Agustya loves Tanisha – so much so that he does not want to share her with anyone. He gets really annoyed if Tanisha goes to her friend’s birthday party without him or if she hangs out with her classmates. Tanisha initially enjoyed his possessiveness as cute and thought of it as love. But of late his behaviour has started bothering her. She dreads meeting him, tries to avoid him or stays quiet when they are together. The relationship that she felt amazing about now makes her now feel drained. What’s happened to her relationship? We find out in this edition of That’s Puzzling.
Teenage relationships can be both exciting and confusing. For many teenagers, it may be their first experience of romantic love, and the rush of emotions that come with it can be overwhelming. However, not all relationships are healthy. Some may involve behaviour, which may make you upset and unhappy. It is important to identify such behaviour early on in your relationship and address it immediately to prevent it from impacting your mental and physical health, just as it is impacting Tanisha’s.
Unhealthy relationships can take many forms, and they may not always be easy to recognize. However, there are some common signs that may help you figure out if you are in one:
- Unpredictable behaviour — The inability to predict your boyfriend/girlfriend’s behaviour, or uncertainty about where you stand in relation to them, is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. If your boyfriend/girlfriend undergoes severe mood swings – being gentle and caring one moment and threatening and angry the next – there’s a problem. They might try to make you believe these mood swings are your fault, and if you just did something differently they would be a more gentle and caring person. You might end up staying with them, hoping to see the side you love while spending most of your time being hurt.
- Controlling behaviour — Your boyfriend/girlfriend might pressure you to become more involved with them faster than you are comfortable with or ready for. Granted, sometimes your boyfriend/girlfriend may feel more for you sooner than you do, but if they are disrespectful towards your feelings, trying to force you into something you’re not ready for, this should set off alarm bells. Later, such coercion/controlling behaviour may lead to demands that you change things about yourself that they don’t like ( like how you dress, your friends or even your hairstyle!). Or they might force you to do things you don’t want to do, like getting intimate with each other too soon, when you are not mentally ready for it. Such coercion is a sign of emotional manipulation and an unhealthy relationship.
- Jealousy/Possessiveness — A little jealousy is cute at times, but it can easily turn into something ugly. A possessive boyfriend/girlfriend may make you feel guilty for spending time with friends or family, will call or text you an excessive amount of times throughout the day and may often accuse you of flirting or cheating without reason. All of these are signs that they feel a sense of possession over you. Soon, you may be asking for approval for every decision you make, and control over your own life will slip away as their power over you grows.
- Feeling of loneliness — A relationship should open your soul, not bring about an intense feeling of isolation. If you avoid bringing your boyfriend/girlfriend around friends or family because you’re afraid they will humiliate you, or if your boyfriend/girlfriend has tried to cut you off from loved ones in an attempt to control your life, this isolation is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
- Verbal abuse — Verbal abuse is abuse and should not be tolerated. If your boyfriend/girlfriend constantly criticizes you or says cruel things to you, insults you, curses, calls you ugly names, or uses your vulnerabilities to hurt you – it’s not just unhealthy, it is abuse.
- Making you overly dependent — Be wary of someone who begins taking over your responsibilities in order to make you more dependent on them. Dependence means to control, and a boyfriend/girlfriend who attempts to control you – either physically or psychologically – is an abusive person. Does your boyfriend/girlfriend often disappear at times without explanation, wreaking havoc on your mind and throwing your life into disarray? This is a sign that you have become overly dependent and that your boyfriend/girlfriend is using that dependence in an unhealthy way.
- Declining sense of self-worth — Does your boyfriend/girlfriend make you feel bad about yourself, often putting you down or making you feel stupid? Have you begun to see yourself as worthless, or even crazy because of them, as though you’re the one with a problem? If you try to fight back, does he/she blame you for their behaviour, claiming you’re the reason they’re acting the way they’re acting? This unhealthy behaviour may extend to all aspects of your partner’s conception of themselves – blaming you, for example, for bad grades or for their unhappy or unfulfilled lives, making you feel responsible for their failures. Don’t put up with it. Take action!
- Threats, blackmail, physical hurt — Threats of violence can be just as bad as physical violence and should be seen as a warning sign. “Do this and you will see the bad side of me.” or “You b******, how dare you leave me”. If your boyfriend/girlfriend ever threatens you or sends you abusive text messages you should consider ending the relationship immediately. Never tolerate threats or intimidation. No matter how much you love your boyfriend/girlfriend, if you’re afraid of them, you have a problem.
Photo: Shutterstock/Asier Romero/Persons in the photo are models and their names have been changed.
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