How To Recognize an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

How To Recognize an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Take a moment and carefully consider the following red flags of an emotionally abusive relationship.

In our minds, we think we know what an abusive relationship looks like. It's screaming matches, bruises, and in some cases the red and blue lights of police cars. However, relationships can be emotionally abusive, and that kind of abuse doesn't always leave physical wounds. Worse, when you're in the middle of that kind of relationship, you might not realize that you're up to your waist in quicksand.

Take a moment and carefully consider the following red flags. Ask how many of these you, or your loved ones, have to deal with.

Red Flag #1: You Find Yourself Wearing A Leash

This isn't typically true in a literal sense, but emotional abusers often maintain control by keeping a close eye on where their partner is, what they're doing, and who they are doing it with. While there's nothing wrong with keeping an open communication channel with your partner, and keeping each other appraised of changes in your plans is a good idea, as the Huffington Post points out, it shouldn't feel like you're checking in with your parole officer, or asking a parent for permission to go over to a friends' house. If you feel like your partner is keeping tabs on you, this can be a bad sign.

Red Flag #2: Your Partner Purposefully Says Or Does Things That Scare or Hurt You

We all have our soft spots, and when we're in a relationship with someone we tend to reveal at least a few of them. If your relationship is emotionally abusive, then your partner will target those soft spots in order to get their way according to Live Bold and Bloom. For example, if you've confided in your partner that your mother was controlling, and they turn around and accuse you of being just like your mother to win an argument, that is not something you should ignore. Partners who threaten to leave you to get their way (especially if they know you have abandonment issues) are another example. Whenever someone exploits your pressure points to achieve dominance, that is not okay.

Red Flag #3: They Try To Isolate You

We should all want to spend time with our significant others... but you still need other relationships outside of our partners. If you're in an emotionally abusive relationship, though, one of the big signs that Belief Net suggests looking for is attempts to isolate you from anyone who isn't your partner. Whether that's getting you to cancel your regular brunch times with your mother or telling you not to go out for drinks with your friends, it's important to look for a pattern of behavior that pushes you away from everyone except your partner. Because manipulators don't want you spending time with other people who will point out you're being manipulated, and once it's just the two of you, they're all you have to rely on.

Red Flag #4: Trying To Excuse Damaging Behaviors With Love

Whether it's getting into a shouting match over whether or not it's okay for you to say no to sex or starting a scene with your friends at a wedding reception, an emotional abuser will try to Spackle over their misdeeds by telling you they did it because they love you so much. This attempts to turn their behavior around, blaming you for it. And if you point out that them loving you doesn't excuse the fight they started, that often leads to them claiming you either don't love them, or that you are questioning their sincerity. This hits several areas in a list from My Domaine, including defensiveness, and being hyper critical of you.

Red Flag #5: It's A Roller Coaster (And Not In A Good Way)

Relationships should feel stable. When you're in an emotionally abusive relationship, though, things can be wildly different from one moment to the next. If it feels like you're caught in a whirlwind of fights, make-ups, and then a brief honeymoon before the fights start again, that might be time to get off the ride.

These are just a few, simple signs you should look for regarding emotionally abusive relationships. For more advice on what you should not ignore, simply contact me; I'll be happy to answer any questions.

← Back to the Blog

Specializing in Women's Issues

National Certified Counselor