Giant Waving Red Flags that Scream You’re in a Toxic Relationship

When you’re wearing rose-colored glasses, red flags look like normal flags. It’s hard to take the love goggles off and view your relationship from an outside perspective. 

That means we often fall into toxic, harmful relationships and don’t notice the unhealthy dynamic. 

Thankfully, Reddit is to the rescue! While scrolling through the popular R/askreddit community on the popular website, I came across a thread asking users to share some blaring warnings that a relationship is toxic. 

You may want to reconsider your relationship if any of these bright flags are waving. 

Obsessive Check-ins

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It’s healthy to occasionally check in with your partner, especially if you’re staying somewhere late, traveling, or stopping to pick stuff up. 

However, obsessive check-ins may be signs of controlling behavior. 

My 57-year-old colleague constantly has to send videos and pics of him working to his wife,” shared one user. 

“I found out the other week that my buddy has to send his girlfriend detailed notes with timestamps of legitimately everything he does while hanging out with the guys,” said another. 

Asking for constant updates on whereabouts and activities is controlling and showcases a massive lack of trust in the relationship. 

One Partner Wins

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Relationships are about compromise. In a healthy dynamic, partners will listen to each other and give in a little on certain things to make each other happy. 

Some relationships don’t work that way, and one partner will steamroll the other, constantly getting what they want despite any objections the other has. 

“For me, it was “easier” to bend over backward than to deal with the whining and complaining if I stood my ground,” shared one user, stressing that “easier” only related to the short-term, and overall, they were miserable. 

Inability to Listen

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Communication is challenging but vital in a relationship. We often forget that communication is about listening just as much as it’s about talking. 

A partner who is unable (or unwilling!) to listen may be waving a red flag, according to one Redditor. The “inability to take a step back, listen and analyze the other person’s point and actually come to a conclusion during a conflict,” they said. 

Others agreed but added that people have different conflict styles, and some may be unable to do this in the heat of the moment. However, finding healthy alternatives, like stepping away to cool off and regrouping to find a solution later, is ideal. 

Also See: Know the Signs of Financial Abuse


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Some folks will pretend they want open communication, but they really want their partner to listen to everything they want and never raise any complaints. While stressing that they want communication, they’ll start a fight whenever you bring something up. 

One user said it’s a red flag if “every time you bring anything up, they get mad and start an argument.”

“THIS!” responded another.  “How are we gonna work on communication if I don’t even feel comfortable bringing things up, cause when I do, it’s a fight.”

The harsh truth is that people who do this don’t want to change. They don’t want to get better. They want you to do all the work in a relationship while they coast and get their way about everything. 

Fighting Means Passion

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Television gave us a highly unhealthy view of relationships. Even the iconic hero Buffy from the hit 90s series Buffy the Vampire Slayer equated love with fights and drama. 

Although Buffy was trying to subvert the trope and showcase how messed up it is, it’s all too commonly portrayed as “true love” in mainstream media, and people internalize it. 

Being in a relationship with someone who equates love with drama is exhausting and unhealthy. 

Constantly Breaking Up

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If a relationship is meant to be, you wouldn’t constantly break up and get back together. The inability to solve your problems without resorting to breaking up is a glaring red flag that something isn’t right in the relationship. 

I once had a friend who constantly broke up with a man she deemed “the love of her life.” One day, she broke up with him before work and was shocked to return to an empty apartment. He finally had enough and left for good. 

Bad Mouthing

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Why would you bad-mouth someone you profess to love to all your friends, family, and colleagues when they’re not around?

“’I’ve listened to so many people complain about their partners, and I just wonder: WHY are y’all together!? If I get a chance to talk about my bf, you can bet I’ll start dishing out everything I love about him,” said one user. 

It’s all too common. People get into relationships and don’t seem to actually like their partner, but instead of breaking up, they stay together and constantly complain about each other. That can’t be healthy. 

Of course, there’s a difference between venting to your friends occasionally, but it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship when it’s a constant thing and not a one-off. 

No Life

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It can be hard to identify controlling behavior early in a relationship. It’s like a frog in boiling water, it gets slowly hotter, and you don’t realize you’re cooking until it’s too late. 

A partner who questions your friends and hobbies and works to prevent you from having any type of life outside them is a huge red flag. You’ll eventually find yourself with no friends, no hobbies, and no life, which makes it even easier for them to control you. 

“Someone who does not let you have a life outside of the relationship and gets upset when you see friends or do hobbies you like, even if you make time for them,” is a clear sign of toxicity, according to one user. 

Others added an important caveat: responsibilities come first. All too often, one partner ditches all their responsibilities and calls the other “controlling” when they’re expected to contribute to the household. 

“A partner that complains you spend too much time playing video games when you are just dating and don’t even live together is probably being controlling. A partner that complains you spend too much time playing video games when you’ve got three kids together might actually be saying that they feel the labor distribution in your house is unfair,” clarified one user. 

Inability To React

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If you find yourselves walking on eggshells, unable to say anything or defend yourself against inappropriate behavior, you may be in a toxic relationship. 

One user described a relationship where they could not bring anything up to their partner for fear of reprisal. They’d yell, scream, throw things, and claim she made him act that way. 

People’s emotions and reactions are their problem. If they can’t have an adult conversation about an issue in the relationship without resorting to violence or emotional manipulation, they aren’t ready for an adult relationship. 

Unequal Effort

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They say relationships should be 50/50, but sometimes one partner finds themselves giving 100% constantly while their partner only takes. 

You might be in a relationship with a user if you bring the paycheck home while doing all the emotional, mental, and domestic labor. They don’t love you; they love that you take care of them. 

“Nothing upsets me more in any kind of relationship than a clear imbalance of energy. In my experience, if it feels like you seem to care far more about your relationship than they do, you’re probably right,” offered one user. 

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Time to Re-Evaluate

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If you recognize any of these red flags Redditors shared in your relationship, you may want to re-evaluate. Leaving is always hard, but it gets harder the longer you stay. 

Don’t waste years of your life in a toxic relationship. It’s better to be alone than to be with someone who makes you feel alone, and if you’re single, you can open yourself to a partnership with someone who truly appreciates you and will love you in return.

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