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Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship

by Caitlin Boos

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Someone once said that when you’re wearing rose-colored glasses, red flags simply look white and that sentiment could not ring truer than when discussing relationships. Individuals with the intent to harm are sly with their maliciousness and seldom display it until they are assured you are firmly in their grasps. What begins as inconspicuous disrespect may then become outright mistreatment and you don’t deserve to be with anyone who would ever contemplate either. When smitten, we rarely look at our lovers with abject analysis, out of the apropos fear we will uncover something unsavory. The sort of subtle insolence that hints at the greater wish to harm is decipherable solely through an unobscured lens and often, we are too invested in a relationship to do such. Thus, while no one but you can finitely diagnose the situation: the following are signs—you are perhaps too enamored to detect—that are indicative of concealed malice nonetheless.


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He Demands Control Over All of You

There are a plethora of ways a toxic individual can assert control over your life and often, they begin with gestures that don’t inherently appear mal-intended, but, escalate in increments. For instance, frequently providing unrequested advice, maybe the strategy he employs at first to ensure you are making the decisions he wants, while simultaneously appearing as helpful. From there, he may insist you follow his insight on each subsequent personal matter, and even eventually, demand you adhere undisputed to his orders for what he perceives is best.


In a similar trajectory, he may begin early on, purchasing an abundance of presents and luxuries for you with the intent to instill the sense of indebtedness and the desire to “pay him back.” But make no mistake, this is done through a method that wouldn’t seem immediately immoral. By intentionally gifting you such expensive materials, (he knows) he’s establishing the dynamic in which you feel the need to reciprocate his generosity in any way you can, and thus will make acceptable his eventual order giving, demand inflicting, and control suppressing.



He Forces You into Things You Don’t Desire

Within any relationship exists parameters in which each party independently holds and rightfully, requests the other respect. A toxic individual will either willingly ignore, or blatantly reject these boundaries in as many ways they viably can, before the unsuspecting person is made aware of the indiscretions. Pressure, in any capacity and force, in all amounts, are inherent red flags that one should be well-attuned to when in a relationship. Insisting on newness, encouraging experimentation, and coaxing you into uncharted territories, are all subtle methods malicious individuals use to determine how vulnerable you are to coercion.


Your partner may attempt to pressure you into a vast array of matters involving your dates, plans, sex, career and future, often with increasing severity. What began as persistent urges to explore outside your comfort zone may metastasize into the absolute unwillingness to accept your dissent or the relentless refusal of the word “no.” This may begin to feel constant and inescapable, exhorting to abandon your boundaries and indulge instead. Take note when this happens as his desires are a flagrant abuse of your trust and inevitably that will render you powerless in the relationship.


He Isolates You from Everyone You Love

A keystone behavior of a partner with ill intentions is the stifling of your relationships with close friends and family until eventually, he is the sole “loved one” in your life. Isolating you from those who worry about your wellbeing will enable him to worsen his mistreatment; ostensibly there is no one present to reprimand his abuse or draw your attention to such. By depleting your social connections, he is double ensuring that your probability of potentially fleeing the relationship remains low even after you have decided you would like to vacate.


As with the aforementioned signs, the toxic individual will ease into his malicious ways by “innocently” occupying as much of your schedule as discreetly afforded, with dates, outings, and similar one-on-one events. Once he supposes your suspicions are dispelled, he will begin discouraging you from socializing with your friends on the rationale that, “he and you should be spending the most time together.” To achieve complete isolation, an abusive person will attempt to sever their partner’s familial ties by insisting they refrain from seeing them, as well as potentially resorting to disparagement.


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He Refuses to Share Certain Secrets

While the aforementioned signs often emerge over prolonged periods, dishonesty is a cardinal red flag that can be openly practiced from the beginning of the relationship and remain undetectable until its termination. A man with the proclivity to lie will do so perpetually and without hesitation, regardless of how severe the matter in which he is denying is. Dishonesty is a sign of toxicity, as it illustrates how meagerly the other person values your trust, honors your faith, and respects you as a human being. Additionally, oftentimes the individual is driven to deceit due to other malicious behaviors such as infidelity, false promises, concealed agendas etc. Deciphering whether your partner is lying about an issue is admittedly quite difficult to do as you must be highly skilled at noticing the slightest shifts in their behavior. One, any topic that makes him slightly tense, and two, uncooperative to divulge is that which he is fabricating. Being with one who refuses to share many of their matters is, in essence, being with an illusion and you deserve much more than that.


He Argues Incessantly Over Everything

Objectively, the sign most indicative of toxicity in a partner with ill intentions is frequently starting arguments. As opposed to the other malicious behaviors, fighting is easily detectable and often understood as abusive while it is occurring. However, the lengths at which we go to, to excuse, overlook and rationalize arguments can often pardon the animosity which transpired them and leave us just as unwitting to the malice as before. All conflicts should be considered when determining whether one is embroiled in a toxic relationship, as the act of arguing itself is not what is malicious, but the catalysts that transpired them that are.



For instance, arguments over objectively petty or trivial matters, as well as active searches for situations to become enraged by are both definitive indications of hostile intent. Similarly, engaging in fights over unnecessarily mean-spirited affairs such as one’s appearance, identity, skillset, capabilities, finances, career, or other intrapersonal matters, are also, innately malicious. Conflict, like all other unsuspecting red flags discussed within this article is not something that should be dispelled as simply another obstacle to work through with your partner: you are a goddess and anyone who subjects you to anything other than worship does not deserve your divinity.


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