Your friend couldn’t wait to tell you about her new boyfriend when the relationship first started. He wanted her all to himself and wasn’t afraid of commitment. He was different. But that’s exactly how notorious con man Dirty John’s victims felt. And lately your friend seems different. She doesn’t go out as much, and she’s much more reserved when she does. She could just be in the love fool stage of a blooming relationship and in a few months, you’ll get your friend back. Or she be caught in the early stages of a toxic relationship? Here are the signs.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
1) She’s On Edge
Whether she seems afraid of the threat of physical violence, or emotional abuse, your friend always seems to feel some level of unease regarding her partner. She walks on eggshells, and always seems afraid of his possible reactions.
2) He’s Controlling
He controls many aspects of her life, even what she eats, who she sees, and where she goes. He keeps her away from friends or family who express concerns. When her loved ones grow frustrated with the alienation, he manipulates her into believing that she’s alone in the world. Even her friends are turning against her, so he is all she has.
3) Her Confidence is Shaken
Your once confident and easygoing friend is suddenly passive. She seems to overthink everything, like she can’t do anything right. Partners in toxic relationships often have to predict their partners’ reactions before making any decisions.
4) She Doesn’t Expect Emotional Support from Him
She seems afraid to talk to him about the serious stuff, so she either buries it or she goes to countless others for emotional support. And she can’t really accept outsiders’ counsel either–because she can never address the real problem: him.
5) Risky Business
Contrary to appearing more nervous, you could also notice your friend making more risky decisions, like imbibing more or acting out for attention. A toxic relationship partner cares more about his own excitement than her best interests, and this can make her lead a more reckless lifestyle.
What to Do
Flip the Script—What’s His Story?
While he’s obsessing on controlling her every move, focus on him. What skeletons does he have in his closet? Is he pretending to be something better than he is? Is he being unfaithful to her while controlling her entire social calendar? Even worse, have any of his past relationships been toxic or even included domestic violence?
Your friend may not be ready or emotionally able to look into his history, but if you’re worried about her you can do some research on your own. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help. There are a number of things you can do to assess the situation on the sly.
Find Out if He’s Cheating on Her
Discover if He Has Hidden Personas
Do a reverse phone lookup to find all the email addresses he’s ever had. Then do reverse email searches on those addresses to see if he’s used one of these rare ones to maintain hidden Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other accounts. He could be projecting a bachelor lifestyle and DM’ing other girls on the side, and your friend would have no idea.
Research Whether He’s Lying About His Past
Find out where he’s lived, whether he’s been married (or still is)—just enter his name and find all the old addresses, and public records that are associated with him.
Analyze His Exes
Look up the women who share his address history, and go back over their social media posts during that time–did they seem to be in a toxic relationship at that time? Did they sound like your friend does now–vaguebooking or overtly airing out relationship issues?
Search His Criminal Records
Does he have a history of domestic violence? Drug abuse? Unpaid child support? Do a court record search to see whether he’s ever been in serious trouble with the law, or just had a few traffic tickets.
While it will always be hard for her to get out of her relationship–no matter how toxic it is–concrete evidence of his lies or cheating or criminal history can help her see the light. Kudos to you, good friend, for trying to help her out of a difficult situation.