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29 Red Flags to Tell if Someone Wants to Hurt You & Harm You Emotionally!

Unfortunately, some people have bad intentions. Here is how to tell if someone wants to hurt you, so you can them avoid like the plague!

how to tell if someone wants to hurt you

When we talk about emotional safety in relationships, we’re addressing a fundamental pillar of any healthy partnership. This brings us to a critical question – how to tell if someone wants to hurt you? It’s an unsettling question but an essential one to consider when fostering relationships.

The good news, there are a few red flags. Knowing how to tell if someone wants to hurt you is all about looking for those warning signs and paying attention.

The chances are that you’re a kind-hearted person without negative intentions toward anyone. If you’re in a relationship with someone, you’re crushing on someone, you’re enjoying a flirt, and you almost certainly have fun intentions in mind, not negative ones! But not everyone is like that.

Of course, it can be hard to extract yourself from someone you’ve grown close to. That is why so many people end up staying in relationships that make them unhappy. Some of these relationships even turn abusive. It’s certainly not a road you want to go down voluntarily.

We don’t know you as a person. What we do know is that nobody deserves to be hurt for no specific reason.

It’s important that if you see these red flags, you pay attention to them. That doesn’t mean spotting one red flag on one occasion and running away because you’re scared a hurtful situation is on the horizon.

The chances are that if you simply notice one issue on one occasion, your partner is just being a little inconsiderate. We’re all a little inconsiderate from time to time!

Understanding Harm in Relationships

Understanding the potential for harm in relationships starts by recognizing that not all harm is physical. Indeed, psychological harm can often be more damaging and longer-lasting.

This type of harm can include actions or behaviors that belittle, control, or manipulate a partner, leading to emotional distress, feelings of worthlessness, and even mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

The tricky part about psychological harm is that it often doesn’t appear harmful on the surface. We’re all human, and it’s normal to have disagreements or argue from time to time in relationships.

What we need to watch out for, however, is when these occurrences shift from being occasional to a regular pattern.

Occasional arguments are part of any normal relationship. Differences of opinion can lead to healthy discussions and mutual growth. On the other hand, consistent harmful behavior – such as constant criticism, belittling comments, attempts to control or manipulate – points to a more significant issue.

This is when it crosses the line from a simple disagreement to a situation where one person is seeking to impose their will or inflict harm on the other.

It’s important to note that these signs are not always explicit or obvious. Psychological harm can be subtle and insidious, often hiding behind a veil of love or concern.

Therefore, staying educated about these signs is crucial. Recognizing the difference between healthy disagreements and consistent, harmful behavior is your first step toward ensuring emotional safety in your relationships.

How to Tell if Someone Wants to Hurt You: The Red Flags to Look For

Navigating relationships can sometimes feel like treading through a maze. While some paths lead to a joyful bond, others may harbor signs of potential harm. It’s essential to spot these red flags early on.

1. Lack of Empathy

Empathy – the capacity to understand and share the feelings of others – is crucial for emotional bonding in relationships.

When this is absent, a person may struggle to comprehend your emotional needs and experiences, leading to misunderstanding and distress.

Without empathy, they might disregard your feelings, leading to emotional harm that could manifest as feelings of loneliness, sadness, or alienation even within the relationship.

[Read: 24 signs of people who lack empathy to know they don’t care what you think]

2. Control and Manipulation

Control and manipulation can be linked to the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, which refers to the psychological discomfort when one’s behaviors and beliefs are inconsistent.

A controlling or manipulative person may attempt to create such inconsistencies, leading to emotional distress.

They may also manipulate circumstances to pressure you into aligning with their desires or expectations, causing further emotional turmoil.

3. Frequent Criticism

Frequent and harsh criticism may act as a form of negative reinforcement, causing you to modify your behavior to avoid these negative comments.

Over time, this constant criticism can deeply erode your self-esteem and self-confidence, leading to feelings of worthlessness and even causing anxiety and depression.

4. Isolation from Friends and Family

Within the principles of social psychology, isolating a person from their social support network is a tactic that can lead to increased dependency on the person causing harm.

By minimizing your interactions with friends and family, the person may aim to increase their control and influence over your actions and decisions.

5. Threats and Intimidation

The Theory of Aggression suggests that threats and intimidation are not just signs of potential harm, but they are harmful behaviors themselves.

These behaviors can induce fear and compliance, but can also escalate to more severe forms of emotional or even physical harm.

6. They Withhold Information and Act Elusive

Honesty and transparency are cornerstones of a healthy relationship. If someone regularly withholds information or acts elusive, it may suggest that they don’t respect your right to know the truth.

This can lead to a lack of trust and increase insecurity and anxiety in the relationship.

7. They Never Make You a Priority in Their Life

Everyone deserves to feel valued and important in a relationship.

If you find that you’re consistently sidelined for other interests or people, it indicates a lack of consideration for your feelings and can lead to feelings of neglect and low self-worth.

[Read: Never make someone a priority when you’re only an option]

8. They’re Never Wrong, and You Always Take The Blame

Healthy relationships involve mutual accountability.

If your partner refuses to accept their faults and always blames you, it could be a tactic to undermine your self-confidence and make you more submissive or compliant to their wants.

9. They’re Very Jealous and Often Try to Make You Jealous Too

Excessive jealousy or efforts to incite jealousy are manipulative tactics that can create insecurity and fear.

Jealous behavior is more about control than affection, and it can result in significant emotional distress.

10. You Don’t Feel You Can Trust Them

Trust is fundamental in a relationship. Regular doubts about your partner’s honesty can generate continuous anxiety and stress, hampering the emotional stability and joy that a relationship should provide.

