7 Ways to Tell if Your Partner Might Be Manipulative

7 Ways to Tell if Your Partner Might Be Manipulative

By Suzannah Weiss. Originally published on Everyday Feminism.

“I think I do it to distract myself.”

I was telling a friend about my newly acquired habit of picking the split ends from my waist-length hair.

“From what?”

“Anger.” I thought about it. “I’m angry all the time.”

“With who?”

My eyes darted around the room. I was scared to admit it. “My boyfriend.”

I was so petty. The words came flooding back from my subconscious. How could I be so petty as to resent someone who never yelled at me or physically hurt me, who I loved and wanted more than anything to get along with?

But all the fights that seemed resolved every time he dropped me off at my apartment kept creeping back. Once I’d realize they weren’t resolved, I’d put on Friends reruns and pick at my hair to forget them, the red tips gathering on my white sheets.

It didn’t matter anyway. I was just overreacting. He was so loving and kind in so many ways. I couldn’t just let things go, could I?

I couldn’t. The memories would resurface days and weeks later.

There was the time I refused to lend him money because he hadn’t paid me back last time, and he sarcastically responded that if I want to treat our relationship like a set of transactions, then we’d might as well put everything on a spreadsheet and never get each other gifts.

Selfish. Greedy. Viewing relationships like transactions. That was me. So petty. Such an underserving girlfriend.

The truncated hairs fell one by one, severing the half of me still angry he never paid me back.

“Name one other time I’ve been unreliable,” he asked in order to make me justify my decision.

“You never read my thesis.” He’d said he would “later tonight” one day in January; it was March.

“Of course I’m going to read it. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. It hurts that you don’t believe in me.”

I was hurting him. I didn’t believe in my own boyfriend.

Never mind the money. Never mind the thesis. What was wrong with me?

This was the guy who had surprised me by arriving at my apartment with newly bought ingredients and cooking me dinner. Who had patiently reassured me about all my body image concerns even though I must have sounded ridiculous.

But I was so mad.

Mad he wouldn’t pay me back the money he owed. Mad he didn’t keep his promises. Mad he turned this all around on me. Mad at him for making me mad at myself, and mad at myself for being mad at him.

I picked one hair after another, lost in the hypnotizing strands.

My brain was as split as the tips of my hair. I couldn’t tell which half of me was right.

While caught in this cacophony of conflicting thoughts, I went to a book fair with my boyfriend and a title caught my eye: The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. This should be interesting, I thought. I’m interested in psychology. I stuffed it into my paper bag, all-you-can-fit for five dollars.

It was only during that fleeting moment between our kiss goodbye and my Friends reruns that I admitted to myself why I had really bought that book.

The next day, I opened it instead of my computer. As I half expected, I saw myself – both selves – scattered across the pages.

And in the midst of those pages, I learned that gaslighting – my partner’s technique of making me doubt my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions – was an abusive manipulation tactic. For the first time, I saw why his behavior stressed me out. And it wasn’t because I was a bad partner.

If you can identify any of these seven patterns in your own relationship, you may not be a bad partner either. You may simply have been manipulated into believing you are one. If you find yourself in that position, I hope this list helps you the way The Verbally Abusive Relationship helped me: by providing an explanation for your distress other than your own inadequacy.

1. Conflicts Never Feel Resolved

If conflicts from days, weeks, or months ago still bother you even though you’ve discussed them with your partner, it’s possible they manipulated you into believing the discussion was over before it was.

My partner accomplished this manipulation by deflecting blame onto me.

Even if the action under discussion was his, I was just looking at it from the wrong angle. He’d tell me what the right angle was, and I’d feel guilty for not seeing things that way in the first place.

When our arguments were “resolved,” the resolution was usually that I had to work on myself because I was overreacting or my expectations were unreasonable.

Making someone feel oversensitive and unreasonable is gaslighting.

For example, one night, I was painting an instrument he’d built. After he told me what to paint and hovered over me complaining that I was doing it all wrong, I got mad and left the room. When he asked what was wrong, I yelled out of frustration, “You’re so clueless!” (Admittedly, I could have handled this better as well.)

He then gave me a talk about how I needed to stop calling him names like “clueless” to back him into a corner with no choice but apologizing. I panicked. Could I be the manipulative one? Would he break up with me?

I went to the bathroom, and when I got out, I was relieved to find him standing there holding his cat. We stood together and pet her like nothing had ever happened. Forget about my anger toward him. I was just relieved he wasn’t mad at me – so I dropped it.

Our fights went on like this for months, with me getting hurt and then repressing that hurt so he didn’t get mad at me.  

As they started getting worse, a friend encouraged me to end the relationship. “But you fight with your boyfriend,” I pointed out.

“Our arguments end, though,” she said.

Finally, I saw why I could never get our arguments out of my mind: None of my concerns were ever addressed. They were simply deflected onto me.

I had stopped taking issue with his actions because I wasn’t allowed to, not because I felt better.

In a healthy relationship, your partner hears you out if you’re upset, and their goal is to avoid upsetting you in the future, not to debate whether you should have been upset in the first place.

2. When Your Partner Hurts You, You End Up Apologizing

Repeatedly gaslighted into believing my feelings were wrong, I grew remorseful for feeling them. Conversations would start with me believing he’d hurt me and end with me apologizing for getting hurt.

He’d convince me I was not only too hard on him, but also myopic. “Life is too short to get mad,” he’d say. “Can’t we just enjoy this nice day together?”

I’d tear up and think about how much I loved him and hated to taint our precious time together and thank him for reminding me what’s important in life and hug him and apologize for being so petty.

I’d go home on a high, feeling like I’d had a revelation about picking my battles, though the high would fade once I realized the conflict wasn’t resolved.

My concerns became results of my own pettiness. They didn’t matter – I was oversensitive, after all. I couldn’t be trusted.

Feeling like your feelings can’t be trusted to the point that you apologize for them is also a sign you’re being gaslighted.

3. You Don’t Feel You Deserve Your Partner

If someone makes you feel like the source of every conflict and convinces you that you’re shortsighted for getting upset, as my partner did by telling me it was unproductive to get angry and that it was my choice to be hurt by him, you may begin to feel like you don’t deserve them.

In fact, I wondered if I would drive all my future partners away for being so over-critical.

I grew to believe he was noble for resisting the urge to argue and I was small-minded in comparison. Thank God he was there to steer me back on track, I’d think. He understood what life was about.

Terrified I didn’t deserve him, I squashed my negative feelings to try to make myself more deserving.

This is what manipulative people want.

“It’s important to remember that you are not the problem; you’re simply being manipulated to feel bad about yourself, so that you’re more likely to surrender your power and rights,” psychologist Preston Ni writes in Psychology Today.

Since I was constantly trying to prove I was deserving, my partner always got what he wanted from me.

4. You’ve Done Things That Make You Uncomfortable to Avoid Conflict

Manipulation occurs when someone tries to force you out of your comfort zone. And I’m not talking about going on a spontaneous trip or trying a new food – I’m talking about disregarding your physical, emotional or financial boundaries.

Manipulative people have sneaky ways of making their partners think their comfort zones don’t matter.

My partner’s chosen method was convincing me my comfort zone was unreasonable and that respecting it would mean disrespecting his.

