Every relationship has problems and areas where it can improve.
But there are certain red flags that you shouldn’t ignore, because choosing to gloss over them will make your life worse and trap you in a relationship that will slowly destroy you.
If you notice these behaviors in your partner, you deserve better.
Let’s dive in…
1) Being talked down to
The way your partner talks to you is extremely important.
This comes down to their tone, the words they use, eye contact, and the speed they talk at.
We’ve all been out and seen a man or woman being talked down to by their partner. It’s revolting to watch and truly sad. Their partner snaps at them or talks rapidly while avoiding eye contact, as if speaking to a call center employee.
If this is how your partner talks to you, you deserve better.
2) Being demeaned and dismissed
We all say things which aren’t correct, and sometimes your partner may point that out.
But being demeaned and dismissed as a matter of habit is a very bad thing in relationships.
If your partner tends to act like you’re not as good as them or that your words aren’t worthy of consideration, you’re being treated in a really damaging way.
This will eventually lower your self-esteem and have you in a reinforcing negative loop where you feel worse and worse about yourself.
3) Being tracked and monitored
Catching up with your partner and staying in touch about your plans is one thing. But it should be voluntary and it should be reasonable.
When your partner wants to know where you are all the time and pretty much demands you to fill in “gaps” on your schedule, it’s crossed the line.
Even if it’s not jealousy but simply clinginess, it’s deeply unhealthy and can get you used to a really toxic and codependent style of relationship.
If your partner needs to know where you are and what you’re doing, no problem. But if they get in the habit of being like your personal probation officer, the relationship has rounded a corner to becoming something very stifling and ugly.
You deserve a partner who cares about you but doesn’t depend on you or need to monitor you.
4) Being accused of things you didn’t do
This ties into the previous point quite closely and relates to the kind of partner who is jealous and doesn’t trust you.
If you have a partner who accuses you of things you didn’t do, they’re more like a prison guard than a partner.
Apart from denying any wrongdoing, you also risk going down a very dark path in which your normal behavior is pathologized.
“Why did you smile at that girl?” is not the kind of question you should be forced to answer. You can smile at who you want!
If you have a partner this insecure, they have a boatload of issues they need to work through on their own before being with anyone.
5) Being told what you can say and can’t say
Your partner may take issue with something you say, argue with you or get offended by you. They may find a joke you tell stupid or not funny.
But if they try to order you around about what you should or can say, they’ve crossed a big red line.
Your tongue isn’t owned by anybody, and you can choose to say what you want.
If you say something you regret you can choose to apologize. Your partner isn’t your boss, nor can they try to direct you like you’re some actor on the movie set of their life.
6) Being told who you can be friends with or not
Who we’re friends with makes a big difference and shapes who we are, but apart from advice, nobody has the right to demand we stop being friends with anyone.
If you have a partner who’s telling you what friendships you can keep and which you have to discontinue, they’re crossing a line.
You deserve somebody who’s willing to respect your friendships even if they don’t share them.
You and your partner can have different friends. You can even dislike each other’s friends. I’m not saying that’s optimal, but it’s possible.
7) Being told what beliefs and values you should hold
Your beliefs are up to you.
If your partner doesn’t like them or finds them objectionable, that’s an issue in the relationship for sure. But it’s not always the end of the relationship and a lot of common ground and growth can actually occur even from opposing views.
The issue comes when you’re told that you must believe something different in order to be in this relationship.
You must leave a religion or join a spiritual group. You must change your mind about some core concept or else you’re no good. And so on…
This kind of framing is highly destructive and you deserve better.
8) Being gossipped about behind your back
When you have a partner who gossips about you it’s really intolerable.
Let me be clear:
Your partner mentioning you to friends or even bringing up something funny or strange that you did or that happened is inevitable. That happens.
But being gossipped about in a mean-spirited or ongoing way that makes you feel weird and leads to mutual friends giving you odd looks? That’s a completely different kettle of fish.
You deserve better, and nobody should feel like their relationship is some kind of fodder for a real-life sitcom.
9) Being subject to mixed signals and passive aggressiveness
We all have ups and downs, but it’s not too much to ask your partner to have basic communication.
If you are subject to constant mixed messages and passive-aggressive behavior, nobody can blame you for being frustrated.
Your partner needs to learn to communicate at a more wholesome level with you and not string you along or switch their mood and how they treat you all the time.
This is just a basic requirement. If they are always running hot or cold on you and going from love bombing to giving you the cold shoulder, then it’s time to get out.
10) Being asked to ignore infidelity and flirtatious behavior
You have a right to expect fidelity from your partner. In fact, trust is a cornerstone of any healthy relationship.
If your partner cheats or looks like they’re trying to, you shouldn’t have to accept that.
You deserve better, and you have the right to ask for a person who respects you more.
This also relates to the next subject, which is what to do if your partner pushes you very hard to accept polyamory or an open relationship…
11) Being forced to accept an open relationship when you don’t want it
Open relationships may work for some people, but they should always be voluntary.
If your partner pressures you into opening the relationship they are violating your trust and being disrespectful to you.
If it’s a dealbreaker for your partner that the relationship open or they’re gone, so be it. That sucks, but it isn’t up to you to be forced into something if you’re not into it.
Whenever these kinds of tactics are used against you it’s important to stand up for yourself. Understand that once you start sacrificing your boundaries bit by bit, you eventually end up with none left.
12) Being given an ultimatum for the relationship to continue or not
Ultimatums are rarely good, and relationships are no exception:
“Do X or I will break up with you” is the kind of thing a very exploitative partner says.
If there is a big issue your partner has with you that they want to talk over, fine. If it’s a dealbreaker that’s understandable.
But phrasing it in this way as a controlling demand is toxic, and even if you comply you’ll end up feeling like you’re now some kind of subordinate. This is not a good relationship for love to flower in.
13) Being told that your partner will harm themselves if you leave them
This is the worst ultimatum of all.
You have the right to be with who you choose to be with.
Being told that any decision to leave will result in your partner self-harming or ending their life is a terrible thing to hear.
It makes you feel like you are responsible for potentially ending a life if you decide to make a new beginning in your life.
You deserve better than the kind of partner who plays the victim in this way.