Some boyfriends are clearly abusive – they hit, yell, or push their girlfriends around. These signs of an abusive boyfriend will help you recognize the less obvious types of abuse.
If your boyfriend doesn’t feel any guilt no matter what he does or says, he might be a sociopath. In The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout says one in twenty-five everyday Americans is secretly a sociopath. It’s a mental disorder, and the chief symptom is that the person possesses no conscience. He has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. This is a good book to read if you have a funny feeling about your boyfriend. He may not be outright abusive (eg, bruising you, breaking bones, locking you in a room) – but you’ve picked up on something. How do I know? Because you’re searching for signs of an abusive boyfriend.
These signs of abusive boyfriends are inspired by the Parable the Pencil. When you read it, remember that you are the pencil. You are gifted, smart, and valuable. You were created for a specific purpose – and when you find that purpose, you will be happier than you ever thought possible.
You may be searching for signs of an abusive boyfriend today, but tomorrow you could already be at the start of a fresh new page in your life. You’re the pencil. Write your life story.
If you know you’re with an abusive boyfriend but you feel stuck or afraid, read How to End a Relationship When You’re Scared to Be Alone.
The Parable of the Pencil
Once upon a time, there was a woodworker who often made pencils. He always told his pencils the same thing before putting the final touches on them…
“There are five things you need to know before I send you off into the world,” said woodworker. “Always remember them, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”
- One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone’s hand.
- Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.
- Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.
- Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.
- Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.
The pencils understood the cobbler’s instructions, and nestled themselves in their pencil boxes. They had a strong sense of feeling of purpose, value, and meaning.
Parables and Abusive Boyfriends
Before you think about whether or not your boyfriend is emotionally abusive, put yourself in the place of the cobbler’s pencil. The point of the Parable of the Pencil is to show you how valuable you are – and how much you deserve to be treated with respect, kindness, and love.
- One: You will be able to do many great things with the gifts you have, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand.
- Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time – for nobody is protected from life’s problems and sorrows – but your heartaches can make you stronger and wiser.
- Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you make.
- Four: The most important part of you is what’s on the inside – not what iphone you have, job you hold, clothes you wear, or shape of your body.
- Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. Continue to express yourself in the way only you can no matter what you’re facing.
If you’re searching for signs of an abusive boyfriend, you’re probably in an unhealthy relationship. You know when you aren’t being treated right – but you may not know that you deserve to be treated better.
5 Signs of an Abusive Boyfriend
You can change your life. You’re like a pencil – you might not be able to erase what you’ve experienced, but you can start over with a fresh page.
You don’t feel good about yourself after being with him
If you feel deflated, sad, incompetent, depressed, or tired after being with your boyfriend, then he may be sucking the energy right out of you. Maybe he’s not “abusive” – maybe he’s an energy vampire. Maybe he isn’t life giving or inspiring. If you walk away from him with emotional or physical bruises, then he’s an abusive boyfriend.
Your boyfriend criticizes and complains all the time
There are different types of abuse. Emotional, physical, sexual, and financial are three types of abuse. Neglect is another sign of abuse – even though a neglectful boyfriend doesn’t seem like he’s actually abusing you. Neglect is a type of abuse the children experience if their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social needs aren’t met. Your boyfriend doesn’t have this type of control over your life, does he? If so, it’s a sign of an abusive boyfriend who is also a control freak.
Your boyfriend is an “energy vampire”
Energy vampires drain positive energy in many ways, such as:
- Intruding on your life, ignoring boundaries and privacy.
- Complaining constantly about their partners, jobs, children, bad luck, and illnesses.
- Criticizing your hair, appearance, job, children, partner, friends, and pets.
- Not taking “no” for an answer. A sign of an abusive boyfriend is not considering your needs.
- Being unrelentingly negative – and encouraging you to be negative, too.
- Blaming everyone else for their problems.
Some people believe men who are energy vampires are abusive boyfriends or husbands. I tend to agree. I know it’s not abuse that will send you to the hospital with broken ribs or a black eye, but is a type of emotional abuse.
You can’t depend on your boyfriend
On 5 Signs of a Verbally Abusive Relationship a reader says, “I’ve been with my boyfriend for 10 years. At first I helped him get cleaned from heroin, then he became an alcoholic that was getting out of hand. Then heroin again. I have five children, and only the youngest is both of ours. Financially I don’t depend on him. Deep inside of me I want to break away and feel free, what holds me back it is that he uses words that get to me even though I fight them by ignoring them. He feeds off my self-esteem. He said I make I make him sick, he doesn’t love me anymore, and we haven’t had any intimately relations in over three months. I should call the police but he doesn’t have papers. I have stood up to him by telling him stop abusing me, please stop torturing me verbally. Then when he leaves he stalks me and I’m terrified of even putting a step out the door. Please advise me.”
This reader’s example of an abusive boyfriend is far beyond an energy vampire – though he is feeding off her self-esteem and love. He is using her.
Your boyfriend uses you
It’s a sign of abuse when your boyfriend constantly borrows money, asks you to drive him around, makes you take care of his kids or house or drugs, or uses you in other ways. You know when you’re being used. Even if you can’t see it, I bet your friends and family have told you that you’re with an abusive boyfriend. The signs aren’t just in your relationship with him; they’re in the words your loved ones say.
I welcome your thoughts on these signs of an abusive boyfriend. I can’t give advice or offer counseling, but it may help you to share your experience.
My prayer is that you recognize the signs of abuse in your relationship, and find the courage and strength you need to leave. May you see yourself in The Parable of the Pencil: useful, meaningful, creative, strong, and able to continue to live fully even after the pain and setbacks you’ve experienced. May you connect with the right people, and may you learn how to love yourself the way God loves you. Amen
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell.