I’ve been dating this guy for a few months. I think I’m starting to see signs of toxic behavior. He always starts arguments by making things up in his head and I end up apologizing for things that I didn’t do. I feel the need to provide him with constant reassurance, yet he finds a problem with everything. A few days ago, he said he had an issue with me because I didn’t return his call fast enough. He assumed I was on the other line with someone and purposely ignoring him. In actuality, I was just busy. When I called him back to apologize and find out why he was upset he responded, “You know exactly what it’s about. Tell me what you were doing.” I really have no idea what he’s talking about. Am I being unreasonable?
Dear Obviously Oblivious,
This is not normal. You need to grab your best running shoes and go five miles in the other direction. This guy is controlling, manipulative and may even be exhibiting narcissistic behavior. It sounds like you were trying to communicate with him as a mature adult, yet he couldn’t acknowledge and take responsibility for his own emotions. He’s exhausting and honestly I expended way too many brain cells trying to decipher what he was talking about.
He is allowing his insecurities to run rampant which is very toxic. He could also be projecting. You can reassure him all day and he’ll continue to find an issue with one thing after another. It’s easier to blame you when he is the one with the issues. People who create their own delusions and refuse to acknowledge that they’re doing so will ultimately crush your soul. It sounds as though he’s gaslighting you. Gaslighting is a narcissist trait that makes you question your own reality and sanity. He’s trying to get you to confess to something that didn’t happen and when you tell him the truth he doesn’t believe you.
Women are programmed to apologize. You did nothing wrong. We have to stop apologizing for other people’s behavior. I suggest you give him an ultimatum and follow through with it. Say something like, “You can get help and quit treating me like this or I can leave you and find someone who knows how to communicate.” Something has to change because this is unacceptable. He either needs to change or you need to serve him his walking papers.
If he’s acting like this early on, it’s only going to get worse. I’m noticing a bunch of red flags. Don’t ignore them. If something gives you an icky feeling, it’s time to cut ties. You’ve been dating for a few months so you’re not that emotionally invested yet. I’d take a step back before you get entangled in a situation that’s difficult to get out of. You are not unreasonable. In fact, you sound like the only one in the relationship who is making any sense.