Healthy relationships are not blaming you by twisting something that you said around – they take responsibility for their own actions. Healthy Relationships do not punish you with passive aggressive tactics such as not allowing you to attend an event they invited you to or not calling for several days. The key word here is Boundaries and the person you are with respecting these boundaries. If they do, you are in a healthy relationship, if they don’t, you are being blamed and punished.
Pre-Christmas 2020 – an unmarried couple were discussing a trip to go to a swimming park with his adolescent son and father. The man says to the woman that they will be sharing a room together. The woman says that she does not feel comfortable sharing a room with his father and son. The man turns this to a conversation about sex and says “We can still have time to get back to the room and have sex.” The woman says it is not about this. “It is about the fact that I am not the child’s mother, or stepmother, and I don’t think your father would like to have another woman in his room while he is changing. It will be uncomfortable for everyone.” The next day the man tells the woman that she can’t go to the trip and makes it about an argument that had already been resolved. The trip was for Christmas Day. He literally kept her from spending the holiday with them because he did not respect her boundaries. He blamed her for an argument and punished her by not allowing her to come.
Valentine’s Day 2021 – the same unmarried couple are discussing a trip to FL for this holiday weekend, again with the adolescent son and father. Again, the woman discussed her boundaries about sharing a room. This time it was also about spending four days in an amusement park. She wanted to go to FL and would spend a day in the park, and the rest of the time, she would like to be there at the hotel or visit friends nearby that she knew. Again, the boyfriend told her it wasn’t a good idea for her to go. They broke up a month after his return and several months later, she learned that another woman had been on that trip. In retrospect, she realized that not only had he blamed her for having boundaries and making up lots of excuses as to why her boundaries wouldn’t work, he also punished her by having another woman there to hurt her. This was a covert act since she did not know about it until months later; after he had gaslighted her to end the relationship.
Two scenarios about disrespecting someone’s boundaries. A healthy man would have probably not asked a girlfriend to share a room with his son and father in the first place. Even if he would, he would completely understand his own faux pas in why this would not look good to have a non-mother sharing a room with an teen boy nor would that be comfortable for his father.
Narcissists don’t care what your boundaries are. This is something that I offer to people to test their new relationship. Don’t be so readily available and see what happens. It isn’t smart to be at a man or woman’s beck and call anyway.
Come to me – a young woman recently told me an experience of getting a call at 8:30 at night, from a boyfriend, to come to his home. She expressed her desire to do this, if it had been earlier, but she was tired and already dressed for bed. As a result of this, the man led her on later in the week and then two hours later broke up with her. This was after several other boundary violations prior to this. In the end, she realized this was not a good relationship for her.
Calling a person at 8:30pm and expecting them to drop what they are doing and head over to your partner’s house is unacceptable. A healthy relationship would not do something like this, but secondly, a healthy man (or a gentleman) would ask if he could come over, not expect you to and only if this was approved by both parties. Generally, this is what I call a “horny call,” and if you are in a long comfortable relationship, it might be a fun thing between you and your partner. Maybe he works late and you know to expect this. This is pushing the envelope in a newer relationship and when the guy breaks up with you days later, it is punishment for setting a boundary.
I need help – another young woman calls her boyfriend to tell him something terrible just happened to her son and she won’t be able to come over that evening. The boyfriend responds with “Great, now what am I supposed to do with all this food?” He stopped calling her for a week. She had a hard time focusing on her son because she was also focused now on taking care of her boyfriend’s needs as well. The woman was devastated realizing she was still really all alone as a parent and now it felt like she had two children. She eventually realized the co-dependence was not healthy and that her son needed to come first.
A healthy relationship would make their partner a priority. When there were children involved on either side, each would understand that the child needs to come first for the partner. A healthy partner would try to support their partner with a child, if a need came up. For example, a young couple: woman was a single parent and couldn’t afford to buy her son tennis shoes for school. The boyfriend stepped in and gave her the money so she could. Another scenario – a young couple with aging parent on one side. The opposite partner got to know the aging parent and befriended them. They stepped in to help whenever they could as they really loved their partner and wanted to show this through family support.
Think about the relationship you are in. Is your partner supporting you, or blaming and punishing you? If you are finding it is the latter, you need to do some serious thinking about whether or not this is the right person for you. A healthy partnership is one in which the couple are committed to each other and can trust each other to have their backs – no matter what. Life is hard enough as it is. You want to be with someone who shares this with you and supports you along the way. You both deserve this!