Romance Doesn’t Start With Abuse
As far as I’m aware, a romantic relationship doesn’t begin with abuse, the silent treatment, and neglect. Who would stay and tolerate that kind of behavior with someone that you’ve just met? If you aren’t emotionally invested it’s easy to leave without a second thought.
But what about when you’ve been with someone for a long time, and they’ve been fantastic until now? Suddenly they’ve changed and their behavior isn’t even close to what it was when you first got together. This is usually what happens after the phase of being love-bombed. You’ve been in a bubble of bliss and suddenly things are changing in front of your eyes. In order to identify them, what are some signs you can be on the lookout for that your relationship has moved into these toxic and unhealthy patterns?
Your partner dismisses your feelings.
Although they used to want to know your every thought and emotion, suddenly your feelings have become a burden in their eyes. If you’ve had a bad day at work, they don’t want to hear your complaining…and they certainly don’t care about what’s happening with your friends or family. You can tell that lately, they are getting more and more irritated with you with no explanation when you express emotion.
This could also be considered gaslighting. Is your partner making you second guess yourself, or does do they constantly say that you’re overreacting? Your feelings don’t hold any weight to your partner because their questioning the reasoning behind them and making it feel like things are suddenly all your fault.
Requests for change fall on deaf ears.
I wanted my partner to open up to me. I wanted him to take care of himself. I wanted him to stop his self-sabotaging behaviors. I wanted him to stop doing and dealing drugs. I wanted him to start saving money and stop taking mine. All of my requests fell on deaf ears and things were always turned on me and my shortcomings. After a few months, I acted like all of his behaviors were perfect because if I said otherwise…it would turn into a fight.
“The pattern is particularly toxic because escalation is built into it — needs unanswered, the person demanding will become increasingly frustrated and usually louder. Of course, this simply means the person withdrawing will increase his efforts. Both parties feel aggrieved and put upon.” — Good Therapy
You feel like you’re talking to a wall.
Stonewalling is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of having an open and open discussion you’re going to be met with cold indifference. My ex would always cross his arms, and look at me with no expression on his face when I tried to communicate with him on a deeper level once we were out of the love-bombing phase. The only time we could talk about feelings was when he decided it was okay to talk about them, and they were normally his feelings. I felt like he didn’t even acknowledge that I existed, which made me so frustrated and upset. I felt like I was going to explode.
There isn’t a solution on how to deal with this behavior because it’s abusive and unpredictable. Often when he was stonewalling me, he would busy himself with some task, such as cleaning his room or grabbing his guitar to play music. It wouldn’t matter what I was going through, because when he was stonewalling me there was absolutely no response from him.
The silent treatment becomes a part of life.
It could be minutes, hours or even days that your communication is met with absolutely no response. In my opinion, this is one of the cruelest things that you can do to someone that you claim to “love.”
The silent treatment is nothing less than abuse. If you did something wrong in your partner's eyes, this is your punishment. I received this treatment when I hung out with friends, or didn’t communicate constantly. I was treated as if I were doing something wrong…when, in reality, my ex was going out and cheating on me and not responding to my messages. He didn’t want to own up to his actions or take personal responsibility so instead, I was ignored.
“Should you attempt to initiate any form of physical contact, with a view to breaking the deadlock, he will reject you. Even superficial actions, such as avoiding eye contact or staring straight through you, are enough to make you feel invisible and insignificant. By resorting to silence and withdrawing from your life, your partner is demonstrating his utmost contempt for you.” — PairedLife
These are just the tip of the iceberg.
In my personal experience, these were the behaviors that led up to the physical abuse. It’s easy to think that because this person used to treat you with such affection and care that you can fix things. That is not the case. They were simply hiding their true colors and this is now your reality. At times it will be better, but it’s all a game for the narcissist to gain and keep full control of you.
In a healthy and functional relationship, you will not meet these behaviors, because you will communicate to work through your differences and emotions.
Love is not silence, abuse, or a wall.