It's generally pretty normal to fight with a partner now and then (especially if you're in a serious relationship or living with someone), but if the argument turns into something physically or emotionally jarring, it could be a problem. Knowing if your partner argues abusively or not can help you protect yourself, either by getting guidance, keeping some distance, or breaking up (abusive conflict isn't a good fit for a long-term, stable relationship).
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling happy and comfortable in their relationships, where there's a level of safety, trust, and reassurance present, indicative of their love. Yet, sometimes, if amidst feelings of love and compatibility, the claws can come out in tense situations, leading a partner to become out of control. And, if the relationship is incredibly passionate, arguments might be even more destructive. So, if you notice your partner becoming cruel in his or her language or acting out in violent, aggressive manners, it could be a huge red-flag in the relationship. Here are 9 signs that the way your partner argues is actually really abusive, and you might want to rethink your partnership. And of course, seek help from a therapist, as well as love and support from family and friends, if you're coping with any trauma.
1. Physical Violence
If he/she throws a punch or starts to act out in threatening mannerisms, it could be a super dangerous situation to be in (you never know just how revved up your partner might become). Such behavior includes: "Hitting, kicking, biting, throwing," says Stacy Kaiser, Live Happy Editor at Large and licensed psychotherapist to Bustle.
2. Abusive Language
Abuse doesn't just fall into the physical type of category. In fact, emotional abuse can be incredibly hurtful and poignant, and it's often more common into relationships. If there's any "demeaning or abusive language," communicate the issue, and if it doesn't improve, it might be time to call it quits, says Kaiser.
3. Pushing Sexual Behavior
If you guys make up, and have makeup sex, so be it. But, if you're mid-argument, still have unresolved issues, and your partner is trying to coerce you into sexual deeds (without your consent), it's an abusive power dynamic. Any "attempt to engage in sexual acts in any unwanted violent way during an argument," is a huge no-no, says Kaiser.
4. Humiliating You
If your partner humiliates you and puts you down, either alone or in public (even worse), it's definitely abusive behavior, says Patti Giggins, executive director, Peace Over Violence to Bustle. These communication issues might involve "name-calling, put downs, and accusations," says Giggins.
5. Isolating You
If your partner makes you feel "isolated and alone" mid-argument or stops you from seeing friends and family (or leaning on them for support when you're in the middle of an argument), this can be an indicator of abusive relationship patterns amidst conflict, says Giggins.
6. Blaming You For The Issue
If your partner is always blaming you for the conflict, instead of realizing that it takes two people to fight, and there may very well be some instances where he or she's at fault and others where you are, it's an abusive way of arguing, explains Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a therapist in NYC to Bustle. "If your partner gets angry because you 'did something wrong,' or says you wouldn't fight so much 'if only you didn't act this way' you may want to reconsider this relationship," says Hershenson.
7. Controlling You
If your partner "reprimands you for your thoughts and opinions," or tries to tell you how to apologize (in specifics, of course), how to behave in the future, and so forth, it shows a control aspect relative to conflict resolution and communication, explains Hershenson.
8. Being Manipulative With Communication
"If your partner uses communication (or lack thereof) as a tool to generate negative emotions in you, it's abusive, or at least pretty close," says David Bennett, a certified counselor and relationship expert to Bustle. "For example, purposely bringing up a topic during every fight that they know causes you pain, or using 'the silent treatment' because they know it makes you angry and anxious, are examples of this," Bennett says.
9. Excessive Charm & Then A Pounce
If your partner uses excessive charm and manipulation to get you to trust him or her or feel as though he or she is the victim, and you're the one to blame, it's super abusive, explains Dr. Fran Walfish, leading couples relationship and family psychologist in Beverly Hills to Bustle. This can also accompany lying, says Walfish, where you'll feel as though you have to trust based on charm, but are actually deceived.
If you notice any of these signs, it could mean you're in an abusive relationship and should break free. It likely won't get better, and only worse.