Never become financially or socially dependent on anyone else.
If you go on relationship forums, chances are that you've heard of a bunch of stories about women in abusive relationships, men who have bolted without warning, or women that have been cheated on by their men. In many cases, women feel trapped in these toxic relationships or feel like they would be totally unable to handle life on their own.
Being trapped in your own relationship isn't healthy, and realistically, it shouldn't have to happen. Before you begin dating someone, always make sure you keep both a financial and social way out for yourself. Here's why it's so important and how you can prevent yourself from being a victim.
1. It can take a long time for abusers to drop a caring façade.
And if you don't keep a fund that can help get you away from him, leaving will be much harder. Simply put, as much as you want to think you can be 100 percent certain about a guy's character, you can never be fully sure that he won't change. By keeping a certain level of independence and knowing what resources you can use to protect yourself, you're making sure that you can cut sh*t short if he suddenly turns into an abuser.
2. Remind yourself that you have options.
We often just assume that we can't do any better or that it's "just a rough patch" when it really isn't. When you know you have a way out of the relationship, it's less likely that you'll accept bad behavior.
3. Giving yourself the resources to walk away gives you a huge confidence boost.
Having enough money or support to walk away from a bad boyfriend gives you a lot of confidence. When you aren't dependent on someone else, it's hard not to hold your head high.
4. Having a way out doesn't mean you have to use it.
Having a potential escape plan should be viewed in a similar way to owning a fire extinguisher: it's not something you ever want to use, but it's there if you need to use it. Just skating along and thinking that it'll never happen to you will make you vulnerable.
5. Actually giving into the "urge to merge" can also make you less attractive.
If you become too dependent on them or if you make yourself a "done deal," guys won't put in as much effort into keeping you happy. In fact, it can make some guys lose respect for you. By showing guys that you can always leave, you force them to respect you.
6. Having a good exit plan can also work in your favor if he breaks up with you unexpectedly.
Many good, smart women have been blindsided by a breakup. If you're totally dependent on him, a sudden breakup can put you into total ruin. By keeping some resources with you, you can avoid it.
The truth is that you should always keep your guard up, and you should always ensure that you have enough money to keep yourself out of harm's way. Doing this doesn't mean that you don't love your partner. It means that you're doing an act of self-preservation.
Here's how to keep a door open in a healthy manner:
- Have a secret savings account that will hold enough money for you to have your own place for six months. If you need to move out, you will be able to do so at the drop of a hat if you have this little secret going for you. This secret account also works well as an emergency fund.
- Have a contact list of people who can help you out if you need to leave immediately. Whether it's your parents or a local Domestic Abuse shelter doesn't matter — what matters is that you can rely on them to help you leave a bad situation.
- Keep a good list of sites that can help you recognize warning signs of abuse. Having sites that can help you determine whether it's time to bail can also help you cement that decision when you do decide to make the move.
- Keep your passport, social security card, and important legal documents in a safe. This way, your significant other can't alter them or hold them hostage as a way to keep you with him. This is especially important if you are living in a foreign country.
- Read up on your rights. No one is ever allowed to lock you in a room against your will. You also have the right to remain safe, get access to your valuables with the help of police, and press charges if someone hits you.
- Never let your significant other isolate you from friends. Simply put, you need to keep nights open that are devoted to just hanging out with you and your friends. If your partner can't handle you having people around you that aren't him, it's often a sign to call it quits.
- Keep a list of instant dealbreakers, and stick to it. The easiest way many people end up getting trapped in bad relationships is because they keep compromising on how they should be treated. By sticking to a list of dealbreakers and knowing when to walk away, you're refusing to stay in toxic relationships.
- Have a favorite go-to relationship book that tells it like it is. For some reason, having a good book that knocks some common sense into you makes even the most difficult breakup a lot easier.
- Keep a paper trail if (and only if) you're worried that your spouse may try to force you to stay with him against your wishes or actually go out of their way to harm you. Things like a police report, saved emails, and even bank statements can make a huge impact on divorce proceedings. And it can also help ensure that he won't harm you after the breakup happens.
- If you can, try to put off being in a relationship until you've built up a financial and social cushion for yourself. It will make things a lot easier for you in the long and short run.