The Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Emotionally Abusive Relationship

When you hear about domestic abuse you tend to wonder, why did the victim choose to stay? That’s what I always thought. Never did I imagine that I’d be in that situation. 

How It Started

Initially, I thought he was an annoying creep, and I should’ve listened to my gut and steered clear from him.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen because it turned out that we had a lot of things in common.

When he confessed to liking me, I rejected him because I didn’t reciprocate his feelings. I later changed my mind because I enjoyed the fact that someone liked me. 

I remember saying that I wanted to date, but he claimed that we had already “dated” and that we were going to be BF and GF.

He counted hanging out with friends as dating (we hadn’t ever spent time alone).

This was a HUGE red flag!

If he had genuinely liked me, he would’ve respected my wish. But I not wanting to be difficult, foolishly went along with it.

Girl Meets Evil

The facade of being nice lasted a mere month. After that, a bunch of red flags started popping up, and I dismissed them because I thought all relationships had their troubles.

There were so many negative situations that I endured but here are the few that I can recall. 

He yelled at me for the following:

-Because I filled his tank with the wrong type of gas

-He had taken a sip of an old water bottle that I left in the fridge

-He abandoned me at a mall when we had driven there together and then went on to break up with me because according to him I made him do that

-When plans fell through for a birthday trip that he said he’d arrange for me

-Because I dressed up like a doll for Halloween which caused him to make a scene in front of my friends

-Apparently, I made him so mad that he had to yell at me in front of my friends

And the list goes on and on. I could write a novel the size of all the Harry Potter books combined.


They Change, Right?

I put up with a year of degrading comments, constant yelling and belittling because I held onto the hope that my partner would eventually change.

He had to change, right?

Well, no that’s not what happened.

If anything the relationship got worse as time went on.

From my experience, emotional abuse doesn’t get better. I was only able to get out because long distance after college didn’t work out.


Once I was surrounded again by family and friends, I noticed how happy I was without my partner.

He wasn’t there to yell at me, so the threatening texts and phone calls made me feel like I didn’t have to put up with his nonsense.

Towards the end of our relationship, I had been dumped a countless number of times, and I had reached a point where I wanted to break up for good.

I was tired of the push and pull, mixed emotions, walking on eggshells, and having to apologize for everything.

My partner threatened to commit suicide, but it felt as if though he was trying to use his depression against me. I felt a mixture of responsibility and burden.

I also knew that I couldn’t help someone who refused to seek professional help.

When he finally broke up with me for good, he was angry that I wasn’t begging to get back together. In his eyes, he had never done anything wrong, and I was cold-hearted for not loving him.

He let me know that he would take me back, but that he’d never trust me again.

At that point, my head was finally clear, and I could see that I had gotten in too deep. It was my chance to be free.


Blocking him out of my life was the only way I was able to begin the process of self-healing. 

After I had cut off all contact, I felt an invisible weight lifted off my shoulders.

I was finally free!

For those who find themselves stuck in a similar situation, I suggest either speaking to a therapist or someone who you can trust about your relationship.

My downfall was that I had gotten to a point where I didn’t tell anyone about anything because I didn’t want to make up excuses for his behavior.

I must have known deep down that something was wrong.

It was the shame of being labeled a victim that kept me from speaking out. 

My former relationship reminded me of Hannah and Fran’s from HBO’s Girls. Only my relationship was 10x worse.

Like Fran, he acted “nice, ” but he wasn’t a “nice guy.” Towards the end of their relationship, Hannah runs away from Fran while yelling, “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore!”

Oh, how I wish I had done that!


Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship until months later when I read an article in the Huffington Post about it.

Up until that point, my mentality was that if he didn’t hit me, our relationship couldn’t have been that bad.

What I didn’t know was that your partner doesn’t have to hit you for it to be abuse.

There was a period where I was frustrated and upset at myself for putting up with it all. I was also ashamed to let people know.

I didn’t want to be labeled a victim, and I didn’t want people to talk about how dumb I was for not leaving. 

The Ugly Truth

It can happen to anyone.

I didn’t consider myself to be easily swayed nor did I view myself as a weak individual, but you don’t have to be either for it to happen to you.

My ex was sweet and caring in the beginning, but his real layers began to unravel as time went on. People stay for various reasons.

No one should blame the victim for how they chose to deal with their situation.

Here are some great stories about why victims can’t just simply leave.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I stayed because I thought I was in love and that he would change.

But love isn’t supposed to be unkind, cruel, or evil.

No one deserves to have to put up with that sort of treatment. Someone who truly loves you wouldn’t behave this way.

They like that they can control you, but they don’t love you. 

Begin Again

I hope my story can help at least one person out there. The abuser isn’t going to show his true colors in the beginning, so it’s good to know the warning signs.

And most importantly, know that you aren’t alone and you don’t deserve this maltreatment.

I can move on knowing that I am a much stronger individual because of this.

I hope to give strength to others who are in the same situation. 

Warning Signs – Free Checklist

I’ve compiled a checklist based on my experiences.

Please be aware that you don’t have to check off everything on the list for it to be considered a toxic relationship.

It is not a definitive list, but if you find these signs relatable, you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Click the image below to open & download the FREE PDF!

Have you been in an emotionally abusive relationship?

Need help? 

Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Open 24/7.


1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing)


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