Their Toxic Traits Might Actually Mean They’re Scared—Here’s Why

It’s easy to wonder why a relationship didn’t work out and blame ourselves. We wonder if we somehow missed the signs and the red flags early on, or if we simply ignored them because we loved them.

While those are possibilities, oftentimes, the problem really is them, not you. Toxic traits have a lot to do with that person’s experience and sense of self; here’s how.

Jumping From One Relationship To The Next

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Photo Credit: Alan Quirvan / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Alan Quirvan / Unsplash

It’s not because you’re replaceable, it’s because they’re too scared of being alone. They don’t take the time to heal after a breakup. Instead, they find a way to fill that void and find comfort in other people’s support.

It’s also the reason they still talk to their exes or flirt during the relationship. They need to always have a backup plan.

Putting On A Persona

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Photo Credit: gbarkz / Unsplash
Photo Credit: gbarkz / Unsplash

It’s not that you missed the signs of their true character, it’s that they felt they had to put on a persona because they feared the real them wouldn’t be good enough.

This can happen for a few reasons. It may just be the product of low self-esteem or past bad experiences. But it can also be because they’re so scared of losing you that they’re doing what they think they have to do to keep you.

Checking If The Grass Is Greener On The Other Side

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Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash

You should never feel like you’re an option or second best, but if your partner is honest about their doubts, it’s because they’re afraid they’re settling.

It’s nothing against you specifically, but rather, in line with the idea that there are so many options out there, and “upgrades” are so encouraged, that it’s hard to stick with just one.

Staying With The Wrong Person

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Photo Credit: Bruno Melo / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Bruno Melo / Unsplash

If they’re sticking in what is obviously an unhealthy relationship, it’s probably because they have a fear of loneliness. They can’t imagine how to be on their own and how to deal with doing everything for themselves.

Plus, they likely don’t want to have to face that fear, so they use the relationship as a distraction, even if that relationship also makes them feel lonely.

Refusing Commitment And Serious Relationships

man proposing with engagement ring
Photo Credit: Gift Habeshaw / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Gift Habeshaw / Unsplash

Often enough, the reason they can’t commit has nothing to do with you and has everything to do with their learned experiences.

If they come from divorced parents or have had their heart broken, they likely just expect every relationship to fail so they don’t see the point in trying.

Being Cliny Or Possessive

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Photo Credit: Carly Rae Hobbins / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Carly Rae Hobbins / Unsplash

They’re holding on as tightly as possible because they fear that their partner will otherwise leave them. Often it’s not because that person has given them any reason to, but because they’re reacting to a deep fear of abandonment.

They have a tendency to overgeneralize and read into behaviors to assume the worst.

Acting Like Their Parents

woman whispering into kid's ear while kneeling
Photo Credit: Sai De Silva / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Sai De Silva / Unsplash

If they come from a bad home, they might fear doing the same thing themselves. Ironically, they might fear ending up like their parents so much that they start acting exactly like them.

They don’t know any better and try so hard to do the opposite that it has the same toxic effects.

Being Overly Emotional Or Angry

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Photo Credit: Raamin ka / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Raamin ka / Unsplash

Some people find it overwhelming to not have their needs met so they let their emotions take over. The fear that your partner ends up not being able to take care of you the way that you’d hoped is actually quite common.

The fear is rooted in not being heard or understood, especially if that was the case in their past.

Avoiding Any Confrontational Talks

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Photo Credit: Eric Muhr / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Eric Muhr / Unsplash

It can be very frustrating trying to talk to someone who refuses to discuss issues. It is usually due to their fear of facing any conflict or the risk of the relationship not working out.

They would rather live in denial and pretend no issues are present than risk acknowledging them and having to deal with them.

Living In Codependency

man and woman cuddle on chair
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

While you and your partner should be making each other happy, you’re not supposed to be their only source of happiness. That would mean that your relationship is based on fear, not love.

That kind of fear might have been conditioned into them from a young age and now all they know is how to depend on others.

Being Overly Jealous

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Photo Credit: Jametlene Reskp / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Jametlene Reskp / Unsplash

A little jealousy might be expected, but if they’re snooping through your phone and preventing you from talking to anyone, then they’re likely projecting their fears onto you.

Maybe they’ve been cheated on in the past, but the issue will persist for as long as they don’t identify its root.

Doing Whatever Their Partner Wants

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Photo Credit: A. L. / Unsplash
Photo Credit: A. L. / Unsplash

You can’t be in a happy relationship if you’re constantly doing only what makes one party happy. Out of fear of upsetting them, some partners lose their sense of self and live simply to please their partner.

They end up sabotaging themselves and the relationship fails anyway.

Being Self-Absorbed

woman looking in mirror and touching her face
Photo Credit: Vlada Karpovich / Pexels
Photo Credit: Vlada Karpovich / Pexels

Being self-absorbed is usually an indication of worrying too much about what others think. Some people measure their own worth by how others perceive them, so they’re constantly putting up a front that they hope will be liked.

It’s important for these people to simply be themselves and even when they’re judged, know they’re trying their best.

Planning 10 Steps Ahead

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Photo Credit: Gabrielle Henderson / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Gabrielle Henderson / Unsplash

Those who get ahead of themselves and start pressuring their partner into moving forward are just afraid of the uncertainties of the future.

They’re trying to feel like they’re in control of what’s next to avoid any unforeseen obstacles or heartbreaks.

Being Hot And Cold

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Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

Katy Perry was onto something when she sang “you’re hot, then you’re cold.” It’s frustrating to feel like you’re being led on and not know if you’re both on the same page.

However, in most cases, it’s because they’re afraid of letting people get too close when they don’t know for sure what it is that they want. They’re trying to keep you from getting too attached because they’re scared of letting you in.

Being Distant

woman sitting by window facing building
Photo Credit: Alexandre Chambon / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Alexandre Chambon / Unsplash

There’s nothing more frustrating than being left on read for three days only for them to come back like nothing happened. Often this is a tool that keeps you at arm’s length without completely losing you.

It ties into some of the fears above, but it comes down to them fearing vulnerability. They’re scared of love and of what it implies so they’re having a hard time giving themselves in to it.