You don’t need a PhD in dating or a long list of previous relationships to know that being in one is hard. Even the couples we all aspire to be (Jay-Z/Beyonce, Barack/Michelle, or that couple you admire right here in Kenya) have problems. One of the things that could poison your blissful pairing with your significant other (SO) is you being emotionally abusive without even realizing it.
Yes, it happens! Rational, sane people like you and me don’t just wake up one morning and decide, “You know what? I’m gonna start being emotionally abusive to my partner from now henceforth!” The patterns develop because you’ve been through some form of abuse yourself, or you have some self-esteem issues, and so you start acting out.
If things have been a lot bumpier between you guys recently, you might want to consider the possibility of abuse and keep an eye out for the signs. Scary as it may be, it’s necessary if you’re going to have a relationship that’s positive and healthy. You’re better off catching it early and fixing it before it gets really bad and your partner is seriously hurt.
If things get ugly, having a serious talk with your SO would help. You might even need professional help in serious cases.
The signs of abuse are many. Some are obvious and some are so well-disguised as seemingly normal behavior that you’d have to be an experienced psychiatrist to catch them. Here are four especially nasty behaviors that might be signs of emotional abuse.
You’re Always Falling Back on the Silent Treatment
The silent treatment seems harmless because, after all, you’re not yelling, right? Nope. Think again. Your deafening silence can cause as much harm as loud fights on your balcony in full view of your neighbors. It’s a cruel punishment aimed at making your partner anxious as they torture themselves wondering “what they did wrong” and “how bad it is”. It’s among the first steps down the road to abuse.
You Go From 0 to 100 Real Quick in Arguments
We all know secrets that, if let out in the open, would devastate those we love. These are topics to be avoided, especially when arguing. Intentionally bringing them up just to hurt or hit back at your partner is a huge red flag. We all at one time or the other catch ourselves being deliberately condescending and saying hurtful things. If you don’t dial back when this happens, you’re not OK.
Your Partner Often Accuses You of Being “Selfish” in Bed
Things in the bedroom aren’t always 50/50, but that is not to say that you shouldn’t both try to put in the work. If you’re the only one whose needs are being met — either because you ignore your partner’s needs or you guilt them into having sex — you’re being emotionally abusive.
You’ve Tried to Make Your Partner Think They’re Crazy
You might at times say and do stuff to make your partner doubt if what they’re experiencing is real. In other words, you play cruel mind games and distort facts in a bid to control them. We’ve all done it at some point to win arguments. All the same, messing with your partner’s grasp of reality is without doubt abusive.
Acting in a way that leans towards emotional abuse points to your own underlying issues. If you realize that you might have emotionally abused your partner, beating yourself up won’t help. Talk to them, as well as a therapist, about it and work out your self-esteem issues. You both deserve to be happy.