20 Features Of Emotionally Abusive Relationships

We are all one moment away from meeting the person intent on destroying our life. From online blackmailers to sexual extortionists to emotionally abusive partners who use intimidation tactics to control. One moment their victims are wooed by the charm and attention. And then WHAMFUCKINGBAM they’re in an isolated relationship with a sadistic person intent on making their victims their hobby.

No cuts or bruises necessary. Emotional abuse is stealth and torturous and can lead to murder. 

Below are patterns we’ve seen emerge with clients exiting emotionally abusive relationships. If any of these stand out, get help immediately. 

1. Your partner feels that the world is unjust.

Your partner fails to recognize that life can be disappointing and always attributes their failures to other forces. They also act as thought they’ve been singled out as the bearer of all injustices.

2. Everything is your fault.  

Your partner blames you for things that have nothing to do with you. Early warnings of this may involve your partner talking with lots and lots of rage about how their “crazy ex” ruined their life. 

3. Life owes your partner something.  

Because your partner has been so unjustly treated in life, they think and feel entitled to break the rules and disregard the law.

4. Even the little things are big things.  

Somebody cutting them off on the road causes them to unleash the fury and suddenly you are trapped in a car that’s going 100 MPH.

 5. Lies.  

When they describe their past, it is extremely tragic and triumphant. They just can’t help but lie about the most minute and inconsequential things. 

6. Jealousy.  

Something as small as you smiling at waiter or store clerk can make them pout for hours – or worse.

7. Actually, delusional jealousy.

Your partner is constantly accusing you of cheating on them. If you come home late from work, it’s because you were having sex with your boss. If you do not text your partner back within thirty seconds, it’s because you were having sex with their best friend.

8. Gaslighting

Your partner is constantly manipulating history. Your partner claims you are crazy for not remembering certain things that you know did not happen. Or your partner denies things that did actually happen. It makes you feel crazy.

9. Trauma adoption

After confiding in your partner about a past crisis, your partner’s reaction quickly moves from concern and protectiveness to obsession, as if it had happened to them.

10. Estranged relationships

Almost every relationship in your partner’s life is tumultuous or estranged, including with old friends, family members, and colleagues (if they have a steady job). Your partner may be great at making friends, but keeping them? No, because nobody can put up with the drama.

11. A wake of “false reports”

Your partner’s exes have restraining orders, but your partner claims they falsely reported them. Your partner also creates sordid narratives about the exes — they are drug addicts, cheaters, mentally ill.

12. Over-the-toppedness

In the beginning, your partner’s affection for you is instant and passionate and you are besieged by extravagant gifts and attention. The relationship gets very serious very quickly. And that pendulum swings from mega-positive attention to extreme hostility and anger.

13. Eggshell walking

You make decisions based on keeping your partner’s anger at bay. You stop doing things you enjoy and seeing people you like because it’s easier than fighting to have a life outside of your relationships. If you hang out with your friends, you get accused of being somewhere else, cheating on your partner.  If you bring your partner along, you get berated afterwards for not including them in conversation or doing something else offensive. Netflix and Chilling is almost always the easiest option.

14. Sex becomes a tool to calm your partner down

 Sex is on your partner’s terms and your boundaries are not respected or acknowledged. 

15. Recklessness

With money, with driving, with thrill seeking.

16. “Whaaa happened??”

Every argument leaves you feeling conquered and disoriented. Even if your partner did something to mistreat you, the conversation ends with YOU apologizing.

17. Cyber-ugh

Your partner insists on sharing passwords and throws a hissy fit if you try to maintain any privacy, claiming that it means you don’t trust them. 

18. Sextortion

Your partner never lets you forget that they have those pictures or keeps that video or knows those secrets. And if you don’t do what they say, that compromising material will find its way online or in the inboxes of your family, friends, and coworkers.

19. Inventory

Sometimes it seems like your partner keeps a running archive of all the ways you have ever mistreated them and all the dirt they can destroy you with. 

20. Breakup-phobia

As difficult as the relationship is, you are more fearful of the tsunami that will crash on you if you try to leave. Fear of the unknown is a constant in your life. 


Listen, we get it. We can help. This is our beat. Call (646) 666 – 8908 or send our office a message to tell us what’s going on. We will be in touch right away.

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