10 Signs of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

signs of an abusive relationship

It is more difficult to recognize an emotionally abusive relationship than you think, especially if you are in the relationship. People tend to excuse abusive behavior as an action taken in the heat of the moment. A bunch of mere fleeting moments of emotional abuse for months or even years can do more damage than our imagination permits. Understanding the signs of an abusive relationship is very important for every individual, whether they are already dating or about to start. 

Abusive comes in different forms, and it can be terribly tricky to identify it. Even if you are on the receiving end of it, abuse, specifically emotional, is difficult not just to recognize but also to acknowledge. With physical abuse, you have proof of violence, not just to show the world but to show and convince yourself of the abusive nature of your relationship. It’s tangible. But emotional abuse is something else altogether. Emotional abusers will mask their behavior in a myriad of ways- sometimes they call it an act of passion, sometimes they’ll gaslight you, and there are other times when an abuser will be nonchalant about their actions, so much so that you will start wondering if at all there’s anything wrong with how they acted. Emotional abuse is more about mind games, making it far more difficult to identify, let alone accept. Some people grow so accustomed to their relationship’s abusive pattern that it becomes their version of normal. 

According to 47% of people who have gotten out of emotionally abusive relationships, they have been too late to recognize the continual abuse in their relationship. Only after the break up did they realize that things they ignored as minor misbehavior was actually subtle ways to emotionally torture them into submission. Pinpointing abuse while in the relationship can be almost impossible if you don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like and, essentially, if you don’t know the signs of an abusive relationship. 

Here are ten signs to help you determine if you are a victim of one.

#1 You Constantly Ask For Permission

Almost all abusive relationship has an overly controlling partner. Do you frequently seek your partner’s approval before doing anything? It is normal to ask for your partner’s opinion, but when you do that from some form of deep-rooted fear, that’s when it gets problematic. It can be about anything- whom you hang out with, how much money you are spending, what you are spending on, what clothes to wear, how long you can stay out with your friends, whom you can share your number with, and we can go on and on. The list seems never-ending. If you often find yourself asking permission from your partner for all of these and more, it is safe to tag your relationship as emotionally abusive. In a healthy relationship, partners don’t have to seek permission, never from the fear of repercussions. 

#2 No Boundaries

Every healthy relationship has set boundaries that help a couple maintain their individuality even while being together. The lack of healthy boundaries is of the primary signs of an abusive relationship. 

Here’s how you recognize if your partner respects your boundaries:

  • Do they always expect you to be available for you?
  • Do they dismiss your ideas?
  • Do they invade your personal space?
  • Do they find the concept of “me time” threatening?
  • Do they often make decisions on your behalf without communicating them with your first?

If your answer to all of these is yes, you might be living with an emotionally abusive partner. 

#3 Possessive

Possessiveness has been romanticized by movies, but it isn’t as romantic as it looks. In fact, it’s the opposite of romantic. It’s toxic. The idea that your partner feels jealous when they see you talking to another might seem cute, but, in reality, it stems from a lack of trust which is a big red flag in any relationship.

Here are some signs you have a possessive partner-

  • They see you speaking to someone from the opposite sex, and the first thing that pops into their mind is that you are cheating.
  • They are too fast to react to any situation they can’t comprehend.
  • They often go through your texts.
  • They keep track of your phone calls.

The ones listed here and other similar patterns are major signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

#4 They Isolate You

Ever since you started dating your partner, have you noticed that you have fewer and fewer friends? Maybe some of them moved to other cities, and for some, the friendship did not work out organically, but there are many with whom you merely stopped talking because your partner had a problem with them, especially friends of the opposite sex. Well, if you have been wondering what is an abusive relationship, this is one. Slowly isolating you from your friends and other support systems to make you rely entirely on them is a sign of a toxic and abusive partner. If you find your social circle shrinking after you got together with your partner, look out for other signs of abuse and rethink your relationship. It starts slowly and subtly.

#5 They Play The Blame Game

In an emotionally abusive relationship, the victim is always forced to believe that they are the cause of all the turmoil. 

How to determine if your partner is doing the same?

  • They will make you believe you deserve the pain and suffering since you are the reason behind every conflict.
  • You will find it becoming a pattern.
  • There’s a certain level of shaming added to this blame game.
  • Every time you try to confront them about some issue that has been bothering you, they will pin the blame on you and accuse you of trying to start another argument instead of having an open discussion about your concerns.

#6 Stonewalling

38% of daters between 25 and 35 say stonewalling your partner out of nowhere is one of the primary signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. Your partner suddenly withdraws from all communication and shuts down completely. Many people initially worry it might be something they said or did that led to such erratic behavior. The reality is far from it. Stonewalling is just another manipulative technic to dominate another partner but with silence.

#7 Unpredictable 

One moment they are happy, and the next, without provocation, they are upset or angry. You are always on your toes around them, waiting for them to burst with anger out of nowhere. It’s a tactic. Sometimes the abuser themselves don’t realize they have been putting you through this hell. You can try addressing this issue, but chances are they will gaslight you. 

It can’t be a good feeling always being on edge. If you have an unpredictable partner, reconsider your relationship. Love should offer you peace, not leave you feeling anxious at all times. 

#8 Threats and Ultimatums

An abusive relationship is laced with threats and ultimatums. You’ve probably heard your partner tell you a million times that if you do this or that, then this will be the consequence. The “if, then” statement becomes a part of your relationship. For instance, “If you go out with your friends today, then I’ll never speak to you again.” It’s a cunning ploy to keep you within their rein. 

Read : 6 Tips To Maintain The Bliss In A New Relationship

#9 Their Needs Are More Important

Every healthy relationship has a level of reciprocation. It’s give and take; not one takes all, and the other keeps giving. But an emotionally abusive relationship is exactly that. The abusive partner will always prioritize their needs, diminishing yours constantly. It’s a twisted form of control. They always get their way with no space for compromise. If you find your partner behaving the same way, almost always, consider it a major red flag and take bold measures to rectify the dynamics. 

#10 They Are Never Wrong

We have all been at fault at least once in our relationships. Intentionally or unintentionally, we hurt our partners, start a fight or even exhibit toxic behavior. But what makes us different from an abusive partner is how we handle the aftermath of our actions. We acknowledge our fault, accept it was wrong and finally apologize and attempt to make up for the bad behavior. But a toxic partner would not do so; in their twisted mind, they can never be wrong. If they did something, they were provoked by the other partner. If refusing to say sorry is the general attitude of your partner, you are in an abusive relationship. Once or twice, your ego can hold you back from apologizing, but not always. 

And Finally

The best way to tackle an abusive partner and remove yourself from such toxicity is to have a clear idea of what is an abusive relationship. This article gives you a detailed picture of what it can look like, but remember, abuse can come in many other forms. Keep an eye out and if ever you feel too overwhelmed and burdened by the pain, you have the option to leave. 

Tarab Rizvi

I am a writer and an enthusiast who has been a part of various freelancing agencies and have contributed as a blog maker, content creator as well as editor. I am always looking for opportunities that will help me to grow in a diverse environment. Currently working as a content freelancer at QuackQuack, one of the largest dating app for singles, which has encouraged me to succeed and grow professionally by utilizing my skills and knowledge appropriately.