10 Subtle But Important Signs You’re Being Emotionally Abused

10 Subtle But Important Signs You’re Being Emotionally Abused iStock/DjelicS

It’s true that you need to flee the second your guy hits you, pushes you, or threatens you, but you should also think twice about your future if you’re the victim of emotional abuse. When he calls you names or makes you feel low, you’re only at the start of it. Here are 11 major signs to be on the lookout for.

  1. He makes jokes at your expense. A light ribbing every now and then is harmless unless he keeps doing it when he openly knows it makes you upset. However, it’s abusive for him to poke fun of you in public when you’re out with friends or make you feel down about yourself while you’re trying to have a good time. When you tell him to stop, a good guy will actually stop.
  2. He’s derogatory towards you when you get into a fight. Even if you’re not offended by the word, it’s still offensive when your boyfriend calls you “the c-word” because he knows it’s the lowest of the low. Other abusive terms are “loser” and “dummy.” Anything that paints you out to be a supervillain or someone of low intelligence is just cruel and unnecessary. There are better ways to communicate.
  3. He yells at you. Some people yell to get their emotions across. Others yell at the drop of a hat. No matter what the reason is, yelling is a power play and makes the recipient feel like garbage. If your relationship hasn’t matured enough to get past yelling and communicate in a healthier way (and he refuses to admit that screams aren’t the best way to get a point across), it’s possible that he’s being emotionally abusive.
  4. He puts down the way you look. When he was pursuing you, he was filled with compliments. But now that he has you, it seems like he can only put you down. It’s nice to know what your partner’s preference is, but if he constantly questions why you wear your hair in a ponytail all the time or tells you that you’d look better if you just lost 10 pounds, he’s being mean. If he goes on to tell you that nobody will love you for these issues (except for him) then you need to break up. He’s lying and trying to make you feel powerless.
  5. He makes you feel like a child. Even if you’re older than him or more successful than him, he pulls moves to make you feel like you have no say. For example, he tells you where you’re going to celebrate your anniversary without hearing your input and he controls your diet based on what makes the most sense to him. Don’t be fooled—you should always have a say in these things.
  6. He leaves the scene the second he doesn’t get his way. Speaking of childish behaviors, he’s quick to walk off at the drop of a hat. The second he doesn’t get his way, he threatens a breakup on you. Next time this happens, call him out on it. Consider yourself broken up. Good relationships don’t function this way.
  7. He never listens to you. He tunes you out constantly. Even if you’re just talking about your day, he’s focused in on something else. If you call him out on it, he either makes you feel like you were being too boring or makes it seem like this how most relationships function. It’s not, and he’s being rude.
  8. He prevents you from hanging out with your friends. He might tell you that they’re bad influences, but the truth is that he’s exercising his control over you. He’s also silently terrified that your friends will help you see the light and realize that your relationship isn’t healthy or likely to go the distance. In most circumstances, your friends came first. Don’t let him block you from your social group.
  9. He always makes you cry. We all need a good cry sometimes and there’s no shame in it. But if every disagreement leads to tears or if your boyfriend acts in a certain way that makes you terrified to the point of breaking down, something’s not right. If you feel like he’s actually trying to make you upset, he’s being abusive. If he cared about you, he’d want to work with you to find a compromise on whatever you’re disagreeing about.
  10. He treats sex like a reward. In a healthy relationship, nobody withholds sex to get what they want. If you communicate your desire and he tells you it’s not a good night since you forgot to do the laundry and clean the dishes, this guy is simply no good. Yes, he has all of the right in the world to say no if he’s not up to it and so do you, but if he connects sex to anything other than his current mood, you have reason to worry.
  11. He never apologizes. If you always apologize to end a fight, why? There are two people in this equation, and there’s a good chance that you’re not always the person that’s wrong. A good boyfriend will not only take responsibility for his overreactions but try to improve. If you’re stuck in a loop where it’s always your fault, you’re being emotionally abused.
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.