My last relationship was horrific to say the least. We were that couple who were together one day and broken up the next. One day we would be cuddling and talking about our future. The next day, I would be throwing his clothes at his face and storming out of the door, wishing to never speak to him again because he was an overly insecure and problematic guy. My friends, including the one editing this paper (thank you, Emma), have heard about all of the drama surrounding this man. Last year it was a cycle of talking about how much I hated him to my friends and then doing a complete 180, gushing about how much I really loved him. Soon thereafter, he always tried to squeeze his way back into my life with some kind words, promising to be more honest with me and change, which he never did (shocker).
Here are the red flags that I completely neglected with my ex that should have made me leave him sooner:
1. He was unbearably clingy
I went into that relationship not really having anything to compare it to. Sure, I’ve had other relationships before, but they were significantly less serious and more so about promoting a certain social image rather than a companionship between two people. I was emotionally immature going into this relationship, while he had been in a very serious relationship before. I wish he could have given me the time and space to adjust to this new developing relationship, but he didn’t. He was constantly pushing me to hang out and often questioned if I liked him or not. Which, to be fair, my emotional immaturity may have come off that way, but I had to constantly assure him that I did in fact really like him. It became unbearable when he would ask me to sleep over at a time where I was not ready to do so. I clammed up and retreated when he pushed too far and discussed things like marriage and family a month into the relationship. I should have broken up with him then, but to be honest, no one had ever loved me like he did. I just kept staying with him because I wasn’t sure that anyone else would.
2. Anger Issues and Emotional Distress
My ex’s anger issues were insufferable, especially when he got drunk. The end of a night of partying would always end in some large catastrophic argument because he would bring up something that happened in my past, which was uncalled for and irrelevant to our current relationship. Then, I would end up apologizing to him even though he was the one at fault. His mood swings bothered me because we would be having a nice time and then he would find some way to ruin it.
He had never been physical with me, but he had been emotionally and verbally toxic toward me. He’d yell when things didn’t go his way or change his body language, and overall, demean to a more aggressive and threatening manner when I said something he did not like. To be honest, I was kind of scared of him oftentimes because having learned the ways in which people deal with stress, I was afraid that he would take his anger out on me physically. He never did, but even just thinking that he would was a red flag I should have taken more seriously. Having a conversation with him was near impossible, but I stayed with him because even though we never resolved our issues, we would often avoid them, leading me further into a constant state of denial, claiming that “everything was fine” when it clearly wasn’t.
3 His Condescending Demeanor
He always and I mean always thought he was better than me in every way, shape and form. It escalated when he was stressed. I would want his attention sometimes and he would constantly claim that “Criminal Justice Majors have no work to do,” and to leave him alone when he had “more important” things to do. I would call him out for doing this to me, but he would gaslight me, telling me that he was right and that I was overreacting. I stopped fighting him on this because I didn’t want to cause any more issues.
He also loathed the fact that I had had casual relationships before dating him. He’d say that I was tainted in some way or not ‘pure’ because of it. Meanwhile I had never judged him on his past whatsoever. This condescending nature made me feel bad about myself and I found myself apologizing for things I shouldn’t have apologized for; the past is in the past and should stay in the past.
That relationship took so many things away from me, but in the end, I learned to respect myself more. I learned that I deserved more from a relationship. Having role models is extremely important when it comes to developing healthy relationships with other people. I don’t have overly affectionate parents and I wasn’t exposed to what a real relationship should be. As a result, I became immersed into a relationship that I thought was normal because I didn’t know what it was like to truly be taken care of and to take care of someone else in return. Now that I am more socially aware of this concept, I’m trying to look for a relationship that is healthier and respects both my needs and the other person’s needs because to be honest, it takes two to make a relationship work and I have to admit that I was toxic in some ways as well.