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How do you know if you're in an emotionally abusive relationship and not just sensitive?

15 Answers
Last Updated: 03/16/2021 at 3:56pm
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Top Rated Answers
November 15th, 2016 1:33am
Emotional abusive and sensitivity are two very different things. Emotional abuse is a type of abuse (often involved with physical abuse) in which a partner, friend, parent or someone close to you uses verbal assault, fear/threats or humiliation to undermine your self-esteem and self-worth or to make you feel afraid. Emotional abuse can include humiliation, degradation, discounting, negating. judging, criticizing, ect. Ask yourself: Does this person make fun of you or put you down in front of others? If you get upset by this, do they tell you that it's "just a joke"? Do they tell you your opinions, feelings or beliefs are wrong? Do you feel you must “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions? Do they control your spending? Do they treat you as though you are inferior to them? Do they make you feel as though they are always right? Do they remind you of your shortcomings? Do they belittle your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are? Do they give disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior? If you answered yes to any of these questions, most likely, you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. In relationships, it is very hard to be too sensitive. If someone says something that is hurting your feelings, you have the right to be upset by it if it upsets you. Now, someone saying something off-handed once or twice, not emotional abuse. However, if this continues, yes, it is emotional abuse. Take care of yourself please, I hope you are doing okay.
November 14th, 2016 7:09pm
This is a question i have asked my self several times before. Personally I feel like if i was being 'too sensitive', i would just be sad, but the thought of abuse would never have crossed my mind. Based solely on that I realised that my boundaries for what was OK and was not was being pushed and I need to set the limit before things got out of hand. Truth is an 'emotionally abusive' relationship means different things for different people. I come from a multi-cultural background; where growing up my mother and father would yell all kinds of things to each other that if a partner does that to me i would see it as abuse, but it was completely normal for their culture and where they grew up. My mother tho just sees me as 'too sensitive'. I think you should think about what you think is OK, and take it from there and never let anyone treat you any different. Remember you set the boundaries.
February 6th, 2017 8:49am
Simply put, I would say that if you feel unsafe, begin to censor yourself, or retreat from other meaningful friendships/relationships because of the way another person treats you this relationship is unhealthy and should be avoided.
November 30th, 2016 2:05am
If the person says hurtful things on a regular basis and you find yourself feeling awful about yourself often, you are probably in an emotionally abusive relationship. A lot of times emotionally abusive people tag their victims as "too sensitive" and they tell you that's what you are when you get upset. I think personally, if you have to ask, you probably are in an emotionally abusive relationship. Having been there, I can only say, run quick. No one deserves to be treated with anything but respect and if you find yourself feeling badly, this probably is not the right person for you.
November 20th, 2016 11:09am
There are no sensitive relationships. All relationships have ups and downs but to be sure you aren't in an emotionally abusive one you need to ask yourself how much respect do you get out of this one? How much do you feel like you can communicate your needs without feeling guilty for having any? How much freedom of speech and choice do you get out of it? That should help you ....
April 5th, 2019 5:25am
You’ll find yourself protecting your abuser when talking about them, and you’ll see the concern in other peoples faces. You’ll constantly feel like you should be running or hiding or be doing more for them even though you’re constantly drained. When they come home, you’ll quickly make it look like you were taking care of laundry or cleaning or something to keep them from thinking less of you. You might be more reserved when you’re out with them, than when you are alone, as if you’re somehow not allowed to speak unless they deem it ok. They may never directly chastise or hurt you for infractions right away, but in the back of your mind, when you have done something to offend them, you’ll start to feel panicky or scared. You might not notice fully but start paying attention to what you feel; your body knows that something is not right, even if your mind is not yet aware.
February 17th, 2017 3:15am is a great resource with some charts and quizzes to help you determine if your relationship is healthy, unhealthy, or abusive. They also have a live chat service where you can talk to a peer advocate about your relationship and they can answer questions and connect you to resources in your area if necessary. If you're suspicious that your relationship might be emotionally abusive, I would recommend checking there and reaching out! Good luck!
July 28th, 2017 2:32pm
Is it making you question your worth and value? Does it impact your daily life (sleeping, eating, interacting with others)? Do you "rehearse" conversations in your head so you have answers already prepared before your SO says anything? Speaking from experience... if you answered yes to any of those questions, it may be more than just you are sensitive. Because you love them you excuse what they do and assume the problem must be you. For you to have the courage to ask this question means you are finding strength to question your situation and I urge you to continue on that path. You are special and important. No one should ever make you feel less than what you are.
