Last year, a young lady booked an appointment for counseling. By all means, she looked accomplished in life but when she began talking about her relationship with her partner, I could perceive signs of a toxic relationship; the palpable fear in her eyes, her nervous gaze, and her low voice. I wondered if this was who she was before she met her partner, she told me she was happy and boisterous before she met her partner.
The problem was that she didn’t think she was in a toxic relationship, she came in for counseling on how to please her partner better. It took a series of counseling to help her see the signs of a toxic relationship, and that she was in one.
The day she finally decided to leave was a turning point for her, she got counseling which helped restore her self-esteem and she is in a better place back to her old beautiful self.
Most couples attest that building a good relationship is hard work, it’s like building a business. Some days, it gets tiring, some days, it’s all good but the reason they don’t quit is that they know they are in a healthy relationship because it makes them better, so they find a way to make it work.
A toxic relationship is different because a toxic relationship leaves you feeling less, disappointed, sad, and a whole lot of negative emotions that you should not be subjected to.
In worst cases, such as my client above, she didn’t know she was in a toxic relationship. Many people are in a toxic relationship and to help make better decisions, I have written out the 10 most important subtle signs of a toxic relationship.
What Is A Toxic Relationship?
A toxic relationship is the kind of relationship where you come in contact with red flags such as disrespect, and unhappiness, you are made to feel less, and you don’t look forward to spending time or coming home to your partner because each time spent together leaves you drained.
How Do You Know If You Are In A Toxic Relationship?
You know you are in a toxic relationship when you can’t speak freely without being criticized, you can’t communicate with your partner without it ending up in an argument, you feel like you are not enough, you are constantly sad and frustrated, and this affects your happiness in other areas of your life.
10 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship
These warning signs of a toxic relationship are valid if they persist over time, as the power of toxicity is in its consistency.
1. Unhealthy Communication
Unhealthy communication is a hallmark of a toxic relationship, and thus this can affect your self-esteem.
Generally, healthy relationships help you feel better about yourself, you have healthy communication where you are appreciated and corrected in love, you say your mind and you are rest assured that your words will not be misconstrued, and you share laughter with your partner: this is what a healthy relationship looks like.
Communication in a toxic relationship is riddled with criticisms, harsh and hurtful words, you can’t say what is on your mind for fear that it will be twisted against you. If this is what you are experiencing, this is one of the signs you’re in a toxic relationship and one of the signs that your relationship is over.
2. Feeling Of Inferiority
A natural progression of a toxic relationship is that you start to feel like you are not enough, whatever you did in the past is no more enough and at this point, you start looking for ways to compensate for it.
At this point, you see your partner as better than you, they become larger than life in your mind, and because you don’t want to lose your partner, you start going the extra mile doing things for your partner even at your detriment.
When you notice that you are doing things to get their approval even if it is to your detriment, this is one of the early signs of a toxic relationship.
3. Lack Of Support
A relationship is companionship, and companionship according to Enlightio is comfort and support. Ever heard the phrase, “Behind every successful man is a woman”? This phrase applies to everyone, “behind every successful person is someone who is a support system”.
If your partner does not support your endeavors or whatever you do, this is one of the signs of a toxic relationship. This means you are afraid to share your wins with them because they are likely to rain on your parade, and when you are down with a burden from life or work, you won’t share with your partner because they have no comforting words to say.
One of my clients had a major promotion at work that came with lots of benefits including three times the salary that put her in the top five percent of Americans who have it good, but she could not share such great news with her partner because the last time she did, he cussed her out for it and accused her of making him feel useless.
4. Mockery And Taunting
One of the blatant signs of a toxic relationship is when your partner keeps mocking and taunting you. Another of my clients in a toxic relationship had a partner who taunted her about her belly fat. It was difficult for her to watch a show with him, without him making a reference to her belly fat, and how unshapely it made her.
Imagine making a mistake and instead of comfort what you get for it is mockery from someone who you love and who claims to love you. Mockery and taunting sends you into pain and this is very common in a toxic relationship because your partner feels insecure and would want to bring you down to his level even if it means mocking you.
5. Possessiveness And Controlling Behaviors
One characteristic of a healthy relationship is that both mates give each other space; space for each other to do their thing. A toxic relationship does not give you breathing space, most times the pattern is an excessive show of love followed by toxic behaviors and this leaves you feeling suffocated, needing air and space in the relationship.
As much as we want to belong to our partners, there is a limit to possessiveness. When your partner wants to know your every movement, constantly looking over you, and always asking who you are talking to, this is one of the early warning signs of a bad relationship.
You cannot freely talk to other people without facing interrogation, and if your partner wants to always control your relationship with others, you might want to reconsider your relationship.
