[CW: emotional abuse, manipulation, stalking]
earlier this year, i was in what could be called as an emotionally manipulative, abusive long-distance relationship (which, i’m only now finding out, fucked me up way more than i expected). now i don’t wanna go into details of this particular story, but ever since that happened to me, i’ve been really interested in reading articles about emotional abuse in relationships, and in re-examining the way relationships are constructed in our society.
i don’t think i could really practice polyamory myself, given how difficult it is for me to even feel comfortable enough around one single person, let alone more (plus jealousy plus anxiety etc. etc.), but i really like the whole way polyamorous relationships are constructed – that is, as relationships of people who are equal and still remain independent and “themselves.” all partners still keep a lot of freedom and their own identity, yet the bond between them seems to be way more intense and in a way friendlier than in many mono relationships (another great thing polyamory praises is open communication, which i think is crucial in maintaining healthy and fair relationships—and not only the romantic ones—and i am actively learning and trying to practice that, but more about that in another article, perhaps).
compared to that, many “normal” relationships have a very controlling nature, which is seen as absolutely ok in our society. we are told that jealousy is in fact a sign of deep love, that excessive neediness is too, that those who blindly chase an unrequited love are the pure romantics (like, hey, this whole “always” Snape storyline in Harry Potter is actually incredibly creepy, isn’t it?). all the “i don’t wear this kind of clothing anymore because my partner doesn’t like it” or “i would like to cut my hair but my partner thinks it’d look horrible.” people neglecting their friendships because their partner doesn’t like them. giving up hobbies or starting new ones just to make the partner happy. you’d think that it would be better with the younger generation, but when you think of it, it might be even worse – stalking or demanding to see candid pictures of partners to “check on them” are seen as regular practices, which is really crazy. all of that – that’s not love, that’s possession.
jealous scenes, consuming relationships that don’t leave you any time or space to see anyone else, partners trying to “advice” you on your looks or life decisions (which is, simply, just a form of manipulation)… how can we see that as romantic? obviously, our society is not approving of this in all forms and levels, but when you think of it, such control is unhealthy even in a small dose. what i want to say is that we disguise a lot of abuse and manipulation under the cover of romance and “true love,” creating a very unhealthy environment for pretty much everyone.
i wish i could say that my life, my relationships, and, most of all, my mind is free of all this control and manipulation, but, unfortunately, of course it isn’t. and i am not even sure if it’s really possible to entirely get rid of this mindset so deeply ingrained in each of us thanks to our fucked up society, but one can still try and fight against it by analyzing their own thoughts and behavior, assessing whether it’s fair or not to treat someone that way, and whether they would like to be treated like that themselves. it’s like that with many fucked up things our society tells us to do or be from the day we are born – sometimes, we just have to acknowledge that these ideas will maybe always stay creeping in the corner of our mind, but that doesn’t mean we have to act upon them; by actively challenging them and refusing to perpetuate them, we can fuel the much-needed change, and that’s what matters the most.
love shouldn’t be about control or possession, but about compassion and mutual respect.