No relationship is without its ups and downs, and the occasional fight is to be expected. However, if your relationship is taking a turn for the worse and your partner has turned to more underhanded strategies to come out on top in arguments, your relationship may well have turned toxic.
What is a toxic relationship?
When questioning whether or not your relationship is toxic, it’s important to differentiate between whether you’re simply going through a rough patch or things have turned exceptionally bad.
A toxic relationship is a relationship whereby either one or both partners no longer has the other’s best interests at heart. This could be anything from constantly trying to get the upper hand, undermining the other person or even going as far as to hurt the other person emotionally or physically.
People in these situations may start to feel that being around the other person becomes physically, mentally or emotionally draining. However, sometimes our emotions can be confusing, and we might feel unsure about whether our suspicions are valid. To help you understand your situation, let’s take a look at four common red flags that suggest a relationship has turned toxic.
- You no longer look forward to seeing them
Although any relationship will inevitably move past the “honeymoon” phase, if you’re generally not even remotely upbeat at the thought of seeing your partner, things may well have turned toxic. Often when a relationship has turned sour, the idea of spending time with the other person fills you with dread and anxiety, to the point where you would prefer to be with practically anyone else. If this is something you suspect you might be feeling, it’s probably time to either discuss this with your partner or move on.
- You’re afraid to say “no”
Having the confidence to say “no” is something everyone deserves, be it socially, in the workplace or in a relationship. It’s perfectly acceptable to want to set boundaries, and nobody should be made to feel guilty for doing so. If you’re worried about saying “no” to your partner because of potential repercussions, or you suspect that they won’t respect your decision, it’s about time you voiced your concerns.
Remember, it’s not up to anyone else to decide what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable, and it’s not your responsibility to go beyond your boundaries for someone else. You always have the right to feel comfortable and safe, and a healthy relationship is one where both people respect each other’s limitations.
- You’re left on your own when the going gets tough
Being in a relationship means taking on responsibilities that you may never have expected to have to deal with. For example:
- You now have to deal with their family members and all the problems they can bring
- You may have to make financial decisions that will affect the rest of your lives
- Your partner may get ill, and you will have to help look after them
Whatever problems arise, it’s vital that you tackle them together and support each other through thick and thin. However, if you feel that you’re the one always leading the charge and your partner leaves you to fight the battles on your own, the relationship will inevitably break down – no one can carry double the weight for too long. If this sounds familiar, you need to address the situation with your partner or move on.
- You struggle to see what is fact and what is fiction
It goes without saying that honesty is integral to any successful relationship, and if you’re struggling to determine whether your partner is being truthful with you, it’s a clear sign things are going south. You might even want to reflect and consider if you are being gaslighted. For example, if your partner simply refuses to accept something has happened, or something was said, when you know it to be the truth – there’s never acceptance but a constant refrain of “I never said that!” – you might well have a gaslighter in your life.
Your partner should be one of the few people you can trust with anything, and equally, you should feel that they won’t deceive you or go behind your back. Lying is one of the most toxic traits someone can have, and if your partner isn’t honest with you, it’s time to pack your bags and get yourself out of that toxic environment.
A few final words
Every relationship is different, but there are certainly some clear factors that separate going through a rough patch and being in a toxic relationship. Don’t be too quick to jump to the conclusion that everything has turned south just because you and your partner are experiencing a bump in the road. Often, it’s in these moments that the true strength of the relationship is revealed. However, if you feel that your partner has displayed some of the toxic traits mentioned above, voice your concerns with a professional. Psychologists and psychotherapists will be able to assess your situation and suggest actions that will most benefit your relationship.
About the Author: Amy Launder is an intersubjective psychotherapist with The Awareness Centre. Amy works with a variety of clients covering issues including low self-esteem, abuse, anxiety and depression.