21 Signs You're In A Realllllly Unhealthy Relationship (And Need To GTFO)

And what to do if you are.

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An unhealthy relationship is harmful to your self-esteem and confidence. If you have been in one, then you know what I am talking about.

When in an unhealthy relationship, you are left feeling confused and emotionally isolated.

One type of an unhealthy relationship is emotional abuse. Research has found that emotional abuse is as damaging as physical and sexual abuse. Emotional abuse is meant to demean and humiliate. It comes in the form of actions and words. The abuser wants to control and dominate the victim.


Emotional abuse can happen in any relationship. It can also happen in friendships and at work. If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s important to remember you aren’t the crazy one.

How to know if you're in an unhealthy relationship, look for these 21 signs: 

  1. They constantly remind you of your shortcomings and failures.
  2. They withhold displays of affection and sex as a way of punishment.
  3. They belittle your dreams and accomplishments.
  4. They do not think you are capable of knowing what is best for you.
  5. They blame you for their problems, mood, and overall unhappiness.
  6. They will make you feel bad for wanting to spend time with your friends or doing anything fun without them.
  7. They accuse you of things that aren’t true and this leaves you forced to prove your love.
  8. They control the finances, so they can control your actions and how you spend your money.
  9. They insist on always being right, so you are always wrong.
  10. They make you feel as if you aren’t good enough for them, therefore you should be thankful they are in a relationship with you. 

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  11. They constantly humiliate you in front of other people.
  12. They don’t want to hear about your pain, except to reinforce you deserve whatever pain you feel.
  13. They minimize your problems, and always make their problems worse.
  14. They make you feel guilty about everything.
  15. They constantly rub it in when you are wrong.
  16. They bring up the past a lot and hold a grudge.
  17. They ignore or exclude you.
  18. They tell mean, inappropriate, and demeaning jokes.
  19. They get really angry when you speak to your family. They refuse to spend any Holidays at your families house.
  20. They constantly call or text you, when you are not with them.
  21. They threaten to commit suicide if you leave.

So, the question is, if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, why do you stay? There is no easy answer for this. There are actually many theories as to why. But, no one has come up with one definitive answer. Is it a result of an unhealthy childhood? Maybe. Is it socialization? Maybe. Or, is it genetic? Maybe.

YourTango Sherry Amatenstein explains why some women keep going back to abuse in the video below.

It’s important to remember it’s not your fault. Emotional abusers are very manipulative. Emotional abuse needs to be taken seriously. Don’t ignore it or try to fight back. This will only make things worse.


There are steps to take in order to handle this:

1. Be aware.

You need to learn all you can about the perpetrator and emotional abuse. You also need to stop believing the nonsense you have been told. You can choose to leave. Remember, the longer you stay in the relationship the longer it takes to get over it.

2. If you decide to leave, admit to your mistake.

You chose the wrong guy, and that’s alright. Now you know what you don’t like. You’d be surprised how many people have gone through it. A lot of people don’t like to talk about it.

There is a lot of shame. But, we have found that talking about it, can actually help you.

3. Remember who you used to be.


How did you feel about yourself before the unhealthy relationship? What types of activities did you enjoy? What were your dreams and goals? It’s easy to lose yourself, but you can pick up the pieces and move on.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Your Power Back And End Emotional Abuse

4. Set new relationship standards.



What were some of the red flags at the beginning of the relationship that you ignored? Always be aware that you can’t change a man. Ask yourself why you gave him so many passes?

Now, make a list of your must haves and can’t stand's. You can even add icing on the cake to the list.

5. Don’t expect to be happy immediately.

Getting over an emotionally abusive relationship takes time. Take it one day at a time. Remember, to breathe. Your breath is very soothing. Inhale slowly and exhale slowly.

Stay in the present. We can’t go back and we can’t predict the future. It’s like cleaning out a room. The room needs to be cleaned out, painted and then reorganized.


6. Learn to trust yourself again

We all make mistakes. Make sure to tell yourself you are much wiser, now. Start your day with a positive affirmation. It can be simple. One of my favorites is: "I am enough."

As time goes on you will build your strength up and be able to trust in yourself, again.

7. Believe that there is someone better out there for you.

It’s easy to feel hopeless. Even if you have been in a string of bad relationships, there is still someone out there better for you.

Someone that is more deserving and that will appreciate you. He will love you for you. He won’t expect you to be perfect all the time. And, he will have your back no matter what.


8. If you decide to leave, it’s best to cut off all contact with your ex.

That means no harmless texts or lunches. Resist the urge to see him on Facebook or any social media, for that matter. Having access to his cyber life is only a crutch. This will keep you stuck.

9. Allow yourself to feel lonely.


A breakup is never easy, even when you are the one doing the breaking up. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, "I don’t want to leave my relationship because I am scared I will feel lonely."

Feeling lonely is actually part of the process. When you end a relationship, you are actually grieving. When the grief process is over, you will have learned something. After people have ended a bad relationship, they feel a lot better than they did in the relationship.

10. After ending the relationship, it’s important to remember why you ended the relationship


It’s easy to remember the good things about the relationship and your ex. Maybe, in the beginning, it was good and that’s why you stayed. If you have to write a list of why you left. Say it over and over, this will help you be stronger.

Maybe, he cooked dinner, but it’s not that great if he only cooked meals he liked. And, after being in a relationship for a year he still doesn’t know your favorite foods.

11. Take care of yourself

Give yourself as much time as you need to get over it. A pint of ice cream, magazines and a good dose of reality T.V. are perfectly alright. You may decide to stay in for a weekend or two, as long as it doesn’t last too long and you are able to get back into your regular schedule, again.


Then, you can go to the gym or for a long walk on the beach.

When you feel you can move on, congratulate yourself for being strong and wise enough to leave. I know it’s not easy. By leaving, you have given yourself a gift. You are saying goodbye to a relationship that isn’t working for you and allowing happiness into your life.

If you have made the decision to leave, then own it. Make sure you have a good support team to keep you on track. This is also a good time to talk with a professional. This will help you with the healing process, which will help you make better choices in the future.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many people heal from an unhealthy relationship, and see what they are truly capable of achieving. For more information, please visit Lessons for Love.