Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474  or text "loveis" to 22522.

Do They Want to Spend Time Together or Isolate?

It’s romantic and fun, especially at the beginning of a relationship, to hang with each other all the time. Both partners can be so into each other that sometimes they can forget about the other people in their lives. However, in a healthy relationship, this kind of behavior begins to fade a bit as both partners resume their lives with each other in them. So when does it go from puppy love and infatuation to potentially abusive?

A big red flag of abusive behavior is isolation. It’s a key behavior and a tactic that an abusive partner will take so they can be in control of their partner. The abusive partner can control where the other partner is, who they are with, what they see and what they do. They will complain the other isn’t spending enough time with them, and may do things like convince them to quit extracurriculars, quit a job, or stop the other from hanging out with their friends or family. The abusive partner may also try isolation to keep their partner away from those who may see the relationship as unhealthy and don’t want their influence to cloud their partner’s judgment. By severing ties between the victim and their family, friends, or other support systems, the victim may not feel as though they have anyone to turn to for help.

If the victim is out with their friends or family, the abuser may be constantly in contact with them, which means the victim is constantly having to check in with them. This kind of “keeping tabs” on someone is not healthy. It can start out small, like checking in when they’re with friends, and then grow into the abuser constantly texting or calling for updates. This kind of checking in can get worse if they both have social media accounts where one partner can see what the other is doing through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and so on.

Relationships need time apart and away from each other to stay grounded. Activities, jobs and more give people a sense of purpose that’s necessary to improve well-being. And by spending time apart from each other, both partners can come back to the relationship refreshed and ready to share about their days, lives and what else is going on with them.

Does one partner only socialize with their partner’s friends and not their own? Does someone say things like, “you don’t need that friend” “you’re too good for that job” or “that thing you love is stupid”? Are they actively convincing or have convinced their partner that they are the only one who cares about them or loves them? These could also be warning signs that one of the partners in the relationship is abusive.

Everyone has the right to decide what they want to do with their time, and a partner should never try to make the other choose between that want and them. In a healthy relationship, both partners are allowed to have their own friendships, be with their families and live their own lives. Not being allowed to be free to go where they want, see what or whom they want to see, or participate in what they want is a warning sign of abusive behavior. If you know someone who may be in this kind of relationship, have them speak with one of our peer advocates for help.