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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Do I fit the abusive partner checklist?

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Author Topic: Do I fit the abusive partner checklist?
A Posteriori
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I really try hard to be a good boyfriend, but because it's finals week and both my gf and I are stressed, the level of drama has really exploded. It's mostly my fault, though, and I'm really afraid of becoming a bad boyfriend. So I found this "abusive boyfriend checklist" and it has me worried. I think I fit it. Lemme go through the points one by one.

"My partner is very jealous, gets jealous easily."
- I suppose I do get jealous. I don't ever say anything about it, but when she's talking to other guys - no matter how much I trust her, which is a lot - I find that there's always a teeny part of me that's worried. It sucks.

"My partner follows me around, checks up on me a lot."
- Yeah I "check up" on her a lot, but I thought it was just me showing affection. I want to surprise her by popping in in the middle of the day because I want to see her, and I figure she likes it too. Sometimes she hints that I'm pestering her, so I ease off and give her some space. Is this an indication that what I'm doing is "abusive?"

"My partner tries to control how I dress or who I spend time with (friends, family, coworkers)."
- Well of course I don't directly control who she sees or what she does, duh. But I imagine I exert some indirect influence. When I think she's wearing something nice or looking especially nice, I tell her, figuring that such a comment will make her feel good. If that influences her to wear it more often in the future or somehow changes her behavior (without me intending it), is that abusive?

"My partner yells, calls me names, puts me down."
- No I don't do this. The only time I've ever raised my voice was when we were having a bad argument, and feelings were running pretty high on both sides. Was that abusive? I don't think it did her any harm, as we resolved things.

"I hide things that I think would upset or anger my partner (phone numbers, letters, photos)."
- I don't know if she does this, but I don't think so. She says that I'm "sensitive," since whenever she says something that I might be able to interpret as criticism I tend to get insecure and self-pitying. I'm working on this, but because she says that this bothers her, I don't know if what I'm doing is abusive.

"I am afraid to say no to sex."
- Nah. She's said no many times. I've said no a few. It happens.

"My partner threatens me, or has threatened me."
- When I get really mad, I threaten not to call or contact her out of spite. But is this abuse? I don't know.

"My partner hits, throws or breaks things when angry."
- Nah. I don't do this.

"I am fraid to disagree with my partner."
- Like I said above, she thinks I'm "sensitive." I know this is a common thing that people with abusive partners say. That's what has me worried. I don't think she's afraid to disagree with me, as she usually "kicks my ***" (as she puts it) to get my insecurities under control and not be so damn defensive.

"My partner has pushed, slapped, punched or otherwise hurt me."
- I've never done this to anyone, but I suppose this doesn't mean I'm not abusive.

"I feel like my partner's anger is my fault."
- No, she definitely knows that any annoying or "dramatic" behavior on my part is my fault.

Soooo...I'm confused. Am I "abusive?" If not, what the heck is going on? Why have things gotten so bad lately?

Posts: 82 | From: United States | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bun Bun
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I would definitely say that you are not abusive. Going through the points, one by one.

First off, everyone is going to have a little twinge of jealously about certain things. It's perfectly normal to feel jealous as long as it doesn't reach an extreme. You say you have a TEENY part of you that is worried. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Coming to visit someone is not really "checking up" on them. What is meant by that (I believe, since I didn't write the list [Razz] ) is a partner that constantly phones, texts, follows, etc. so that they know what their partner is doing at all times. You mention that you ease off if she needs some space- that is DEFINITELY NOT abusive.

We all exert influence on people. Abuse would be restricting your partner's wardrobe to clothes that only you approved of. You're no where's near that.

Raising a voice once and a while, I believe, is completely normal. You don't mention any name calling or put downs, and you say that the fight was resolved - this just sounds like a normal argument!

Bothering someone and abusing someone emotionally are VERY different things. There are always going to be things in a partner that makes the other partner annoyed. People can't be perfect.

I believe that by threats, the list means threats to your partner's wellbeing. Or, threaten to break up with them if they don't agree with you.

Are you afraid to disagree with her? You're unclear about that.

I think that you answered yourself in your first paragraph there. It's finals, and you both are stressed. Perhaps if you two sit down and talk things out, it'll make you feel better? Communicate to her that there are things that have been bothering you (mainly, the fighting), and the both of you can work out a solution. Also, a fun date might help to destress and let you forget about school for awhile!

Posts: 206 | From: Canada | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
A Posteriori
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Thanks for the thorough reply. You're right on every point, but I'm still worried about the amount of fights we've been having recently. Even though it's finals week, my insecurities and general low self-esteem are causing me to act in a really self-centered manner. Like whenever she becomes a litle distant on account of stree or faces a family crisis and needs support, I somehow turn the situation into a pity party about me. She's understandably annoyed, and we just had a really bad fight last night. Whenever I feel generally crappy or somewhat annoyed with her, I subconsciously try to ruin her mood...

Argh. I hope things get better, and that I'm just taking out the stress of finals on her, and this isn't something more serious.

[ 05-16-2008, 01:26 PM: Message edited by: A Posteriori ]

Posts: 82 | From: United States | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
September
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A Posteriori, are you getting any help dealing with your low self-esteem?

In general, someone who's as self-aware as you are, and as worried about these dynamics as you are, is unlikely to turn into an abuser. However, it sounds like your low self-esteem is causing problems in your relationship. You're realizing this, too, which is good: it means you can work against it by getting outside help to deal with your problems. So, if you're not seeing a therapist for this yet, I'd suggest you start there.

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Johanna
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libertatissacra
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You certainly don't sound abusive. A little jealousy or raising your voice in an argument is completely normal. Coming by to visit your girlfriend in class isn't really "checking up on her" in the abusive sense, especially if you back off when you sense that she may be busy at that moment, and really, who doesn't like getting complimented when they wear a nice outfit?

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"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."
-Oscar Wilde

Posts: 115 | From: San Francisco, CA | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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