How can you tell if your partner (or potential partner) is concerned, or controlling? There’s a fine line between being genuinely concerned about your well being and demanding to know your whereabouts. As someone who has been in a controlling relationship, it can be hard to spot the difference. Especially when the relationship is new. You get a text message asking when you’re going to be home, and you think – oh that’s sweet, my partner is thinking about me and wants to spend all their free time with me. But when you get home, they start questioning you about who you were with and what you were doing. It can be exhausting, so you stop going out with your friends because you don’t want to have to justify yourself to your partner. And it’s just easier this way.
This is emotional abuse. It could be psychological as well if your partner starts to gaslight you. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with that terminology, it means someone who makes you question your own sanity. An emotionally abusive partner doesn’t just happen overnight. This develops after a long time with the same partner. As I have indicated, in my experience, it started out under the guise of – I just want to spend all my time with you. Which was sweet and endearing. But after a few years of this, it slowly turned into “you can’t do anything right”, or simply “you shouldn’t do that because…” [insert rationale].
What do I mean? In my case, I was having a lot of health problems, and for those of you who know me, you know I like to address the issue from a holistic perspective. I also opt for natural remedies over traditional methods. Which means insurance doesn’t always cover the treatment. My ex-partner didn’t like this and he flew off the handle at me because I was spending too much money. Let me be clear – it was on my health, and not a new Michael Kors purse. But it didn’t matter. Any money that I was spending on that, was being taken away from him. More specifically his wants. My needs were nothing in this relationship.
It took me a long time to understand what he was doing and really see how this was problematic. It took me even longer before I was able to leave the relationship. It’s taken me two and a half years (including counseling) to be able to move past the trauma. I certainly don’t like to consider myself a victim, but in the end, that’s what it was. My advice to all of you out there who think you might be in a controlling or abusive relationship – talk to your friends or family. Sure, you don’t want to tell other people about your partner because its embarrassing to be that victim. But they can see what’s going on far more clearly than you can.
After my relationship ended, I finally opened up to a friend about what was going on and she said: “yeah, I know”. I was floored. I was embarrassed. Part of me wanted to scream – why didn’t you tell me sooner? But would I have listened? Maybe, maybe not. My point is that they often have the clarity that we don’t. As hard as it might be, this is a better option than having to figure it out on your own.