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7 Warning Signs of a Toxic Boyfriend

Wondering if you are in an unhealthy relationship? In this article we will talk about the main signs of a toxic boyfriend.

When you’re in love with someone, you tend to ignore the red flags.

If you find your physical, emotional, or mental health affected due to your boyfriend’s behavior, it could be a big red flag, says Dr. Kristen Fuller. 

Most of the time, your partner isn’t aware of their toxic behavior, but it might harm your mental health anyway.

A few days back, I had a reunion with my college friends and the story of our past relationships came up. While I had a great time with them, talking about my ex-boyfriend caused me to feel emotionally stressed.

It took me to the days when I coped with all his unnecessary tantrums because I was in love.

The story of my first love

I met him during the initial days of college. I prefer not to say his real name, so let’s call him Raj.

Like every other relationship, ours seemed to be going great in the beginning. I could feel butterflies in my stomach when we met. Everything he said or did made me fall deeper in love with him.

A month or two later, the emotional stress starting taking a toll on me.

No matter how hard I tried, there was a problem that made me question myself. I was left with no other option but to walk away from the relationship with a heavy heart.

In this article, I’ll tell you some common signs you might be dealing with a toxic partner, backed by expert opinions and real-life experiences.

Signs of A Toxic Boyfriend

These common signs of a toxic boyfriend might appear inoffensive at first but can be harmful in the long run. Knowing them well in advance can save you from mental and emotional stress.

1. He’s Jealous of your Achievements

This is probably one of the main traits of a toxic boyfriend.

Raj and I were in the same department at college. I remember the times during our relationship when he would be mad at me if I scored better grades than him on project works or tests.

Even though it was minor a minor difference, he would say, “Stop flaunting the fact you scored better than me. Last time I scored more.”

I was so puzzled at these situations and would only try to explain to him patiently that I had nothing to boast about college grades.

While things seemed to get back on track after a while, he would react the same way if a similar scenario repeated itself after a few days. Quite surprisingly, he never got angry if his score came better than mine.

In another incident, I landed a high-paying gig during the initial years of my internship period. While I tried to celebrate my happiness with him, he seemed reluctant to discuss anything other than a simple “All the best” message.

Relationship therapist Caraballo states, “Healthy relationships are based on a mutual desire to see the other succeed in all areas of life.”

Seeing every little thing turning into a competition might be an early sign of toxicity.

You’ll no longer feel optimistic about his energy, and you might develop the impression your happiness on achieving anything hardly matters to him.

2. He Relies on Manipulation as His Primary Defense Tool

One of the most common signs of a toxic boyfriend is that they are pathological liars and manipulators.

And in case you catch him and call him out on his behavior, he will leave you feeling guilty for accusing him. This is also called blame-shifting.

I remember how Raj would ignore my calls and texts even during his leisure hours. This didn’t happen for a day or two but was almost an everyday scenario.

I tried bearing up with it, but one day, I couldn’t help myself from questioning him. He was quick enough to reply, “I can’t help it if you hail from such an insecure mentality. Try rectifying this.”

I swear it left me questioning myself.

Does your boyfriend display the same behavior? If yes, then the chances are high that you’re tolerating emotional abuse.

According to Psychology Today, victims of gaslighting and abuse are fed false information that leads them to question their own sanity.

Gaslighting can be defined as emotional abuse, where the toxic partner manipulates the other to such a level that the other starts to doubt their own reality.

Recommended read: 9 Relationship Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

3. He Tries to Control Your Every Move

Honestly, I didn’t have such an experience during my dating period with Raj. However, I have seen my cousin go through something similar.

She told me how her boyfriend would try to monitor her every little step. Whenever she was out with friends or at a family function, he would call her, trying to dictate how much time she would spend there. He would even start checking her phone and messages without seeking her permission.

Things started getting suffocating for my cousin, and she reacted after a point. Thankfully, they decided to work on this issue and are now happily married.

A controlling boyfriend might be excessively jealous or accuse you of flirting without any valid evidence

Do you often feel that your boyfriend is trying to control and monitor your moves? Do you often question your sanity?

If yes, then you’re putting up with his abusive behavior that might harm your emotional being, suggests family and relationship counselor Val Holden.

4. He Hardly Makes Any Effort in the Relationship

There’s a famous line by Tony Robbins, “Relationships are a place for you to give, not take.”

