No Violence Against Women Day: Red Flags of Dating

If you know me, you know I don’t hide the fact that I was in a not-so-healthy relationship when I was younger. I’ll spare you the gory details, but 10/10 would NOT recommend.


Now, since then, my friends will get into relationships with several little things that would make me go “hmm.” I just thought I was a bitter person who hated men. Then, I met my friend Annie’s boyfriend who didn’t really bother me (we have a fun relationship). And I realized what it was.


I was noticing itty-bitty red flags in the people my friends were dating. Nothing concerning enough to show up on any list your school counselor would hand out in November, but something I especially did not appreciate (that usually escalated).


Since realizing this, I’ve been able to generalize them into a couple of groups of bad people.


Note: While most of my girlfriends have been dating shitty men, I’ve seen a couple of women and they-baes who are pulling the same bullsh*t as the others, and I’d encourage you to look out for all your pals, not just your straight lady friends.


Here is a list of characters for you with context for, well, context. These people really exemplify specific “tropes” of abusive or coercive partners.


The Basketcase—My friend’s boyfriend my sophomore year. He ended up escalating to verbal threats of violence that I very luckily wasn’t present for (lucky for him that I didn’t call the police and file a restraining order against him {or let his school know}). I hated him upon meeting him and banned him from entering my room. I also refused to invite him to my Halloween party that year (after a faked s**cide “attempt” to suck my friend back into his life). Faked (which was later proven, but that’s a story for another day) several crises just to guilt her into staying with him AND faked a psychotic break to force her to involve his Ex-Best Friend. A Basketcase will also find a way to blame you for their own problems. This makes them especially exhausting.


The Warner—My friend’s high school boyfriend. He dumped her when she went to college and he didn’t, presumably because he then couldn’t have ~relations~ with her, and then tried to get back with her while she was in a relationship. I’m a huge Legally Blonde fan (fork Warner too, he belongs on this list), and this guy reminds me of the weasel version of Warner. I think quite a few people have had a Warner, but this guy really salts my bread, if you know what I mean. A Warner will cancel plans around that time of the month, seems only interested in certain ~activities~, and will speak about other women in derogatory ways.


The Zemo—Man, this one was a real mind-fork. This person was a master of manipulation and an excellent gaslighter. They were great at convincing you that something you remembered was fake and that their account of the incident was the only correct one. They actually managed to convince someone that an exact phrase was said during a conversation, which was only disputed by an audio recording of that conversation (thanks, Heather) because she suspected something funky was happening. As I’m also a Marvel fan, we’re naming this one after the brainwashing doctor from Captain America: The First Avenger. The Zemo can gaslight you into believing almost anything, so it’s best to take screenshots if you think you have one of these. The Zemo knows that they’re lying to you, so showing them the screenshots won’t help you reason with them, but the screenshots should help you keep a better timeline of events so you know what’s real.


The Harvey Dent—As the name would suggest, this person is vastly different from person to person. It’s normal for people to be slightly different in front of each group they’re a part of, but if it feels like a whole other person in front of you, that’s a red flag. Your friends might mention feeling uneasy around them, as their emotions can change in the blink of an eye. If your pals are telling you that your SO is volatile, even if you don’t see it from your perspective, listen to them. Start to pay attention. 


The Rasputin—This person will not leave you alone. From “I miss you” texts to actively stalking you, they refuse to exit your life. No amount of hinting or insinuating that you aren’t interested will shake them. Sometimes a direct “No.” won’t even work. This is probably due to their perception of how the world works in general, not because you did something wrong. Just remember that even a Rasputin has a weakness, which is a strong support system and police/security/dorm interference. 


I just have a couple last warning signs for you, and as these overlap and criss-cross with the above characters, I’ve included them at the end here.


1. They creep out your friends.

Now, this one shouldn’t be your entire consideration here. But when your friends are so uncomfortable around them that they rarely see the two of you together, that should be an indication that they can’t pick up on other people’s boundaries. If you really think your S.O. isn’t intentionally terrorizing your friends, have a chat with them about boundaries. Sometimes people just have a hard time picking up on social cues, and they’ll fix their creepy behavior as soon as you point it out. If that isn’t the case (and we’ll discuss this on number 2), you probably need to take screenshots of anything concerning on your phone and then to block them. This strategy can be to intentionally cut your friends out to weaken your support system that would help you leave them.


2. Failure to listen to boundaries/overreaction to setting boundaries.

Well, I guess I’m just a horrible person then. That was word-for-word what I heard from my friend’s boyfriend at a party. All she did was tell him his joke wasn’t appropriate (and hella racist) and he flipped out. I ended up having him kicked out, but the fact that he overreacted in that manner (and tried to guilt-trip the people that called him out on it) was a clear indicator for us that that relationship was over.


3. They try to “punish” you when you do something they don’t like.

If you do something they aren’t a fan of, they might “ghost” you until you apologize. You don’t even have to do something wrong here, if you damage their ego with anything, they can try to ice you out, to ensure you don’t do that again. Now, in this house, we talk about things that bother us in a productive way, in order to more clearly establish or define boundaries (which are good for you!). So if your SO refuses to have an adult conversation about whatever is causing strife, and continues to ice you out, I’d take the opportunity to just leave them.


Now, I’m not a relationship expert here. This is not professional advice, this is just based on my experiences.


These people rely on subtly testing and pushing at boundaries slowly to change how you view them. They don’t wake up one day and decide to hit you. Their actions build and grow based on what you overlook or allow them to get away with. Based on my experience, I’d suggest you think critically any time they trespass upon a boundary, and figure out if this is an honest mistake (that you still need to correct!) or something more sinister.


In conclusion,

Queens don’t need to put up with this kind of stuff. If you bring up something that bothers you, and your partner ignores/dismisses you, just remember me: