It would seem that it would be a no brainer that people would easily recognize behaviors that are unacceptable in any relationship.
You know, those red flags, those little behaviors that you see at the beginning of a relationship, behaviors that make you pause and wonder if you should take note of them or ignore them and hope they aren’t so red.
Those little red flags that, if they are ignored, can grow into big behaviors, behaviors that are unacceptable in any relationship.
Unfortunately, people tend to ignore those red flags, rationalizing that they aren’t a big deal, so that they can stay in their relationship, no matter how toxic those behaviors are.
Because I see so many people rationalizing the things that are happening in their relationships, I thought it important to put it out there, in black and white, 5 behaviors that are unacceptable in any relationship in the hopes that, if we can recognize how there is no grey area around unacceptable behaviors, we can find the strength to walk away, for good.
So here they are – 5 behaviors that are unacceptable in any relationships. Read them and heed them!
#1 – Lying.
In any list of behaviors that are unacceptable in any relationship I always put lying first.
I have a client whose husband lies about everything, big and small.
He lies about where he was when she couldn’t reach him. He lies about whether he has had that difficult conversation with his mother. He lies when he is asked a question that makes him uncomfortable. He lies to their kids when they ask him why he drinks so much.
At first, she didn’t recognize those lies. Everyone stretches the truth sometimes and she loved and trusted him to be honest with her.
But, as time went on, she started to notice how regularly he lied to her, to everyone. He would lie about all sorts of things, big and small. Some of them were very damaging, like when there was an emergency and she couldn’t find him and he said that his phone battery died. Some of them not so much, like the fact that he said he tried to stop at the store on the way home but that it was closed, when he had just forgot.
Every time she caught him in a lie, big or small, she lost just a little bit more trust in him.
She came to me, very unhappy in her marriage. She wasn’t really sure why. Her husband was a nice man, he worked hard, he was a good dad and people liked him. She didn’t understand why she was so unhappy. And then she referred, offhandedly, to his lies, big and small, and I knew, right away, why she was so unhappy – she didn’t trust her husband.
As we talked about it further, she realized how much of an effect the lying was having on her relationship with her husband, that she couldn’t trust him about anything and that was eroding their relationship.
So, it might seem like a small thing but lying is an unacceptable behavior in any relationship.
#2 – Physical Abuse.
While this behavior might seem more obvious, invisible physical abuse is present in more relationships than one might think.
The image of the abusive husband and the battered wife, one propagated on TV and in the movies, is unfortunately the reality for many women, and men, in this country.
For many people, unless the physical abuse they suffer from is as bad as the abuse that they see on TV, they don’t believe that they are being abused. That what happens to them is maybe a mistake or something that isn’t a big deal.
The truth be told, physical abuse doesn’t have to be the stereotype that we see on TV. Physical abuse can present itself in many ways, big and small.
Common, well known examples of physical abuse are: shaking, burning, choking, hair-pulling, hitting, slapping, kicking, and any type of harm with a weapon like a knife or a gun.
More surprising examples of physical abuse are small things: grabbing someone by the arm, pushing, throwing things, non-consensual rough sex and any kind of intimidation by strength.
I always ask my clients who are in unhappy relationships if there is any kind of physical abuse. Almost 100% of them say no but when I tell them about the small kinds of abuse they are often surprised that some of those things are present.
So, take a good hard look at your relationship. Are there any signs of abuse, big or small? If there are, considering leaving. Physical abuse or intimidation is a behavior that is unacceptable in any relationship.
#3 – Verbal Abuse
Everyone fights, right? Relationships are tough and people don’t always agree, so they fight. And, sometimes, those fights escalate and there is yelling and door slamming. They are not fun, fights, but they do happen.
The important thing to take note of is whether your fighting has gone beyond yelling, what it has gone to a dark place of verbal abuse.
Verbal abuse can be hard to spot. Below are some examples so that you can ascertain whether it is present in your relationship.
Examples of verbal abuse: name calling, condescension, manipulation, criticism, demeaning comments, threats, blame, accusations, withholding and gaslighting.
