Relationships born of physical or sexual attraction alone can result in a wake-up call one day where you wonder what you ever saw in the other person. I’m not talking about when the “rose-tinted” glasses come off and you see the flaws in your mate that you overlooked in the beginning; no, I’m talking more about the kinds of relationships where someone is big trouble and you end up knee-deep in problems because you failed to see the signs before it was too late. Abusive behavior, irrational choices, a lack of morals, and other forms of destructive behavior (to themselves or you) can all be put into this category.
How People may Fall Prey
It’s not hard to miss certain warnings, as we rationalize people and their actions or words all the time. “Oh, he’s just like that because…” and we accept it. Or, “she’s harmless,” and we roll our eyes in mention of the individual. Digging deeper into a romantic relationship, because of your feelings for the other person, you may rationalize his or her family background, lack of job, or sullen moods as secondary issues. They are not problems because they are merely situations that made it hard for that person to cope, but you are loving him or her anyway. You may even be determined to help him or her be a better person.
Perhaps there is a positive change in the right direction. You rejoice, thumbing your nose at the nay-sayers and skeptics who warned you in the first place. But then the unthinkable happens: the person you love morphs into a (scary) stranger. It may seem to happen over time, as a result of an incident or string of incidents you have experienced together, or it can happen overnight. Either way, once you have experienced a change in your partner, you probably don’t get concerned about it until a pattern develops and you have seen through the lies.
By then, you are finding it harder and harder to break away, until you are trapped and feeling unsure of how to end things. Maybe you even fool yourself into thinking the other person loves you regardless and your love will set things right. Maybe you both have children, and the situation will be even better. Sadly, the statistics tell a different story: for every 100,000 groups of pregnant women or new mothers, as many as three become victims of murder, or eventually commit suicide because they can no longer cope.
This is not limited, however, to merely women. In fact, a man whose partner is abusive in some way is less likely to seek help, because of the stigma surrounding the problem of abuse being generally thought of FIRST as a problem against women. And of course, women can just as easily harm their children and partners in the same kind of cold-blooded fashion.
Recognizing Signs: Red Flags
Sometimes the person you love had you fooled all along. He or she may have put on a good front for your family and friends, so that they (and even you) earned his or her trust. That way, when things get ugly later, your complaints may be less likely listened to, and you begin doubting whether you are really having a problem. Troubled people enjoy doing that to you, because they want you isolated from your loved ones and be under this tyrant-spouse’s exclusive “rule”.
But even in such extreme cases, there are always signs. Ask any former victim of abuse, and they would likely tell you in hindsight what they should have seen right away as suspicious. So if you are newly acquainted with someone you want to date, or are in a relationship that you are wondering is worth taking to the next level, you might want to check these potential warning signs, for when you really need to turn the other way (fast!!):
- Making fun of/avoiding people. This may include extreme cynicism, bad-mouthing own family or friends, having a gloomy outlook on life, or being quick to fault others.
- Skewed sense of work ethic. This may include over-achieving or under-achieving at work, having a questionable career, weak morals, and inability to use good financial judgement. It goes beyond just career dissatisfaction, or being a workaholic. These people feel entitled, whether they work hard or not, and are prone to get angry if things don’t go their way.
- Inability to cope with change. Oftentimes when people will find themselves in stressful situations, it can be hard to change gears. But while those who are of a criminal mind wait for opportunity to present itself, they will look for someone to blame for their problems – whether it was their own fault, or actually someone else’s fault.
- Possessiveness, moodiness, and general paranoia. These seem to go together. The more you challenge them, or put up a fight, the more they will feel threatened and want to lash out at you. If ever you find yourself in a situation where your partner scares you, chances are it won’t be the last time. Also, if you notice that he or she is charming and sociable in public, but withdrawn when alone with you, then you might find yourself in a kind of trap where if something ever happens to you, it will be your word against theirs
- Physical or verbal abuse. If ever you are hit or yelled at, this is not normal! Civilized people may yell after a prolonged time of heated discussions, but at no time should there be any name-calling, put-downs, or physical assault. Just because you forgot to buy something, or said hello to someone of the opposite sex, does not mean you should be punished.
Range of Normal Behavior
In any relationship, people do make mistakes. We all get depressed, lose jobs and loved ones, and at times have a hard time understanding one another. But if you notice your partner or date exhibiting the above characteristics on a regular basis, then it is very unlikely you will ever “change” him or her. And if you have your concerns about that person, are nagged or bossed around, or you don’t feel safe, then duck out while you can! There is usually a reason why we harbor doubts in the first place – usually because we seek clarification on a person’s character, or the reasons behind his or her actions. We want to know if we can trust, and if we are accepted for who we are. It is important to listen to your instincts and act accordingly. Watch his or her emotions over things you discuss. Is he or she genuinely interested in what you say or do, or are you the one doing all the work (in the relationship)? Taking the time to evaluate your relationship or potential relationship now can save you a whole lot of heartache or drama later.
Other Helpful Sites to Visit
Marriage Magazine – Currently run by a new publisher, stay tuned for more new information to come.
For Your Marriage This site has many helpful articles and a message for the day. It contains a ton of fresh content about marriage, parenting and other familt matters variety updated almost every day. The Marriage and Family Committee of the Council of Bishops tends this site
Father Calvo’s Pages Fr. Gabriel Calvo is the founder, along wtih several couples from Spain, of Marriage Encounter. His current emphasis is on families through the F.I.R.E.S program. This is an acronym for Families, Intercommunication, Relationships, Experiences, Services. For more information, see FIRES website or write to: F.I.R.E.S. Inc., 1425 Otis St. NE, Washington, DC 20017.
Better Marriages Fiesta (800-795-5683)
United Marriage Encounter (866-483-8889)
Retrouvaille (800-470-2230) is a program to help couples in troubled marriages heal and renew their own marriage relationship.
World Wide Marriage Encounter (800-795-5683)
- Chrissy Billis: The OK Cupid Killer
- Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T.: Is Your Partner A Secret Sex Addict? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Relationships and Mental Illness Part I: Romantic Relationships (thoughtsunthinkable.wordpress.com)
- Dating Violence Common Among Teens (education.com)
- What is Abuse? (journeyafterabuse.wordpress.com)
- 5 Phases to a Committed Relationship, Part 2 (jontaber.wordpress.com)
- 9 Signals of Poor Communication in Relationship (xpressurview.wordpress.com)
- How to Recognize a Manipulative or Controlling Relationship (saskatoonconnections.wordpress.com)
- Post #663: What is Love? (yourcaptainspeaks.com)
- Unacceptable Behavior in The Partnership (socyberty.com)
- My Victim Story (allisonnazarian.com)
- Teens In Abusive Relationships (foreverglamgirl.wordpress.com)
- Abuse in Dating Relationships (saskatoonconnections.wordpress.com)
- Grants Target Indian Elder Abuse (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- My Letter to My Mother – Overcoming Emotional Abuse (ressurrection.wordpress.com)
- Domestic violence includes emotional as well as physical abuse (pennlive.com)
- Why Won’t She Leave! (startstrongaustintx.wordpress.com)