The beginning of a relationship can be magical. Everything seems perfect and you daydream about what your future will be like. However, sometimes a too-good-to-be-true relationship suddenly takes a turn for the worse. What was once a welcome refuge becomes a nightmare that’s hard to wake up from. When love becomes dangerous, it’s time to do everything in your power to get out. What many do not know, however, is that physical abuse isn’t the only type of relationship danger. There are many different forms of abuse that can pose a threat to your physical and mental well-being. Here are the eight most dangerous types of relationships (that don’t involve physical abuse) according to our experts.
Some of the most dangerous types of relationships are the ones that are subtly manipulative. The way that a toxic partner entraps you is not by showing how dangerous they are right away — they will be warm, affectionate, and sweet at the start of the relationship. You need to know the red flags to watch for, such as being more and more controlling about who you talk to, where you go, and even small things like what you eat. These subtle manipulations can easily transform into a dangerous relationship when one partner controls the other completely, and the manipulated person feels there is no way out.
The emotional impact of being in a manipulative relationship is severe — it may take therapy and possibly years to recover from. When you’ve been manipulated, and are possibly still in love with the manipulator, you might blame yourself for being in the situation, as if you’re actively choosing it. More often than not, the controlling, manipulative partner in this situation places the blame directly on the person they’re manipulating. They may say things like “you make me crazy,” to divert from the fact that their behavior is their own, placing the blame on you for their actions.
My advice for a person in a manipulative relationship is to start seeing a therapist. Because of your emotionally vulnerable state, it may be too difficult to leave your manipulator. Instead, work on yourself and your self-esteem. You may be met with protests, but insist on pursuing hobbies that are important to you, and do the internal work to build the strength necessary to leave the dangerous relationship.
April Davis, owner and founder of LUMA luxury matchmaking
These individuals are dangerous and charming. One should protect themselves by cutting all contact and all communication with the individual when possible. The average person is not mentally equipped to spar with a sociopath or psychopath. Individuals with antisocial personality disorder do not believe they have a problem, thus they will not seek or believe in the need for counseling. Their partner will likely end up in therapy in order to recover from the mental abuse suffered in the relationship. For those who do enter counseling, their rate of recovery is less than 2%.
3. Financially abusive
Financial abuse takes many forms, including blaming the significant other for financial strain, putting the significant other on an absurdly strict budget, public shaming about expenditures, utilizing all or most of the income on an addiction, and taking earned or gifted money away from the significant other.
Gretchen Kubacky, psychologist
4. The “us against the world” relationship
Here, one partner is an isolater. He or she pulls the other partner in as a teammate to take on the world. On the surface it seems like a close bond, but in reality the partner pulling the other in is using them to create security and keep them for themselves. This is the classic isolating relationship, but it is covered in a “we are a team” veil. The danger here is that both parties fail to grow socially or develop strong relationships outside of their own, and in some cases are cut off from the rest of the world. Recommendation: Take on the world as long as you are able to have a team of more than two — as long as you are able to have other friends and social connections. If your partner doesn’t allow this, you are in trouble. It’s time to think about leaving.
5. Emotionally abusive
A lot of people are in emotionally dangerous relationships and the impact can be brutal. It causes their self-esteem to plummet and they lose a sense of themselves. Many people are with emotionally unavailable or verbally abusive partners — this is all very dangerous because they can lose years of their life on someone who treats them badly. No one deserves to be treated that way.
It’s hard to give someone advice on how to get out of this type of relationship because on some level people sometimes enter such a relationship because they feel it is all they deserve. Admitting they are in a bad relationship is the first step.
Karenna Alexander, matchmaker and dating coach
You just can’t get the person out of your mind. You wait for their call or their text, and follow them on Facebook and all social media platforms. You have lost your own sense of self and have entered the land of “oh no; I can’t stop thinking of them.”
7. Spiritually abusive
This gets almost no attention, but I believe it is the most dangerous form of abuse. Women justify submission and patriarchy on religious grounds. In the most severe cases, they accept that God wants them to suffer and that ultimately, in the end, it is all for his glory.
The most insidious form of spiritual abuse happens when the victim believes that she can actually become content in her suffering. She will blame her suffering on God’s divine purposes. This results in incredible emotional entanglement. In fact, it becomes a type of Stockholm syndrome. In many cases, during dating and marriage, the woman will convince herself that she has no other option. She then deludes herself into feeling control over the relationship and embraces her abuser.
Someone in this type of relationship should absolutely find a support group. In this type of abuse, you will stop looking for ways to escape the abuse and pain and you will, instead, accept it and live with it.
Nicole Dean, counselor and expert at Homeschool Base
8. The relationship that’s too important to lose
If you partnered with someone who is just way too amazing, you might feel the pressure of a threat of losing that perfect relationship — this is a red flag. Wait, what? Am I saying you shouldn’t go for the gold? You can’t care deeply, invest fully, or be vulnerable in your relationships? Nope, I’m not saying any of that. But what I do mean is the pressure to please will have us overlook or hide problems to keep the status quo. The emotional toll that it takes to accommodate, contort, or justify actions is not healthy for the relationship, and is harmful to the one who isn’t getting what he or she needs.
I recommend we all live in our relationships with our eyes wide open. Be willing to see this person for all they are and all they are not. Don’t make excuses for them. If something doesn’t work, or if there’s discord, don’t bury your head in the sand. Instead, take off those rose-colored glasses, stop squinting through the relationship to make everything look fine, and see if you can make deals around what isn’t working so everyone can get what they need and there’s peace between you.
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