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21 Emotionally Abusive Relationship Signs No One Should Ever Ignore

Being in an emotionally abusive relationship gives you deep trauma that’s hard to recover from. It’s the worst type of relationship you can be in.

emotionally abusive relationship

Our minds do really crazy things. Sometimes we see the signs of something straight away, and other times, certain situations blind us to the truth. An emotionally abusive relationship often falls in the latter. Even as we see all the red flags in front of us, we choose to ignore them.

We think we can change them or tolerate emotional abuse because we love them so much. But you need to remember that love is never destructive and sabotaging. True love should make you feel better about yourself and your world, never worse.

But that’s not the case with emotional abuse.

Being in an emotionally abusive relationship can be JUST as damaging *if not more* than a physically abusive relationship. This is also why people who get out of emotionally abusive relationships don’t just take months to recover from the trauma, but years.

Sometimes, even if they found someone else to fall in love with, the trauma is still there. That’s how powerful the impact of an emotionally abusive relationship is. So if you see the signs, get out of there ASAP.

[Read: Am I in an abusive relationship? 17 sure signs!]

Why is emotional abuse so bad?

Many of you may think being in a physically abusive relationship is worse than an emotionally abusive one. But there are several reasons why that’s not always true.

However, a physically abusive relationship is usually accompanied by emotional abuse, too, and that makes it all the more worse.

What someone tells you scars your mind and stays with you for a lifetime. That abuse eats away at you even long after the relationship is over. Also, it’s not just their words that are emotionally abusive, but how they treat you as a whole. If there are any signs of gaslighting, manipulation, or controlling, you’re already in an emotionally abusive relationship.

If someone treats you worse than bad and they know exactly how to make you feel weak and vulnerable and use that against you, that’s also emotional abuse.

Sadly, a lot of people get stuck in emotionally abusive relationships without knowing how to walk away. [Read: Narcissistic abuse – 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]

Why makes people stay in an emotionally abusive relationship?

We know you’re wondering – if you know you’re with an emotionally abusive partner, why not just leave? But it’s not that easy. This is why the person you fall in love with leaves a significant impact on your life. If you choose the wrong partner, they can control you, even to the point of breaking you and making you feel like you can’t live without that person.

If anything, the lines between physical and emotional abuse can easily be crossed. People stay in emotionally abusive relationships not because they want to, but because they don’t have a choice.

When your partner knows your weaknesses and vulnerability precisely, they can use that to manipulate and control you.

So it’s highly crucial for your sanity to know the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. Otherwise, it can damage your wellbeing and especially your sense of self-worth, even after the relationship is over.

Lucky are those who never experienced any abuse in relationships but for those who did, that’s something they have to try their hardest to heal from.

[Read: 21 signs of subtle emotional abuse we usually overlook until it’s too late]

The biggest signs you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship

Your love for your significant other can blind you to the truth. Making it hard to tell if you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Therefore, we must look at the signs one by one to know if there’s any emotional abuse lurking in the shadows. It may take time to tell if these signs are true or not, but give it a week, and you’ll see it all when you recognize what you need to look for.

You should be able to clearly tell if any of these signs are in your relationship. Consider talking to a close friend for confirmation. They will know if you have changed for the worse.

If you see these signs often, get out of this emotionally abusive relationship. [Read: 20 signs of a narcissistic relationship that’ll destroy you slowly]

1. You have a low self-esteem

This is a major sign of an emotionally abusive relationship that’s often overlooked. Yes, it’s true some people struggle with low self-esteem naturally. However, when you’re in a relationship you should feel REALLY good about yourself. Your partner should make you feel great about who you are.

If they don’t, they could be contributing to your self-esteem issues, and that is emotional abuse.

They will bring out the lowest version of yourself because that’s what they do best. They won’t support you or make you flourish, but they’ll bring out the exact opposite side of you. [Read: 10 signs of low self-esteem and 5 ways to increase it]

2. You don’t often speak your mind

If you’re afraid to speak up about something that you disagree with your partner on, you could be in an emotionally abusive relationship. If you can’t speak your mind freely out of fear, it should be assumed that it’s because they’ll get angry or say mean things about your opinion to shut you up.

You’re constantly holding your tongue, and that alone already speaks volumes. You always fear that anything you say could start an argument, and they’ll show their anger once again.

3. You get criticized a lot

Look, not all criticism isn’t bad. In fact, it can be healthy to be honest with your partner about constructive criticism. But the difference with an emotionally abusive relationship is that it’s not done out of love, but to hurt you intentionally.

“You should really stop doing that.” “You need to get to the gym more.” “I can’t eat that, it’s gross.”

