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Choosing the right partner gives you a better chance of building a respectful, loving, trusting, and uplifting relationship. You aren’t going to enjoy those positive things with a toxic girlfriend who keeps overwhelming you with her nasty attitude.
Of course, she doesn’t show up with a sign that reads “I Identify as a toxic.” She’s not going to tell you either, that she’s volatile and has a history of toxic relationships. That would be counterintuitive.
If you have difficulty telling whether a woman is a toxic person you should avoid, you’re not alone. Signs she’s controlling or manipulative aren’t easy to identify during the early or honeymoon phase of a relationship.
A lot of men get caught in that grey area. Some only discover their partner’s true personality after they’re emotionally invested in the relationship.
I want to help save you from such a dilemma and a type of relationship that usually doesn’t end well. I’ll get the ball rolling by outlining the personality traits, characteristics, and behavior patterns of a toxic person.
Next, we’ll explore why an individual becomes difficult to deal with and the effects of a toxic relationship. You will also find a list of steps to break up and how to cope.
What Is a Toxic Personality?
The word “toxic” literally means “poisonous,” “harmful, “or capable of causing harm. In reference to someone’s personality, it means the individual behaves in ways that are harmful to your physical safety, health, and well-being.
Individuals identified as toxic easily cause you to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, distressed, and anxious just by being around them. If it’s not the things they say, it’s the things they do that cause you distress.
Some examples of people with toxic personalities include gold-diggers, social climbers, and manipulators. Individuals with certain personality disorders also display toxic behaviors. For example, sociopaths and those with narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.
What Is It Like Being in a Toxic Relationship?
Dating a toxic girlfriend can only lead to one thing – a toxic relationship. In other words, it’s going to be a relationship where you feel unsupported and unhappy. You’re going to feel misunderstood due to the way she communicates and unhappy because of how she treats you.
At times, you’ll suffer verbal attacks and criticism. You may notice you’re giving more to the relationship than you’re getting in return. You also feel disrespected and her attitudes bring out the worst in you.
These are all examples shared by Communications Expert, Dr. Lillian Glass, in her book, Toxic People: 10 Ways of Dealing With People Who Make Your Life Miserable.
In short, you constantly feel threatened in the relationship, whether emotionally, psychologically, or physically. While all toxic relationships are not abusive in nature, all abusive relationships are toxic.
You may want to check for emotionally abusive acts such as name-calling, threatening to misbehave, and threatening to cause harm. Meanwhile, physical abuse speaks for itself.
In reality, a relationship like this doesn’t get better but grows worse over time. As such, you may want to rethink the situation before putting a ring on your girlfriend’s finger.
What Causes a Toxic Personality?
Toxic people bring negative energy into the room. They frequently upset friends and loved ones with the things they say and do. Some are dramatic and conversations often turn into arguments.
Their conduct is nothing more than an expression of deeply rooted personality issues. These include low self-esteem due to unresolved childhood trauma, parental abandonment or neglect, or childhood abuse.
Sometimes, the issue is an unhealthy attachment style, such as an anxious attachment. In other cases, toxic behavior is reflective of poor mental health. What we see as toxic behaviors might really be coping behaviors by the individual. Of course, it’s okay to empathize or help, but not if it puts you in harm’s way.
Emotional Impact of Dealing with a Toxic Girlfriend
While there’s an underlying cause, being on the receiving end of unhealthy behaviors can negatively impact your mental health. The relationship also suffers and either gets worse or ends bitterly as your partner’s harmful conduct escalates.
Physical violence can enter the relationship at the severe end of the spectrum. Many men leave the relationship as a “shell” of the person they were before becoming entangled with their toxic girlfriend.
Mental health experts also pointed out the following other negative psychological effects of being romantically involved with an unsupportive and disrespectful partner:
15 Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Is Toxic
A toxic girlfriend makes good for a toxic relationship, which is expected. As the saying goes, “What you put in is what you get out.”
No one says you have to date or put up with this kind of girl. In fact, you guys run for the hills once they spot the following not-so-easily-seen clues that they’ve hooked up with the wrong girl.
#1. She’s Envious, Jealous, and Possessive
Envy, jealousy, and possessiveness go together when it comes to a woman who has deep-rooted personality development problems and doesn’t know how to cultivate healthy relationships. Some of the things she may do include barring you from having female friends. She’ll also keep asking who you’re texting or accuse you of cheating.
She may try to compete with one or more of your exes if she thinks they are more attractive. Otherwise, she may criticize your past choices of women.
