I’m not looking for professional advice or service here; more so general guidelines based on life experience one can use to see if behaviors they’re currently experiencing in a relationship may indeed be abusive.


In the past I’ve encountered several individuals who have misused the trust I placed in them; finding ways to exploit and use me. Most of these relationships have been romantically based. I find when I’m in these situations my feelings prevent me from really taking a step back and analyzing the situation and making a decision to bail out.

I have a bad habit in these scenarios of rationalizing these behaviors as simple mistakes that will pass; instead of recognizing that I should probably exit the relationship entirely.

Not all of these individuals have intentionally sought malice. Some, I would say, picked up these abusive behaviors from other sources (family, friends, etc.) and don’t actually notice it.

It’s been awhile since this has been an issue, but I’m starting to see new people and I want to ensure I’m making better decisions this time around.


I find it difficult to look at these situations purely through my own eyes because I tend to be very biased.

I’m really after key behaviors I can look for in my relationships; analyzing the situation and determining the potential or already existent abuse within them.

How can I know if I might be in an abusive relationship?

  • Hey there! I think it's a bit unclear what happened to you and what is it you want. You say this happened to you multiple times, perhaps could you describe what happened then? How did those people abuse your trust?
    – avazula
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 8:22
  • 2
    Hi LaAnilla! I had some thoughts about your question, but as they don't all fit in a comment, I raised a discussion on IPS Meta here. If you want to, feel free to engage there! To summarize that post: I think your question is too open-ended and broad, and that asking for people to share their experience perhaps isn't entirely fit for IPS (I agree that may be confusing since we want answers to desribe their experience when giving advice, but that's a bit different from general experience sharing IMO).
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 11:10
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because recognizing abuse goes beyond the scope of what we at IPS can safely answer.
    – Rainbacon
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 21:24
  • Well, for now the meta discussion seems to indicate this is off-topic or too broad for this site, so I've put it on hold.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 13:10
  • 1
    For future reader, if you are asking yourself this same question, please read this: wikihow.com/Recognize-a-Potentially-Abusive-Relationship
    – Ael
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 10:12

2 Answers 2


I don't know if this is the answer you're looking for, but I can give several bits of advice on what I think can help in having successful relationships:

  1. Be happy in yourself

If you have a happy and fulfilling life as a single person and don't allow yourself to depend on other people for your emotional wellbeing, it's easier to notice whether a relationship (romantic or not) is having a positive or negative impact on your life.

Relying on a romantic partner for your own happiness gives them a huge amount of power over you. People who can be emotionally abusive will see how much you want to sustain the relationship and use this to manipulate you.

One technique that can help at the start of a new relationship is to limit the amount of time you spend with a new partner: not only does this prolong the "honeymoon period" where the relationship is at its most exciting, but it also gives you time to reflect and evaluate the other person, and ensures that you continue to make time for your other hobbies and friends. In my experience, giving up hobbies and neglecting friends in favour of a relationship is a huge mistake.

  1. Know your own mind

This can be challenging at times, but when making decisions try to think "is this what I want?" If you find yourself being swayed by persuasive or dominant personalities, give yourself time to make decisions at your own pace. There's nothing wrong with answering someone's request with "I'm not sure right now, I'll get back to you on that" or "I need to think about it, I'll let you know". Anyone who continues to pressure you for decisions may be trying to manipulate you.

  1. Set boundaries early and be consistent

I'm not generally one for setting rules, as I believe every relationship and situation is unique and requires some flexibility. However, if you find that your behaviour is easily influenced by others, try setting boundaries from the beginning and be sure to enforce them consistently. This doesn't just apply to the physical side of a romantic relationship. If, for example, you don't like people owing you money, then don't lend to people and just say "Sorry, I don't feel comfortable people owing me money". Again, anyone who doesn't immediately respect this would be a red flag for me.

When you cross your own boundaries once, it is much harder to enforce them again as the other person will use the 'but you did this before, why wouldn't you do it again?' argument, which is difficult to defend.

  1. Trust your friends and family

If you have a good circle of friends and/or close family that your trust, use them as a sounding board to validate your thoughts if you believe someone is being abusive or taking advantage of you. Don't trust someone in a new relationship above your established friends, or it enables them to manipulate you by telling you that your friends/family are wrong and you should only trust them instead.

I hope this helps. They are all things I've learned to do as a result of previous relationships because I am a naturally trusting person too, and it's easy to believe the best in people and end up getting hurt.

  • I really like this answer. One other thing that might be added: think about how you feel about the person you are in a relationship with. Do you feel anxious or stressed when you think of them? That's a pretty good sign of an unhealthy relationship.
    – DaveG
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 13:39
  • It's possible for a family or a circle of friends to be abusive. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 22:07

these are already some great answers but I thought I'd throw one more potential red flag to watch out for in.

If you raise a concern to the other person do they respect your concern or do they brush it off and try to dismiss it. Someone who ignores your concerns is a much greater risk of being an abuser.

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