Are you afraid that your friend is in an emotionally dangerous relationship? Here’s some immediate relationship help, so you can share it with your friend right away.
You want your friend to be safe, yet you see his or her partner behaving in less-than-loving ways too often. How can you know if s/he is in an emotionally dangerous relationship, not just a difficult one?
I’m talking about emotional danger. Hopefully, we all know to call the police when there is physical danger.
Emotional danger occurs when you are told you are the problem when that is actually not the case, or your partner shames, belittles, demeans, discounts, punishes, ignores, neglects or abuses you in any way. If you point this out and your friend starts justifying the partner’s behavior, you really need to get your friend to seek professional help before there is a bigger problem!
Because emotionally dangerous people are drawn to and by people who will not speak up, nor recognize readily that the problem is not with themselves, this is more difficult to see. And, especially when it is happening to you. You can see what is happening in the relationship more clearly than your friend can.
So, if you have a friend who seems to be in an emotionally dangerous relationship, you might want to be able to share these telltale signs with him or her. An emotionally dangerous person may:
- Yell, scream, demand or threaten quickly in any argument, not just the big ones.The intent is to quickly win, quickly take control, and quickly diminish and extinguish any thoughts his/her partner might have about having rights, valid opinions, or reasonable logic. It’s all about being right and “winning.”
- Always want to blame his/her partner for everything…even for things that are clearly not their fault.And, s/he will blame everyone and everything, never considering him/herself as the cause of anything. “There ain’t no flies on me” approach.
- Refuse to take responsibility for ANYTHING that occurs that is anything less than wonderful, successful and perfect.The emotionally dangerous person cannot allow the thought that anything could be their fault. It shatters the possibility of survival in their minds. If s/he took responsibility for part of the problem, it would make them vulnerable. Because of their psychological makeup, it is impossible for them to allow this possibility.
- Radically mismanage his/her emotions in ways that leave partners dazed, stunned and confused.Emotionally dangerous people over-react, respond inappropriately or out of proportion to the conversation. Because they are completely concerned with getting what THEY need, they often have no empathy for their partners or their partner’s needs.
When you share these telltale signs with your friend, s/he may deny that these are happening. It is HIGHLY likely that s/he will justify, rationalize, or blame him or herself for the bad behavior. Watch for that. Simply ask: “Do you really believe it is your fault that this person is behaving in these ways? Really? Deep-down?”
When your friend actually sits with that question with your help, s/he will likely admit that the behavior is unacceptable, but that s/he simply does not know a different way to be in relationship. This is the beginning of change. Next, support your friend to get the expert relationship required to take away the pain and find the love, starting within!
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Disclaimer: All advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, video, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than twenty-five years, she offers her insights and opinions for your consideration only.