7 Characteristic of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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7 Characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship

Have you wondered if you may be in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship? So maybe the ideas you had of what marriage is supposed to be is far from what is going on in your home, behind closed doors. While you never expected someone to ride in on a white horse (or any color for that matter), you did expect him to be your protector, your provider, and your friend. Your best friend. 

But OH what a jackhole you are dealing with now!

Things may have started out well. He may have even been charming and made you feel like you could do anything. This is what we call the

1. Bait and switch

Covert emotional abuse rarely shows itself right from the beginning… No… because you would never put up with someone who introduced himself as a lying, foul-mouthed, SOB.

You just wouldn’t.

Instead, he sees you as a vulnerable but bright and classy individual – someone he knows will make him look good! So he puts on his best facade and woos you with his kindness and humor. Or maybe for you, it is his wit and charm or smarts. Whatever… it’s something desirable but far from who he really is. He does it until you are drawn in and think you’ve found someone who will never let anything bad happen to you ever again. And then… when he has you convinced, he sets the hook and reels you in. 

It isn’t long until things start to change drastically. Here are 7 things that may happen in an emotionally abusive relationship.

2. Isolation

7 Characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship

This is different for everyone and for some it is to a much further extent. During the baiting phase, the abuser may not isolate you from family and friends. In fact, he may spend time with them, showing his just what a “great guy” he is and how much he cares for you. But gradually, while most outside people don’t even notice, he pulls you away.

  • To the extreme, he may forbid you to work outside the home or be on committees you were on previous to knowing him.
  • If he is more sneaky he will find ways to make it impossible for you to find time for outside activities. For instance, he may claim he’s too tired to look after the children while you go out. Or you may have a gut feeling that you shouldn’t leave the children with him… it just doesn’t feel right.
  • He make is extremely difficult for you to make it to activities that do not (but could) include him by asking you to do spur-of-the-moment errand for him.
  • When friends or family visit, he treats them like crap or his is so rude that it is embarrassing to both you and them. He may even go outside or shut himself in a room to show his deep displeasure that they are there. You never want THAT to happen again so you are hesitant to have anyone over. Ever. Isolation

3. Makes fun of your emotions

7 Characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship

In the emotionally abusive relationship, the abuser will make fun of anything you feel. And it doesn’t matter what emotions are – if they don’t line up with what he wants at the moment, you aren’t allowed to have them. 

And you have become pretty darn good at hiding them…

Until you are ready to explode…

But if you do explode, or cry, or laugh, or whatever the case may be, he’ll declare that you are crazy and need to get some kind of medication, which he will then say means you are weak, which means that….. and so on and so on. Any type of emotion means you are

  • Trying to get attention
  • Weak-minded
  • An F’ing Crybaby
  • A Drama Queen

Of course emotions are normal but around him, it’s just best to keep them to yourself.

4. Shows Compassion to Others but Never to You

7 Characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship

In the emotionally abusive relationship, this is possibly the worst of all games played by the covert abuser. If you had a terrible day, are sick… get hit by a bus… anything really… it’s your own fault or you probably deserved it. It’s definitely not as bad as you are making it seem. Furthermore, if you are sick or tired, you have to hide it and carry on with your daily tasks as if nothing is wrong. However, if anyone else has a problem, he rushes to the rescue. Especially if someone important is watching him. He does this regularly in front of people that you both know so they will see how compassionate he is. This is to feed his ego and also to ensure that you are discredited if you ever complain that he doesn’t act compassionately toward you. This leaves you wondering what you could possibly be doing wrong that he is so caring to everyone else, but withholds his love from his own significant other.

5. Regularly Dishes out the Silent Treatment

Let’s just pretend that you haven’t learned yet that he is never wrong. 

Or maybe you haven’t learned every single thing that upsets him (which changes from day to day).

So you flippantly comment on how the sky is beautiful and blue. But he knows it is obviously gray (because, after all, he knows everything, you stupid idiot!). And not understanding that gray is such an important color on that particular day, you comment that you are almost certain that the sky is blue. (Since you JUST came in from outside, you remember the vibrant cloudless color was definitely blue).

But whatever… it doesn’t really matter to you and you go on your way. A short time later, you speak to him again and he barely acknowledges that you spoke. Or he may not acknowledge it at all. Or he may even yell out something at you and retreat to the other room. Whatever the case, he doesn’t speak to you again for sometimes hours. Sometimes days. Just depends on what his needs are and what’s on his agenda.

You will come to know how his particular Silent Treatment works. At some point you may be grateful for it. Whatever the case, his shenanigans will leave you flustered and walking on eggshells, trying to avoid annoying him the next time.

6. Belittles the things that you Hold Dear

In the emotionally abusive relationship, the abuser will make sure that you know how negatively he thinks of your life. This could be anything but it is most likely some type of value. He won’t do it obviously, he’ll do it in a way that leaves you unable to respond directly to him without looking crazy. He may be talking loudly on the phone to someone… loud enough for you (and probably even the neighbors) to hear.

He’ll pick that thing that you love and talk negatively about it. It may be something you believe in, such as your religious preference. It could be a family member that you like to hang out with. Maybe it is your profession or some way you contribute to the community. 

He’ll say it with words that are dripping with sarcasm and hate. And if you respond in any way, then he’ll accuse  you of eavesdropping.

7. Unwillingness to discuss ANYthing

7 Characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship

When you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, you have a surface relationship with few conversations. This is because he knows that there are hidden things that he doesn’t want to come to light.

For instance, he won’t talk about money because he doesn’t want to see how much the bills are and he doesn’t want you to know how much he spends on things that are only for himself. That’s if he even lets you have control of any of the money. But if you insist, he’ll make you out to be a money-hungry gold-digger who doesn’t know how to budget properly. 

You can’t talk about your relationship because you will never be good enough, sane enough, thin enough, talented enough to have a good relationship with anyone – not even him but he somehow puts up with it. He’ll twist it and turn it until you are so confused or angry that you give up the idea of ever talking about your relationship again.

Get Emotionally Abusive Relationship Help

You see, the abuser uses tactics (even more than this list!) to control the person he is with with and every situation that arises. It’s NOT you, even though you may feel like you are going crazy. Please realize that you are not alone! There are many others that share in your feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. There are groups that you can reach out to and counseling programs that are available for those just like you. If you are interested in more info, please send me a message or leave a comment!



— JKMayfield

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