The first boundary he coaxed me to cross was my standard for safer sex.

Since he’d had unprotected sex since he’d last gotten tested, I wanted him to get tested or use a condom before sleeping with me. He told me condoms hurt, so I asked him to get tested – for months.

He kept saying he would make appointments but never did. Eventually, he confessed that doctors’ offices made him anxious. He told me he’d only had unprotected sex one time since he was last tested and she said she was STI-negative, so it shouldn’t be an issue. I got sick of having the same discussion over and over, so I gave in and had unprotected sex.

My decision was not safe either, but it was understandable given the alternative. I didn’t want to dishonor his own feelings about condoms or doctors’ offices and put him out of his comfort zone.

The next boundary he wore away at was financial. Since I made more money than him, he argued, I should cover our dates when he was short on cash.

I had enough money to pay for his meals, so I again felt petty that it made me uncomfortable. Why was I putting my own ability to save money over his ability to enjoy our time together?

He also got me to cough up cash by telling me I was privileged and couldn’t understand what he was going through. I didn’t want to be unsympathetic, so I helped him out. I was afraid I’d be an inconsiderate, spoiled girlfriend if I didn’t.

As these stories show, his weapon of choice was not overt aggression, but intellectual, seemingly rational arguments. If I couldn’t justify my boundaries intellectually, I couldn’t have them.

That’s the ultimate manipulation – not violating the boundaries you’re defending, but convincing you to take them down on your own.

5. They Don’t Answer Your Questions Directly

My partner once taught me a trick for job interviews.

If someone stumps you with a question, he said, change the subject. Talk about how passionate you are about your work, how you always give it 100%, how you don’t like to say 110% because that’s an imaginary standard that doesn’t hold us accountable. By the time you’re done, the interviewer won’t remember what they asked you.

I soon realized he took this same approach to our conversations, which explained why so many of them left me wondering “Where did this all start?” only to realize they started with me unhappy.

When I’d try to tell him something was wrong in our relationship or even discuss a problem in my life that wasn’t about him, he’d bring up a tangentially related experience of his own or an abstract philosophical concept that had nothing to do with us. It was maddening.

Manipulative people do this so you can’t expose them.

Instead of confronting their mistakes, they divert your attention to something else, often with an emotional story that you’d feel bad interrupting. So, you comply with their subject change and try to forget how the conversation started in the first place.

Unfortunately, if it started with something important to you, it comes back to haunt you later.

6. You Feel Like Two Different People

One minute, I’d be complaining about my partner to my friends and family. The next, I’d be defending him against their claims that he wasn’t good for me. One minute, I’d vow to change my ways and hold him to lower expectations. The next, I’d be angry with him for not meeting the expectations I held.

I felt like I had split personalities, my allegiances constantly shifting. My thoughts were muddled and confused.

But after gaining an understanding of manipulation, I realized the version of me that was aligned with him was not based on my own original thoughts. He had manipulated me into advocating for him.  

In fact, when I defended him, I sounded just like him. I ranted about how misunderstood he was. “Gas prices are ridiculous these days,” I’d point out when my friends found his habit of backing out of plans due to insufficient funds inconsiderate. “There was only one time he could have gotten anything,” I’d say to downplay the whole STI debacle. “I’m not perfect either,” I’d remind my friends, repeating something he liked to remind me.

I was in the middle of defending my boyfriend’s decision not to share any of the food in his house with me when my dad yelled, “Snap out of it!” Something clicked, and I realized I had been upset about all these things, too, before my partner convinced me they were no big deal.

Thankfully, I had family and friends who stood up for me – and stood up to me when I was gaslighting myself. Eventually, it became impossible to play the roles of both the loyal girlfriend and the friend and daughter of people who wanted the best for me. I had to pick one version of myself.

So I decided to speak up.

7. They Manipulate Your Beliefs About the Manipulation Itself

If you want to confront a manipulative person, Ni writes that they behave like bullies, so as you would stand up to a bully, “be sure to place yourself in a position where you can safely protect yourself, whether it’s standing tall on your own, having other people present to witness and support, or keeping a paper trail of the bully’s inappropriate behavior.”

But sometimes that doesn’t work. In my case, my partner used my “paper trail” as further evidence of my own pettiness.

That September, I pointed out that he still hadn’t read the thesis he promised to read in January. I didn’t even care about the thesis anymore, but I wanted him to understand why I had trouble putting faith in him rather than portraying my lack of trust as an attack.

“You didn’t have the right to yell at me for calling you out on not reading my thesis,” I said.

“Yes, I did.”

And that was about when I knew our relationship was headed downhill for good.

I was starting to see I didn’t deserve to feel like an ice queen for asking to split expenses or like I had to compromise my sexual boundaries to make him comfortable. And I knew that as long as I stayed with him, I would feel those pressures.

I dragged myself out of that relationship kicking and screaming, but I haven’t looked back since.

In her follow-up book The Verbally Abusive Man: Can He Change?, Evans writes that some verbally abusive people can change if they truly understand what they’re doing, which usually requires therapy, while others don’t recognize themselves as abusive.

When you confront a manipulative person, they will either take a good, hard look at themselves, or they will manipulate you into unseeing the manipulation.

That’s the final sign that you’re in a relationship with a manipulative person – and a loud and clear signal that they won’t change.

By the time of that conversation, I had already seen my partner’s manipulation too clearly for him to deny it, no matter how convincing his arguments were.

I hope that if you are being manipulated, what was previously fuzzy and confusing and so maddening you wanted to tear your hair out has come into focus for you as well.

Over two years since I ended that relationship, I’m still learning to view myself in a more positive light. I still gaslight myself all the time, but when I catch myself doing this, I try to remember my negative feelings are a sign something’s wrong, not a character flaw.

And I no longer pick my split ends.

Suzannah Weiss is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism and a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Salon, Seventeen, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and more. She holds degrees in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Modern Culture and Media, and Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University. You can follow her on Twitter @suzannahweiss.

Comment section

67 replies
  1. I am so grateful for this article. It feels so good to be reassured that I was not crazy for simply expressing myself. In this article I saw myself over and over again. And it has helped free me from the pain of thinking I am inadequate; that my feelings and experiences were and are totally inconsequential and wrong. Which is what I was made to feel and have somewhat carried with me from a relationship I was recently in. Really our emotions are always valid especially when involved in a relationship. And they always deserve the utmost respect. So thank you Ms. Weiss for bringing this issue to the light!

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and we are so happy to hear that this was helpful. You always deserve to have a relationship where it is safe to express yourself and you are not inadequate at all. Abusive partners often try to make their partners question their own perceptions of reality. Sometimes it can take the form of abuse known as gaslighting. In a healthy relationship each partner will have their emotions equally valued and respected. If you want to talk to an advocate, we are here 24/7 at 1-866-331-9474, through chat, and by texting “loveis” to 22522.

