Warning Red Flags: Redditors Share the Telling Start of A Toxic Relationship

If you noticed at least one, you better start running

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All relationships might start with a simple hi, but will definitely change eventually. And that’s where we need to be observant since it can tell us what kind of relationship we have or will have. All warnings can be waving to our faces that we’ll never know of. So for us to be aware let’s take a look at the different signs that Redditors think is the start of their toxic relationship.


#1 Demoted to an acquaintance

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It was a friendship rather than a romantic relationship, but it still caused some damage. We hadn’t even been friends for a year before he started throwing insults at me that were “just jokes”. Not long after is where the micromanaging of my life began. He’d monitor me during social events, and if he deemed that I wasn’t being social enough, he’d berate me over text. It got to the point where he was monitoring my social media and making note of everything I did on each account. He’d get upset if I told him I had to cancel on him or if we couldn’t hang out with him, while he wouldn’t even give the rest of us the courtesy of letting us know when he had to cancel. We were all just supposed to expect him to flake and be okay with it.

Last summer he had decided to berate me again for daring to tell him that I was busy. I told him I was tired of his issue, and stopped talking to him. A few hours later he called to apologize because he was stressed and lashed out at me. I accepted his apology but I had already decided at that point that I didn’t want to be friends anymore so I basically ghosted him after that. —yeetgodmcnechass

#2 Sweeps you off your feet

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Definitely control.

But how to tell that? They will take an over active interest in your reactions to things.

They won’t take no for an answer. It might be in a cute way at first, but, it still is not taking no for an answer. Insisting you go along with something (no matter how harmless it might seem), or insisting you will enjoy something.

Pretty soon, if you let that slide, they will be controlling various things.

Where you can go, who you can talk to or see, who you can look at, even. Maybe not saying it outright, “don’t go there, stay home; why are you looking at them,” but acting out if you do things like that and they don’t like it. Having a temper tantrum if you aren’t exactly the way they think you should be, and of course, the trick is, there is no pleasing them. They are always upset about something you did.

It isn’t only about jealousy but also friendships, family too.

And then if you give in to that, there will be a new level. A bit like a video game, only not leveling up; leveling down, into hell.

So once they get you to focus solely on them, now you are boring, or you did this wrong, did that wrong. If you say anything you talk too much. If you don’t talk enough, or you laugh too much, or your cooking is bad…you name it, it’s wrong.

Pretty soon you forget who you are and what makes you happy. Worse, you forget that it matters if you are happy.

The abuser will often pour it on too thick with romance and compliments in the beginning. That is another way to control you and it won’t last. No one can keep that up.

If someone ‘sweeps you off your feet’ remember what comes next is a fall. —BraveEntertainer

 #3 Your pain is my relief

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My ex would complain that I don’t express my feelings to her, and then she would use it against me later whenever I did, and she would be sure to do it in the most painful way possible because when she was mad or feeling anxious, she enjoyed hurting others emotionally to make herself feel better. It was hell. —MRMiller96

#4 It’s wrong to disagree

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I am working on repairing the psychological damage from years of having to jump through hoops to prove that it’s not selfish/unreasonable/terrible of me to disagree with partners or have my own needs. Turns out always having to beg to have your feelings acknowledged (not even respected, just acknowledged) messes you up a bit. The whole time I thought it was MY fault that I wasn’t communicating properly or using the right words to explain my point of view, but in reality, it was narcissism and selfishness on the other side, and nothing I could’ve done would have changed that. —beqardi 

#5 Bored? Ok, let’s argue!

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 When they seem to argue with you a lot and make petty things into a huge dispute. It’s stuff like this that makes you realize how much of a toxic relationship you’re in.

Also when the only time they seem like they’re not arguing is when they need/want something from you —MythicalBaguette

#6 Eggshells

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When you have to constantly and carefully police your words and actions to avoid setting them off. Whether it’s an anger thing or a drama thing, whether it’s over jealousy/suspicion or neediness or them being critical or whatever, if you have to constantly walk on eggshells because it will make your life stupidly difficult if you accidentally say or do something “wrong” that triggers them to respond irrationally, you know you have a problem.

I think this is a good thing to pay attention to because it’s nonspecific to the type of problem. It applies equally to physical, emotional, and psychological abuse and to those who are just energy-sucking due to their own personal issues which may not be abusive at all. —Dragoness42

#7 It’s not me, it’s the drama

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Things I experienced in a toxic relationship:

Always felt worried about what mood he would be in. It was so up and down I could never predict it, some days he’d be the perfect boyfriend to me and other days treat me like crap. Really hot and cold. I started getting really nervous before going to see him because of this, and it only made me want to please him more.

