There are at least eight important signs of a bad relationship. A bad relationship is one that is unhealthy for you either physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. If you spend more time feeling bad around your partner than you do feeling good, this is a sign that you need to begin to think about getting out of the relationship. If you are experiencing any of the eight warning signs of a bad relationship, you need to work on a plan to get out, and ask for help from friends, family, clergy or anyone you trust.
Relationships that are based on dominance, power and control can become very unhealthy. Healthy relationships are ones in which power is shared, important decisions are mutual, you feel safe and supported. If you are experiencing any of the following eight warning signs, start working on a plan to leave.
# 1 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Using Intimidation
If your partner uses intimidation this is a warning sign of a controlling relationship. If you are made to feel afraid by any of his repeated behaviors – this is a warning sign. Some examples might be mean looks, actions intended to scare you, gestures meant to be intimidating, smashing things, destroying your property, abusing pets, displaying weapons in a menacing manner. Even facial expressions that are intended to frighten or intimidate you are warning signs this is an unhealthy, controlling relationship. If any of these happen one time, it is a mild warning, but if it happens three or more times, you need to realize you may have an unhealthy, controlling partner. These may be warning signs of future violence or abuse.
# 2 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Using Coercion and Threats
If your partner uses coercion and threats, this is a strong indicator that you are in a dangerous or potentially abusive relationship. Coercion means your partner tries to get you to do things you really don’t want to do. If your partner makes threats and/or carries them out, this is a clear sign you are in an abusive relationship. If your partner threatens to hurt you in any way, including threatening to leave, threatening to commit suicide if you leave, threatening to cause you harm in any way, you need to get some help and work on a plan to leave. If your partner tries to get you to do things that might endanger you, or put you at risk with the law, this is an unhealthy relationship. This is a warning sign that you are in a controlling and potentially dangerous relationship.
# 3 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Emotional Abuse
Not all abuse is physical. People can hurt each other with words. If your partner puts you down all the time, calls you names, lowers your confidence, continually tells you that you are ugly, stupid, or anything like that, this is a form of emotional abuse. If your partner tries to make you feel like you are crazy, this is a very bad sign that you are in a controlling relationship. If your partner makes you feel guilty for wanting to leave, or repeatedly plays “mind games” that are designed to make you feel small, vulnerable or afraid, this is emotional abuse. If your partner humiliates you, in public or in private, this is a warning sign that you are in an unhealthy relationship.
# 4 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Using Isolation
If your partner tries to control what you do, who you see or talk to, or tries to limit your connection to family, friends, co-workers, this is a sign you are in an unhealthy, controlling relationship. If your partner tries to limit your activities or outside involvement, without giving you a choice, or discussing it, this is a sign you are in a bad relationship. If your partner uses jealousy as a reason to limit your healthy contact with others, this is a warning sign you are in a bad relationship.
# 5 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Minimizing, Denying and Blaming
If your partner shows any physical or sexual violence, or any of these eight warning signs, and then tries to make light of the abuse, or doesn’t take your concerns seriously, start working on a plan to leave this person. You may need help to get out of the situation as well as the relationship, so start working on your safety plan, which will involve help from others, or call domestic violence support services. If your partner denies that abuse ever occurred, or minimizes it, this is a classic sign that they are in denial and out of control. If your partner tries to blame you for the abuse, you need to get out of this relationship. There is no excuse for domestic violence!
# 6 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Using Children in the Cycle of Abuse
If your partner involves the children in his pattern of abuse, this is unacceptable behavior. If your partner tries to make you feel guilty about the children, or uses them to send you messages, this is very unhealthy for you and the children. Children need to be protected from this kind of high-conflict situation. This is a dangerous clue that you are in a controlling, unhealthy relationship. If your partner uses the children as a threat, or threatens to take away visitation rights, or abuses you in front of the children, you need to get away from this partner. This is not something children should be exposed to. It is too confusing, and may teach them that they can do this, or should accept this, from a future partner. For their sake as well as yours, you need to recognize that you are in a dangerous, abusive relationship.
# 7 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Using Male Privilege
If on a regular basis, your partner treats you as if you were his maid or servant, and expects you to be subservient to his needs all the time, this is a warning sign that you are in a controlling relationship. It is one thing if he asks you nicely to bring him some soup when he is sick, but it is another thing if he expects you to be at his beck and call all the time. If he makes all the big decisions that impact both of your lives, without consulting you, this is a warning sign that you are in an unhealthy relationship. If his idea of a home is that he is always “master of the castle” and you are his slave, this is a sign that you are in a bad relationship. If he is always the one in control, and you are always at his mercy, you should prepare a plan to leave this relationship.
# 8 Signs of a Bad Relationship: Using Economic Abuse
If your partner prevents you from getting or keeping a job or creating an income, this is a sign you are in an unhealthy, controlling relationship. If your partner forces you to ask for money, or you are forced to be the only source of income, or demands that you give him money, you need to work on a plan to leave this relationship. If your partner is controlling all the money, only giving you a small allowance, and not giving you access, or letting you know how to access family money, this is a sign you are dealing with a dangerously unhealthy partner. Important decisions about family money, or decisions which affect economic security, should be mutual, and be discussed with you with reasonably friendly conversation. Decisions like this should not just be made without you.
If you are experiencing one or more of these eight warning signs that you are in a bad, unhealthy controlling relationship, you need to get some help to get out. These behaviors can and will likely lead to physical or sexual abuse. Don’t wait until you or your children are in immediate danger. Start working on a plan for leaving the relationship. Tell people you trust that you are concerned for your safety. Have a safety plan for how you will get out and get to a safe place in an emergency.
Many, many women are in dangerous, controlling relationships. You are not the first, and there is nothing to be ashamed of for being in one. You probably started this relationship believing you loved your partner and that he loved you. But you need to understand that these behaviors are not loving. They are the result of an unhealthy partner. You need to protect yourself, and if you have children you need to protect them as well.
Start to think about how you can move forward and get away from this unhealthy relationship! You deserve to feel safe, happy and healthy!
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