Picture-perfect relationships can harbor dark secrets. What seems beautiful on the outside may be on life support behind closed doors. And sometimes you don't even know you're in trouble. Abuse doesn't have to come in physical form - there are many emotionally abusive behaviors that can threaten your relationship, friendships, career and mental health ... and you might not even recognize the signs.
Here are six emotionally abusive behaviors you probably think are normal.
1. Justifying bad behavior
Fights often lead to aggressive verbal exchanges, full of personal attacks or other troubling comments. However, emotional abuse not only includes the unkind words themselves, but also what happens after the argument. Your partner may try to excuse or justify their nastiness with their anger in the moment. Furthermore, they may think apologizing (or a terrible attempt at it) should fix everything. They expect quick forgiveness for their misdeeds and get annoyed with you when you stay insulted.
Ultimately, they don't take responsibility for what they did and refuse to acknowledge that their anger is affecting this relationship.
Emotional abusers blame their bad behavior on something you did or didn't do. They find ingenious and unfortunately convincing ways to make their problems your fault. They will intentionally speak to you in a derogatory tone then explain how you caused them to act that way. Beyond this, they will try to convince you that you deserve to be treated the way you are being treated - they'll tell you that you don't deserve anything more or better from them.
3. Blame game
Healthy couples tend to put the blame on their partner, but it becomes abusive when one is constantly blaming the other for all of the relationship's problems. They remind you day in and day out of what you are doing wrong and how it's causing problems in your partnership. But they can never seem to come up with a negative contribution of their own - it always comes back to you. They may never say it, but there's an apparent assumption of their infallibility or perfection.
Throwing your issues, traumas, flaws and failures in your face is a distasteful but common casualty in fighting. An abusive partner will undoubtedly claim they were only trying to hurt you to make a point and didn't mean what they said. But that doesn't make their onslaught sting any less or help heal your emotional wounds. It also does nothing to repair the broken trust and bring down the wall you'll put up to keep from feeling so vulnerable with them again.
Arguments and escalation can bring out the worst in anyone. But when your partner displays this kind of contempt toward you (even in these emotionally intense moments), it lets you know who they are deeper down. How someone acts under pressure says a lot about them. And if their goal is to tear you down instead of build up, this isn't a healthy relationship. A good partner and relationship supports your self-esteem and peace of mind. So keep a lookout for these all-too-common but completely unacceptable behaviors - you might be missing the emotional abuse happening right before your eyes.