If you follow our content then you've probably heard us say many times that it's very important to know what you expect in a relationship and to not settle for less than that. Of course, that's pretty much common sense but it's not always the easiest thing to follow through on.
We think one of the reasons it is so difficult is because we often don't really know what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like. Like most of us, you have probably had very unhealthy role-models and your past relationships probably haven't done much to change your ideas about Love. They usually just perpetuate them.
So when someone like us tells you to know your boundaries and standards and stick to them, you may not even know where to begin with that. And even if you do, you probably still accept a few things as normal that are actually highly abusive.
Before we begin, we want to be clear that, generally speaking, we don't think anyone is out to hurt you. Of course, there are people who get off on abusing people but that is usually not the case. Usually what you have are two decent people who are going through their own personal challenges and that results in abusive behavior between them.
As we go through these points, you may even recognize this behavior in yourself. That doesn't make you a bad person, it simply means that you've accepted some behavior as normal that is actually hurting you and your partner.
But to heal from this, we have to start to stand up to this behavior, to not allow it from others or ourselves, and that's what this post is about. We're going to look at 3 highly destructive behaviors that are commonly accepted in relationships.
This may come as a surprise to you, to hear that someone being inconsistent is actually abusive. After all, inconsistency is almost glorified in our culture. To be the busy person who's life is so full and in-demand by so many people that any one person becomes irrelevant to you--that's the dream.
In dating, inconsistency is usually attractive. When someone doesn't call or text back, it makes us think they are important, it makes us want their attention more, it makes us want to prove ourselves to them.
That's the image that we look to as being a powerful and confident person, someone who is independent and doesn't need anyone. In many ways, we're all trying to be that person, thinking that our deep need for Love and affection is something wrong with us and we try to hide it or ignore it altogether.
We don't realize that the people who "don't need anyone" are usually the most unsatisfied people. They have closed off the deepest and most vulnerable parts of themselves and have become a shell of a person.
Inconsistency is a tell-tale sign of such a person.
When someone is inconsistent, it means that they either don't understand that it's important for them to show up for the people they Love, or they don't care to. Either way, it doesn't bode well for a relationship.
Inconsistency means that they don't recognize their own need for Love and affection and therefore can't recognize it in someone else. How could someone who doesn't recognize their own need for Love truly Love someone else?
When someone is inconsistent with you in a relationship it leads to a constant feeling of not being safe, a constant wondering and uncertainty. It makes you doubt the person and doubt yourself. It makes you feel like you are not good enough. In the worst cases, it leads to jealousy and fighting.
When two people Love each other, they want to make each other feel safe. So it's not too much to ask for someone to check in with you, to let you know where they are, and what they're doing. We're not saying they have to give you every detail of their lives, but they include you in their life.
They call when they say they will. They respond to messages. They show up when you have plans. They let you know what their plans are. We're not suggesting any hard rules for this, but the point is they show up for you and you feel safe with them because of that.
A friend of mine once told me that a guy she was dating said to her that she would look better if she just lost a little weight and she was working really hard trying to look good enough for him. She was a young, healthy woman in great shape, most anyone would have thought she was beautiful, except for the person closest to her.
This kind of criticism is especially destructive because it creates a feeling that we are never good enough for the person we are closest to, that in our own private lives, and even in our homes, we are not good enough. And if we can't be good enough there, that will seep into every other area of our lives.
Criticism can show up in different ways. It can be about the physical, it can be about their "annoying habits", the things they say, the decisions they've made, their wanting to have sex too often or not enough, and on and on.
The point is this: criticism is done intentionally to bring your partner down, to make them feel bad about themselves. And when we are constantly criticized by the person we trust the most, it literally destroys our self-esteem.
If we look at this psychologically, it's because of our own limiting beliefs that we find problems with our partner. We become hypersensitive to the things that are "wrong" with them because in many ways we see them as a reflection of ourselves. The more we dwell on those things, the more pronounced they become.
