It Started On the First Day: Spotting the signs
Majority of toxic or abusive behaviours in relationships begin from the very first day of the relationship. How? Abusive or toxic behaviours begin in two ways.
- Through your partner’s actions or opinions
- Through your omission or acceptance ( verbally or non-verbally)
For example, you just met your partner and fall in love with him, right? Each time
your friend rings, he’ll tell you not to answer the call because he wants to spend the
time with you. He tells you, “I love you so much and I just want to spend some quality
time with you.” So, because you believe that he loves you, you accept and ignore
your friend’s calls.
What has just happened? Three things just happened:
- You just made him set a rule that will govern the relationship. And what is the rule? The rule is that you shouldn’t speak to your friends while he’s with you. So when you finally move in with him, that rule continues – no friendship. I want to spend all the time with you. You’re mine! And this rule may extend to your family members. What happens when he’s not there all the time? Loneliness kicks in because he’s succeeded to chase all loved ones.
- Through your omission or acceptance, you just made him understand that whatever thing he tells you, you have to obey. Why? Because you didn’t have the guts to question his opinion or decision. That, in a way, silences your voice in the relationship right from the beginning.
- Because you couldn’t question his decisions or behaviour from the beginning, who tells you he/she is going to listen to you when you attempt to? In fact, when you start doing that, it will be another hell, because he’ll start telling you that you no longer respect him and so, he begins to exhibit emotional and physical abuse against you.
Why do we allow this from the beginning?
It’s because we fail to spot the signs, and we do so for varied reasons
- We’re always so much in love such that every behaviour at that time is an expression of love.
- We’re usually not bold enough to questions our partners’ behaviours from the onset. This may be because we lack the confidence, we want to show them that we’re submissive or we may not even know how to approach it.
- We’re usually scared that we may lose them. Many partners don’t question toxic behaviours because they may be seen as “disrespectful” or “bossy” or “troublesome” and so our partner may discontinue the relationship. It’s better for the relationship to end at the start, than you getting into it and not happy. They say “A broken courtship is better than a bad marriage.”
- We don’t identify our needs in the relationship from the onset because we want to please our partner. And when we eventually begin doing so, it’s regarded as disrespect.
- We don’t set healthy boundaries from the start. And so we allow one partner to do as he/she pleases.
By setting emotional, communication, physical, financial, spiritual and material boundaries, we’re alerting the other partner on where the line is drawn. He/she better respect it or quits.
- We rejected their first offer or gesture, and thus, created a rule. You remember when he first offered to wash the dishes, and you said, “No, don’t bother. It’s my duty to wash them…?” Well, you unconsciously set a rule to wash the dishes forever!
- We fail to create a level playing field from the start. We don’t come into the relationship as equals. Women would usually make the men look like the god in the relationship. The man makes the rule, do what he pleases and so on; while the woman stays at the obedient end. We shouldn’t forget that reciprocity is the key to relationships.
- We don’t usually have enough courtship. Many partners rush into relationships, without enough time to know each other. One minute they’re in love, the next minute they’re married. Courtship is vital because it’s a study period for both partners. And it takes time to know someone’s personalities.
- We may have little or no exposure to life (ignorance). When we’re not exposed to realities of life, we may easily do all the above. Thankfully, today we can learn everything we need to know just by a click.
So, whether you’re single, in a courtship or married, these are some of the key
factors to consider for, and in your relationship. Whatever rule you set at the start
may likely continue through the relationship. Therefore, watch what you authorise
consciously or unconsciously.
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