange, but someone who is over-accommodating or overly charming to your friends and family at the cost of not being themselves is a big red flag. Watch out for behaviors that include lying to cover up insecurity (making up or exaggerating the truth in order to look better to someone else), or gestures of giving too much too soon. Beware of those who bombard you with too much texting, calling, checking in, emailing all within a short period of time. Do not let your ego get overly stroked by obsessive behavior or insisting on taking the relationship seriously too soon. This also applies to having a partner who insists on knowing every detail of your life, leaving you feeling like you live under the microscope.
- Fault Finding. Do not accept other people’s baggage as your own and do not expect someone else to be responsible for your choices in behavior. Someone who makes you feel guilty and responsible for their own behavior, or someone who blames the world, or you, for their problems is not equipped to have a healthy relationship.
- Jealousy. Love is not jealous; extreme insecurity is jealous. When your partner responds irrationally when you interact with other people (whether it be with friends, co-workers, family, or even the dog) then you need to pay attention to what is underneath. If your partner becomes angry when you speak with other people, accusing you of flirting or cheating, or resenting your time with friends and family then listen to the alarm going off in your head.
- Sabotage. If your partner makes you miss work, school, an interview, a test or competition by starting a fight, falling apart emotionally, creating stressful drama, hiding your keys, wallet, text books or phone. This is sabotage and does not belong in your relationship at all.
- Isolation. If your partner is insisting that you spend all of your free time with them, making you emotionally or even physically dependent on them, if they prevent you from seeing or talking to your family or friends, or going to work or school then they are isolating you from others. If your partner insists on choosing your friends or has to be included in every conversation you have with others, take notice and don’t ignore this.
- Control. If your partner tells you what to wear, how to wear your hair, when to speak and what to think, you are being seen as a part of them and not as you anymore. If your partner insists on being involved in every conversation, if they go through your phone, your texts, your emails, belongings and messages; if they show up unannounced at your job or at places you are to check on you, beware! If they are sexually coercing you, making you feel bad about yourself if you don’t comply, then this isn’t love; it is control.
- Anger. If your partner loses their temper, yells, throws things, hits things (even if it isn’t a person they are hitting) even at small problems, if they overreact to inconvenient situations (very different from an actual emergency), if they set up “rules” just so they can pick a fight and make a scene when someone else falls short, then your partner has anger/control issues. The habit of anger and the uncontrolled expression of it towards others is a behavior that can escalate over time from yelling, to breaking things, to hitting/slapping, punching, hitting, kicking (and worse) to others. Violence starts with anger and lack of control. If your partner makes you feel afraid (EVER), then believe the feeling, not the remorse or excuses they make afterwards.
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