I admit that I won’t ask for a charming prince to pamper me all through the day and bring me materialistic gifts.

But what I least expect from a partner is some minimal effort to make me feel like I belong in his life.

After the first few weeks of dating Raj, I started having doubts. “Do I belong in his life?” On the other hand, he would always ask for excessive admiration and constant validation without giving his bare minimum to the relationship.

In your relationship, if you find yourself the only one putting all your efforts with hardly any empathy from your partner, it could be a sign that you’re dealing with a toxic and narcissistic boyfriend.

Psychologist Lisa Firestone mentions that it’s difficult for narcissists to identify their partners as separate individuals.

Instead, they see them as an extension of themselves, as an add-on to satisfy their needs and improve their reputation.

They hardly have any compassion for not being the giver in the relationship.

Recommended read: Narcissistic Abuse: Why I’m Glad I’ve Been There

5. He Often Criticizes You and Threatens to Leave the Relationship

Whenever we argued, Raj would always try to criticize me and make me feel unworthy.

One day, we were texting each other and he started arguing. When things seemed not to get fine, he texted me, “Please stop behaving like this. Or else, I’ll break up with you.”

The moment the text came, tears started rolling down my cheeks at the fear of losing him. I surrendered there itself and refrained from arguing further. The realization came late, but I now know I was wrong to back down like that.

A toxic boyfriend would often criticize you, especially during arguments, leading you to question your self-esteem – and making you feel guilty.

They always keep the breakup card handy to regain control when nothing else seems to work. If you experience something similar with your boyfriend, this could signify a toxic relationship, as stated by psychologist Thomas L. Cory.

6. His Gestures Take a Toll On Your Mental Health

Everyday life challenges like the health issue of a close person, tension at work or academics, etc., can keep you under stress sometimes.

However, it could be a significant negative when you find yourself stressing over your relationship for no external reason but due to your partner’s gestures.

During the concluding months of our relationship, I almost had this feeling every day.

Raj would convince me to go to gathering I didn’t want to, and I had to agree for the fear of a nasty fight. Once, he planned a lunch date (a blue moon event in our relationship) and asked me if I was free the next day.

I already had a plan for the day, but I told him yes to avoid arguments. Today, while writing this piece, I realized how wrong I’d been then.

Saying yes to whatever your partner says even when you don’t want to is a significant sign that his gestures affect your psychological well-being. Clinical psychologist Catalina Lawsin suggests it’s an obvious sign of toxicity.

7. He is Excessively Flirtatious With Other Girls In Front of You

And tells you you’re insecure if you call him out on it.

Even today, it breaks my heart to remember how patiently I used to bear up with such traits because I was in love. Raj was super flirtatious with other girls in front of me, whether at parties or any meetups. While it was a difficult pill to swallow, I tried bearing up with it, hoping things would get back on track soon.

Yet, there wasn’t any improvement. If I asked him what’s going on, he’d pass it on, laughing. One day when I burst out, he couldn’t take it and again tried blaming me for being “insecure.”

If you’re facing something similar with your boyfriend, it must be the right time to take action.

Signs of a Toxic Boyfriend – Summary

Summing up, here are the signs you are dating a toxic boyfriend:

  1. Manipulation: He uses this primary tool that leaves you to question yourself.
  2. Controlling attitude: He tries to monitor your every move and might also accuse you of things you haven’t done.
  3. Zero effort: He hardly puts any effort to make things work between you two.
  4. Break-up threat: He often uses break-up threats during an argument.
  5. Criticism: He consistently criticizes details about your personality, but gets on the defensive if you point any flaws in him.
  6. His gestures impact you negatively: His gestures start to have an adverse effect on your mental health.
  7. Early warning signs of infidelity: He flirts with other women in front of you, and resorts to calling you “insecure” if you point this behavior out.

As studies suggest, dealing with a toxic boyfriend is difficult as it adversely affects your mental well-being. You must try not to normalize their behaviors and address them directly.

But I’d say walking away might not be the path always. You can try detecting some ways to fix it, and as Dr. Carla Marry says, toxic relationships can improve with equal effort from both partners. Seeking professional help could be a good option too.

However, if nothing seems to work out and you find yourself irritable, and constantly stressing over the little things, probably it’s the time to walk away from it move on.

In the end, compromising self-esteem and self-worth is never a brave choice.

Photo by Alex Mihai C on Unsplash

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