      Take care,

      Advocate LC

      1. Hello ! I need help for manipulation…. I was thought this z manipulation although my partner harass me but I don’t how to get out of it? He normally work on my emotions and made me feel that I am so bad and I use wrong words… I don’t know to respect but that was never my fault…. He start criticizing me like I look bad or I don’t know how to behave? and when I yelled on him he ever say he was kidding and starts crying….So normally I say sorry but sometimes I am not able to control my hurt and can’t forget my anger. He start saying I am not a good girl… I don’t deserve him and this is only his ability that he stayed for such a long time with me… No one else will ever care about me and he start insulting me and my norms, my values ,my family and talk like he is the only person who could ever care about me, none other than care for me nor my parents, nor my friends and nor my any future partner…. I start believing

        1. Hi there,

          Thanks for reaching out to us. It sounds like this is a really stressful and scary situation! It’s not okay for your partner to treat you this way. No one deserves to be put down or constantly criticized by the person who is supposed to care for them. If you’d like to talk this through with one of our advocates, please give us a call at 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text loveis to 22522.

    2. [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

      My husband is extremely emotionally abusive, my self esteem no longer exists. Agencies tell me without physical bruises they cannot help me. No proof. Any suggestions. At my wit’s end

      1. Hi Karen,

        Thank you for your comment. We’re so sorry that your husband is choosing to treat you this way. Please know that it’s not your fault, and you don’t deserve it. You’ve taken a very brave step by reading our website and reaching out for help. We encourage you to contact us directly by calling 1-866-331-9474, chatting here on our website or texting loveis to 22522. Our advocates will be happy to speak with you confidentially about your situation and talk through some options and potential resources, depending on your needs.

  2. You say you dragged yourself out of that relationship kicking and screaming – just how did you do it? I know I may need to leave, but a large part of me doesn’t want to. How do I do it? The idea of causing us both pain is unimaginable. Thanks.

    1. Celia,

      Thank you for reaching out to our blog community. It can be a really difficult decision whether or not to leave a relationship, especially when there is manipulation or abusive behaviors involved. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship that is based on respect, trust, communication and equality. We all have the right, even in a healthy relationship, to safely end a relationship at anytime for any reason. However, there can still be a lot of difficult emotions attached to that choice. Ultimately, how you choose to move forward is completely your decision. You definitely deserve to be safe and supported through this difficult process. If you would like to talk through this with an advocate, we would be happy to support you and explore some options you might have for moving forward safely. We are here 24/7 at 1-866-331-9474, through chat, or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

      Take care,

      Advocate RF

    2. I love someone who gaslights sometimes. He’s also a loving parent and wonderful friend to his friends. My heart keeps breaking over what I need and can’t get from him. And I’ve broken his heart in not staying. He said he was willing to work on our problems but in order to believe he could I wanted him to validate and repeat to me that what he’d done had been hurtful and why and he could not do it so I don’t believe thinks can be different in the future if he does not see how or why his behavior was hurtful. Then I swing back to wondering if I’ve lost a shot at a happy life with someone who loves me because I’m too inflexible and incapable of forgiving a hundred little paper cuts. He forgives. I have carried around so much resentment and anger over things that after months and years still feel unresolved

      1. Hi S,

        Thank you for your comment. Relationships can be so complex, and it sounds like you are in a difficult situation. We’d be happy to talk through it with you and maybe find some options or resources that could help. To speak confidentially with an advocate, you can call 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text loveis to 22522 anytime!

  3. “but when I catch myself doing this, I try to remember my negative feelings are a sign something’s wrong, not a character flaw.” -> This is where I go wrong. My partner was very controlling, telling me I couldn’t see certain people b/c they made him feel bad, telling me I shouldn’t joke about him in public b/c it made him feel bad,… Some of the things he demanded were so ridiculous that I reacted incredulously. This makes me doubt whether I am the one who put him down or the other way around. His demands were violating my boundaries, but was I being verbally abusive when I told him “not to be ridiculous, of course I am going to text my mom whenever I want” when he told me how it made him feel?? My head is such a mess! Because if my negative feelings are worth hearing, then his are worth hearing too, right?

    1. Hi Cordelia,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the blog community. It definitely sounds like you were experiencing some really controlling and abusive behaviors in your relationship. A healthy relationship has a foundation of trust, respect, equality, and communication. That means each partner is allowed to have relationships with friends and family, and make their own decisions about who they talk to or hang out with.

      I’m also hearing that you’re really concerned that there was mutual abuse present in your relationship. The thing is, mutual abuse doesn’t actually exist. One partner usually has more power or control in the relationship, and that can lead to the person experiencing the abuse reacting in unhealthy ways. Being upset about and responding to the abuse is very different than being abusive yourself. Yes, everyone has the right to have their feelings heard, but communicating in abusive ways and setting unhealthy boundaries for your partner is very different than expressing a concern about the relationship.

      Abuse can be very confusing or disorienting, and moving forward after experiencing abuse can be difficult. It’s great you’re reaching out about this, and if this is something that you’d like to talk about in more detail, please feel free to reach out to us. We are always here 24/7 by phone 1-866-331-9474, by chat on our homepage, or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

      Take care,
      Advocate JL

  4. *sigh* I know a few people like this who suffer from these problems, despite my wife and I’s best efforts to remove them from the situation. It’s always so frustrating that, most often, those who are in toxic relationships either don’t know or they just feel powerless to do anything (even if other people are willing to help).

  5. [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

    Hi! Thank you for this article! Made me realize even more that I wasn’t the crazy one, even though he made me feel like one. I was in an abusive relationship last year and even though I ended it 5 months ago, my ex still won’t leave me alone. We were together for a few months in spring and ended it in summer. At first he seemed like a great guy but after the first month did it all change: wanting to see me everytime when I had free time, being jealous about my friends (both female and male), calling me ridiculous when I went out with my female friends on a Saturday evening instead of being with him (even though I had seen him three times that week), replying negatively when I told a positive story of my life, texting me mean things when he was drunk, accusing me when he lost his credit card and when he couldn’t extend his visa etc. And this one time when I had just come home from work and was feeling tired and so preferred to stay at home that evening, he had suspicion that I’m mad at him (simply by not going out with him that night.)

    The break-up itself went ok – but we did it on skype because we live in different countries since June… We both knew that we were gonna live in different countries so on, so he suggested that we stay friends. Because I thought that it would just mean to not cut off completely and stay in contact, I thought about giving it a shot (anyways we would not be seeing each other physically because of the distance.) A month later it started to feel weird for me to still be in contact with him online a few times a week (plus during the “friend-time” he sent me a long hand-written letter calling me ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’, saying that he misses me and thinks about me every day and reminiscing our time together. Seriously?!) so I decided that I want to end this for good. Would maybe have done it in person if we had been living in the same city but since we live in different continents, I thought that a fb message can do it.
    So, in the end of August I wrote him on fb that being in contact with him has started to feel weird (mainly bc it looks like he still has feelings for me but I want to move on), that staying friends with an ex doesn’t seem to work in this case and that I don’t feel that I can fully move on if we’re still in contact with each other – even as friends. I was honest and straightforward in my message but also polite and calm. The next day he sent me 37 fb messages ranting how this is a wrong decision to make, that I’m immature and all in all just insulting me. The following day he wrote me “whoa, I was drunk yesterday.” I blocked him on fb a week later because he really started scaring me off. During the past 4 months he has sent me 2 e-mails, 1 parcel which contained a hand-written letter and 2 jars of honey (another seriously?!), 1 holiday card and again 2 letters, this time with romantic pictures of us. I haven’t replied to him by any means (I also blocked his e-mail address) because I thought that me being straightforward in my fb message of August would be enough and because he scares me and I don’t want to be in contact with him at all. I don’t know whether answering him once (like “seriously leave me alone, I wrote to you in August that I don’t feel I can move on if we’re still in contact so that’s why I haven’t replied but you don’t seem to get this”) would be the solution or would it just give him a sign that I’ve received everything he has sent to me and thus he would continue. I’ve been told that he’ll eventually stop contacting me but it’s already been 5 months and he doesn’t seem to stop. He doesn’t have my phone number and luckily we live really far from each other so I know that things could be worse. But this still bugs me and I don’t know whether me moving to a new place at some point would be the only solution since my postal address is the only way that he can still reach me out. Well, at least this thing has taught me what kind of boundaries I’ll have in the future with men, what kind of behavior I won’t accept and to always always listen to my gut.

