The earliest warning signs of violence are usually not the stereotypical warning signs. Read on to gain a better understanding of how a behavior that seems positive can actually be an early warning sign.
Several categories of “positive” behaviors emerged from our research as foretelling physical violence in the relationship, particularly when these behaviors occurred in the relationship in addition to one or more Types of Disrespect. Quotes are around the word “positive” because while these behaviors appear to be positive, loving behaviors, they are in fact so positive that it makes them actually become negative. Intensely “Positive” Behaviors suggest a very dark side. Several examples of this are discussed below.
One category of Intensely “Positive” Behavior is called Acts of Service. An example of an act of service is the care-taking of your partner’s children. Here Anthony (a domestic violence perpetrator) talks about the care-taking of his partner’s children, early on in their dating:
“I dedicated my life to those children. The funny thing is that I didn’t have boundaries when it came to the kids. I loved that a lot. I think that’s what kept me going a lot of times. She didn’t put restrictions on me when it came to her children. Immediately, I started doing family stuff like picking them up from daycare, going to the PTA. You would think they were my own children. I was definitely a part of their life immediately.”
So the act itself—caring for the partner’s children—isn’t inappropriate (as with the other forms of romantic giving). It’s the additional intensity it took on that makes it inappropriate: e.g., no boundaries and immediately picking her children up from school. An example from the news of this happening was the case of Scott Peterson, who killed his pregnant wife, Laci. After he began his affair with Amber Frey, he began immediately picking her child up from school and became completely involved in their lives in other ways such that he was wrapping his world around theirs.
Even though many participants in our research stated that they believed they felt great about themselves when they met their partner, you can actually see by their behaviors in the earliest stages that they possessed low self-value. They had an intense need to please their partners—too intense. They are giving to such a degree that they are ignoring their uncomfortable feelings and thus hurting themselves.
It is similar to when people lie—they tend to keep talking and give too many details. Because it’s not believable to them, they think it’s not believable enough to others, so they keep talking to try to make themselves sound more believable. Well, it’s the same with behavior.
Doing or giving too much can happen when people do not really and truly believe their positive feelings about their partners, so they do more and give more. They’re intensifying the “positives” to quash their uncomfortable feelings from the disrespect that’s also happening in the relationship. This whole dynamic is usually occurring subconsciously. And each partner is doing it to lie to themselves, to the other partner, and to the outside world in order to preserve the perception that they have a perfect relationship.
While we hope this information is helpful to you regarding understanding Intensely “Positive” Behaviors, it is important to note that Intense “Positivity” has many subtle nuances that can lead you to easily miss it as the early warning sign of abuse that it is. If you believe that you’ve seen this behavior in your relationship early on, it is vital that you discuss and examine this realization with a professional. Contact Dr. Stephanie today to discuss your specific situation.