The term “toxic relationship” was first coined by Dr. Lillian Glass, a California-based communication and psychology expert in 1995. She defined it as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
Today, we hear of it more often than ever. You may wonder what on earth happened that so many of us struggle to have healthy relationships, but it’s always best to listen to those who have been in such situations and experienced what it’s like in the first place.
So when the Redditor SputtleBug posted a question “What is the most ridiculous thing a partner has asked you to change about yourself?” on r/AskWomen, it seems like it hit close to the bone for many women in the community. So they shared their genuinely disturbing experiences that show just how lethal and wrong some relationships are and remind everyone that we don’t ever have to put up with it.
He wanted me to get rid of my pets, if I was reeeeaaally good though, he could be okay with me keeping my dog. Nope! Got rid of him instead.
The amount of men that ask me to come off antidepressants because "don't I make you happy enough without the pills" Lord give me patience
Said I used "too many big words" and he just wanted to be able to "relax" more. Criticized my tv and movie preferences as being too "cerebral." Also told me I was too "analytical" in how I liked to solve problems. Now I have an MA and JD, and married a tech millionaire with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, so looks like my preference for cerebral entertainment and big words paid off.
Bored Panda reached out to SputtleBug, the author of this thread on r/AskWomen who said that they feel like everyone males and females alike receive societal pressure but the reasons are different.
"In my experience, the standards for women are often focused on physical appearance and reproduction while the standards for men are mainly focused on other things like careers and behavior, there’s still a pretty strong expectation for men to be extremely masculine," SputtleBug commented.
She continued: "We no longer live in the 1950s but the expectations we had then for men and women remain relatively the same now. Although the standards may have been created by men it’s had to have been backed by many women which is the main reason they’ve been allowed to perpetuate. Granted this seems to have changed significantly in the last few years but the start to change, is in most cases, slow."
My ex asked me to stop being depressed after we lost our daughter
Asked me to be more "agreeable" and not discuss feminist issues in his presence. This winner also told me I needed to lose about 40 pounds because women shouldn't weigh more than 120. For context, I'm 5'9" and at the time was wearing a size 6. I noped out of that relationship pretty quick.
It wasn't a long term thing, we had been dating for a few months at the time. He didn't ask me to change specifically but he was upset when he found out I was born in Romania. I was adopted by an American family when I was two and have lived in the US for the vast majority of my life. I barely remember anything about Romania.
He couldn't see himself with someone like me because I wasn't actually white. So he broke up with me. It was pretty shocking, I had no idea he had this massively racist side to him. He did me a favor.
The author of this thread also said that while some of the responses she received were indeed surprising, other comments consisted of "things like losing weight, changing their aesthetic/clothing style, changing their personality that were the most common."
Sputtlebug believes that many people end up in toxic relationships and it's a common occurrence for all sexes but not one frequently talks about it.
I’m very pale, so pale that you can see the blue of my veins throughout most of my body. A boyfriend I had about ten years ago asked if there was “anything I could do to get rid of them?” I had to explain that no, I had a circulatory system and very much wanted to remain alive
I'm mixed half Indian half German and he asked to suppress my Indian side and culture cuz he "only dated me cuz at least I'm half"
He asked me to pretend I wasn’t in pain when I was.
I have endometriosis and if I’m dating you, you will have an up-close and personal seat into the life of someone with a chronic pain condition.
Now, I don’t complain a lot about it, it’s just a fact of my life, and I came to terms with it a long time ago. So when my ex-fiancé got “fed up” with me “being sick all the time,” I told him I can’t act healthy all the time when I’m sometimes in debilitating pain….and he said, “Can’t you fake it?”
Sputtlebug said that "it was definitely a learning experience, I didn’t really walk into this with any expectations in mind. It was a curious cat moment if that makes sense. Some of the comments made me laugh but a lot of the responses were demoralizing at best and heartbreaking at their worst."
"Overall I’m glad it was a moment for people to talk about something that maybe isn’t comfortable or okay for them to talk about with their friends and family," she concluded.