So, you can see that verbal abuse goes way beyond fighting. Verbal abuse involves attacking the other person in a way that is destructive, often manipulatively so.
Verbal abuse in unacceptable in any relationship. Is it present in yours?
#4 – Emotional abuse
Another thing that is unacceptable in any relationship is emotional abuse. And, unfortunately, emotional abuse is extremely hard to recognize.
I have a client who is in a very volatile relationship. It is a relationship that involves extreme ups and downs – where he treats her like a queen and she feels very loved, and then something goes wrong and she starts to pull away and he turns into a completely different person.
Instead of being kind and loving, her boyfriend becomes emotionally abusive. He attacks her self-worth and criticizes every piece of her. He rips her apart for who she is and then disappears, not responding to her texts asking him where he has gone. He gaslights her, blaming her for everything that is wrong in their relationship. And he blasts her for how hard she works and that all she cares about is money.
And, the very sad thing is that my client takes this emotional abuse. She loves him madly and, because when things are good they are so good, she is willing to take the bad too. Unfortunately, the bad brings her down to such a dark place and, each time they happen, it erodes her self-esteem even further.
At this point, after years of this emotional abuse, my client feels so badly about herself that she actually believes that she deserves everything that he says about her.
Not very obvious examples of emotional abuse: when your partner controls your appearance, when they monitor your conversations, when they separate you from your family and friends, when they ask you to do things that they know you would never do otherwise, when they demean the things you do and who you are in the world.
Emotional abuse can be very hard to spot, especially if it has been happening for a while because the abused has been so broken down that they can’t see that what is happening is something that they don’t deserve and is unacceptable.
Are there any signs of emotional abuse in your relationship? Dig deep, ask your friends, reflect on how things used to be. Only then might you be able to see it.
#5 – Ghosting.
For those of you who don’t know, ghosting is when someone just disappears. Usually it involves doing so via text but it can also mean the physical disappearance from one’s life, even if it’s just temporary.
Ghosting is one of those behaviors that is unacceptable in any relationship.
Ghosting has been made much easier because of the advent of texting and interacting on social media. It’s easy for someone to disappear in the middle of a conversation or after a first date because the can just delete that person from their phone and never see them again.
And that kind of disappearing can be very painful and often can often leave someone questioning who they are in the world and why someone, everyone, abandons them.
Ironically, if someone ghosts you, it’s truly the best thing that could happen to you. Because they ghosted you, there is no risk that you would have gotten into a relationship with someone who ghosts others, someone you definitely don’t want to be in a relationship with.
The next level of ghosting is disappearing and this tends to happen more with people who are in a relationship.
I have a client whose boyfriend makes promises to do something with her and then, when the time comes, he disappears, nowhere to be found. Ultimately, he does reappear, with lots of excuses and charm, and she takes him back.
Another client has boyfriend who, more often than not, isn’t there when she needs him. Her dog was attacked by another dog and she had to rush him to the hospital. She needed her boyfriend with her and he wasn’t anywhere to be found. When she finally reached him, he said that his battery had died and that he was sorry.
Because she wanted to believe him, she did and life went on, until he did it again.
Ghosting or disappearing in a relationship is absolutely unacceptable. It displays a lack of respect, of contempt for other people’s emotions and time. It destroys trust in a relationship and leaves the person who is left feeling horrible about themselves.
So, if your person ever ghosts your or can’t be found, consider strongly whether this is the person for you. Wouldn’t you rather have someone who you know will always be there for you?
There you go, 5 behaviors that are unacceptable in any relationship.
If someone is being lied to, physically, emotionally or verbally abused or is left behind when times get tough they are in a toxic relationship, one that they should run screaming from.
And the reason that these things are unacceptable is because they leave the person, you, feeling less than, questioning who they are in the world, perhaps isolated from family and friends, alone and scared.
What every healthy relationship has is mutual trust, respect, honesty, affection, commitment and support. A healthy relationship leads someone to feel good about themselves, safe in the world and supported by someone they love.
Take a good hard look at how you are feeling right now, after you have read this article. Do you feel good about your relationship and your place in the world or are you unsteady and unsure, scared of what to do next?
If it’s the second, it’s time to get out. Now!