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“I’m 25 years old and recently ended a long relationship. After a few months I met a guy who seemed great and had all the qualities that my ex didn’t. Several months in though he started to shove me and struck me a few times and has a temper like I’ve never seen in anyone. I’m confused though because I like him but wonder if there’s something wrong with him, or wrong with me for being in this type of relationship. What do I do?”
Get out of the relationship. There’s no question about it: he’s abusive. Thinking a new guy is “great” following the end of your earlier relationship isn’t uncommon. We often have blinders on when we come out of a relationship and focus only on the new person’s positive qualities, while neglecting any negative traits or turning a blind eye to them. That said, don’t blame yourself. There’s no excuse in the world for his bad behavior and you’re not to blame.
Any time you think you might be in an abusive relationship, here are some things to keep in mind/watch out for:
- Abuse in relationships usually starts small — verbally putting you down or maybe a push or a shove. A partner should never lay a hand on a significant other. If it does occur, don’t make excuses for it. It’s flat-out wrong.
- Don’t disregard threats, even if you think they’re small.
- Does he control who your friends are or when you spend time with them or your family? These are signs of envy and should not be ignored.
- How do you feel when you’re around him? If you’re anxious or afraid you might disappoint him, or you simply fear he could hurt you, then get out.
- Take a look at his past relationships. Is there any indication that there may have been violence? If there’s a way to speak to an ex of his then go for it.
- Be aware of the classic cycle of abuse: outburst followed by the honeymoon or make-up phase where he begs for forgiveness and promises to change, only to then face the next blowup.
If any of these warning signs ring true, talk to a professional, get an unbiased opinion, tap into your support group, and by all means, get out of the relationship.
Jonathan Alpert is a Manhattan psychotherapist and author. He appears on national TV commenting on sex and relationship issues as well as lifestyle, mental health, and hot-button issues. Get more of Jonathan’s great advice in his new book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, on sale April 24th wherever books are sold. Follow Jonathan on Twitter at @JonathanAlpert