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When Your Relationships Turn Abusive - What You Can Do

Sometimes the people who are the closest to us, our friends and our mates, the ones who should be liking us the best, are the ones who hurt us the most.

No matter how lonely you are, you don't have to put up with rude or abusive behavior from other people.

You can set strict limits on the behavior you will tolerate, and search for supportive relationships in which you feel comfortable and respected. A friend or a partner who is supportive of you will respect your body, your emotions, beliefs, fears, ideas, ambitions, dreams and hopes.

If someone keeps making offensive remarks to you that hurt your feelings, tell them calmly that these remarks are not funny and that you feel hurt. Tell them you do not want them to make such remarks to you again.

A person who belittles you and then says they were just joking, or someone who blames you for being "too sensitive" when they have just hurt you, is not respecting you. That person may be trying to hurt you, while hiding behind the pretense that it was only a joke.

There are some other warning signs you should watch out for. If you are in a relationship with someone who is showing signs of extreme jealousy, rudeness, lying, criticism, violence, trying to isolate you from your family and friends, or trying to control your life, it is extremely unlikely that these traits will go away on their own. In fact, it is quite likely that they will become worse.

Do you feel it would be safe for you to bring forth your grievances so that the two of you can work out a conclusion that satisfies both of you? If you don't feel that you can work out your problems, the relationship will probably eventually fail, and you may go through a lot of suffering before you finally decide to cut your losses.

If you always avoid expressing your needs and feelings whenever you have been hurt in a relationship, ask yourself why.

Is it because you generally have a lot of difficulty standing up for yourself? Are you are afraid of what the other person's reaction will be? If you are afraid of the other person's reaction, has this become an abusive relationship?

Is this a relationship where you are always "walking on eggshells" trying to avoid an angry explosion from your partner? Do you stay in this relationship only because you cannot stand the idea of being alone?

If you really want someone to understand how their behavior has affected you, and if you want them to change their behavior in the future, you will have a better chance of success if you express yourself clearly, calmly, and directly, without making blanket accusations and generalizations.

When you are communicating to your friend or partner, wait until you have both calmed down emotionally. State clearly the specific behaviors you don't like, and avoid making accusations that start with the word "you", such as "You make me so mad", or "You don't care about me".

Instead, keep your statements focused on yourself and your own reactions, such as, "I felt hurt when you said ... ".

Keep your comments focused on specific behaviors that upset you, such as "Yesterday when we were at your mother's, you said that ..."

Don't use generalized universal statements such as, "You always ..." or, "You never ..."

When you express how you feel hurt or angered by a specific behavior, the other person may try to tell you that you have no right to feel that way.

You might be told, "You have no right to be sad", or, "You have no right to be jealous", or, "You have no right to be angry."

You may be told that you are wrong to have the feelings you do.

If the other person tells you that you have no right to your feelings, it may be because they do not really understand how emotions work. Or perhaps they want to divert attention from their own bad behavior by blaming you instead.

Realize that your emotions belong to you. They are real and they are yours. You have a right to respect your own feelings, values and dignity, and to ask that others do the same.

If the problems in your relationship are very serious, you may benefit from getting some outside counseling. Or you may need to get out altogether.

Royane Real is the author of several self help books available at her website. Sign up for the free newsletter filled with life improving tips at

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