    Do you have any suggestions what to do in this situation? Thank you for reading this far, I really appreciate it 🙂 (sorry for making this message so long)

    1. Hi Anna,

      Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your experiences and concerns. It sounds like your ex treated you in really hurtful and controlling ways during the relationship. I’m so sorry your ex has continued to harass you even after you said you did not want to be in contact with him. From what we know, abuse is about power and control and it sounds like he was trying to continue his manipulative behavior through having contact with you. In an abusive relationship, the sweet and charming behavior can be considered part of the abuse as well because it is a form of emotional manipulation. Your wellbeing is so important and I’m glad that you have taken steps to protect your wellbeing by blocking him on Facebook and e-mail. From what we know, often any response (even saying that you do not want to be in contact) can increase his attempts to contact you as you were concerned about. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must feel that he is sending you packages to your address after you have taken steps to block him from contacting you. You mentioned that you are considering moving and that is definitely an option in order to have him not be able to reach out, and I am so sorry that it is gotten to the point where you have to consider doing that. In the meantime, if you happen to live with someone else one option could be to ask them to sort through the mail for you and not pass on anything that comes from him so that you can get him out of your space. If you would like to contact us directly, an advocate can work with you to come up with different options around this and ways to support your wellbeing and healing process.

      Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to do so. Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522).

      Take good care!
      Advocate RG

      1. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

        Thank you for your response advocate RG 🙂 My roommate has also noticed that the guy has sent me letters and other stuff quite regularly and I have thought that if I sent the guy a note -“from the part of my roommate”- saying for example that Anna has moved away and thus this address is no longer a valid way to reach her, that would maybe stop the letters and other deliveries from coming. I thought that the distance would have prevented him from trying to contact me by mail but apparently no

        I’m not going to really move away just because of him (because I can’t let him have that much of control in my life) but sending him a note saying that Anna has moved away -which would be written by my roommate- is the only solution I have at the moment. Me not responding to him at all doesn’t see to work since this is already the 5th time in 4 months that he has sent me smth by mail 😛

  6. This article sounds so much like the guy i’m with. When he hurts me, I apologize for it and I’m always the one hurt and guilty. I’m so glad I found this website to help me out and to make me understand that I’m not alone.

    1. Hi Jenna,

      Thank you for reaching out and sharing what you are going through with our online community. It sounds like your partner is treating you in really hurtful ways. Nothing you possibly could have done would make it so that you would deserve to be treated like this. Your wellbeing is so important and you deserve to be treated with respect. You are not alone in this experience. Please know that our advocates are here for you 24/7 if you would ever like to reach out directly. You can contact us anytime by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522).

      Take good care,
      Advocate RG

  7. This article has given me the final push to break up with my boyfriend. I’ve only been with him for a couple of months and it started out so wonderfully. But then my friends started getting uneasy, so I started arguing with them, and then my boyfriend, and I’ve realised that I recognise everything in this list from our relationship. I’m asexual, and he’s been pushing the idea of us having sex, something I have made very clear I am uncomfortable with, and then denying he’s ever mentioned it later, making me feel like I’m being oversensitive, or that I’m denying him something he has the right to. I feel like I don’t deserve him, I always end up apologising for our arguments and I’ve let him touch me in ways that make me uncomfortable purely because I feel like I owe him something.
    But now I’m writing a message to end this, because he won’t meet me in public or go on dates any more. I can do this.

    1. Hi there Skye,

      I’m sorry to hear that you had to go through so much in your relationship with this person, but I’m very glad you’re thinking of what is best for you and your wellbeing. It certainly sounds like there is a lot of manipulation and gaslighting going on, which can be really upsetting and disorienting. I’m glad you have friends who are looking out for you, and I hope they will be a valuable support system as you go through this breakup.

      Your partner should always respect your boundaries. Sex is not currency, and you don’t owe it to anyone. I’m happy to hear you’re realizing that you’re not oversensitive at all for wanting respect in your relationship! Every healthy relationship has to have a foundation of trust, open and honest communication, and respect. You always deserve to feel safe and happy in your relationship, 100% of the time.

      It sounds like you have had to deal with many unhealthy behaviors, and also some red flags of abusive behaviors such as pressuring sexual activity and denying blame. If you’d like to talk about this with one of our advocates, get more information on anything mentioned here, ask any questions, etc. Please feel free to reach out at any time, we’d love to hear from you! You can contact us 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), our online chat, or text (text: loveis to 22522).

      Take care,
      Advocate JL

  8. My last relationship was so similar to what Ms. Weiss describes, it is uncanny! Thank you so much for publishing this article. Since leaving my abusive relationship 6 months ago I have been struggling to process and articulate my complex emotions and understand exactly how it happened. For 9 months, my partner constantly gaslighted me and manipulated me into unwanted sexual and financial acts. I was inspired to leave the relationship after, nearly broke and feeling violated, I came upon the Love Is Respect piece on Sexual Coercion (https://www.loveisrespect.org/content/what-sexual-coercion/). It was not until leaving the relationship that I fully understood the extent of the abuse I had endured.

    I’ve been considering whether to confront my former partner about his manipulative and abusive tendencies. I believe confronting him could help me overcome some of my residual anger and resentment towards him, or at least give me some closure. I am also concerned for his future partners. He is dating someone new and I fear she could face the same treatment I did. Are there any resources out there to help with confronting a former abuser? Or other ways of finding closure and letting go of anger?

    1. Hi Jenn,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with our blog community. I’m so encouraged to hear how you brought yourself out of the abuse you experienced, that’s something that is very hard to do. It sounds like you went through so much in that relationship, and nobody ever deserves to endure abuse from their partner.

      Unfortunately, healing almost always takes longer than we would like it to. I’m a little concerned about you confronting him, because that doesn’t sound like it would be a safe situation. Closure is something that we almost all desire; it’s human nature to want neat conclusions like the ones we see on TV and in movies. And while it may seem like getting certain answers or confronting him in some way would close that chapter of life, getting those answers or saying those words doesn’t make the hurt or confusion or frustration go away. Just as there is nothing you ever could have said or done to deserve abuse, there’s nothing you could say or do that would make him change. Abuse is a choice that will follow him from relationship to relationship until he is willing to take responsibility, seek help, and stay dedicated to change. While change is possible in abusive partners, it is a long and difficult process.
      For now I encourage you to think of moving forward as coming to terms with your own feelings and experiences and finding new things to focus on/define yourself by. Focus on you and your wants/needs/passions and remember to take care of yourself! We often recommend writing in a journal, joining a new class or activity in the community, or talking with a counselor.

