9 Signs You’re In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

It’s often difficult to tell if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. It doesn’t involve physical abuse, yet it destroys you faster than you think.

Do you want to know the truth? Emotional abuse is worse than physical abuse. Why? Because it’s hard to recognize it. Even victims may not even know that their partners are abusing their emotions.

And if it lingers for a while, it could reduce your dignity, self-esteem, and independence. The beginning of any relationship that abuses your emotion is always great. Your partner will be so attentive and kind.

They will create the impression that they are the perfect partner for you. But they often do this to get your trust and confidence. Emotional abuse comes in different forms, and your man may be using them to gain power and control over you. 

It could come as insults, criticism, threats, gaslighting, name-calling, intimidating, belittling and ignoring. The bad thing about emotional abuse is that it doesn’t give you visible scars. But it has traumatic effects.

emotionally abusive relationship

If you fail to recognize emotional abuse in your relationship, it may affect you severely. I have seen people suffering from depression, anxiety, and chronic pain due to emotional abuse.

I have heard a heartbreaking story of a young lady who tried to kill herself. Why? Because her man brutally abused her emotion. You deserve to be happy in your relationship. Nobody has the right to make you feel otherwise.

Who Is The Victim In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

Anybody can be a victim of emotional abuse. A man could be a victim, and a woman could be a victim. It depends on who wants to dominate in the relationship. 

Emotional abuse isn’t peculiar to romantic relationships. Children could be victims of emotional abuse in the hands of their parents or guardians. And employees could also be victims in the hands of their boss. 

But we will be discussing emotional abuse from a romantic relationship perspective. Both men and women could be victims of psychological abuse depending on the abusive partner. 

The gender of the abuser or victim isn’t the challenge. But the traumatic effects this act could have on the victims is what we should watch out for. every emotional abuser has a coercive behavior pattern.

Coercive Behavior Patterns Of Emotional Abusers

When it comes to an emotionally abusive relationship, an ounce of prevention is better than cure. Before you start dating someone who will make you think less of yourself, check out for the following traits and personality. 

They Are Always Insecure And Uncomfortable Around Others

Insecurity is one of the traits of an emotionally abusive partner. He or she isn’t comfortable when they are with other people. And once they see you mingle with opposite genders, they become insecure.

So, if someone you want to date has a trait of insecurity, he or she may be emotionally abusive in the future. In my opinion, you should end the relationship before it starts.

They Are Paranoid About Other People’s Motivation

People who are paranoid about other people’s motivation are often dangerous. Being in a romantic relationship with people like is a death sentence.

They never see something useful in what someone else is doing and they criticize everything. Such partners believe that your act of kindness to them has a hidden agenda.

I once had a colleague like this in my office. Unfortunately, he was my boss. He complained about everything. Any lady who dates a man like him will surely lose her self-esteem in no time.

They Overreact About Simple Situations

emotionally abusive relationship

Emotional abusers often overreact about simple situations. Something as little as stepping on their foot could trigger an irrational reaction from them. Try to avoid such people; they aren’t good candidates for friendship, let alone a romantic relationship.

They Brag or Boast About Everything

When you meet someone who brags or boasts about everything, he or she could be the wrong person to be with. People like that can bruise your self-esteem and ego through emotional abuse.

Always Looking For Your Pity

If someone always plays a sad puppy and looks for your pity, it’s not a good thing. If you guys are friends, just let it remains that way. Otherwise, they can be manipulative and make you feel crazy if you start dating them.

They Don’t Respect Boundaries.

Emotionally abusive partners don’t respect boundaries. They are always nosey, trying to know what you are doing. It may seem like caring, but such people are emotional abusers, dating them will do you more harm than good.

They Always Blame Their Past Relationships On Other People

Partners who blame their failed relationships on other people tend to transfer aggression on you. It’s better you don’t date them at all. Otherwise, he or she may abuse your emotion.

Whenever you notice any of the above traits in your date, end things immediately before it starts. If you don’t, you may be battling with emotional abuse in the future.

How To Know If You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship 

Irrational Jealousy

Don’t get me wrong; your partner has the right to be jealous of you. It’s only reasonable for people to protect what they care about. But when it becomes too much, it could be a problem.

How do you explain a situation when your significant other always calls to know where you are and who you are with? It’s certainly a sign that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.

It may seem like a genuine concern to you. But it’s a strategy your emotionally abusive partner uses to track your schedule. And be in control of your relationship.

Every emotional abuse starts very small. Something as little as texting all the time to check on, you could degenerate into relentless harassment.

