Top 10 Signs of An Emotionally Abusive Man

28 May 2013

How do you spot an emotionally abusive man?  Most likely, when an emotionally abusive man first comes a-wooing, he won’t be carrying his: “Aren’t I amazing?  I’m an emotionally abusive man” placard. So, how do you identify him before you get hurt?!

1)     Lack of respect.  Not all emotionally abusive men will show you a lack of respect from Day 1.  Some will turn on the charm for a while – others won’t.  But how do they behave towards, and speak about, other people?  If they are critical, or contemptuous, of other people,  be very aware that you have a short shelf life before you become other people

2)      A good hard luck story.  Every emotionally abusive man worth his salt has a great hard luck story about his tough past – and, boy, does he tell it well.  Telling you his hard luck story is a neat ploy.  You only have to respond like the uber-caring, empathetic , trusting person you are, for him to know you are his perfect… prey.

3)      A worrying back story where women are concerned.  Yep, he’s the one who’s suffered at the hands of women tearful crocodilsmallwho didn’t understand, or appreciate, him.  He’s been let down, treated badly, exploited, and robbed, by past wives and/or girlfriends.   His bitterness about these predatory b**ches sends a clear message about how he wants you to behave: no demands, no expectations , just 100% commitment to healing his hurts.

4)      He has a behavior – or 3 – that needs fixing.  That could include drug taking, alcohol abuse, leering at women, tight-fistedness, or ‘anger issues’.  He’s a little bit broken but, hey, your middle name is Mrs Fix-Him…

5)      He’s domineering, and/or jealous, controlling and self-centered.  You can tell yourself he’s just ‘being a man’, but the reality is that he is establishing a power (im)balance in the relationship.  It works on the principle that he has the lion’s share of the power, and you get the lion’s share of responsibility. 

the lion's sharesmall

6)      He gets star billing in the relationship – with all that that entails while you get to play the bit parts.  He gets most of the airplay, and the limelight etc, as befits the star.   It won’t be too long before he lets you know that your job is to keep his trailer nice and tidy.

7)      He has a short fuse.  ‘Slow to anger’, ‘quick to forgive and forget’ and willing to own up to his own mistakes, are NOT accurate descriptions of him.  He’s easily upset, he overreacts, and, as he tells it, the problem was not of his making, in the first place – so, he rarely has to get his head around the ‘S’ word  (that’s “SORRY” to you, and me).  He may well be a ‘potty mouth’.  He certainly doesn’t react in a measured, adult way, when he feels peeved and aggrieved.

8)      He’s not 100% reliable, consistent and/or predictable.  “Something comes up”, or he’s feeling too tired, or he’s been really, really busy… Showing consideration for you, your wishes, and your feelings, is not his top priority.

9)      He doesn’t do boundaries.  He asks inappropriately personal questions early on.  He rushes you, and the relationship.  He sets himself up as the authority on every area of your life – including family, friends, your working life, and even your finances.

10)   Gut feel.  There was that moment, right at the start when, from somewhere deep inside you, there bubbled up the Mr Yuksmallawareness; “YUK.  This guy is bad news.”  Sadly, that feeling didn’t come with a 20 page pdf report, a government health warning, or even banner headlines everywhere you looked.  So what did you?  You ignored that feeling. – “Listen, if it can’t give me chapter and verse, why should I pay attention to it?  It’s making a lot less noise than he does.  Besides, he may be my last chance at happiness, right?”  Your intuition doesn’t obsess about the past, or worry about the future.  It simply comes to the right conclusion in the present moment.  Its predictions are far more clear-sighted than yours are.

Last night, on the From Fear to Free: Heal and Live Again program, we looked in depth at How to Spot An Emotional Abuser from the get-go.  There were a fair few light-bulb moments, and mind-shifts, when my students realized how they had equated negative behaviors with the positives they had been looking for.  And several more when they discovered the simple steps that will, automatically, ward off abusers.

If you want to keep yourself safe from emotionally abusive men in the future, you have to learn how to spot them, how they disguise themselves, and what you MUST do to keep them at bay.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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