Women can be abusive too.
There’s a common and deeply pervasive misconception floating around that men can’t be emotionally abused in relationships.
There’s this perception that men are decisive, unemotional, headstrong, and don’t bend to others' wills. So how could they possibly be emotionally manipulated if they don’t really have emotions to manipulate?
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
My experience with an emotional psychopath:
I dated an emotionally manipulative woman for two years.
When I told her that I wanted to break up, she said that it was because of my emotional blocks to intimacy. She said that I was afraid. She said that I was a commitment-phobe. She told me that I was being too emotional. She even went so far as suggesting that I had bi-polar disorder and sent me a laundry list of symptoms that I supposedly had that clearly meant that I had bi-polar. And while I recognize that bi-polar disorder is a real thing that many people live with (i.e. she didn’t just invent a disease to make me feel unstable), my family doctor assured me that I did not have anything resembling bi-polar disorder.
While I am a sensitive person and am highly in touch with my emotions, the fact that I embrace my sensitivity did not mean I had something wrong with me. This was just a tactic to slyly get me to doubt my own sanity and decision making ability. And it worked. For close to a year.
As time went on in our relationship, I felt increasingly unlike myself. And I was miserable. I even started having my first series of panic attacks as my body revolted against how unhappy I felt. My body was saying no when my mouth didn't feel able to.
It took me a long time to come to terms with how unhealthy the relationship was, and it is my hope that in sharing my experiences someone reading this may be able to recognize the symptoms much sooner than I did.
How do you know you’re dating an emotionally manipulative woman?
Some of the clearest indicators that you’re in a relationship with an emotionally manipulative woman are that you always feel like you’re in the wrong, you feel like you need to walk on eggshells around them, and you live in a constant state of fear and anxiety.
But let’s dive into some specifics.
See how many of the following five things resonate with you:
1. It feels like everything is your fault
If you constantly feel like everything is your fault then you’re likely in an abusive relationship.
We usually get to this place in our relationship because we have been constantly criticized by our partners and we feel like we can’t do anything correctly.
It’s also difficult for emotionally abusive people to take any sense of responsibly for their actions (so whenever something goes wrong, you’re the one who has to take the fall for it).
2. She constantly twists your words and uses them against you
If, whenever you do try to stand up for yourself, you mysteriously find yourself feeling like you’re still in the wrong, then there’s a good chance that she’s twisting your words on you and manipulating you into thinking that it’s still your fault.
This part of the relationship can be so tricky to spot because emotionally manipulative people are so good at covering their tracks.
As long as she is blaming you for everything, it is inevitable that she is avoiding taking responsibility for her part in your conflicts.
3. She criticizes you, overtly and covertly, all the time
There are certain things that, when said, can crumble the trust in a relationship in a matter of seconds.
If your partner is cruel to you and is constantly belittling and berating you, then this should be a huge warning sign.
I’ve had clients who have had their partners say (awful) things along the lines of…
- “I would have sex with you more often if I actually enjoyed it. Maybe we’re just too different in what we like.”
- “I would have a more successful career if you weren’t so hell-bent on squashing any of my attempts to be my own person” (when in fact, the exact opposite was true).
- “That dinner party was excruciatingly painful. Why are you so awkward with people in conversation? You make everyone so uncomfortable.” (when in fact, she was the one who people found to be unbearable. I.e. she was projecting her own insecurities on to him and making him suffer to offset her own social anxiety).
4. She slowly isolates you from your friends and family
Emotional psychopaths knowingly or unknowingly crave ownership over the entirety of your thoughts. Because as soon as you start to doubt them and their seemingly all-knowing ways, then they know that you’ll probably leave them.
One of the easiest ways to control your every thought is to isolate you away from the people in your life who actually care enough about you to encourage you to distance yourself from them.
Frequently, emotionally manipulative people will slowly distance you from your friends, family members, and anyone of significance in your life. They’ll use any excuse they can to get you away from them. They’ll tell you that they are the ones who are trying to control or manipulate you. They’ll tell you that those people secretly hate you and talk behind your back. They’ll say whatever it takes to get you away from them.
As soon as you notice your partner encouraging you to distance from significant people in your life, stop, sit for a moment, and think “Is this person trying to get me away from these people for healthy, altruistic reasons (i.e. are these people legitimately toxic for me), or are they trying to isolate me so that I’m more easily manipulated and controlled?” And if it’s the latter, run for the hills.
5. You feel like you can never do anything right
When we constantly live under someone’s metaphorical thumb, we’ll begin to feel like we can’t do anything right.
Over time, under the control of an emotional psychopath, we will begin to doubt our thoughts, opinions, hobbies, friends, and decision making ability. This is exactly where they want us. Because this is when we are the most easily manipulated.
If you feel like your sense of self and your personal power is dwindling every day, talk to someone (not your partner) who you love and trust and tell them your concerns. Tell them where you think your life has gotten to, and ask their honest opinion of the situation. More likely than not, they will be glad that you came to them and they will be there to encourage you to leave your emotionally abusive relationship.
Of course, women aren’t psychotic for having emotions
Let me get something clear…
There’s already so much crazy-shaming around women being emotional in modern society. And I’m not looking to add to this in the slightest.
I’m not saying that women being emotional is bad, or that crying is manipulative, or that her simply having emotions is any form of conscious gas-lighting you.
But there is a huge divide between someone having emotions and someone intentionally using their words and emotions to make you doubt yourself, your decisions, your sanity, and your sense of self.
We all have a part of us that is considerate of others and wants to do the right thing. When someone wants to use that part of us against ourselves, and they aim to slowly erode our self-esteem, sense of self, and joy in our lives, then we are in relationship with an emotionally abusive partner.
Recognize the symptoms, talk to a close trusted friend about your partner (especially if that friend is someone who your partner has tried to isolate you away from - since they likely have your best interest at heart and your partner sees them as a threat), and get out of the relationship as soon as possible.
I wish you the best of luck in your journey.