You may have convinced yourself that if you were ever in a toxic relationship, you’d know. You’d be able to sniff it out the moment things take a wrong turn and ultimately kick boo thang to the curb. But what if – before you know what’s hit you – you’re entangled in a cycle? You’ve gotten used to the unhealthy behavior and as each day passes you wonder how you will survive the next. Now, you’ve acclimated and you’re stuck.

First, please know that you deserve respect. You deserve to be treated like you are important and that you are not subservient. Your values, opinions, and beliefs matter. Your voice matters. You are valuable. You deserve to be in a relationship where your partner protects your emotional wellbeing and creates an environment where you feel safe to be who you are and express how you feel.

Now let’s dive into the signs you need to be looking for to determine whether or not you should stay in your relationship.

They Deflect And Manipulate

This is a very common telltale sign. If you are stressed and feeling grief over something your partner did and then somehow shifted the blame on you, know that he’s deflected. The fault now lies in your court. If he’s made you feel guilty for even having feelings about something he’s done that was anything but positive, he’s being manipulative.

Case in point: during the very early stages of my relationship, we were in Atlanta having dinner and as our leftovers were brought back to the table by the waitress, we both proceeded to get up to leave. I assumed as a gentleman, my partner would grab the bag with the leftovers and carry them on out to the car with us. Boy, was I wrong.

I simply asked, “are you going to get the bag”, once I noticed him starting to walk away from the table empty-handed. I thought maybe he forgot just that quick. His response? “I don’t carry bags.”

Once we walked out of the restaurant he turns to me and repeats what he said inside then reminds me who paid for dinner. All the while I’m thinking to myself, ok, if you don’t carry bags (food bags) what do you do when you pick up dinner to go when you’re by yourself? But did I say that to him? No.

I took the bag and scurried out of the door before another head turned our way since he elevated his voice and was drawing attention our way. Attempting to stand up for myself, I questioned his comment which sent him into a fit of rage.

I had a long way to go before learning how to handle deflection and manipulation as he didn’t speak to me for the rest of the night. Not even when we made it to my brother’s house for the night, still in Atlanta.

Lack Of Communication

An open line of communication is so important. If your partner storms off or walks away when a conversation becomes uncomfortable, that’s a red flag. If he finds it difficult to open up and converse about your differences, that’s not a good sign. Giving you the silent treatment because you say something he doesn’t agree with…flag, flag, flag. Now you’re stressed and worried that the problem will never be resolved and that equates to another flag. Is he is easily irritated by your disagreements? And there, you have it.

Trust me, I lived through many silent treatments, him walking away in the middle of a conversation, getting in his car and leaving, and I’ve spent many nights in tears – crying myself to sleep – because I couldn’t understand how someone who claims to love and care about me could so easily leave me in the dark wondering if we were going to survive the current circumstances.

Controlling Behavior

Let’s just get straight to the example here.

We were on our very first date. It was lunchtime and we met at Sugga’s (soul food restaurant) in-between his patients.

Just to note, this was my pre-plant-based days. I digress.

Sugga’s is a buffet line where they serve you based on your selections. I asked for the smothered pork chops and no sooner than the word chops parted my lips, I heard, “ummm, don’t get that. Try chicken or something else.”

Well, they were out of pork chops so I couldn’t have gotten it anyway. Either way, that was his way of imposing his religious beliefs with the No Pork Rule, and that was just the beginning.

Then there was the time, still early on in the relationship, when I was told natural hair color was better and I needed to think about “natural”.

*rolls eyes*

I never gave credence to that comment and I kept my golden blonde hair for another three years until I was ready for a change.

Lord, then there was the time that actually involved the Lord. My mom had a preaching engagement at a guest church and we were joining the rest of the family and meeting them there. Well, the time had come where he was supposed to be at my house so we could leave together. I call to see what the delay is and he casually says he’s trying to get ready. I question his time management and he takes offense and asks was he not good enough for me to wait on him.

Really? Seriously? My mom is about to stand in a pulpit in a few minutes and I’m supposed to accept your tardiness? You want me to show up late to the guest church for no reason other than you felt like taking your sweet time piddling around. I’m a woman, with a child, for crying out loud. If anybody should be lagging in preparation it ought to be me.

Ladies, don’t tolerate it.