6. Lack Of Self-Care
When someone is in a toxic relationship, it naturally follows that your life will revolve around your partner and this is one of the sure signs of a toxic relationship. When this happens, every other thing fades into the background including the things that you love; you cannot enjoy the things that you enjoyed in the past which include your friends, your hobbies, and your interests.
In contrast, a healthy relationship allows you to maintain your identity while in a relationship with your mate. You are still able to do the things that you love, you can pursue your other interests, and get to complement your partner at your level of growth.
When you are constantly feeling down, drained, and frustrated, it is not rocket science that you start feeling depressed, and this is one of the toxic relationship signs.
Depression is unhappiness over a long period of time. When you feel depressed, whatever made you happy or you found pleasure in the past, you don’t want to do it again because your partner is draining your strength, so you have little strength for other things.
Dishonesty in a toxic relationship is a two-way street and it’s one of the most obvious signs of a toxic relationship.
Most toxic relationships are characterized by dishonesty, and when you find yourself in this situation, you might want to leave real quick as this is one of the early warning signs of a toxic relationship.
When your partner keeps lying and over time, you find out you cannot trust your partner, you are in a toxic relationship. As a result of your partner raining on your parade each time you tell them about your wins or constantly breathing down your neck, you find yourself in that cornered position where you start to lie because you don’t know how they would react to your news.
Toxic relationships often leave you feeling violated. Your rights as a human, as an adult, and as someone in a relationship. Your partner who might be toxic would deny you these rights, would not see you as human, and would always find ways to show that you are not deserving of respect and common courtesy.
You might have talked about this with your partner, however, if your partner has not done anything about it, this could be one of the early warning signs of a toxic relationship.
10. Your Needs Are Ignored
A toxic relationship does not cater to your needs. Humans are social animals, that follows that we are dependent on each other for one thing or the other. When you get into a relationship with your spouse, you have emotional and physical needs that should be met. If your partner ignores these needs, this is how to tell if you’re in a toxic relationship, it could be also he doesn’t love you anymore or he is not just into you.
For instance, another client of mine had his partner deny him s#x because they had a row and after he had apologized to her, for months, she kept denying him s#x.
How Do I Know If I Am Toxic In A Relationship
The steps below will help you come to the conclusion you need to know what to do moving forward.
1. You Are Stressed
Stress is normal in our everyday life but consistent stress from your relationship is one of the sure signs of a toxic relationship because you are with someone you love, it doesn’t have to be a bed of roses, but it shouldn’t be what is stressing you. Where does companionship come in?
2. You Are Sad And Frustrated
When you are in love, naturally, some love and happy hormones will be released into your brain. But if this is replaced by feelings of sadness and frustration each time you remember your relationship, you might need to rethink your relationship.
3. You Can’t Hold A Proper Conversation
If you can’t start a conversation without feeling attacked, without shouting, or without the conversation ending in conflict and this persists for a long time, you might want to reconsider your relationship.
4. You Doubt Yourself
One sure sign of a toxic relationship is that you are always rethinking your actions, you are always wondering if your partner will like it or not.
5. You Are Walking On Eggshells
Walking on eggshells is the last thing that you want to do around your partner. You want to be carefree, confident, and happy, but these realities are non-existent in toxic relationships.
6. You Have Lost Your Will To Live
At this point, you don’t have an interest in doing the things that you like because you are drawing breath from your partner as they have drained you with no strength to do anything more.
How To Turn A Toxic Relationship Into A Healthy Relationship
There are ways to fix a toxic relationship and turn it into a healthy one. Turning a toxic relationship into a healthy one is a lot of work and requires the willingness to change; if not, efforts made to reconnect with your partner will be wasted.
Both of you need to forgive each other for the mistakes that you have made. Because it’s impossible to forget, work on not dwelling on each other’s mistakes. Forgiveness is the first step on how to fix a toxic relationship.
2. See A Therapist
A therapist is instrumental in turning a toxic relationship into a healthy relationship. A therapist helps you identify toxic behaviors, helps with having strategic discussions that will help you and your partner understand each other, and rebuild trust in your relationship.
3. Tolerate Each Other Till Change
Change does not occur in a day so you have to be patient. Change is a series of small consistent efforts and that is what you have to focus on. You and your partner might slip up sometimes but be quick to move on from it.
4. Be Kind To Your Partner
You need to be kind in order not to criticize your partner each time they make a mistake. You need to support them in their quest for change.
5. Give Yourselves Space
Giving yourselves space will help you develop other interests apart from your partner and this will contribute to a better emotional state, individually.
The Bottom Line On Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship
These warning signs of a toxic relationship should help you conclude the state of your relationship. If the signs of a toxic relationship are consistent, then you might have to decide on what to do.
Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? I would love to hear about your experience.
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