Article originally posted on Bustle.com, written by Kristine Fellizar.
It may start off innocently enough. Your partner may jokingly tell you to “shut up” after you express a different opinion from theirs or make subtle comments about how they dislike your friends. These are small things that may not seem like red flags. But according to experts, it’s still important to take notice. If your relationship is starting to feel off, these may be signs your partner is becoming emotionally dominant over you.
“Emotional dominance occurs when one person overwhelms the other’s emotional boundaries and begins to control what the other is allowed to show, think, feel, and/or how to outwardly behave,” psychotherapist Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, tells Bustle. “Most physical and sexual abuse happens after one person establishes emotional dominance over the other.“
More often than not, a person who is emotionally dominating has deeply-rooted insecurities and issues surrounding control. As psychotherapist Emily Roberts MA, LPC, tells Bustle, they’re often quick-tempered, lack regard for your time and emotions, and often blame others for their feelings and problems.
“Dominance means that your partner is attempting to limit your power,” Roberts says. “It’s not a sign of someone who cares about you. It means they care about them and are attempting to control your decision making or manipulate you. It’s unhealthy and emotionally abusive.“
Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse isn’t always as easy to spot. So here’s how you can tell if your partner is becoming emotionally dominant over you, according to expert.
7. They Blame You For Things That Have Nothing To Do With You
People who emotionally dominate others usually lack accountability for their actions. They’re never at fault. According to Roberts, they often blame others for their feelings and problems. Since you’re the closest person to them, they’ll place blame on you and claim it was “justified” based on something you did.
Just to make it perfectly clear, emotional dominance is emotional abuse. “You must be willing to set boundaries and limits with yourself and try to gain self-respect even if it’s minor (waiting a few minutes to call them back, for example),” Roberts says. “You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.“
No one who truly loves and respects you will make you feel inferior. If you feel like your partner is becoming emotionally dominant over you, it may be time to seek help from loved ones or a therapist in exiting the relationship.