While everyone does unhealthy things sometimes, we can all learn to love better by recognizing unhealthy signs and shifting to healthy behaviors. If you are seeing unhealthy signs in your relationship, it’s important to not ignore them and understand they can escalate to abuse.
When someone expresses very extreme feelings and over-the-top behavior that feels overwhelming. Things are getting too intense if you feel like someone is rushing the pace of the relationship (comes on too strong, too fast) and seems obsessive about wanting to see you and be in constant contact.
When someone is jealous to a point where they try to control who you spend time with and what you do. While jealousy is a normal human emotion, it becomes unhealthy when it causes someone to control or lash out at you. This means getting upset when you text or hang out with people they feel threatened by, wrongly accusing you of flirting or cheating, or even going so far as to stalk you. Possessiveness is often excused as being overprotective or having really strong feelings for someone.
When someone tries to control your decisions, actions or emotions. Manipulation is often hard to spot, because it can be expressed in subtle or passive-aggressive ways. You know you’re being manipulated if someone is trying to convince you to do things you don’t feel comfortable doing, ignores you until they get their way, or tries to influence your feelings.
When someone keeps you away from friends, family, or other people. This behavior often starts slowly with someone asking you to spend more 1:1 time with them but can later escalate to demands that you don’t see certain people. Often, they will ask you to choose between them and your friends, insist that you spend all your time with them, or make you question your own judgment of friends and family. If you are experiencing isolation, you may end up feeling like you’re dependent on your partner for love, money or acceptance.
When someone purposely ruins your reputation, achievements, or success. Sabotage includes keeping you from doing things that are important to you. Behaviors like talking behind your back, starting rumors, or threatening to share private information about you, is also sabotage.
When someone does and says things to make you feel bad about yourself. This includes name-calling, making rude remarks about people you’re close with, or criticizing you. It’s also belittling when someone makes fun of you in a way that makes you feel bad, even if it’s played off as a joke. Over time, this can make you lose confidence in yourself or your abilities.
When someone makes you feel responsible for their actions or makes you feel like it’s your job to keep them happy. They may blame you for things that are out of your control and make you feel bad for them. This includes threatening to hurt themselves or others if you don’t do as they say or stay with them. They might also pressure you to do something that you’re not comfortable with by claiming that it’s important to them or that it’ll hurt their feelings if you don’t do it.
When someone has a really strong, unpredictable reaction that makes you feel scared, confused or intimidated. A volatile person makes you feel like you need to walk on eggshells around them or they will have extreme reactions to small things. Your relationship with them might feel like a rollercoaster that contains extreme ups and downs. They may overreact to small things, have major mood swings or lose control by getting violent, yelling or threatening you.
When someone repeatedly makes excuses for their unhealthy behavior. They may blame you or other people for their own actions. Often, this includes making excuses based on alcohol or drug use, mental health issues or past experiences (like a cheating ex or divorced parents).
When someone is disloyal or acts in an intentionally dishonest way. They may act like a different person around other people or share private information about you to others. It also includes lying, purposely leaving you out, being two-faced, or cheating on you.