Bullies come in different shades and sizes. Most times though people are more attuned to physical bullies who use their strength to great effect. Emotional bullies in relationships, on the other hand, are difficult to define. This is because matters that concern the heart can be confusing to the best of us.
Emotional bullies in relationships, like other types of bullies, use any opportunity they have to make others miserable. They feed off the weakness of their partners. And in almost all the cases, the situation can escalate to violence given enough time.
I have seen cases where one partner in a relationship was so bullied she became mentally unstable.
Recently, a friend was narrating how she wished she could turn back the hands of time so she could avoid the mistakes that led to the crash of her former relationship.
By the end of the gist, it was clear she was the classic victim of an emotional bully. Her relationship with her boyfriend was a partnership of unequals.
In the beginning though, he behaved like he worshipped the ground she walked on. But when he got comfortable enough in the relationships, the bullying started.
Every little mistake was met with loud complains. Every perceived infraction was given the same treatment. He was constantly shouting and berating her. And as a classic victim, she was always apologizing even if he was at fault.
An innocuous innocent remark would lead to verbal violence. Then she would start apologizing to get him to stop. She was at her wits end. When they finally broke, he was able to make it look like it was all her fault.
Even though, the series of events that led to the breakup was down to the fact she caught him cheating on her. Obviously, he hated having to be on the defensive with her.
How to spot emotional bullies in relationships
It would have been ideal to point out to the unwary how to avoid emotional bullies in relationships. Unfortunately, these characters can’t be exposed by mere looking at them.
On many occasions, victims of emotional bullies even cover up for their oppressors. It is either they don’t understand what is happening to them or they are too ashamed to admit they are helpless.
Emotional bullies start out as very nice regular people. Some of them can be the perfect gentleman or lady. In this respect, victims can’t be blamed for falling in love with them.
The initial phase of a relationship with the potential bully is the time they use to check out their potential victims. They suck them in with tender loving care. While doing that, they are looking for weaknesses in the psyche.
They are on the lookout for what buttons to press and how hard to push these buttons to get the desired effect.
Then they start testing the waters a little at a time. They note what they can get away without consequences. They up the ante as time goes on until they have their victims where they want them.
It is always better for them if their partners love them more. Then they can afford to go on an emotional bullying spree using all the tricks of manipulation at their disposal.
There are so many examples to choose from as instances of emotional bullying. At the top of their game, emotional bullies make their victims feel constantly on the edge. You could even say they have total control over them.
So if you know somebody who appears to be very scared of their partner but yet can’t think of leaving them, it is likely are having an affair with one.
How to check emotional bullies in relationships
Studies have shown that people with low self-esteem easily fall prey to the antics of emotional bullies in relationships. Basically, it would be hard to escape if you have self-esteem issues.
However, people who find themselves in these sorts of relationships are advised to be bold. Inherently, bullies are cowards. They are scared of people who can stand toe to toe, eyeballs to eyeballs with them. They tend back down in such standoffs.
Even if they don’t back down immediately, it is 99% certain that they wouldn’t try to pick on you next time.
So as a rule:
- Never apologize to them if you haven’t done something wrong, it only feeds into their psychosis.
- Always tell them boldly if they have done something wrong. Don’t allow them to shout you into submission or keeping quiet.
- Always demand an apology if they did something wrong to you. Don’t be afraid to hold to hold a grudge against them until you get that apology.
- Don’t be quick to seek for reconciliation after a nasty quarrel. That is falling into their scheme. Allow their rage to simmer down before approaching them for a settlement. Chances are, they would silently thank you for it as their pride would never allow them to make the first move.
- During any reconciliation talks, never give the impression everything was your fault. Make them understand things could have been different if they had behaved differently.
- You can enlist the help of respected mutual friends and family for an intervention. This might be risky though as the bully might see it as a gang up. So the best diplomat in the group should lead the way.
All these might sound daunting, but taking the first steps is all that is required to be free of the situation. In the long run, the benefits would certainly outweigh any downsides you might encounter.