If you get some of these from time to time, and it seems like they’re just general observations, you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. These are harsh criticisms to put you down, not mild comments to help you improve upon yourself. [Read: How to master the art of constructive criticism]

4. You don’t feel supported by your partner

The best kind of support is when you feel your partner genuinely wants you to succeed and thrive in all aspects of your life. If you don’t feel as though your partner would be there for you and support you if you wanted to quit your job and try to live your dream, then you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

You should be emotionally supported in all your ventures *unless they’re illegal or immoral* by your partner. If they’re not giving you that support, then you are being emotionally abused. [Read: People who put you down – How to face them and grow from within]

5. Every argument ends in YOU apologizing

Ah yes, here we have the perfect example of what gaslighting and manipulation are. They know precisely how to switch blame and make you think it’s your fault. If you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, you are always the one apologizing for things that are NOT your fault in any sense at all.

Think back on your last five arguments. Who apologized?

Saying sorry is just not in their vocabulary, and those are the facts. This is what it means to manipulate someone, and they’re an expert at this. [Read: 15 signs of a toxic relationship that’ll go from bad to worse]

6. You’re not allowed to talk to certain friends anymore

Isolation is a sign you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. It’s terrible for your mental health to be taken away from your friends simply because your partner doesn’t “approve” of them.

When you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, you aren’t allowed to talk to anyone else or have a social life outside of them. So even when they never say the exact words, you’re basically making them the center of your universe.

7. You’re not allowed to go out without your partner

More than likely, this is due to trust and jealousy issues. Both of which means you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. If you can’t go out with friends without having your significant other tag along, it’s emotional abuse.

Either they don’t trust you or don’t like the idea they can’t control you because you’re not within their reach when you go out without them. And when you open this issue up, they’ll dismiss your feelings entirely, or worse, pretend they’re jealous and insecure because you’re “too good for them.” [Read: How to deal with jealousy in a relationship and learn to overcome it as a couple]

8. They get mad if you’re not always in constant communication with them

This is the most blinding—especially to girls—simply because we think it’s cute that they always want to keep in touch. We take this as a good thing when it’s really NOT.

If you can’t be on your own for a few hours without your partner going nuts and angry that you haven’t texted them back, you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

You need to get out. They’re controlling and possessive of you, and this is the opposite of healthy. It’s not cute; it’s just plain toxic. [Read: 23 subtle signs of a controlling boyfriend most girls just don’t notice]

9. Extreme jealousy

A little jealousy here and there is completely normal. You care about your partner and never want them to be drawn to someone else. However, if this is to the point where you’re being restricted to certain clothes, it’s abusive. Some people may even resort to calling you names when they get jealous.

Or blaming you for being “too flirty” or dressed too “provocatively.”

If this sounds like your significant other, you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. And even more so if your partner curses you or calls you names, that’s emotional abuse right there! Again, extreme jealousy is NOT cute. [Read: 17 signs of a jealous and possessive boyfriend who’ll make your life miserable]

10. Double standards

In an emotionally abusive relationship, double standards are EVERYWHERE. They’re allowed to go out alone, but you’re not. They wait hours before texting you back, but they get mad when you do the same.

Basically, they’re allowed to do whatever, but they get angry or show their temper if you do the same thing.

If you have ridiculous double standards in your relationship, it’s an emotionally abusive situation. You need to get out. You should each treat each other fairly and equally. The truth is, when there’s emotional abuse present, they never see you as an equal. [Read: 20 healthy expectations in a relationship that define a good love life]

11. Daily arguments

Arguing as a couple is completely normal and healthy. But if you’re arguing about little things every single day, it’s a sign your relationship is in trouble. You should never be in tears every single day.

You aren’t dating an onion!

But seriously though, nobody should be making you cry that frequently. If they are, get out of that relationship immediately. If you’re that miserable daily, you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. [Read: Relationship arguments – 27 Dos and Don’ts to remember]

12. You’re embarrassed to tell friends/family about your fights with them

This big sign often ignored means you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. If you can’t even vent about your fights to your friends for fear that they’ll tell you how wrong your relationship is, it IS wrong. You should never have to hide your problems in your relationship from others.

Sure, some issues may be unfair, but if you’re embarrassed about your arguments, it’s probably because you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and are in denial at the same time.

