When you think of an emotionally abusive person, who comes to mind?
I have to admit, I think of the aggressive text messages from the countless controlling boyfriends my friends dated over the years.
I think of the boy who would guilt-trip her into not seeing her friends or
ridicule her for the cellulite on her legs.
These are all forms of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse or psychological abuse can be described as any sort of non-physical behavior that can subject the victim to psychological trauma.
However, it can be easily forgotten, that all acts of emotional abuse can also be committed by women. Regardless of gender stereotypes, men can also be victims.
Here are 10 ways you might be emotionally abusing your partner.
1. Constantly Patronizing him
I’ve been on many girl’s nights where the ladies discuss their boyfriend’s inability to adult. It seems a lot more socially acceptable to make fun of men.
“Ahh honey you’re so sweet, go and watch your football game. At least you tried”
For some reason, some women have been accustomed to treating men like buffoons without realizing how degrading it would be in reverse.
Patronizing someone can make them feel instantly less intelligent and inferior. It’s a way of putting someone down without entering into the traditional form of confrontation.
2. Using sex against him
Of course, this can go both ways, men are not always more sexually charged than women. Regardless, using sex against your partner is a form of emotional abuse.
Even what seem like harmless comments like “I’ll withhold sex if you don’t do this for me” or asking him for a favor during intimacy as a form of getting your own way, is a damaging power play.
3. Driving a wedge between him and his family
“You’re an adult so I’m your family now.”
Intrinsically, family bonds are some of the strongest a person can have. This may mean we can feel threatened by members of our partner’s family.
Regardless, breaking these bonds because you feel insecure will only have negative effects on his mental and social well-being and on the relationship in the long term.
Whether you enjoy their company or not, you should never make him choose between you or his family.
4. Keeping him from his friends
“You spend way too much time with your friends. It’s not healthy.”
Just like his family, a group of friends are imperative to a man’s well-being. A study conducted by Psychologist Geoffrey Grief found that although men find it harder than women to connect emotionally with their same-sex friends they are extremely important to their mental health.
Trying to find ways to weaken his friendships is not the solution to strengthening yours, its another form of emotional abuse.
5. Trivializing his interests
“I can’t believe you still play computer games. You’re such a child.”
Emotional abusers often make their victim’s interest seem trivial because they don’t want them engaging in activities that don’t involve them.
Regardless of how little interest we have in our partner’s hobbies, they have a right to participate in activities that bring them happiness.
6. Being overly jealous
“I saw you looking at that girl.”
Jealousy is an emotion we can’t always suppress. It can, however, be used to make our partner feel constantly on edge and guilty.
The next time you feel jealous, be open to him about your feelings in a healthy discussion before blaming him for something that may not be about you or your relationship at all.
7. Blaming him for all your problems
“You don’t support me enough, that’s the reason I’m not succeeding.”
Emotional abusers love to make their partner feel guilty. They can leverage this guilt to manipulate them in the future.
People use blame to channel feelings of anger and make sense of their emotional stress or grief. But be mindful of it, and see if there’s not another way to look at your own problems. And it is clearly unhealthy if your go-to is to blame your partner for every problem you have under the sun.
8. Constantly comparing him to others
“None of my friend’s boyfriends pull any of this shit.”
As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy. Emotional abusers use this to make their partner feel like they’re not good enough.
Comparing your partner to other people and relationships is only going to make them feel like they’ll never be good enough as themselves.
9. Belittling him over his income
“We could have bought a house by now but you just don’t earn enough money.”
Emotional abusers are constantly criticizing their victim over their lack of status. Bringing up their partner’s lack of income and making them feel self-conscious is terrible for their self-worth and often an unreasonable expectation.
10. Playing the victim
Emotional abusers will put the blame back on the victim, making it seem like they are always owed something.
They have an inability to see the situation from the other person’s point of view so will make it seem like they have been the one wronged.
I’m sure you’ve had that one friend that you initially felt sorry for, only to suspect that their narratives may have been twisted to paint a different picture.
We are all human, therefore we all can hurt and be hurt.
Emotional abuse has the power to inflict severe psychological damage and regardless of the stereotypes, men can also fall victim.
It is not the bruises on the body that hurt, it is the wounds on the heart and the scars on the mind — Aisha Murza
Your words are powerful and have the ability to do good or be poisonous.
Never underestimate them.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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