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Melinoe

"Early Warning Signs"

49 posts in this topic

In a reply to my original first post I started listing some "red flags" or warning signs that I had rationalized away to myself at the beginning of my relationship. Because these behaviours didn't match up with my idea of "what an abusive person does", I allowed self-doubt to talk me out of rejecting them. I'm interested in learning more about subtle early warning signs of potential abuse and manipulation. I am working hard on it with my therapist, but I see now that I was still very disconnected from my own inner voice telling me when things didn't feel right. I know that I am my own guide for deciding what is a red flag or not, but I'd also like to learn more about what other people consider early warning signs of toxic people. 

 

If anyone here is comfortable with it, would you mind sharing some of the early red flags or warning signs (that you now recognize) that popped up in your relationship, friendships, etc? Or even something you've not seen but would count as a warning sign if you did see it? You can be as specific or vague as you like in your examples. 

 

Thanks all :) 

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Emotionally intense.............grand plans for us.  We were both married at the time..........what a fool I was..........took me 31 years to finally get out!

Lousy sex LOL!!!  If I shared any stories of past lovers (which of course they encourage you to do, they want to know EVERYTHING about your past), that suddenly became his new "goal" in bed..............

I was always a "project" to fix..............

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1 hour ago, lizzibethak said:

Emotionally intense.............grand plans for us.  We were both married at the time..........what a fool I was..........took me 31 years to finally get out!

Lousy sex LOL!!!  If I shared any stories of past lovers (which of course they encourage you to do, they want to know EVERYTHING about your past), that suddenly became his new "goal" in bed..............

I was always a "project" to fix..............

LOL, oh my goodness, I admit the "lousy sex" red flag made me laugh! I never thought of that....but my gosh, you're right! A weird, disconnected, unfulfilling sex life definitely counts as a red flag!. Yiiiiikes. I am thinking about it now and it seems more and more obvious what an unhealthy sexual relationship we had and the red flags within it. 

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Feigned modesty.............."any talent I have is a god-given gift............nothing I've done"........and then he would tear down his fellow technicians and bosses as dumb when they wouldn't listen to his suggestions about how to make more money........or that their work wasn't up to par.....(lousy paint matches.......didn't fill the dent correctly.....door alignments were off.......yada yada)

Never happy at his work after a few months.............because of the above attitude.........

Overspending into debt.............I hated to get gifts because they were usually very nice and I knew he had gone into debt to buy it for me..............so if I didn't have the appropriate amount of gratitude, I was an ungrateful she-dog and how much I hurt him

Getting into other female's personal space............due to his hearing loss, he would continually get into their space and never noticed when they backed away.........he just followed

He had no friends.............only my female friends.  They were his secret "supply" because he knew men wouldn't put up with his crap or believe it............

Asking me continually if I shared all the things he bought for me or did for me with my friends...........did I continually "talk him up" to my gal pals and they would be jealous of how lucky I was.............(they actually only put up with him because of me and maintained healthy boundaries with him..........smart friends I have!)

There are more.............but you get the idea.........

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Lousy sex is a good one. I thought I could teach him. Ha Ha. It comes from an inability to understand what the other person is feeling. That's not teachable.

Not happy with any job or boss - also a good one.

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Calling his date and cancelling after he picked me up for a date. Started pressuring me to have sex after 3 or 4 dates. Made fun of the school I went to...how I and the other students couldn't be that educated. Telling his friend that I didn't know how to drive on the interstate and I didn't know how to use a camera. I grew up poor, we didn't have a real camera, we didn't have a vehicle, we lived in the country and we didn't go on vacations, so I wasn't familiar with cameras and interstates. Taking me to visit his old girlfriend while we were dating.

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The lousy sex I didn't have I had the opposite, the sex that is really for him good in bed but it's for his ego.

So he can be the best ever and better than any other guy in his mind. 

And also loved to tell me the way he was different from other men is he "likes women."

But when you call women c@&$s especially over the Women's March in 20 Countries that doesn't sound much that you like women.

Anyways, after I went through menopause and lost my sex drive partly from the stress of him and the loss of hormones it made it easier to leave.

When they are "Friends" with the supposed "Ex".

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Oh and another thing when they have empathy and sympathy for everyone else but you.

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And this is a good one: Because he imagined I did something to one of his loser friends didn't have the proper look on my face or something so he told me to go and sit in the car.

i ripped into him on the way home and he said "If I talk that way to you,it will deter you from doing that again." F-off Jerk!

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-Angry driving
-Talking about himself a lot and didn't seem to be too interested in me. I'd ask him questions about himself and his life and he didn't ask me questions about me or my life.
-Not taking responsibility for the results of his actions, this one started off with really little stuff. Stuff that kind of made sense. I didn't even realize what it meant until it became a big deal.
-Exaggerating my actions. For example he said I was freaking out about something when I was just a little surprised. 

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1 hour ago, Vickeee said:

-Angry driving
-Talking about himself a lot and didn't seem to be too interested in me. I'd ask him questions about himself and his life and he didn't ask me questions about me or my life.
-Not taking responsibility for the results of his actions, this one started off with really little stuff. Stuff that kind of made sense. I didn't even realize what it meant until it became a big deal.
-Exaggerating my actions. For example he said I was freaking out about something when I was just a little surprised. 