My former spouse asked me to move my period because it fell on his three day weekend and he refused to have sex with me when I was "broken" so that was a real bummer for him. I suggested that he ask one of the other guys to swap with him but he wouldn't even ask and I suspect it's because he knew noone liked him enough
To go off birth control. At 16. Not because he wanted to try getting me pregnant (we weren’t even having sex) but because “knowing that I wasn’t technically fertile made me seem less feminine.” Not to mention I was on it for debilitating cramps.
My ex didn’t necessarily ask me to change this because he knew it was impossible, but he had a serious problem with me being white. Said he was “betraying his culture” by being with me.
I can’t begin to understand the struggle of being a black person in the US, but it makes zero sense to pursue me so hard and then hate that I’m white. Not like that was something I kept hidden that came out later.
I dye my hair a lot, this is something I’ve always taken pride in and I LOVE my hair. My ex, on the other hand told me I wouldn’t meet his parents until I got rid of the crazy colors. I never met the parents.
Me having Asperger’s, and he was a doctor too. When we started dating he was obsessed with how I was ‘the smartest person he’d ever met’ then he tried to get me off my meds because he didn’t believe in them and didn’t understand sensory meltdowns, then when we broke up he said “I tried to fix you but I failed’ lol ok ‘doctor’ good luck with that cure for autism
He wanted me to be shorter. I'm 5'1. He literally wanted me to hunch my shoulders and only wear f**king flats all the time. He was 5'3 and insecure
My ex-bf wanted me to get tattoos, get gauges, pierce my nipples, and start doing a lot of drugs because iTd Be So hOt. He also wanted me to change my demeanor from upbeat to brooding and moody. That kind of happened naturally with him anyways because he was so soul-suckingly awful to be around.
My ex told me I needed to start pretending I didn't understand things even when I did, bc "men like explaining things to women". The ex before him basically told me I was malfunctioning bc I didn't want to be a SAHM, and he asked me to never fart in front of him bc "women don't poop".
My religion. He verbally assaulted me when I said I didn’t want to convert to Islam. He did a lot worse, but that’s where the abuse began.
My job. He didn't want me working around a "bunch of dudes just trying to f**k you" I'm a welder still 10 years later lol
Told me I was too anxious and depressed, and I just needed to be “happy” lol I was on birth control for him too (refused to wear a condom) which caused a lot of these mental health issues. After breaking up, got off the pill + the lack of his presence in my life made me significantly happier. Also, he told me I couldn’t take a joke even though his “jokes” were degrading and humiliating me in front of his friends.
I have long, thick, dark brown hair, great condition, I have never dyed it and it's probably my favourite feature. I get a lot of compliments on it.
My ex would always suggest I dye it blonde.
If you like blondes, date a blonde. Dumba**
The way I walk (I "walk too loudly") and the way my face looks when I read books. Apparently, I was supposed to smile all the time.
Just having a nice smile reading All Quiet on the Western Front.
He wanted me to distance myself from my family mainly because he wasn't close to his family and didn't have that kind of support.
He picked me up on Thanksgiving to have lunch with his mom. He promised we would go together to my family's Thanksgiving at dinner. Evening rolled around and he proclaimed he was too tired to go and refused to drive me the whole 25 minutes to my grandpa's house. When I didn't show up my family freaked out and my siblings came to get me. My brother asked my boyfriend what happened and he couldn't come up with an answer other than he was tired. Later he posted online my brother tried to fight him haha. Dumped him that night! I would have left him sooner, but I was young and dumb!
He didn’t want me to cry. Ever. “The women in my family would never cry unless their arm was being sawed off at the time.” Twenty some years later I realized he should have married his sister
Him: You shouldn't wear makeup;
Me: Why, what's the problem? Lots of women wear makeup;
Him: My mom doesn't
My college boyfriend said I could "stand to lose a few". I wish he could see me now..I am so much fatter lol. No, but really I looked great and he was a dweeb.
"You're too nice, you need to stop that." Said every time I gave money or food to a panhandler or charity, any time I expressed compassion for someone who wasn't him, and especially when we were watching George W Bush's invasion of Iraq and I was horrified at all the Iraqi people dying.
He thought my laugh could be more "ladylike," because as long as I had a witch cackle he wouldn't "be able to take me anywhere high-class."
