When we love someone, I think it’s easy to close our eyes to the parts of them we don’t like or the parts we know aren’t perfect—the parts which don’t fit with our idea of what we believe them to be. It’s easy to tell ourselves, ‘He was just having a bad day’, ‘It was my fault’, ‘I was in the wrong.’ Because that’s easier, isn’t it? To punish ourselves, to take their bad behavior and claim it as our own. It’s easier to be the one in the wrong than to accept that the one person who is meant to protect, love and cherish us, is the one pulling us apart.
But lovable girl, it isn’t your fault, none of it is. You see, just because he isn’t hitting you, doesn’t mean it isn’t abusive behavior.
If he isn’t listening when you try to speak to him about something which is hurting you or making you uncomfortable, it’s abuse. If he is getting angry and calling you crazy when you tell him that seeing his flirtatious comments on other girls’ social media photos is upsetting you, it’s abuse. If he is telling you that the behavior you have seen between him and other females is “All in your head”, that you, “Imagined it”, that you are, “So insecure and jealous,” you can’t trust him, it’s abuse. If every argument you have ever had ends up being your fault, if you find yourself wondering if you really are crazy, if in fact you do have deep-seated issues and need therapy, if you always circle back to believing you caused the argument and you are the reason your relationship is falling apart, you are being emotionally abused.
Because not all bruises are physical, but they hurt just as much.
So please listen when I tell you that it’s absolutely okay to be upset if he is disrespecting you and your relationship. It is warranted to confront him if you feel he is being inappropriate with other women. You are entitled to speak up when you feel as if you aren’t getting the same amount out of your relationship as you put in. You are allowed to be upset if he likes other girls’ half-naked photos. You are allowed to ask him about that girl who keeps texting him. You are allowed to talk about the things that make you feel insecure or jealous or out of your depth. It doesn’t make you crazy or irrational or overly-emotional. It doesn’t mean you have ‘serious issues’ or an inability to trust. It just means you are human, you have feelings, you have experiences, which means that sometimes you feel anxious, sometimes you worry you might lose someone, sometimes you feel like you aren’t good enough.
But that doesn’t mean it’s true. It doesn’t mean you should be silenced.
Because if someone loves you, they love all of you. They love the parts of you that are afraid, the parts of you that question and worry and feel anxious. They listen to you when you need to talk things through, when you need clarification and reassurance and love. They give you the chance to speak, to feel free, to feel heard. They always ensure that their behavior never crosses the line, they always act in ways that make you feel loved, secure, wanted. They are always ready to listen, to understand, to support you. They always put in exactly the same amount as you do.
Because relationships are a two-way street, they are about give and take, listening and talking. And any relationship that involves one person shutting another down when they raise a topic which is a little sensitive isn’t a loving one. A relationship where one person constantly feels unheard, neglected and small isn’t a respectful one. A relationship where one person is always afraid of opening their mouth, of asking for more, asking for better, asking for what they deserve, isn’t really a relationship at all.
It’s emotional abuse.