The angry driving and exaggerating of actions, yes! One time when we were driving, someone was tailgating him. He wanted to "teach the guy a lesson" and slammed on his breaks, and I was jerked forward pretty violently by it. I felt very unsettled by that event though it seemed to not be about me at all. 

I recall during some of our arguments where I thought I was being very calm, he would imitate me in this incredibly harsh, accusatory voice. And I remember thinking, "is that what I sound like to him? It's the exact same tone he used to quote his ex in..." And that got me wondering if perhaps his ex wasn't as outrageous as he always painted her. 

And not taking responsibility for results of his actions. That is a huge one. I think that one, coupled with the way he'd flip it around and blame, dismiss, or rationalize, is what made me start to realize we really weren't compatible. Funny how something so small can bother so much....

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Ignoring you.

Risking your safety or life on purpose or by knowingly avoiding taking precautions (includes angry violent driving that endangers you EVEN - JUST - ONCE).

Whistling for you like a dog.

Not liking romantic remembrance, such as getting angry or cold if you make a special dinner for your anniversary.

Disappearing for periods of time, without reasonable explanation - or the explanation doesn't match up with the timeline at all. (For example, evening "grocery shopping" that lasts from 9:30pm until 2:30 or 3:00 am and he claims he was "just walking around looking at stuff..... or "going down the street to get pepsi" and being gone 2 hours and denying it was that long.)

NOT telling his parents certain really important information about you. For example, if they are super-religious in one religion and he knows you're a very different religion - HE should have been the one to introduce that to them. YOU shouldn't be put in that awkward position. Especially if you don't even know  that they are super-religious.

Acting colder toward you or nastier toward you when he is drunk. NEVER pass it off as "just the booze talking." I'm a firm believe that booze only brings out what is really in there. If he's an @33hole to you while he's drunk, it's only revealing what will eventually come out when he's sober.

Not caring about what makes you happy. Telling you that you should do things he wants, because it'd be "good for you."

Being an uncommunicative person. If you like to talk, share, CONNECT with someone, you will not ever be able to do that with someone who is primarily silent and withdrawn and doesn't communicate.

 

JEALOUSY. Not fun. It's not "caring." It's not flattering. It's bad.

 

Those are just a few. Gotta go.
 

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8 hours ago, lizzibethak said:

Asking me continually if I shared all the things he bought for me or did for me with my friends...........did I continually "talk him up" to my gal pals and they would be jealous of how lucky I was.............(they actually only put up with him because of me and maintained healthy boundaries with him..........smart friends I have!)

 

Ah this one sounds familiar! yes. another to add to my list:

-Being super concerned about what I was telling my friends and family about him. Worrying if they hated him. Making sure they knew about the good things he did for me. Demanding that I make sure they understood I was the one at fault for arguments. Not wanting me to talk to anyone about my feelings or any difficulties in the relationship because of how it would affect people's perceptions of him.

3 hours ago, Fluffyflea said:

When they are "Friends" with the supposed "Ex".

This one is complicated for me. Before my relationship I never would have thought this a red flag. I did not consider this a bad thing - I had a lot more trust that people really could be "just friends" with exes. But now.....yeah. Especially if the "friend/ex" contacts me with any weird messages? That's a bad sign.

3 hours ago, Fluffyflea said:

Oh and another thing when they have empathy and sympathy for everyone else but you.

This one is probably going to be at the top of my list. Something I watch carefully for from now on. Inconsistent empathy. 

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5 hours ago, Melinoe said:

I recall during some of our arguments where I thought I was being very calm, he would imitate me in this incredibly harsh, accusatory voice. And I remember thinking, "is that what I sound like to him? It's the exact same tone he used to quote his ex in..." And that got me wondering if perhaps his ex wasn't as outrageous as he always painted her. 

 

Those were almost exactly my thoughts. I wondered what actually happened instead when he had previously said his ex was always yelling at him and he could never do anything right. I think "yelling" might mean she was trying to talk to him about something and "never do anything right" might mean she wasn't happy with some of his behaviors.

The first time I was in a car with him after he spent the night he took me to brunch and drove like he was really REALLY angry. It was frightening. I was completely shocked. I also thought it wasn't about me, but it made me really uncomfortable.

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Oh yes the driving thing, I was afraid to go on the motorcycle with him because he was starting to drive like an angry maniac.

Put your own life in danger if you want, not mine or anyone else's.

 

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And the worst thing was I was afraid to talk to him about his driving. There is something wrong with that.

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Red flags - where do I start? Or stop?

After questioning me intensely for a few weeks not letting me get a word in - conversations were his monologues. Angry driving while talking/berating me and not letting me out of car. Deciding when a conversation was over. "Punishing" me for apparent transgressions (turning heater off in room, pulling me off bed). Not wanting to visit my friends but I had to visit his if he wanted me to. No social life. Zero friends (20 years later he still doesn't have any. And I mean literally he has zero friends). No relationship with his family. Grandiose plans for being a businessman but never even having a job let alone a business. My not being allowed to accept or issue any invitation to/from us as a couple unless he vetted it first. Not allowed to say "shall we do this or that" at weekend but had to say I was going and would he like to join me (later this switched to not being allowed to make any plans for myself but had to liaise with him first). No empathy when I was upset. Having to provide a reason for using the car (with risk he threw hissy fit if he thought it was frivolous).

