It's been six months since you were married and you wonder where the man of your dreams has gone -- the sweet guy seems to have disappeared and been replaced by a condescending and controlling jerk. If you find yourself unexpectedly married to an emotionally abusive man, you may wonder if there were early warning signs that you missed. While most abusive men are experts at putting on a mask during the early stages of a relationship, there are some subtle signs that can be early indicators of an abusive personality.
Putting People Down
In the "Psychology Today" article "Are You Dating an Abuser?" family violence consultant Steven Stosny discusses how potential abusers build themselves up using "hierarchical self-esteem," which means that they put others down to make themselves feel better. Take note if the man that you are dating speaks badly about past girlfriends and puts you on a pedestal -- this is another form of the same type of behavior. Eventually, when your relationship progresses, he will move from putting others down to placing the insults on you.
Does the man whom you are dating get upset at the tiniest of infractions? Take note if your man snaps at the waiter because his food was not prepared a certain way -- eventually he may be snapping at you. Men who are abusive have a sense of entitlement, says Stosny, and believe that they deserve special treatment and can become angry, if those needs are not met. At the core of this behavior is the belief that his feelings and desires are more important than those of the people around him -- especially in close relationships.
Watch for the man who pushes things too far too fast -- such as wanting to get married right away or wanting to cross sexual boundaries. If a man does not respect your need to take things slow and seems to get serious about the relationship much too quickly, this can be a sign of abuse to come. Though it might be enjoyable to be "swept off your feet," think about how well you know this person and if he seems to be accelerating the pace of the relationship.
Subtle signs of controlling behavior will often leak out during the early stages of a relationship, says Stosny. If the man in your life starts making decisions for you, wants to know where you are at all times and has trouble with you talking casually with another man -- these can be red flags of an abusive personality. According to the "Wet Island Women's Shelter" article "Early Warning Signs and the Beginning of an Abusive Relationship," men with abusive patterns often will seek out vulnerable women to ensure a power imbalance. Consider whether you are in a vulnerable situation, and if the man in your life goes out of his way to reinforce that dynamic in your relationship.
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