If someone brings more stress than joy into your life, they likely aren’t good for you. You might not realize your partner’s intentions until later in the relationship, but it’s a sure sign they aren’t worth it. You deserve someone who treats you with respect and makes you feel good in life–not an emotionally abusive partner. That’s true even when you disagree about something.

You might question whether your partner truly cares for you, and that’s never a good sign in a relationship. If you ever have this thought about your relationship, it could indicate an emotionally abusive partner. These signs can help you identify the issues within your relationship, giving you the knowledge that you need to walk away.

There are many indicators of mental abuse in a relationship if you know what to look for. When you have an idea of red flags, you can identify them sooner and make a change.

If you have an emotionally abusive partner, it’s not your fault, and you don’t have to put up with it. You don’t deserve it, and resources are available to help you. Seek help and get support because you don’t have to go through this alone.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse can turn to physical harm as it progresses. This type of abuse is any harmful behavior that doesn’t involve physical contact. When a pattern of abuse occurs repeatedly, it indicates you have an emotionally abusive partner. This situation results in depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

emotionally abusive partner

Why Mental Abuse is So Confusing

Identifying mental abuse requires understanding why it can be so confusing. An emotionally abusive partner will create a pattern to keep you around, making you think things can get better. The cycle starts as a toxic relationship, and you might not realize it until the abuse begins. After an instance of abuse, they’ll return to kind and loving behavior before shifting back once again.

Thirteen Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Partner

While an emotionally abusive relationship isn’t as easy to identify as a physically abusive situation, there are signs. Recognizing the signs can help you make changes and regain control of your life.

1. An Emotionall Abusive Partner Can Be Controlling, Possessive, and Jealous

Jealousy is common in an emotionally abusive relationship. Your partner might make it seem like their controlling or possessive behavior is beneficial, but they’re only trying to cover up the red flag.

Jealousy is sometimes harmless, but it can quickly cross the line. If your partner’s insecurity forces you to change your life, it’s no longer normal relationship behavior.

It’s a red flag if your partner expects you to answer their calls or texts immediately, no matter what you’re doing. They’ll question who you were with, what you were doing, and where you have been.

They might not like your friends of their gender because they’re possessive. Sometimes they’ll go so far as to accuse you of infidelity without evidence.

An emotionally abusive partner might even try to control how you think or feel. They want you to agree with them on everything, despite knowing of your differences in the beginning. Eventually, they’ll begin controlling your thoughts until you think their abuse is acceptable.

2. An Emotionally Abusive Partner Wants You to Change

Your partner should like you for who you are, not try to change the things that make you unique. They might act embarrassed by everything you do or blatantly tell you to change. It’s a red flag if they want you to change who you are.

Pay attention if they tell you to lose weight, change your hair or makeup, or make different life plans. They’ll make it seem like they’re looking out for you or helping you, but it’s because they’re abusing you. If they don’t like who you are or what you look like, it’s time to move on and find someone who does.

3. They Become Emotionally Distant

An emotionally abusive partner might use the silent treatment to get their point across. It’s their way of punishing you when they’re upset. They’ll refuse to talk to you or even acknowledge you.

When they do start talking, they’ll still behave emotionally distant. The abuser will often treat their victim as an acquaintance rather than a romantic partner.

4. They Argue About Everything

An emotionally abusive partner might argue over minor things like where you’ll eat for dinner. You’ll eventually fight every time you’re together, indicating incompatibility and toxicity. Don’t put up with full-blown arguments over small things when you could move on and find happiness.

5. They Isolate You from Others

If you’re in an abusive relationship, your partner likely wants to distance you from your friends and loved ones. They’ll try to take control of your life by isolating you from the people who care about you. They want you to themselves regardless of the harm to your well-being.

An abusive partner might guilt-trip you and make you feel like you must be with them most of the time. It is their way of preventing your loved ones from voicing concerns over your relationship.

When you spend time with your friends or family, your partner might punish you for it. They’ll go out of their way to make you feel bad, even causing arguments or giving you the silent treatment.

6. Gaslighting and Shifting Blame

Gaslighting is a common form of emotional abuse, and it occurs when your partner makes you question your reality. An example of this is when they blame you for their hurtful behaviors, accusing you of making them upset.

They might tell you that what you witnessed or experienced didn’t happen or that it happened differently. An abusive partner will often tell you that you’re crazy and that other people lie to you.

7. An Emotionally Abusive Partner Will Hold You to An Impossible Standard

It’s not wrong to have high standards in a relationship, but they should be attainable. It’s a red flag if your partner makes you feel like they’re holding you to an impossible standard. You might notice that they ridicule you or make you feel inadequate for not reaching those ideals, even if you tried your best.

This situation is a sign that your partner doesn’t want you to reach the goal so that they can make you feel bad about yourself. It allows them to gain more control over your life, making you feel like you did them wrong.

emotionally abusive relationship

8.  They Control Your Social Media Accounts

It’s not a good sign if your partner has opinions about what you can post on your social media accounts. They’ll monitor the account, too, noticing every interaction you have. If they tell you what you can and cannot post, they’re shaming you and taking control.

9. They Only Prioritize Their Needs

Your partner’s needs are essential, but they shouldn’t always come before yours. If you’re putting your needs last every day, it’s time to change. Your partner should be putting you first sometimes, too.

An abusive partner might want you to stop what you’re doing to do what they want or need. You should be allowed to have time to yourself to do whatever you wish to, despite what your partner says they need.

10. They Use Manipulation and Ultimatums

An emotionally abusive partner might manipulate you to do what they want or stay with them when you want to leave. They often threaten self-harm, suicide, or harming someone else, making you afraid to go.

Abusive partners also threaten to withhold finances or other needs to gain control over your life. They’ll also threaten blackmail, forcing you to meet their requirements.

11. An Emotionally Abusive Partner Doesn’t Support You

An emotionally abusive person likely isn’t supportive. They might put you down, criticize your accomplishments, and make you question yourself every step of the way. This hurtful behavior is their way of making you feel inferior, and it takes a toll on your self-esteem.

An emotionally abusive partner often behaves this way because they don’t feel good about their aspirations and goals. They project their feelings onto you, wanting you to feel as bad as they do.

12. You Feel Like You Don’t Know Them Anymore

When you first enter a relationship, your partner puts on a show. They make you think they’re all the things you want in a relationship, only to change gradually.  The abuse starts as subtle signs and intensifies with each instance. You’ll eventually feel like you don’t recognize them as they’re nothing like when you first started dating.

13. They Don’t Appreciate You

You can do everything they ask, and an abusive partner will still make it seem like you didn’t do enough. It’s a sign of abuse when you only put in time and effort for your partner to be unappreciative. Continually taking advantage of you this way shows that they don’t care about your time or what you do for them.

emotionally abusive relationship

Final Thoughts on Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Partner

If you recognize any of the signs of an emotionally abusive partner, it’s time to make a change in your life. You deserve a healthy relationship with someone who values you and likes you for who you are.

It might be hard to walk away, but you’ll soon find happiness in your newfound freedom. Don’t continue putting your time and energy into a relationship that doesn’t make you feel good.