To continue with PART II of our look at singles’ warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, here are the next four.
Sign 4: You’re being isolated.
This one is the opposite of #3. There, you didn’t feel “part of.” Here, you’re “all of.” In the beginning, this seems very flattering. You are the center of attention. But after a while, you look around and notice that there is no one else in your circle. Just you and this person. You realize that your family has been cut off and so have your friends. That’s a big warning sign that something is wrong.
When someone does that, they take away your support system. When they have you to themselves, they can start to convince you that everyone else is wrong, sick, or no good. And without being able to talk to anyone about it, you start to become confused. That’s the goal. When you’re confused, you can turn to them more and more for answers.
It’s a form of mind control. When you have no one else to turn to, then this person has so much more power over your thoughts and opinions and how you spend your time. After a while, you don’t even quite know who you are. It is because we can express ourselves to others–and hear their reaction—that we clarify our ideas. And our ideas are the basis of who we are. So, don’t let anyone cut you off from your friends and family.
Sign 5: You’re always the bad one.
When something goes wrong, does your significant other manage to be the victim and you seem to always turn out to be the “bad guy”? Playing victim is a warning sign of someone who was emotionally abused growing up and always feels like he or she is being hurt. The problem is that no matter how innocent you are, no matter how kind your heart, you are always in the wrong. As much as you are concerned about the feelings of your friend, what about your feelings?
It’s not right to make you out to always be the bad one. In a relationship of two equals, both people will make mistakes; both people can be responsible for problems that come up. When you always become the bad one, what happens to the other person? Simple: He or she is totally freed of responsibility. If it’s always your fault, it’s never theirs. Do you see what a clever way this is to not have to look at themselves? This is another sign of a relationship you do not want to be in.
Sign 6: Conversations make no sense.
There are people in this world who just don’t like to think. And I’m not talking about doing schoolwork. They can be excellent academically or on the job. The thinking I’m talking about is what is involved in a pesonal accounting of one’s actions. It’s being reflective, looking at oneself. Thinking: “Could it be possible that I hurt someone else’s feelings?” In order to do this, one must be logical. One must be willing to admit, logically, that if most people say something would hurt their feelings, then that behavior probably really is hurtful. It’s not logical to just defensively respond, “No, it isn’t!”
One way people who don’t want to look at themselves get around this is to misquote others. Ann will tell something to Bill and then Bill will quote Ann as saying the exact opposite! Where in the world did Bill get that from? The answer is: It was more convenient to keep repeating something he wants to believe rather than sticking to the facts. Here’s another example of a conversation like that:
Lisa: My brother did the wrong thing in leaving you off the team, but he is usually a fair person. He must have had some kind of reason, even if it wasn’t a good one.
Paul: So, basically, what you’re saying is your brother can do no wrong.
Do you see where I’m going, here? Lisa said the exact opposite! She is trying to see the good in her brother and help Paul to see it, but she is taking Paul’s side here. Paul, however, wants no part of that. It’s easier for him to just say that Lisa has not taken his side at all. Now, he can launch into Sign 5 and make her the bad one with himself the victim.
If you find conversations end up like the one above with Lisa and Paul, this is not a healthy relationship. People have to really be able to hear what you say and not misquote you. The really annoying thing is that if Lisa and Paul get married, he will keep doing this for the next 47 years if they stay together that long. If you’re Lisa, don’t get started with it; it’s not going to get better.
Sign 7: There’s too much anger.
There are angry people in this world. Maybe they have good reason, but you know what? Anger feeds on itself and it doesn’t go away. It’s like a fire that is out of control: Everything in its path burns. People who are angry more often than not have bigger problems than you, as a friend, can handle. And you can easily become the target of their anger yourself. If your boyfriend or girlfriend often complains about others or is furious at them, this is not a relationship that will bring you joy.
I do understand how you might feel compassion for the suffering your friend has had, but your compassion will not make that suffering go away. All that will happen is the pain will suck you into that dark place your friend is in and then you will both be there in it together. There is no reason to throw away your whole life like that. And a good friend who really cares about you wouldn’t want you to be in that awful place anyway.
If the anger is directed at you, that’s even more reason to end the relationship. Anger escalates. Eventually, it could become dangerous.
So what do you do when faced with these seven signs?
The hardest thing is to confront someone who is making you uneasy or who frightens or depresses you. It’s scary. Step one is to reach out to the friends that you’ve been out of touch with and explain what’s going on. Explain that you’ve decided to break off the relationship and you want support. Get them on board. And if there is any potential for violence, you might consider contacting the police to be in the vicinity.
Step two is to meet in a public place to make the break so as to ensure both physical and psychological safety. With friends in the area should you need them, you can calmly explain that this relationship needs to end. Prepare for it by taking deep breaths, getting calm and focused.
Finally, you might find that you are harassed afterwards. Depending on how dangerous the relationship was, it could be violent. Be sure the right people know. Do not keep this to yourself. That is another topic, but an important one.
Most of all, focus on creating the good life that you want for yourself. And that begins by being with people who treat you well.