Our criticism is usually an attempt to make them change thinking that we'll feel better when they do. We either fight with them about it or beat them into submission and make them try to change (as was the case with my friend).
Until this cycle is broken, no amount of change will really be enough and it will usually destroy our partner and the relationship.
Another extremely common way of abusing and being abused in a relationship is through punishment. Often it's something that you wouldn't even think is that big of a deal: the silent treatment, the cold shoulder, going out with friends, or passive-aggressive comments and actions.
It is often these small aggressions that chip away at a relationship piece by piece. It's not always the big blowout fight but the simple ways that you "let them have it": the way you make them feel "bad and wrong" for what they did, the way you hold a mistake over their head, sometimes not even telling them what you're upset about, or saying you're not upset at all.
When you didn't like what they said or did so you stay out a little later than you normally would to make them sweat about it. You make them think, "Where is he/she?" or "What is he/she doing?"
You threaten their ability to feel safe and good in the relationship. You steal their peace of mind, make them walk on eggshells.
Now, we've done this ourselves at times and we understand why it happens, but you have to understand that this is an incredibly destructive way to handle challenges in a relationship. There will be times that you're not happy with each other for all kinds of reasons but punishing each other for it will drive you apart and eventually cause you to resent each other.
Most of us have been raised in a punishment model; it's a way that our parents tried to make us be who they wanted us to be. Don't bring that into your relationship. You're not there to parent each other.
When someone cares about you, they want to know what's wrong. And when you care about them, you want to tell them. When you care about each other, you work through it together. There's no need to punish anybody.
Trust is so important to a Loving relationship. You can't really Love someone that you don't trust because to some degree you'll always be afraid of them. Don't make your partner live in fear of being punished and don't allow someone to do that to you.
Do your best to let the small stuff go and when something important comes up, Love each other enough to bring it to each other.
Abuse isn't always being hit or screamed at--those are the extreme versions. Lesser forms of abuse over time can have the same crippling effect on someone's self-esteem and worthiness. Sadly, subtle forms of abuse are accepted as normal in most relationships, and rather than the relationship being a safe place of refuge, it feels defeating.
Whether you are currently in a relationship or not, this is a very important conversation. We're sure that to some degree, everyone has experienced these behaviors in their relationships and they usually continue until they are consciously interrupted.
The best time to stand up to these behaviors is early on in a relationship. The longer you allow these to go on the more normalized it becomes and the more difficult it is to bring up and to change.
If you're in a relationship and you recognize this behavior, the best thing you can do is have an open conversation about the behavior itself. If you can both acknowledge that it's there and together choose to make a conscious effort to stop it, that is an excellent start.
Healing comes when you recognize that you Love the person and that means you don't want them to hurt. Two people who are willing to recognize that can always find healing.
If you've experienced this kind of abuse and would like to know how to create a conscious relationship, we'd Love to invite you to a very special event.
We will be hosting a one-hour presentation called Creating a Conscious Relationship. We're discussing some of the toxic patterns that prevent us from finding Love and how you can escape from them to build a Loving and Conscious lifelong partnership. Admission to the event is absolutely free and there are several dates you can choose from. Click here for more info.
Thanks for reading and lots of Love <3
Thank you so much for enjoying our content! Our greatest joy comes from knowing that people like you are using it to transform their lives and relationships and that the world is becoming a better place because of it.
We know the feeling of being alone, of struggling through what seems like an endless series of dead-end relationships, of waiting for the phone to ring, of being rejected and let down again.
We know what it's like to go to bed alone each night wondering if that will ever change and fearing that it might not.
We know these experiences all too well and that is why we do the work we do. We want you to know that you can find Love, that just the application of these simple tools and practices can make a complete difference in every aspect of your Love life and ultimately lead you to the lifetime partnership you so deeply crave.
You're not in this alone. We're here for you <3
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