At the beginning of a relationship or in dating, people usually put their best face forward.  The attraction might be high, and the physical aspects of the relationship might overshadow logic.  In other cases, people might believe that they are not loveable and worthwhile; therefore, they might tolerate certain types of abuse.  If someone has a history of childhood abuse, they might not be aware of emotional abuse because they are used to it.  Physical and verbal abuse are quite obvious, but emotional abuse can be more damaging and harder to detect. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Has your self-worth dropped?  

Were you once a confident person, and now you feel worthless since you have been in your relationship?  If so, it might be because the person you are with is devaluing you through constant criticism, public shaming or withholding love when they do not get their way.

Have your family and friends said they don’t like your partner?

Often, family and friends will let you know that they believe that your partner is not treating you right or harming you.

Have you been isolated?

Co-dependent or toxic relationships are controlling and jealous of friends and family outside of the partnership. The emotionally abusive person will speak negatively about your friends and family to convince you that they are the only person you need.  Isolation is a control tactic that ensures that the person cannot reach out for help or be persuaded to leave the relationship. Isolation has severe negative consequences for mental and emotional well-being.

Are you afraid of their reactions?

Are you afraid to speak your mind or feelings because your partner will lash out, use your words against you, throw things or shame you?

Are you allowed to have hobbies and interests?

Emotionally abusive relationships do not allow for outside interests and hobbies because it takes attention away from the abusive person.

You feel confused.

You aren’t sure what the other person wants because they keep changing their mind.  You feel like no matter what you do, you can’t win. You aren’t sure if what you are feeling is valid and making the correct decisions.

For further information on toxic people, see this previous blog post Identifying Toxic People.


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Although I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology, I am not a licensed psychologist or any other type of licensed therapist in the United States. The information I am providing here is educational and informational. This social media page does not provide professional advice, nor does it create a professional-client relationship or any other type of relationship between us. You should always consult your own licensed mental health professional before making any changes regarding your mental health. My goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower you regarding your mental health journey. Always consult your licensed mental healthcare provider(s) and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information posted on this page or post.