My Partner is Becoming Unpredictable and It’s Scaring Me

How many of us have longed for the fairytale relationship we see in chick flicks or read about in romance novels where two people fall madly in love, have unbelievable sex and live happily ever after? Now, how many of us have learned that a fairytale relationship is essentially unrealistic? Can you recall when your perception of a relationship was altered and you were hit with a dose of reality? Relationships are far from fairytales and some can be more like cautionary tales if we are honest. Many of us learn what not to repeat in future relationships and what to avoid instead of learning what to continue. Nonetheless, there are times we unconsciously repeat the unwanted behaviors and attract a certain type of partner.

To have a partner who is consistently loving, supportive and understanding would be the dream! However, none of us are consistent in these behaviors as individuals! So, how can we expect someone else to be? If we take a look at a “normal” functioning relationship, there will be disagreements (including arguments). At times there will be conflicts over control of things like managing bills, budgeting, sex, who’s right or wrong and even curfews. These partners typically struggle with communicating, listening and compromising. Keep in mind this is further challenged when children are involved as “compromising” now includes how to raise and discipline them.

Let’s take it a step further and factor in a “dysfunctional” couple (uh-oh). They will have the same issues as a normal functioning couple. However, maladaptive behaviors must be factored in. These behaviors may include stonewalling, contempt, resentment and being condescending. Maladaptive behaviors are like barriers in a relationship as they reduce communication, inhibit connection and trust and limit the overall growth of the relationship. These maladaptive behaviors can also be the first signs that the relationship is on the path to destruction! HOWEVER, this does not mean the relationship will actually end and result in a break-up, separation or divorce. This is especially true when the behaviors are familiar due to childhood experiences, culture or religion. You know I’m right! We all know some unhappily married couples who are solely together because they can’t afford to break-up, for the sake of their children or divorce is culturally forbidden.

Now…things are about to get real (pause and take a breath). Let’s discuss how maladaptive behaviors can escalate to abuse. Let me be clear, the maladaptive behaviors mentioned above can be verbally, mentally and psychologically abusive. However, the internal alarm typically does not go off until the abuse becomes physical. Some partners will say “I don’t know how it got this bad” or “one day things just changed.” Yet, there is definitely a progression but we rarely pay attention to the signs. Since this is common, it is important to review what the warning signs are (a.k.a. RED FLAGS) and process/steps to confirm you are in an abusive relationship.


First, how do you identify a red flag? Many of us miss the warning signs because we don’t realize what they are. Don’t believe me? Did you know a stop sign was a stop sign before someone told you? (*sly smirk*) Red flags can be behaviors or actions that make you do the following: [a] take a pause, [b]raise your eye brow because you think it’s odd or weird, [c] feel uncomfortable (i.e. stomach drops, heart rate increases) or [d] feel bad (physically and emotionally). In case you still dismiss your reactions, you may have people YOU TRUST making comments such as, “I don’t know about him” or “It’s something about her” or “I don’t trust him” or “I don’t feel good about her” or “I just don’t like him”.  I know, I know…listening to people tell you how they feel about the person you are dating or love is almost impossible! The first response is to be defensive and rightfully so! Nonetheless, if the feedback is coming from someone you trust and respect, please consider listening to them, especially when your own judgment may be clouded. If we’re being completely honest, at times the feedback is confirmation.

Second, trust your gut instincts! If you believe a behavior or action is inappropriate or upsetting, don’t negate or dismiss it. Our instincts are the best detectives! Stop looking for evidence or proof that someone is not a good person or is not trust worthy when your instincts have already warned you. Fun fact, did you know that humans are the only species that go against their instincts? If you still choose to ignore your instincts, pay attention to how you feel when you are around the person. Are you uncomfortable, tense or doubtful? If the answer is yes, this is YOUR BODY trying to communicate that something is wrong! Either you need to end the relationship or slow down the pace and pay attention. (*exhale and sigh*)

Third, believe what you saw and what you heard them say! Maya Angelou said, “When a person shows you who they are, (say it with me)…BELIEVE THEM.” Too often we disregard people’s bad or less than desirable behaviors, especially if they are loved ones. This is even more difficult when they are charming or make us feel loved or special in some way. However, these are “tactics” many abusive people use to “lure and mentally trap” their victims. Once an abuser believes he/she has established enough goodwill, they feel more comfortable pulling off the mask a bit and revealing more of who they truly are (i.e. controlling, insensitive, harsh, lack of empathy, abrasive, rigid). Unfortunately, if you attempt to call an abusive partner out on their behavior, you will likely be [a] verbally attacked, [b] blamed for their behavior or [c] told that you’re crazy and they never did such things (a.k.a. gas lighting). So it’s good practice to proceed with caution and be prepared.    

Fourth, women are also capable of abuse! Like in other situations, women are viewed as inferior. However, we know we are capable of many things and in some instances, smarter and wiser than our counterparts. As a result of the systemic double standard created by society, women typically get away with abusive behavior, even sexual abuse because society simply doesn’t take women seriously and views us as fragile or harmless. This is not only disheartening but sexist! Are you aware of the abuse that happens in lesbian relationships?  Due to the systemic perception, two women physically fighting has less of an effect than if it were two men. Not only can this be the perception of society but also the perception of the women in same-sex relationships. This also applies to men being abused in heterosexual relationships as the abuse can be emasculating and shaming.

