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6 Patterns and Phrases Toxic Partners use

It’s time to talk about toxic relationships. You may have thought you met the one, maybe they even saved you from toxicity just to drag you into an even worse situation, or maybe nothing is ever okay unless they’re happy and you’re miserable.

This blog is for educational and awareness purposes only. The terms narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath are used as descriptors to identify toxic and harmful personality traits. The said terms are not intended to diagnose anyone with any disorder.

We hear about domestic violence often, but for those who haven’t experienced it, or even many who have may say, “That could never happen to me.” When it is actually happening to them. Emotional abuse is a silent form of abuse that doesn’t leave physical wounds. It’s often a "he said, she said" situation where you are expected to produce mountains of evidence that is almost impossible to capture.

So many individuals don’t know that what’s happening to them isn't normal due to toxic upbringings, years of gaslighting and manipulation, or they do know something is off but they are in a situation where it’s either not safe to question the abuse or they self gaslight. Society tends to think only physical abuse and sexual abuse is abuse. Emotional pain is just as harmful as any physical pain that can be inflicted on anyone.

It’s hard to indicate emotional abuse and it’s hard to prove legally. So, let’s talk about 6 patterns and phrases toxic, abusive partners may use.

1. “I could have had anyone else other than you.”

This phrase is very painful. It digs in deep and I know a lot of us have heard this. It’s a tactic to lower your self-esteem and self-worth. This is typically used in the discarding phase of a toxic relationship and can be used whenever the toxic partner feels like it’s time to get some supply. It’s normally used during your lowest of lows and when you’re more likely to give a strong reaction. The partner will be very annoyed if you walk away and avoid confrontation. They want that reaction.

It’s also used to bring paranoia. It can make you think, “Are they cheating on me because I’m not what they wanted?”

“Why am I not good enough?”

Or you revert to the people pleaser who panics and asks,” What do you need me to do for you so you will love me?”

2. They compare you to their ex.

A toxic partner eventually may begin to compare you to their ex. Often it is when you are not doing everything the way the partner wants on the partner's time. Say you’re washing dishes but your partner says you’re not doing them the way their ex did. They did it better and you’re not even good enough to do the dishes. Then they continue to insult you and degrade you on something that’s not even a big deal. It certainly doesn’t have to be about washing dishes, but that’s how ridiculous and minor their degrading can be. Something that is a small everyday task can be used as a way to lower your self-esteem, make you feel like you’re less than others, and make you feel like you need to change who you are to meet the needs of this toxic partner. You may feel like you have to compete with an ex who is constantly brought up to harm you.

A toxic person - especially if they’re a narcissist or a sociopath - can have a very spontaneous outburst over little things that are not an issue.

This is all about control. The toxic partner wants to get reactions from you, all while making you feel like you’re worth nothing so they will have more control over you. The toxic partner wants you to do everything for them in their specific way. It may not even be about an ex. It can just be a manipulation tactic to make you become even more of a perfectionist and people pleaser so you will do anything to please your toxic spouse. It’s a test of your boundaries and your response.

3. “Where have you been?!”

If you’ve been in a toxic relationship, you’ve most likely encountered the overreaction of coming home a few minutes late from work, school, or the grocery store, you’re instantly cheating and now are labeled as the toxic partner. Toxic partners are very insecure. They know that healthy individuals will not stay with them or put up with the toxic behaviors they unleash behind closed doors.

Toxic partners know that projecting what they’re potentially doing to you will make you rethink and have confusion around the relationship. In this situation we often ask questions like, “Oh maybe they just feel like I do. I don’t want them to cheat on me,” then you may feel the need to pamper and make sure the toxic partner has their needs and wants met and self-sacrifice to make sure those needs are met or “why can’t I be trusted? I just went to work. My parents treated me like this too. This must be normal, but I don’t like it.”

4. You can’t have friends

Isolation in a toxic relationship is important for the abuser. You are shamed, accused of cheating, and accused of not being dedicated and serious about the relationship. A smooth-talking manipulator can easily make you feel like the bad guy when it’s human to be social with at least a few people. Friends are important, but a toxic partner knows that if you have a supportive friend, that friend will want you out of this toxicity. They need smooth ways to manipulate you into distancing yourself from these relationships with “I’m busy.” “A lot is going on at work,” and other similar excuses until the relationship naturally fades away and the connection is lost.

Isolation is an abuser's best friend.

5. “Do you want to go back to your abuser(s)?”

This phrase is one filled with betrayal whether or not this partner helped you escape abuse, the toxic partner knows that this is a wound. They want to use it to their advantage to devalue you and to discard you so they can make you a shell of your former self. If you are at your lowest of low, you are easy to manipulate. The fear of potentially thinking the only place you can go is back to your previous abusers is absolutely terrifying. This brings us to financial abuse. This type of partner typically has control of the bank account. They may even make sure you don’t have access to it either. Or if you do, your spending is monitored and you are punished if you even think about taking money out to use it for yourself for things that you need. This type of control is important to the abuser so they can make sure you never get out of this relationship.

6. They use your past wounds as a weapon.

A toxic, abusive partner will use any and all past wounds you’ve shared with them against you. They will try to use these wounds as their way of controlling you. It may not seem like control, but they want you to be reactive. They want to be able to hold that power over you. Your reactions show them that they are in control and it satisfies them The toxic partner wants you to be reactive. They will use gaslighting to make you question your own reality and attempt to control your mental state so you can remain their source of supply.

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