Dating, looking for love or happily single? HopefulGirl tackles the issues that affect you
Question: I love my Christian fiancé but he can be very controlling. He gets angry if I want to spend time with friends or family, and he often accuses me of cheating. Should I be worried?
Emotionally abusive and controlling relationships have been in the news a lot lately. The Archers story line kept listeners gripped, and highlighted how abuse doesn’t have to be physical to be dangerous – although it does often lead to violence. In fact, it’s so serious that 18 months ago, a law was passed making controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship illegal.
No one imagines they’ll end up in a destructive relationship, especially with another Christian, but it can happen – and if you’re desperate to find love, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the warning signs.
However, there are ways to avoid becoming embroiled in an abusive relationship, and to make your exit if someone turns out to be bad news …
Know your worth. You are of infinite value to God. He loves you and wants you to be in a happy, healthy relationship, not one that’s painful, scary, bewildering or controlling.
Learn to be happy alone. Create a fulfilling, sociable and happy life for yourself as a single person, and you’re less likely to accept or minimise bad treatment to avoid being alone.
Don’t rush in. Abusive people often hurry their partners into marriage before the cracks start to show.
Give your partner plenty of opportunities to reveal different sides to his character before making a commitment.
Be wise to red flags. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right – listen! Is God warning you that this isn’t a healthy or safe relationship?
Signs include: mood swings and angry outbursts; humiliating, dismissing or insulting you (or others); telling you what to wear, where to go and what to do; monitoring your movements and isolating you from friends and family; damaging your belongings, punching walls or trying to scare you (for instance, by driving too fast); punishing you with the silent treatment; claiming you provoke their abusive behaviour; appearing penitent and promising it won’t happen again – but it does. (Visit www.refuge.org.uk for further advice.)
Be prepared to walk. If you think you may be in an unhealthy relationship, seek advice from a pastor, counsellor, trusted friend or family member. It’s better to walk away, even if it means cancelling a wedding at short notice, than to end up in an abusive marriage. God wants you in a happy, supportive, loving partnership in which you’ll thrive, so please don’t settle for less.
Tip of the month
Kate Wharton, vicar and author of Single Minded (Monarch, £8.99), is running a retreat for single Christians on 5th – 7th May 2017, at Scargill House in North Yorkshire. It’s an opportunity to take time out to explore the joys and sorrows of being single, and think about how to “live life to the full”. From £133, full board (no single occupancy charge). Visit www.scargillmovement.org.
*Would Like To Meet… (£6.99, BRF) is the funny and heartwarming story of HopefulGirl’s four years on the Christian dating scene (www.brfonline.org.uk/hopefulgirl). Connect with HopefulGirl at www.facebook.com/HopefulGirlUK and www.twitter.com/HopefulGirlUK.