So, if your man tries to limit where you go or who you spend time with, you don’t need a soothsayer to know that you are undergoing emotional abuse.

It often starts little, but it has driven several people to suicide. I’m happy you are reading this post. At least you can tell if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship at the end of the job.

Withholding Affection

Affection is the life wire of every relationship. It keeps and nurtures a relationship. But when your partner is starving you of affection, he is indirectly abusing you emotionally.

Imagine your significant other telling you no more “kisses” until you yield to his demand… If he likes doing this often, he surely doesn’t have regard for your feelings. It could even be a sign that he is taking advantage of you

Many people in a relationship are starved of affection after a disagreement. Come on; this is not an act of love. It’s a  tactic to have control over you in the relationship.

Trust me; it may be reasonable for you. But it doesn’t always end well. If you allow it to continue, you will have no say in your relationship.

I have seen people who walk on eggshells because they don’t want to disappoint their partner. There is nothing wrong with trying to make your partner proud of you.

But if all your life is centered around pleasing your partner, then you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Your Partner Says Things That Hurt You Jokily

Respect for each other feeling is one of the things that make relationships last longer. If your partner cracks a joke on you, he must be mindful of what he says.

Human beings are different, and we all have unique ways of processing information. Imagine your partner saying something like “Your Boobs is the smallest I have seen so far”? Such a statement will surely hurt you.

If he takes correction after you react to the remark, it’s cool. But if he claims it’s a joke, that you take things too personally. And still, say the same thing, it’s no longer a joke. It’s now an emotional abuse.

Don’t forget that there is a grain of truth in every sarcastic remark. And little things like this could make you lose your self-esteem. Trust me; if you are a super emotional person, it could drive you to depression.

You Always Apologize Even  When You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong.

Constant threat and criticism from your partner will make you think you are always wrong. But the truth is, nobody is perfect. And you are doing just fine, except your partner is driving you crazy.

If you always apologize, even if you are right, then you are undergoing emotional abuse. You know why? Because you have come to believe that you are stupid, inconsiderate, and selfish. After all, these are what your partner often accused you of.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s cool to apologize to your partner when you are wrong. But when the apology is now a recurring decimal, even if you didn’t do anything, you have to reevaluate your relationship.

Your relationship should make you believe in yourself, not the other way. Constant criticism and gaslighting from your partner can make you think you are something else.

Your Partner Never Acknowledges Your Strengths And Always Belittles Your Accomplishment

If you are in a relationship, your partner ought to have been your most reliable support. He or she should be someone who motivates you to keep going even though things are tough.

But if the same person who is supposed to motivate you becomes your criticizer, there is a problem.

Do you know that your strength could be a threat to your partner? If this is the situation in your relationship, he or she may never acknowledge your strengths. Instead, they will do everything to make you feel less of yourself.

Imagine getting yourself a car that you have been admiring for a long time. And your partner look at it and says, “what kind of old fashioned car is this”?

You don’t need anybody to tell you that you are dating an emotionally abusive partner. And you must do something about it immediately.

Frequent Threats

Some partners often abuse your love for them in a relationship. They are fond of using your feelings against you, thus giving them control.

If your partner often uses threats to get what he wants, he is an emotional abuser. And it could make you do things you never intended to do.

My mother once told me a heartbreaking story about what happened during her high school days. The story was about a young teenage girl (Grace) who was stupidly in love with a village boy then.

The girl loved this young man and was ready to go extra miles to make him happy. But she wanted the relationship to be platonic. All she enjoys is the boy’s company.

Sadly, the young boy (Jordan) wasn’t happy with the “no sex” arrangement. On his birthday, the girl came to his house, as usual, they spent a whole lot of time together.

That day, he told Grace that he wants to have sex with her. He threatened to end the relationship if she refused to give him sex. Poor Grace, she didn’t want to lose his man. And she yielded to the pressure.

They had sex, and things were going well with them. After a few weeks, she started feeling awkward. She carried out a test and realized that she was pregnant.

She felt so ashamed of herself and couldn’t bring herself to telling her parents about her pregnancy. She went straight to Jordan and told him.

Guess what he said? “Do something about the pregnancy. Otherwise, this could be the end of us.” Grace tried to abort the pregnancy, and she died in the process.

Yes, she died in an emotionally abusive relationship. I hope Grace’s story inspires you to avoid emotionally abusive partners.

Your partner Doesn’t Respect Your Privacy.

