If You’re Questioning Whether You’re In An Abusive Relationship, You Probably Are

Abusive relationships come in all shapes and sizes so it’s not always easy to tell when you’re in one. If you think yours might not be healthy, you might be unsure of what to do next. Here are a few reminders and some gentle advice on how to proceed.

  1. It doesn’t have to be physical to be abuse. If your reasoning is that it’s OK since he never laid a hand on you, just remember that emotional and verbal abuse are still possible. Does he call you names or try to guilt you into doing things you don’t want to do? You need to run from this guy fast. If you keep giving him chances, physical abuse may be right around the corner.
  2. It’s still abuse if your guy talks down to you. If he tries to undermine your achievements or make them about himself, you’re never going to succeed in this relationship. If you get a promotion at work and it turns into a pity party since he’s never gotten promoted, you’re going to be too scared to be at your best. Cut this guy loose and find someone who’s proud of what you do.
  3. Preventing you from seeing friends is also a clear sign. He doesn’t like it when you have a life without him, especially because he won’t be able to control what you and your friends talk about. What if they convince you to leave him? What if they want to set you up with someone better? This is a classic sign of emotional abuse—and no, it’s not normal to completely cut other people out when you’re dating someone new.
  4. If you find yourself questioning your relationship, that’s a telling sign. Ever wind up on a relationship forum and tell your story to get an outsider perspective? That means something is up and you know it’s up but you might not be ready to face the music. You may even get a little defensive in the comments. Trust others when they tell you that his actions aren’t OK. Since you’ve explained the situation in your own words, they’re not out to sabotage you. They just want to point out instances where you should have been treated with respect.
  5. If your boyfriend cared about you, he wouldn’t be putting you down. You’ve probably made tens of thousands of excuses for him. “He had a rough week at work” or “He’s just really stressed about money” aren’t reasons why he should treat you like garbage. We all have our off days, and part of learning how to be an adult is figuring out how to manage emotions without bringing others down—especially people we claim to love.
  6. Halting communication because it might trigger him is another sign. If you’re not feeling great about the relationship but afraid to talk to him about it because he may explode at you, that’s a bad sign. Relationships aren’t easy and yes, some people have tempers, but if he’s blocking you from expressing your point of view, you’re letting him control your relationship. Your feelings matter and this falls into the emotional abuse category.
  7. Shoving and hitting is also something you should take note of. Unless it was absolutely playful (and you’ll know if it was based on strength and demeanor), getting shoved aside is a horrible feeling. It could also trigger worse things to come. Don’t let this escalate because your life may be at stake.
  8. No, normal guys don’t call their girlfriends the “b” or “c” word. It’s not something everyone does, and it’s downright offensive. If he talks this way to your face, just imagine what he says about you behind your back. Find a guy who’ll treat you with respect because if he knows you’ll tolerate awful name-calling, who knows what he’ll try to get away with next?
  9. Listen to your friends. The second a close friend tells you they’re scared of your boyfriend, you should know that changes need to be made. It’s hard for people to open up about things like this and your friends are just looking out for you. Your significant other should never pose a threat to anyone you care about. When your best friend says he gives her bad vibes or that she’s scared to be in a room with him, you should states interpret that as “This guy is dangerous and you should really consider leaving him.”
  10. Remember that your instinct is incredibly powerful. If you really love this guy, facing the truth of the situation is going to be hard. Yes, you can be in love with an abuser, but for your own health and safety, the sooner you call it quits the better. If you feel like something is off, trust yourself. Even if you don’t have concrete proof, your brain is trying to tell you something here.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.