How Verbal Abuse Can Look Like Love

Over time, every relationship develops a unique dialogue that you share with your partner–a communication style you both understand. But what happens when verbal abuse gets mixed into that dialogue? Is it a unique love language or a hurtful exchange? This was a struggle I faced in many forms over one of the longest relationships that I learned a lot from going forward.

Healthy Involvement or Verbal Abuse?

I’ve experienced many moments when I had to decide if my partner’s involvement was healthy or overprotective, from asking who would be at a gathering I was going to, to requesting to share our phone locations. There can be a fine line between what’s acceptable and what’s considered possessive, but the best way to decide is by the way it makes you feel.

In my relationship, it was clear that sharing our location was only used in emergencies, so while that could be considered possessive, it didn’t bother me. Yet, when he asked who every intended guest would be at a gathering with my friends, it would upset me because it resembled a lack of trust. I learned that these boundaries depend on the nature of your relationship, and the most important thing is that you both feel comfortable with your dialogue.

Humor or Verbal Abuse?

Another sensitive area for me was the subject of humor. I’m a sensitive person, knowing I tend to take things personally. However, being sensitive doesn’t automatically lend itself to being taken advantage of; there were many times when my partner crossed lines that would offend anyone. This included jokes about my family, career path or physical appearance. I learned that a line was crossed when his humor focused on topics of my insecurity, not good-natured jokes.

It became easy for him to blame my frustration on my sensitivity if I fought with him or cried, which was hard for me to argue against in those moments because I didn’t have a fully clear image of myself or my expectations. However, after the relationship ended, I realized that those comments were manipulative no matter the levels of my sensitivity.

Unrealistic Expectations or Verbal Abuse?

Once I started living with my partner, it involved more than just focusing on our romantic interactions; we had busy lives that existed all around and intertwined in our romantic relationship. However, I learned that living together also meant being supportive of the dull, rough days of ordinary life.

My partner was less interested in the moments where I wanted to talk about the job I hated or the fight I had with my friend than he was about conversations that directly involved him. It felt like he compartmentalized topics and paid little attention or shut me down when I wanted to talk about things bothering me in my life, saying I should “leave my problems at the door” because when he was home, he wanted to destress. He made me feel like it wasn’t okay to experience negative emotions in the comfort of what was my home, too. I thought maybe I was being too needy.

In hindsight, I see that our partnership shouldn’t have been put on pause while we experienced our own issues, and there should have been an effort to support each other as individuals as we went through unique obstacles in our lives.

What I Learned from Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love

I took a lot away from this relationship, the most important thing is achieving clarity about what I expect from a relationship and gaining the confidence to prioritize this in my future relationships. No relationship will be perfect, but being trusted, respected and heard are now standard expectations in my partnerships, and I encourage you to listen to yourself throughout your relationships to discover the expectations you deserve and prioritize them.


Source: Healthy Place

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