It’s been awhile since I’ve posted things about healing from emotionally abusive relationships. Until you heal on the inside it’s just too easy to fall for the same crap. As such, here’s a super concise red flag list. Hope you find it helpful.
Of course, nobody wants to believe they’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. The implications of such a truth are almost too painful to bear. It would mean that the love you thought you had wasn’t real. That the person you were receiving that love from was some kind of twisted monster deliberately running a love fraud agenda on you.
It can break your heart so thoroughly that such people even exist, that you can fall out of love with humanity itself and enter a very bleak phase of life some researchers have labeled post traumatic embitterment syndrome. A bleak prognosis indeed. But if we have the courage to look at the truth of the relationship we are in, we also create the opportunity to escape it and transcend the pain and move into a whole new level of emotional maturity and personal sovereignty.
Let’s look at the classic red flags for an emotionally abusive relationship.
Red flag Number one, the whirlwind romance, also called the love bombing phase. The person presents themselves as the perfect manifestation of everything you could ever want in a partner. By scanning and mirroring your core values, they can effectively slip past your ego defenses and weedle their way straight into the most intimate, vulnerable core space with unprecedented rapidity.
Red flag number two, too much too soon. My relationship, like most of the relationship stories I hear from clients, escalated far too fast. We were effectively living together within less than a week. The rapid erosion of the target’s boundaries and the de facto boundary blurring of the couple as two separate individuals is frequently far too fast and too extreme in emotionally abusive relationships. This is simply because it suits the agenda of the predator.
Red flag number three, pronounced feelings of doubt and anxiety. This is the button pushing phase. At some point, the predatory narcissist has to start deliberately pushing your buttons to learn what really hurts you, to control you, to scan your inner emotional vulnerabilities more effectively to dominate at you, and to begin what is called the trauma bonding process of mixed pain and pleasure so that the victim becomes addicted to the narcissist’s presence.
Red flag number four, isolation from support network. This is the divide and conquer strategy. The narcissist needs the victim vulnerable and alone so that they can brainwash them more effectively. It does not suit the narcissist’s agenda to have the victim getting differing points of view, feedback, or reality checks from others outside of the two person cult the narcissist is trying to run.
Red flag number five, erosion of values. The up is down and in is out strategy. Through subtle threats, manipulation, poisoning the well, gaslighting, passive abuse or outright shaming, mockery, and guilt tripping, the narcissist can train the victim to start to doubt the validity of their own core values and indeed their own self-image and self-worth. The victim over time begins to despair and their ego defenses begin to fragment, causing them to lose a sense of who they are and to act totally out of character