He would say or do things that made me upset or unhappy, but would spin it as a joke or “you’re being too sensitive, you’re overreacting” so I’d think it was my fault for feeling like that.

He didn’t like me seeing my friends without him. He never explicitly said this, but he’d try to ruin my friendships by alienating me from my friends, treating them badly, showing up randomly if I was out without him etc

My family didn’t like him.

He managed to make me feel silly and stupid without actually saying those words – just subtly putting me down, making fun of things I liked, not encouraging me, facial expressions like a patronising smile or rolling his eyes…. Constant enough that it slowly destroyed my self esteem.

Compared me to other women, including his exes, would make subtle digs about my body, my weight, etc etc

Would argue with me constantly and only backed down when he’d managed to make me cry. As if his entire goal in the argument was to break me.

I know I should have left him sooner, but that’s easier said than done when you’re 21 and being emotionally manipulated. There are many more signs but these are some HUGE red flags.. —WaveDifficult5334

#8 It was good until…

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That’s exactly what happened with a friendship. For a while it was great, but at some point it changed and I felt trapped and I was dreaming about how it would be if they wanted to end the friendship and I would finally be free and not have to talk to them everyday. Literally wishful breakup dreams, I called it to myself. At some point I realized how funny, sad and pathetic that is, that I can’t make a move on my own and am dreaming of the day when they do.

Eventually I did realize, I have the right to end it and I did. —LaureGilou

#9 Under the rug

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Once I was having a moment of insecurity in a relationship, and I told my then boyfriend that I didn’t want to talk about it because it was irrational and unfair. He insisted I tell him, and when I did, he lost it on me and said I should have lied to him instead. He held onto that for the rest of our (nearly two year long) relationship. Learn from my mistake. Don’t be in a relationship like that. —smcgrw

#10 Trust issues

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And then you exit a relationship where you had been cheated on and lied to and enter a new relationship with a bucket full of trust issues.

My GF believes that full trust should be a default given in a new relationship. I believe a trust base needs to be built first and I sometimes have doubts due to logical conclusions. GF is mad at me whenever i express the slightest of distrust. I‘m convinced she won’t stick around for long because my fears bother her so much.

It sucks —Sage-lilac 

#11 That’s art

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Consistently asking for/needing help, and promptly not following the advice you give them or asking for your work, even though they are capable.

I had a friend that constantly asked for art advice, and didn’t try out any of my advice because the weak points I saw were a part of their “style” and they refused to try something else. I don’t feel like I helped at all even though I took the time to say what I thought would work better. It just seemed like they were only wanting compliments and not critiques. Not always toxic, but quite frustrating.

There’s also another side of this, where they’re just looking to take what they need (homework answers, comforting, compliments, attention, etc) and never reciprocating. A one-sided relationship with you on the giving end. Not good

Then, of course, there’s talking bad about you behind your back, any form of physical/emotional attack, manipulation, using guilt against you, you name it. One of the big ones is getting angry if you set limits/boundaries for your own sake.

If being around a “friend” causes you to dread it’s better not to stick around. There’s a reason you feel that way and it’s good to trust your gut. — LadyPlasticWrap

#12 Only one allowed to joke

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I had an ex that was vehemently sensitive about her acne. It came in and out depending on her cycle and if I so much as mentioned acne she’d get upset with me. But if I had a slither of insecurity about my hairline, it was fair game. There were a lot of “buttons” she had like that but that was the big one. —kenpo23

#13 “That” friend

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My wife had only one friend locally. Her friend told her that she had bad vibes about me without even knowing me. I wasn’t invited to a lot of stuff because her friend didn’t want me involved. Even though she was treating me like crap I said I didn’t mind hanging out but she basically told my wife that she needed to take a break from her. My wife was sad losing that friend but figured she probably wasn’t a good friend if she wasn’t willing to “share” her with me.

I bring this up because I felt like I was “that guy” alienating her from her friend. To this day I still feel bad and shoulder the guilt that we couldn’t all just be friends, but it really wasn’t my fault. —Coldsteel_BOP

#14 Winnie the Pooh

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Yeah, it took me a while, too long, to notice that she wasn’t celebrating my accomplishments with me. The breaking point was trivial but helped me notice the pattern. I had just assembled a desk and organized stuff on it. I was proud because I had bought it, I had assembled it, it looked great, and now I essentially had a home office and an L-desk, both things I’d wanted since moving in. Her response was to note that I had a Winnie the Pooh statue on it, and how can I have that stupid bear on my desk. —ahumanbeing75

#15 That’s just how it is

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A girl who interned at my work briefly was talking about how her boyfriend would get irrationally angry at things. She told a story about a time they were at the McDonald’s drive-through and he asked for a coffee drink that didn’t exist. After an argument with the drive-through worker, they settled on some kind of drink, left, and got on the highway. He took a sip, pulled over on the shoulder, got out, and threw the drink on the road, screaming that the drink wasn’t the one he made up.

