And, it is to my younger-self that I wish to impart the following experience: Basically, it's never cool to enter a relationship only to be assigned a job you did not apply for, the job of allowing someone to live out his control issues — no matter how subtle — at your expense.

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As I learned, abuse is not always a clear-cut issue (e.g.

someone either hits me or doesn't; either someone puts me down or doesn't; someone either attempts to control me in very visible ways or doesn't).

The dating game always starts out innocently enough, doesn't it? You're excited; there has been a lot of flirting, laughter and belly butterflies since you met this person a little while ago.

You think this could be the start of something serious.

You assume — you convince yourself — you have become selfish because you have unrealistic wants and needs (like the need for unwavering, enduring respect and honesty).

For these reasons it is you, and you alone, who is responsible for the relationship's problems — or so you tell yourself.

In my 20s straight through to my early 30s, I learned a great deal about relationships.

And there are many, many subtle cues of abuse that I either missed or blatantly ignored.

I came home from work one day to the electric turned off in my apartment.

I had absolutely no idea what was wrong or why this happened.

In my profession, women surround me on a daily basis.