My Ex Was Toxic But I Didn’t Notice The Signs Until I Left Him

There are often red flags on display in relationships that things aren’t quite right. Unfortunately, it’s way too easy to brush them off or totally ignore them for the sake of staying together. With my last boyfriend, I didn’t even realize just how toxic we were as a couple until we finally broke up. Here are the signs I missed.

  1. We fought all the time over stupid, insignificant things. The fights that we got in were always ridiculous and even comical at times. Looking back, it seems like sometimes we would be fighting just because we were bored and unhappy in the relationship. The fights were usually easy to resolve and we often laughed about it after the fact, but bickering all the time was exhausting and definitely a clue that my ex was wrong for me.
  2. We were passive-aggressive with each other instead of being straightforward. Communication is so important in a relationship, so the fact that we could never just be honest about how we were feeling was a serious problem. He had a difficult time picking up on my frustrations and I was always wondering what he was really thinking. The fact that we didn’t feel comfortable enough to be transparent with each other is a clear sign that our relationship wasn’t a good one.
  3. I had to beg him to spend time with my friends and come to family events. In healthy relationships, both people make compromises and show up for their partner even when it’s for something that they wouldn’t normally want to do. It’s unrealistic to expect your boyfriend or girlfriend to be able to make every plan you invite them to, but if it’s a huge ordeal and a struggle to get them to be a part of your life, that’s not a good sign.
  4. I was never that surprised whenever he disappointed me. Whether it was canceling plans last minute or not showing up when I really needed him, it never was a shock when I got the text or call that he couldn’t be there for me. Is a relationship really worthwhile if you can’t count on your partner to follow through with what they say and expect to be let down before it even happens? I don’t think so.
  5. I was annoyed or frustrated more often than I was happy. I constantly felt undervalued and was exhausted trying to make a relationship work while my partner was barely putting in any effort at all. Being unhappy and stressed out because of him was definitely a red flag that our relationship was unhealthy and wrong for both of us. There is nothing in life that is worth your mental and/or physical health and your happiness, especially not a relationship.
  6. He would only make an effort in our relationship when he could feel me pulling away. There’s only so many times you can ask your partner to do something differently and/or let them know something is bothering you before you start to give up and throw in the towel. There were a few times before we actually broke up where I was fed up with feeling like he never made me or our relationship a priority and I would become distant and detached. I felt unappreciated and like he just didn’t care about the relationship until he knew he was on the verge of losing it. How messed up is that/
  7. We both wanted the other to change and neither of us was able or willing to do it ourselves. We both had different ideas of what a healthy, happy relationship looked like and it was clear that they clashed. It’s unfair to your partner, and to you, to be in a relationship with someone while asking them to change parts of their personality and/or their boundaries and values. The fact that we both wanted two very different relationships basically sealed our fate: it just wasn’t going to work out long-term.
  8. He was constantly making me feel like I was too needy. I was always too much for him while he was never enough for me. He made me feel like I was asking him for unreasonable things and I felt like I was constantly asking him to put in more effort and try a little bit harder. I actually thought there was something wrong with me and that the way I viewed a relationship was flawed until I met my current boyfriend, who has reassured me that I’m not too needy, I just love deeply and care tremendously. My ex was always falling short in the effort department and it was a serious sign that we were wrong for each other.
  9. When we did finally break up, I wasn’t really sad. In fact, I was able to move on pretty quickly and easily. Once we were over, it was super clear to me that we were both fundamentally wrong for each other and the breakup was definitely for the best. I didn’t feel devastated or depressed, I felt relieved.
Kerry is a freelance writer from Boston, Massachusetts who now lives in the Sunshine State with the love of her life and her 15 month old daughter. She writes frequently about her personal experiences (find more of her work on She has an Etsy shop with cute items: she's not writing, she loves to spend time outside, at the beach, and with her family.