Whether they are personal or professional, relationships are an essential part of human life. As we grow our relationships grow and evolve as well. All relationships are kind of gentle and affectionate in the beginning. But, as time passes by the gentleness wears off, revealing the real traits of other people. Some of them become toxic and manipulative while others fall into the category of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are generally those having respect, care, affection, and trust as their central pillars. If you are free to be yourself then you are in a healthy relationship. However, toxic relationships are the complete opposite of healthy ones. Out of the plethora of signs of a toxic relationship, the most obvious one is not feeling yourself!
So, let’s dive down into some of the most obvious but unnoticed signs of a toxic relationship. Also, how to fix the red flags would also be discussed.
What is a toxic relationship?
The line between a healthy and toxic relationship is sometimes blurred. It is because some of the signs though inconsistently would also appear in a healthy relationship. Although, humans sometimes do certain actions they don’t intend to even in a healthy relationship. However, it is the consistency and the intensity with which those signs appear that create the difference between a healthy and toxic relationship.
According to Time magazine, a toxic relationship lacks harmony, respect and affection rather it is like a competition between two individuals who constantly seek to undermine the other. Though, relationships are understandably a lot of hard work characterized by rough patches and bumps. But, in a controlling and toxic relationship the bad outweighs the good.
Though most people don’t take the warning signs seriously or even if they do they blame themselves for all the wrongs in it. However, a toxic relationship can wreak havoc on your mental, emotional and physical health in the wrong run according to experts.
People who exhibit toxic behavior might have a troubled past or some unresolved mental issues. Similarly, people who deliberately tolerate toxic relationships also do so because of the feeling of not being enough. Low self-esteem, considering yourself worthless, or even blaming yourself for the toxic behavior of a partner are some of the common reasons.
Therefore, it is important to identify the red flags in the initial stages of relationships. The sooner you notice the signs the better it is for your own health. Staying in a toxic relationship would change nothing unless your partner decides to do so because remember it takes two to tango!
10 warning signs of a toxic relationship
A relationship that you had might be toxic on a whole new level than a toxic relationship that your friend had experienced. The point is that people are different and so the toxicity they possess may also differ in intensity and complexity. However, there are a few common signs that characterize a toxic relationship from a healthy one. Watch out for them, try to fix them together, or move on if it isn’t worth the struggles.
1- You don’t feel like yourself
One of the most prominent signs of a toxic relationship is that you don’t feel like yourself anymore. You try to be happy but you aren’t really. You constantly try to be the version of yourself that your partner would like. A feeling of not being enough haunts you at night. The constant pressure of putting up with your partner’s expectations drains you every day.
The feeling of not being enough is a hallmark of a controlling relationship. You dress up the way your partner would like even if it makes you uncomfortable. You eat what your partner eats even if you abhorred that at some point in life. The phenomenon of interdependency shifts to dependency. This dependency which you think might change your partner in fact makes them more controlling.
Also, you put off your plans with friends or colleagues so that your partner doesn’t mind. If that’s not enough you go a step further by not spending any time with your family and friends anymore. In addition to that toxic relationships shift the focus away from you to your partner which shouldn’t be the case in any relationship.
You are meant to prioritize and value yourself. Do what you want and love. However, a toxic relationship lowers your urge to keep yourself first. Rather you would do anything, intentionally or unintentionally, to please your partner. Whether it is withdrawing from the habits you once loved or neglecting your needs to meet your partners!
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2- It isn’t a two-way street
What’s the point of being in a relationship when it’s all take but no give? Have you ever thought about it? A relationship exists between two people. Whether you talk about personal or work relationships. It always takes two to form an equation. The result is the collective effort of both the parties thereof.
However, in a toxic relationship, you are often the one who is making all the effort in the world to make it happen. You are the one who plans an important event coming ahead and are excited about. You are the one who always remembers important dates. In fact, it’s you who always calls, texts or face times them first.
If you have to go that extra mile to make your partner happy whereas your partner just decides to sit and watch then there’s no need to stay in such a relationship. A relationship is a commitment of two people to love, respect, care for, and show affection towards each other. But, if it revolves around your partner’s needs and wants then you are probably draining yourself. Because how much can you give to a person without taking anything in return? Just as your partner is entitled to get affection, respect and care similarly are you!
