13 Brutal Signs Of Being Exploited In a Romantic Relationship

If you're reading this, chances are you've been through an experience that has left you feeling exploited in a romantic relationship. 

Maybe you gave your all to someone, only to have them take advantage of your kindness and love. 

Or perhaps you found yourself constantly giving while your partner only took and never reciprocated. 

It's a painful and confusing situation to be in, and it's not something anyone deserves to go through. 

But know that you're not alone. 

Many others have been through similar experiences, and there is hope for healing and moving forward.

What Does It Mean to Be Exploited in a Relationship?

When you're in a romantic relationship, you trust your partner to treat you with love, respect, and care.

However, it can be devastating when your partner starts taking advantage of your trust and exploiting your vulnerabilities. 

couple sitting at table arguing being exploited in a romantic relationship

Being exploited in a relationship means that your partner is using you for their own benefit without considering your feelings, needs, or desires.

It often involves a power imbalance, where one partner has more control over the other and uses that control to manipulate or abuse them.

This behavior can take many different forms, such as:

  • Emotional manipulation
  • Financial abuse
  • Sexual coercion
  • Physical violence
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Withholding affection or attention

No matter how it presents itself, exploitation can have serious consequences for your mental and emotional well-being.

It can leave you feeling powerless, ashamed, and disconnected from your own sense of self

If you're experiencing exploitation by your partner, know that there is help available.

It's important to prioritize your own safety and seek support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals.

13 Signs You're Being Exploited in a Romantic Relationship

Do you think your spouse or partner is exploiting you?

It's vital to be aware of the signs of this abusive behavior.

Being oppressed in a relationship can be emotionally and psychologically damaging, and recognizing the signs early on can help you take steps to protect yourself and get the support you need.

1. Your significant other is always taking but never giving.

When your partner constantly asks for your time, attention, and resources without ever reciprocating, it's a sign of exploitation. It may leave you feeling like you're always giving and never receiving, leading to emotional exhaustion and feeling taken for granted. 

Their selfishness can also create a power dynamic in which your partner holds all the power, making you feel powerless and undervalued. This sense of emotional inequality can lead to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

2. You feel like you're walking on eggshells.

If you are constantly afraid of upsetting your spouse or partner or setting them off, it's a sign that they hold a lot of power and control in the relationship. It creates constant anxiety, tension, and stress, which can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. 

Walking on eggshells can also lead to feelings of hypervigilance, always looking for signs of danger, making it difficult to relax and feel safe in the relationship. Emotional exhaustion and a lack of trust in yourself and your partner are inevitable.

3. Your mate frequently puts you down or belittles you.

Exploiters use put-downs and insults to make their significant other feel small and powerless. When your partner frequently criticizes you, calls you names, or makes you feel like you're not good enough, it's a sign of exploitation that can chip away at your self-esteem and confidence over time. 

You feel a sense of isolation, as you may begin to believe you are not worthy of love and support from others. Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem often follow feeling isolated.

4. Your lover is overly possessive or jealous.

Exploiters often use jealousy and possessiveness to control their partner's behavior and isolate them from friends and family. Does your significant other limit your interactions or get upset when you spend time with anyone else? 

If so, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. It can also make you dependent on your partner for emotional support, making it difficult to leave the relationship even when you know it's unhealthy for you.

5. Your companion is controlling your time, money, or activities.

Your partner manages what you do, how you spend your time, and how you use your money. They're trying to limit your independence and keep you under their thumb. This kind of oppression can leave you feeling trapped in the relationship, as you may not have the resources or support you need to leave. 

It can also lead to financial instability, making it difficult to care for yourself and your family. You may have feelings of frustration, anger, and powerlessness that lead to depression.

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6. Your spouse frequently changes the subject or avoids discussing important issues.

If your partner is evasive or dismissive when you try to talk about important issues, they're hiding something or trying to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. You feel distrust and frustration as your partner is unwilling to engage with you meaningfully. 

There’s a lack of communication and emotional intimacy in the relationship, making it impossible to build trust and emotional connection.

7. Your lover frequently breaks promises or agreements.

Does your significant other frequently make promises they can't keep or break agreements you've made together? It's a sign of disrespect and disregard for your feelings. You’re overwhelmed with a sense of disappointment and frustration that can build to resentment. 

Eventually, you lose trust in your partner and can’t feel emotionally secure in the relationship. When your partner doesn't follow through on their promises, it can create uncertainty and unpredictability, making it difficult to plan for the future.

8. Your mate is dismissive of your needs or feelings.

If your partner frequently ignores or dismisses your needs or feelings, they clearly don't value you as a person and are more interested in using you for their own benefit. Their lack of concern makes you emotionally isolated, as your partner obviously doesn't care about your well-being. This behavior is emotional neglect, making it difficult for you to feel emotionally connected to your partner and the relationship.

9. Your partner frequently guilts or shames you into doing things.

Your companion demands something of you that you don’t want to do. Instead of respecting your wishes, they try to manipulate you into doing it by using guilt or shame. They're using your emotions against you to get what they want.

couple sitting in car woman looking out side window arguing being exploited in a romantic relationship

You can’t help but feel bad about “letting them down,” which makes you resentful and angry. Your partner is emotionally manipulating you, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid feeling betrayed and hurt. Often you just do what they want to avoid these feelings.

10. Your significant other frequently blames you for their problems or mistakes.

Your partner constantly makes excuses for their failures or problems, and they frequently point the finger directly at you. They're unwilling to take responsibility for their actions and are trying to shift the blame onto you to feel better about themselves. 

Talk about injustice and unfairness – you’ve been their biggest support, and now you are the bad buy. You're being unfairly targeted for things that are not your fault. You’re being emotionally manipulated, as your partner may be using blame to control your behavior and their own emotions.

