- May 7, 2021
Following up on last week’s article on toxic relationships, this week, we look into specific behaviours that are typical of a toxic partner.
Power struggles are normal in any relationship. However, what sets a toxic one apart is that one person is overtly passive, and the other partner has complete control.
The controlling partner insists on having all the powers. To earn this power, they use several dysfunctional behaviours to achieve their selfish ends.
The possessive individual is bad news. When the relationship starts, this may pass as cute and loving. The possessive person might even convince you that once you are married, they will change. Woe unto you if you believe it.
A possessive partner becomes even more controlling as time goes by. They’ll check your phone to see who you talked to and for how long. They’ll keep tabs on your email and even install spyware on your phone without your knowledge.
As time goes by, they’ll make sure you don’t interact with friends and family. Such a toxic individual sees you as their possession. Assuring them of your fidelity will not change a thing. The more you stay in such a relationship, the more you cease to have your own life.
This type of behaviour is exhibited by a partner who constantly belittles you. They’ll make fun of your ideas, beliefs and wants, making you feel stupid.
Such an emotionally abusive spouse will not hesitate to undermine you in public. Often they do this under the disguise of a joke, while in reality, it’s not a joke. They mean it. They won’t stop even when you request them to.
When you’ve been told repeatedly that your ideas are silly, your beliefs are obsolete, and your wants are unimportant or even selfish, you start to believe it. This is exactly what the toxic partner wants you to believe.
Such a toxic person will often tell you that you are lucky to have them in your life. They threaten you that if you leave, no other person will deal with your “shortcomings”
Their goal is to completely crush your self-esteem so that you cling to them as your saviour and not challenge their absolute control in the relationship.
If walking on eggshells is how you feel around your partner because you can never tell what will send them in rage, you are dealing with a toxic individual. Always being cautious and the inability to know what will trigger an outburst drains the victim emotionally and exhausts them physically.
The classic behaviour of partners who exhibit this trait is blaming you for their inability to control their anger. You must have done something that caused them to scream at you.
The “independent” (Non-Dependable)
The “independent” partner stands by the slogan “no one can control me.” Such individuals rarely keep their commitments. They always have excuses. Their goal is to control you by ensuring you are uncertain about their next move. They make it almost impossible to make plans that materialize.
The worst thing about non-dependable partners is they don’t make you feel secure about the relationship. Apart from their unpredictable behaviour, you also can’t tell if they are committed to you or not. In fact, you don’t know where you stand in their life.
If you are dealing with an independent partner, you’ll often find yourself seeking reassurance if they love you. As is typical of this controlling behaviour, you’ll get a vague response that keeps you guessing. This is geared to keep you doing everything you think they want to earn their commitment.
The guilt inducer
Every time you do something that a guilt inducer doesn’t like, he or she will make you feel guilty. Again, they’ll temporarily lift the guilt if you do what they want you to do. They also use other tactics like using someone else to convey the hurt you caused.
A guilt inducer will, for example, pretend to support your idea to go back to school only to make you feel guilty about it by reminding you how the kids are lonely, missing you and crying all the time. They may go further to tell you how you’ve become a lousy wife/husband since you took up your studies.
Their goal is to control your behaviour by making your feel guilty and, in return, do what they want.
This is a behaviour of passive control. One partner might think they are in control because they make all the decisions, but in reality, they are not.
In this method, the toxic partner wants you to make all the decisions for them, from simple things like which restaurant to go to for lunch to which phone to buy or which investments to make. Their catch? If anything goes wrong in the choices you’ve made for them, you are the one to blame. And when this happens, you are met with passive aggression that might go on for days on end.
An over-dependent partner will make you exhausted since you are always juggling your personal choices and their choices. You’ll also experience anxiety often as you worry about the outcome of the decisions you made for them.
Have you ever tried to tell your partner that you are angry, hurt or unhappy about what they did, and somehow you ended up comforting them instead? It turns out your concerns are selfish. In the long run, your point is lost, the issue unresolved, and you have to take care of their feelings.
A slight variation of this behaviour is a deflector. When you try to express your anger for what they did, the emotionally abusive partner finds a way to blame you for their mistake.
A deflector is so full of themselves that any information that seems to conflict with whom they perceive themselves to be makes them so uncomfortable that they must convince their partner it’s their fault.
A deflector might also switch the topic and instead accuse you of being too sensitive. Worse, they’ll disregard the whole point of your concern and come up with calculated questions like “but do you love me?” Instead of addressing the issue at hand, they are seeking affirmation.
The user exhibits a pleasant character when they are getting everything they want from a partner.
He/she gives the bare minimum or even nothing but you; you’ll never give enough. Users will drain your energy and leave if you give in the same measure they are giving. They’ll find someone else who can give more.
Everything a user gives is an obligation for you to provide more. They’ll often hold everything they’ve done over your head and make sure they make you feel guilty for not giving back more. Such a relationship is one way.
It will take more than courage to walk out from such people, but you’ll have done yourself the biggest favour. In case you are the toxic individual, it’s never too late to seek help. Heal your wounds and become the best version of yourself before dragging someone into your unhealthy environment.