She was telling this story, saying “that’s just how he is”, as though that type of behavior is okay if you’re just like that.

Now I don’t know if there was any physical abuse, or if he actually got that angry with her, but who the hell wants to be around that anyway? And then when someone else happens to see it, your best explanation is “he’s just like that”? —Brawndo91

#16 Gas is expensive

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I was in a relationship where he seemed so nice and positive all the time, but somehow we always ended up doing what he wanted to do. It was never what I wanted to do, ever. It took years for me to see it, because I’m the type of person that can have fun doing anything. I finally started seeing it when he drove down to see me for a few days (4 hr commute) and I mentioned I might like to do such and such this weekend and he let his guard down. He snapped back that he’d just spent $40 on gas coming to see me. The guy was wealthy and sometimes I would pick up the tab anyway, and he always stayed at my house and I always cooked for him. By the time I broke up with him, I had completely lost track of who I was or what I enjoyed. Two years later and I am still reluctant to date anyone and I have trouble leaving the house for anything other than work. This guy was a pro at hiding his real self. He was nice, never raised his voice, was gentlemanly, and soooo manipulative. —TJC528

#17 What a kid

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The guy I was seeing stopped inviting me around his family, then stopped making as much time to see me (or leaving early). One night he stood me up. The next day he tried calling me and I sent him a text message saying I didn’t want to see him anymore. He blocked me on everything the next day.

So thankful I had the guts to break up with him because a week later I ended up meeting such an amazing man that I’m still with, who treats me like an absolute queen. —wolfnamefmel

#18 Need some space

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The last girl I dated always got put off anytime I would do something without her. Keep in mind, I would hang out with her every day, I would make plans with her, we would go out every weekend, I would surprise her with fun dates a few times a month, we would spend nights together probably 4-5 nights a week. I can honestly say that 90% of my free time was spent with this girl, yet she STILL got upset over that 10% that I didn’t always want to give to her. Like is it so bad that sometimes I just want time to myself? Or that I just want to spend some nights playing Xbox with my friends who I never get to see anymore? It’s like she never noticed the time I gave her, only the time I didn’t. Very disheartening tbh. —[deleted]

#19 F.O as in Friendship Over

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He was my classmate at school and due to the fact that I had to change schools, we lost touch. He sent me a friend request on Instagram and I accepted. He was a pretty fun person to talk to at school, so I started chatting. We hadn’t talked in a long while so we talked for 3-4 hours, at the end of which he declared that I was the best friend he’s ever had and how he wanted to stay in touch with me. I felt kinda weird because I couldn’t feel any connection to him, but he was making such a huge declaration already. 

The next day, as soon as I was online, he started texting me. He started asking me if I have friends of the opposite gender. I said yes. He started boasting about how none of those other friends of mine were like him (he knew most of these people as we were all classmates at school). That rubbed me the wrong way. He kept going on about how he was the most caring person ever. He wanted me to talk to him every day. For at least 3 hours. I told him that I couldn’t do that. On top of online classes, which go on for 6 hours, I need time for doing my assignments, projects, and homework, due to which I couldn’t afford to talk for 3 hours every day. 

However, I agreed to talk to him for an hour every night. He didn’t like that at all. I said I need some time to pursue my hobbies as well. But he didn’t get it. He started ranting about how he had no friends and how he had contemplated committing suicide many times because of that. So i HAD to talk to him. I started feeling guilty and so as to not let him down/appease him, i agreed to his condition. But I was feeling paranoid. We had only been talking for 2 days and he was starting to try to control me. This went on for about 2 weeks. He would get upset if I went to sleep without telling him. 

Every time, I opened Instagram, he would send me a message. I would tell him that i was there to only browse IG and that I didn’t feel like talking. He would start scolding me, asking how I was able to dismiss a person who needed me so much, so easily. He then started sending messages with romantic undertones. I made it clear to him that they made me feel uncomfortable, but he continued to send them. He would insult my friends for no reason, chastise me for talking to boys and then proceed to tell me how good a friend he is. I hated it all. 

