re: ‘I’m not being abusive!’ — I’m concerned I’ve done this in the past because I grew up around someone very verbally/emotionally abusive and am trying to work through those behaviors. I feel like I flag myself sometimes that way to check in with others, but get the feeling this is a really bad way of dealing with things. Any advice on what I can do in these situations when I’m very worried I *am* being abusive and want help to stop?
Realsocialskills says: 
I think there’s a couple of things:
First of all, recognize the difference between asking for feedback and asking for reassurance:
  • Trying to find out whether something is wrong is one thing.
  • Trying to get someone to reassure you that nothing is wrong is a different thing.
  • It’s important to be open to the possibility that something is actually wrong.
  • If you’re not open to that possibility, then don’t ask.
  • Because pressuring someone to tell you that everything is ok makes things worse
  • Work on learning how to be open to the possibility that things are wrong
  • And ask in a way that makes it clear you actually want to know.
  • Eg, don’t say things like this: “You’d tell me if something was wrong, right?” “Nothing’s wrong, is it?”
  • Things like this are better: “I feel like something might be bothering you. Is something wrong?”, “Did I mess something up? I feel like I might have.”

Don’t rely too much on people you might be hurting to teach you how to act right:

  • It’s important to listen
  • But it’s also important not to make them responsible for your actions
  • You are responsible for learning how to treat people well. People you might be hurting are not responsible for teaching you how to stop.
Get outside perspective of some sort:
  • Outside perspective is important because it is a way to get feedback without putting pressure on people you might be hurting to tell you things are ok
  • It’s also an important way to protect yourself against gaslighting. People who worry that they might be abusers are particularly susceptible to gaslighting. Some gaslighters prey on this worry really aggressively.
  • It’s important to care about treating people well. It’s also important to care about protecting yourself and being treated well.
  • It’s also a way to learn things that no one involved knows
  • Outside perspective is important for other reasons I’m having trouble articulating
  • For some people, therapy is a helpful way to get outside perspective. Therapy is not for everyone, and it can be actively harmful for some people, but it works really well for people it works for
  • For some people, it helps to talk things over with friends outside the situation
  • Reading fiction and watching TV can also be helpful
  • So can reading blogs and books that are explicitly about interpersonal dynamics, although unfortunately there are not many good ones.

Any of y’all have other suggestions?

warlocksexalways says

Not making someone responsible for telling you is  a good one. You should also make sure that they have more opportunities to talk to you outside of when you specifically ask. If they try to tell you that you’re hurting them and more than half the time you’re just as likely to snap at them or ignore them, that’s going to invalidate the times you ask them to tell you what you did wrong. That’s giving them an incredibly narrow window through which to actually communicate with you.

Be aware that it’s usually extremely hard for a lot of people to have difficult conversations like this. The person you’re around may not feel like they’re allowed to say anything, for various reasons, or they may not feel like it’s safe to say anything. Or they might have problems articulating what they have to say. And sometimes people are going to take any question you ask about if you did something wrong as a plea for reassurance, no matter what, because one way or another they’ve been taught that’s what that question means in every case. Or because they see that you’re having a lot of anxiety about it and decide on their own that they need to reassure you. It might be best in certain situations to hide how anxious you are about whether or not you’re doing something bad to someone, so that they don’t feel like they have to reassure you.