      If you’d like to talk about this more, our advocates would love to help you find that forward path! Feel free to contact us 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), our online chat, or text (text: loveis to 22522).

      Take care,
      Advocate JL

  9. Iv read over this 3 or 4 times as every time I read it something else clicks and your experiences are so similar. He would never admit to being this type of person. He will always believe his the person I thought he was. I can’t tell if his in denial or actually doesn’t realise his doing it. Reading this put so many peices together for me but has also left me wondering if he ever loved me at all which is hard to comprehend and I feel this is going to take me a long time to recover from, especially because I looked at him as my saving grace from a previous abusive relationship. Is my judgement that bad or are they just really good at acting Geniune. How can I ever trust again when at one point I truely believed no one will ever love me the way he did, or so he would tell me….

    1. Hi Jenna,

      Thank you for reaching out. Experiencing abuse from someone you love and care about is extremely traumatic and something that often takes longer than what is wanted. There is absolutely nothing that would make his choice to be manipulative and abusive your fault. Abusive partners are skilled manipulators who often go to great lengths to have power over and to control their partners. Also, the abuse has a tendency to increase in severity with time in a relationship. If you combine those things with the fact that it is human nature to focus on the good in those we love, it makes it really hard to notice abusive behaviors. Your judgement isn’t bad. It is never wrong to love someone. You have a right to take the steps you need to heal and lead a life free of abuse. If you would like to reach out to an advocate, we are here 24/7 on chat, at 1-866-331-9474, and through text (text “loveis” to 22522).

      Take care,

      Advocate LC

  10. I dont know what can i do, living under verbal abuse for 10 years, 2 adorable kids and my God faith, My heart spedding all the time, so scare ,i cant talk to him because hes always right and im stupid he said, Im professional smart ad positive person, but living this situacion i feel im getting crazy inside and always showing my best strong personality to protect my children and continue living,, What can i do , i cant see the light in this tunel, How can i get out of this, Im thinking the way and I cant see how….:(

    1. Hi pili,

      Thank you for sharing your situation with us. No one deserves to experience abuse of any kind, and I am so sorry to hear that you’re going through so much! You deserve support through this, and we would absolutely be willing to talk through what options may be available for planning what steps for moving forward might be a good fit for you.

      Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522) to talk through your situation, discuss resources and options for working through this, and address any other questions or concerns you might have. You deserve to feel safe, including emotionally, and you always deserve to be treated with respect.

      Take care!
      Advocate GR

  11. I am a concerned mom of a 16 year old girl dating a boy her age for about 1 year now. I may seem frivolous or an overacting nosey parent but when I read the word hurting myself in their text conversations I have to be concerned and petrified. I have always had a bad gut feeling about this boy she is dating but have always chucked it up to me just not being able to let go and let her grow up. He is a very self conscious person with no self esteem. I have been very active in their relationship by getting to know him, his family and allowing them to spend time together within reason and always with parental supervision. He seems to be a good person, not very talkative at least to me but I find him to be extremely immature (he’s 16 but acts 12) and his family seems to be very good people so far. My daughter and I have a very close relationship. She and I do communicate very openly. I try my best to very open to her about everything. However, very recently I’ve noticed that she has not been very talkative with me. I have spoke with her about it and her response is that I always say the same thing, I always lecture her…and feels that I don’t like her boyfriend. So, here goes my big situation: very recently I’ve also noticed that they have been fighting a lot and so I went through her text messages to her boyfriend. I was astonished at what I read. Every time they argue, he threatens to hurt himself in several ways. She talks him out of it and begins to apologize for everything. This last arguement seems to have happened when they were at school (they go to different schools) and after he threatens to drown himself she threatens to jump from her building and end it. Oh and my daughter since dating him has alienated all her friends and we discussed it and she explained that it was due to her friends not accepting him. I am at wits end on how to approach this with her and how to handle the situation. Am I overacting?

    1. Hi Concerned Mom,

      This is such a difficult situation to be in, and from what you’ve described it sounds like there may be some unhealthy behaviors happening between your daughter and her boyfriend. We’d be happy to discuss this more in depth with you. Please give us a call at 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text loveis to 22522.

  12. After a really frustrating exchange with my partner I’ve found myself here. Our relationship has been complicated from the beginning because they dont want to really BE in a relationship but they desire the intimacy and security of one. What’s really trippy for me right now is how much I relate to this article. I’m not sure if I’m being manipulated even now. He’s a salesman so he’s great at switching things around in his favor. He’ll be dead wrong and still find a way to make me the bad guy. He’ll point out my flaws and say I need to grow up but I’m the only person who takes care of our bills and rent. What has me even searching this topic is two nights ago he told me “You’re moving and you wont make it in the real world without me” It’s a projection and it’s blatantly manipulative. Looking back now he’s done this before – changed the subject somehow from him being rude to me being weak and childish. I know all of this and I’m still in denial thinking well he loves me I felt that it felt real. It felt so damn real!

    I feel like one of those lonely old women who get caught up in those romance scams online. I’m scared to let go because I’m scared I’m sabotaging myself and overreacting.

    1. Hi TC,

      This sounds like a really tough and frustrating situation. Many people feel love for their partners, even if they know their partners have been manipulative and abusive. Based on what you’ve shared here, it doesn’t sound like you’re overreacting. Insults and put-downs are manipulative, emotionally abusive behaviors meant to control and isolate you, and you don’t deserve this. Your research on this topic shows that in your heart you know something is wrong. We’d be happy to help you in any way we can. Please get in touch with us any time at 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text loveis to 22522.

  13. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety according to our community guidelines]

    I feel like I basically just read my own story. Wow!!! I’ve been really struggling getting over this guy. Even though he kicked my door in and is hiding the car I pay for, broke off our engagement…get this because I did not validate his feelings after he went off on me hurting mine about my pups. I was wrong ALL the time. I finally got a protective order to end it once and for all. And the sick thing is I miss him. What is wrong with that picture:/ ugggg!

    1. Hi Jocelyn,

      Thanks so much for this comment – we hope this post was helpful for you. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. It’s totally normal to still have feelings for someone, even if they were toxic or abusive toward you. If you ever want to talk about your situation, we’re here to help! Call, chat or text any time.

  14. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I value everything you had to say. I’ve been trying to work out something similar in my relationship. And like you mentioned things started long before now. I’ve been with my partner for almost a year. He seemed to come to me in divine timing, right on time! However, the lack of resolve in our discussions and arguments has made me resentful toward him. I constantly feel like a terrible person that has no right to feel anything. Recently decided to end the relationship, but before then asked him if we could meet up and have a heart to heart chat. He got all defensive and asked about what. I told him that I would rather discuss it when we meet. He called me a dictatorial, manipulative-bully and that he would meet with me after I told him why. It’s frustrating and sad because I really love him and saw a future with us. I wanted to give us a chance by talking, but he took that away. Now, I’m leaving without warning. Your article helped so much!

