How to identify a potentially abusive partner 

It’s often difficult to figure out whether a partner will be abusive or not when you first meet them or are in the early stages of the relationship. Often, the abuse – whether it be physical, mental or emotional, will take a while before it starts showing up in your relationship, and by then it might be hard to leave your abuser. But what if there was a way to figure out really early whether a partner might be controlling or even abusive? 

A Simple Test 

According to a domestic violence counsellor in Australia, Rob Andrews, there is a way to test your partner using what he calls the “No” test. People who are abusive or controlling feel entitled, so they don’t respond well to being told “No”. The “No” test simply means watching how your partner responds to “No” every time you say it. A partner who trusts you and doesn’t feel entitled to you, won’t be angry or annoyed when you’re unable to do something or feel uncomfortable with something. They also won’t guilt trip you about it or convince you to do something you don’t want to do in order please them (for example saying “please just do it this one time, for me). 

Yes your partner might be disappointed when you say you can’t or don’t want to do something – but expressing frustration over your decision is a red flag. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to say no to your partner all the time and for no reason, it just means being more aware of your partner’s reaction when you do refuse to do something. 

How can you tell the difference between annoyed and disappointed? 

You might be wondering if there is ever a time when it’s acceptable for your partner to be annoyed and also how to tell the difference between them being annoyed or disappointed. Being annoyed is a normal part of many relationships, but it always depends on what you’re annoyed about. Being annoyed that someone doesn’t do something they don’t want to, or can’t, do – especially if it inconveniences them or makes them uncomfortable, is a sign of entitlement. An example of being annoyed would be “I can’t believe you’re refusing to do this when you know how much it means to me”. An example of disappointment is “I would have loved for you to do this, but I understand why you can’t”. 

Ownership, entitlement and control are all red flags Choma. A lot of the times a person who displays this type of behaviour in the beginning will become more aggressive as the relationship progresses. 

Read more about abuse in relationships here: 

Is threatening to harm your partner an act of violence? 

Small ways you’re mistreating your partner 

Getting out of an abusive relationship

Do you agree with this test? Let me know in the comments below. 

Remember, if you or a friend need help or advice, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).