This kind of conversation is a major red flag:
- Bob: I’m going to go to the mall.
- Stan: Don’t go to the mall. I want you to stay home.
- Bob: Um, why not? I need new trousers.
- Stan: Why are you taking that tone?! Are you saying I’m abusive? You wouldn’t be upset if I wasn’t abusive, so you must think I’m abusing you. I’d never abuse anyone! How dare you?!
- Bob: Could you not make jokes about my weight? It makes me feel bad.
- Stan: I would never do anything to hurt you! How dare you call this bullying!
It’s especially bad when:
- It happens every time Stan and Bob want different things.
- Because it gets to the point where it’s impossible for Bob to say no without accusing Stan of being abusive
- Or where Bob can’t express a preference that conflicts with Stan’s.
- This means that Bob has to always do what Stan wants, or else call Stan a bad person
- This is an awful way to live
In a mutually respectful relationship:
- People want different things from time to time
- People hurt each other in minor ways
- People make mistakes, and need to be told about them
- Everyone understands this, and can accept that their friend/partner/whatever wants something different, or is upset about something they did
- They understand that wanting different things, or being upset about something, is not an accusation of abuse.
If someone close to you claims that you’re accusing them of being abusive every time you have a conflict with them, they probably are, in fact, being abusive.