Before we jump into the tell-tale signs of whether your partner is an emotionally abusive person or not, let us clear the basics first. So, what is emotional abuse? It is defined as “any nonphysical behavior that is used to subdue, control, isolate, or punish another fellow being through the use of fear or humiliation”, according to Beverly Engel, author of The Emotionally Abusive Relationship. This is also probably the most difficult form of abuse to identify.
When we are emotionally invested in a person, we tend to overlook any such kind of behavior and compromise our happiness in the name of love. But what we forget is that there is a very thin line between jealousy and toxic possessiveness, which when crossed, goes unnoticed. You don’t know what this is doing with your mental peace until it’s harmed completely. The scars of an emotionally abusive relationship may not be visible to the eye, but they are very traumatic. To make it easier for you to identify the signs of one, we have compiled all the points that relationship experts suggest. We hope it helps.
“You are crazy”
They might tell you that your judgment, opinion, and sight are faulty. The reality you perceive is wrong. And then they present you a distorted, disoriented reality according to their convenience, which will over time make you doubt your ability to judge, perceive and even your sight and other sensory organs. This will make you more and more vulnerable and easy to control. If they use phrases like, “I never said that,” “You don’t remember properly” “You must have heard it all wrong,” or “I never did that,” then you know that they are gaslighting.
Constant jealousy is a sign
It is totally fine for partners to be jealous from time to time. But that is not supposed to change how you actually are as individuals. Your individuality and personality are not to be lost for anyone, especially in a relationship. Constant display of jealousy and insecure behavior is your partner’s issue and that shouldn’t change how you socialize, whom you talk to, whom you care for etc. As if you agree to change for the sake of your relationship, it will change you in ways you won’t even recognize yourself. And if that person is worth this change – is what you should think of first.
Pushing down your confidence is what they do
Your confidence can be harmed easily by the person whom you consider most important. If they don’t acknowledge your achievements or sometimes take credit for your success instead of boosting your confidence, you feel low. They might tell you that your interests and hobbies are childish and not worth investing your time. This all leads to low self-worth. You stop looking at yourself as the person you were and now suffer from low esteem and lack of confidence.
Rules for your social life
Jealousy plays a great part here too. Emotionally abusive partners feel a constant need to control what you post on social media as your public appearance bothers them a lot. This might not seem like an act of emotional abuse, but whatever makes you change who and how you are counts as one. Do you want this change? You should ask that yourself.
Your partner is no more the same
You always wish for things to be the same in a relationship as they were initially. But does that happen? As time passes, we grow as individuals and so do the bonds change. But if your partner is no more a bit of the person you loved, then it is time for you to realize that it needs to end. Initially, people put their best foot forward to impress you, but it’s only with time that their true side unfolds. And if the true side is abusive and troubles you emotionally for which you need to think about your actions every day, apologize to them, lose your self-worth, then you should know that this isn’t what you signed for.
“You are just too sensitive”
Best way to get away after saying stuff that demoralizes you is by telling that you just don’t take them as jokes and are too sensitive. Humiliating anybody in public, be it in any form, sarcasm, joke, etc. isn’t acceptable. It hurts more when out of everybody, it’s your partner making fun of you and instead of apologizing or giving an explanation, they just turn it all on you. You are not overly sensitive or have a bad humor. It’s them who need to change the way they speak and behave.
It’s always you who is wrong
Do you find yourself apologizing to them always? Even when you know it’s not your mistake? Then, you definitely need to go out and ask for help.
Relationships are based on give and take and don’t remain the same when the balance gets disturbed. Say you are mad at them for not turning up for a pre-decided date and they are instead spending time around with colleagues and friends. And you bring this up in a conversation and try to tell them how hurt you were, they will start telling you that you don’t give them their personal space, time and are insecure of them having many friends. A whole guilt trip is what you get for sharing your feelings and it all seems to be your fault. The topic of the conversation gets diverted and you start feeling sorry for your own actions as convinced by your partner.
