Probably many answers.
I read a great article about fourteen things you should never tolerate in a relationship. Too bad I didn't know. Life is just beginning, and I've heard the forties are the new thirties, so I'll chalk it up to learning and growing!
- Never tolerate emotional or verbal abuse. Authentic love does not devalue another human being. True. I spent a lifetime accepting manipulative behavior and even thinking it was normal. In fact, my husband told me after we signed our divorce papers that we could still be married had I followed the rules. Eh? As Live Bold & Bloom writes, "The victim of the abuse often doesn't see the mistreatment as abusive. They develop coping mechanisms of denial and minimizing in order to deal with the stress." Yup. We cope. And doing so long term can result in "low self-esteem, withdrawal from family and friends, depression, illness, anxiety, and giving up on goals." Weird that that's what I did.
- Never tolerate physical abuse. My husband shoved me up against the passenger door of a vehicle when I was 17, about four years before I married him. My sister and cousin were in the back seat, frightened he was going to kill me. And I married him. Yes, I did. And the last time he hurt me was July 16, 2014. But he will never, ever hurt me physically again. Never.
- Never tolerate a partner making you feel horrible when you don't want to have sex, which can often lead to assault. I learned at a young age not to say no. As reported, "Our culture already makes it difficult for survivors to recognize and report rape, so it becomes even more difficult to understand your romantic partner as a rapist."
- Never tolerate body shaming. "When your partner shames you for your weight, appearance, etc., not only is it cruel, immature, and based in patriarchal falsehoods, but it can always be a manipulative way to convince you that you'll never be good enough for anybody else... It's a sickening method used for establishing dominance and control in a relationship."
- Never tolerate a partner refusing to listen to your sexual needs.
- Never tolerate a partner belittling your career aspirations. "It is impossible to have a relationship with someone who doesn't want you to succeed." My mother told me this almost thirty years ago. And my husband never wanted me to succeed on my own. Not one time.
- Never tolerate a partner not publicly acknowledging your relationship.
- Never tolerate gaslighting. According to another source, gasligters dated back to a 1944 movie: gaslighters are people who try to convince you that you are wrong or crazy. And paranoid, and sick, and a lost cause, and not worth anything. "Gaslighting is an especially common trait for controlling partners, as it lets your partner easily isolate you from friends and family by making you doubt your reality. Examples of gaslighting behavior include unfaithful partners convincing you that you fabricated proof of their affairs."
- Never tolerate a partner who keeps you away from friends. My husband wanted to be intimate with every serious friend I had, except the two who were cranky/old looking. I chose him, always, over my friends.
- Never tolerate a partner who always accuses you of cheating. And reads emails, text messages, and social media trying to find proof to substantiate the point of view. And never, ever believes the truth, no matter how many ways you can prove the truth.
- Never tolerate a partner not respecting your boundaries. "Does your partner joke about traumatic things that aren't funny? Does your partner share information about your private lives with others despite your protests?" Does your partner share intimate photographs of you with his other partners despite your protests? Does he come to private appointments, including therapy, and engage in serious discussions about your relationship, only to share private, heart-breaking details with another person outside the relationship.
- Never tolerate a partner invalidating your anger and experiences. Remember Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club? Great line: "Why? 'Cause I'm telling the truth, that makes me a bitch?" It's dangerous to tolerate a partner who consistently tries to convince you that important parts of your history or lived experiences are insignificant or untrue.
- Never tolerate a partner talking over you and interrupting. My husband not only talked over me and interrupted (which many, many people noticed), he also used my speech patterns, rhythms, and even word choices. There was an occasion during our ill-fated trip to San Fran when he was approached by a bisexual man for a fling. It was a funny story. I told it once.. "There he was doing his Joe thing..." Weeks later, we were out one night and he went to talk to some people he liked to impress (AC and a pal), and I went to listen. I walked up as I heard him say, with his hands in the same position I recognized as mine, and his voice a little feminine, "There I was doing my Joe thing..." I was so embarrassed for him, I walked away. He has no idea who he even is.
- Never tolerate slut-shaming. Slut-shaming is your partner's way of asserting control over your body; it is disgusting and has no place in a respectful, loving relationship.