Looking from the outside in, these relationships are relatively easy to spot, but from the inside out it’s a whole other story. The classic tell-tale signs of a toxic relationship are extreme emotions (going from loving on each other to fighting and yelling at the drop of a hat), untrustworthiness, cutting your friends out of your life to be with that person, unhealthy obsession with the other person, or saying hateful words to each other just to hurt one another. Sounds great, right? Yeah… not really. So why do people stay in these relationships?
Insecurity plays a big role in The Toxic Relationship. One person, or sometimes both, tends to be incredibly insecure and deflects these insecurities on the other person. This can come out in the forms of jealousy, put-downs, or mind games to make you feel just as insecure as they are. These toxic people have a way of cutting you down, making you think you could never find anyone better than them. Sometimes it’s an obvious criticism like telling you you’re too fat, ugly, stupid, etc. Other times it’s subtler, like making comments about how beautiful other women/men are in front of you or making comments about how your clothes fit or look on you. It could even be them not supporting you in a change or decision you want to make for yourself, telling you “you can’t do that.” Everyone has their own insecurities and buttons that, when pushed, can cause them to lose self-esteem and start feeling like less of a person.
How do you know if you’re in a Toxic Relationship? Well, there are some tell-tale signs to look for that are indicative of being this type of relationship, or can be used as warning signs that your relationship is turning toxic:
Jealousy is always a direct outcome of someone feeling insecure in a relationship. Either they have extremely low self-esteem and self-worth, or their partner is doing inappropriate things in the relationship causing the other person to feel uneasy. Either way, in the absence of trust in a relationship, jealousy will show its ugly face turn a healthy relationship toxic.
- The Feeling That You Can’t Be Yourself
If you ever find yourself changing the way you talk, dress, think, or even the habits and activities you enjoy (and it isn’t for your personal benefit), the relationship has become toxic. You should never change who you are or what enjoy doing to be with someone. The person you’re with should make you a better version of yourself, not change you completely. Plus, the right person for you will love you for exactly who you are, not who they want you to be.
- Passive Aggression
How can someone truly know how you feel or what you’re thinking if you never tell them? We aren’t mind-readers, and more times than not your partner will not understand what you’re going through unless you use your words. If you stay quiet, hoping that the other person will notice that you’re upset, you’ll never resolve any problems you may be facing. The healthiest relationships are based on open communication and respecting one another’s feelings. If your partner said or did something hurtful, tell them in a calm manner. If something outside of your relationship upset you, don’t take it out on your significant other; tell them what happened and allow them to be there to support you.
- You Feel Like You Can Never Make Them Happy
This may be one of the worst signs. You are kind, generous, and caring and for whatever reason you still are unable to please them and make them happy. You feel like you can never do anything right and you can never be good enough for them. If you find yourself walking on eggshells, not able to do or say things how you naturally would, run. It’s a downward spiral from here, and this will only cause your self-worth to decrease and increase your frustration.
- Holding Your Partner Accountable for Past Relationship Experiences
Maybe you’ve been cheated on or lied to in the past, or maybe someone you cared deeply for left you without a proper explanation. Whatever that negative experience you’ve had is, it’s not your new partner’s fault. Don’t become jealous or angry at them thinking that they’re automatically going to be like your ex. This also goes for things that have happened in the past in your current relationship. If they did something in 2014 that pissed you off, have apologized and haven’t done it since, don’t revisit that fight every time a new fight comes up. Leave the past in the past and make your peace with it.
So why do people stay in these relationships, and how do you get out of one?
Sometimes you’ve been cut down so many times that you don’t have the courage or confidence to leave and be on your own. In this delusional world, you don’t think you can make it on your own or ever find someone that will “love” you as much as the person you’re with does. Or maybe you have become addicted to a strong sexual connection with the other person, and you don’t want to give that up. The need to stay in this type of relationship can even come from childhood events or memories. If your parents didn’t have a healthy relationship to set a good example for you, you may not know the difference between toxic and healthy. Parents can tell you all the time what you deserve, what a healthy relationship is, and what to watch out for, but if you haven’t seen a healthy relationship first-hand, these words could potentially be meaningless.
If you’re still out there in the dating world, watch out for the warning signs of a toxic relationship. If you see any signs of a toxic person, run! Don’t give in to their trickery because you’ll regret it when you wake up one day and have no friends and no life outside of your unhappy one with your significant other. This is a very hard lesson to learn, but hopefully you’ll only have to learn it once.
If you have found yourself in a toxic relationship, you need to take some time to reflect and decide if the relationship is worth fighting for. Don’t focus on the good things as this can cloud your judgement. Look back and try to remember the fights and bad parts of your relationship to help you decide if the bad outweighs the good. If you decide that it is worth fighting for, practice setting boundaries.
Boundaries are rules that you create in response to someone treating you in a way that is not to your liking. In attempt to set limitations on how people approach you, you make your likes and dislikes known. If someone says something that hurts your feelings or puts you down, acknowledge how your emotions and calmly tell them how their words made you feel. Using boundaries can not only be useful in romantic relationships, but in almost every other relationship in your life such as work, friendships, or even with your family.
We have all had an experience in some form or fashion with The Toxic Relationship. All of us need to remember that we deserve better than to put ourselves through this hardship and learn when to walk away. We will all be healthier, stronger people for it if we can.
“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”