In the beginning of every relationship, there’s a lot of communication; you want to know each other, find out about them, be connected while not together, and, naturally, missing the other person and wanting to spend time with them. If you can’t do that the moment you need, the next best is to call or text them. Nothing’s wrong with that. The problem starts when the other person starts creeping you out “why didn’t you pick up?” and “pick up now!” and complains if you don’t text back immediately. They get annoyed that you are not responding to their calls and texts, take it personally and this sweet thing that’s supposed to be passionate communication becomes a burden for you.
Obviously, it doesn’t start like that. In the beginning, it’s even cute, when they need to be in touch with you, talk to you, feel you, tell you how much they love you. It’s an extension of the calling/texting you all the time need. But in this case, the other person becomes your shadow. They demand to know your whereabouts, who you met, what you said, how you felt, everything. You cannot be vague about things. You need to report back to them with full detail. All in the name of love. But when there’s love, trust, and respect -and these are all necessary ingredients for a healthy relationship- then there’s no need to track your partner down.
You hit it off, you have a good time together and it’s fun spending time the two of you. Then comes a time in a relationship when you feel ready to introduce the other person to your friends and be introduced to their crowd. But somehow this moment doesn’t happen. They either make excuses “I really want to be with you” and “why bother?” and they stay away from your or their friends. It’s like the two of you living on a deserted island; you know there’s life someplace out there, but you don’t seem able to reach it. And what started out like fun and exciting becomes restricting and suffocating. In a healthy relationship, there’s alone time for the couple but there’s also socializing, meeting each other’s friends, and having a good time as a group.
Part of any healthy relationship is communicating with each other, revealing things about yourself, listening to what the other person has to say, getting to know and appreciate each other. But it’s becoming problematic when the other person starts pressuring you to say more about your family, your past, your ex-partners, your love life, your secrets when you are not ready or willing to do it. This is a form of pressure that can easily get to emotional abuse when they threaten to leave you because you don’t reveal as much as they want to know about you. It gets even worse when the other person starts using your secrets to pressure or threaten you.
Another red flag! Show, don’t tell should be the golden standard when it comes to “proving” love. If the other person truly and genuinely loves you and cares about you, there’s no need to make grandiose statements. You can figure that much out from their behavior. The issue is with their behavior! The “nobody will ever love you the way I do” is often a statement they say after they have messed up, after a fight or an episode of not treating you well. The underlying meaning of this supposed loved statement is “that’s what you deserve and don’t ask for more or better.” It’s basically a way for the other person to cover their butt and persuade you that what you get is plenty.
They flip for whatever reason, usually small and insignificant, they hurt your feelings and then they try to make up by saying “sorry,” reassuring you they love you so much, that in fact, they know that nobody will ever love you the way they do. And they ask for a second chance. And a third. And so on. You lost count. They insist on a fresh chance and they reassure you that this won’t happen. Ever again. Sure enough, it does. They flip, you have a fight, they come back begging you for a second chance. You give in and the pattern continues.
You follow each other on social media. Soon you realize it’s becoming more than that. They demand to know why you chose to post this versus that photo. Why you made this specific comment, or who was the person who commented on your post with so many heart emojis. They suggest what you share on your social media. They ask that you share passwords on your social media. It all feels uncomfortable and pressuring. Because that’s what it is. When you lose your basic freedom of speech and personal expression out of fear your significant other will be disappointed or even mad at you, then there’s a problem.
Is there anything better than a romantic partner who cares so much about you that they suggest what’s good for you and gently push you in that direction? Actually, yes, there’s something better than that! When your partner respects you, trusts your choices and believes that your decisions are for the best. Because when they try to push you in a direction you don’t want to go or when they disagree with your choices or tell you constantly what you need to learn to do better that’s not out of love or concern; it’s outright their way to control you.