Starting a new relationship can be one of the most heart pounding and exciting moments in a person's life; but sometimes the excitement that bubbles up is your body sending a red flag about your partner's actions. Actions that can be alluring are especially hard to identify as a potential sign of abuse. That’s why spotting signs of dating violence early in a relationship is so important.
Love bombing is the process of “lavishing a new romantic partner with grand gestures and constant contact in order to gain an upper hand in the relationship,” said Chitra Raghavan, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, who explained that it is one of the most common signs of potential further abuse in a relationship.
Love bombing can be confusing because you may ask yourself, "why shouldn't my partner be infatuated with me at first sight? What is wrong with wanting to be in a relationship with someone who adores you?" If your partner is going above and beyond to show you how much they can do for you (like constantly buying you gifts and flowers or rushing into saying they love you), it could be a sign of love bombing. Your partner can then turn around and use that as power over you and use it to control you in the long run.
Does your partner want to spend every minute with you? Do they tell you they don't like you hanging out with certain people without them, or even at all? Do they demand that if you love them you will stop seeing those people? Isolation is a tactic of emotional abuse that perpetrators use to gain power and control over their partner by restricting access to friends and family. It’s not about loving or caring too much about you. It’s about controlling who you see and who you don’t see.
“Future faking is when someone uses a detailed vision of the future to facilitate the bonding and connection in a romantic relationship," said Greg Kushnick, PsyD, adding it’s generally something that narcissists do. “It's their way of getting attention and admiration from you.”
A partner may fill you with hopes of a better future, one that is less violent, having more money to spend on you or bringing you to the one place you have always wanted to go - the main point being the continuation of empty promises.
Does your partner pressure you into unwanted sexual activity? If your partner is constantly using lines like “but we are dating, we should be having sex” this is known as sexual coercion, and is absolutely a form of sexual abuse. You deserve personal soverignty. Sex without consent is rape.
Does your partner criticize you for how traditional you are or your lack of traditional knowledge? Cultural abuse is a very real, oftentimes overlooked form of abuse. If your partner is constantly criticizing you for your traditions and culture or keeping you away from ceremonies or medicines it could be a sign of dating violence.
Violence and Rage
Physical abuse doesn't always start out aimed at an intimate partner. If your partner seems to have excessive rage or violence and takes it out on their or your personal property like your phone, clothes, makeup, car or even pets, these are signs of abuse, and can progress into physical violence toward you.
Dating should be full of new experiences that leave you feeling good about yourself and your partner. It should not include love bombing, isolation, future faking, sexual coercion, cultural abuse or any form of violence.
To clear up any misconceptions or confusion that you may have about new and existing relationships, determining where your relationship falls in the Relationship Spectrum can be the first step toward safety. To find additional resources such as the Healthy Relationship Quiz or Healthy Relationship Bill of Rights. Visit our website at strongheartshelpline.org.
If you feel like you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, StrongHearts Native Helpline advocates can help you to navigate through domestic, dating and sexual violence. Call, text or chat 24/7.