The charmer you are dating could be an emotional abuser. WHAT??? I know I made you stop in your tracks a little bit. But you know what? Emotional abuse is such an insidious process and digs so deep that it’s usually always too late by the time you discover it. I see the signs of emotional abuse in so many of my clients. They come to me because they feel like they aren’t good enough for their partner; they say that they end up hurting their partner, often unintentionally and that they feel like they are victimizing their partner. But what they don’t realize is this is happening because they are dating an abuser.
After a few sessions, the layers start to come off and you realize how they have been gradually made to believe this illusion and that they are the real victims of emotional abuse. So even though the signs of emotional abuse are very hard to spot in the initial stages of the relationship, if you’re aware, maybe you can be a bit more careful when you fall for someone.
5 Signs Of Emotional Abuse You Should Notice When dating
It does hit you when with the time you realize the man who could be so charming could also throw you into an emotional turmoil constantly. You are in a perpetual state of doubt and self-loathing. These are the 5 signs of emotional abuse you should look out for.
1. Too much too soon
Abusers like to establish a complete connect with you really fast. That’s the only way to ensure that you will be under their charm completely. So they come at you with grand gestures of love and charm very quickly, one after the other; so quickly that you don’t get time to catch your breath and before you know it, you’re pining for them.
So if you feel like this ‘awesome’ connection is just too good to be true, then it probably is. If he is going on date after date, calling you frequently even though you meet every day, romancing you with flowers and gifts, try and get some space. All these gestures by themselves are wonderful, but the key you are looking for is quick succession so that he makes sure he’s all there in your mind and you will never realise you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.
2. Subtle control
He will slowly start to dictate your choices but in a very backhanded way. Like, “Are you sure you want to wear that?” Imperceptibly taking over the menu choices while ordering at the restaurant, putting in too many questions about your friends while asking about your day, expressing negativity about the people you hang out with – all this under a shroud of “wanting the best for you” and these are absolute tell-tale signs of emotional abuse.
3. Negative compliments
Now you might wonder what the heck is negative compliments? They are statements that abusers use to make you feel like they are complimenting you but are actually drawing attention to what they think are your flaws because that keeps you confused and looking for their approval.
A negative compliment could sound like, “Hey I like your new haircut; it’s perfect for someone with a small face”, or, “Love that black dress; black always does a great job of making one look slim, doesn’t it?”
Now if you want to analyse these statements and tell anyone about this, they’d surely tell you that “C’mon, he was paying you a compliment, you’re reading too much into it.” But trust your gut feeling.
His strategy is to have you all to himself – not out of love – but to have absolute power over you because the more isolated you are, the more you rely on him for approval and the fewer chances you have for a second opinion on what your instinct is telling you.
So he will slowly and gradually draw you away from your friends – sometimes by keeping you in the love-induced happy haze, sometimes by quietly hinting that an innocuous comment a friend of yours made was actually a taunt directed at him, but you’re too sweet to see it.
And you’re so in love with him that you can’t bear that he’s been affronted by one of your friends; so you start making excuses to yourself – “Oh! They just don’t understand him”, “He’s not like other dumb guys and so they’re probably jealous”, and you keep believing him.
5. The blame game
And finally, the last weapon in his arsenal – the victim card. When things start to escalate – his anger, his nastiness – he starts to make you believe that it’s YOU who provokes him to go to extremes; and then he deflates your defenses by dissolving in a pool of extreme shame and pleas of forgiveness, until the next time you ‘provoke’ him again. This is the vicious cycle of abuse. It contains just the right amount of affection and tenderness to keep you hooked and doubting yourself.
So if you think any or all of these signs resonate with your current relationship, create some space, go somewhere and take a rethink. And in the meantime, if his anger escalates because you’re taking this space, maybe it’s time to find some help.
DISCLAIMER: Any or all of these things may be found in a non-abuser as well for completely different reasons. So take some time to really be sure that all the signs are there before you dump him or accuse him.