Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My bf and i have been together for a little over 2 years. My problem is how he treats me. Yesterday morning he was off and came down to sit on the couch to join me and his daughter I’m chit chatting like usual and for some reason he is just quite and rolling his eyes like I’m bothering him. He gets like this from time to time and tells me my stories are stupid I talk to much he doesn’t want to hear me. He basically tries to tell me how to talk. Then I leave stay at a hotel or last time went to Pittsburgh to visit my family then hes sorry and listens to everything I have to say for a while and acts like the perfect person then after a little while he will fall right back into the same old pattern and start dictating how I can talk to him again. Then I leave and go somewhere then he realizes what’s he’s done then apologizes and doesn’t do it for a while but I know its only a matter of time before he will fall back into it again.

A. You have described a troublesome pattern that is common in emotionally abusive relationships. His behavior is noteworthy and you should take action. Consider it a “red flag.”

Some of the most common forms of emotional abuse include putdowns and name-calling. Surveys have shown that putdowns and name-calling are strong predictors of intimate partner violence. Though he has not been physically violent, you may be at risk. Studies have shown that emotional abuse and controlling behaviors are often precursors to physical violence.

Your next step should be asking if he would be willing to participate in couples therapy. His willingness to participate in therapy would show that he is serious about wanting to change his behavior. If he is truly sorry, then he should be willing to do what is necessary to improve his behavior.

You could also benefit from individual therapy. A therapist could help you to understand the impact of abusive relationships, advise you about how to proceed with the relationship, provide emotional support, and assist you in determining the appropriate safety precautions.

If he is unwilling to change his behavior, then you must decide whether you want to stay in this relationship. If he is not willing to change, or make any attempts to change, then I would advise against staying in the relationship. You should never be willing to tolerate abuse.

In the meantime, you may want to consider a temporary separation. This may involve you moving to a new location. A temporary separation may be an inconvenience but it may be necessary. Your safety is paramount. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Mar 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/03/30/emotionally-abusive-boyfriend/

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