is your sexual past used against you: young person sitting on a bed with a book looking sad; another person with glasses sits on the floor at the foot of the bed

Is Your Partner Using Your Sexual History Against You?

By Nicole H., a loveisrespect advocate

If you’re reading this post, you might be feeling like you have to change or be someone you’re not with your current partner because of things that happened in your past. Maybe you’ve had a number of partners before, or maybe you’ve experienced some kind of sexual trauma, and your current partner is using those experiences to control, blame or shame you. This can be incredibly painful; after all, why would someone who is supposed to love you make you feel so bad? It’s important to understand that if you are struggling in this way, you are not alone. You cannot change the past. You deserve someone who is willing to understand, respect and care for you, no matter what happened before.

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7 Ways to Tell if Your Partner Might Be Manipulative

By Suzannah Weiss. Originally published on Everyday Feminism.

“I think I do it to distract myself.”

I was telling a friend about my newly acquired habit of picking the split ends from my waist-length hair.

“From what?”

“Anger.” I thought about it. “I’m angry all the time.”

“With who?”

My eyes darted around the room. I was scared to admit it. “My boyfriend.”

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4 Ways to Find Out If Your Partner Is Using Their Depression as an Excuse for Controlling Behavior

By Ashley Truong. Originally published on Everyday Feminism

At first it was only little comments.

Your partner would shake their head disapprovingly after you dyed your hair. They’d scoff at your taste in music.

After a while, though, you couldn’t just laugh it off, pretending it didn’t bother you.

Your partner was belittling you in front of friends and family – even strangers! They told you it was just gentle teasing, and for a while you agreed and chalked it up to you being overly sensitive.

It didn’t stop stinging though.

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Help, My Partner is Blackmailing Me!

“If you don’t do what I tell you to do, I’ll tell your parents we had sex.”

“If you break up with me, I’ll post those pics everywhere…”

If your partner makes threats like this, they’re putting you in a really tough spot. This type of threat is called blackmail, and you might feel like you have no option but to do what your partner says. Blackmailing is a form of emotional abuse and, like all abuse, is about power and control. A person who uses this tactic wants to make you afraid of some consequence in order to get you to do what they want.

In order for a relationship to be healthy, partners must trust that when they set boundaries and are intimate with each other, both people will uphold those boundaries and neither will attempt to hurt the other partner. Making threats like this is a violation of that trust. Threats are not a sign of love or care, but of manipulation and control. You never deserve to be threatened, no matter what, and you are never responsible for your partner’s choice to be abusive. Unfortunately that doesn’t make dealing with threats like this any easier. So what can you do if your partner is blackmailing you and trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do?

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Relationship Games

This post was written by Gabriella, a loveisrespect intern.

Winter break is coming up, and that means you can finally relax instead of worrying about school.

Wish you could say the same about a relationship?

Sometimes unsteady or new relationships can feel confusing and hard to navigate, especially if a crush is playing “relationship games.” These games aren’t very much fun, and they usually include behaviors that don’t help build a healthy relationship.

So what are some of these “games,” and how do you spot them?

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What is Gaslighting?

“You’re crazy – that never happened.”

“Are you sure? You tend to have a bad memory.”

“It’s all in your head.”

Does your partner say things like this to you a lot? Do you often start questioning what’s really true – or even your own sanity – within your relationship? If so, your partner may be using what mental health professionals call “gaslighting.”

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When Your Partner Threatens Suicide

“I’ll kill myself if you leave me.”

It seems like a no-win situation. When someone you’re close to says something like this, it can feel like the world just stopped spinning.

People who have a mental illness, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, typically have a higher risk for suicide. Depression, a history of substance abuse, and other disorders carry risks as well. If your partner truly wishes to die and has a plan and intention to follow through, get immediate help. Call your local emergency number, or call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

But what if your partner regularly threatens suicide, particularly whenever you’re not doing something they want you to do? First, understand that this is a form of emotional abuse: your partner is trying to manipulate you by playing on your feelings of love and fear for them. You might get angry when this happens, but you also might feel stuck giving in to them in order to avoid a potential tragedy. When your partner makes these threats repeatedly, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and possibly help your partner as well:

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Shhhh…Keeping a New Relationship Secret

New relationships are exciting! Usually, we can’t wait to let everyone know, change our Facebook status and spend all our time with our new flame.

But sometimes just when you’re ready to make every profile picture be a couple shot, your partner stops you: “Let’s just keep this a secret between us.”

When a relationship’s secret, it might add to the excitement for awhile — you sneak around to new places, come up with secret meeting spots and maybe even have code names. Your relationship is something just the two of you share.

It’s understandable to want to wait a couple weeks before telling the world. However, if you or your partner wants to keep it a secret indefinitely, you might think twice about why you’re not ready to share.

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Breaking Up Safely

We here at loveisrespect were deeply saddened by the death of Massachusetts teen Lauren Astley. During her shift at a clothing boutique, Astley’s phone was “blowing up” with text messages from her ex-boyfriend, her supervisor said. The texts were so unrelenting that she agreed to meet with him after she finished work. Read more about it here.

The most dangerous time for a partner in an abusive relationship is when the relationship is ending. As the power and control is slipping through the fingers of the abuser, the anger and hurt they feel over the breakup often translates into very serious violence. We get a lot of calls and chats from abused partners wanting to break things off, but they’re afraid of what could happen next. It can be helpful to come up with a plan. Here are some things to think about:

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T9 This! Are You Being Textually Harassed?

Texting is currently the most instant form of communication next to talking one-on-one. Though many people have grown accustomed to texting rather than dialing up their significant other for an old fashioned phone call, texting can feel impersonal, or even anonymous, since it doesn’t convey tone or emotion the way a voice can. While texting might be the perfect platform to send cute love notes to your partner before bed, there are some things to look out for in a textual relationship with your partner.

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