So, if you find yourself in such a relationship where you are the first one to text, you are the one waiting and you are the one compromising your boundaries then perhaps you should think twice.
3- Signs of a toxic relationship- unsupportive behavior
As humans, we yearn for validation and support. It makes us feel connected and surrounded by people who care about us. A healthy partner would normally encourage you to grow separately and together. They would want you to achieve your dreams and motivate you when things don’t go as planned. In a healthy relationship, your partner would always have your back whether in good times or in rough.
However, in an unhealthy or toxic relationship, you are by your own completely. Support seems like a farfetched idea. Whether it is a bad day at work or a certain incident that you came across through your Instagram feed, your partner would never be understanding of whatever you feel. For a controlling partner, everything is about them. It’s their achievements, their feelings, and their ideas always.
So, what’s the point of having a partner when you can’t share your insecurities or dreams with them? If all you have is yourself then you are better off without them too. Of course, you don’t have to seek validation while taking every little step. But, you need your partner no matter how big or small a decision might be.
You need someone you can laugh, cry, have fun and be vulnerable with. You need a friend and confidant more than a romantic partner. Moreover, the absence of support can affect you drastically. As the Mayo Clinic puts it supportive relations not only enhance your mental health but also improves your physical health and longevity.
Watch out for this sign and talk through it, if you really want to make your relationship work.
4- Signs of disrespect
The most obvious sign of all i.e. Disrespect! Disrespect is something that you should never tolerate even from a stranger let alone your partner. In a toxic relationship, respect is almost not thereafter some time passes.
Now, remember that disrespect has many shades to it. It doesn’t always have to manifest itself in the form of physical or mental abuse. Rather, name-calling, criticizing each other’s choices, and forgetting important events are all signs of disrespect.
Also, lack of trust is also a form of disrespect I believe. Let me tell you how. You respect a person when you know that they are trustworthy right? You don’t respect a liar or cheater. That’s how it goes I believe in every relationship too. Respect and trust are crucial elements of any healthy relationship. When you have trust that your partner will keep their promises then you respect them as well. On the other hand, if you have ever caught your partner cheating or lying then you probably won’t have any respect for them.
Respect is a mutual phenomenon. Only one person in a relationship isn’t entitled to it. It is earned though. When you respect others you get respect in return.
Though, there are certain elements in a relationship that you would like to change. There is a better way to address your concerns rather than being disrespectful to your partner.
So, remember that disrespect manifests itself in various forms. Notice the subtle signs and set proper boundaries for yourself.
5- Strained communication is a sign of a toxic relationship
Communication is the key to any healthy relationship. However, in a toxic relationship, you would be struggling hard to express your thoughts, emotions, and feelings frequently. Even if you do express yourself at times, your partner would be inclined towards misunderstanding you instead.
When you initially start seeing someone you want to know about them. You give them time to unwind and express themselves. You want to spend every second of the day with your loved one. That’s just how every relationship unfolds. However, when the honeymoon period gets over your partner shows off their real traits. It’s never toxic in the beginning. As time goes by you would see the sarcasm and disdain behind their laughter. You would see the passive-aggressive behaviour when something is bothering them, Not to mention the silent treatments altogether.
So, one of the signs of a toxic relationship is struggling with effective communication. You just can’t get along with their frequency. Or they are too thin-skinned to understand you. All in all, if you have to think a dozen times before you speak, even to your partner, then you are certainly in the wrong place.
‘Pay no attention to toxic words. What people say is often a reflection of themselves, not you.’ Christian Baloga
6- Past always shows up in a Toxic relationship
Have you heard of the phrase ‘relationship score card’? Let me tell you about it if you haven’t. A scorecard tells you about your score based on your performance. Similarly, a relationship scorecard is the one in which you are constantly observing your partner evaluate them. A single mistake made by you and boom! All your past mistakes show up again even if you have made up for them a few times.
A toxic relationship is full of such instances. You keep a score of your partner based on the times they did something wrong to you. Whenever anything of that sort happens again you bring that past mistake up. Apparently, in a toxic relationship, bygones are not bygones, sadly though!
