Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, Marriage, relationships > 10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully

10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully

mood-swingsDoes your girlfriend or wife yell, scream, and swear at you? Do you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your relationship because they just wouldn’t understand? Is your relationship making you feel like you’re slowly going crazy?

If so, you’re probably involved with a woman who is an emotionally abusive bully. Most men don’t want to admit that they’re in an abusive relationship. They describe the relationship and their girlfriend/wife using other terms like crazy, emotional, controlling, bossy, domineering, constant conflict, or volatile. If you use words like this to describe your relationship, odds are you’re being emotionally abused.

Do you recognize any of the following behaviors?

1) Bullying. If she doesn’t get her way, there’s hell to pay. She wants to control you and resorts to emotional intimidation to do it. She uses verbal assaults and threats in order to get you to do what she wants. It makes her feel powerful to make you feel bad. People with a Narcissistic personality are often bullies.

Result: You lose your self-respect and feel outnumbered, sad, and alone. You develop a case of Stockholm Syndrome, in which you identify with the aggressor and actually defend her behavior to others.

2) Unreasonable expectations. No matter how hard you try and how much you give, it’s never enough. She expects you to drop whatever you’re doing and attend to her needs. No matter the inconvenience, she comes first. She has an endless list of demands that no one mere mortal could ever fulfill.

Common complaints include: You’re not romantic enough, you don’t spend enough time with me, you’re not sensitive enough, you’re not smart enough to figure out my needs, you’re not making enough money, you’re not FILL IN THE BLANK enough. Basically, you’re not enough, because there’s no pleasing this woman. No one will ever be enough for her, so don’t take it to heart.

Result: You’re constantly criticized because you’re not able to meet her needs and experience a sense of learned helplessness. You feel powerless and defeated because she puts you in no-win situations.

3) Verbal attacks.This is self-explanatory. She employs schoolyard name calling, pathologizing (e.g., armed with a superficial knowledge of psychology she uses diagnostic terms like labile, paranoid, narcissistic, etc. for a 50-cent version of name calling), criticizing, threatening, screaming, yelling, swearing, sarcasm, humiliation, exaggerating your flaws, and making fun of you in front of others, including your children and other people she’s not intimidated by. Verbal assault is another form of bullying, and bullies only act like this in front of those whom they don’t fear or people who let them get away with their bad behavior.

Result: Your self-confidence and sense of self-worth all but disappear. You may even begin to believe the horrible things she says to you.

4) Gaslighting. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say that. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It wasn’t that bad. You’re imagining things. Stop making things up.” If the woman you’re involved with is prone to Borderline or Narcissistic rage episodes, in which she spirals into outer orbit, she may very well not remember things she’s said and done. However, don’t doubt your perception and memory of events. They happened and they are that bad.

Result: Her gaslighting behavior may cause you to doubt your own sanity. It’s crazy-making behavior that leaves you feeling confused, bewildered, and helpless.

5) Unpredictable responses. Round and round and round she goes. Where she’ll stop, nobody knows. She reacts differently to you on different days or at different times. For example, on Monday, it’s ok for you to Blackberry work email in front of her. On Wednesday, the same behavior is “disrespectful, insensitive, you don’t love me, you’re a self-important jerk, you’re a workaholic.” By Friday, it could be okay for you to Blackberry again.

Telling you one day that something’s alright and the next day that it’s not is emotionally abusive behavior. It’s like walking through a landmine in which the mines shift location.

Result: You’re constantly on edge, walking on eggshells, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is a trauma response. You’re being traumatized by her behavior. Because you can’t predict her responses, you become hypervigilant to any change in her mood or potential outburst, which leaves you in a perpetual state of anxiety and possibly fear. It’s a healthy sign to be afraid of this behavior. It’s scary. Don’t feel ashamed to admit it.

6) Constant Chaos. She’s addicted to conflict. She gets a charge from the adrenaline and drama. She may deliberately start arguments and conflict as a way to avoid intimacy, to avoid being called on her bullshit, to avoid feeling inferior or, bewilderingly, as an attempt to avoid being abandoned. She may also pick fights to keep you engaged or as a way to get you to react to her with hostility, so that she can accuse you of being abusive and she can play the victim. This maneuver is a defense mechanism called projective identification.

