Being in a healthy relationship can lead to a joyful and fulfilling life. As a couple, you share your dreams, happiness, sorrow, and fears as you support one another. However, what if you’re trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship?

Abuse comes in many forms, including physical, mental, verbal, and emotional. Each is just as painful and unconscionable. The internal bruises from psychological abuse aren’t as apparent as those on the body. Any person who perpetrates any abuse can’t be excused or tolerated.

Fifteen Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Does your relationship bring joy and security or pain and fear? Is your person gentle, loving, and kind, or are they volatile and manipulative? Here are fifteen tell-tale signs of an emotionally abusive relationship and why you should leave.

emotionally abusive relationship

1. A Partner in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship Will Criticize and Humiliate You

When your partner kindly offers constructive criticism with your best interests at heart, it benefits you. You realize that you can share any idea or project with them, and they will be sincere. However, unfounded criticism is cruel and intended to crush your spirit.

They fire off these mean-spirited comments in a snide or condescending way. They are usually generalized and are not helpful. After listening to these degrading remarks for so long, you often internalize them. Soon, your mind is playing perpetual loops of false statements that can destroy your self-esteem.

2. There’s No Support in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

In an article published by Current Opinions in Psychiatry, Maija Reblin and Dr. Bert N. Uchino suggest a strong link between emotional support and your health. Validation and emotional support are basic human needs. If you don’t have it, you can eventually develop serious issues that affect your entire well-being.

Of all the people in your support network, you would expect your mate to be your top cheerleader. Whether you win or lose, you know they have your back and will always be encouraging. If your partner is constantly crushing your dreams and isn’t there for you emotionally, it may be time to evaluate the relationship.

3. It’s Always Your Fault

Mature and conscientious people take responsibility for their shortcomings and mistakes and correct them. There’s no such thing as a perfect person or couple. You and your significant other will occasionally mess up and must apologize.

Toxic partners often have narcissistic personalities and rely on manipulation and gaslighting. When you confront them for something wrong they did, they will try to shift the blame to you or others. They may go so far as to demand a confession and apology from you for their offenses.

4. They Refuse to Let You Socialize

For an abusive relationship to last, the toxic mate must isolate you from your family and friends. They want to be the sole source of controlling your thoughts and actions. It’s also a way to prevent you from disclosing these cruel tactics to anyone.

This self-centered person must have you all to themselves. Such isolation is damaging to your mental and spiritual health. Sadly, you may feel like a prisoner in your own home whose feelings aren’t considered.

5. Jealousy Issues Are Over the Top in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Manipulative partners usually have trust issues and extreme jealousy. Their skewed perception considers family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers as a threat to their control over you. If they allow you a rare time to socialize, they must be at your side like a vicious guard dog.

Discussing the issue with them is futile because they’ll disregard your concerns. Furthermore, they would probably turn the situation around on you as if you’re the jealous one. It sends up a red flag to your family and friends that you’re being smothered and emotionally abused.

6. They Keep Tabs on You

In a healthy relationship, it’s normal for a couple to check in with each other when they’re on the road or away for a while. It’s also okay to call or occasionally text to relay important information. However, manipulative mates can’t trust you alone for any time without blowing up your phone.

Such behavior goes beyond loving communication and concerns and is a control tactic. They may also breach your right to privacy by secretly following you, reading your email, and eavesdropping on your conversations. Instead of being your compassionate partner, they are your prison warden. Of course, telling lies is their specialty, not yours.

7. There’s A Double Standard in Almost Every Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Everyone strives to be fair in a wholesome relationship. You love each other enough to make mutual compromises, so each is happy. If your significant other imposes standards on you that don’t apply to them, your relationship is one-sided and toxic.

These double standards can appear in every aspect of their control over you. They are free to socialize with family and friends, but you get verbally attacked if you do. If you aren’t equal in all matters, you’re being hurt and cheated.

emotionally abusive relationship

8. Constant Fighting

Occasional arguing is not only usual in a relationship, but it’s also healthy. It shows that both of you retain your unique ideas and opinions. However, a loving couple knows how to apologize and make compromises as needed.

Chronic fighting isn’t beneficial and can wreak havoc on your well-being. Having someone yelling at you constantly is devastating to your self-worth. You want to be in a compassionate, loving relationship and not a war.

9. You Hide Their Behavior from Friends and Family

Another tell-tale sign of an emotionally abusive relationship is your irrational desire to protect your manipulative partner. When you are allowed to socialize with family and friends, you’re afraid to discuss the abuse because of the repercussions later. You may try to present your relationship with your toxic mate in the best light.

Unfortunately, you may start to believe the lie yourself. If you’re so afraid to tell your friends the truth about your mate, then you’re in denial. You may try to protect your person, but you’re only hurting yourself in the long run.

10. You Walk on Eggshells

It’s unnerving to be around someone whose temper is as volatile as a vial of nitroglycerin. When that emotional powder keg is your partner, it’s even worse. You may feel like you must watch each word or action for fear that they’ll explode.

Such an emotionally abusive relationship keeps your nerves on edge and your stress levels high. According to an article published by IBCCES Learning Center, emotional abuse can trigger anxiety, depression, and other severe mental conditions. Living under such pressure isn’t worth it.

11. There’s No Effort from Them

Another inequity in an emotionally abusive relationship is that you do one the work. You must do everything to keep the relationship going while your partner does nothing. All the responsibility for love, devotion, understanding, and effort falls in your lap.

12. They Manipulate You to Stay

Why would a kind, sensible, and worthy person like you stay in an emotionally abusive relationship? If you’re with a manipulative narcissist, they’ll give you plenty of fake reasons. If they constantly threaten you with a breakup, if you don’t comply with their wishes, then they’re toxic and not your true love.

They may also try to manipulate your sense of obligation as if you owe them your devotion. If you aren’t a silent prisoner, then they are walking out the door.

13. They’re Verbally Abusive

While it’s normal for couples to split, it’s never an excuse for name-calling and verbal abuse. It’s often associated with an emotionally abusive relationship and is just as cruel and hurtful as physical abuse. Screaming, cursing, and name-calling by an evil partner leave lasting scars in your heart that are slow to heal.

14. You Experience Emotional Abuse (Which Might Not Be as Obvious as it Sounds!)

An emotionally abusive relationship works like a boa constrictor as it slowly squeezes away your life. The toxic mate’s goal is to continually tell lies to make you compliant and meek. What’s worse is that you may eventually believe you’re worthless and deserve their abuse.

If there’s any fault in the relationship, they want you to shoulder it. This abuse batters your mind and soul until you lose your identity and purpose. Until you take a stand against them, you remain shackled in the dark dungeon of their warped control.

15. Your Codependent on Your Partner in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Not only do you lose yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship, but you also lose those closest to you. These are your true friends and family who have your best interest at heart. It’s not that they want to leave your circle; it’s that you’ve allowed your manipulative partner to force them away.

Now, they have you right where they want you: discouraged, scared, and lonely. You can only turn to them, and you’re finally their prisoner. Such codependency puts this narcissist at the center of your world just as they planned.

emotionally abusive relationship

Final Thoughts on Identifying and Coping With Emotionally Abusive Relationships

The freedom you deserve comes the moment you realize that you’re being cruelly manipulated and abused. You can only “try” as long as your partner is willing to change. If all else fails, don’t be ashamed of the lessons you learned. Refuse to be part of their vile contempt and regain control of your life. Walk away with your dignity as a beautiful, loving, and worthy person.