Never Ignore These Warnings Signs Of An Emotionally Abusive Partner

Emotionally abusive people don’t always show their true colors right away. They’re great manipulators and do everything they can to make things work in their favor, all while playing the victim card. While you may not be able to predict this kind of behavior, there are early signs of it that are worth noting so you can get out of the relationship now.

  1. He’s jealous. At first, a jealous partner can seem kinda fun. It’s like they’re so into you that they can’t bear to share you with others. But while jealousy is actually good for a relationship in small amounts, real jealousy, the kind that comes from someone who’s emotionally abusive, is a whole other beast. It makes you feel guilty and as if you’re constantly doing something wrong. Then you feel obligated to do and say things that quell your partner’s jealousy, which means putting yourself on mute in some ways.
  2. He gives you ultimatums. In a relationship, at least a healthy one, there’s no space for ultimatums. If your partner is giving you ultimatums early on—like, for example, if you go out with a certain friend, or don’t do this or do that, he’s going to retaliate—he wants you to choose him over everyone and everything else because then he has the power.
  3. He invades your privacy. Even if you’re in a relationship with someone, you’re entitled to privacy. Why? Because you’re not obligated to share every single damn aspect of your life with your partner in any way. A partner who could become emotionally abusive is going to invade that privacy early on every chance they get. It’s a combination of jealousy, of not being able to trust you, and feeling like they have some sort of right to know everything.
  4. He passes the blame. Even if it’s beyond clear that he’s the one to blame, he’s going to pass the blame to you. If he drops and breaks something, even if you weren’t there, he’ll manage to make it your fault. If you get into a fight because of his behavior, he’s going to blame you because you caused his behavior in the first place, at least according to him.
  5. He withholds affection. Because emotional abuse is about control, if your partner pulls away from you physically, it’s just another way to make you feel bad about whatever he’s accused you of doing. When people have their affection taken from them, they’re likely to ask if not beg for it back. When this happens, the emotional abuser feels the surge of power because he pretty much made you beg for his love.
  6. He tends to control all situations. All of them. From big stuff like where you’ll be spending the holidays to little stuff like what time you should be home after going out with your friends. It’s also in controlling these things that he can start to pull you away from others in your life. Once those other ties are cut, you eventually become completely dependent on him and that’s exactly what he wants.
  7. He insults you. Naturally, if someone insults you, you take note, feel like crap, and say something about it. However, when it comes to an emotional abuser, they’re much more stealthy in their insults. Instead of insulting you directly (although that’s likely to you come), they insult your friends, family, or career. At first it can seem like they just don’t like certain people in your life or choices you’ve made, but there’s more to it than that. It’s yet another way to control you—and you’d better believe those insults are going to evolve to being far more personal.
  8. He gives you too many gifts. Gifts are great… until you realize you’re getting a gift so your partner can hold it over your head later. This is their way of keeping control and making you feel bad for doing something that you didn’t actually do but that he blamed you for doing.
  9. He never really apologizes. There are sincere apologies that come from the heart. Then there are those apologies that are extremely passive-aggressive. For example, if you’re upset by something your partner has done and they “apologize” by saying, “I sorry that you feel that way about what I said,” it’s not a true apology. Instead, it’s an apology that basically says, “You feel this way because of you, not because of anything I’ve done.”
Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.