So I started to avoid talking to him. I had to mentally prepare myself every time I had to reply to his messages. He wanted me to explain Every. Single.Time why I wasn’t replying to his messages as soon as he sent them. I had had enough. So i just deleted IG a month ago. Haven’t talked to him ever since.   —Touristforlife

#20 Wi-fi password

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My little brother dated a girl who made him sleep with his laptop on a video call with her so she could watch him sleep. He came along with my parents and another sister to visit me across the country and asked for the wifi password so he could make sure he was online in time for her to not be pissed. She also made him wear a promise ring. They were 16. It was so messed up! I refused to give him the password the entire time he was over. Thankfully they broke up because she married some guy at 17. —_unmarked

#21 Then and Now

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When quality declines over time.

My ex-husband showered a lot when we met, close to the divorce 6 years later … it was “lucky” if he showered more than biweekly.

He gave me gifts in the beginning, I didn’t even get birthday presents in the end.

He listened to what I said in the beginning, in the end, he was more interested in gaming than talking with me.

When in the company of others, he was not at all interested in giving me talking time. He didn’t care if he talked over me either. This was not at all a problem in the beginning, as he included me in conversations.

Every bad side he had, he hid until I was in love with him. By then it’s “oh, this one thing I can live with”, repeated until it becomes unbearable.

I had my faults too, but he never just said “I think it’s really annoying/bad/making me sad that you do this and that”. I always listened and never ever got mad about him saying anything to me. Everything he felt I had ever been wrong in, he told me after the divorce. What am I supposed to do with that AFTER it’s over?!

My boyfriend is the model of good manners and a sweet personality. I have never had a single problem with him, which I also had with my ex-husband. This relationship is 3 years going, which is plenty of time for bad acting falling apart.

My advice would be to only do in the beginning, what you will continue to do throughout the relationship. I would argue that those things should come without much effort and from instinct. It becomes harder to be “the perfect partner” when those pink clouds fade. —Miridana

#22 Liar.Liar.Pants on fire.

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When I first started dating my first girlfriend, whom I stayed with for 3 years, she told me that ALL of her exes had mistreated her. That she’d been raped, beaten, insulted, cheated on, and so on.

I took her word for it but over the years realized that something was wrong. The last year was a nightmare and the way she broke up with me absolutely awful. It broke me and it took me two years to recover from it.

And guess what? She told of her friends and her new boyfriends that I was an abusive piece of crap. Just like she did with me when we got together, when she told me about her exes.

I learned my lesson. —NeededMonster 

#23 Going Up, Going Down

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Two years ago I (16M) met this girl (16F) at work, and we hit it off pretty quick. She was really fun, beautiful, and super easy to talk to. She had just gotten out of a toxic relationship in her own words, and we got together pretty soon after that. The first couple weeks were absolutely amazing; nothing was wrong, we were having a blast, and getting to know each other on a really deep level. Needless to say, I fell in love with her really fast. But everything started going downhill when her ex texted her. Every time they would text they were arguing, and it was really taking a toll on her. I kept telling her to block him and she would rarely do it but when she did (a couple of times) she was back to the happy and amazing person I met. I remember waiting for the moments when she would block him just to see that girl I met. She would tell me all the time to just leave her, but I wouldn’t do that. This went on for weeks and eventually, she just dropped me. Throughout this whole ordeal, I was head over heels for her and had no thought of leaving because in my head I was “supporting her through a rough time” well she quit her job and I never heard from her again until 6 months later when she texted me saying she got back with her ex to try again and it didn’t work out and she was finally over him. It took me over a year and a half to get over her. I guess the moral of this story is to recognize when your partner is just stringing you along, giving you an emotional roller coaster ride, and especially talking to their ex. Get out of there while you can. Hope this wasn’t too long. —ahumanbeing75

#24 Ran out of excuses to give myself

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I’ve had three girlfriends in the same sort of “toxic” relationships but not in the sense that you might think. For them, it has boiled down to the fact that 100% of the time, they were the ones giving about 90% of the effort and their partner was giving about 10%. Basically, if you are putting in all the mental and emotional labor all of the time and your partner always has an excuse for why it’s happening (or wants to placate you without taking action), you are in a toxic relationship.

One friend’s husband refused to get a job because he essentially thought that he was entitled to a job in his field and his pride wouldn’t allow him to do anything else. He quit all attempts at “side” hustles like Uber that he started, despite her being very vocal about not being able to support them both. She crunched numbers, she tried to show him graphs, she looked for creative budgeting solutions and stretched their budget as much as she could, but none of it worked.

