Every relationship comes with it's imperfections. After all, perfect love stories with fairy tale endings don't exist in real life. But there is a huge difference between imperfect and abusive, and knowing the signs you're in an emotionally abusive relationship can help you avoid tremendous pain down the road.
Emotional abuse can be tricky to define, because it can be so subtle. Sometimes it hides as humor, or even affection. But according to the website for Women's Health, emotional abuse includes language or behavior intended to bring another person down. Often times, demeaning words and actions are used to humiliate and belittle others.
Granted, this can be tricky to identify, in part because the lines are different for everyone. Chances are, you've known at least one couple who seems to communicate in nothing but juvenile taunts and teasing — and they're genuinely happy with that. But for other people, those type of insults are cutting and cruel rather than playful. In these situations, there's probably only one person laughing.
Basically, if the relationship makes you feel like garbage, then there may be some emotional abuse happening. Do you brace yourself for insults before meeting up with the SO? Do you try to avoid saying the wrong thing and getting the silent treatment? If these or any other signs of an emotionally abusive relationship ring true, then it's time to make drastic changes to the relationship. No one deserves to live like that.
1. They Blame You For Everything
Nobody likes playing the blame game. But if your partner blames you for just about everything, without seeing the consequences of their own actions, then this is a bad sign, as noted by HuffPost. Who wants to bear responsibility for changes in the weather, sudden traffic, and everything else beyond one person's control?
2. They Constantly Criticize You
Sure, the occasional bit of constructive criticism, offered in a kind way, can be beneficial. But harsh, constant criticism tends to point toward a more emotionally abusive relationship, according to the website for Psychology Today. No one wants to be dumped on all the time.
3. They Are Always In Communication
Does your SO expect you to answer texts, calls, and other communications right away, at all times? If excessive texts are being used to keep tabs on you, then this may be a sign of emotional abuse, as noted by Break The Cycle, a nonprofit relationship abuse education organization. Wanting to silence your phone every now and then is not some transgression.
4. They Isolate You
This is a classic, but still devastating, sign of abuse. Keeping a partner away from healthy relationships with family and friends shortens the person's support network, as noted by New Hope For Women, a domestic violence support organization. Such isolation only works to wear down self-esteem even further.
5. They Play Mind Games
Some games have no winners. According to the website for Psychology Today, playing mind games, gaslighting, or other behaviors can all be considered signs of abuse. No one wants a relationship that makes you doubt your own sanity.
6. They Call You Names
Put-downs and name-calling are tactics used by abusers, according to Michigan State University Extension. It's kind of shocking to realize some adults even resort to these behaviors.
7. They Punish You
Does your partner make you feel like a misbehaving kid? You're too old for this. According to Healthy Place, people who treat their partners like children, and punish so-called bad behavior accordingly, are abusive. It's demeaning.
8. They Give You The Silent Treatment
Sometimes it is healthy to take a step back from a heated argument and gather your wits. But there's a difference between taking a few minutes to cool off and punishing your partner with silence. That said, the silent treatment can give a person a false sense of control over the relationship, as noted in Good Therapy. Not to mention weaponized silence is a sorry excuse for conflict resolution. A person who isn't mature enough to communicate in words is probably not equipped to be in a healthy relationship.
9. They Share Your Secrets
According to I Heart Intelligence, sharing private information with others, especially against your express wishes, is a form of emotional abuse. It's blackmail of the heart.