He was flat broke at the time and I was paying for everything. I also sound different depending on how hard I'm laughing, so it's not like I had to break out the witch laugh at all these imaginary restaurants and balls we were totally going to attend. Didn't matter, he wanted me to train myself out of it anyway
My last partner tried to make me change my willingness to be cheated on. She thought I should be "open to the idea"
I'm 5'5 and naturally thin, but I didn't have muscle at the time. I had been looking to start going to the gym though, so I agreed to go with her. I'd always played sports so I looked forward to being active again. I wanted to gain strength.
She had a gym addiction and her type was pretty much strictly fit people. She's straight up said she wouldn't date an overweight/fat person because they wouldn't be "healthy" (disgusting mindset). She was pretty much trying to mold me to fit her "type" exactly. Including down to my diet which I had to tell her outright to shut the f**k up about what I ate (You can pry ice cream out of my cold, dead hands).
That relationship did not last long. But I feel very vindicated in the fact that I reached her fitness goals in half the time she did just because I genuinely enjoy working out. It helps my mood and ADHD symptoms.
I couldn't care less what I look like as long as my body feels healthy and strong. I have a 4 pack of abs and hella strength now. And my current beautiful, thick, strong af girlfriend very much loves my body for what it is regardless of whether it's "fit" or not.
My first bf had a problem with me wearing super trendy colourful clothes. "why can't you just wear jeans and a black tee? Why can't you just wear black clothes?"
It annoyed him that people would look at me when we went to malls. It got to a point where if he was picking me up, he'd call and ask "are you ready? Send me a pic of what you're wearing. If it's pink or orange, change into black. If it's a skirt, wear jeans". He made me promise not to wear my favorite deep purple corduroys. He didn't realise that it wasn't the clothes that people looked at me for. I was a loud, outgoing teen with a bubbly personality. THAT'S what made me attract a bit of attention. He hated when people looked at me at all. Even older women who have stopped me to compliment my style or hair.
He's changed in the 10 years since and we're still good friends. He agrees he'd been the jealous type and hated all my friends and hated how much attention I got. He's grown now. And is a much better human being and an amazing friend.
My ex boyfriend was very worried about the hair on my upper lip. Now that I’m years out of that relationship, I realize I don’t have an extremely hair upper lip and the memory of his obsession over that makes me so mad. One time when we were kissing, I thought we were having a nice moment, but he pulled away and ran his finger over my upper lip and said “you need to get that fixed.” When I went to the salon to have it waxed, the esthetician told me, unprompted, that she thought I was wasting my money getting my upper lip waxed because it wasn’t hairy. I really just think he just wanted to make me feel bad about myself.
My life goals. Before I realized I was playing for the other team, the dude just decided, on his own, that we were going to have children and I was going to be his somehow always scantily clad housewife, despite me saying several times I'm never, * ever * having children, and I'll be doing bare necessities housework because I got s**t to do before I go to the grave.
He had a time limit for conversations. But it only applied when I was speaking or the subject had to do with me.
Did not matter if I was happy, sad, upset, worried, excited. Time limit on it.
And I am talking minutes for me to share things.
Communication was a joke, yet he repeatedly bragged about what a great communicator he was
My whole personality. This dude (admittedly very shallow looking back but I was so naive then) told me straight up that I was cute but I’d be better off without the personality because “it’s a bit much.” He didn’t like that I liked to laugh and joke around and such. He basically wanted me to just become an accessory. Shut up and look pretty. Yeah nah I got tf outta there
An ex asked me to stop saying sorry all the time. I'm sorry, but I'm Canadian and I cannot help it.
He told me my taste in music was awful, and that I should only listen to the most talented musicians in styles I was learning. He trained me to listen to music only for work, never for fun, and would turn off the stereo if I was listening to something like pop music for fun in the car. We're both professional musicians. You'd think it would be impossible to ruin music for a musician. That was 10 years ago, and I still have intense anxiety about choosing music, and listening to music around other people.
Her words exactly “You need to stop being bi sexual! I understand it’s who you are but it doesn’t work for me and I really want to be with you” total cringe!! Needless to say, we aren’t together anymore.
How much time it took me to have an orgasm lol. Like as if it's in my control.