    1. Hey GBEE,

      Thanks so much for your comment. We’re glad to hear this article was helpful for you. If you ever want to talk about your situation, we’re here to support you! Call, chat or text any time.

  15. Thank you for writing this article. It may be a little late for me, but others need to read this. I am a strong, powerful woman who can handle pretty much anything that is thrown at me. Living on the streets at 17 taught me things that I still use today to protect myself from harm – out there. But in my home? Oh, no. For the past 22-years, I have suffered from much of the insidious abuse described in this article. There were many times when I would think how much simpler it would be if my husband would just hit me since bruises eventually fade with time, but instead the scars from the psychological torment just grew thicker. I knew he was manipulative, but I had no way of proving it because he always came off as the sane one, the calm one, the reliable one amongst our friends and neighbors until there was no one who would talk to me or even so much as look in my direction when I went out to get the mail. But he must have grown bored with me because he has finally left me, and in the few short weeks he’s been gone I feel empowered again. 6pm comes and goes without me getting fearful of what he’s going to do or say when he comes home. I am going to go back to designing and sewing clothes and making jewelry, and doing what I want to do when I want to do it. I’m in my 60’s now, but I still have energy and the rest of my life. I want to live again.

    1. Hi Morgan,

      Thank you for sharing your story with our community. You have been through so much, and we’re glad to hear that you’re feeling empowered again. If you ever feel like you need to talk to one of our advocates for additional support, we are here for you—call 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text loveis to 22522.

  16. [Admin note: this comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

    Hello there-

    I am struggling with making judgement in my relationship, and whether or not it’s actually just my over-sensitive self taking things too far. A quick back story- I have always been told that I’m very sensitive and I over think everything, I’ve heard it from my mom, my brother and even friends through out life. I am sensitive, but for me it feels like it’s normal. I like to consider myself a grounded, down to earth woman that just wants to be understood and respected.

    Overall, I just want to be happy, and I’m really struggling with determining if these things are happening because I get so flustered, and over think things and am letting my emotions take over. Or if I’m being manipulated into thinking that I am those things and he’s really the one in the wrong.

    Thanks so much for reading, and thank you for sharing your story as well!

    1. Hi Erica,

      Thanks for your comment. We removed much of it, due to safety and confidentiality concerns, but this sounds like a complicated situation. Being “sensitive” doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of respect, even during an argument. In fact, in a healthy relationship, it’s important to know how to fight “fair,” and that means no name calling. It’s you and your partner vs. the problem, not vs. each other! We’d be happy to discuss this further with you and help you work through what’s going on. If you’d like to speak with an advocate, call, chat or text anytime!

  17. I’m so glad I read this article, like so many others on here my ex was very manipulative and when we argued he would turn it onto me. I knew I was in a bad relationship but never quite knew how to break it off. He would blatantly lie about silly things and even said he had been to work when I knew he hadn’t because his boss had left a voicemail on my house phone, he still denied it and I had to physically ring his boss in front of him to prove he was lying, that wasn’t even the half of it. The trouble was I ended up being frightened of arguing with him that I didn’t want to say anything, but then even when I was happy he would start an argument from nothing, I ended up having to slowly wean myself from him and even when I got the strength to finish him he managed to hassle me with constant phone calls, messages etc, I couldn’t block him as he came up as no caller id and I eventually asked the police for advice, they went round and told him he would be arrested if he contacted me again, he left it for 2 months and then messaged me from another number trying to get me to answer, the last time was in early October and I have ignored him again, (it’s been over a year since we split)I know he will eventually give up because I don’t need him anymore, my life is getting back on track but I still worry that the emotional side of it will spill over into my new relationship, I have learnt though that your gut instincts are usually right and if something doesn’t feel right then It usually isn’t . I was so low at times that I even thought of ending it all and leaving my children orphans, that’s how bad it got me mentally, I will never ever let anyone treat me like that ever again, I would rather be alone than feel the way I did in that relationship

    1. Hi Kathryn,

      Thanks for sharing your story with our community. We’re so glad this article was helpful to you, and we’re also glad to know that you were able to leave your abusive partner. Your concerns about starting a new relationship are totally normal, but we really like how you phrased it: “If something doesn’t feel right, then it usually isn’t.” We are here to support you as you heal and move forward from your previous relationship, so please don’t hesitate to call, chat or text if you need us!

  18. I feel I just read the story of my 3 year relationship!! literally word for word. I am still battling with vocalizing that it was abusive- it sounds so drastic. I walked away recently. We were great— only when I didn’t question things or enforce my boundaries. The rest exactly what you said. There were 2 issues that NEVER went away. they festered from hurt, to anger, sadness to depression back to hurt and so on the entire relationship. His apologies were “conditional” cos “I invoked it” the verbal abuse got so repetitive- until the final day I walked off. I still question if I was over sensitizing things but when I replay things I know I should have never let it get so bad. He manipulated me into thinking less of my own values for so long he became the “authority”. Even in the great moments, I always subconsciously watched what I said, did etc to avoid drama. I just got tired of being hurt and feeling voiceless and ridiculous for feeling what I felt. I got tired of feeling like I was being judged for being me, and feeling like I was being compared to someone else and hearing ” no man will ever want you”. Granted I am very sensitive however I think my feelings are mine and I am entitled to feeling them and having them respected. walking away is not easy cos you still hear their voice yelling “you’re overreacting, ” or “you pushed me”. It crazy. You always wish they apologize and mean it.

    1. Hi cee,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing a bit about your story. We’re glad to hear this post was helpful to you. You are absolutely entitled to your feelings, and we hope that you’ll be able to find peace and healing after your experience with your ex. If you ever want to talk things through, we’re here for you!

    2. I just read your comments about how “things were great as long as you didn’t question things or reinforce your boundaries.” That is exactly what I went through. When I tried to set boundaries or question things, he deflected it back on me and made me feel like it was my fault. Luckily I got out quickly, but it was very painful! I’m sorry you went through the same thing! I also felt like I couldn’t really be myself either. I felt like I had to edit myself away to make things work. It was a very hard lesson.

  19. Wow, the past few weeks I’ve been looking up horoscopes, compatibility, Self-esteem test and everything trying to find answers to my own questions and the suggestion/ultimatum I was given to take a step back or reboot and start over being friends first and to scrap the relationship that we’ve built extremely/too fast. This article is head on and I saw everything that I feel in this article in all these signs. I had came to my own conclusion that I don’t feel good about myself when around the person and I should want to feel awesome. My vulnerability has allowed me to be manipulated. This article definitely let’s me know it’s time to dead the communication because I could continue to be manipulated.

    1. Hi Suave,

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your comment. We’re glad to hear this article was helpful to you. If you’d like to speak with an advocate about what’s going on in your relationship, we’re here for you! Call, chat or text any time.