When you’re out in public, she might track your movements to minimize your chance of encountering other women. These behaviors may make you think she doesn’t trust you and leave you feeling suffocated in the relationship.
#2. She’s Emotionally Manipulative
Emotional manipulation is described as things a person does to influence how you think, feel, and behave.
Women who have trouble asking for what they need in a mature and healthy manner may resort to psychological manipulation to get those needs met. Common harmful tactics some women use include pretending to be upset to get your attention.
Threatening to break up to get her way or saying she’ll hurt herself if you leave are other examples of emotional manipulation. She may refer to some other guy who treated her better.
The cruel strategy is called triangulation. She not only wants to make you jealous, but she also hopes to infuriate you. She’s doing it on purpose to make you feel inadequate and give in to her demands.
#3. She Constantly Belittles You
Does she cause you to feel as if you’re doing things the wrong way, e.g., by constantly criticizing how you do chores or handle situations?
Negative criticism intended to hurt does just that. She may make you feel not good enough e.g., by telling you she’s had better men than you. If not that, she scoffs at your bedroom performance to hurt your feelings.
Hearing these putdowns will naturally erode your self-esteem. You may feel more and more worthless as she continues, causing you to question your abilities. Some men tend to experience low self-worth long after the toxic relationship ends.
#4. She Usually Overreacts to Little Things
Toxic women, particularly those affected by borderline personality disorder (BPD), tend to react in ways that aren’t proportionate or reasonable to the situation at hand.
Your girlfriend may have BPD if she’s moody and unpredictable. You’ll possibly feel anxious and confused since you won’t always know how she'll react. The same thing that made her smile yesterday can anger her today.
Let’s say she asked you to bring her chocolate cookies. In a rush to get to her, you accidentally picked up vanilla cookies instead. She throws a fit. She angrily tells you that you have trouble following directions.
She keeps making you feel like a total failure because of minor slip-ups. Normal, reasonable mistakes like this aren’t a big deal with a secure, empathetic girlfriend.
#5. It’s Her Way or the Highway
Wanting everything to go her way is a glaring sign of a controlling girlfriend. Women generally get demanding and controlling because of personal insecurities. One scenario is if she feels intimidated by your status in life or not good enough.
She’ll use feminine power to keep you in the relationship. For example, dictating what you should and shouldn’t do and giving ultimatums if you don’t follow through. If she doesn’t get her way, she may turn to threats, coercion, or withholding love, affection, and sex.
#6. She Uses the Silent Treatment to Punish You
Couples disagree all the time, that’s okay. It’s the way they manage conflict that tells you everything about the health of their relationship. With a toxic woman, you can’t really engage in healthy communication. You could approach her nicely and she might still turn her back on you or walk away (stonewalling).
Perhaps it’s the silent treatment that’s her favorite method of punishing you. The silent treatment is a cruel way to respond to disagreement or when she can’t get her way.
Getting your needs ignored frequently and for an extended period of time will eventually take a toll on your mental health. You may feel unloved and unworthy or experience other negative thoughts and emotions.
#7. She’s Never Wrong
No one is ever always right about anything. Your girlfriend doesn’t see things that way. She thinks she’s always right. For one, it’s a sign of arrogance. She will argue with you relentlessly to get her point across. You probably feel drained and frustrated at the end of almost every discussion.
Making decisions together is hard as she doesn’t consider your viewpoints or needs. Showing her where she acted unreasonably or overstepped your boundaries is futile. She doesn’t accept her missteps or apologize. She maintains she’s right and you’re wrong.
#8. She Overlooks or Dismisses Your Needs
When it comes to toxic, self-centered women, it’s all about them. It never really occurs to them that the relationship involves two people. If your girlfriend doesn’t care about your needs, ask about them, or try to understand your feelings, you will increasingly grow unhappy.
Discussing and trying to meet each other’s needs is an important aspect of any relationship. Otherwise, one of you may start looking outside the relationship for satisfaction. Not getting your normal relationship needs met can also lead to unhappiness and resentment.
#9. She Disrespects You
Data collected shows that men feel happy in relationships when they are respected. Love and affection are important. However, men treat those as secondary needs. As a man, you feel disrespected when your partner talks to you as if you were her son. Similarly, if she yells at you, curses you out, degrades you, speaks ill of your loved ones, or threatens you.
Call out her disrespectful behavior and see how she responds. If she doubles down or continues in that mode, then it’s a clear sign she doesn’t care how you feel. You may have to cut your losses and move on, as this toxic girlfriend has no intention of changing.