11. Your spouse frequently tries to make you feel guilty or responsible for their happiness.

Poor them. Nothing in life is going right, and it’s all your fault. If your partner tries to make you responsible for their emotional or physical health, they won’t take care of themselves and rely on you to fill that role. 

This exploitation is an emotional burden, as you can’t help but feel responsible for your partner's happiness. The more responsible you feel, the more they take advantage of you. They see a weak spot and use it to their advantage without a care in the world for your feelings.

12. Your companion frequently withholds affection or attention as punishment.

This is a particularly egregious way to exploit someone they are supposed to love. If your partner withholds affection or attention to punish you or manipulate you into doing what they want, it's a sign of emotional abuse. 

It fosters emotional isolation in you, as you may feel unworthy of love and affection. It can also lead to a lack of emotional connection in the relationship, making it difficult to feel emotionally supported and loved.

13. Your partner frequently engages in coercive or non-consensual sexual behavior.

Does your partner pressure you into a sexual activity you're uncomfortable with or engage in sexual behavior without your consent? If so, you need to recognize that this is sexual exploitation and abuse. 

It's essential to seek help and support if you're experiencing this type of behavior, as it can have serious consequences for your mental health. Sexual exploitation can create a sense of shame and guilt, making it difficult to seek help and support. It can also lead to feelings of fear and trauma, which can impact your mental and emotional health.

Verbal Examples of Being Exploited in a Relationship

Being exploited in a romantic relationship can take many forms. Here are some verbal examples of the behaviors your partner might use to exploit you:

  1. Gaslighting: “You're overreacting,” “That never happened,” “You're crazy for thinking that.”
  2. Emotional manipulation: “If you loved me, you would do this for me,” “I don't know what I'll do if you leave me,” “You're the only one who can make me happy.”
  3. Financial control: “I don't want you working because I want you to be available for me,” “I'll take care of the bills, don't worry about it,” “You don't need to know how much money we have, just trust me.”
  4. Isolation: “I don't like your friends; they're not good for you,” “I don't want you hanging out with them anymore,” “Your family is always causing drama; it's better if you just distance yourself.”
  5. Verbal abuse: “You're stupid,” “You're worthless,” “No one else would ever want you.”
  6. Sexual coercion: “If you really loved me, you would do this,” “I'll leave you if you don't have sex with me,” “It's your job as my partner to fulfill my needs.”

These are just a few examples, but it's important to remember that exploitation can take many forms and may not always be easy to recognize. 

How Does an Exploitive Relationship Impact You

Being in an exploitive relationship can have serious and lasting effects on your mental and emotional well-being. Here are some of the ways it can impact you in the short and long term:

  1. Low self-esteem: Exploitation can lead to a lack of self-worth, making it difficult to assert your needs and boundaries in future relationships. It can also create a cycle of exploitation and low self-esteem.
  2. Depression and anxiety: The constant stress and emotional turmoil of your relationship can cause feelings of depression and anxiety. The fear and uncertainty of not knowing when your partner will lash out or hurt you can take a toll on your mental health, leading to hopelessness and despair.
  3. Trust issues: Being exploited by someone you love can create trust issues, making it hard to trust others in the future. The isolation and loneliness also make it difficult to form close relationships with others.
  4. Isolation: Exploitation leads to isolation and social withdrawal, where you may feel like no one understands what you're going through or that you can't talk to anyone about your problems. Loneliness, sadness, and despair are your constant companions.
  5. Physical health problems: The stress and anxiety of an exploitative relationship can lead to physical health problems, such as headaches, fatigue, and stomach issues. The constant stress and tension can weaken your immune system, making it harder to care for yourself and your family.
  6. Emotional trauma: Exploitation can be traumatic, and the emotional scars can last long after the relationship ends. You may have flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts related to your partner’s behavior. It can make it hard to move on from the relationship and form healthy relationships in the future.

How to Deal with Being Exploited in a Romantic Relationship

Dealing with exploitation in a romantic relationship can be challenging, but it's important to remember that you deserve to be treated with love and respect. Here are some ways to deal with being exploited in a romantic relationship:

  1. Set boundaries: Setting boundaries can help you protect yourself from exploitation. Be clear about what you're comfortable with and what you're not, and communicate your boundaries to your partner. Set consequences for times when your partner crosses these boundaries. 
  1. Seek support: Talking to someone you trust, such as a friend or therapist, can provide you with support and help you process your feelings. Don’t go it alone – you need support in the face of this challenging situation.
  1. Build your self-esteem: Building your self-esteem can help you feel more empowered. Confidence in yourself can help you stand up to exploitation. Working with a therapist can help. So can standing up for yourself.
  1. Prioritize your well-being: Taking care of your physical and emotional health is essential when dealing with exploitation. Self-care can include getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well.
  1. Consider ending the relationship: If the exploitation is ongoing and your partner is unwilling to change, ending the relationship may be the best option for your mental healty. Don’t continue to live in a situation that is harmful and going nowhere. 
  1. Remember that exploitation is never your fault: It's important to remember that it is never your fault, no matter what your partner says or does. You deserve to be treated with love and respect; exploitation is never okay.

Final Thoughts

As you navigate the difficult and often painful experience of being exploited in a romantic relationship, it's essential to know that healing and recovery are possible. Remember that you are not to blame for the exploitation and deserve to be treated with love and respect. 

Seeking support, setting boundaries, and prioritizing yourself can help you overcome exploitation's effects and find a path forward. You are strong, resilient, and worthy of love, and with time and effort, you can reclaim your sense of self-worth and happiness.