8 Signs Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend Is Abusive

A Bully Will Steal Your Self-Esteem

teen girl looking away from boyfriend
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Children and adults who bully others often become abusive in dating relationships. As a result, their partners become victims of abuse and may need help leaving the relationship.

Remember, bullying is not the victim's fault. This inappropriate behavior is a choice the bully makes and he is responsible for his behavior. If you think your sweetheart might be bullying you, look for these eight signs of bullying and abusive behavior.

Bullies and Abusers Are Disrespectful

If your intimate partner makes fun of you and calls you disrespectful names, you're in a relationship with a bully and an abuser. Other disrespectful bullying behaviors to look out for include:

  • criticizing you and undermining your perceptions
  • telling you how you should feel rather than accepting your true feelings
  • accusing you of being too sensitive or emotional when you try to discuss the bad behavior

Bullies and Abusers Act Superior and Entitled

Bullies talk down to others. They are condescending and rude. You might hear him say your opinions, and the opinions of others, are stupid or do not make sense. In general, bullies and abusers communicate that you or others are inferior in some way. Simply put, these actions are part of his strategy to maintain power and control over you or others.

Bullies and Abusers Rely On Intimidation

Intimidating behavior is a psychological and/or physical method of trying to establish and maintain power and control over you.

Your intimate partner might display:

  • physically threatening gestures like punching walls, abusing your pets or throwing furniture around
  • psychological abuse by threatening to embarrass you by revealing private information or making you feel so unworthy you think you don't deserve better treatment

Bullies and Abusers Lack Empathy

Abusive people often lack empathy.

They do not show genuine emotion or concern for other people. For instance, they may show feelings, but they are not sincere. Instead, it seems more like a parroting of what is accepted in given situations. They also lack genuine remorse for any wrongdoing.

Bullies and Abusers Struggle With Envy and Jealousy

A display of jealousy and envy is a red flag. This insecure behavior leads to control issues and represents a bully's fear of losing the relationship. If your intimate partner is extremely jealous, it is time to move on before things escalate.

Bullies and Abusers Make Unreasonable Demands

Bullies are often very unreasonable with others, especially those they consider to be lesser than them like a waiter or other service employees. Eventually, your partner will place unreasonable demands on you, too. For example, your partner may:

  • demand you spend all your time together
  • try to control what you wear
  • accuse you of not being committed to the relationship if you don’t meet his demands or follow his rules

Bullies and Abusers Ostracize and Isolate

Both bullying and abuse is all about control. These intimidators have rigid expectations and ostracize anyone who doesn't make the grade. As they turn their abuse on you, they may try to take control of your life by:

  • taking your cell phone to examine your texts, call logs and voicemail messages
  • criticizing your friends and family members
  • manipulating you into spending all your time with them and getting angry at your other friends

Bullies and Abusers Verbally Abuse Others

Bullies and abusers often humiliate people in front of others. Their goal is to make you feel small and worthless while inflating their own power in the situation.

Abuse of any type is not part of a normal relationship. Find outside support and look for options on how to terminate the relationship because the abusive behavior often escalates when a relationship is about to end.


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