Red flags to look for in a dating relationship
Dating violence, like adult domestic violence, is about power and control.
By the age of 20, one-third of all young women will experience some sort of dating violence. This can take the form of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse.
Usually, abusive behavior gradually creeps into a relationship and the person is unaware of what is happening until it is too late.
These red flags are usually a prelude to the violence that often follows:
1. Mood swings - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Personality
2. Any kind of violence toward animals, people or things such as punching walls, throwing things etc.
3. He says “you’re the only person for me”, or “I don’t need anyone but you.”
4. Double standard.
5. He gets you to talk about yourself, but doesn’t give much information about himself.
6. He doesn’t meet your needs or keep promises.
7. You feel an attraction to his strengths - both physical and emotional - “He will take care of you.”
8. He has a family history of abuse.
9. You are disturbed by his use of alcohol or drugs (at least 50% of abusive episodes involve alcohol or drug use).
10. How does he interact with children?
11. How do you feel about yourself when you are with him? Can you be yourself? Does he take you seriously? Does he respect your feelings?
12. Watch information passed on by friends or how they act when he is around.
13. Watch for a very exclusive relationship “We are each others best friend, nobody else matters.”
14. Excessive jealousy - checks up on you frequently, listens to your phone conversations, makes you account for your whereabouts etc.
15. Pressures you to get married, especially if you have only known him for a short period of time.
16. He is over-solicitous - “too good to be true.”
17. Beware if you feel defensive - a need to justify what you do, who your friends are, what you wear.
18. You are afraid to express how you feel because you do not want to hurt his feelings or make him mad.
19. He does not have any other friend - only you.
20. When he is angry, he attacks your personhood.
21. He blames you or other people for the problems he has had in his life.
22. Do past relationships include violence?
23. Are you attracted to his “ little boy” qualities? Do you feel a need to take care of him?
24. How does he handle anger? Is he quick to anger?
25. How does he interact with his own family - mother, father, sister?
26. He is traditional in roles - no room for change.
27. You are going to improve him. He will get better with time, marriage, love, etc.
If your partner shows several of these signs you need to run as fast as you can. This is not always easy to do. Many young women, especially teens, do not trust themselves to take action on their own behalf in a relationship. Some of this may be based on a lack of experience, peer pressure, the romantic idea that possessiveness is love or the misconceived idea that her status depends on her attachment to a boyfriend.
If you are faced with this dilemma, the best thing you can do is confide in a trusted adult, parent or school counselor.
By refusing to accept your partner’s behavior you are conveying the message that you deserve to be treated well and that your feelings, beliefs and opinions do count.
You are also saving yourself a lot of grief down the road.
Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D., LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She can be contacted at 827-0700.