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10 Signs of a Toxic Girlfriend – And How to Deal with Her

In this article, we will talk about the signs of a toxic girlfriend, and what you can do to deal with her.

A few months ago I met a friend from college, Jenny, who used to be the “relationship expert” in our group.

She told me about a relationship she had after college that ended up being the most horrific experience of her life. 

Jenny also told me that after one year of introspection, she now understands that it became a highly unhealthy relationship because she was being a toxic girlfriend.

It was shocking to know how someone like her who’s so passionate about self-improvement could be a toxic partner. 

So she shared the following story to make me understand everything.

Jenny’s story

One summer, her boyfriend, Rahul, went on a trip with some school friends. After arriving at the hotel, he texted her and then got busy with his friends.

Jenny started missing him terribly but decided not to call him. Instead, she stalked his female best friend, Tina, on social media.

She saw a picture where Rahul and Tina were posing alone. This made her jealous. But she held back. After Rahul was back, she didn’t talk to him about it.

A few weeks later, Jenny and Rahul were hanging out at a mall. She noticed he kept getting distracted by messages on his phone. She tried to peer in, and after some effort, saw the texts were from Tina.  

This time, Jenny couldn’t take it.

She snatched Rahul’s phone and dialed Tina’s number.

He ultimately got his phone back before she could do any real damage, but this seemed like the final straw for Rahul.  

He told her, “Tina is my best friend since we were kids, she’s like a sister to me. She adores you and you know it.”

He added, “We were planning a surprise for your birthday. You know what? I can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t trust me,” and left her standing alone in the mall.

Here’s when Jenny realized she was a toxic girlfriend

She realized what a mess she had made.

Back then, it had always felt like she was the victim. Then, after what happened at the mall, she started to realize all the mistakes she had made with Rahul.

Most of the time, the toxic girlfriend is not fully aware of her behavior. Often, she sees her mistakes only when it’s too late.

If your girlfriend’s behavior is mentally, emotionally, or even physically draining you continuously, it could be a red flag, says Dr. Kristen Fuller.

Are you unable to find out why it’s not working out between you and your girlfriend even after you’ve been doing your best?

If yes, then maybe, “it’s her, not you.” 

Common Signs of a Toxic Girlfriend

You must watch out for these ten common signs of a toxic girlfriend that seems harmless but are responsible for deteriorating a relationship.

They can negatively impact your mental and emotional health.

1. She uses manipulation as her primary defense mechanism

If your girlfriend always blames you for everything that’s going wrong between the two of you, there might be something fishy.

For example, a common trait of toxic girlfriends is they are pathological liars and, if caught, they somehow gaslight you and make you feel guilty for accusing them.

If you recognize this type of scenario, you might be in a relationship with a toxic girlfriend.

Psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis defines gaslighting as emotional abuse, where the toxic partner manipulates the other to the extent that they believe in whatever the abuser says and start doubting their own sanity. 

2. She controls and monitors your every move

If she obsessively keeps track of your whereabouts and controls every aspect of your life, then you could be in an unhealthy relationship.

This becomes clearer if you feel that everything from your personal to your social life is under her surveillance. 

She decides how much time you spend with your friends or family or which career options you pursue. You feel you have no personal space. 

Nothing could be more overwhelming than this feeling of being chained to your partner all the time.

In 2021, researchers  Jane Ogden and Annie Patterson found out that men who had experienced the controlling behavior of their girlfriends tend to normalize it to minimize their victim status.

The study concluded that such toxic behaviors have immediate and long-term negative effects on men’s mental health.

3. She sees the relationship as an opportunity to take, rather than give

As Tony Robbins explains,

Relationships are a place for you to give, not take. 

If you feel like you’re constantly the only one making all the efforts in your relationship, it could be a sign you’re dealing with a toxic girlfriend.

If your girlfriend lacks empathy, envies others, needs excessive admiration all the time, but never puts any effort into the relationship, she may have narcissistic tendencies. 

Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., mentions that a narcissist finds it difficult to see their partner as a separate person. They only see their lover as an extension of themselves, as an accessory to fulfill their needs.

And they never feel remorse, not even once, for not being the giver in their relationships. 

4. She doesn’t encourage your growth

The best part about being in love is having a partner that inspires you to be the best version of yourself. A toxic girlfriend rarely supports or encourages her partner’s personal growth – and when she does, she’s just playing the part of the good, caring girlfriend. 

If she mocks or dismisses your motivation to grow, and clearly doesn’t want to see you flourish, it’s a tell-tale sign you should choose your mental peace over that relationship. 

Such discouraging behavior arises because a toxic partner sees your self-improvement as a “threat” to the relationship, shares psychologist Gregory Kushnick.

5. She always criticizes you and threatens to leave the relationship

A toxic girlfriend often makes you feel belittled or unworthy – especially during arguments. 

And she often draws the breakup card to regain control. 

This type of behavior can affect your self-esteem, especially if your partner keeps declaring from time to time that if they leave you, no one else would ever be interested in you. This is one of the clear signs of a toxic girlfriend, agrees Thomas Cory, Ph.D.

