Relationships are all about emotions, but when they are manipulated and abused, the fallout influences the rest of your life. Being in an emotionally abusive relationship can quickly create anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, resentment, broken friendships and family ties.
Over time, having been a domestic abuse victim can easily contribute to lost jobs, money issues, health challenges, and emotional baggage you drag into your future.
Emotionally abusive relationships can exist between friends, coworkers, family members, etc., and the abuser can be male or female. For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the example of a heterosexual couple, with the woman asking the questions.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself if you think might be caught up in an emotionally abusive relationship.
1. Do I feel emotionally healthy as a single woman?
Do you feel good about yourself and handle stress, friendships, and work as well as you want to when you are single?
Or do you feel like you truly need support from someone else to manage life’s challenges?
Either answer is fine, as the purpose of the question is to gain clarity and context for examining your relationship.
2. What do I ultimately WANT in a relationship?
Do you want to feel happy and self-respected in a relationship? Are you willing to let go of unhealthy people when that doesn’t happen?
Or are you looking for someone to “complete you” because you only feel happy when you are part of a couple?
3. How do I feel about MYSELF when I’m with him?
It’s not how you feel about him or the relationship, it’s all about how YOU feel about YOU, because your self-confidence, self-respect, and self-image make up your self-esteem.
Do you feel strong, confident, appreciated, respected, and loved?
Or do you feel weak, stupid, blamed, sad, disrespected, and/or afraid?
4. Am I afraid to share my feelings with him?
Do you feel seen, heard, nurtured, and cherished when you tell him how you feel?
Or do you feel afraid, rejected, guilty, or blamed when you do?
Living in a vacuum destroys self-esteem. You are half of this couple and your feelings are just as important as his. Physical abuse is almost always preceded by verbal and emotional abuse in the progression of domestic violence.
5. Do I have uninterrupted time with my friends and family?
Does he trust and encourage you to have fun with your people and enjoy hearing about it afterward?
Or does he keep you so busy you have no time left for them?
Does he guilt you into isolation or call and text constantly, wanting to always be kept updated when you are not with him?
6. Do I have healthy personal boundaries he respects?
Does he appreciate that you know what’s best for you and take care of yourself?
Or does he disrespect your boundaries and pressure you to do what he wants, even when it goes against your wishes?
People with healthy, well-enforced boundaries have higher self-esteem and repel those with low self-esteem who use others in order to feel better about themselves.
7. Do I take the blame for what’s not my fault?
Does he take responsibility for his words and actions, or does he blame you, knowing you’re willing to accept the burden for him?
Both blaming and accepting blame for something you didn’t do are tell-tale signs of an unhealthy relationship. If you’re used to taking the fall for someone else, raising your own self-esteem is a first step toward breaking the cycle of abuse. Doing that is most easily accomplished when you’re single, and you will attract a different type of man afterward.
8. Do I make excuses to friends and family for his behavior?
Are you completely comfortable with how you are treated and happy to share the state of your relationship with loved ones?
Or do you find yourself making excuses for his behavior or yours because you don’t want anyone to know what’s really going on?
Maybe you think this is a rough patch and things will improve if you just hang in there.
9. Does this relationship add to my life in a positive way?
Do you feel more love, joy, and happiness in this relationship, like it truly benefits your life?
Or does it feel like your energy, enthusiasm for love, and dreams are being drained or imprisoned?
If you feel better single, it may be time to exit and nurture yourself before moving on and finding the right guy for you.
10. Does my gut feeling tell me I’m in an emotionally abusive relationship?
Your intuition, the red flags, your gut… they all tell you what’s really going on. They are your survival instinct calling your attention to danger.
Chances are you already know if you are in an unhealthy relationship or not, because you can feel it. Trust that. Then safely get out if you need to.
What you’re looking for is looking for you.
Stop yourself from settling when you know you want more. You deserve a great relationship in which you are loved, appreciated, respected, and cherished. You won’t be available for the right person if you stay with the wrong person.