Everywhere you turn in your relationship, there’s one red flag after another. Yet as soon as you try to pull away, the toxic partner amps up their efforts to keep you hooked with every manipulative tactic in the book. Here are 8 telltale no-good moves these types of people start to make when they don’t deserve you but don’t want to lose you either.
- Pretending to mirror/echo your values Part of what attracted me to this one guy was that I thought when I first met him that he was a man of strong faith. I didn’t initially set a standard for us to have a spiritual-minded relationship, but since this was the lifestyle he portrayed, I assumed our interactions would naturally follow that course. It wasn’t until months later when I saw no evidence of a virtuous union taking place and started pulling away that he talked about how we should pray for our relationship. Funny how he never mentioned this before I was ready to end it all after initially pretending to be so pious to lure me in the first place.
- Memorizing your stated boundaries to use as empty promises Mr. Last Ditch Effort spent months not meeting my expectations only to start spewing out lists of things he would definitely begin doing once I pulled a “we need to talk.” And of course, the list was everything I had been expecting of him this whole time! He clearly knew what I wanted from the start and was being intentional about not fulfilling those wishes up until that point. He wasn’t slipping up like I thought all along, he just didn’t want to do any of those things. Still, he assumed meaningless declarations of cleaning up his act would keep me hanging around longer.
- Starting to accuse you then laughing it off I tried to bring all our issues to the table so we could have a constructive discussion with solutions and move forward. When I tried to confront him about what he was doing, he immediately resorted to trying to turn the tables on me and brought up something I did that bothered him. I thought this confession was a good place to start the open dialogue, but almost as quickly as he brought it up, he blew it off and refused to discuss it to clear it up. He didn’t even want to have a productive conversation and probably didn’t even care about what I did that he mentioned — he was just trying to mess with my head and make me doubt myself. It was totally unnerving.
- Always assuming the victim role They don’t blink an eye when they’re trying to get away with treating you like dirt, but let you try to stick up for yourself and cue the pity-me tales. Suddenly, they’ll bring up their “abandonment issues” and how they were bullied or the underdog sibling in a big family. They’ll say their ex scarred them for life or no one ever taught them how to love. Their forged lack of resiliency is not your responsibility. Some of the kindest, most loving, and strongest people you’ll ever meet came up from the mud without a crutch and you would never guess or likely hear about it directly from them. We all have our baggage and using it to dismiss crappy behavior is played out and lame.
- Rearranging a timeline Gaslighting will have your head spinning. First, they’ll tell you they’ve been single for so long and you’re the best thing that’s come into their lives. Then they’ll try to make you jealous of the last relationship they were in not too long ago by comparing you to that partner. What happened to being single for forever? If that person was so great, why aren’t you with them? As a general rule, it’s best not to compete with someone who isn’t even around to confirm or deny what that person is saying about them. Without the other party to hold the truth accountable, the story will likely continue to change with your partner’s moods.
- Verbal apologies with no action “Sorry” is supposed to be the magic fixer word, right? Maybe that worked in pre-K but in the adult world, you don’t get credit just for pretending to have regrets while continuing to do the same things over and over. That’s even more insulting than just straight up announcing that you don’t care. At least if they did that, they could pat themselves on the back for being honest.
- Selective hearing & acknowledgment He wanted to come off as the good guy, so he decided to admit to some of his questionable actions… but only the ones he wanted to. He totally ignored and wouldn’t comment on others at all. Convenient for him! This was just a way for him to say he was trying and being transparent when he clearly (pun intended) wasn’t.
- Showing a sudden interest in what you like I had to ask and pretty much nag this one guy to take me on dates. When I tried to break it off with him, he proposed we start over and “do our relationship right” by going on dates, as if it was his grand idea! Update: He never even followed through with that.