What I mean by that is, if you’ve been in one of these relationships, you may be pushing the truth away from yourself, trying to convince yourself this person really does love and care about you.
But there will be definitive signs, objective signs that absolutely expose these people for who they really are, and what they feel about them.
And speaking as someone who has lived through this, believe me, these signs absolutely show that these people are not what they claim.
This could be narcissism, anti-social, eminent rage, whatever it is, it’s never good for a healthy relationship.
Number 1 — a sense of dread
Now at first, this sounds very generic.
Everyone has dread, everyone will have dread, it doesn’t matter if you’re with the most perfect person in the world, it’s just a part of life.
What I mean when I say dread here is, you dread including them in your hardships, or even in your…easyships(?).
It’s the sort of thing where, when you make a mistake, in a healthy relationship, you should both understand and be aware of the fact that everyone will make mistakes.
Depending on the severity of the mistake, it’s also normal to expect a level of anger.
But at the end of the day, despite the mistake, you should know that doing that won’t make them love you any less.
That is normally not the case in a bad relationship.
When you make a mistake, no matter how small, you’ll likely begin to feel this wave of dread wash over you.
You know they won’t make anything better, they’ll just make it much, much worse.
It could be you forgot to make dinner.
It could be you didn’t take the trash out like you thought you did.
Whatever it is, when you do that sort of thing, an honest mistake, they won’t hesitate you drag you face-first through the flames.
Even if it’s a mistake that didn’t even affect them in any way, the same result plays out; make it clear you are the fool, and they are gracious for even staying in the relationship.
That’s not how that should play out, not at all.
Mistakes are to be expected in any relationship, and even just in life in general.
Mistakes aren’t intentional, other wise they aren’t mistakes.
No one deserves to be called horrific, terrible things every single time they blunder.
Like everyone has something they’re sensitive about. Say your dad walked out on you as a kid, and it really messed with you all your life.
It’s one thing to say, in the heat of the moment, things like “How could you do something so stupid?!” or “Are you serious?!”
But it’s another thing to go for the kill-shot, and tell you
“Stuff like this is probably why your dad left you.”
Things like that aren’t okay to say, ever; but much less over something you didn’t even mean to do.
And what that starts to do, is it makes you start to hide it from them when you do make a mistake. As opposed to a healthy back-and-forth about it.
You shouldn’t wake up with dread over having the person you’re with in your life.
Number two — they bring up your worst mistakes and your biggest fears
They’ll do this over really petulant things, and sometimes it’s just to win the argument.
Now this isn’t the same as bringing up a consistent mistake, like to stop leaving your wallet at home when you leave the house, or to stop leaving your shoes on while you walk around the house.
The other person is allowed to say “I told you to check your pockets when you leave the house, but you keep leaving without your wallet!”
That’s a fair observation, and at the end of the day it’s to help you.
But what I mean is, when you’ve made a mistake, and you’ve already expressed how deeply you regret it, so you’re genuinely trying to do better. But then in a fight, they’ll bring up things like that to say “You can’t even trust yourself!”
They usually do that sort of thing because they don’t have a legitimate argument for the point at hand.
So instead, they’ll bring up things you struggled with in the past, to invalidate what you’re saying now.
Through your failure, they’ll make you feel like a failure.
And a lot of the time you’ll just stop arguing to get them to stop bringing up old wounds.
They keep saying things that not only hurt in the moment, but you know, and they know, will stick. And it’ll stick far beyond the actual argument.
So if they ever say something to you that you know for a fact you’d never say to them, that’s a good indicator things aren’t right.
Number three — cracks in the mask
Toxic people in these relationships will often let that “mask” of who they claim to be slip off every now and again.
No one who claims to be pure and goodhearted and isn’t can keep up the charade every second of every day.
A good example, from my own life.
I remember a time when my now-ex wife yelled at me, just lit into me and front of my friends, who were at our house. And they were at our house, because it was my birthday.
And I remember, I just put my head down in resignation, like I literally couldn’t take anymore.
So I just threw in the towel and hung my head. I really couldn’t handle hearing any more of her blasting me like that.
But a little later, I had a friend pull me aside, and he told me,
“You know she smiles when she hurts you, right?”
“When you hung your head like that, it was really clear she’d broken you, and she smiled when it happened.”
That’s who she was, a sick human that lavished in someone else’s misery.
Things like that will happen, just small moments that show you who they really are versus what they proclaim themselves as.
I remember another time she was reading a book on Borderline Personality Disorder, and she said something about empathy.
So I asked her, okay, do you feel pain when I feel pain, or do you feel sad when I feel sad.
I remember she didn’t even look up from the book, and she just said “no.” She said she’d never done that.
Like the thought had never even crossed her mind to feel for me when something is happening to me.
When she went on further in the book, she of course backtracked on that, as it pointed to her being seriously messed up.
But just, keep an eye out for those moments, the things that show the chinks in the armor.
You aren’t going insane, they really are that person you’ll catch glimpses of.
Number four — uneven expectations
Imagine you’re both at dinner, and you’re on your phone.
And this person says, “Can you please get off your phone while I’m talking to you? It feels like you aren’t even hearing me.”
So you agree, and in a weird way you’re a little happy, because this is something you can fix to show how much they really mean to you.
But the next day, you’ll talk to them, and they’re on their phone.
So, it’s only fair, and entirely valid, that you say the same thing. You say you’re working on when you do it, so could they please put their phone down while you speak.
They will not.
In fact, they’ll rip into you for being so insensitive, how you were doing the same thing the day before, so could you lay off and this is only one time.
Do you see the contradiction?
You can’t use logic against these people, it doesn’t work.
As said before, even if you have valid points, if you’re totally in the right, it does not matter.
They have so many tried-and-true tactics to use on you, and emotional failsafes, that even if you are in the right, they know what to do and what to say to win the argument.
Number five — a disconnection of intimacy
This is normally a punishment in an argument.
Normally, in a healthy relationship, you should both be hurting. You should both have a sense of pain that you hurt each other, and you have to get over this disconnection.
Not a disagreement, but a fight, a painful moment, that’s how that should go.
It’s two people that genuinely love each other, and cherish each other, going through a heartache together.
Hopefully later on, you can reconcile. You can admit they had good points, and you’ll work on that, and hopefully they’ll do the same.
You’re both trying to see through the other person’s eyes, and really intimately understand each other.
It’s normal, and perfectly natural, but it’s supposed to hurt.
But that’s not how it goes in these relationship.
After you’ve had a fight, a really bad one, it’ll probably feel like you’re the only one hurting.
Like you’re the only one that feels pain, knowing you’ve caused them pain.
Later on, they’ll rub your face in the things you said, and things you dared to finally voice and point out.
They’ll act like they’re just too wounded by what you said to have that intimacy you need. Like you said something so painful they don’t know if they’ll be able to fix it.
It’s designed to teach you not to question them again.
They’ll make you work, and work, and work, and work, to get back what you lost in that fight.
But you’ll be so afraid once you have that back, you’ll think, “Oh man, I guess I shouldn’t be honest with them anymore.”
That’s not acceptable, it’s not okay to do to someone.
That’s their goal, though, to teach you any criticism you have for them is completely unfair.
But that’s not a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship should make you feel willing to open up, and admit when you went to far.
If only one of you is doing that, it’s not a relationship, it’s emotional subjugation.
So that’s five things to watch out for.
If any of these things apply to your current relationship, I urge you to give your relationship a much sharper look.
And if they all perfectly encapsulate your current relationship, run.