How to Avoid Emotionally Abusive Relationships

While I am a big believer in following your heart, I'm wise enough to know sometimes a little practicality is necessary for a happy and healthy relationship.
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"It is said that if you place a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out. Place him in a pot of cold water and turn it up a little at a time, and he will stay until he is boiled to death." ~ Unknown

Emotionally abusive relationships are like that -- you often don't become aware of what's happening until long after the patterns set in. And why is that? Because far too many people dismiss these behaviors as acceptable forms of relating. Several influences (television, movies, home, work or school environments, etc.) desensitize people in such a way that they don't even question the actions and behaviors that prove to demean or oppress another. Unfortunately in some cases they become like the frog who ends up boiled to death.

There are several different types of behavior involved in emotional abuse. Aggressive behaviors involve the use of insults, degradation and humiliation in order to gain "one-upmanship" or dominance over another. Other, more passive behaviors such as invalidation, distortion, minimization and denial are used to confuse one into submission and self-doubt. Withholding, passive-aggression, threatening, placing blame and inducing guilt are other behaviors that are used to manipulate and control another.

It's important to understand that you could be subjected to an emotionally abusive partner at any time. This is not to scare you but instead to make you aware and educate you. And with a little information you may find that you can avoid becoming a victim. First know that there are 3 major types of emotionally abusive relationships:

The Conditioned One. If you or someone close to you had been a victim of emotional abuse in the past there is a good chance that it will be repeated in your current or future relationships. The effect of growing up with emotional abuse in your life or in your environment may follow you unless you decide to do some serious inner-work to prevent that. I suggest educating yourself further about emotional abuse and also to seek counseling. With knowledge and support you will be able to look at the psychological and emotional patterns that you may carry which may end up attracting emotional abuse to you (Note: emotional abuse is never your fault -- however sometimes conditioning causes that attraction). With help you will learn how to break those patterns to prevent it from happening again.

The Self-Fulfilling One. This type of emotionally abusive relationship makes you take an honest look at how you perceive yourself. Relationship partners often act as your mirror and reflect back to you what you believe about yourself. So, if you have contempt for or belittle yourself in any way, chances are you may attract a partner who will see and treat you in the same destructive ways. Start self-examining your beliefs and perceptions about yourself and resolve to change any that are self-destructive or self-abusive. Also refrain from negative self-talk. The key is to see yourself as you want to be seen and treat yourself as you want to be treated to avoid this type of emotionally abusive relationship.

The Pre-Meditative One. This type of emotionally abusive relationship refers to getting involved with partners who, unbeknownst to you, are sociopaths, narcissists and/or have certain mental or behavioral disorders. Unfortunately, this type isn't so easy to detect and will sneak up on you if you're not aware of the signs. Find out what those signs are and become observant of the people you may get involved with before you decide to dive in with reckless abandon. Understand that these people tend to woo you in ways that make you want to dive in, so it helps to be cautious. Their M.O. is to gain your unwavering trust only to slowly poison you with small doses of abuse that make you unaware you're being abused in the first place. Therefore watch for clues and be honest with yourself about them. And if you still aren't sure and need further assistance, seek guidance.

By gaining familiarity with these types of emotional abusive relationships, in addition to education on emotional abuse itself, you can make the right decisions that help you reach positive relationship goals. While I am a big believer in following your heart, I'm wise enough to know sometimes a little practicality is necessary for a happy and healthy relationship.

Pamela works one-on-one with her clients to empower, heal and transform so they may reach their goals of having a loving, joyful and emotionally fulfilling relationship. To find more about Pamela and her services, visit

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