Result: You become emotionally punch drunk. You’re left feeling dazed and confused, not knowing which end is up. This is highly stressful because it also requires you to be hypervigilant and in a constant state of defense for incoming attacks.

7) Emotional Blackmail. She threatens to abandon you, to end the relationship, or give you the cold shoulder if you don’t play by her rules. She plays on your fears, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, shame, values, sympathy, compassion, and other “buttons” to control you and get what she wants.

Result: You feel manipulated, used, and controlled.

8 Rejection. She ignores you, won’t look at you when you’re in the same room, gives you the cold shoulder, withholds affection, withholds sex, declines or puts down your ideas, invitations, suggestions, and pushes you away when you try to be close. After she pushes you as hard and as far away as she can, she’ll try to be affectionate with you. You’re still hurting from her previous rebuff or attack and don’t respond. Then she accuses you of being cold and rejecting, which she’ll use as an excuse to push you away again in the future.

Result: You feel undesirable, unwanted, and unlovable. You believe no one else would want you and cling to this abusive woman, grateful for whatever scraps of infrequent affection she shows you.

9) Withholding affection and sex. This is another form of rejection and emotional blackmail. It’s not just about sex, it’s about withholding physical, psychological, and emotional nurturing. It includes a lack of interest in what’s important to you–your job, family, friends, hobbies, activities–and being uninvolved, emotionally detached or shut down with you.

Result: You have a transactional relationship in which you have to perform tasks, buy her things, “be nice to her,” or give into her demands in order to receive love and affection from her. You don’t feel loved and appreciated for who you are, but for what you do for her or buy her.

10) Isolating. She demands or acts in ways that cause you to distance yourself from your family, friends, or anyone that would be concerned for your well-being or a source of support. This typically involves verbally trashing your friends and family, being overtly hostile to your family and friends, or acting out and starting arguments in front of others to make it as unpleasant as possible for them to be around the two of you.

Result: This makes you completely dependent upon her. She takes away your outside sources of support and/or controls the amount of interaction you have with them. You’re left feeling trapped and alone, afraid to tell anyone what really goes on in your relationship because you don’t think they’ll believe you.

You don’t have to accept emotional abuse in your relationship. You can get help or you can end it. Most emotionally abusive women don’t want help. They don’t think they need it. They are the professional victims, bullies, narcissists, and borderlines. They’re abusive personality types and don’t know any other way to act in relationships.

Life is too short to spend one more second in this kind of relationship. If your partner won’t admit she has a problem and agree to get help, real help, then it’s in your best interest to get support, get out, and stay out.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.


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Mood swings on ccmbuzz.

