Belittling: A Sign of Unhealthy Love
In unhealthy love words are used as weapons. Conversations that were at first fun and lighthearted become mean and embarrassing. If your partner makes fun of you in a way that hurts you or laughs at your expense or puts you down or makes you question your own abilities, that is unhealthy love. They may accuse you of overreacting or making things up in your head. They may say things like ‘why are you so sensitive to everything?’ or ‘can you do anything right?’. In the South Asian context, they may threaten to expose your secrets to the community or guilt you into feeling that you are ‘not a good Muslim’ or ‘not a good wife/mother’. These sharp words often silence you and make you feel less confident and upset and may even lead you to believe that you are overreacting. Chances are you are not. What this looks like in healthy love is an easy one: Your partner is should have your back. Their words should build you up, not tear you down. Be with someone who makes you feel more confident before you met them, not less.
Unhealthy love in its extreme forms is abuse. Not every unhealthy behavior pattern means that there is abuse in a relationship, it is important to look at the signs in their totality, to see the patterns in the relationship and trust your gut. Recognizing these early signs of unhealthy love can help us work on them to make them better through open communication, mutual respect and kindness. Understanding is the first step to improving, but not every relationship can be made better, some of them you may have to leave behind.
If you feel like your relationship is heading towards abuse or you are in an abusive relationship, seek help. You are not alone. You can call our confidential hotline on 713- 981- 7645 or look for resources on our website.
Although love is an emotion and an instinct, the ability to love in a healthy way is a skill that we can all build on and improve over time, and it is high time we all did that.