Geez if I look at all this it's been staring me in the face all along but it took me 20 years to realise.

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Putting my family down because we are Liberals and he is Republican.

 

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6 hours ago, Appletree said:

Red flags - where do I start? Or stop?

After questioning me intensely for a few weeks not letting me get a word in - conversations were his monologues. Angry driving while talking/berating me and not letting me out of car. Deciding when a conversation was over. "Punishing" me for apparent transgressions (turning heater off in room, pulling me off bed). Not wanting to visit my friends but I had to visit his if he wanted me to. No social life. Zero friends (20 years later he still doesn't have any. And I mean literally he has zero friends). No relationship with his family. Grandiose plans for being a businessman but never even having a job let alone a business. My not being allowed to accept or issue any invitation to/from us as a couple unless he vetted it first. Not allowed to say "shall we do this or that" at weekend but had to say I was going and would he like to join me (later this switched to not being allowed to make any plans for myself but had to liaise with him first). No empathy when I was upset. Having to provide a reason for using the car (with risk he threw hissy fit if he thought it was frivolous).

Geez if I look at all this it's been staring me in the face all along but it took me 20 years to realise.

Appletree - I know. It's amazing how obvious it's all becoming. Like coming closer to a treacherous shore through a dense mist...all the dangerous rocks and perils that were just shadows are there without any doubt now. I'm kicking myself as I figure out each new thing I ignored or didn't see clearly. 

MONOLOGUES and not letting you get a word in, yes!!! Also interrupting.  Once I asked him if he could wait until I was finished speaking before he started responding - because he'd start monologuing over me - and the couple of times he managed to do that, he'd aggressively ask "Well, are you done? Is it my turn now?" and I felt even less heard than if I hadn't spoken at all.

 A few more I'm thinking of now:

- Inability to be alone. Admitting or seeming like they can't be alone with their own thoughts and that they NEED people as a distraction. Constant texting, phone calls, constant activities, never any stillness. I know sometimes we all get like that. But not all the time.

- Feeling like they can't "let their guard down" or "be their true selves", even around their best friend, until they've had a few drinks (or other substance). Being unable to sleep at night unless they use something to "stop the thoughts". Again, sometimes we all need that. But as a daily thing? Concerning. 

 

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8 hours ago, Fluffyflea said:

And the worst thing was I was afraid to talk to him about his driving. There is something wrong with that.

Being afraid to talk to them about something that concerns you! Yes, I felt that too. Whether it was about my own feelings, or concern about their actions and choices, I felt it wasn't my place to question. 

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It used to make me feel really powerless over everything.

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I find it interesting that my house keys haven't shown up yet. I mailed his back.

I figure he wants me to ask for them so he can blame me for everything and or he wants an excuse to come here.

I also think I left one of my carpal tunnel hand braces there but will not be contacting about anything.

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Don't ask for them....just have the locks changed.  That way you know he can't get in with a copy he might have made  either

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I will absolutely not ask for them as I'm sure he wants me too and no worries on the locks.

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It took my husband years before he started complaining about drivers, asking me if I talked about him to my girlfriend and what I said, and if I bragged on him. It also took years before he started telling me how lucky I was to have him and jokingly to stick with him and I would go places. He didn't take long after we married to start telling me to go into the other room when he spanked my daughter, because it bothered me and he wasn't hurting her. He was overly jealous, but I didn't find that out until many years later. He wanted control of me and the household until he traveled for a job, then wanted me to take on all the responsibility. Did not want to hear problems at home while traveling for his job, even when gone for two weeks, then came home and wanted his control back and to criticize me for how I raised our children. He spent a lot of evenings with his friends playing video games instead of with me or our children. On our family nights he couldn't wait to get home to play video games. I heard him pretending to be our daughters brother to her friend to find out what she was doing. He made fun of me for choosing a car he told me not to because it was a bad decision, it was but I didn't feel like he should have made fun of me. Said I wasn't a good cook. Said I was a using drugs due to medications I take. Criticized me in front of a realtor, and his family at Thanksgiving. Told our old friends I couldn't keep a job, which embarrassed me. He was jealous of animals liking me more, grandchild liking me more, me getting a good buy. Tried to get my daughter and my grandchild to take his side. Use to argue with me when we were eating at a restaurant. Didn't want to spend money on sodas when eating out. Usually drinks water and wants to refill my tea to take with us for him. Don't know if these are all abusive but are aggravating. Couldn't have flowers on coffee table because it was in his way. He didn't want lamps on bedside table because it was in his way and he would knock it off too easy. He would knock off my hair brush and refuse to pick it up. Tore down curtain rod because it was too hard for him to pull back curtain. Now, unless I make him mad, he wants to be with me most of the time and doesn't do very much with his friends.

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