Another friend’s fiance refused to go to couples or individual counseling. He came up with every excuse in the book like “The therapist I want is waitlisted” to “My shift just changed and I need to get used to it” to “We don’t have the money, I’ll do it when we can afford it.” A week after “We don’t have the money,” he presented her with the two-week European vacation package that he was about to buy for them. That proposed vacation was the last straw for my friend. It was essentially the perfect wake-up call that revealed how comfortable he had become in their relationship as it was, and how he wasn’t willing to do anything but what he wanted to do. 

The problem with these types of toxic relationships is that on paper, it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you’d break up over. It’s insidious. It creeps up on you and you may not even realize that you’re the one carrying the load all the time. It’s “Sure honey, maybe next week” over and over. Then you make excuses yourself-“He’s tired” or “he works so hard” or “he’s such a great guy, aside from this” or “It’s not like he’s beating me or gaslighting me or being mean to me, I should let this slide.” And then before long, you’re both just…existing. One partner quietly unhappy, occasionally mustering the energy to say “I’m unhappy and I’d like to change this.” And the other partner, feeling no sense of urgency, disagreeing with the idea that things need to change, unwilling to actually change, saying “Yeah, sure…let’s talk about it next week.” —CantankerousPlatypus 

#25 The talk

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They don’t let you sleep. Whether it be for something “good” or bad. My narcissist ex would keep me up all night, whether for sex or sweet talk, which turned into fights and manipulation, despite knowing I had to wake up early for work. Sleep deprivation makes a person especially malleable. That was one of the first red flags I didn’t know to look for, followed by many more… —somerandomchick5511 

#26 First Date, Second Date, then blur

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I was on a second date when he asked me a personal question (about knowing someone or not) and I told him I didn’t want to answer or talk about that. He immediately turned cold, then when I said I felt uncomfortable he said he could pull over and I could walk home (late at night, miles away from home).

Funnily enough, I saw that guy for six months. I remember thinking, “Wow. The second date and we’re already fighting. This is clearly a sign this won’t work out and this guy is toxic.” But some men are skilled at manipulation, and I always felt like I was at fault, or that he wasn’t really like that, and I hate that it took me six months to figure it out. —wolfnamefmel

#27 Friendly competition or not

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Had a friend who would constantly undermine all of my accomplishments and anytime I did something cool he would immediately start talking about something he did that was way cooler. He was constantly lying and was terrible at hiding it. He was constantly insulting people including me and never gave a single compliment. (We were only friends because we shared the same lunch, classes, and one hobby). What I can recommend is to think about the people in your life and reflect on whether they generally make you feel better or worse, if they constantly make you feel bad about yourself then they are not really your friend. —Your-Closet-Monster

#28 I like you don’t you dare ruin it

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I had a girlfriend but soon broke up with her cause she just wouldn’t stop making me feel uncomfortable, for example, I wasn’t used to holding hands and stuff like that but she kept trying to hold hands with me, also the way she confessed to me was “I like you, don’t you dare ruin it” Then after I broke up with her she spread it all around my school, even though she knew I wanted the relationship to be private for as long as possible, so after I broke up I was relieved cuz “nobody would know” but no she had to tell everyone after it was pretty much irrelevant. —iwannadieuuwuw

#29 I didn’t write the song

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This is a specific example, but once I was in the car with my (abusive) ex and the song Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw came on and I casually said “oh I like this song!”. He listened for about a minute, turned the radio off, and angrily said “who are you not over??”. Like apparently it wasn’t possible for me to like a song without identifying with it specifically. WTF?! It caused a huge fight and I remember that finally being the point where I realized “hold up this dude is NUTS I need to leave”.

So yeah. If they start a fight with you because you like a song that talks about missing an ex. —buttonsnbones

#30 No Unfriending

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Someone who strangely doesn’t like any of your friends and tells you so, trying to take you away from them.

Happened to me with a then-boyfriend : before we dated we hung out with 2-3 friends of mine, I had just moved there and didn’t know a lot of people. We started dating, he had no problems with these friends, but every person I met after or every friend who came to visit and I introduced to him, he didn’t like and tried to convince me to stop seeing them.

Fortunately, it didn’t work, but in the end, he pretended to feel sad and lonely whenever I would see my friends (I would go without him as he did not like them), and we ended up only seeing his friends and I felt guilty each time I saw mine. This results in you not having anyone to talk to about the person, as the only people you see are their friends. That’s how someone can isolate you and make you believe your relationship is okay, because no one is there to help you see it’s really not. I’m very lucky to not have been taken into this. He was starting to show signs of violence when I left him. Do NOT let someone take you away from your friends. —ahumanbeing75


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