We hope you’re always treated with respect and kindness—especially by the people you date. We also know that not everyone is respectful and kind all the time and that lots of good people find themselves in bad relationships at one point or another.
No one is perfect. We all make mistakes and have moments we’re not proud of. So how do you know the difference between a human being with flaws and an asshole who doesn’t deserve you? Here are 6 signs that can help you tell if the person you’re dating is a jerk (or worse—abusive).
1. They say mean things about your appearance.
Question: How many people get to decide what’s okay or not okay for you to wear? Answer: One—you. If someone is trying to control what you wear, or telling you your clothes are too revealing or “slutty,” there’s a good chance they’ll want to control other parts of your self-expression and sexuality too. Not cool. Also, negative comments about your weight, hair, muscle tone, whatever are never okay.
2. They judge you for your sexual past.
No one gets to say that you’ve had sex with “too many” or “too few” people. If a person has sex with you and then turns around and judges you for having had sex with other people, that’s called a double standard. Don’t buy into it and don’t let someone else’s hang-ups about sex make you feel bad about yourself.
3. They dislike when you take charge of your sexual health.
Requesting testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs, a.k.a. STDs) and insisting on condoms and/or birth control is smart. It means you’re looking out for yourself and your partner. If your boo tries to make it about trust by suggesting that it means you “have something” or that you don’t trust them, that’s a red flag. (BTW, if your partner ever tries to block your efforts to use birth control, that’s called reproductive coercion and it’s a form of abuse.)
4. Nothing is ever their fault.
If someone finds a way to blame other people or outside factors for every problem in their life, that’s a big red flag. Do you want to be with someone who can’t take responsibility for their own actions? Also, remember that even if up to now they’ve focused the blame game on others, sooner or later there’s a good chance they’ll turn the attack on you.
5. They compare you to other people.
Their friends. Celebrities. Exes. They’re always comparing you to other people—and you usually come up short. While no one can be everything to one person, constantly comparing you to others is a jerk move. Don’t buy into it.
6. They throw tantrums or give you the silent treatment.
Do they fly into a rage when they don’t get their way, or refuse to speak to you for days at a time? If your partner deals with problems in either of these ways, it’s a sign of emotional immaturity that could lead to a lot of resentment over time.
It can be tempting to make excuses for bad behavior, but at the end of the day, you deserve someone who loves you for who you are and always treats you with respect. If your partner doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, talk to them about it. They may be able to work on some of these issues on their own or with a therapist. If they’re not willing to work on being a better boo to you, it may be time to find someone who is.
BTW, if the points on this list feel all too familiar, or if your partner is trying to control you in other ways, remember that it doesn’t have to be physical to be abuse. Relationship abuse can take many forms—but you don’t have to face it alone. If you think your partner may be abusive, you can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or Love is respect (text loveis to 22522* or call 1-866-331-9474) anytime day or night for support.
P.S. Your birth control is no one’s business but your own, but some methods are easier to keep private than others.