December 2017
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questions to determine if a relationship is difficult-but-worthwhile or possibly/definitely abusive


icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

I've been thinking about this on and off for the last few months after I asked some questions of an ex about their relationship. I think it can be really hard to tell where the line is between "difficult, but a worthwhile relationship" and "not worth it / possibly/definitely abusive." And this is not just for romantic relationships. For me the line can be found with these questions.

The basic questions I ask to determine if the relationship is abusive:
Can I trust this person not to lie to me?
Can I trust this person not to deliberately OR carelessly attack me (with words or otherwise)?
Can I trust this person not to touch me in any way I do not want?
Can I trust this person not to try to manipulate or force my behavior?
Can I say no to or disagree with this person with very little fear or guilt or worry?

And to determine if it is a worthwhile difficult relationship:
Does this person want to give to me at least as much as they want to get from me?
Can I share all parts of myself and feel respected, safe, accepted, and sometimes challenged by this person?
Does my time spent with this person make me feel nourished and fulfilled in the ways that are essential to me? (for me these are in meaningful sharing, in empathy, in cuddles, in curiosity, in openness, and in growth)

If you ever see me in a situation that looks like I am not asking myself these questions, I would love if you would call me on it. I realize important things in times of good and forget them in times of bad, so often.

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Comments
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
This is so wise! I've been thinking about the same thing myself lately, not in terms of potentially abusive relationships, but just in casual things. If it seems like we've got to "fight for it" and there's nothing there worth fighting for, I'm out!
bunnika ══╣bunny: drunk╠══
Damn these questions make my marriage look bad. >.> Only took me a decade to figure it out, it's all good...
classical_wolf ══╣╠══
Wonderful questions and I agree with all of these ♥
sabrinamari ══╣╠══
This is really useful.
keiwontia ══╣╠══
Thank you, for writing about this and posting your precise questions! I ran through them briefly with my boys and found that asking these questions -- even of each other (presuming radical honesty) -- is a great launching point for important discussion. Love always. <3
wolfteaparty ══╣╠══
Thank you! As someone who has wasted too much of my life in abusive relationships without realizing most of it was abuse until it was over due to gaslighting/manipulation, these are definitely useful ways to get a realistic look at what's going on. I will keep this in mind for the future for myself. I found that if the relationship makes me cry more than it makes me happy, feels like an uphill battle, and I find myself feeling like I have to explain normal human decency to someone who refuses to get it, then chances are it's emotionally abusive. Now that I'm in my first relationship without verbal abuse the difference is like night and day... SO much happier, and so much less anxiety and battle fatigue.
fayriekisses ══╣╠══
I appreciate how you openly ask people to tell you if they feel like you are in an unhealthy relationship. I feel exactly the same way. It's hard to see everything that is going on when you are so deeply involved. An outside opinion always helps.

Most people don't want to hear it though. I lost my best friend to a guy who was controlling her. She passed up job good opportunities because of him. I tried talking to her about it because I was afraid for her (my father was very controlling and jealous) but she just had lots of excuses for him. More red flags kept popping up and I just couldn't let it go. Eventually she ended up calling off the relationship. For a long time I regretted pushing it so much, I should have tried to just accept her decisions, but worrying about her kept me up at night. She wasn't the same person I knew anymore.
raidingparty ══╣╠══
X: Can not trust this person not to carelessly attack me.
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Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.