The ebbs and flows of a relationship are not unusual, but dealing with it properly may improve your friendship, marriage, partnership, or relations with your family. However, behind the curtain, many relationships are toxic and may resemble a shrieking kettle waiting to explode.
Are there red flags of a toxic relationship before things go south? Yes, but only if you want to see them. After someone asked an online community what a dead giveaway of a toxic relationship is, these were the best responses.
The number-one-voted response was an assortment of controlling behaviors without a doubt. How partners controlled by them may have differed in subtlety to virtual wickedness, but several complained of manipulative, oppressive, or unjust behavior.
Several Redditors spoke of friends or colleagues who constantly have to send videos or photos of them working to their significant other to prove they were there. One boyfriend made his girlfriend call him during all her breaks rather than mingle with coworkers. Others shared that a girlfriend requires detailed notes with time stamps of everything he does while hanging with the guys.
One thread was astounded at how one husband got a vasectomy, even though he wanted children. His wife changed her mind, and he reversed the vasectomy, and then she went back to her original plan of not having kids. Snip, snap, three vasectomies later, it took a physical toll on him.
Several in this community agreed they regularly dealt with emotional behavior in their relationships. One recalled PTSD experiences, and fighting with their partner was a virtual requirement. Some said they were constantly being yelled at or physically attacked for reacting to their abusive behavior and finally had to leave. Many complained of feeling exhausted from the ongoing drama in their homes.
Another Redditor said, “Having a partner in the relationship who insists that you have to fight in a relationship, otherwise you’re not “passionate” about it. I heard a friend insist on this, and I was mortified about her relationships.”
Complains About Their Partner
One typical red flag is hearing someone persistently complain to others about their partner. At the same time, they are making others very uncomfortable. Pulling back the curtain and sharing dirty laundry with others opens the door to total disaster.
Many in the thread admitted they could no longer communicate with their partners. Some reported that they tried to work on communication with their ex, but as soon as they brought up anything, it turned into an argument and became a lose-lose situation. Arguments ranged from sarcasm, disrespect, and heated or angry words that veered from the initial discussion.
One recently divorced person said, “This was the same garbage I went through. She always asked me to communicate better and speak up when I was upset. Yet, when I brought up an issue, there was always a justification or excuse for why she wasn’t at fault, but she would daily pick at me for minor issues. Sometimes weeks later, after it wasn’t an issue anymore, she would admit she was wrong, but never in the moment. It made me quit trying after years of it, and eventually, we just pittered out.”
Can’t Have A Life Outside of the Relationship
Similar to controlling behavior, several pointed to relationships that become toxic over alienating their partner and restricting them from seeing friends, doing hobbies, or spending time alone reading a book. A few people reported that they could only do things by checking with their partners, had to vet everything, and needed more autonomy.
Suddenly you spend much less time with your friends and family or are moved away from your support network and community. You are encouraged to associate only with people through your abuser.
One Redditor shared, “This was my last relationship to a tee. We were unhealthily codependent. I lost most of my hobbies and most of my friends during that time. If I went and did my own thing, my phone was a constant stream of messages ranging from ‘I miss you’ to ‘How much longer will you be?’ We got into a fight because I was helping my dad with some housework and didn’t know how long it would take.”
I couldn’t agree more that gaslighting is a dead giveaway, but I think it can be difficult to know you’re gaslit. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation often found in abusive relationships. Several had gaslighting experiences, and they recognized they were constantly apologizing to their partner. Many admitted they would not speak their mind and choose their words carefully to avoid angering their partner.
One Redditor said, “I’m coming out of the fog of gaslighting after years of being wrong, collapsing at the smallest accident out of fear, and having an opinion of my own, which now feels fake because I had to believe everything one way with no questions before. Gaslighting makes you feel like you’re losing grip on reality, and it’s awful for anyone going through it.”
Some people treat their partners with profound disrespect and dismiss their thoughts and feelings, often associated with prejudice against gender, typically women, but not always. Misogynistic behavior can be blatant or more subtle, reflecting an inequality between men and women where one may demur to the other. Many friends of those who may be in such a toxic relationship provided experiences with an imbalance.
One person worried about a friend who seemed oblivious to her boyfriend’s toxic behavior and said, “We had a friend who would not speak until after her boyfriend spoke. One night she was over for dinner without him and mentioned how her boyfriend was passionate and sometimes put his fist through their walls. After that comment, she came to help me do the dishes, and I was like, ‘uh, that’s not normal. Are you ok? The last time I punched a wall, I was a 14-year-old boy…’ She eventually left him, but the fact that she always hesitated to him, to me, is a red flag.”
Negative Financial Behavior
When it comes to finances, one person may assert that they can control the financial accounts and the budget and sign the documents without the other party’s participation. Here are some of the comments shared by the community on finances that raise red flags:
“Why would you want your own bank account? We should have a joint account because I do the budgets for us. You know I’m better at budgeting, and we can’t afford to waste money.”
“Oh, they want to sign the document, don’t worry. I can sign for you. You don’t need to have your name on the lease, mortgage, credit card, or bank account. It’s just complicated stuff I’ll handle for you. You wouldn’t understand. What we are doing is really complex. You know I am handling our finances for us.”
“Hey, why did you spend this much on [frivolous expense]? It doesn’t matter if it was payday. I was saving for us to do this. You’ve made that really hard. Let’s go over what you are allowed to spend again.” “I can’t believe you [Spent money on an item/service]. Give me your credit card.” [Escalated shrill fighting if you dare contest.] Give me your credit card.”
Whether these tactics, when raised by men, are chauvinistic or misogynistic, they have a ring of outrageous disrespect as these examples reflect negative financial behavior where one person may not know what is going on with the household money.
Here is the Reddit thread.
The internet inspires this article and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Cents of Money.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.