Now that the hype behind Netflix’s season 2 of You has died down, I’ve started to think about the romantic relationships presented in the series and how those dynamics really reflect the dating scene today. The Dirty John series (and podcast) also touches on this subject where blatant toxic behavior is accepted with a laissez-faire attitude for the sake of companionship. As a viewer, the glossing over of red flags early on in the dating phase really resonates in the real world with how passively we accept these terms in order to avoid conflict and not be lonely. Have we in a way normalized this behavior? If so, how can we look for those subtle “pink flags” early on to help us avoid or know when to walk away from toxic relationships.
Inconsistencies in their past and present lives
Are they reliable and consistent? Does their life story make sense and do their day to day activities and interactions reflect that? It shouldn’t be hard to recall major achievements in your life. Think about if I asked you where you received your undergraduate degree. I am confident that you wouldn’t stumble to tell me it’s in Finance from NYU. Whereas someone who isn’t being truthful could tell you one week it’s in economics and three months down the line it’s in political science. Even more obvious – do you know what they’re actually doing all day (schedule is typically predictable) or have you repeatedly caught them in a lie?
Do they have your best interest at heart?
Are they picking a fight with you before your brunch date with your girlfriends, before your major presentation at work, and/or as your walking out to attend a family event – resulting in negatively impacting the course of those events and your emotional state? Was the reaction negative when you finally received the promotion you worked so hard to get? Someone who is secure in themselves will want to show you and want you to know how proud they are of you. They will admire you.
Lack of trust
Certainly the most obvious of the lot, but something we so often ignore, especially with social media permeating our everyday lives. Lack of trust can manifest in asking you interrogating questions when going out with friends or demanding to know your password to unlock your phone. More subtly, they ask you about someone who simply liked your Facebook or Instagram post in an accusatory tone. Often, we accept these terms and give in as a means to de-escalate a possible confrontation and avoid the realization that this person may be trying to control you.
Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20 and when we look back we beat ourselves up by conjuring the ever muted phrase “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. Don’t be so harsh on yourself – we’ve all been there. Noticing these signs and being more hyper aware will help you avoid these relationships in the future.