You are asked to match impossible standards
No doubt that in a relationship, people are on different standard levels because each one of us is different. It is totally normal and acceptable to keep up with the standards of people. But being expected to match a standard which is too high and impossible when they themselves cannot reach it is what carves your mind in a way that you will feel sorry for not being able to do what they ask for. You tend to think bad about yourself and this, in turn, makes it easier for them to take control of you and subdue your behavior and feelings.
Abuse of your physical appearance
In a relationship, you love each other for the way you are emotionally, physically and mentally. If they tell you that you don’t look the same anymore, or that you’ve grown fat or ugly or they abuse your physical appearance in any way, then it’s the time to get out of that useless relationship where you don’t get respect. With time, their behavior will make you feel insecure about yourself and you will rely on them only for a confidence boost, giving them more and more power and control over you. We urge you to seek out help.
They turn out to be more important than you
Even when you are in a relationship, it’s you who should be most important to yourself. Despite this fact, it’s required to be adjusting, cooperative and understanding towards the other person. Sometimes, you need to compromise as well in order to run this relation smoothly. But the thing that is to be thought about here is it should be both of you compromising from time to time, not just you every time. A potential emotionally abusive partner will take every opportunity to make you compromise with your happiness and give their needs priority.
Spending time with other people is what you are punished for
Punishment is a form of taking control of you. Say if you went out with your friends and family to spend some quality time, you will be given different treatment from the usual as if you have committed some mistake. You will be made to feel guilty that you went out and didn’t spend time with them. The punishment can be in various forms such as silence treatment, passing comments, and taunts, etc. In no time, you will stop doing what you used to do, you will stop going out and spending time with people in order to not receive the punishment. This might set some kind of fear in your mind.
They threaten you in numerous ways
Threatening isn’t always in a physical sense. They might use this tactic to get what they want from you. It might be their wish to spend more time with you, or not going out with your friends. They might withhold finances or some information that you told them putting your confidence in them. They might threaten you that they will disclose your information or secrets to your family and friends. And you’ll end up getting caught in the trap.
Control over your thoughts and feelings
It’s clear by now that the motive of emotionally abusive partners is to control you and run you according to them as if you are a machine. And controlling your thoughts and feelings will be best for them in this scenario. You don’t even get to know when you are being controlled or abused. Say if before doing anything, you think about their reaction and are afraid whether they will be disappointed or yell, these all point towards you being controlled by them. This is why signs of emotional abuse are very difficult to identify and sort.
Humiliation in public
As we mentioned before, humiliating any individual among people isn’t right as it lowers their confidence a lot. This is only done by an emotionally abusive partner in order to make you feel that you aren’t worth the respect you get and do not match their standards. In indirect ways, it will give them power and control over you and you will be subdued. This is what their strategy and motives are, according to experts.
Your partner is hot and cold
Your partner becomes very unpredictable. You never know what might instigate them or make them happy. One moment they love you and the other they distance themselves from you. Ultimately, you try whatever will help you to get them back as their original self. You start doing whatever they ask for in order to avoid having arguments and fights. At the end of the day, peace is all you want. You don’t see it but, in a way, they are making you do what they wish without you knowing it.
Distance from your family and friends
If your meeting with your friends, family and the other people you love upsets your partner and makes them aggressive, then it is definitely not a good sign. In these situations, they might want all of you just for themselves. To some people, it may come out as really sweet and nice when it is actually not. You might be told that they can’t feel your love when it’s getting divided for so many people and that you spend your majority of time with them. With time, without you knowing, you will feel distanced from your people and that will also stop them from telling you if they feel anything wrong about your partner and the relationship.
You have been warned before by your loved ones
Sometimes, when you are too emotionally invested in a relationship, it’s very difficult to see what harm it’s doing to you and your overall personality. But maybe your friends and family can help. They know what’s good for you even before you know it or you don’t see it. When more than one friend is expressing their concern regarding your relationship, it’s time to listen. It must be difficult for you to detach yourself, but your loved ones will make it a bit easier.
Now that you know what an emotionally abusive relationship is like, keep in mind however difficult it is for you to get out of it, you should leave that person for your own good. The best help you can get is obviously from your loved ones. If you can’t reach out to them, seek out some relationship advisers and take a third opinion, which isn’t biased.