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A toxic relationship will drain the joy of life out of you and having to put up with a bully as a partner may be a hazard to your mental health. A bully will kill your self-esteem, make you doubt yourself, damage your self-confidence and crush your happiness. This article reveals 11 signs that you are being bullied by your partner and some tips on how to handle this.
What is bullying?
Bullying is repeatedly hurting or harming someone intentionally. It can be in many forms including physical, verbal, emotional, social, and cyberbullying. You can read more about the 5 common types of bullying here. Note that for a habit to pass as bullying, it must be two things; intentional and repetitive.
Almost always, bullying is addressed in relation to teenagers, children, and the school environment. But the truth is that bullying can occur in any age group and any setting, in school, places of work, and in the home. Another misconception we have is the size and strength of the bully in comparison with the victim. We imagine a bully to be big, tall, masculine, or fearful. But bullies can also be small, fragile, short, and powerless. The bottom line is, the individual is abusive regardless of his/her size, shape, sex, or status.
The truth about bullies
- Most bullies have a history of being bullied, a traumatic background of abuse, or a toxic home environment, or in which a parent was a victim of bullying.
- Some bullies have low-self esteem, inferiority complex, and the loser syndrome. Hurting or manipulating you is the only way that they feel some form of importance and self-worth.
- They usually want to have some form of control over you and your emotions.
- He/she may play innocent and will blame you for all their problems.
- Bullies may never consider themselves at fault or in the wrong.
- Always turn the tables such that the situation favors them even when your complaint is valid.
- They are difficult and almost impossible to negotiate with.
- The bully is nothing without you. He/she is like a parasite and you are the host cardinal to its survival.
11 Signs that you are being bullied by your partner
While you may choose to endure the torment and live with it, the toxic habits of your partner create a toxic home environment for those living in your home. Children that are raised in a home where one partner is bullied are likely to be bullies too. Witnessing a parent being bullied has adverse psychological effects on children.
Sometimes it’s hard to identify certain habits especially if you have stayed with your partner for a long time. However, it’s possible that you are a victim of bullying if these things happen;
This one is a bit obvious because naturally, we often think bullying involves fists and elbows. If your partner is in the habit of hitting, pushing, shoving, slapping, spitting, threatening harm, or destroying your property, you are a victim of bullying. This also includes banging on the table or wall violently, throwing things, or breaking stuff. This is usually done to install fear and/or manipulate you. Others just use you as a stress reliever.
Your partner uses crying as a way of disarming you. This may happen when you try to bring up an issue that is bothering you and he/she bursts into tears. And this forces you to abort the mission and bottle up your emotions. But this backfires over time because you are prone to have an angry outburst with all those pent-up feelings sooner or later.
This includes emotional blackmail and using a physical /mental condition, disability, or illness to manipulate you.
You are always saying sorry
Your partner blames you for almost everything that goes wrong from his/her bad moods to a bad hair day. You are made to feel like everything that goes wrong is your fault because you are a “bad” spouse. Or because you do things a certain way. You might even be blamed for his/her personal failures. Hence, you always find yourself saying sorry for things that are not even your fault. Even when it is your partner that is wrong.
This includes yelling, screaming, insulting, cursing, swearing, sarcasm, humiliating, and threatening you either in public or privately. Hurtful teasing or jokes about your habits or looks are inclusive in this category. When partners do this in public or in front of their children and dependents it becomes more humiliating and degrading.
Your partner often makes you feel like you are not good enough
Most often, you will experience this if your partner is a perfectionist. While perfectionism can drive one to great heights, it’s prone to hurt your relationships and make those around you feel unworthy. If you are dealing with a perfectionist in your relationship, it’s most likely that you are being bullied. Read about perfectionism and how it ruins relationships here. Because the perfectionist partner wants things to be done a certain way, he/she may always scrutinize, monitor, criticize, and control how you do things. Including your personal projects. This may always leave you feeling not good enough, frustrated, and unappreciated.
Your partner makes you feel ugly
If your partner has a habit of making hurtful comments about your body or the way you look, you are a definite victim of bullying. He/she may endlessly put you down, tease or mock you over your weight, size, color, or appearance. This includes jokes, sarcasm, gestures, or prompts made leading to body shaming. Your partner must not cause you to dislike yourself because this may kill your self-esteem and self-love.
You often receive the silent treatment
If your partner has a habit of shutting out on you verbally or emotionally after a disagreement or for no apparent reason, then you are a victim of bullying. The silent treatment is a form of rejection in which a partner is ignored or secluded. And this is the worst form of manipulation because it’s mental torture and just cruel. This habit may leave you feeling rejected, unwanted, isolated, lonely, unloved, and craving affection.
Your partner creates constant drama
We all treasure peace and quiet. But some partners may create endless drama with the intent to manipulate you mentally and emotionally. Especially if you find it hard to deal with stress. Your partner might use drama to create confusion and destabilize you thus manipulate and control you while you are trying to make sense of the situation or combat your stress levels.
Your partner withholds sex
We all have those few times that we don’t feel like getting intimate with our partner. This must be communicated to your partner on consensual grounds. However, if your partner withholds sex as a way of punishment, retaliation, or bargain, you are a victim of bullying. Some people use this tactic as a way of manipulating their partner. This may leave you feeling frustrated, unloved, undesirable, and empty inside.
Your partner is over-controlling
You are being bullied if your partner wants to control how you do or say things. He/she may even label you as faulty because you don’t think, act, feel or react as they do. Therefore, they may want to be around to control at every point. Nothing you do is ever good enough even if you put in your very best and lose a limb doing it.
This is typical of a perfectionist or narcissistic partner. While the perfectionist wants everything to be fine and pristine, the narcist has an over-inflated ego, an inflated sense of importance, craves attention, and lacks empathy. These have something in common which is over-controlling a partner or situations.
Persistent bad behavior that hurts the partner
Some partners may persistently indulge in certain bad habits in order to manipulate you or elicit a particular reaction. Some may even use this tactic to keep you on a leash right where they want you to be. And usually, this place is under his/her shadow.
How to handle the bully
You don’t want to wake up one day several years from now and realize that you had been living under the shadow of your spouse. It will hurt you to realize that you had been living your life on his/her terms. And there is so much that you missed out while trying to please your partner or to preserve the relationship. To deal with the bully, try the following;
- Talk to your partner about how you feel
- Go for counseling: If you are sure that your partner loves you and he/she is willing to change, have a professional help you point out the factors that make your partner a bully. This will be less stressful as compared to you talking at home.
- Set boundaries: Clearly state to your partner what you will and will not tolerate. And this includes no tolerance for disrespectful words or behavior.
- Groom your confidence: Bullying do well when they succeed in putting you down. So by grooming your self-esteem and confidence, you stripe him/her of their power. They will realize they no longer have control over you or how you feel.
- Practice saying no; You may be afraid or unsure at the beginning but try saying no to anything that your partner forces you to do that you don’t want.
- Stand your ground; Don’t accept being controlled by a partner that thinks he/she is always right. It’s ok if you occasionally make mistakes, don’t we all?
- If the situation becomes a threat to your mental health, children, or your life, it’s safer to walk away.