I find that many of my clients and people that I come in contact with actually see the early warning signs but tend to ignore them because of the narrative in their own head. Some obvious early warning signs are over sharing too soon, when it is not appropriate. This is often an attempt at creating intimacy instead of allowing it to grow over time. People who do this, are often not capable with their current skill set. A few other warning signs are:
- Temper outbursts. Often toxic people will seek to find meaning from relationships and they put the burden of achieving this on the people they are in a relationship with. They expect the other person to make them feel a certain way. If the person doesn’t perform to standard, they will often try to coerce them via temper tantrums and out right violence.
- Violence. This leads us to another red flag to consider. Violence. This could be as “mild” as yelling or screaming. It could be as severe as physical violence or property damage. The intensity of their responses will often not be commensurate with the event that happened.
- Blame you. These violent acts will often be covered by blaming you. They will explain that they didn’t mean to do it but you…. fill in the blank. The key here is that you are somehow responsible for their behaviors.
- NSA Surveillance. They want to know where you are when you are not with them. It’s as if the government hired them to track you. They don’t allow you to have your own life away from them. They expect your life to revolve around them.
- Bad Friends. They don’t like any of your other friends. This is a quick one to fester. They to isolate you from your friends. They couch it in phrases like, “I just want what’s best for you,” or “I don’t think they’re good for you,” etc.
- Arrogance. They talk down to you as though you are an idiot or stupid. They will remind of you how great they are and how much you need them. I’d love to address your questions
- Don’t criticize me. They tend to respond very poorly to any criticism. When you suggest you didn’t like something or they could have done something differently (even if it’s innocuous), they respond in a heavy handed way.
- They are the director. They explain to you what you should have said. How you could have done this or that better. In social interactions, they might answer for you. If you don’t admit that they had the better approach they might get angry at you.
- Deep insight. They will constantly position their opinion and approach as a deep insight that other people don’t have.
- Dismissive. They will dismiss your feelings and often tell you why you are not feeling what you just said you are feeling. They might say that you are putting on a show or acting out for other people.
I could add to this list but I feel ten is a good start. I think the best way anyone can protect themselves is to listen to their own inner voice. Don’t ignore the warning signs that you see because you feel desperate to be in a relationship. So many people falsely believe that they will somehow be the change agent in a person’s life. In other words, they will be the reason someone changes. Put bluntly, the toxic person will not change without a strong professional intervention.
If you find yourself in a toxic relationship, seek professional help. You do not have to live this way.