How To Know If You're In A Relationship With A Bully —​ And 6 Ways To Deal With It

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how to deal with bullies
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Put them in their place.

You're dating a great guy. Yeah, he can be sweet, fun, generous and have a great sense of humor. There's just one little problem: sometimes he acts like a bully. It's good to know the signs of bullying so you can fully understand how to deal with bullies and handle this important issue.


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Your boyfriend's bullying behavior might include:

  • Raising his voice
  • Belittling your choices
  • Refusing a simple request
  • Not able to let go of an argument
  • Calling you names
  • Never apologizing for his behavior

When the guy you are dating acts like a bully, it can be very intimidating. It seems like he loves you and most of the time you get along well. Yet, there are times when the bully shows up and you wonder about the choice you've made.

Dating a bully can chip away at your self-esteem and confidence, which is never good for you or the relationship. 

Dating a bully comes with its own set of problems. You may freeze up or suppress your own needs and give in, doing things his way to keep the peace. This is a natural reaction but can allow resentment to build. You might also feel apprehensive as you want to brace yourself for the next bullying episode.

What can you do handle the situation and retain your self-esteem? Here's how to deal with bullies, especially when you're in a relationship with one. These will help you navigate these emotional waters and potentially turn things around.

1. Decide you will not be bullied.

Making this decision to no longer be a victim is very empowering. From here you can start to take steps to address the bullying behavior or focus on self-preservation.

2. Let your boyfriend know you will only talk to him when he is respectful.

Don't bring this up in the middle of an argument. Say something when things are calm again. Tell him that he needs to speak in a regular tone of voice and volume, avoid name calling and listen to and consider what you have to say. He can't fight with you if you won't play his game.


RELATED: 9 Signs You're DEFINITELY In A Soul-Sucking, Toxic Relationship


3. Set boundaries and limits for behavior that feels intimidating or aggressive.

This is so important for your self-esteem. Practice sticking to these limits by saying no, disagreeing with him or simply walking away until he cools off. Please do not expect instant change. This method takes time to shift a person's behavior, so be a bit patient. Watch for signs that he is making an effort.

In truth, this may not work, but you'll have to see how he responds. Your gentle, yet firm, consistent response to his bullying is the best shot you have to create a shift in the way the two of you interact.

4. Let him know the consequences of his bullying behavior.

Explain to your boyfriend in a non-threatening, calm way what happens when he bullies you. You may tell him you plan to retreat until he is calmer and can speak to you with respect. You can also describe how his bullying negatively affects your feelings for him.

5. Express your expectation for mutual respect and support.

Explain that he needs to consider your feelings and point of view on situations. You can also point out that you feel more inclined to do nice things for him when he considers what is good for the both of you and not just him.

6. Recognize that self-preservation is your top priority.

If you try these steps and your boyfriend doesn't make any effort to adapt, you may need to leave the relationship. Bullying can turn into more aggressive behavior with time.

If you don't see his willingness to change and his behavior is damaging your self-esteem or worse, becomes more threatening, promise yourself you will leave. There are better men out there who would be thrilled to be in a relationship with a wonderful woman like you.

Above all else, take care of number one — that means you!


RELATED: 5 Signs You're Being Verbally Abused — And Don't Know It


Ronnie Ann Ryan is a dating coach for women over forty who has helped successful single gals find love for over fifteen years. Ready to stop wasting precious time on dating mistakes that keep you single? Listen to her free audio program 12 First Date Mistakes That Ruin Your Chances for Love.

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