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Monday, August 01, 2011
When people end up in an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s usually a reflection of what they learned about affection as kids. Our brains are wired for bonding, and if we grew up in a home with parents who were harsh, judgmental, and unkind, we probably learned to confuse love with pain –duplicating this pain over and over again in our adult relationships.
It’s important to recognize early warning signs of emotional abusers. Here are a few red flags to watch out for:
1. Being a blamer. A person can blame someone for cutting him or her off on the road, or worse, blame their ex for making their life tough. This blaming trait is hard to detect because it’s often hidden in a compliment. For instance he or she might say, “You’re nothing like that %!* I used to date.” The law of blame is that it goes to the closest person –you’ll eventually be the object of it.
2. Being resentful. People like this don’t know how to deal with the fact that life can sometimes be tough and unfair. They dwell on the injustice; their resentment is a self-defense mechanism.
3. Having an entitlement complex. If life is so hard for them, then they’re entitled to cut in line and break other rules. If you let this person get close, they’ll feel entitled to abuse you if you don’t let them have their way.
4. Having a superiority complex. Emotionally abusive people aren’t satisfied by feeling OK about themselves –they have to feel better than other people. This can play out as competitiveness or self-righteousness, and can be charming at first because he or she might flatter you with the ways in which you, too, are superior.
5. Being petty. If this is the kind of person that will make a big deal about anything, like when a waitress doesn’t put enough ice in his/her soda –be warned.
6. Being sarcastic. This sort of humor is designed to make someone feel bad. Eventually, you’ll be the target.
7. Being deceitful. If your partner exaggerates or distorts his/her past, it’s a bad sign. It’s not unusual to put on a good face when you’re trying to impress a potential mate. But lying shows that their self-respect—and their regard for you—is low.
8. Being jealous. It’s OK to be a little jealous, but any more can be toxic. Most severe relationship violence has jealousy at its root.
9. Being pushy. Those who push for too much too soon can be trouble. Your partner should care more about your boundaries than his/her desires.
Breaking up with an emotionally abusive partner isn’t easy. These relationships can be like a physical addiction; when romantic love mixes with fear, the result is powerful and dangerous.