You must prioritize your self-respect and self-esteem in a relationship. If you’re not getting love, respect, and trust, then it’s not worth staying in such a toxic and demeaning relationship.

6. She’s emotionally dependent

It’s okay to expect the required support and appreciation from a partner in a romantic relationship. But depending solely on your significant other for being happy is not a good sign. 

According to Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., if a romantic partner depends too much on their significant other to feel happy and fulfilled, it degrades the relationship. If that’s the case with your girlfriend, it’s time to take some mindful action. 

In a relationship with a toxic girlfriend, you don’t feel like yourself. You become aware that your mood, actions, or words can affect your girlfriend.

It makes you uncomfortable and anxious because you never know what might trigger her. You always walk on eggshells around her, not sure what might upset her next.

7. She compares you with others

No matter what you do to express your love, she never acknowledges your efforts. She doesn’t see your good intentions. Instead, she keeps comparing you with her friends’ partners. 

Does your girlfriend get swayed by every social media post that showcases the “couple goals”? 

Do you feel she never appreciates what you both already have?

If yes, then she’s bringing too much toxicity into the relationship. Relationship writer Rachael Pace says comparing your partner with couples you see on social media is unrealistic and unhealthy for a relationship. 

8. She wants you all by herself

A toxic girlfriend couldn’t stand the idea of you spending your time with anyone else. She expects to be the most important person in your life, all the time.

Even if you want to spend time with your friends, colleagues, or family, she gets angry or upset. 

Psychoanalyst Sue Kolod explains that isolating the partner from his loved ones is an attempt of manipulation, which is highly toxic.

9. She expects you to be her mind-reader

Women’s expectations can take a toll on their romantic partners. If your girlfriend gives you the silent treatment without communicating what’s bothering her, it’s not your fault. And it’s a highly toxic behavior.

Relationship psychotherapist Dr. Wallfish tells Bustle shares that expecting your partner to read your mind is not acceptable at all.

These kinds of expectations from your girlfriend will do no good to the relationship. Instead, it will bring anxiety and further problems between the two of you.

10. She has trust issues

Trust is the foundation of every relationship. No matter how hard you try to win your girl’s heart, it’s of no use if she has trust issues. 

A toxic girlfriend feels jealous of your female friends – and even of your guy friends! – and has an urge to invade your privacy.

She feels the need to check your phone and constantly asks you what you do in your spare time. This is exactly what my friend Jenny used to do, which ultimately led to her breaking up with Rahul.

If you often find yourself giving explanations to your girlfriend to prevent her from feeling anxious or jealous, that’s a sign she has insecurities she needs to work on, says counselor, Dr. Ridhi Golechha.

How To Deal With A Toxic Girlfriend

If you’re in a relationship with a toxic girlfriend, you should not normalize it. And you should not normalize her behavior.

It can take a serious toll on your mental health, and it’s important that you take it seriously. 

Science agrees on the fact that being in a toxic relationship could damage your health in several ways.

Here are a few tips on how to deal with a toxic girlfriend, and to minimize the chances of any emotional, physical, or mental damage.

Find out if there’s a way to fix it

Analyzing if you can fix your relationship is the best thing to do when dealing with a toxic girlfriend. Dr. Carla Marry suggests that if both the partners are willing to make efforts, even toxic relationships can improve.

You might know on a certain level that even your toxic girlfriend is suffering when she hurts you. 

If that’s true, then she needs immediate professional help. You can be her biggest support and help her learn how to have a loving, fulfilling, and healthy relationship.

Be willing to walk away

Even if, after you offer help, your girlfriend refuses to accept her toxic behavior, there’s not much you can do. 

You should mentally prepare yourself to leave the relationship.

You have to accept that it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who can’t see her mistakes and is not able to apologize for them. And you should walk away.

If you stay, you basically tell her, “Sure, keep behaving as you wish, I’m not going anywhere.” In other words, by staying, you could encourage her toxic behaviors, explains counselor Mily Gomez.

Seek professional help

It’s crucial to seek professional help if you’ve been in a toxic relationship, suggests Dr. Kally Campbell. Your toxic girlfriend’s behavior might have affected your self-esteem or drained your mental peace.

Professional help would be the best option for both fixing your relationship or leaving it behind, depending on your situation.

In case you decide to walk away, it will help you cope and move on with an objective approach towards the future. 

Signs of a Toxic Girlfriend: Final Thoughts

If you’re having trouble maintaining a healthy relationship with your girlfriend, irrespective of your love and efforts, it’s not your fault.

You might be in a relationship with a toxic girlfriend who is unable to recognize her behavior. 

You deserve your personal space and must not feel guilty if you can’t meet your girlfriend’s unrealistic expectations.

If your relationship is not making you a better, happier, and more confident person, then you’re probably dealing with a toxic girlfriend.

If that’s the case, you should accept it and then take the first steps to protect yourself.

Featured photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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