  20. This article really helped me! I was in a brief but serious relationship with a man I met online. He really pushed for a commitment from the start, told me he loved me, and started making plans for a future for us. I really did love him and was very happy. Then one evening, I went on to the dating website where we met so I could cancel my auto renewal. While I was online doing that, I noticed his profile popped up as “online now.” I was very upset that after making a commitment to me, he was still perusing the dating website. Seemed pretty shady to me. I was also VERY hurt. So I asked him about it and told him that I was hurt and felt disrespected. Instead of being reassured by him, he deflected and called me “juvenile” and made me feel like I had done something wrong. After that he gave me the silent treatment for days. I tried to reach out but he either ignored my messages, or he would respond by being very rude. After several days, I finally had enough and I sent him one final message blasting him for being such a complete jerk and then I changed my cell number so he couldn’t contact me again. That’s been months and we’ve never spoken since. It has been VERY painful because I really loved him, but I can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t even validate my feelings. You have to be able to talk about your feelings and express your fears and concerns with the person who says they “love you.” If you can’t do that, then there’s no reason to be in that relationship in the first place.

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story here. We’re so sorry to hear about your painful experience, but we’re glad that you were able to recognize his unhealthy behaviors and leave safely. You’re absolutely right that you should be able to respectfully express your feelings to your partner without worrying about how they’ll react. If you ever need to talk, we’re here for you. Call, chat or text any time!

  21. [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

    I read this article and found so much comfort in knowing I am not alone. The manipulation has lasted for so long and I am so vested in the relationship that I feel stuck now. I constantly question my feelings and thoughts. I hold back a lot because I don’t want to anger him. Somehow I reason with myself that it’s probably me being too sensitive or petty. This article fits my relationship to a T. All 7 points made in this article has happened in my relationship. What’s worse is that I’ve recently become dependent on my partner …which comes with no surprise that he uses our living arrangement against me. Constantly reminding me that he’s done me this grand favor and I should be grateful and show him some respect and do things when he tells me to.

    Conflicts are never resolved. … He’s also threatened to break up with me many times if I kept bringing certain issues up. I always find myself apologizing for everything even if I bring something up that’s bothering me. Even if he is so clearly in the wrong, he will somehow have me apologizing and seeing that I must be being over-sensitive again. He verbally abuses me a lot by calling me stupid, the B word, cusses at me, accuses me of being a slut, etc. I’ve tried to talk to my friends and/or his friends for help but it hasn’t gotten me anywhere except in more trouble or me feeling like two different people.

    My friends have grown tired of hearing about our issues and are now beginning to tell me that I do this to myself by staying with him and that people will no longer view me as the victim that i portray myself to be. His friends have not helped much either except encourage his behavior. …

    There’s just so much that has happened that I feel so hopeless and far along in this mess that I can no longer see a way out. This article has offered me some hope though. It’s inspiring to read that people have been in similar situations and were able to leave.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story here. We’re glad to hear that this article has helped to clarify some of the feelings you’ve had about your partner’s behaviors. We removed some of what you wrote due to potentially identifying details, but it definitely sounds like your boyfriend is behaving abusively toward you. Name calling, making threats, controlling behaviors, not allowing you to safely express yourself – these are all concerning to us, and you do not deserve to be treated this way. We’re also sad to hear that you have not found the support you need with your friends. That is so tough, and you absolutely deserve support. If you’d like to speak confidentially with one of our advocates, please know that we’re here for you any time to talk through the situation and help you make a plan for next steps. Just call 1-866-331-9474, chat at http://www.loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522 any time!

    2. Dear Anonymous

      I just read your post. There is nothing worse than when someone you love to not validate your feelings. Even worse is when they manipulate you into feeling like you did something wrong. People like that are experts at doing this and they will never change. It’s all about their agenda and if you try to question them or establish boundaries that’s when they turn on you. The man I was briefly in a serious relationship with did the exact same thing. When I questioned him about something that hurt me, he just turned it around on me. He got angry, called me names, then gave me the silent treatment for days.. I was so hurt and confused. I tried to reach out to him but he just ignored my texts, or his responses were very rude. It basically ended our relationship because luckily I’m very strong and knew that I couldn’t remain in a relationship with a man who didn’t even care about my feelings. Still, it has been very hard for me to let it go and move on. I truly did love him. I saw a future with this man because he told me there would be a future for us. He lied. I’m heartbroken.

      I’m so sorry for your pain also. I would run if I were you…Your feelings matter and you deserve someone who doesn’t make you feel broken.

      1. Hi Dawn,

        Thanks so much for your comment and your words of encouragement. We’re sorry to hear that you were treated that way in your previous relationship but glad that you were able to leave safely. If you ever need to talk, we’re here for you. Call, chat or text any time!

  22. [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]


    I feel like this article is about me. I am insecure but my partner makes me feel bad for feeling any way that I feel. If he doesn’t call me he will say he didn’t think he needed to call and even if I say it upsets me he’ll say I’m being insecure. This is just one example but I always feel like I’m in the wrong for feeling hurt about something. I feel manipulated. And when I say I’m upset about something he’ll change the conversation to something else or about him and deflect from what I’m saying. Like in the article. I find it so hard to explain to people what’s going on and my family have said I’m just insecure but I feel like it’s more then insecurity what’s going on. And when he treats me badly I react with verbal abuse, it’s like it’s my only power and he still doesn’t even care then. He’s so nonchalant towards my feelings. I don’t know how to get out of it and I don’t know how to explain it to people how he makes me feel when he’s not physical or verbally abusing me but I feel he is gaslighting or manipulating me. It’s such subtle abuae like in this article. I don’t feel like I can describe it to anyone without me sounding crazy. [Redacted] I’m wondering if you offer any email of Skype address to talk to anyone further as I see you have left numbers on other posts. I’m so trapped and need help so badly.

    1. Hi Audrey,

      Thank you for sharing your comment with our community. It sounds like things are complicated in your relationship. You say that you are “insecure,” but it sounds like you are not receiving support or validation from your boyfriend or even your family, and that is really tough. You deserve space to express your feelings, to be listened to, to feel supported by the people who care about you. If this article resonated with you, then your instinct is telling you something is wrong, and you have the right to end any relationship that isn’t healthy or right for you, if that’s what you want to do. If you feel unsafe ending the relationship, take a look at this page on safety planning or this blog post about breaking up safely. Your safety is top priority. We do not offer advocacy via email or Skype, and we are a U.S.-based organization, so unfortunately our services are not available to those living outside the U.S. However, we encourage you to seek out resources in your area, and our blog has a lot of information about abusive and unhealthy relationships that may be helpful to you. We wish you the very best!

  23. I also feel I’m being gaslighted. This morning after I made a comment about my boyfriend playing too many hours of tank wars on his phone ( he easily plays over half the day, he doesn’t have a job now ), I found he had posted a photo of us on Facebook that said he so appreciated me. About 20 minutes later the post was gone from his page. I asked why he removed it and he said he didn’t. We argued all day about it because I said he did it to hurt me, yet somehow even though it was not showing on his page, I could still see it through notifications. He said it was a weird glitch and I need to calm down, but it just didn’t make sense. The one friend who clicked “like” on the post besides me said he saw it every time my boyfriend reposted it. But it never showed up again on his page even though I got notifications that he kept sharing it. I felt deep down that he did something to the post. I found two articles that said it is possible to make a post visible to certain people only, and that if you are tagged on the photo then you can still see the post even if the one who posts it hides the post from their page. And there have been other instances of what I feel are gaslighting. I could go on for hours. I have told him plainly that if he doesn’t want me in his life I should leave… because why would he want to be with me if he wants to hurt me? But he keeps saying that nothing is wrong and that he loves me and that I am ruining the relationship. I feel like he only truly wants to stay together because I’m responsible and he isn’t. I put up with his bs because I want to believe he truly does love me. He has made me feel doubt as to whether I can be without him even though I know I deserve so much better. He always acts like nothing happened after our arguments and I always end up staying even though I tell him that we shouldn’t be together if he feels I am crazy. I always call his bluff and say “fine then, I should leave then”, but then he says he never said he wanted to break up. This is driving me crazy. I am in love with a manipulative man and I know it, but I am having trouble leaving him. The weird thing is that right at this moment I hate him.

