Don’t fall for the same tricks a second time.
Just because you escaped an abusive relationship doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take preventive steps to keep it from happening again.
In fact, the odds are likely that if you’ve been abused once you are more vulnerable to falling into a repeating pattern. After all, as they can be charming and deceiving — it’s entirely possible to actually be attracted to someone with abusive and narcissistic tendencies.
Normally there are plenty of warning signs. Most abusers will use emotional and manipulative tactics before a relationship becomes full-on abusive. To avoid this you have to be self-aware and be able to identify when someone is manipulating you and when you’re seeing past behaviors repeat themselves.
Although every situation is different, there are basic behaviors to be aware of to help you avoid falling down the rabbit hole a second time.
Identify early warning signs.
I dated someone who threw a fit because I wouldn’t come over when he asked and requested I return some clothes that he had left at my place. Instantly I was fearful that he was going to break up with me, and I realized I didn’t want to lose him.
Looking back, after a long and emotionally abusive relationship, I realized he did it to freak me out. He wanted me to think I was losing him and to regain the control he thought I had taken from him.
Control, jealousy, and constant supervision were prevalent in several serious relationships that I had.
Pay attention to how they talk about their exes.
The abusive men that I dated all had one thing in common: their exes were the worst women on this planet.
I realized later after the dust had settled that I was most likely also portrayed as a villain after we broke up.
Healthy people are usually respectful when they speak about their past relationships.
If you are beginning to date someone that is constantly bashing on their previous partners and can’t seem to stop talking about them take notice.
Ensure that you have a say in things.
When you and your new dating interest do an activity, is it a mutual decision? If you’re not having any say in what you do and someone else is calling all the shots, things aren’t going to magically change down the road. Also, be wary of this being portrayed as being “spontaneous and romantic.”
There is a difference between someone planning a sweet date night and them calling every shot because they only want to do what they want to do.
Don’t move at the speed of light.
If there’s anything similar from my previous relationships, it’s that they moved so fast I could barely even see them happening.
“I love you” was said within weeks, mention of marriage was made within months.
Obviously I wasn’t getting to know these people or setting the right boundaries because they didn’t know that they loved me yet…and the same could be said for me.
You have the right to move at a pace that is right for you within the boundaries that you’ve set.
Recognize the cycle.
It’s easy to keep repeating patterns. I did it more than once even after swearing that I wouldn’t.
Unless you are self-aware and take the time to recognize your mistakes and heal from the trauma, you’re still open to abuse.
Take all the time you need after a traumatic relationship to work on yourself. I found a therapist I love and connect with, and she helped me identify what constitutes a healthy relationship and what I need to work through. By identifying my patterns, I have been able to avoid them and find a healthy and respectful partner.
Just remember, the person who matters the most, whether you believe it or not is YOU.