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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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”
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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
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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
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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.
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My ex asked me to stop being depressed after we lost our daughter
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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?”
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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 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.
My last partner tried to make me change my willingness to be cheated on. She thought I should be “open to the idea”
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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.
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Him: You shouldn’t wear makeup;
Me: Why, what’s the problem? Lots of women wear makeup;
Him: My mom doesn’t
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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
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An ex asked me to stop saying sorry all the time. I’m sorry, but I’m Canadian and I cannot help it.
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
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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”.
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“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.
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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.
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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.
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
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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.
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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!
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.
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.
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
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How I sleep. Like, do I have to sleep facing his direction?
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.
He kept insisting that I socialize more with strangers. Like we would be ordering drinks in a beach bar and he would insist that I make small talk with these two random girls who were also ordering. Like idgaf about small talk with strangers, stop forcing me! Ugh
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.
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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
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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
This one boyfriend I had when I was 16 asked me to get colored contacts because he wanted me to have brown eyes and not green eyes. Said I’d be his “dream girl” if I did that.
How much time it took me to have an orgasm lol. Like as if it’s in my control.
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My past. He was appalled to find out an ex of mine was Jewish.
My now ex, told me I peed too loudly when I first woke up in the morning and it disgusted him
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The way I hold a fork….I hold a fork like a regular human ! I think but he started yelling and saying it is embarrassing him…..I was in his bedroom at his moms house eating on a paper plate while he had gta on.
My ex husband told me that I wasn’t a real women because I didn’t wear heels or style my hair or wear make up or dress up.
Said I need to stop wearing jackets in the house because he hates it.
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**
I was told not to shake people’s hands when I meet new people because it’s too intimidating.
Mine wanted me to drink more because it wasn’t fun having a girlfriend who barely drank. He had the audacity to tell people afterwards that I was an alcoholic. Glad he dumped me!
One time on a dating app a man messaged me and asked if I could change my name because he didn’t like unisex names
He wanted me to get bigger boobs. I’m happy with my B cup thank you a**hole. I dumped his a**.
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I had a partner ask me to gauge my ears so that I could “fit his aesthetic more”. Safe to say that relationship was short lived.
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My voice. I can project, I come from a family of loud talkers. He’s super shy, we’ve been together 16 yrs, he still cringes if I open my mouth outside in the 167 townhome complex we live in because “someone might hear me”.
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.
I used to have the side of my head shaved (buzzed, not shaved bald.) I loved it. My ex asked me to stop cutting it and let it grow out. I said “Why? I like it.” He said “Because I don’t like my girlfriend having shorter hair than me.” Sounds like it’s time to shave your head then, buddy.
He told me if we ever got married and had kids I would have to be the stay at home parent… the person who went through 6 years of higher education, had a stable well paying career, and bomb a** health insurance…. He was a photographer.
I once had a guy who I wasn’t even dating ask me if I shaved down there. We had exchanged numbers and were “talking” but this question still threw me off. I answered honestly and told him I shave, but I don’t shave it all off and he was appalled and said, “Oh I don’t know if I’d like going down on you if you weren’t completely bare.” Ummmm who said you were ever going to see my vagina? Needless to say, he never did!
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.
I got told I was needy and possessive because I am monogamous and would also like my partners to be. Same guy also took me to Pizza Hut once, waved the salad menu in my face and said “I think you’re better off looking at this!” so yeah I also basically got told to lose weight.
My ex told me that I tell him “I love you” too much. Unsurprisingly he broke up with me a few weeks later.
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
He said he couldn’t support my decision to go to nursing school because his ex was a nurse and she struggled a lot through school. Plus he also wanted to travel.
I dumped him during that conversation. Became a nurse and I’ve traveled more than he has.
My art. I painted sort of fantastical Pre-raphaelite type stuff, perhaps a little dark, and my ex wanted me to switch to landscapes and such because they would be more appealing to sell
In high school, my then-bf told me I wasn’t allowed to wear clothes from Forever 21 or Ross because that was “ghetto” and he wanted me to wear A&F, Hollister, and AEO….as if I had the money, took me a couple of years to realize what a fucking loser he was
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My ex didn’t like me wearing skirts. Not because they were short or provocative or anything, he didn’t like skirts. F**k that guy.
Basically my personality. I am a very quiet and gentle person. I can be very diligent and passionate about something but in quiet way and with the freedom to do so. My ex led me to believe that there was something wrong with my because I was not firely passionate about my goals. I felt like there was something wrong with my very being. Thankfully, we are no longer together, and guess what, I’m going after my goals!