Lastly, don’t be quiet and allow yourself to be isolated from family and friends. Abusive partners are likely to make great efforts to isolate their partners from their support system as they want to be the sole resource to gain control. What does this look like? Here are some of the things an abusive partner may say or do to achieve isolating a partner: [a] speak negatively about your friends and family, [b] convey messages that your friends and family are not good for the relationship, [c] make comments that everyone is jealous of the relationship or [d] create discord between you and your friends and family. Again, these are strategies the abusive partner uses to essentially gain control. So do what you can to get over the shame and reach out to trusted friends and family for support if you notice these things are happening in your relationship.


If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, find the SAFEST way to get out. This will take time as many abused partners find themselves emotionally and/or financially dependent on the abuser. Of course, the sooner you can leave the better. However, if it’s later there is still hope… just a different plan of attack. Certain situations call for drastic measures which include contacting a women’s shelter and a very well thought out plan, especially if children are involved. Additionally, attending group therapy can be very helpful in gaining courage, validation, self-esteem and overall support. Finally, if you are feeling ashamed about being in this type of relationship and how your life has changed, DON’T BE! You are not alone and many women and men are in the same situation. There is nothing to be ashamed of, just get help and remember those who judge you are typically dealing with their own insecurities and mask it by passing judgment. So do not worry or be discouraged beloveds! Remember to show yourself some love and kindness.


The Mommy Dearest Type Mother & Frank Underwood Type Father

Not everyone has experienced loving and supportive parents. Some have actually experienced or dare I say “survived” the exact opposite. American culture and media have done a phenomenal job of educating and normalizing two loving parents, two children, a home with a white picket fence and a dog (or cat for the cat lovers). However, there are many adults who lived untold or unrealized stories of abuse (i.e. physical, mental or emotional), neglect and abandonment. The abuse usually remains a shameful secret or ignored. Consequently, the abuse is passed down to subsequent generations in some shape or form. Furthermore, some survivors of abusive parents have a difficult time realizing they were abused as it was their “normal”. At times, the abuse isn’t realized until someone outside of their family brings it to light like a friend or therapist.

Survivors of unloving, unsupportive, manipulative, oh hell let’s just say it, survivors of abusive parents may suffer from symptoms like anxiety, depression, lack of identity, low self-esteem, rage, distorted perception of self, hyper vigilance and/or codependency. Despite the negative effects, some abuse is completely normalized as it is culturally accepted and expected to “properly” rear a child. Hitting, yelling, criticizing, intimidating and cynicism are behaviors adults exhibit to create fear in their children. Creating fear in a child is commonly mistaken for establishing respect as it helps the parent gain and maintain “perceived” control. However, symptoms similar to those of abuse (including timidness, aggression or resentment) are created in the child.

Unfortunately, adults that lead with fear often learned the behavior from their families, culture or environment and may be unaware of more effective child rearing skills. Furthermore, some may suffer from personality disorders (“PD”) like Narcissistic PD, Borderline PD, Antisocial PD or Histrionic PD. Now, let’s be clear (*clear throat and slightly tilt head*), this is not an attempt to excuse the behavior or negate the resulting emotional injury. This is a genuine attempt to acknowledge the reality that we are products of our families and environments, which includes child rearing and other behaviors. However, an effective way to break the cycle is to “learn” or “seek” healthy child rearing skills (i.e. parenting classes, parenting books) as knowledge really is power. Though finding the courage and/or means to gain the knowledge can be challenging and even perceived as a weakness or admittance of guilt.

Survivors of abusive parents can become abusers, abused or attempt to be nonreactive in fear of repeating the vicious cycle. None of these options are beneficial or healthy for the survivors or for the families they create. However, not every survivor of abusive parents will repeat the behavior! Nonetheless, the abuse makes an impact as it can determine how one functions in relationships or avoids/devalues relationships (i.e. attachment). Some survivors become dismissive while others may become entangled or enmeshed. Dismissive attachment is when the person has difficulty being or staying in relationships as he/she may not value relationships. Enmeshed attachment is when the person has difficulty being alone and lacks an identity without a relationship making him/her preoccupied and clingy.

Abuse can also be categorized into two groups, covert and overt. Overt abuse is visible and tangible while covert abuse is hidden and intangible. Some argue that covert abuse is the most damaging as it is emotional and psychological (i.e. gas lighting) and the effects are long lasting and difficult to undo. Covert abuse is largely detected by how it makes the victim feel. Some of the feelings that result from covert abuse are shame, anger, discomfort, sadness, self-doubt, confusion and/or neurosis. However, those who have been physically abused will disagree, especially when the abuse was severe and chronic. Physical abuse can also impact brain development and if severe and chronic, it can trigger mental illnesses (i.e. schizophrenia, major depression, dissociative identity). As such, regardless of the type or scale of the abuse, it is all damaging.

Now for the bright side of this wonderful story! There is hope! Every survivor of abuse can learn to function in a healthy manner which can happen in several ways. Survivors may have friends, loved ones and other family members who are supportive, loving and exhibit secure attachment. Survivors can also seek counseling to learn healthy coping skills and to process past traumas. Additionally, if talking to a counselor is not an option, having someone trustworthy to confide in can be very helpful. If emotions surfaced for you while reading this and you’re feeling distressed or overwhelmed, please reach out to someone you trust or a professional therapist to speak with. Lastly, if anyone attempts to invalidate you by telling you to get over the abuse or it happened so long ago and you should be over it, tell that lovely person to…hush or any other four letter word you’d rather use.

Thank you for reading my first blog! Be well and show yourself some love! I am also available for speaking engagements on the topics discussed in my blog.

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