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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What does an abusive or manipulative relationship look like, and how as an INTP who is mostly unaware of her own feelings, recognize this?

I've been in a few of these relationships before. And both of these times, it took me years to realize what was happening. I think it's because I am or was so very unaware of my feelings that I didn't notice what was happening until people around me pointed it out to me. On top of that, I only start to really pay attention once I notice a continual pattern.

Lately, a few people have mentioned to me that they think that I'm currently in an abusive relationship. I normally would disregard this, but a few people have mentioned it now, so now I'm starting to pay more attention.

The first mentioned that it seemed like my partner was very controlling in the aspects of my life and was concerned about it. The second mentioned that my partner pressuring me into having sex with him and continually placing me in highly uncomfortable sexual situations for me seemed abusive. I'm personally not sure what to think about this... I would like to think my partner just made an honest mistake and that we had different preferences. Or perhaps I didn't object loudly enough even though we were continually arguing about it for at least a year until it stopped. And the third mentioned concern that I could potentially be in an abusive relationship when I said I now viewed the concept of love as self-sacrifice.

I'm not sure how to recognize what an abusive or manipulative relationship looks like. Generally I would think it would have something to do with me feeling terrible about myself. I am feeling some mix of negative emotions but I'm not sure if they mean anything, or what they mean or if I should listen to them at all.
 

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If he was pressuring you into having sex with him when you didn't want to, that's not cool. If he politely checked in every few months about it, that's one thing, and is not unreasonable. But if it was frequent, and made you uncomfortable, then that's a problem. It is important to communicate with your partner about how you feel, but there's also a general respect that your partner should have for you. Maybe it was an honest mistake, but if he didn't learn from it quickly, he sounds like he has some immaturity issues at the very least (in which case, you deserve better imho). I don't know the guy, but if people who do and who know and care about you are warning you that they think it's an abusive/manipulative/controlling relationship, it's more than likely a possibility.

It is true that love is about making sacrifices for the other person, but it should be a two-way street. If you make all these sacrifices and he doesn't, then that's not right and needs to be communicated. If it doesn't change after it's been addressed, then it's time to move on. You deserve a patient man who treats you with respect and dignity.
 

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1. In my experience, if you have to ask this question, you already know.

2. It is impossible to make an "honest mistake" when someone is telling you, in a language you speak, to stop doing something, and that "something" happens in spite of that.

3. If you're arguing about sex...well. It's not supposed to be something you argue about. Someone has done/is doing something wrong if that's happening.

4. If he is controlling you, each and every time that happens, you're allowing yourself to be controlled. It literally couldn't happen otherwise.

To what degree it is abusive and what you're going to do about it are the choices you'll make now. Maybe you'll continue to let yourself be controlled by another person. Maybe you're getting some benefit from doing this. Maybe you won't, and/or there is no benefit for you to continue. So this question isn't about him, what he intends, what he's feeling, it's about you. Good then. Keep asking yourself and see what you come up with.

PS--Love isn't about sacrifice. Sacrifice only makes martyrs. Being a martyr is one of the more deviously selfish emotional games people can play. Giving is not sacrifice. Giving is free and the giver enjoys it.
 

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I think your information is too sparse for me to feel comfortable making an informed comment, but if he overrides you and your life is being continually more dictated by his choices, that is a bad sign.
 

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You do seem to have some weird beliefs. I mean, that's probably how abused spouses happen - in their perspective, being treated badly is normal and expected. I also find it strange that you're completely shut off from your emotions, like you're dissociating. Did you live through some kind of childhood trauma, that's usually how dissociating starts. I know that the INTP meme is that we don't have emotions - but seriously, everyone has emotions. Emotions are like an old alarm system, they tell you whether your mental/emotional creature needs are met or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Hm all this is interesting, but like one person said, I think it's too soon to make any judgments. At most I believe there's a potential for this being an abusive relationship. I am only paying attention because it's been mentioned a few times. And though these people know me well, they don't know my partner well. They've only heard things from my perspective and made judgments off of that.

@Eryngo: I used to view love as being together with a best friend and sharing your life with them. But I've been unhappy for the past few years so this concept has likewise changed for me.

@Flamme et Citron: Yes, I do have emotions. I just don't know what they mean or if they should hold more value than my thoughts. Yes, I have had some trauma in the past but I'm not sure if it means anything since it's a long time ago now. I was also raised in an entirely Thinker family and taught that emotions were unstable and unnecessary. My culture is emotionally repressive. Also, in my profession, I was trained that emotions were essentially unnecessary and all that really mattered were the facts at hand and arguing whichever way possible with them. So for a long time now, I've been doing the same with my own emotions.

Based on all that, it's not very surprising that I'm not very in touch with my emotions as opposed to someone who was, let's say, raised in a Feeler family, with an emotionally expressive culture, etc. Hope this helps.
 

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From what I read, it doesn't look like the relationship seems comfortable, but it's too quick to jump to any conclusions since you are only pointing out negative comments you heard from people. And I guess, your question is how to recognize the relationship as abusive.

To answer the question itself, the evidence you collected and admitting to them is how you recognize it.

But the question I want to ask to understand the situation better is, what is the mix of negative emotions you are feeling, if you are able to articulate some of them for me. and what situations are they associated with? and what makes you stay in the relationship? Then we can figure out if your emotions mean anything. :)
 

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I suppose being unable to determine whether a relationship is abusive could be one reason to end up there. After all, no one goes looking for one.

There are funny edge cases where it becomes hard to untangle cause and effect. Perhaps you like being controlled, so fair enough for sticking around -- after all, if everyone's happy, good for them -- but what if that's only a response to coping with the situation as-is? It becomes hard to tell, and you always run the risk of patronising people ("you don't really want this, you just think you do").

Ultimately, I'm disinclined to save people from themselves; everyone ought to know himself what is best. Hence, looking at it from the outside in, while helpful to gain a different perspective, is also irrelevant. "Abusive" and "manipulative" is what you consider abusive and manipulative, not everyone else. You have to figure out where you stand in this, like @Eryngo said.

I don't even think you need too many emotions for that either; a lack of them might actually be helpful. Start with a simply cost/benefit analysis of your relationship. Emotions can be priced in later and anyway, you want to have them rationalised, not make a decision impulsively, solely based on emotions.

Take your time. Think about it. If you come to the conclusion your situation is fine, stay. And if you come to the conclusion you want more, or something else, leave. Everyone else isn't really relevant, because everyone else isn't you.

@Flamme et Citron : Everyone has emotions, but everyone doesn't have equal access to emotions. And what use is an alarm system that responds equally to a nuclear blast, a pebble and nothing at all, without telling you the cause? That's not helpful, at least for me.
 
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