The problem with destructive relationships is that the clues are not always so obvious. Of course physical abuse is such an obvious sign that it virtually elicits a duh so it really does not count. The thing you have to understand about destructive relationships is that most times, the very things you think are sweet and romantic are actually the signs you should have been looking out for in the first place. Here are a few:
1. They always want you all to themselves.
Yes when a partner always wants to get you alone 24/7 and never share your attention with anyone at all, it's tempting to be flattered and very easy to get swept up in it and assume that they are possessive because they are crazy about you and can't bear to share you; most times, you would be right. But in the end, you are isolated from everyone; family and friends drop away and soon, that partner becomes the center of your universe and, you are virtually at their mercy because you become socially awkward and completely dependent on them for fun and conversation. It's underhanded, manipulative and very effective because hey, no man is really an island.
2. They make you work for their attention.
There can be no possible excuse for this one. If you are in a relationship where you have to work for crumbs of attention, you might want to get out as fast as you can because you are headed down a dangerous path otherwise. Take a look at the statistics, most people who commit or attempt suicide do that because of unrequited love. Now if you have to keep chasing after someone you are in a relationship with, chances are you end up feeling frustrated, your self-esteem suffers, and just when you are trying to catch your breath from all that running around after them,you realize that you have decided to settle for how badly they treat you; or worse, you become convinced that you don't deserve better.
3. They receive; you give.
Yes I understand the absolute joy that sweeps over you when you give your heart-throb a gift and watch his/her face light up. But when you are always the one doing the giving, materially, emotionally and otherwise, you might want to reconsider that relationship. Of course if you choose to continue along that path, you will give until you have nothing else left. Now for some of us, nothing about always being the giver suggests a destructive relationship but in truth, these are hoops you unwittingly jump through in the name of love and the fact is the more hoops you jump through, the more they place in front of you just for the fun of it.
4. They point out your flaws and make fun of you.
Frankly I think it's a no-brainer. Why would someone who professes to love you want to make you feel anything but good about yourself? Don't get me wrong, in healthy relationships, you may poke gentle fun at each other and tease the socks off each other; that's great and hilarious. But if say you are sensitive about your weight and your significant other baldly informs you in front of a roomful of people that your ass is the size of two pigs in a sack, I don't think you need me to tell you to get the hell outta Dodge!
5. They guilt or manipulate you into doing something you had rather not.
Like I said, not every destructive relationship comes with the obvious signs coz not every devil wears a horn and carries a pitchfork! A spouse may appear weak, vulnerable and weepy but in truth, they are playing you like a fiddle. You may decide to end the relationship and they turn on the waterworks; you may say you don't have money for a big vacation and they sulk and pout and list every time they made sacrifices for your ungrateful hide; you may decide you want your mother to come for Thanksgiving and they issue an ultimatum: "It's me or your mum! Choose!"
An abusive partner may generally use threats, intimidation, blame games, act like you are crazy or paranoid, and do all of the above and even more, but unfortunately, most times, the problem is not knowing you are in a destructive relationship, but knowing how to get out of it.
Feel free to look out for our next post on how to get out of a destructive relationship with your sanity and body parts intact! :)