If You Answer 'No' To These 5 Questions, You Don't Feel Emotionally Safe In Your Relationship

If you're a people-pleaser, you might end up feeling in emotionally unsafe in relationships more often than others do.

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Feeling emotionally safe is an important factor in staying in a relationship with someone, but what happens when you spot some signs of a toxic relationship?

Did you fall in love with a person who was so amazing that you thought you’d been blessed with a soulmate? Then, did you find the relationship deteriorating into something more like being cursed with a cellmate? That happens all too often. I wish it didn’t, but it does. Sometimes, you're not quite sure what is wrong. In that case, there are a few deep questions you can ask yourself to figure things out.


You’ve heard that when something seems too good to be true, it is. This applies to relationships, too.

One big thing that is true is that you are responsible for keeping yourself safe. Sometimes, you forget this when you are so charmed and enchanted by that seemingly perfect new person in your life. You abandon your concerns and your judgment to experience the joys of falling in love, while being swept off your feet. That happens and things only get better as time goes on when you are in a healthy relationship and feel emotionally safe. But there are far too many that don’t work out that way.


I hate to burst your bubble but there are people in the world who simply want to have power over you. All the charm, seduction, and seeming perfection is short-lived. In fact, it usually only lasts long enough to get you to fall for them, move in, marry, or get pregnant. Shortly thereafter they start trying to control you, your life, your family, friends, and finances.

And, with that need for control, the charm, seduction, and seeming perfection become what it always was: lying, exploitation, and manipulation. You don’t want to believe it. You want to keep the "happily ever after" story. You want to believe the lies that they were magical, and you were enchanted. It seemed perfect. You want to believe the promises, even though all evidence in your day-to-day life tells you differently. Yet, you hold on, hoping they will change.

You tell yourself, "If only I am more patient, kind, loving, understanding, nurturing, undemanding, compassionate, etc., then things will get better." When you are in an emotionally unsafe relationship, your partner is counting on you believing it’s your fault things aren’t working. In fact, once you think about it, you’ll realize that, actually, everything is your fault— at least, that’s what your partner tells you. You are not emotionally safe. In fact, you’re likely not safe in any way.

What exactly is emotional safety?

This quote from Anais Nin says it all: "We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are."


When you are wearing rose-colored glasses, you will miss all the relationship red flags. When you see poor behavior or things that make you feel uncomfortable, you rationalize, justify, and make excuses for them. You are now accepting and condoning them and, you’re the one who is hurting.

If you are trusting, loving, honest, and reliable, you expect everyone to be. We see people as we are and that’s a wonderful place to start in any relationship. The problem is that we forget to take off the rose-colored glasses. We refuse to see the red flags. We don’t want to believe people use people, and we don’t want to believe we are allowing ourselves to be used, either.

You are emotionally unsafe when you cannot be open, honest, and vulnerable without being fearful of being put down, discounted, or made fun of. When only one person is open, honest, and vulnerable, too often, the other is power-hungry and using you for a doormat. Don’t let anyone wipe their feet on you.

To be safe means to be free from harm and hurt. You also want to be free from anticipating being harmed or hurt. When someone wants to have power over you, your freedom is in jeopardy. You begin to anticipate being hurt, again. You are not emotionally safe and maybe not physically safe either. You have to be safe to risk, to expose, and to share.


In his book, Emotional Safety, author Don Catherall says, "One partner can say something stupid, and the other person ignores it or doesn’t look at it as significant. There’s a level of trust. But when they lose that safety, everything has the potential to flare up. They stop taking things at face value or giving each other the benefit of the doubt." Then, you’re often not emotionally safe. You’re afraid. You don’t want to be. You want to trust, so you make up excuses for the behavior, but you’re not feeling safe. Can you acknowledge that to yourself?

Five questions to ask yourself to see if you feel emotionally unsafe in your relationship

1. Are you feeling safe in your relationship?

2. Can you trust your partner with your innermost feelings, and not fear being put down?

3. Can you trust your partner to listen to you with interest and compassion?

4. Can you trust your partner to want the best for you, and do what is possible to make it happen?

5. Can you trust your partner to keep your secrets safe, and protect your vulnerabilities?

If your answer to these questions is "no", then you are not emotionally safe.

If any of these things are true, take this important piece of relationship advice: it’s time to rip off the rose-colored glasses, stand up, and take a good look around. What are you putting up with? What are you making excuses for? What are you continuously rationalizing and justifying that is uncaring, thoughtless, and dismissive?


These destructive patterns in your partner are not your fault. Likely, your partner tells you they are. That’s to keep the power over you. And, if you go along with it, you are enabling your partner to continue to misuse and abuse you. You might not want to think of it as abuse. You don’t want to believe your partner is abusive. You don’t want to believe you would allow yourself to be abused. But it is abuse.

Stop taking the blame for your partner’s bad behavior! It’s not your fault. It’s a choice the other person is making. Stop making excuses for your partner’s abuse. Rip off those rose-colored glasses and throw them away for good. Who would be foolish enough to wear them once they realize that they are being abused? People who have little self-esteem and even less self-confidence.

If you are recognizing a pattern and believing that you may be trapped in here, know that you can escape. You are the only person who can keep you emotionally safe. Being with someone who needs to have power over you and keep you uncertain and in fear is the first sign to recognize.

There are people who hijack a relationship for their own purposes and then relentlessly scavenge it for power, status, and control.


Does that sound — or more importantly, feel — familiar? Power is the air that they breathe. They need, crave, and demand it. When you’re with them, you are being suffocated so that they can take control. So, stop! You are emotionally unsafe, and that won’t change. It's hard to believe because you've been telling yourself that with enough love, patience, and all that from you, your partner will finally believe they are loved enough and will start to relax. But that won’t happen.

An abusive partner is only interested in what feeds their need for power and control. It sounds harsh but they really couldn’t care less about you as long as they are getting what they need. They don’t have love to give you. Instead, they have uses for you.

You have the right to be emotionally safe and the responsibility to keep yourself emotionally safe. Are you willing to rip off those rose-colored glasses and see how it is, at last? Great. That’s a big vote in favor of yourself, and you deserve to be safe. Believe that. Emotional safety means feeling accepted. It is the sense that you are safe from emotional attack or harm.


A mate who means you no good will never allow you to feel accepted, acceptable, or good enough. If all this sounds horribly familiar, that’s the first important step to recovery. The next is to get help recognizing the patterns, traits, and cycles. Then you have to change your attitude, mindset, and strategy to step into your own power, and say “no” to abuse.

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor, works with committed couples who know they love each other and want their once-great relationships back, stronger, closer, healthier, and more intimate. She is the author of Kaizen For Couples: Smart Steps to Save, Sustain & Strengthen Your Relationship.