21 Signs of an Emotional Abuser

emotional abuse signs and symptoms

Emotional Abuse 21 Signs 

One of the most difficult things to know when you start dating someone is how they will behave in a serious relationship. The truth is that many emotional abusers will initially cloak their personalities with a mask of charm, hiding their truer, more insidious parts from obvious view. This can make detecting an emotional abuser difficult.

So what should you be looking for?

What follows are 21 signs that may indicate you are dealing with an emotional abuser. Remember, most abusers go out of their way to make you the center of their world, secretly manipulating their interactions with the goal of making you emotionally dependent on them.

Over the course of time, their efforts can take a real toll on your self-esteem. This point is particularly true of individuals who confuse love with obsession.

Let’s jump right in with the 21 signs.

  1. Seems to have two personalities
  2. Makes unrealistic demands
  3. Dominates your time
  4. Attempts to isolate you
  5. Extremely possessive
  6. Monitors your daily activities
  7. Has a victim mentality
  8. Attempts to control what you wear
  9. May be cruel to animals
  10. Tries to control all money decisions
  11. Attaches to relationships quickly
  12. Engages in cruel name calling
  13. Exhibits a sense of entitlement
  14. May threaten you or your family
  15. Very quick to anger
  16. Dehumanizes you
  17. Shames you
  18. Discounts your comments
  19. Undermines your decisions
  20. Treats you as inferior
  21. Withholds physical attention

Final Thoughts

Emotional abuse can at times be difficult to spot because the abuse can at first be subtle, designed to slowly chip away at your self-esteem. Many of the behaviors of an emotional abuser may mirror what you might see in a narcissist. In truth, these kinds of individuals are often closer to the psychopath personality type. A prominent fear of intimacy is often present as the relationship continues.


A helpful book to read is The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond by Patricia Evans. Emotional abusers often have a history of trauma in their background. You can sometimes spot emotional abusers on first dates but not always because they have learned to hide some of their behaviors during the honeymoon period.

Finally, bear in mind that emotional abuse is commonly a precursor to physical abuse.

If you are concerned that the person you are dating may be emotionally abusing you, it may be helpful to speak with a trained counselor who can help you better understand what might be happening in your relationship.

If you are being physically abused or are looking for more information about different types of abuse, visit the National Domestic Violence website.

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