Dating Tips

How to Stop Being Emotionally Abusive in a Relationship

couple fighting and shouting at each other

Quite often, people indulge in abusing their partners without fully realizing what they are doing. Thus, it's essential to know subtle forms of emotional abuse and warning signs of an abusive relationship to prevent the trauma.

In a relationship, when you feel depleted, sad, and upset, you might be suffering from emotional abuse at the hands of your spouse or partner. Below are common forms of emotional abuse.

  • Verbal insults and name-calling are a nasty form of emotional abuse.
  • Excessive criticism and control aimed to alter your personality, with your partner telling you what you should or should not be doing.
  • De-validating your feelings is another aspect of an abusive relationship. If you express your feelings to your partner, and they don't care, this can be called the invalidation of feelings. It means that they have no empathy or compassion for how you're feeling, and they only care about themselves.
  • Refusal to take responsibility for their behavior is another sign of abuse. Your partner may keep doing the same nasty things without accepting that they need to change.
  • Constant conflict in the relationship is also a sign of emotional abuse.

The good question is, how does one stop emotional abuse in a relationship? If you are on the giving side, you need to check if any of the pointers above apply to you. In essence, you have to be self-critical without being pushy, controlling, judgmental, name-calling, and refusing to take responsibility for your emotions.

In case you are on the receiving side of emotional abuse, it's critical to act fast. If you keep showing reactions to your partner for their overt criticism, manipulations, name-calling, and refusal to take responsibility for their actions, there are better chances to mend bridges. Identifying the signs of an abusive relationship is easy, but preparing yourself mentally and emotionally to deal with the issues successfully requires patience and wisdom. Following the next steps will help you learn how to deal with abuse.

  • A relationship usually starts as an incredibly intense love story. An abusive partner will make you feel appreciated and loved to the point that you will never realize you are under their control. You might be giving precious moments of your life and time while being increasingly focused on the relationship. At the same time, the abuser will hold themselves back until they benefit from your trust and love.
  • Research shows that emotionally abusive women and men are never at peace with themselves. They usually have severe psychological problems originating from their past, and they require support from their partners. In order to stop over-reacting, you have to realize that your partner has bad habits that are needed to be dealt with. Instead of being irritated, angry, and sad about this fact, you have to accept the truth and come to terms with that. Of course, it doesn't mean that you need to allow such behavior.
  • Non-reaction is very important if you're with a narcissist because such people feed off your emotions. Don't even try to get involved in fighting with them since it's a lost cause. In case you don't know how to deal with abuse, they will continue torturing you endlessly. You have to stay calm and confident so that your partner can change over time.
  • Another important thing to consider is to speak out your mind. Don't be afraid to say something like "I feel hurt that you are not taking my feelings into account" or "I feel being manipulated, and I'd like you to stop". You have to assert yourself, set boundaries, and tell your partner that their abusive behavior is unacceptable.
  • Sometimes, it may be too late to read into signs of an abusive relationship. If your partner, despite everything, is not listening to your pleas, leaving the relationship might be the only option left with you. Before deciding to terminate the relationship, you can bring in a trustworthy family friend for mediation. You can also bring a person from your partner's family or their circle of friends.

Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

sad man suffers from his abusive partner

Below we'll take a look at the initial warning signs of an abusive relationship. Knowing the traits of abusers will help you effectively counter their abusive behavior.

  • Your partner is over-sensitive and egotistic, taking everything too personally.
  • They get offended every now and then, stating that the world is against them even if they experience the slightest mishap.
  • When you compare your partner to any other person, they quickly become offended.
  • Clear double standards could be observed in the abuser's behavior.
  • They are condemning anybody in anything, regardless of the real state of events. Victimizers enjoy leaving negative remarks, even when they know nothing about the thing they're criticizing. They boast how much better they could accomplish something and continue to give admonitions. With a victimizer, a healthy discussion can turn into the egomania and haughtiness fest in no time.
  • Victimizers tend to reprimand their partners for their upsetting activities and outcomes. Abusers generally demand that others have to consent to everything they say. They will consistently see themselves as victims regardless of what truly happened, and if something turns out badly, it's someone else's fault. Because of this, they won't ever apologize for anything since they see themselves as saints, allowing themselves to go for such extremes as physical violence in a relationship.
  • Forced disconnection starts with an abuser criticizing their partner's environment and making the latter group feel unwanted. Emotionally abusive women and men will attempt to make their partners feel remorseful for needing to spend time with those they love and treasure.

Stages of Emotional Abuse

couple conflict stressed crying female with abusive husband

The strain build-up

This is when anxiety starts to work its way into the relationship, not long before an oppressive demonstration happens. The victimizer's approach may get forceful, and their partner can have trouble with conveying their thoughts about it. The partner may already realize that they are about to become victim to abusive behavior, though little can be done about it.

Episode of misuse

This is the stage at which the demonstration of vile attitude happens. The victimizers resort to domestic abuse like hitting, kicking, pushing, or potentially using sharp objects or tossing things at their partner. Sexual, mental, or psychological mistreatment like threatening to harm the partner is also common.


Also known as the wedding trip stage, this is the point when the victimizer gets humble and apologizes for their conduct. They might become excessively tender and attempt to disregard the harm done by their viciousness. Abusers are quick to pretend that nothing happened and don't feel sorry about their deeds in the slightest. Some of them may feel remorseful to the point of self-harm, all to prevent their partner from leaving them. Naturally, abusers tend to swear that such conduct won't ever happen again. Those who don't know how to deal with abuse can easily fall into this trap.

Quiet period

This stage is viewed as a continuation of the previous one. During this period, the victimizer tries to give grace to their partner and fight the temptation to fall into abusive practices once again. The relationship appears to be quiet and tranquil, making the victim believe that the abuser has truly changed, and that things will be different this time. Tragically, however, new struggles will definitely emerge, and abusive behavior will likely begin all over again.

How to Stop Emotional Abuse

  1. Ensure that you are neither abusing nor being weak to be exploited. You have to keep your emotional and mental balance in check. This requires a lot of self-control, a deeper understanding of life, and patience.
  2. Be wise in choosing your words, and do your best to be empathic. Even if your partner resorts to violence and cursing, remind them about the pleasant moments you brought in their life. Abusive people are generally weak psychologically and get shocked at a strong, rational reaction.
  3. Tell your partner politely that both of you need to consult a marriage counselor or a psychologist, as doing so will help you figure out the reason for abusive behavior. If anything needs to be changed in one's behavior, working on it is essential. If you're a female who finds it hard to handle, don't hesitate to contact dedicated agencies helping emotionally abused women.
  4. Like school bullies, victimizers don't like to be confronted, and they are quick to withdraw if you challenge their harmful actions.
  5. Talk in a quiet yet firm voice and express your displeasure. For example, saying, "Quit prodding me, I need you to treat me with respect" is a good way how to stop being emotionally abusive in a relationship.
  6. Never lose the upper moral ground. Always try to respond rationally, not spontaneously. Doing so will help steer the situation to a more peaceful end, no matter how the partner is disrespectful and abusive.
  7. Work on being more decisive in different circumstances. If the worse comes to worst, you can be strong even when being mishandled.
  8. Knowing how to handle domestic violence is essential for every woman. You need to have the necessary contact numbers of law enforcement services such as the police to call them before it's too late. If an officer gives an abuser a warning, the chances of things getting physical reduce drastically.