    1. Hi D,

      Thanks for sharing your story here. This sounds like a really confusing and difficult situation. We’d be happy to talk through it with you – just call, chat or text any time to speak confidentially with a loveisrespect advocate!

  24. “In a healthy relationship, your partner hears you out if you’re upset, and their goal is to avoid upsetting you in the future, not to debate whether you should have been upset in the first place.”

    I take issue with this comment. My emotionally/psychologically abusive ex-gf used to get upset with me for irrational reasons and subsequently denigrate me. Let’s be honest – if your s.o. is upset with you due to some irrational belief that you’ve done something wrong when you haven’t – you have every right to defend yourself. Certainly if you sense that there’s manipulation at play. On so many occasions my ex said awfully rude and hurtful things to me, and I would calmly call her out on these behaviors being rude/insensitive. She would then accuse me of making black and white statements about her being a generally rude or awful person when I hadn’t, and act more upset than I had felt during the first infraction. I wasn’t going to eat that and I often chose to correct the logic (big waste of time). She played the victim and chastised me for not jumping to her aid and resisting the urge to debate her as I had hurt her feelings.

    I believe it’s within your rights in a relationship and healthy to examine faulty logic and cognitive distortions with your s.o. You just have to do so with care, and admit to when you do it yourself.

    1. I mean, my ex once got really upset because a piece of jewelry I purchased for her last xmas was simply “costume jewelry.” I worked my damn ass off to research the right piece of jewelry- consulted her bf, and spoke with my female friends. That was a large purchase out of sincere love. Her feelings and behavior deserved to be confronted.

        1. Hi Garett,

          Thanks for your comment, and for sharing your experience with our community. It sounds like your past relationship was not very healthy, as your ex was emotionally abusive toward you. As we note in the article, in a healthy relationship, both partners work toward building each other up, not tearing each other down or downplaying one person’s feelings or needs. We really hope that you have been able to move on from your past relationship and start healing. If you’d ever like to chat confidentially with one of our advocates, we’re here for you 24/7!

  25. Hello. I will try to sum up my novel into a short story. I have recently becane reaquainted with an ex. The motive for iur breakup was his infidelity toward our relationship. He said he thought I was too good to be true so he had to test me by talking to another femal, knowing that I would find out. He was seeing if I would stick around. Wrong idea. I blocked him from every social media possible due to his slanderous behavior. Almost 6 years and 1 fake profile later, he reached out to me. We were both going through trying times when we met. He was homeless and sleeping in a friend’s garage and I was there by his side on numerous occassions despite having a home at my parent’s house. Since then, I have moved out of state, rented my first place, had a child, worked at a good job and basicly progressed from where I was in the past. He has grown as well. He told me that he wanted us to get back together. He said that I motivated him to be the man he is today and he wants me to share what he has made of himself. I wanted to wait a year to see of we are compatible due to the changes we have made. He said that he has God on his side and he knows that he put me in his life again for a reason. There was no need to wait. He also told me that if I didn’t come, I would lose out on him and what he has for us. I moved. Left everything I worked for behind to move in with him. Things are well until I come up with ideas or plans and he downplays them as if they are nothing. Anytime I try to have a deep conversation with him or explain to him who I am and how I conduct myself, he trys to say that I am playing mind games with him. He believes that I am trying to be controlling by giving him a different way to look at things. Any time we have a discussion that he doesn’t agree with, his always trys to shut me up by saying I don’t trust in man I trust in God. Its like a dagger to the chest. One last thing, he has tax issues. He will not receive a return. Not only does he want me to use my money to pay his tax debt, he told me that he doesn’t want me to spend any of it until he tells me to. He says I need to think about the family. He will be able to help that family more if his taxes were taken care of. He always makes me feel guilty about having a voice. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hello LJ,

      Thank you for sharing your story here. This sounds like a really complicated situation. It’s concerning that your partner downplays your ideas, refuses to have important conversations with you and makes you feel guilty about expressing yourself. In a healthy relationship, both partners should feel that they have an equal voice and can safely discuss their feelings and needs. We encourage you to seek support whenever you feel safe and ready to do so. You can always call, chat or text with a loveisrespect advocate any time, 24/7!

    1. Hi Kristin, I’m sorry if you went through the same situation because it really has been painful! I think that men who are very controlling don’t like to be questioned about anything. I guess they are threatened by it or something.

      I’m a very strong and independent woman who just wanted someone to share my life with. I never asked this man for anything — that was all him. But when I did question something that hurt me, that’s when he turned on me and shut me out with the silent treatment. It’s like dealing with a child! And it is very hurtful when someone does that to you.

      Again, I’m so sorry if you went through the same thing because it really sucks!

      Take care and just remember that all men are NOT like that! 🙂

  26. After reading this I am wondering if this is what my boyfriend is doing to me, he will say something that upsets me and when bringing it up to him in the conversation he will completely ignore it and brush over it and say something else. Which frustrates me to no end, I then end up getting so frustrated I’ll throw something, (which I know I could not do, in hindsight) but I’d rather not use any sort of violence and introduce that.

    He brings up things about my sister who has had mental health problems and makes out that I have them too. Instead of addressing what made me upset in the first place, he will make out that I have over-reacted to the situation and that I need to calm down.

    He will use words like you need to control your anger, and calm down, but if you have been talking to someone for 45 mins and nothing has got through about why you was upset, frustration would kick in.

    He never thinks that he is ever in the wrong and cockily in every arguement actually says, he doesn’t do anything wrong, and that he never needs to think about any situation that goes on because I was the one in the wrong.

    In the past I have given in and apologised to sort things out, but now I feel this was the wrong thing to do as I feel he thinks he has some sort of green pass.

    Even on a day to day level, he says nothing gets to him anymore as he has had to build a thick skin, because he doesn’t talk to his immediate family. It’s like he tries to use this as an affirmation of why he is allowed to act the way he does.

    I feel like I was such a happy go lucky person, with different groups of friends, and now I feel so isolated.

    1. Hi Kerry,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. It sounds like there are some very unhealthy communication issues happening in your relationship. There is no excuse for your boyfriend to treat you this way – to belittle your feelings, dismiss or ignore you – regardless of what has happened with his family. What concerns us most is that you say you used to be a “happy go lucky” person, but now you feel isolated. Isolation is a tactic that abusive people often use to maintain control over their partners. We encourage you to reach out to a counselor or local program for support, or if you are located in the U.S., you can call, chat or text with us any time, 24/7!

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