6 behaviors you should never put up with in a relationship, according to psychology

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I’m the first to agree that relationships can be really tough.

I’ve been in enough to know that while some can be a real joy and easy like a Sunday morning, many can be a real struggle.

That doesn’t mean they’re bad or toxic necessarily. It just means that they’ll need a great deal of work to succeed.

But then there are relationships that play host to certain behaviors that no amount of work can save.

People get together for so many reasons and sadly, love and respect aren’t the top priorities for everyone. Instead, you get using people, fear of loneliness, a desire to control others, and other very negative motivations pushing people into relationships.

If you’re in one of these, you might not know at first, but over time, your partner’s behavior will reveal their real intentions.

So, while healthy, developing relationships have their hurdles to overcome, these truly negative relationships introduce behaviors that are completely unacceptable.

If you stay in these kinds of relationships, you’ll end up hurt and probably take a huge blow to your self-esteem.

So here are six behaviors you should never put up with in a relationship, according to psychology. If you do encounter these in your partner, you should get as far away from them as possible. 

1) Gaslighting

Gaslighting has been used by psychologists to describe a type of abuse that was featured in a 1938 play called Gas Light. 

In this play, a husband uses a certain kind of manipulation to try to convince his heiress wife that she’s mentally unwell so that he can separate her from her money. He denies her experiences and convinces her that she’s imagining things so that she loses confidence in her own sense of reality.

That’s what the term now means in psychology.

While the term gaslighting has only been around since the 1940s, don’t think that this behavior hasn’t been around since time immemorial.

When one partner gaslights another, they attack that person’s sense of self, making them lose self-confidence and the ability to trust others. 

They typically use love-bombing, isolation, unpredictability, and cold-shouldering as weapons to help them gain control of the other person’s sense of reality. They blame their partners and call them crazy and overly emotional to make it seem like they’re the problem.

Why do people do this to their partners, or to anyone else for that matter?

In general, partners who gaslight do so to avoid responsibility for their own bad behavior and/or to exercise control over their partners.

According to psychological studies, the best thing you can do if you encounter gaslighting in your relationship is to separate yourself from the perpetrator, look for healthier relationships, and try to rebuild yourself as best you can.

2) Isolation

We just touched on how isolation is used as a tool by partners who use gaslighting. 

But what is isolation, and what does it mean if you encounter this behavior in your relationship?

According to one definition, isolation is when an “intimate partner seeks to weaken the woman’s support network, distancing her from social interaction, prohibiting her from relating to family and friends.”

Of course, not only women can be isolated by their partners, and isolation can happen in any sort of relationship, opposite or same-sex.

Once again, isolation is a behavior used by one partner to exercise control over the other. The perpetrators use different means, such as psychological manipulation and lying, threats of harm, and strict rules that restrict their partner’s freedom.

But why would they want to separate their partner from others, especially for people who can make their lives happier and healthier?

This might be a part of their scheme to gaslight their partner, as we saw earlier. It can also be used as a way to cover up other forms of abuse, such as we’ll see later.

But for the most part, isolation is simply a form of control unto itself. It’s a way to disempower the partner and keep them reliant on the perpetrator.

The results of isolation are striking.

Research into social isolation of all kinds has linked it to poor health outcomes (ranging from cancer to heart disease and stroke) and increased mortality overall. It’s also linked with depression and hopelessness.

So, even though it may seem mild, we’re talking about a pretty dangerous type of abuse here and one you should never put up with in your relationship.

3) Verbal or emotional abuse

We’re now going to get into behaviors that are extremely serious and may be triggering, so please read on with care.

Verbal and emotional abuse are certainly behaviors that you should never put up with in a relationship/ However, they tend to happen a lot more frequently than you may think.

So, what are these behaviors?

According to one study on the effects of verbal abuse, this behavior is “a form of emotional abuse intended to inflict intense humiliation, denigration, or extreme fear, as perceived by the victimized person.” It’s performed through words that can be accusing, mean, insulting, and aggressive.

So verbal abuse is one type of emotional abuse that many of us, sadly, are familiar with.

Emotional abuse, in general, is “any nonphysical behavior or attitude that is designed to control, subdue, punish, or isolate another person through the use of humiliation or fear.”

Emotional abuse is a constant bombardment of negativity from your partner to make you feel worthless. As such, it attacks your self-esteem and causes you to feel like you have no value, which can even cause victims to agree with and validate their abusers.

That’s what makes verbal and emotional abuse so difficult to walk away from. However, this abuse is damaging and can destroy self-esteem, make a person feel worthless, and even trigger alcohol misuse.

4) Physical or sexual abuse

The most horrible kind of abuse out there is physical or sexual abuse.

This is because it causes damage to a person’s body as well as emotional damage to their mind.

The American Psychological Association defines physical abuse as:

“deliberately aggressive or violent behavior by one person toward another that results in bodily injury. Physical abuse may involve such actions as punching, kicking, biting, choking, burning, shaking, and beating, which may at times be severe enough to result in permanent damage (e.g., traumatic brain injury) or death.”

Sexual abuse is considered to be “any nonconsensual or exploitive sexual behavior or activity imposed on an individual without their consent” and can occur in a relationship of trust like that of intimate partners.

Many times, sexual abuse goes hand-in-hand with other forms of physical abuse and intimate partner violence.

Research shows that victims of these kinds of abuse risk more than just bodily injury. They often develop depression, PTSD, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse issues.

If you have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse in your relationship, it’s essential that you get away and get help. This can be frightening to even think about, but you are a valuable person, and you don’t deserve to be treated this way.

If you’ve experienced abuse and need help, you can find it here. If you need help in another country, use this link to find resources that can direct you to the help that you need.

5) Manipulation

Manipulation is found in many relationships and is a lot harder to identify than many of the other negative behaviors we’ve seen so far.

But it’s still something that you should never put up with in your relationship by any means.

So, how do you know if your partner is manipulating you?

Manipulation is controlling or exercising harmful influence over someone else by using sneakiness, unfair, or insidious means.

In intimate relationships, studies have identified 12 different instruments that manipulators use to get their way, namely charm, reason, coercion, silent treatment, debasement, responsibility invocation, reciprocity, monetary reward, pleasure induction, social comparison, and hardball (a mix of threats, lies, and violence).

Manipulators can use any and all of these tools to prey on their partners’ weaknesses and take advantage of their vulnerabilities.

This is something to look out for and certainly never to put up with in a relationship.

6) Disrespect

The last behavior that you should never accept from your partner is disrespect.

This is hard to define because respect looks very different in different relationships.

However, there are some clear signs when your partner doesn’t respect you, including ignoring your boundaries, talking down to you, being inconsiderate, ignoring your feelings, or treating you with contempt.

Without your partner’s respect, your search for happiness within the relationship will certainly be fruitless, and unhappiness is sure to follow. Get out of a disrespectful relationship as soon as you can!

These six behaviors you should never put up with in a relationship, according to psychology, range from mild (disrespect) to extreme (abuse). But they have one thing in common.

They’re all behaviors that are massive red flags that should alert you to quickly get out of the relationship.

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