I’ve been on a wild rollercoaster of emotions lately. Between writing my book, hosting my writer’s workshops, and making edits for a print article coming out in July, I’ve been busy. So busy that I forgot to send my interview out this week. But expect it next week and expect a GOOD one from my friend and fellow Medium writer, John Gorman.
Writing my book has taken me into the headspace of my younger self. Think: 20 years old, a hopeless romantic, at the mercy of every person I dated’s opinion.
So I casually posted a fun little question on Instagram. I invited people to talk about the mean things their exes said about them that they believed at that time.
Just like the rest of us, I’ve had some gruesome exes. My examples were:
“When you stick out your tongue in photos if makes you look trashy.”
“You should cover up your arms and stomach, your fat is showing.”
I know, poetry, right?
People responded with the most vulnerable, heart-breaking responses:
“Wow your shoulders are so broad, you look like a man.”
“No one will ever love you like I do.”
“You’re being way too sensitive.”
“You’ll never be the one.”
“You shouldn’t wear skirts, your knees aren’t pretty.”
“You should try to be stable and be a mystery.”
And so on..
Emotionally abusive relationships are the scariest kind. It’s so hard to recognize emotional abuse when you’re caught up in it. It’s not until you get out that you see the light. But by the time that happens, the damage is done.
It broke my heart reading those responses. All of those words are simply opinions shrouded in a person’s own insecurities. They do not hold truth.
I am not the mean words said to me by my ex. You are not the horrible words someone spewed carelessly into your past relationships.
You determine your worth and you decide what is your truth.
If you’re worried you might be in an emotionally abusive relationship currently, pay attention to these signs…
They threaten to leave you during arguments
Threatening to abandon someone is not a healthy means of arguing. It’s a manipulation tactic aimed to make an argument or situation end in the person’s favor. If the relationship means that little to them, then consider if you want to be in that kind of relationship.
They make you feel crazy
Do you go into an argument confident and leave questioning yourself? Does your partner use their words to confuse you? This is known as gaslighting, and it’s a common tactic of emotional abuse. Your partner is attempting to gain control of the situation by making you question your own sanity.
They control who you see and when
Part of a healthy relationship is having independent lives outside of the relationship. If a partner tries to dictate who you see and when it is a control tactic via isolation. Your partner may be scared that the outside perspective of your family and friends will help you see things more clearly.
They withhold affection as a means of manipulation
There’s a term for this, and it’s called Emotional Withholding. It’s not healthy for your partner to shut down and stonewall you. A thriving relationship has communication as a top priority. Needing space is acceptable, but going silent without explanation is not.
They’re always trying to make you jealous
If they’re constantly toeing the line of cheating, then they’re using the threat of intimacy with another to control your emotions. A partner shouldn’t give you reasons to feel jealous; they should make you feel respected, and like you can trust them.
They’re offensive with their jokes
Lighthearted teasing is perfectly fine, but if you’re always at the butt of their offensive jokes, that’s not ok. If you let them know their words hurt you, and you’re told you’re “too sensitive,” they’re disregarding your well-founded feelings. You deserve to be treated better.
They act superior
In a relationship, partners are equal; there is no question of who is better. Your partner belittling your accomplishments or putting you down will slowly start to eat away at your confidence. You’ll be left feeling inferior to them, which makes for a very unhealthy relationship.
They criticize how you look
What you choose to wear and how your body looks is only your concern. Someone who is emotionally abusive will attempt to shame you or insist they’re trying to protect you. Neither is ok. This is an attempt to control your behaviors and potentially tear down your self-confidence.
They call you names
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, a relationship needs respect. There is absolutely no respect in a partner calling you names; it’s childish and uncalled for. It’s an attempt to manipulate your emotions, to get you to feel differently about yourself rather than focus on the issue at hand.
They threaten to harm themselves during arguments
If your partner genuinely plans to carry out hurting themselves, then you should contact authorities or the suicide hotline. However, if they bring this threat up in arguments often, it’s a tactic that plays on your love for them and fear for their safety. Remember that this is a form of abuse, and you’re not responsible for their actions.
To everyone that ever questioned their worth because of an ex:
The only person that will ever determine your value is you. No one can make take away from your worth. You are worthy of love and worthy of happiness. Anyone that doesn't have your well-being in mind doesn’t deserve to be in your life. You might have believed someone’s narrative for you in the past, but you’re able to re-write it moving forward.
Some helpful content…
Zosia Mamet talks about the intricacies of an emotionally abusive relationship. There are ways to get closure without getting closure. There’s a reason it’s hard to get over an abusive ex. This is how you get the ultimate revenge on your ex. Don’t forget, the abuse was never your fault. And lastly, my own personal essay (written a long time ago, be gentle on me) about my experience with an emotionally abusive ex.
Until next week... stay sane & healthy.
All the love,
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