There are bad relationships and then there are toxic relationships. Many times the people involved in a toxic relationship don’t even realize that they are involved in one. They assume that their state of unhappiness is normal, or they place blame on themselves. Such relationships are called “toxic” for a reason — they erode and destroy you from within. Remaining in one is unhealthy for all involved.
While every relationship will go through a rough patch, those that are based on a solid foundation of mutual understanding and caring will right themselves and endure. Toxic relationships, on the other hand, have no future. Each minute spent in one is a minute wasted of your life. That is why it is important to identify the signals of a toxic relationship. The sooner that you recognize that you are in one — the sooner that you can rescue yourself from it.
Here are eight signs your relationship is toxic.
1. You Are No Longer Yourself
A classic symptom of being in a toxic relationship is literally losing yourself in the relationship. Your personality, your habits, aspirations — all lost or severely modified in an attempt to pacify or satisfy your partner.
While it is normal in healthy relationships for people to evolve in a self-determined and positive way — the changes in a toxic relationship are forced. The changes are unnatural. They are not part of some natural form of personal growth. Rather, they are counter intuitive and contrary to values or norms that the person holds dear.
An example of this is casting aside family and close friends, not because they have wronged you in a substantive way, but because your partner feels threatened by them and “suggested” you do so.
2. Constant Drama
Everybody is entitled to their brief moment of excessive drama — the type that could be sent to the Motion Picture Academy for Oscar consideration. Those outbursts, however, are rare, or even non-existent in healthy relationships. If in your relationship these outbursts are frequent, then it is quite possible that you’re in a toxic relationship.
Fierce shouting matches, household items being thrown and broken, threats of self-harm, relentless arguments — that is drama. If that sounds like your relationship, it’s time to reevaluate things, sooner rather than later.
3. Your Partner Demeans You Intentionally
If your partner actively and repeatedly demeans you — both in private and when other people are present — that is a serious sign of something toxic. Such behavior should not be excused. It is usually a manifestation of a deep-rooted resentment toward you or a way to cope with feelings of personal inadequacy. Either way, it is extremely hurtful to you and prevents the relationship from being salvaged — much less repaired.
We all say things inadvertently that we later regret and for which we apologize and try to make right. Don’t confuse this description of a toxic situation for those minor transgressions. We are referring to cases when your partner coldly and willingly demeans you to the point that it is almost pathological.
4. Passive Aggressiveness
Passive aggression, due to its indirect nature, can sometimes take place for prolonged periods of time before the victim finally takes notice. Clinically, passive aggression is a complex pattern of behaviors intended to display hostility in an indirect manner. In the real world, this shows itself in your partner purposefully failing at something and then laying the blame on you. It can also present itself in other acts, often well camouflaged, that are designed to make you feel bad.
5. You Feel Physically ill When You’re Together
For some people, no matter how visible the signs of a toxic relationship swirl around them, they prefer to live in denial and avoid the reality. In such cases, it is not uncommon for the person to literally become physically ill whenever they are around their partner.
This is a normal physiological reaction to a situation that is chronically stressful. If you find yourself with a constant headache, digestive problems, feelings of anxiety, fatigue, and lethargy whenever your partner is present — this could be your body letting you know that you are being unduly stressed. Taken in the aggregate, this could be a sign of a toxic relationship.
6. Desire to Avoid Your Partner
If the time that you spend with your partner seems like a chore. If you no longer feel a longing and desire to be with them — that should give you pause. If it advances to the degree in which you actively avoid being with your partner (faking to work late, pretending to be ill, etc) then you are likely entering, or already in the toxic zone.
Be careful not to wrongly diagnose this warning sign. There are times when pressure totally foreign to your relationship might cause you to avoid your partner. These, however, are situations only temporary in nature and are usually not accompanied by feelings of disdain for your partner.
7. Fights Just to Win at any Cost
There will always be a dose of arguments in any relationship. Healthy relationships use such confrontations as outliers in their communication process. That means that the arguments eventually result in the resolution of an issue that was present in the relationship. In the end, nobody is hurt psychologically, nor physically.
In toxic relationships, achieving victory in verbal fights becomes primal. No thought or care is given to the other partner’s feelings. If anything, there is often a deliberate intent to hurt the partner emotionally. Trust and secrets are commonly betrayed to achieve this end. When the fight is over, the fact that the other person is suffering emotionally is received with joy instead of guilt and remorse.
Such situations display signs that border on the sociopathic and are definitely toxic.
8. Physical Violence
The presence of any form of physical violence in a relationship is intolerable. Its presence should automatically be seen as toxic and the victimized partner must get out of such a relationship immediately.
— A Final Thought on Toxic Relationships —
When you realize that you are in a toxic relationship, your first inclination should not be to blame yourself. It shouldn’t even be to blame your partner. Your first order of action should be to end it — get out of it. Once you get out of it, you should not linger on the time that you spent in that relationship. Your time is best spent reviewing how you allowed yourself to enter into such a situation in the first place. Not for the purpose of torturing yourself, but in order to avoid it in the future. In the end, the most important thing to remember after leaving a toxic relationship is to move forward — go on with your life and be happy.