Also, you probably already know what your friends are going to say, and that should make it obvious enough. [Read: 18 emotions you should never feel in an unhealthy relationship]

13. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells around them

If you’re someone who feels the need to watch what you say, what you watch, or where you go simply because your partner might be angry with you in an instant, you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

It’s time to leave. This isn’t a relationship you’re in, you’re being held in a mental prison. You’re clearly scared of saying or doing the wrong thing around them, and you’re not yourself if you’re walking on eggshells. [Read: The clearest signs you’re walking on eggshells in your love life]

14. You’re the only one putting in effort

If you’re the only person showing affection, doing things for your partner, or even the only one doing anything to even show that it is a relationship, you’re in an abusive relationship. You should feel as though your significant other is putting in JUST as much of an effort as you are, and they’re showing you love and affection just as much.

This is one of the evident signs of emotional abuse in the relationship. The fact that they’re not even trying to meet you halfway speaks volumes of what you mean to them. [Read: How to pull back in a relationship when you’re giving too much]

15. They threaten to leave you if you don’t do something they want

This is a huge sign you’re in an abusive relationship. They manipulate you to STAY with them, which is ridiculous. If you don’t do something they ask and they threaten to break up with you for it, then it’s an abusive relationship NO MATTER what the situation is.

Remember what we said about not being able to walk away from emotional abuse? This is one of them. Whatever they say, just walk out the door. [Read: 15 signs of manipulation in a relationship you should never ignore]

16. They gaslight you

Gaslighting is a serious sign of an emotionally abusive relationship that often goes ignored. They are so many indicators of gaslighting but despite this, it often goes unnoticed as a manipulative and controlling tactic.

Reserving the blame and playing the victim are just two things out of many signs in gaslighting that should prove you’re in an abusive relationship. It doesn’t matter how rarely they do it or how minor it seems to you.

Gaslighting is gaslighting. They know precisely how to manipulate things in your favor and the worst part is, you believe them every time. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship & shut it down for good]

17. They force you to revolve your world around them

Do you ever wonder why suddenly you’re losing friends left and right? It’s not because you’re a terrible friend, but they force you to make them your entire world.

They push your relationship to become a codependent relationship and when you become needy and clingy because they encouraged you to cut off your friends, they’ll call you dramatic and even crazy. Again, this is abuse. When they force you to revolve your world around them, you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. [Read: How to stop being codependent and have a healthy relationship]

18. They trigger your fears and insecurities

One of the characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship is that they trigger your fears and insecurities. You might suddenly wonder why you fear them every time they have a temper or why they suddenly bring out your insecurities.

In fact, you might’ve even blamed yourself for it. If your partner brings out your worst fears and insecurities, this isn’t your fault. Your partner knows precisely how to bring out your worst.

19. They call you names

No matter what fight or argument you have, your partner shouldn’t be calling you names. So if they’re calling you names, you’re evidently in an emotionally abusive relationship, which further proves the emotional abuse between both of you. [Read: Relationship arguments – 27 dos and don’ts to remember]

20. They invalidate your feelings

This is one of the most overlooked signs of emotional abuse, but it definitely counts. When your partner doesn’t validate your feelings or what you’re saying in any way and persists in telling you how you should feel, that’s emotional abuse.

Many people don’t know this and categorize this as typical behavior in a relationship, but that’s not normal. If they tell you you’re stupid for feeling jealous, or call you an idiot because you’re not able to understand how they’re calculating the house mortgage or expenses, it’s emotional abuse. It’s a way to make you feel like you’re feelings and opinions don’t matter anyway. [Read: 14 ways on how to be a better listener in a relationship]

21. They make you believe you deserve this treatment

The worst part about emotional abuse is when they make you believe you deserve to be treated badly. When you try to take a stand, they play the victim and convince you about all the ways YOU are dragging them down from a better life. It ends up with you feeling sorry for them and making you believe that this is what you deserve.

This works especially well if you naturally have a kind and pure heart, because of how good your partner is at manipulating you, you’ll believe that they never meant to hurt you, and are only trying to help you. That right there is emotional abuse.

[Read: Why does love hurt when it goes bad? The truth you need to hear]

So, how do you get out of an emotionally abusive relationship?

Stop making excuses, and just walk out the door. Don’t ever think you can change your partner if you love them better, or if you become the ideal person they want you to be. Nothing will ever be good enough for them because they get pleasure only out of abusing and using you.

And most importantly, it’s not your job to fix the brokenness of someone toxic and manipulative.

Just get out of the relationship as quickly as you can, and don’t ever look back. Trust us; you will thank yourself for this eventually. It might hurt at first, but it’s the best step for you and your mental health.

[Read: 21 steps to raise your self of self and feel like a million bucks all the time]

Being stuck in an abusive relationship can be really hard if you don’t even know it’s abusive. Use these signs of emotional abuse to help you spot them early on while you can still walk away from them!

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...