Relationships can be hard. But just because your relationship doesn’t look like every storyline in all the rom-coms, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a toxic relationship. Even though your relationship might not meet fairytale standards, doesn’t mean you should accept bad behaviors like ignoring boundaries, gaslighting, or disrespect in any way, shape, or form.
While as a society we’re more aware of toxic behaviors now than we have been for decades, sometimes they can be subtle. And, when left unchecked, they can do some major damage to your emotional and mental health and self-esteem. Here are some obvious — and covert — red flags that should send you running for the hills.
1. Ignoring Boundaries
Did you catch your partner going through your phone? Or maybe, they’ve been keeping tabs on your social media activity. Doesn’t it seem odd that they know everything that’s going on whether you’ve told them or not? The real problem is when you get upset because they fail to respect your boundaries, they try and tell you that you’re overreacting. Cues submarine-like sirens. You aren’t overreacting, and it isn’t their place to tell you how you should feel or react, especially to a violation of your boundaries.
Ignoring boundaries is just one example of how gaslighting plays out in real life. Essentially, gaslighting is when your partner tries to talk you out of your perception of reality. Like they tell you they didn’t say things that you know they said. Or they try to convince you that something didn’t happen when you literally were standing right there. This kind of behavior is a huge red flag of a toxic relationship. And if they’ve been doing it from the get-go, they’re going to keep doing it, even after you call them out on their BS.
3 Aggressive Communication
Arguments happen, and to an extent, can be healthy. But fighting dirty is never acceptable, no matter how tempting it might be to go for a low blow. There is nothing normal about aggressive communication. Name-calling, swearing, and getting into verbal knock-down-drag-outs on the regular isn’t a normal thing; it is a clear sign of a toxic relationship.
4. Isolating You From Friends and Family
No, your partner might not come straight out and say “I don’t want you to spend time with (insert anyone from your support system here).” In fact, they very likely won’t take that approach at all. Instead, they’ll tell you that they just want to spend all their time with you. Because, you know, they love you so much. And anytime someone in your circle calls this out as a toxic relationship red flag, your partner will be quick to call them out.
Oh, so-and-so only says that because they want to undermine our relationship. They’re just jealous. Uhm, no friend. If you haven’t been spending any time with anyone else outside your relationship, consider what is being said. Have you not spent time together because you’ve been too busy? Or is it because whenever you do, your partner doesn’t like that they’re calling them out for keeping you from them?
While this isn’t an all-inclusive list, these four red flags are something you should pay attention to. Toxic relationships happen. But it’s important to recognize these behaviors, no matter how subtle, before it escalates to something more lasting like emotional or verbal abuse. While nothing is ever perfect, it doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy. So here’s to healthy relationships. May we have them, may we expect them (and nothing less), and may we leave behind anyone who isn’t on the same bandwagon.