  1. June 11, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I have read through some of the articles on this site and am surprised at the number of people who’s stories I can relate to.
    I recently split from a partner who I had been with for nearly 3 years. She was the same age as me, but had been previously married and had full time custody of her three boys. I have no kids, never been married, and this was my first experience of living in that step family type of environment… My first.., and last, as I hope to never have a relationship again.
    It was my first experience of emotional abuse, although I didn’t understand it at the time.
    During most of the relationship I was trying to make up to her for my short comings and mistakes, I didn’t ever earn enough money to even pay my own way. I didn’t support her or her kids emotionally, or put in sufficient effort to bond with them. I had no drive or ambition, or desire to provide them with a better future. I didn’t do any of the general duties, including cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn etc. To top it all off I was emotionally abusive and a narcissist.
    That is how she described me to her friends and family. For some reason, they didn’t like me very much? and even one of her bff’s sent me a threatening message that her friends would come and sort me out.
    Obviously I didn’t realise that is what I was. I hadn’t been accused of any of those things before, and had somehow supported myself for over 15 years before I met her, and somehow got through my 34 years of life without realising I was such a bad person.
    All I could say was that I really never promised her anything, and sorry I couldn’t live up to her expectations.
    So we split. I of course had to move out and find a place. It took me a couple of months to save the bond for a place of my own, so in the meantime I slept in her garage and was treated with even more contempt for being there. I got home from work one Saturday to find the house was especially clean and there were no kids. I asked my ex where they were? She said that she told her dad we had been fighting and she wanted me to leave but I still hadn’t moved out, so her dad had rang they cops and they’re on their way over to evict me.
    So in another ‘first’ experience for me I explained to the cops that I would leave, but I just didn’t have anywhere else to go. I showed them that I was less than two weeks from having enough money saved to move. Because it was my home and I paid rent, they told her they couldn’t force me to leave immediately, and she had to allow me two weeks notice as a minimum anyway.
    So I moved out and got my own place, and cut all ties with her. I am still living here now. In the last 6 months of leaving her my self esteem has slowly returned. I am healthier, happier and am no longer accused of being a bad person, letting anyone down or hurting their kids. I am not a financial burden on anyone, and because its only me on the lease, am no longer in fear of being evicted.
    The only thing I miss is her kids. Her middle child has cerebral palsy, and is non-verbal. But even she admits he and I have an especially close connection. I feel that he bonded to me because I am more patient and I understand him better than his mum does. During the time I was living with them I took over assisting him with his daily showering and other personal care needs. She believed it was a ‘guy’ thing and as her son was entering puberty so he no longer wanted his mum helping him in the shower. So with no appreciation from her, I took it on as another thing I was ‘expected’ to do.
    The point of my rant is just that I hope someone might read this and It might help them earn some self respect back again.
    I honestly felt suicidely depressed about my inadequacy, and like I had hurt and was hurting so many people. It would have been a great benefit to me at the time if there was some kind of support available.
    I could continue to express the unfairness of the situation, and phenomena such as how I am actually earning less money now than I was when living with her, with more expenses, But am somehow financially better off and actually saving money each week. But I think I have made my point.

  2. Eric
    June 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Wow I can’t believe that this is possible. I’m going through this everyday. I don’t know what to do

  3. john
    June 8, 2017 at 7:36 am

    I don’t know exactly how to even begin, i been reading all comments on this site for past 6 months and at first i could not believe that this is basically text book description of my now ex gf, worst part of it is that this was my first real relationship therefore i did not know what relationships are like which made me even more vulnerable to her and not seeing “red flags” but how could i, she was perfect at begging she was so much fun, she was everything i ever wanted, those persons are but it is all an act to get you hooked and once i was hooked her cracks started to show, she started to get jealous not on other girls but of my friends gf, and later it reached father and father to basically i could not be in company of other girls, cause they are all whores, while she only had guy friends and i should be okay with that since girls are all drama and she is not like that, witch i loved about her but wait she was even worse total drama queen, constant chaos, fights about everything, and it was usually something out of blue that i did not see coming, and since she was “perfect” at begging she hooked me into always trying to fix the random situation to get that perfect love back, witch in the end nobody could do, in trying to fix it she would have crazy outbursts where she would basically bash me to the ground, cause she would threaten to leave me, and she distanced me from my friends, i did not go home for like 4-5 months, she gets you into the hole where u can not even talk about it to anybody since u don not have anybody, and we are men at least me don’t talk about emotions, so many dramas , so many fights, god knows about what, i sure don’t know, but the big thing was that she was insecure and watching any kind of porn, or random pictures of pretty girls on facebook or anything at all, and in my insanity to please this hungry monster i deleted all my social profiles instagram, facebook, but i still continued watching porn from time to time, hence chaos again, and i said to her that if that is the problem i am gonna fix it, cause u know to them it is always and i mean always something you need to fix, they are always right, guess what that did not change a thing, still random outbursts happened, and notice the pattern where they are never wrong and they do not admit, apologize, worst part is that there is still some part left in you that knows this is wrong and to anybody that reads this get out now. Once she saw my history on my computer where i was searching site that was something like this one, and she read it and she said her self that that is her, but guess what nothing changed nothing. Now comes the worst part, since persons like her are obsessed with control,control.. they always must know what u are doing,i was going to visit my sister for a month and at our goodbye she cried was really emotional and i thought she really loves me, took a week to start dramas to start again and i found out that she installed monitoring program to SPY on me, wanna know worst part , i forgave her even though she lied to my face she did not installed and later admited that she did, than i took best advice no contact.I wanna thank who ever made this post cause i believe i am the one of lucky ones who didn’t marry her and have children cause she destroyed me to the point of my having ticks 24/7 in my leg, sometimes forehead. I am happy i got out of that hell, thing i want since i am depressed and cant concentrate for shiit, is for some advice how to move on working on my self to become better person since i am not doing that well. and i wanna thank anybody who commented. ps 1/10th of story…she would yell, destroy plates and glasses, even got hit with an elbow once when i tried to apologize, i was so blind…… not proud.

