Harsh teasing that serves no other purpose but to ignite your anger or annoyance, put you down and insult you is different from playful teasing which is used to flirt and build rapport with a partner.
Beware of the tactics of the covert sarcastic put-down. Sarcasm is one of the mighty weapons in an abuser’s arsenal. Emotional predators enjoy invalidating your thoughts, opinions, and emotions by making frequent sarcastic remarks that shame you into never questioning them again. Since sarcasm isn’t often considered “abusive” by society, abusers use it as a way to escape accountability for their harsh, condescending tone and belittling behavior. They become more and more condescending in their approach to sarcasm over the course of the relationship – what was once a “playful” sarcastic comment now becomes frequent emotional terrorism that questions your right to have an opinion that challenges theirs.
Efforts at making you jealous.
If your date consistently brings up past romantic partners, looks at other women frequently on your dates (while furtively checking to see if you’re observing them while doing so), and talks about having a romantic “type” that is quite far from your description, run.
A healthy partner will strive to make you feel secure and cherished, not insecure and doubtful. This could be a form of toxic triangulation in which an abusive partner attempts to create an image of desirability while demeaning your merits so that you are encouraged to compete for his or her attention.
The silent treatment.
Abusers may retreat into silence if you question their authority or bring up their mistreatment. This may provoke you into pursuing them even more, in order to try to coerce them into “validating” your emotions and admit that they are in the wrong. Unfortunately, you’re only giving them more power by doing this. They will eventually come around, but only after you’ve vented at them and eventually apologized for being too “harsh” even when you have doing nothing wrong but express yourself.
3) Inconsistent character and behavior.
The most skilled abusers will save the “hot and cold” tactics for when they enter long-term relationships, but other abusers may give you a sample of this even within the first month of dating. They do so by the following:
Projection and Gaslighting.
Narcissistic dating partners and other toxic people are also proficient at gaslighting and projection, techniques they use to convince society that their victims are the crazy ones and to convince their victims that their reality is inaccurate. The effects of this type of manipulation are incredibly lethal on victims’ long-term, so it is important to note signs early on in the process of dating an emotional predator so that you can detach more quickly from the different types of reality these toxic partners are likely to impose upon you.
Gaslighting and projection are very clever tactics that allow toxic dating partners to simultaneously shift the blame of their own characteristics onto you while also enabling them to escape accountability for their hypocrisy, deceit and otherwise unsavory behavior.
How to figure out?
If you find yourself feeling at unease about something a dating partner did or said and later denied, minimized or projected onto you, remember that narcissists enjoy calling others “crazy.” It’s a common word they’ll use to describe any valid emotional reaction victims have to their shady and inconsistent behavior. It is gaslighting in its simplest form but over time becomes a complex type of psychological torture in which the victim starts to mistrust his or her perceptions of the covert abuse and feels unable to trust his or her own reality.
Stonewalling (shutting down a conversation even before it’s begun), silent treatments and devaluation soon follow in order to maintain control. Narcissists can easily maintain the illusion of their false self whenever their behavior is called out and discredit their victims so that the covert abuse is never recognized or addressed without the dire consequences of you walking on eggshells.
How to understand the difference?
To understand the difference between a partner who provides you constructive criticism or simply disagrees with you and a partner who routinely projects their own qualities and gaslights you, look closely at their actions rather than their words.