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Emotional abuse is a form of manipulation and control that can often go undetected. It’s not always as obvious as physical abuse, but it can be just as damaging. In fact, emotional abuse is often the precursor to physical violence in relationships.

Many people mistake emotional abuse for love because the abuser may use behaviors that seem loving or caring on the surface. But underneath it all, these actions are just another way for the abuser to maintain power and control over their victim.

In this article, we’ll explore 12 things that can appear to be love but are actually emotional abuse. It’s important to recognize these signs in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from toxic relationships.

Constantly Checking In

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At first, it may seem like your partner is just being caring and attentive when they constantly check in on you throughout the day. But this behavior can quickly turn into a form of control. Your abuser may demand to know where you are at all times, who you’re with, and what you’re doing. They may also use this information to manipulate and isolate you from your friends and family.

Jealousy

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If your partner gets jealous when you talk to others, that might seem sweet and caring, but it’s not. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity, possessiveness, and control. When someone gets jealous, they’re implying that they don’t trust you and that you’re not allowed to interact with people freely. Over time, jealousy can lead to isolation and feelings of suffocation, which is unhealthy.

Isolating You

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As mentioned above, emotional abusers often try to isolate their victims from their support systems. This can include forbidding you from seeing certain people, controlling who you can talk to, or even moving away from your loved ones. This tactic is used to make you completely reliant on your abuser and cut off any outside perspectives that may challenge their control.

Disrespecting Boundaries

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When your partner ignores or dismisses your boundaries, it’s a sign of disrespect. Your boundaries are essential, and everyone deserves to have their limits respected. If your partner violates your boundaries, it can lead to feelings of powerlessness.

The Constant Need for Attention

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At the beginning of a relationship, it’s natural to want to spend a lot of time with each other. However, if one partner demands constant attention or becomes jealous when the other spends time with friends or family, this may be a sign of emotional abuse. Partners should be able to have their own interests and friendships without feeling guilty or ashamed.

Withholding Affection

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Affection is an important part of any relationship, but if one partner withholds affection or uses it as a way to control the other, they are emotionally abusing you. Love should never be used as a weapon, and partners should always feel comfortable expressing their love and affection to each other.

Blaming You for Their Actions

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Emotional abusers are masters at deflecting responsibility onto others. They will often blame their behavior on something you did or said, making you feel guilty and responsible for their actions. This is a form of manipulation that allows the abuser to continue their toxic behavior while making you feel like you are at fault.

Gaslighting

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Gaslighting is a common tactic used by emotional abusers, and it can be very difficult to recognize. It involves manipulating your perception of reality, making you question your own thoughts and feelings. Your abuser may try to convince you that your memories are incorrect or that things didn’t happen the way you remember them. This can leave you feeling confused, doubting yourself, and completely under their control.

Verbal Put-Downs

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Emotional abuse doesn’t always manifest as physical violence; it can also take the form of verbal attacks. Your partner may constantly criticize and belittle you, making you feel like you are not good enough. These insults and put-downs can damage your self-esteem and sense of self-worth, which can make it even harder to leave an abusive relationship.

Threatening Behavior

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Emotional abusers may also use threats as a way to control their victims. These threats can include physical violence or harm to you, your loved ones, or even your pets. They will often follow these threats with, “I do this because I love you and care about you.” While these threats may not always be carried out, they can instill fear and anxiety in you and keep you from leaving the relationship.

Showering with Gifts

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Gifts and grand gestures are often used as a way to show love and affection. However, if one partner uses gifts as a way to control or manipulate the other, this is a sign of emotional abuse. They use gift buying as a means to keep you attached to them so you don’t leave. Gifts should never come with strings attached and should never be used to make the other person feel guilty.

Control Over Your Daily Life

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Another form of emotional abuse is when the abuser exerts excessive control over your everyday activities. They might dictate who you should meet, what you should wear, or even what you should eat. This insidious form of control can be very damaging, as it slowly erodes your sense of individuality and personal freedom. Over time, you may find yourself completely reliant on your abuser, losing sight of your own desires, goals, and values. 

Conclusion

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Emotional abuse is a serious issue that affects many individuals in relationships. While these behaviors may seem like love at first, it’s important to recognize them for what they truly are: emotional abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, seeking help and support is important. Remember that emotional abuse is not love, and no one deserves to be treated in such a harmful manner. Seek out resources and trusted individuals who can provide support and guidance in leaving an emotionally abusive relationship.

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