  4. Paul Rowley
    May 30, 2017 at 1:22 am

    I can completely relate to this. I seem to spend a good part of my day planning and trying (in vein) to think outside the square of ANYTHING that may annoy her to avoid the barrage of verbal abuse we suffer daily. As many men her would say, it seems pointless as they ALWAYS will find something..anything.. to use as an excuse to berate you. My partner just returned from a week overseas on a girlfriends pampering break and the complete change in the household while she was away was incredible. My sons (8 and 6) seemed so much happier as of course did I. When we left her at the airport a week ago the very first thing my 6 year old said was ‘dad – we have a whole week of not being yelled at…’. That comment alone broke my heart. Anyway she returned home yesterday armed with a weeks worth of bottled up rage and let fly moments after walking in the front door – so and we are back to the lives we know best – and hate.

  5. Stephen
    May 28, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    When I first met my wife she was amazing, slightly mad, but nothing to speak of.

    On the weekend of our wedding she began a rude, arogant, ignorant woman. She screamed at me in the bedroom, she’s Italian and pretended she didn’t understand what the registra was saying with the vows and said no. I at the time thought she was trying to be funny. Then she has got worse and worse. Now I can’t even ask her a question without being screamed at, told to fuck off, called an idiot etc.

    She was a banker and i am beginning to see why narcissistic people go into banking.

    She caused me so much stress I had a stroke at the age of 49.
    And all she’s done since the stroke is belittle me in public, ridicule me in private, and generally behave in a way that my friends and family tell me to leave her. I haven’t yet but I think that’s the only option.

    I am a laid back, happy go lucky, loving kind soft hearted giant. I’d rather help than harm and she’d rather hurt than help.

    I am still recovering from the stroke, 6 months on and her behaviour has gotten a lot worse.

    Now my family and all evil, thieves and she hates them. She makes stuff up that has never happened and says abusive 5hings about my family. Then it’s always a choice either them and my friends or her.
    I think she’s just made the choice for me.

    Good god how did I fall in love with an evil, abusive, spiteful, vindictive woman.

    I trained, run, look great for my age and now after the stroke I’m fat, ugly and useless according to her. It’s always about how shit I am and how great she is. How fat I am, of course I have lost muscle I nearly died from a stroke. They did all the checks and I have a perfectly healthy body bar a shoulder and neck injury from a car crash.

    She is about to lose me, I love her but have stopped liking her. I just can’t be around her as I never know what vile verbal assault she will come out with next.

    Glad you wrote the article as it has shown me no matter how much love, tolerance, patience and attention I give her it will never be good enough. I am a shit to be flushed away in her eyes.

    In my eyes I am an amazing wonderful god like man who have more love in my shit than she could must in her entire life.


  6. Not Proud
    May 24, 2017 at 1:43 am

    I have posted here before, and feel like I am in an understanding group of men who won’t judge me. I am wondering if anyone else is experiencing what I find myself doing?

    I find myself altering my life to my own detriment – to not get flack from my wife. Case in point – I did not go to the gym yesterday (which I want to) when she was working from home. I chose not to go because I did not want to hear her complain, rant, or criticize me on how I use my time. However, later that day, she and her son went to the gym. So who’s fault is it that I did not go? Totally mine, I audit and withhold information, I alter my life and do whatever I can to avoid her rants, criticisms, inquisitions and more.

    My behavior seems fundamentally wrong to me – a grown man acting this way. I am 6’2, ’ and she is half my size. I am not afraid of her physically, as that has never happened. However, I live my life in fear for her endless victim statements and criticisms of me. I would rather take a beating than face these.

    Is this normal, or have any of you had this type of fear based behavior? Thanks for your comments.

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