If you’re like most people, a good relationship can go a long way for your health and your outlook on life. But what happens if that relationship turns sour?
Toxic relationships are hard to identify and difficult to escape because you have to willingly identify the warning signs of a toxic relationship, confront them, and finally, break it off. Well, that doesn’t sound too difficult – right?
What Defines a Toxic Relationship?
When you hear the words “toxic relationship” I’m sure most people immediately think of an abusive relationship; one that is typically shown in television and film. While toxic relationships can reach that point of extreme physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, toxic relationships can also be more self-contained and hard to identify.
It’s also important to note that relationships don’t always start out as unhealthy. Make sure to pay attention to these warning signs at the beginning, so that way you can be conscious of your partner’s unhealthy traits. This can aid you in preventing the relationship from becoming toxic or can aid you in ending it before it grows out of control.
Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Let’s make it clear before we jump in that just because your partner has one or more of these traits does not automatically make the relationship toxic. It could just be behavior that they’ve never been checked on. This brings us to our first warning sign.
If you and your partner can’t openly communicate with each other about anything, your relationship might not go on as long as you think it might. A lack of communication due to misunderstandings, not wanting to upset your partner, or your partner not sharing things with you are all signs that something is wrong. In fact, the most common reasons for divorce, lack of commitment, infidelity, and constant conflict are issues that stem from a lack of communication.
Whether the communication issues stem from your partner, you, or both of you, sitting down to hammer them out will drastically improve your relationship. Especially when you’re beginning a relationship.
If you begin to notice worrying behavior or any of these warning signs, you need to confront your partner about them and tell them how you feel. If they’re willing to work on that behavior, your relationship should be good to go. If they get defensive and cause a scene or they blow up at you, it’s probably for the better that you cut things off right then and there.
2. Control and Possessiveness
Is your partner very controlling over you? Do they tell you who you can hang out with? Do they need to know where you are at all times?
Behavior like this is very dangerous and if not caught early can end pretty badly. In a relationship, there should be mutual respect and trust for each other. When your partner is controlling like this and is possessive over you, this respect and trust are off the table.
While the behavior may not seem like much at the beginning, as time goes on, you’ll become more resentful of the behavior, causing you to distance yourself. Should this happen, your possessive partner may enter panic mode thinking they’re losing you. This could result in abuse, increased conflicts in the relationship, threats of suicide, and much more.
If you find yourself having to lie or sneak around to hang out with friends and people your partner may not like, this is a sign to get out of the relationship. You should be able to live your life, and your partner theirs, and then at the end of the day you should be able to come together and enjoy your lives together.
It’s always fun and healthy to joke around with and rag on each other, but sometimes, it doesn’t seem right. Contempt in a relationship can cause tension, strain, and resentment from both sides. What kind of contempt are we talking about here?
Perhaps something good has happened to you and you excitedly tell your partner about it. Are they happy for you too or do they water down your accomplishment? Maybe they bring up something similar that they’ve accomplished in an attempt to overshadow you or maybe they just don’t seem to care.
Even making small, unnecessary, and seemingly hostile comments toward you is a sign of contempt. Dissing on your appearance, your accomplishments, and things that you enjoy in life. Not only does this eliminate the respect in the relationship, but it also gives your partner power, feeding into the controlling behavior we talked about earlier.
Whether it be physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or verbal abuse, if you notice it, hightail it out of the relationship before it grows out of control. The signs of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse are pretty prominent, but those of emotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse, is a little tougher to spot. This is because the signs of emotional abuse are more subtle and they work their way into the relationship like the Trojan Horse.
What makes it difficult to leave abusive relationships is the amount of power your partner has amassed. If you’re aware that you’re being abused, you’re likely scared of reaching out for help because of what they’ll do. Sometimes you may be experiencing Stockholm syndrome in some more extreme cases.
If you suspect you’re in an abusive relationship, talk to your friends and therapy, start keeping a journal of everything your partner does in the even they try to gaslight you, and should things get out of hand or you are worried for your safety, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
It’s great if you’ve caught these warning signs of a toxic relationship at the beginning. It saves you a whole lot of trouble down the line.
But don’t beat yourself up if you’ve just now escaped a toxic relationship. It’s easy to blame yourself completely for what happened, but once you realize your partner was the issue, you can take your final steps in the healing process.
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