Since middle school "family life" classes, we learned to identify abusive behaviors in romantic partners. We were taught never to date someone who hits you, who insults you, who doesn't let you hang out with your friends. We were taught, however, a very simplistic and overt form of abuse, and weren't taught the more subtle and nuanced forms of abuse that often go overlooked or are even romanticized. Even worse, however, is the fact that we are taught a one-sided view of abuse--how to avoid being abused, rather than how to avoid being abusive. It's not a nice sentiment, but it needs to be said: we are all capable of being abusers. However, here's are 3 subtly abusive behaviors you can work to recognize in yourself and stop doing, for the benefit of both your partner and yourself.
1. You use guilt as a weapon.
Do you ever find yourself in a fight with your partner, and it's getting really tense so instead of talking abut the problem, you say something like "well I'm sorry I'm such a piece of shit"? Or something along the lines of "well I'm terrible and awful and you should just break up with me"? Or something with the gist of "you hate me, you should hate me"? You may think you're just voicing how bad you feel, but this is an abuse tactic called emotional deflection.
When you start insulting yourself in the middle of a fight or an argument, you force all constructive dialogue to stop and make your partner comfort you instead. These kinds of statements--even outside of a fight or argument--make your partner feel as if they are not allowed to bring up any problems in the relationship for fear that they'll hurt you. Guilt-tripping your partner and (even subconsciously) making them fear you is a form of abuse. Instead, keep your focus on the problem in question--even if it hurts you--and work towards a solution instead of just comfort.
2. You're excessively suspicious of everyone and everything.
If you're on Twitter, you've seen memes about "looking through your partner's phone" or something of the sort. What these memes boil down to are suspecting your partner of cheating, so instead of confronting them, you look through their phone to see if you can find any evidence. It's baffling that this is normalized because not only does it stifle all attempts at healthy communication, it creates an atmosphere of distrust and basically tells your partner that you will not believe anything they tell you.
This gives you the upper hand in the relationship and, like emotional deflection, makes your partner fear you. If you are scared of the person you're in a relationship with, they are likely abusing you. Instead of going behind their back and checking their DMs, either confront them about what you believe they've been doing or break up with them. Do not date someone you cannot trust.
3. You commit the crime of possession.
Another common sentiment passed around on social media is the "don't touch my partner" one. No one is allowed to talk to, touch, or be around your partner because they "belong" to you and obviously every single person your partner comes in contact with is going to steal them away and trap them in a basement. Or something. I don't know.
This sentiment is a huge, huge red flag that the relationship will quickly become horrifically abusive. This excessive possessiveness combines the guilt of emotional deflection ("I can't believe I let that girl from Chem talk to me, what if [partner] finds out?") and the fear of suspicion ("Oh god, they're going to be so mad at me, I don't want to see or talk to them after this, this is terrifying"). No person belongs to another person.
If your partner says you're "not allowed" to do anything -- wear something, go somewhere, talk to someone, talk to ANYONE -- leave. Run as fast as you can. It will not get better from there. If you are telling your partner they "aren't allowed" to do something, be better. Stop that. Internalize the idea that your partner does not belong to you and you cannot (and should not try to) control them.
If you've seen parts of yourself in these three behaviors, don't be too mad at yourself. These have recently become normalized and too many people don't even realize they're abusive. But still work to change yourself. You are in a relationship with this person because, presumably, you love them--treat them like it. Adjust the way you act and don't hurt or scare the person you love.