Sometimes love can be blind, but it helps when friends and family are able to recognize symptoms of an unhealthy relationships that you may miss. Listen for these verbal cues and others from people around you to detect when things with your partner might be going south.
I can’t believe he did that to you!
When you’re retelling an incident with your boyfriend to a friend, she responds with a shocked gasp and expresses worry for your safety. Your friend is surprised that he humiliated you like that. Maybe you brushed off his disrespect towards you before, but having someone else recognize it is a sign that you may be in a controlling relationship. This is a good opportunity to confide to your friend about what you have experienced and reach out for help.
Is that her again?
You’re having dinner with your brother and your phone rings for the third time since you got to the restaurant. Your brother sighs and is obviously annoyed that he can’t spend a couple of hours with you without your girlfriend interrupting to ask where you are and when you’ll be done. You tried to convince yourself that she was showing you how much she cared, but now you can admit to your brother and yourself that you need some space from her. You and your brother can brainstorm ways to communicate with your girlfriend about what a more reasonable amount of contact throughout the day looks like.
I feel like you’re a different person around him.
Your Mom and Dad have had your boyfriend over for dinner a few times in the last month, and they want to sit down and talk with you about your relationship. They say that you put yourself down in front of him or don’t talk at all, while you’re usually a very confident chatterbox. Let your parents support you by becoming aware of their concerns in your relationship. Take notice of any feelings of apprehension or insecurity you feel around your boyfriend and talk to him or your parents about it to see what can be done to regain your self-confidence.
I never see you anymore now that you’re dating her.
You stopped going to practice for your after-school soccer team when your girlfriend complained you weren’t paying enough attention to her needs. You run into your old teammates at lunch and they ask why they never get to hang out with you anymore. You feel isolated from your friends and miss playing soccer, but you don’t want to make your girlfriend angry. This may be a good time to talk to your girlfriend about what after-school activities she might be interested in joining and explaining to her how important soccer and your friends are to you. Healthy relationships should involve compromise, not control.
How have you helped a friend recognize his or her abusive relationship? What would you say if you started seeing red flags in a friend’s relationship?