Everybody has the right to his or her privacy. But when your partner always intrudes on your privacy, it’s obvious that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Your phone, social media messages, etc. are your privacy. Nobody has the right to be sneaking on them.

Come on! That you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a life of your own.

Always set boundaries in your relationship. And when your partner doesn’t respect such limits, you should do something about it. Otherwise, it may be a severe issue in the future.

Property Damage

An emotionally abusive partner may not go physical with you. But they may want to destroy or damage something vital to you. To them, it’s a way of punishing you and so that you will know that they have control over you.

If your partner often destroys your property after a little misunderstanding, you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.


Micro-cheating is a common sign of an emotionally abusive relationship. We all know that cheating doesn’t go well with relationships. It could lead to a painful breakup.

Even though your partner isn’t cheating on you, he/she may do things that could whisper infidelity. There may be no physical intimacy, but little things like dirty chats with the opposite sex is a form of emotional abuse.

Trust me, when this becomes a recurring decimal, you may find yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship.

In a more precise term, micro-cheating happens when your partner gives room for affectionate behavior outside your relationship.

Most times, you may not know that your Partner is Micro-cheating. But some of the signs are; dressing decently or attractively when meeting the opposite sex, lying by omission, Not telling you who he or she is hanging out with after work.

Whenever your partner does any of the mentioned behaviors, it tends to hurt your emotions. Nothing breaks someone heart than knowing that your partner is keeping secrets from you.

What To Do When In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Emotionally abusive relationships are unhealthy. Such relationships make you feel insulted and wounded. It makes you feel inferior to yourself.

Make Your Mental and Physical Health A Priority

Emotional abuse victims often make one mistake. They always try to the person abusing them. Trust me; this is a terrible mistake that will give your partner more control over emotions.

If you have an emotionally abusive partner, try to make your mental and physical health a priority. Always take care of your needs before any other thing. Try to engage in activities that will make you have more confidence in yourself.

You also need to eat healthy food and have enough rest. These simple, self-care tips will enable you to deal with emotional abuse.

Set Boundaries With Your Abusive Partner

Never give up on yourself without a fight; this also applies to relationships. Learn to establish boundaries with your abusive partner.

Make such you warn your emotional abuser never to insult you, be rude to you or call you names. And let him/her know what will happen if he/she tries it again.

But before you set boundaries and give warning, you must be willing to implement it. Otherwise, you will provide more power to the abuser.

Never Blame Yourself

Don’t allow your partner to make you start feeling bad about yourself. Let me tell the truth; people in an emotionally abusive relationship will always think that something is wrong with them.

Sometimes you may start imagining… Why will somebody who claims to love me behaving like this? Or is anything wrong with me?

You are cool, and nothing is wrong with you. Never blame yourself for something you have no control.

Emotional abuse is a choice, and if your partner wants to toil that path, then you must be on the defensive. Otherwise, you will become a shadow of yourself in no time.

Don’t Try To Fix An Emotionally Abusive Partner.

I know you think you can change your abusive partner, right? You think if you can do things differently, he or she will change. Let me be frank with you, many people have tried before, but they failed.

The earlier you understand that an abusive partner chooses to be emotionally abusive, the better for you. And there is nothing you can do to change such people.

You can neither control their action nor be responsible for their choice. But you can always come up with a strategic response to curb emotional abuse in your relationship.

Always Walk Away From An Abusive Situation

Learn not to engage abusive partners in an argument. It will only make you feel bad about yourself. If an abuser starts an argument, don’t explain to soothe their feelings, walk out of the situation.

Whether the partner calls you names, insults you, or jealous, don’t try to explain or apologize, leave the scene. If you can get used to this technique, your partner will always be at the receiving end.

Build a Support Network

It’s not advisable to be lonely and isolated when in an emotionally abusive relationship. You need to share your experience with a friend you trust, family member, or counselor.

Spend more time with your support network, as they will always make you feel loved and supported. With this, you can easily find your footing and confidence to withstand your abusive partner.

Work On An Exit Plan

If your partner has no intention to change for good, you should start thinking of ending things with your partner.

But you don’t need to exit the relationship abruptly. Think it over thoroughly, weigh your options and ask yourself if the relationship worth the stress.


Emotional abuse is not right in any relationship. It could make you become a shadow of yourself in no time.

It’s always advisable you fight for your sanity in a relationship. Don’t allow a crazy, emotionally abusive partner to make you start doubting yourself. It’s better to be without a relationship than dating someone who always insults and calls you names.

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About the Author

A Love Doctor Who Passionately Shares Love And Finance Tips