This behavior proves extremely toxic to your relationship. On one hand, you bring up the old emotions alive. While on the other it shows your tendency of being someone not able to move forward. Remember the past is the past. You should accept your partner with all their prior actions and mistakes whether good or bad. If your partner is trying to change for the better you should appreciate it. Unless the mistake is recurring, you shouldn’t bring it to the table again but settle it at the spot.
So, instead of connecting the dots unnecessarily try dealing with issues individually. Sort them one by one and at the right time. Don’t just bash your partner for behaving a certain way back in 2010. Bringing up an issue from years ago won’t do you any good instead of just shifting your mental energies to all the wrongs your partner did, intentionally or unintentionally.
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7- You are always wrong
Coming to one of the distinguishing warning signs of a toxic relationship, where you would be the culprit always! In a toxic relationship whether you have done anything wrong or not you would be blamed for the wrongs in it. You would be held responsible for all the bad that has ever happened to your relationship. Your controlling partner would always find a reason to shift the blame towards you somehow.
Blaming your partner for your emotions. Or blaming them for ruining your dinner date just because they cracked a lame joke is extremely toxic. Being angry at your partner for not reminding you about the Saturday lunch plan which you had obviously made together, is selfish on a whole different level.
Selfishness ruins any relationship let alone romantic ones which ought to be considerate and affectionate. So, before bombarding your partner next time with some nasty acquisitions try looking into yourself and identify where you went wrong. You have to set personal boundaries to enjoy a healthy relationship.
To make a relationship healthy you should be responsible for your own emotional state. Keep in mind that happiness comes from within. It comes from a change of perspective. As Stephanie Harrison, Consultant, educator, and contributor at HuffPost, says that although we look for external events to change our inner condition. However, everything you are searching for outside is already within you.
If you are someone who gets blamed for all the wrongs in your relationship then you better run and never look back!
8- The relationship is at stake
Relationships are all about commitments and compromises. It is filled with mistakes and blunders. Every couple goes through highs and lows during their time together. However, they stick with each other with a firm resolution to get past the hurdles together. There is a belief that whatever it is however bad it might seem will be resolved if we both are together.
On the contrary in a toxic relationship, even the smallest hurdle can push your equation into crises. Whether it is a slight change of tone or an important event that you forgot, your relationship will be held hostage. This type of emotional blackmailing not only creates unnecessary drama but also weakens the foundations of it.
To change an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one you need to understand the importance of effective communication. You should always be mindful while picking your words. The emotions you feel can be conveyed in a safe and subtle way too.
Also, you can’t like a person for every second of every hour of the day. There would be times when you won’t like what your partner did or how they behaved. But, threatening your relationship would jeopardize its existence. Instead, try opening up the lines of communication without showing disdain. It will eventually strengthen your relationship in the longer run.
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9- Nothing seems to resolve in a Toxic relationship
Every person is different from another. As a natural consequence of the differences, conflicts will arise and opinions will differ. You can’t expect two people to have the same views regarding any issue. Sometimes their opinions will be the same. Other times they would be different.
The same goes for any relationship. In a healthy relationship, the conflicts are resolved amicably most of the time. However, in a toxic relationship, the inability to understand each other roles and responsibilities in resolving any issue seems nearly impossible mostly.
Even if you try to address the issue, it almost always ends up in a fight. Your words will often be misunderstood and misconstrued. Resultantly, you would bury the emotions within you, till the time when it becomes unbearable. The resentment arising would be explosive to your relationship thus.
So, instead of jumping on the emotional bandwagon both the partners should understand each other’s needs and make sure that they are being met timely.
10- You are hoping for good times
Lastly, a sign of a toxic relationship that only you can experience is hoping for things to change. You look forward to the time when you would finally enjoy a healthy relationship with your partner. You are secretly hoping for things to change.
However, only hoping is not the remedy. You and your partner need to sit and talk about it effectively. Hope requires a commitment to change from both partners. Only if you and your partner decide to invest in your relationship with your heart and soul would you be able to change your toxic relationship to a healthy one.
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Toxic relationships are hard on your mind and heavy on your heart. It can be an extremely painful and troubling experience in your life. If you look for these signs in your relationship then you should ponder over them seriously. Lastly, everything can be resolved and changed when you sincerely want to. But, if one person has to do all the work then it’s unfair to them mentally, emotionally, and physically.
All in all, unless both the partners recognize their roles, responsibilities and decide to change, you should let go of a toxic relationship.