Signs of an Emotional Bully 

By Eric Charles, MA., PhD-c

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” ~Anonymous

I wish the above quote was true. Unless we are machine or lack human emotions, words and actions have a profound effect on the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. In our current society we have become hyper-aware and sensitive to bullying. We are quick to notice this taboo behavior in others and readily condemn it. It is possible that some of us fail to see the same behavior in ourselves. It’s time to take off our blinders and become more self-aware that we may be exhibiting the same behaviors towards others even though we will not tolerate this behavior from others. Self-awareness leads to personal growth. Through positive evolution we become happier and tend to have healthier relationships in general.

Here are some signs of an emotional bully:

1. Constantly interrupting and forcing opinions on others
In a conversation or discussion they need to be the one talking. They believe their opinions must be the most accepted opinions in the dialogue. They do not listen when others are talking but instead wait for an opportunity to jump in to declare their own thoughts

2. Throw fits in order to control an argument
If an argument is not going their way they will act out childishly by throwing tantrums. They may storm off to another room in order to end a discussion or even resort to jumping up and down in an attempt to physically get the attention back to their point.

3. Accuse and blame
When events in their life are not going as planned they tend to blame others for their discourse. They may even accuse others of wrongdoing that led to their shortcomings. They may go as far as telling loved ones that they are to blame for their misfortune. They fail to see that perhaps things are going wrong because of something they did.

4. Cry as a way to manipulate

They use emotion as a weapon. When words fail them they will resort to crying in order to get what they want. Crying may elicit benevolent emotions from the other person. An emotional bully will use this to sway the other towards their goal.

5. Yell and scream
Instead of speaking in a calm manner they will yell and scream at others in order to intimidate them to do as they wish.

6. Use profanity
They use profanity in an aggressive way to intimidate others.

7. Throw objects when upset
When upset, they will resort to throwing things so that those around them know they are in a negative mood.

8. Emotional hostage
When upset, they make everyone around them aware. Others then feel the need to tip toe around the person in order to avoid further drama. In a sense, they are a hostage to the other person’s emotions.

9. Exhibits passive aggressive behavior
If they don’t get their way they will act out their hostilities in a way that you may not notice. For example, if you choose where to have dinner over the place they suggested then they may become ill after they eat.

10. Threatens
They will threaten certain negative outcomes or negative behaviors in the future if they do not get their way.

11. Seeks revenge
If they feel slighted they will make it a mission to get back at you over the perceived slight.

12. Evokes the past
When arguing, they bring up past transgressions and refuse to let them go.

13. Always needs to have the last word
In an argument or discussion they always need to have the last word. Even if someone is trying to disengage they will continue to argue until their point is made. It is necessary for them to have the last say in any matter.

If you found this post to be helpful or insightful please remember to like, comment and share.

Best wishes,


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36 responses to Signs of an Emotional Bully 

  1. Tay_Breezy says:

    Such an insightful post. I love that you encourage us to self evaluate first. I truelly believe the world would be a better place if we take this approach and apply in the many other aspects of our lives

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hmmm great words of reality and yes there are many people who we meet in our pathway and sometimes they put us down and oh it sure is bad but there are beautiful ways that you have described that can be used to tackle them in a diplomatically manner.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. geminilvr says:

    Great post Eric – whenever I encounter someone like this in my life I just remind myself that it is me and not them. It doesn’t always take the sting away of hurtful words but it sure puts it all into perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’d like for you to write on how to deal with a bully too. This article was very helpful. I am a recovering co-dependent people pleaser and have had a lot of angst in my life trying to please manipulative and overbearing bullies.

    Thanks for your helpful article.

    Liked by 4 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      I am happy this was helpful. When time permits I will look into it. Thank you for your comment! ✨

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Helpful! I could relate to quite a few points like ‘Always needs to have the last word’, ‘Evokes the past’ and the worst ‘Seeks revenge’. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nicolle says:

    Thanks for the informational post as always, Eric! I agree that words and actions have a profound way of getting to us. I’m a bit on the sensitive side too, so I try to be aware of my words and action. 🙂

    I’m glad to say I don’t know anyone who is an emotional bully (or maybe they’re just not showing their true colours to me), but I’ve seen quite a few advice column questions where the letter writer is faced with someone like that (mother-in-law, friend, etc). It always makes me wonder; isn’t it a tiring way to live, both as the bully and the recipient? 🙁

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Leentjes2709 says:

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for bringing this subject in the spotlight. I was emotionally abused as a child by my mother and it has been a very long and difficult road to recovery. Since this is an invisible form of abuse it is also a difficult one to explain to others. It is good to repeat that words can hurt, more than most people are aware.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. JoAnna says:

    The damage from sticks and stones often heals faster than damage from emotional bullying which makes people sick from the inside out. None of these are acceptable. Thanks for writing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is why I have always hated the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Words are the most powerful weapons on Earth!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. WOW! You know I never thought of myself as a bully but when I was younger like in my 20’s and a single mother without family I had circle of friends that I was close to…… One day they told me I was very “bossy”. This made me look into myself and also look at my daugher as well who seemed bossy too. I worked on this alot in my late 30’s I think I was able to kick the bossy habit. Thinking back I did not think of myself as bossy but always trying to prove my worth to others because everyone thought of me as young and not serious.
    Now hitting 50

    Liked by 2 people

    • lisasworld68 says:

      Thank you for posting. It hit home on many levels. It has always stemmed from those i cared about, which made it equally confusing and painful. I’ve only recently over the past few years gained control…where i no longer tolerate any type of disrespect. I had to learn that you can’t fix people. It’s hard enough fixing ourselves. I have to say i am happier than i have ever been, it is quite liberating when you say “enough is enough”

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Yes, sad that there are people like this. I was married for 39 years to someone who covered all those traits except for the crying. I did the crying. No more! The only way to deal with that person is to escape. Thanks for the insight, reinforcing my decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sherry says:

    I grew up with a bully, my stepfather, and seemed to have married bullies. I don’t understand that need for control or hurting other’s. I believe kindness matters and thank you for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Barb says:

    A very interesting post. When listed it is pretty scary but I think what’s worse is that most of us will exhibit some of these reactions and not be aware of it and the why of it. If we all just took the time to really talk to each other and just listen then this world would be so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

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