Dating can be a time of great excitement and connection with a likeminded individual. It’s a chance to get to know somebody new, see if there’s a spark between you and maybe fall in love. However, it’s important to be aware of the signs of coercion so that you can protect yourself from abuse by knowing the red flags to look out for from the get go.
What Is Cohesion?
In the early stages of a relationship, it’s natural to feel a sense of cohesion with your new partner. You may feel like you’re both on the same wavelength, and that you share a lot of common interests, connectedness, togetherness and emotional bonding. This can be such a wonderful feeling that helps to lay the foundation for a strong relationship and future that you plan together.
However, it’s important to be aware of the potential for this closeness of cohesion to turn into coercion. Coercion is when someone uses pressure or force to get you to do something that you don’t want to do and may creep into a relationship or dating in subtle ways that build over time. This can happen in any type of relationship or friendship, but is especially common in dating relationships.
What Is Coercion?
Coercion is when someone tries to force you to do something that you don’t want to do. This can be done through threats, intimidation, or manipulation. In dating, coercion can be:
- Your partner putting pressure on you to be physically intimate
- Your partner demanding that you spend all of your time with them
- Your partner isolating you from your friends and family
- Your partner making you feel guilty or ashamed if you don’t do what they want
- Your partner making threats or using intimidation
- Your partner using guilt or shame to manipulate you
- Your partner controlling your finances, food, clothing or access to transportation
How To Prevent Cohesion From Turning Into Coercion
There are a few things you can do to prevent cohesion from turning into coercion in dating.
- Set boundaries and communicate them clearly. Let your partner know what you are and are not comfortable with and be firm in your boundaries. If they try to push your boundaries, don’t be afraid to walk away.
- Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Don’t ignore your instincts.
- Be aware of the signs of manipulation. If your date is trying to control you or make you feel guilty, that’s a red flag.
- Talk to somebody that you trust and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re feeling pressured or uncomfortable, talk to a friend, family member, or therapist. They can help you assess the situation and offer support.
- Take things slowly. Don’t rush into anything, and make sure you get to know your partner well enough before you commit to a relationship.
- Be aware of your own needs and wants. Ask yourself what you are looking for in a relationship? What are your boundaries? Does your (potential)partner accept and respect this?
If you are in a relationship where you feel like you are being coerced, it is important to get help. You can talk to a trusted friend or family member, or you can contact a domestic violence hotline. There is help available, and you don’t have to go through this alone.
If you’re experiencing any of these signs then it’s important to get help. Please turn to your friends, family or online resources such as Love Is Respect, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network for help and support. We all deserve to be in a relationship that is healthy and respectful.