February 15th, 2017 2:57pm
There's a few characteristics. Now this is more textbook example, but these things exist to one degree or another in most emotional abuse situations. Oftentimes the abuser started off very endearing, charming; maybe they even seemed to act as if you were everything despite only knowing you for a short time. But after a while, small put-downs start to occur. 'are you really wearing that?' 'should you eat that?' 'I'm only doing this because i love you'
November 19th, 2016 4:46pm
Emotional abuse can be anything that seeks to manipulate a person emotionally.. an individual who is emotionally abusive may withhold affection, they could deliberately try to make you feel inferior and another common trait is playing the victim and turning the situation all around. So, whilst all of the above is emotional abuse it is going to make you feel sensitive and vulnerable so it is hard to draw the line. I think it is acceptable for an individual to point out our imperfections however when it is imbalanced and unfair is when the blurry line starts to fade and it moves over to emotional abuse. Perhaps journalling the situation may help you see it more clearly? Lisa
January 22nd, 2020 3:29pm
It is easy trust your gut feelings. Emotional abuse comes in all kind of forms and I don't know your story so I cannot comment. But in general if your partner: 1) Doesn't respect you. 2) Doesn't care about your feelings or well beings. 3) Scream at you if you disagree or if you criticise a behaviour which you think is in appropriate. 4) Doesn't respect you own space and personal boundaries. 5) Beat you up emotionally. 6) The conversation only goes one way. 7) You feel bad about your self in the relationship. 8) Makes you feel that you are not good enough. 9) Doesn't support you emotionally. 10) You feel alone in the relationship. 11) Punishes you mentally. 12) Ghost you. 13) Give you the silent treatment. Believe me the list goes on. You need to understand the motives behind this person because sometimes people behave the exact opposite of how they feel in relationship. You have to be mindful and look at your relationship without emotions and try to understand the person. So many things can be fixed only by understanding the other person. I hope this helped and good luck!
February 3rd, 2017 3:15am
Whenever you are feeling that your partner is putting you down, making you feel as if you are worthless and you would never ever succeed in life. If you are just being sensitive, you would share the feelings with your partner and your partner would make you feel comfortable. If you are feeling scared or uncomfortable in your current relationship, be sure to talk out to your partner. I've been through an emotional abusive relationship for almost two years. Don't hesitate to leave your partner if you feel that your relationship is making you feel worthless.
January 14th, 2019 2:42pm
When your partner makes you feel guilty of blames you for their insecurities. They will make you feel as if you don't care about them enough. Instead of coping or talking about how they feel, they will resort to anger; calling you names, accusing you of cheating on them, or that you don't deserve their love. They will belittle you until you don't have confidence to love yourself anymore. You will feel isolated from caring friends and family because your partner made you feel as if they should be feared. Your partner will make you feel only he or she understands you and no one else.
March 16th, 2021 3:56pm
This is a pretty difficult question to answer. You are speculating whether or not the nature of your relationship is abusive or if your feelings just get easily hurt. To explore your ideas you can ask yourself what you expect from relationships and where your boundaries lie. To get a better idea of what you view as being sensitive or emotionally abusive you may want to reflect on past relationships you have had or reflect on whether this is your first relationship. What is your idea of emotional abuse and what is your idea of being sensitive? If you feel bad whilst being in that relationship you may feel you want to get out but feel obliged to stay due to the danger your significant other poses. Those not in your position may say a relationship is not worth it if you’re sad all the time and thinking about if you’re the one whose wrong or not. Of course it’s easier to give advice and tell a friend or someone you care about to get out of an unhealthy relationship. Getting out of a relationship is hard. It takes bravery and courage which you may not think you have. If you have to break up over text because it makes you feel safer then do it! Organization's that explore relationship issues are Relate, One Love Foundation. If feeling unsafe to leave a relationship please reach out to one of our listeners on our site or therapists who have personal or specialized experience in this area.
November 4th, 2019 9:53am
There are resources and self-help guides out there that can help you understand what abuse may look like in relationships and understanding the wheel of power and control. We may have heard from one source or another what a physically abusive relationship can look like but understanding what an emotionally abusive relationship looks like can be trickier. Emotionally abusive relationships, from my experience, are ones based around control. A partner may use different tactics like financial control, coercion, verbal threats, demands, isolation, and emotional put-downs and gaslighting to manipulate their partner. Usually, when you feel scared to be yourself or ask for help is a good indicator of an emotionally abusive relationship. No one should make you feel unsafe in your own home, body, mind, or feelings. Hope that helps starting to understand what it may look like.