To stop being a vegetarian because it wasn’t fair to him (still not clear on how my dietary choices had any impact on him) or to get off anti-depressants because it made my feelings “inauthentic”.
To not have more tattoos than him at any point. So when I wanted my second and he only had the one, he expected me to wait until he got a second tattoo first.
I’m guessing it had something to with his weird hang up on masculinity. I didn’t listen and got my second while we were dating. He didn’t say or do anything about it.
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My long hair. They said it was fine mid-back, but if it grew past my waist, that was (and I quote) “a deal-breaker.” My only regret about cutting them out of my life so fast was that they weren’t around to see my hair reach my butt or to hear the constant compliments I get on it
Asked me to gain 40+ lbs because he wanted me to have a huge ass.
To post more pictures of ourselves doing corny shit so we can be Tumblr famous together lol
They wanted me to be the person I was before my best friend unexpectedly died.
He started telling people I had a different job title than I actually do, because it “sounded better”. Now I’m more successful than he is, so he can suck it.
I was dating this girl who wished she could change me into a guy, like a whole a** different gender because it would “make it easier on her family”.
He made me read lots of psychology books so I could manipulate his friends into liking me more??
What a catch.
Get LASIK because glasses don’t look good on me.
My clothes, he inspected my long skirt carefully, and said it was transparent and told me not to wear it. It was hardly transparent and I had leggings on underneath. I laughed at him and we ended up breaking up a week or two later. He was a clown
He wanted me to read more non-fiction instead of fiction.
I read plenty but apparently fiction wasn’t good enough for him.
Asking any personal questions he said was arguing. So I was not allowed to get to know him.
He told me I had to become okay with him messing around with other women, and be okay with my partners doing that in general if we broke up, because I was never going to be validating enough to him or any other man so they would always need to seek it elsewhere.
We are not together anymore. I’m plenty validating to any guy who isn’t a bottomless pit of insecurity.
He wanted me to wear a SKORT.
A guy started a big fight with me for eating scrambled eggs from a bowl instead of a plate. To this day I still don’t get why it was such a big deal.
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.
He said my body was amazing but my cheeks were chubby. He asked me to google facial exercises to get rid of my cheek fat
My family name
To stop sleeping with earbuds/ earplugs in. It made him feel disconnected from me.
Dated a girl who wanted me to be “more masculine” cos she thought I looked more attractive that way. Got rid of her. Dated a trans man who wanted me to be “more feminine.” Got rid of him too. I’m non-binary and how I choose to dress is for me and not them.
Change who I chose to hang out with and call my friends. They had him figured out and he didn’t like that.
“Stop being dramatic” after triggering a panic attack by throwing/breaking my stuff
“Stop worrying” “stop thinking so much” yeah of it were that easy, I wouldn’t be doing it!
To stop swirling wine when I drink it at his dad’s house, “because it comes off as if you are the mistress of the house.” I told him it’s not my fault he wasn’t raised knowing the proper way of drinking wine.
We were 19-20, I just immigrated to the US from a country where my dad has been teaching me about wine for a few years, and bf’s dad and stepmom (from my region) had good wine culture and had no issue with it, but not his mom’s side.
To start trimming all hair off of my toes
My ex is an ex for a reason. He didn’t believe me when I told him that I get way too overstimulated with lots of noises/crowded places. I’ve always been like that. One time we had gone to his little brother’s bar mitzvah because he turned the big 13. After his bar mitzvah, everyone from there went to Olive Garden and I had thought it was going to be my boyfriend and I, his immediate family, and his aunt with her kids. We got there and EVERYONE was there. We had the back room all to ourselves, and with the crashing of dishes to the bathroom doors constantly seining open and close to the cars on the street outside to everyone chatting, I excused myself from the table twice in the almost 2 hours we had been there. The second time I texted my then boyfriend saying that I didn’t think I could stay much longer because I was getting overwhelmed and was feeling claustrophobic. He texted me saying he was going to tell his family that I didn’t feel good because he didn’t want them knowing about my overstimulation because he thought it was a silly thing that I could “overcome.” We got to the car and he was actually upset with me for leaving about 30 or so minutes before everyone else. He also had said that it was his brother’s birthday and I should’ve “held out longer” because of it.
I had an atheist girlfriend that told me to not bring my bible into her apartment because “she didn’t want that s**t in her house”.