He tried to control the situation and it didn’t work. He met me at the church, showed up with an attitude, then blamed me for his demeanor.

I was also told I wouldn’t be allowed to take birth control when we got married nor would I ever color my hair again. Since I only had my eldest Jahmai, at the time, He wouldn’t be allowed to eat pepperoni pizza, bacon, or hot dogs in our home. The statement he made was, “my house my rules”.

Your Family and Friends Do Not Like Them

This is so telling.

I made so many excuses for my partner like no one else really understood him the way I did. Boy was I wrong. They just saw reality when I was in denial.

My son. Lord, my son. One of the biggest regrets I have is exposing my son to my partner’s volatile behavior and reckless, inconsiderate language.

My brother, my parent’s, my son, my friends all saw what I did except they knew it wasn’t right. In my heart, I completely agreed with them but I still defended him while simultaneously being aware that I was not in a normal relationship; it was wrong.

We were out for dinner with dear friends of mine – my BFF and her husband – and by the time dinner had come to an end, my beau stepped out to pull the car down in front. I used that opportunity to ask my friends what they thought about him.

“Well, my friend’s husband said, he’s very aggressive and talked about himself all night. But, it’s not about what we think, it’s about what you think about him and we’re here to support you.”

Do you see what I mean?

They Disrespect You

Having arguments and disagreements in a relationship is natural. You talk it out, come to an understanding, or agree to disagree and resolve the issue.

However, if your partner ever calls you names, belittles you and speaks to you as if you’re some man on the street he’s ready to fight, RED FLAG.

I’ve been called a bitch, mother fucker, fucking moron, dumb ass, and rushed at as if he was going to hit me.

There were numerous times when he’d try to hold inappropriate conversations in front of my son, showing complete disregard for his presence, impressionable mind, and emotional security. Not only were these conversations not meant for a child’s ear, but he also spoke to me in a tone that my son’s father, my brother, and my father have never used with me in my son’s presence and outside of his presence.

My son knew it was wrong and one day, he’d had enough. During another one of those inappropriate moments, Jahmai suddenly screamed out “just leave!” And guess what, he did.

This is not normal. It’s not right. This is not love.

While all of these signs were my reality, there were days when I laughed so much I wanted to pop, my heart skipped a beat because I was so enthralled with love – because I thought I was loved – and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

But then there were the dark days. The days when my son would repeatedly ask me if I was ok or why was I so irritable. I spent so much time forcing a smile and a normal tone in my voice so my exhaustion and anxiety would stay hidden. The days when I counted by the minute, then the hour, to make time go by faster because. I wondered how many more days or weeks would he would go without speaking to me.

He exploded when he didn’t get his way. Plus, my disagreeing with him and standing up to him with boldness and conviction only emboldened his explosive, fickle behavior.

Ladies, you don’t have to live in misery just because you have a few good moments and can feel the love at times. No relationship is worth sacrificing your emotional and mental stability. If children are in the picture, think of how a toxic relationship can affect them.

Just because your partner doesn’t cheat doesn’t make him a good partner.

You know what I used to say to myself? “Well, at least he doesn’t cheat on me. Let me love him harder and prove to him I believe he is a better man than what he exudes.

Welp, I held onto that notion until a visit to my OB/GYN. I’m just grateful nothing passed to my unborn child. It didn’t take long for my body to expel of the invaders since I have a strong immune system. Yes, it happened not once but twice. While I listened to the lie he told me after confronting him, I still didn’t believe him. I knew it didn’t make sense when he shared that his ex from college called him to suggest he visit a doctor. Now, keep in mind, his college years was 25 years ago.

Do the math.

Yet, I took him back.

He made me a homemade milk bath and had it in a gift basket he had arranged for me.

This was his atonement.

TMI? Well, you’re here, on this blog for a reason. Take note. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, repeatedly.

Now let’s recap, shall we?

If your partner is inconsiderate, displays a lack of empathy is manipulative, insecure, unappreciative, unstable, erratic, dismissive, selfish, non-communicative, and harbors emotional trauma from their past, this is the equation for a dangerous, outright wrong relationship.

Talk to someone if you need help ending a toxic relationship – a family member, friend, therapist, tell someone. Please.

Let me know if you’d like me to share more Red Flags. Do you have any experiences you’d like to share?