So, you’ve fallen in love.

You’ve gotten to know somebody. You’ve integrated them into your life. You’ve allowed yourself to become vulnerable to them. You really have fallen in love.

But, when love-struck, did rose-coloured glasses come with it?

Often, emotional abuse occurs gradually and sneakily. Opposed to physical abuse, emotional abuse won’t leave you with visible bruises and scars. Manipulation may begin small, and you may not even notice you’re the victim of abuse until later into the relationship. Relationships are a whirlpool of emotion, intensity, chemistry and either healthy or unhealthy choices.

So, what are some signs that your relationship is bordering unhealthy? Or, what are some hidden signs that you may be a victim of an emotional abuser?

Here are 9 hidden signs of emotional abuse you need to be aware of. 

1) They lack empathy

This is probably something you can gauge early in the relationship.

How does your significant other respond when you’ve come to them teary-eyed after a long day at work? How did they react when you tagged them in a sad dog video on Facebook? How do they speak about current events, societal issues, and your concerns or heartbreak?

If you find they are lacking empathy, this might be a red flag for how they will navigate your relationship down the road.

2) They become jealous easily

If you find your significant other becomes jealous easily, alarms should be ringing.

Jealousy is a sign of control, which is a warning of emotional abuse. Relationships should be based on mutual respect, not possession or control.

There should be a healthy flow of communication and trust in your relationship.

3) They don’t respect your privacy

It’s important that you have your own safe place.

Whether your significant other is constantly keeping tabs on your whereabouts, or scrolling through your text messages, it’s inappropriate. Trust is like love: you don’t need “proof” of it, you can just feel it.

It’s important that both you and your partner function as freestanding individuals with privacy that chose to share their lives with one another.

4) They won’t allow constructive disagreements or discussions

Communication is key to a productive relationship.

Discussing your concerns, upsets, and wishes with your partner is essential to a functioning connection. If you find that your discussions turn into heated arguments, then that might be a red flag. Your partner should be able to take accountability for their actions and respect the way you feel.

Regardless of how heated an argument might become, name-calling, negative remarks and belittling comments are never appropriate. If these are characteristics in your discussions, then you may be a victim of verbal abuse.

Society has perpetuated name-calling, “Oh, he is such a JERK!” Instead of using these negative, useless terms, try discussing your feelings constructively: “I feel ____, because of ____.”

5) They are dictating your decisions – and potentially manipulating them to be in your best interest

You are an individual: capable of your own thoughts, actions, decisions and feelings. You should feel the freedom to express yourself openly.

Manipulation is a common tactic of emotionally abusive people. Often, it is done subtly. You may find that your partner spins it in a way that it seems to be beneficial to you: “Why would you go to her birthday party? She isn’t even that good of a friend.”

Your significant other can always have your best interest in mind, but they shouldn’t manipulate or control how you think or act.

6) You are becoming isolated from other people in your life

Isolating yourself in a new relationship is easy. In fact, many couples will find they’ve become immersed in their romance. However, this should die down.

A healthy balance between your partner and your social/family life is vital. Your significant other should encourage you to nourish other existing relationships in your life. Controlling partners may try to isolate their girlfriend or boyfriend to ensure they have full control.

7) You are feeling more weighed down or insecure than you are feeling raised up and confident

Love feels too good to feel bad. You should feel weightless, confident and brave when you’re in a healthy relationship.

Of course, you’ll still battle your demons. Your insecurities will still exist, but you should have the odd moments where you can look in the mirror and see yourself the way your partner sees you. If you’re feeling heavy or insecure in your relationship, it might be a sign of emotional abuse.

Have there been subtle comments that have highlighted your insecurities?  Has your significant other acted or spoken in a way that made you feel unworthy or heavy? If love isn’t lifting you up, then it likely isn’t the love worth keeping.

8) You’ve said, “But when it’s good, it’s so good!”

PSA: When it’s “bad”, it can still be good.

How many times have you heard somebody justify a nasty, painful fight with their boyfriend or girlfriend by claiming it can be REALLY good sometimes?

You don’t have to “fight hard” just to “love harder”. You can be respectful, loving, kind and understanding even when you and your partner have a disagreement. Do not justify the toxicity of the relationship by citing the good days.

An emotional rollercoaster is a common trait of an emotional abuser. The up and downwards motions can create a dependent addictiveness to the victim: always seeking to be on an upward swing again. The abuser may need to know that the victim will continue to seek their approval, thus beginning toxic, painful fights.

9) Your gut says that you aren’t being treated properly

Listen to your intuition! If you have a feeling that things aren’t right in your relationship, then they probably aren’t.

So are you a victim of emotional abuse? If you are, just know there will be brighter days around the corner. It may be painful to walk away, but when you do, you’ll be one step closer to being in a constructive, healthy relationship. And please don’t be afraid to seek help if it’s too much to handle on your own.

Be fearless in seeking what is right for you. You deserve nothing less.

Written by Celina Dawdy