3 Signs Your Friends Might Be Emotionally Abusive

In media abusive relationships are usually portrayed as between a boyfriend and girlfriend, man and wife, with usually the man being a physical aggressor and abuser. This type of overgeneralization is dangerous because it doesn’t educate society on the numerous forms and signs of abuse. Emotional abuse is the easiest to justify, hide, and discount. Physical abuse has visible consequences that can be seen by others, while emotional abuse is harder to share. Here are some signs a friend, partner, parent, or anyone else is emotionally manipulating you.

1. GaslightingImage result for emotional

To gaslight is to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” A friend might “deny they ever said something,” even though you know they said it. They might say everyone else in your life is lying to you, when in fact they are the ones doing the lying.


Example: You and your bestie get in a big fight. A week after you make up you try to talk to your friend about it, and they deny it ever happened. They may say something like “I must not have noticed how you felt,” or “I guess it wasn’t a big deal.”


2. Sarcasm and Negative Humor

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As a fan of dry humor, myself, it can be very hard to differentiate humor and sarcasm meant to hurt and a joke that accidentally went too far. If someone continually pokes fun at you, laughs at and not with you, they are not trying to be funny or friendly.


Example: While talking with a group of friends you bring up your favorite TV show. “Sure,” one of your friends says, “Cuz we’ve never heard about that before.” Even if being said with a smile, sarcasm can often be meant to be hurtful.


3. Patronizing

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Emotionally manipulative and abusive people will often be super patronizing. They may imply that you wouldn’t understand what they’re talking about or that you’re naive. They might also use pet names.


Example: “Aw, sweetie, I’m glad you’re trying so hard.”


A list of other signs of someone trying to emotionally manipulate you can be found here.


It’s hard to navigate today’s social rules. The important thing to remember is that you need to prioritize your own mental health over toxic relationships. Clean out your friend list, and not just over Facebook. Make sure you surround yourself with people that make you happy, not people that want to sabotage you. Make sure you and your friends aren’t competitive, just compatable.

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