Hollywood actor Jonah Hill has been criticised after texts have been shown of him enforcing “behavioural boundaries” on his ex-girlfriend.
Hill’s ex-girlfriend, Sarah Brady, shared screenshots of him demanding she follow boundaries including no longer posting pictures in bathing suits, surfing with men and being friends with women “with wild pasts”.
Relationship expert Dr Caroline West said Hill is an interesting example of “how manipulation can come about in a relationship so that it doesn't seem like it's manipulating”.
“It’s dressed up as therapy-speak,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
Dr West said it is confusing to understand what healthy boundaries are “if you don’t know what healthy relationships are”.
“If you're in the middle of a controlling relationship, it can be really hard to see what's going on,” she said.
Dr West said emotional manipulation tends to exploit someone’s “vulnerabilities” in order to control them.
“We understand physical abuse a lot easier than emotional abuse,” she said. “You can see a black eye or a broken arm."
Dr West said people should listen to their “gut instinct” if they think their partner is being emotionally manipulative.
“It's like an early warning system,” she said. “You should feel calm and happy and secure – it's not a roller coaster.”
“Boundaries are a debate,” Dr West said. “They're not one-sided and relationships are about compromise - [but] it’s about how you resolve those differences in an amicable way.”
Everyone needs to do their homework on what appropriate boundaries are in a relationship, according to Dr West.
“A boundary is like a garden wall,” she said. “If you have no garden wall, anyone can just walk in and wreck your garden. If you have it too high that means you're cut off and no one can see your garden.
“If you have a nice human-sized wall with a gate, you can decide who you want to let in.”
Dr West recommended these services if you are concerned about your relationship:
Women’s Aid 24-hour helpline - 1800 341 900
Men’s Aid confidential helpline (available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) - 01 554 3811
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