Symptoms of Emotional Abuse: Emotional Abuse


"I feel depressed, but my girlfriend/wife doesn't seem to care, and won't help me with it.
Is it possible that my depression is being caused by my relationship?"

Symptoms of
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Many men assume that if they're not being physically abused by their partner, then they're not being abused.  That's not necessarily true.   You may be in a relationship which is draining something from you -- you might not have recognized that your partner is eroding your self-esteem and happiness.


"Marry the man today -- and change his ways tomorrow!"

--Lyric from Broadway musical Guys & Dolls

Our culture excessively, irrationally accepts the "I'll Change Him" philosophy, where a woman selects and then "molds" a partner to her liking.

Certainly, equal loving partners may decide to change their physical HABITS to please each other -- but a person should NOT be asked to change their LIFESTYLE, PERSONALITY, HOBBIES, or CAREER CHOICES.

If your partner asks you to be or become a different person, remind them that they originally selected you as yourself.  If their preferences have now changed, then they should either attend counseling with you, or admit that the partnership has ended -- so that you will be free to find a new partner who loves you for who you are.


To consider whether your partner emotionally abuses you, look at the information available on physical abusers.  The patterns are similar:


* She was verbally abused as a child, witnessed it in her own family, or was verbally abused by a previous partner.

* She has low self-esteem.

* She has an intense temper, triggered by minor frustrations and arguments.

* Her sense of power or control depends on her partner's acquiescence and his performance per her demands.  She feels "in control" only if her partner is totally passive and giving in to all of her preferences and decisions.

* She has rigid expectations or fantasies of marriage, partnership, or men, and will not compromise.  She expects him to behave according to her expectations of what her partner should be like; perhaps the way her parents' marriage was, or its opposite.  She demands that he change to accommodate her expectations.

* She projects the blame for all relationship difficulties onto her partner.  She wouldn't get angry if only he would be who she wants him to be...  She wouldn't drink if he didn't make her unhappy...  She denies the need for counseling because there's "nothing wrong with her, only with him."  She might not want him to get counseling because she's threatened by the threat of an outsider "taking sides" with him.

* Abusers are extremely possessive and jealous.  They experience an intense desire to control their mates.

* Abusers often have superficial relationships with other people.   Her primary, if not exclusive, relationship is with her husband/boyfriend.

* She may be described as having a dual personality -- she is either sweet or exceptionally cruel and sharp.  She is selfish or generous depending on her mood.

* A major characteristic of abusers is their capacity to deceive others.  She can be sweet, calm, charming and convincing.

* The mate is usually a symbol.  The abuser doesn't relate to her partner as a person in his own right, but as a symbol of a significant other.   This is especially true when she's angry.  She assumes that he is thinking, feeling, or acting like that significant other -- often her father (or other family member or authority figure).



An abusive partner will railroad discussions, so that you don't have time to think about what's right and what's wrong in their behavior.

Take a moment to consider these questions.  Your partner might have behaved as though these things were okay, even though it's obvious that they aren't okay...:

Do you feel that you can't discuss with your partner what is bothering you?

Does your partner frequently criticize you, humiliate you, or undermine your self-esteem?

Does your partner ridicule you for expressing yourself?

Does your partner try to isolate you from friends, family or groups?

Does your partner limit your access to work or material resources? 

Has your partner ever stolen from you?  Or run up debts for you to handle? 

Does your relationship swing back and forth between a lot of emotional distance (clammed up) and being very close? 

Do you sometimes feel trapped in the relationship?

Has your partner ever thrown away or destroyed things that belonged to you?

Are you afraid of your partner?




Isolation from others - Feelings of low self-worth - Depression - Emotional problems - Illness - Increased alcohol or drug use - Withdrawal from real life into an Internet alternative reality



If you suspect that your depression is being caused by, or intensified by, your relationship -- get help.  Visit our LINKS PAGE. 

Websites, Resources, Books & Help


Letters about Emotional Abuse


New site by Lilac Lane:

about obsessed ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, ex-husbands, etc.