5 Surprising early warning signs of an abusive relationship

When to run from a potential partner

Abusive relationships often start like love at first sight fantasies.

Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence are misunderstood and underestimated problems. Intimate Partner Violence alone affects over twelve million people a year in the United States, and claims thousands of lives. Many myths exist about Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence, and sadly its severity is misunderstood.

When it is time to leave, sometimes it is too late

The cycle of Intimate Partner Violence most often begins insidiously.

By the time someone realizes she is in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to leave. In fact, leaving an abusive relationship can increase one's risk of being killed by their abuser.

It is therefore crucial to look out for these five early warning signs of an abusive relationship, so that you can get out of it before it is too late:

1. The relationship moves fast

If it still feels relatively early on in the relationship and he is already speaking about being exclusive, moving in together or even getting married, be careful. As nice as it may feel to finally be with a man who is unafraid of commitment, trust your gut if it feels like things are moving too fast. Abusive relationships often start off like a love at first sight fantasy in which everything seems perfect, but never end that way.

2. He sweeps you off your feet

He will let you know how amazing you are and how much he loves you.

He will romance you, may be extremely generous with gifts and affection, and might seem to be the perfect guy. The spell can be intoxicating, and easy to fall for. As stated above, the relationship may feel like a fantasy because it is so wonderful. 

When you feel like you are at the top of his list, it can be easier for you to forgive him for other more concerning behaviors down the line that will range from acting controlling to being downright abusive.

While there is nothing wrong with a little romance, trust yourself if it feels over the top, and tread with caution. 

3. He makes promises about the future

Sometimes even very early on in the relationship, he will promise you the moon. He will talk about the house you will move in together and how he will take care of you and make sure your every need is met. This may feel enticing, but in his promises, there may be no room for your desires or dreams. It all may sound good to be fully supported and taken care of, but abusive relationships are all about control, and these promises set that foundation up of you being entirely dependent on him.

4. He keeps you all to himself

On some level, we all desire to feel wanted and needed. It might feel good to be desired to be kept all to your partner. If you feel like there is little room for your friends or family and that he wants you all to himself, however, be wary, as this is a classic red flag for an abusive situation.

Abusive partners isolate their victims from other important people in their lives to maximize the control they have.

They can show possessiveness and jealousy that may be masked as desire and affection. Be careful not to become alienated from others in your life who have been there all along, as this is one clear warning sign. It is critical that you stay close to the important people in your life.

5. He uses "playful" force during sex

If you get a weird feeling that something is not right when you are having sex, or that he is being a little too harsh with you, trust your instincts. He may write off such behavior as "playful" or "fun," but be mindful if there is little consideration of your needs or desires. This is a classic early warning sign of an abusive relationship in which you are objectified and used to meet his needs with no consideration of yours.

These five early warning signs set the stage for an abusive relationship that is controlling and potentially life threatening. If you find yourself in a situation where these are present, trust your instincts that something is awry and leave while you can. 


If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, www.DomesticShelters.org is a way to search for local services, or you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233).

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