Look, no relationship and no person are perfect. Navigating through life as a couple is tough stuff — but that totally doesn’t give someone a free pass to manipulate you and treat you like crap. The only problem is sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between normal relationship issues and truly toxic habits.
But you might want to say goodbye fast to a partner who displays any of these signs.
1. They keep saying how much they like you, but only have time to get together a couple of times a month
If someone is really into building a relationship, he or she will offer much more than lip service about being ready to get serious. He or she will make time in a busy schedule for a new love. This type of under-the-radar toxic person not only rarely sees you, but hardly ever calls. Engaging in more than the occasional text takes too much time and energy away from the incredibly demanding life of Mr. or Ms. Devoted-To-You-Oh Yeah-What’s-Your-Name? And odds are this wonderful new lover blames the scarcity of time the two of you spend together on you always being busy!
2. They say you’re great yet there’s always something about you they criticize
This charmer thinks you’re the best thing since the invention of chocolate brownies. And yet — you wear too much makeup or you should wear more makeup or you’re not a good listener or you are too quiet or…. You get the point.
Dating a person who can’t support who you are as you are, and always finds “little things” that should be improved means that the one improvement you should really make is jettisoning Mr. or Ms. Fault-Finder from your life ASAP.
3. They are good at talking about their problems, but don’t listen when you have things on your mind
The all-about-me-all-the-time person expects you to be by his or her side, ears atingle to hear every precious word uttered. When he or she has a sniffle, it’s your job to run over with chicken soup. However, if you have something you want advice on or just an ear, your lover’s eyes take on a glassy look and the conversation is quickly turned back to his or her favorite subject — guess who?
Don’t be suckered into thinking whatever is on your mind isn’t as important as your lover’s needs. Healthy relationships are two-way streets, not one-way only.
4. They are jealous when things are going well for you
This super-insecure person can’t take it when you have something good happen to you. If your new partner minimizes your success (“sure, sure, nice it happened, now let me talk about the deal I have going!”), acts resentful, passive-aggressive, emotionally distant, jealous and/or super sulky instead of praising you to the skies over your achievement, Houston, we have a problem.
Your best move in this case: Abort the mission!
5. They are never wrong; absolutely incapable of apologizing
The person you are dating does not have to be a full-on narcissist in order to demonstrate he or she is someone who does not deserve your consideration as a potential lifetime partner.
When someone always has to be right, even when it’s clear he or she is wrong, that is a sign of rampant rigidity and self-denial. Many women in therapy sessions have confided how their partner committed wrongs ranging from standing them up to indulging in a display of bad temper, yet refusing to admit to bad behavior. One woman said, “Bill opened a car door for the first time in two months of dating, which I suspect was the closest he’d ever come to saying ‘I’m sorry.’”
6. They are deeply in love with you, even though the relationship is spanking new
It may seem flattering at first when a new love sweeps you off your feet, passionately stating you are the most fabulous person on earth and that he or she cannot ever live without you. But rather than being flattering, it’s a sign that something is off about your admirer.
This is not to say you do not deserve to be passionately adored, but true love builds slowly, over months or years of getting to know and accept the other person — flaws and all. If you are receiving bouquets of expensive flowers, 10 phone calls a day, desperate texts when you don’t instantly answer a contact and other signs of obsessive attention, end the relationship before the passion becomes dangerous possessiveness.
7. They are constantly trash-talking an ex
When a person casts him- or herself as a total innocent and a former lover as someone who is a malevolent, selfish, grotesque human being with not one redeeming quality, your response should be, “OK, I’m outta here. Best of luck to you.”
Because the message being imparted by the relentlessly nasty outpouring is that one day that is how you will be talked about.
Originally posted August 2016. Updated October 2017.