Romance can make us blind to all the signs that we’re in a bad relationship. It is difficult to accept the fact that the loves of our lives can also possess awful, sometimes dangerous qualities. How can one person seem so fantastic, yet have such horrible tendencies and habits only moments later? Nobody is perfect, and people grow and change, so hopefully any mild issues within your partnership can be resolved. However, other problems can only be taken care of by ending the relationship and breaking all ties with your partner. So what are some of the problems that you should never tolerate in a relationship?
Many of the intolerable behaviors that partners may exhibit stem from insecurity and the desire to establish control and dominance in the relationship. Partners may make frequent unfounded cheating accusations, utter cruel remarks regarding your goals and accomplishments, or try to convince you that your grievances are made-up as a result of their own inferiority complexes. Sometimes your partner’s controlling behavior can escalate to include intimate partner violence, also known as IPV. IPV can manifest itself as physical, emotional, psychological, and/or sexual abuse.
You should never put up with a partner who makes you feel small, dram or unworthy so that they can build themselves up. You should never put up with a partner who abuses you.
With that being said, here are 14 specific examples of things you shouldn’t tolerate in a relationship:
1. Emotional Or Verbal Abuse
So many of us accept emotional abuse without realizing it. Physical abuse comes with bruises you can see, but emotional abuse is characterized by manipulative comments and controlling behavior that cause self-doubt. Live Bold and Bloom explains, “The victim of the abuse often doesn’t see the mistreatment as abusive. They develop coping mechanisms of denial and minimizing in order to deal with the stress.”
The behavior of emotional abusers may seem insignificant at first, but ongoing degrading treatment is representative of a much deeper issue. Behaviors to keep an eye out for include humiliating you in front of family, friends, or co-workers, forcing you to ask permission before you can go somewhere, taking anger out on you whether or not the problem has anything to do with you, insulting you and calling you cruel names, and threatening you in order to maintain control — and the list goes on.
Long-term emotional abuse can result in low self-esteem, withdrawal from family and friends, depression, illness, anxiety, and giving up on goals. You do not deserve this treatment, but recognizing and leaving an emotional abuser is a process that takes time. Take advantage of available resources and hotlines as you gather the courage to leave the relationship.
2. Physical Abuse
If your partner is physically abusing you, gathering the courage, strength, and ability to leave is a long, difficult process that can be complicated by economic barriers, among other issues. So be kind to yourself, while also recognizing that you do not deserve this treatment and have every right to leave the relationship. When you have decided that you are ready, there are precautions and steps to take in order to make your transition easier and safer. These include gathering any evidence of the abuse should you decide to press charges, having at least two escape plans and a predetermined safe place to go, and packing a bag with cash, medication, legal documents, a change of clothes, etc. For more specific recommendations, read this list from Women’s Law and check out these hotlines and other resources. There are also ways to keep yourself safe if you are not yet ready to leave the relationship.
3. A Partner Making You Feel Horrible When You Don’t Want To Have Sex, Which Can Often Lead To Assault
Marital rape, or the raping of one’s spouse, wasn’t illegal in every US state until 1993. The majority of state criminal codes contained a disgusting “marital rape exemption,” essentially declaring rape between spouses to be impossible. As RAINN explains, these horrifying laws represented the ideology “that only stranger rape constituted ‘real rape’ or that forced sex is a ‘wifely duty.'” While the crime is now recognized by law books, like other forms of sexual assault, it still occurs, is often not reported, and rapists are often not convicted. Our culture already makes it difficult for survivors to recognize and report rape, so it becomes even more difficult to understand your romantic partner as a rapist.
That’s why it’s important to recognize that partner/marital rape can happen in otherwise non-violent relationships, and to remember that consenting to a sexual act once does not mean consenting to a sexual act for all time. If your partner pressures you to engage in unwanted sexual activities because it is your “duty” or because you “owe” them, the relationship is abusive, unhealthy, and unsafe, and you deserve so much better. Refer to these hotlines and resources about partner rape for more help.
4. Body Shaming
When your partner shames you for your weight, appearance, etc., not only is it cruel, immature, and based in patriarchal falsehoods, but it can also be a manipulative way to convince you that you’ll never be good enough for anybody else; that you can’t leave your relationship, because no one else will ever love you. It’s a sickening method of establishing dominance and control in a relationship. You’re beautiful. Lots of people know you’re beautiful. You don’t have to stay with a person whose internal ugliness leads them to try and convince you otherwise.
5. A Partner Refusing To Listen To Your Sexual Needs
If a partner rushes through foreplay because they consider their orgasm more important than yours, makes you feel bad about your sexual preferences/needs because they require effort, or pressures you into activities that make you uncomfortable, voice your dissatisfaction and discomfort without shame.
6. A Partner Belittling Your Career Aspirations
It’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who doesn’t want to see you succeed. It’s one thing for your partner to provide constructive criticism, or to express frustration if your career has you ignoring the relationship. But if your partner’s insecurity, jealousy, controlling nature, sexist ideology, etc. causes them to actively insult your work ethic, mock your achievements, or even convince you to turn down opportunities, then you need to either confront the issue or walk away from the relationship. If you do neither of these things, imagine how you’ll feel, years later, after passing up an amazing experience to appease a selfish partner who didn’t want you to surpass their own accomplishments. Remember when Pam finally left art-career-hater Roy on The Office? Follow her lead.
7. A Partner Not Publicly Acknowledging Your Relationship
If you and your partner have mutually decided to enter a committed relationship, as opposed to a FWB, casual dating, or hookup situation, then it shouldn’t be a secret (unless, of course, there are reasons you two have chosen to keep it under wraps, away from familial and social pressures, etc.) However, if that is not the case with your relationship, yet they won’t introduce you to friends as a significant other, then consider it a red flag. If you are spending time on this relationship, then you deserve recognition. Does your partner consider you a placeholder, and doesn’t want to appear tied down in case someone else comes along? Are they lying about monogamy to multiple partners, and have to keep it secret? Are they embarrassed by the relationship because your appearance or gender defies social norms? You should only be with someone who respects you and is proud to be with you.
Gaslight is a 1944 mystery movie starring Ingrid Bergman as a newlywed. In the film, Bergman’s husband is looking for hidden treasure in their house with the help of the attic’s gaslights, which causes every other light in the house to dim. When Begman’s character addresses the dimming lights, her husband insists she is imagining things. From this film, the term “gaslighter” was born to describe a partner who tries to convince you that you are wrong or crazy.
Gaslighting is an especially common trait for controlling partners, as it lets your partner easily isolate you from friends and family by making you doubt your reality. Examples of gaslighting behavior include unfaithful partners convincing you that you fabricated proof of their affairs — “You’re just making this stuff up” — or a partner who stole something from you convincing you that you “gave it away.” If a gaslighter offends you with a comment and you confront the issue, they’ll probably say, “It was just a joke” or “Lighten up.” Leaving a gaslighter is challenging because of the self-doubt that it so maliciously creates, but it’s possible.