No one is at their best 100 percent of the time, but there's a big difference between not being at your best and saying or doing something that you truly, deeply regret and being a full-fledged bully. Sometimes, though, the signs that someone's a bully aren't as obvious as they were on the playground growing up. As you get older, these things can get a bit more subtle, which can, in some instances, make it tougher to sort out if someone in your life is a bully. If your partner ever does these things, it could be a sign they're a bully, however, and whether they are, in fact, a full-fledged bully or they "just" say or do these things sometimes, there might come a time when you have to make a choice of whether to stay in that relationship, or leave it.
"Bullies like to exert their power over people, so if you’re noticing these behaviors it’s really a means of somebody trying to control you and that is not gonna work in a relationship," therapist Kimberly Hershenson tells Romper. "So these are signs that there’s not equality in the relationship."
If your partner shows signs of being a bully, there might be some things that you can do other than leaving the relationship, if you're not ready or able to do that at the moment.
"If you are being bullied in a relationship, it's important to have a conversation with your partner and express how you feel in tangible and clear communication," Christie Tcharkhoutian MA, MFT, a marriage and family therapist and a matchmaker at Three Day Rule, tells Romper by email. "Action-oriented, specific statements such as 'when you say [this], I feel [this],' help to create tangible examples for your partner who may not even be aware of how they are making you feel. It is important not to generalize when it comes to providing examples and to be honest and authentic with your feelings. If they are unwilling to say 'I'm sorry' or to build awareness of these bad habits, it may be time for you to reevaluate the relationship and find someone who can bring you up and empower you to be your best self so that you feel safe, accepted and loved."
If you need help leaving your relationship, reaching out to a qualified therapist, and making sure you have a strong support system can help.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.