Some things are never good for us.
Other things begin okay, but then go bad.
Take a fresh, summer peach. It’s a delicious fruit, but if it gets moldy, yuck! That peach isn’t good for you anymore.
And the same can be said about relationships. Sometimes, we know right away whether a person is good or bad for us.
Other times, it can take a while for us to recognize unhealthy patterns and behaviors. And when it comes to toxic relationships, it can be especially difficult.
What is a Toxic Relationship?
Toxic relationships can be physically, emotionally and psychologically unhealthy.
Usually, they start off okay – even great – but then they slowly begin to head south. And because we often focus on the other person, it’s easy to get lost in our relationships. We can forget who we are and what we want. And even though toxic relationships are painful, you can get used to the discomfort, making it hard to see the truth.
If you’re not happy with your relationship anymore, or if you suspect that something’s wrong, here are twelve signs that you’re in a toxic relationship.
11 Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship
Some signs might seem more obvious than others, but they’re all red flags of an unhealthy relationship. Some of these signs apply specifically to romantic relationships, but in general, these are signals for any relationship.
- Repeated infidelity and physical abuse are both obvious indicators that you’re in a toxic relationship.
- Physical interactions can be negative and hurtful even if they’re not abusive. And grabbing, holding and pushing are definitely unacceptable behaviors.
- Control is a huge issue in toxic relationships. In a healthy relationship, people share control and live in balance with each other. But if someone enters into the relationship with a lot of insecurity and fear, they will try to overcompensate by being too powerful. Controlling behaviors come in many different shapes and sizes in a toxic relationship. Here are some of the most popular ones.
Do you have to walk on eggshells and censor what you want to say because you’re afraid of their reaction? You should be able to express yourself safely and without fear.
Toxic relationships often use emotions as a manipulative tool. For example, people threaten to abandon or punish you if you make them feel upset or disappoint them. But you are not responsible for someone else’s emotions, so don’t let them blackmail you.
People will try to control situations that they’re not comfortable with by being passive-aggressive. Unfortunately, this is a sign that they can’t communicate honestly and openly. That’s definitely a problem for any relationship.
- If there is dishonesty or jealousy in your friendship, you can be sure that there isn’t enough trust. And without trust, people can become suspicious and manipulative.
- People won’t always agree and yes, sometimes, they’ll fight. But if you constantly fight without coming up with constructive resolutions, it’s only going to create a vicious cycle.
- It takes two to tango, but if you’re the only one showing up on the dance floor, not only is it unfair but it leads to resentment, bitterness, and unhappiness. And everyone deserves more than this in a good relationship.
- Do you feel appreciated? Or do you feel taken advantage of? Do you feel valued and accepted? Or criticized, teased and ridiculed? Constructive criticism is one thing, but making you feel disrespected is another and definitely something that doesn’t belong in a healthy relationship.
- If you feel like you can’t be yourself around someone, or that their energy drains you mentally and emotionally, this might be a good sign that you two don’t match too well. Some people bring out the best in us, but others bring out the worst. Even if both people have good intentions, the wrong mix can have a negative impact on both parties.
- Being able to talk about serious topics is key, but if someone goes MIA when it’s time to face important issues, this can be a warning sign.
- Another good warning sign is the caution your family and friends give you. Why? Because sometimes when you’re in a relationship, you’re too close to see it objectively. Other people, however, can offer their helpful input from an outside perspective.
- Finally, the most important questions you need to ask is: Are you happy? How do you really feel in the relationship? It’s natural to go through ups and downs in any partnership, but if you’re unhappy in it, it’s a good idea to come face to face with that truth.
Why It’s Hard to Leave Toxic Relationships
After reading through those eleven warning signs and learning about toxic relationships, it would seem strange that anyone would willfully choose to put up with it.
But the keyword is “willfully”. You see, most people don’t realize that their relationship has turned sour. It’s almost like being under a spell. Most of the time, the relationship starts off okay, and over time, we come to accept and even dismiss bad behavior because it’s now “normal” to us.
Another reason why it’s hard to step away from a toxic relationship is that we can get comfortable even in a painful situation. And even though life is unpleasant, it’s hard to imagine life without that negativity.
That’s why the warnings from well-meaning family and friends are so valuable. They can alert you to things you no longer think are negative. Or, they can validate your feelings and help you feel less alone.
How to Deal with a Toxic Relationship
It’s important to remember that you can’t heal anyone but yourself and that’s the best way to deal with toxic relationships.
If someone isn’t willing or interested in improving themselves, you shouldn’t blame yourself. You also shouldn’t feel obligated to fix them.
In the end, it may mean breaking up with someone, or setting tough boundaries, or having difficult conversations. But at the end of the day, by overcoming your own fears and insecurities, you make room for better relationships.
You are worthy of having healthy relationships, and with these warning signs and tips, you can create relationships that support and uplift you.