11. Your Intuition is Screaming At You

Intuition is your subconscious mind picking up on inconsistencies and red flags. If you consistently feel uncomfortable or anxious around your partner, it’s critical to consider these feelings seriously.

Not everyone finds it easy to listen to their intuition. Simply sit and think about how you feel, taking into account any uneasy feelings in the pit of your stomach. Your gut will tell you all you need to know!

[Read: Gut instinct: what it is, how it works & 30 tips to follow & listen to your gut]

12. They’re Not There When You Need Them

Emotional support and availability are key in a relationship.

If your partner is frequently unavailable or indifferent during your times of need, it suggests a significant lack of empathy and care, leaving you to deal with emotional hardships alone.

13. They ignore your boundaries

Healthy relationships require respect for each other’s personal boundaries.

If someone consistently disregards your stated boundaries, it indicates a lack of respect for your autonomy and can result in emotional distress.

14. They Gaslight You

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where a person makes you question your own perception, memories, or sanity.

It’s an abusive tactic designed to make you doubt yourself and, in turn, become more reliant on them.

[Read: 105 most common gaslighting phrases, techniques & signs to recognize them]

15. They Show Drastic Mood Swings

If a person’s mood changes dramatically and unpredictably, it can create an unstable environment.

You might find yourself walking on eggshells, never sure what mood you’ll encounter, which can lead to anxiety and fear.

16. They Use Love as a Bargaining Tool

Love should never be used as a weapon or a tool for negotiation. If your partner withholds affection or love as a form of punishment or manipulation, it can cause deep emotional harm.

17. They Play The Victim

If they constantly paint themselves as the victim, even when they’re at fault, it may be a tactic to control and manipulate your feelings.

18. They Make You Feel Guilty For Spending Time With Others

If your partner makes you feel guilty when you spend time with friends or family, it can be a sign of their insecurities and an attempt to isolate you from your support network.

19. They Demean You in Front of Others

How to tell if someone wants to hurt you? Well, public humiliation or demeaning you in front of others is a form of emotional abuse. It’s designed to make you feel small and insignificant, which can harm your self-esteem.

20. They make you feel like you can’t live without them

If your partner constantly reinforces the idea that you won’t be able to cope or survive without them, it can be a sign of manipulation.

It’s an attempt to make you dependent on them and less likely to leave, even if the relationship is harmful.

21. They Pressure You Into Things You’re Uncomfortable With

Whether it’s about social events, intimacy, or personal decisions, pressuring you into things you’re not comfortable with is a sign of disrespect and disregard for your feelings and autonomy.

What to Do If You Recognize These Signs

1. Seek Support from Trusted Individuals

A problem shared is a problem halved. Reach out to your friends, family, or someone you trust to get an outside perspective.

They can provide emotional support, validate your experiences, and offer guidance. Remember, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, but rather an act of courage to admit when things are not right.

2. Consider Therapy and Counseling

Relationship troubles can be difficult to navigate alone. Therapists or counselors, particularly those who specialize in relationships or emotional abuse, can provide professional insights.

They can help you understand your situation, provide tools to deal with it, and even guide you toward a path of recovery and healing.

3. Set and Assert Boundaries

Boundaries are not just lines drawn in the sand. They are crucial parameters that protect your emotional well-being.

Make your limits known and assert them when needed. It’s important to remember that setting boundaries is a form of self-respect and care, not a form of selfishness.

[Read: 23 secrets to set personal boundaries & guide others to respect them]

4. Self-Care is Essential

Don’t lose yourself while trying to handle a difficult relationship. Invest time and energy in activities that nourish your soul and lift your mood.

Whether it’s reading a book, practicing yoga, or spending time in nature, self-care activities can help maintain your emotional health.

5. Document Incidences

Keep a record of instances where you felt hurt, manipulated, or disrespected.

This can be helpful for your clarity, especially in situations where gaslighting is involved, and can also be useful if you decide to seek professional help.

6. Educate Yourself

Learn about the signs of harmful relationships, emotional manipulation, and abusive tactics. Knowledge is power, and it can help you identify and understand what you’re experiencing.

7. Develop an Exit Strategy

If the relationship is harmful, it may be necessary to consider leaving. This isn’t an easy decision, and it’s important to plan it well for your safety, especially if the relationship is abusive.

Seek professional advice if you find yourself in this situation.

8. Practice Assertiveness

Learn to express your feelings, needs, and rights in an open and honest way.

Assertiveness helps you communicate effectively and can empower you in a relationship where you feel disrespected or unheard.

Always Strive for Healthier and Happier Relationships

Recognizing harmful signs in a relationship is essential for your emotional well-being and overall happiness. It’s vital to remember that everyone deserves a relationship that is based on respect, love, and mutual understanding.

If you observe any signs that indicate someone wants to hurt you, do not dismiss them lightly.

When it comes to understanding how to tell if someone wants to hurt you, the most significant thing is to trust yourself and take action.

Do not normalize or justify harmful behaviors. Acknowledge your feelings, and remember, it’s okay to prioritize your safety and mental health. You’re not alone, and help is available for you.

Love and relationships should be a source of joy, not constant anxiety or fear. Embrace your self-worth and never settle for less than you deserve.

Be brave, be strong, and always strive for healthier and happier relationships.

[Read: Toxic relationship – What it is, 107 signs, causes and types of love that hurt you]

It can be hard to wave goodbye to someone you care about. If you want to know how to tell if someone wants to hurt you, that means you have slight doubts about the person in your life.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...