Toxic relationships happen. You fall in love with someone and things take a turn. It can be hard to recognize that you are in a toxic relationship simply because you don’t want to be. Your vision is clouded. You think “my relationship if just fine.” But, toxic relationships need your attention. They can harm you emotionally and physically. They can deeply impact you on every level.
What makes a relationship toxic? How do you know if you are in a toxic relationship? Here are some signs to look out for:
1.) Your partner is stripping away your self-esteem: They are always finding something wrong with you—the way you dress, your haircut, your teeth, your weight, the things you do, your personal preferences, etc. Whatever it is, it feels like nothing is good enough.
2.) There is a power imbalance: Relationships are supposed to be unions. There is give and take from both partners. While not always equal, they ebb and flow. Sometimes you might give more and sometimes your partner might. But, if it always seems like you are not in control of your life and you are always the one giving, then there is a clear power imbalance and that is not healthy.
3.)Your partner is jealous and controlling: All healthy relationships need trust. Without trust, your relationship needs some work. If your partner is always jealous or wants to control who you spend your time with, where you go, etc. that is a warning sign.
4.) You aren’t taking care of yourself: This is not necessarily related to your partner but you can’t possibly take care of your relationship without first taking care of yourself. If you can’t find time to get away from your partner to do things for yourself, then make time. If he/she/they won’t let you get away for self-care or engage in self-care at home, then see number 3.
5.) You don’t feel like you can be yourself: When you are in a relationship you should be free to be you. A partner is someone that you can feel comfortable with. They know you, all of you, and they love you for it. If you can’t be yourself then you might want to consider finding someone you can be yourself with.
6.) They don’t bring out the best in you: Constant put-downs or arguing, negativity is a drain on your emotional health. Laughing, feeling loved and safe, those things are part of a relationship. If you don’t feel like your relationship is bringing out the best in you, then it might be toxic.
7.) You are always making excuses for their behavior: Yes, we all have bad weeks. We all have bad months. But, your partner should at least be making an effort. If you come to he/she/they with a concern they should listen and try to make it right. If you find yourself constantly saying to yourself “well he had a bad day at work,” or “she has a lot going on right now” then it might be time to reevaluate.
These are just a few of the many signs of an unhealthy relationship pattern. Toxic relationships and abusive relationships borderline on each other, so if for any reason you fear for your safety get out. A licensed therapist can help you evaluate your relationship, regain confidence, and break free. You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you, who appreciates you for all you are.