#10. She Has More Moods Than You Can Count
If she’s not pregnant and her moods are all over the place, I recommend you keep a close eye on your girlfriend. Is she happy one moment and angry or sad within a matter of minutes or hours? It is difficult to keep up with a partner who has mood swings that affect how they interact with you.
While she lashes out sometimes, other times she appears cold, withdrawn, and depressed. You may not know how to respond or may be left wondering if you did something wrong.
You may decide to give her some space out of fear she may blow up if you ask her what’s wrong. That too can backfire if she accuses you of abandoning her like women with anxious attachment styles tend to do.
#11. She Drains Your Energy
You like being around her, the only thing is you leave feeling like you were interacting with an energy vampire. She yaps a lot. The conversation usually revolves around her issues, wants, and needs. She doesn’t give you a chance to get a word in or ask about your needs and feelings.
You feel emotionally drained and in need of a break to recuperate when it should be the opposite. Your interactions should leave you feeling uplifted and craving for more. If nothing else, this is a clear sign of an unhealthy relationship.
#12. She Doesn’t Respect Your Boundaries
Relationship boundaries help keep others from causing you physical or emotional harm. A disrespectful partner will push your boundaries to see how you’ll react. For example, calling you names, going through your phone, or opening your mail without permission?
Always reinforce your boundaries after you expressly say what they are. You should never tolerate action such as a breach of your privacy, physical aggression, or assault. A toxic relationship turns into a full-blown abusive situation once violence is involved.
#13. She Lies to You All the Time
Everyone is guilty of lying to keep a secret, protect their privacy, or save themselves from getting into trouble. The toxic girlfriend takes lying and deception to a pathological level. Pathological liars lie for any and every reason. They even lie when the truth is easier to tell and they won’t get into trouble.
It’s going to be hard to trust someone like this. You’re going to worry whether she’s lied about other things that are important to you and the relationship. A lack of trust in the relationship is one of the reasons why you have trouble being vulnerable.
Typically, men are more inclined to be open and honest about their emotions and needs when they feel safe and secure in the relationship.
#14. She Has an Addiction
Your girlfriend may binge drink, abuse drugs, engage in impulsive shopping, or have reckless sex outside the relationship to cope with stress. Any of these vices can be problematic for your relationship. These addictive activities are unhealthy ways to cope and potentially put you in harm’s way.
Addiction in relationships, especially substance addiction or promiscuity, is a common source of conflict. Substance abuse use can cause your girlfriend to behave erratically or violently toward you. You may not know how to help her or how to cope with the emotional distress you’re experiencing as a result.
#15. She Threatens Suicide to Make You Stay
Threatening to take her own life isn’t a healthy practice, even if she’s genuinely suicidal. However, threatening suicide to keep you in line is harmful to your safety and well-being.
People who are truly suicidal are struggling with some kind of mental health crisis that causes them to have suicidal thoughts. Major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder are common mental conditions that trigger self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Encourage your girlfriend to get professional help if she has a mental disorder that makes her suicidal. If you’re unable to cope with this issue, consider taking space from the relationship. Whether you get couples therapy for coping skills is up to you.
What to Do If You’re in a Toxic Relationship?
Every couple’s situation is different and the level of harmful conduct ranges from mild to severe. What I can say is your relationship can really only get better if your girlfriend owns up to her toxic traits.
She also has to be willing to do the necessary self-improvement work to correct harmful behaviors. In this case, you may choose to stay and support her through the process.
The other option is to call it quits if the relationship is too unhealthy or you’re unable to cope. Here are a few quick tips for getting out safely and healing in the aftermath:
If she’s going to get aggressive or physically attack you for wanting to break up, then breaking up over the phone might be the better approach.
Final Thoughts on Red Flag Signs of a Toxic Girlfriend
A relationship with a toxic woman will leave you feeling like you’re walking on eggshells. While you do your best to make her happy, she’s never satisfied. It’s all about her and never about you. She only gives you attention and affection whenever she wants something from you.
It’s not healthy or fair for you to put up with such low-grade treatment. As Sherman, MA, LMHC said, “If you don’t feel good about yourself, there is something wrong with the relationship.”
Some relationships are simply not worth it. You’ll have to be honest with yourself and decide if yours is one of them.
You should definitely check out this article on Toxic VS Healthy Relationship: 7 Important Differences to prepare yourself for a more positive experience in your future relationship. Best of luck!