I will tell you this; there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. We are imperfect humans in an imperfect world, which means all our relationships are bound to be flawed. There must be ups and downs, good times and bad times. There must be disagreements, fights, sacrifices, compromises, and reasonable tolerances. While all these (and more) unpleasantries cannot be eradicated (because life isn’t a Disney movie), they must exist in a healthy proportion and be expressed in a healthy way, other way the relationship becomes toxic.
How can a bad relationship affect you?
A toxic relationship exists when one or both members are constantly unhappy and are being harmed emotionally, mentally, financially, or physically due to the dynamics of that relationship.
A toxic relationship reduces the overall quality of life of one or both parties involved. But this can be hard to see or understand by the parties involved because often, relationships are full of emotions (which cloud our judgments), and other times they are tethered to commitments (such as children, mortgage, business, etc.).
Simply put, toxic relationships are hard to detect and even harder to escape or fix. When the toxicity is removed, unhealthy relationships can be repaired (if not abandoned).
So the first step is “knowing”. And that is what this article is all about – how to know if you are in a toxic relationship. And to do this, you first need to know what some of these “toxicities” are (i.e. the telltale signs of a toxic relationship).
Also read: How to Get Someone to Break Up with You? (On Your Terms)
15 Way To Detect Toxicity: How To Tell You Are In A Toxic Relationship
Relationships are different and usually have different challenges in varying degrees and proportions. However, you can know that your relationship has tilted more into the toxic terrains when…
1. Your Loved Ones Think And Say So
Now, you may have labeled your partner “Love Of My Life”, but there are quite several people who love you “unconditionally” – e.g. your Parents, Sibling, and best Friend – and because these people care about you (something you cannot deny as they have proven it to your time and time again) it is expedient to pay attention to their feedback. There are times when your loved ones may not be particularly thrilled about your new partner, and it is okay to follow your heart despite that; but if everyone is saying that the new guy/lady is bad for you, maybe you should consider that a red flag – a flag that your love for this person must have completely blinded you to. If you can’t see, at least listen.
2. You Are Losing Important Relationships
Another screaming red flag is becoming increasingly isolated as you bond closer to the object of your passion. If friends and family are so troubled by the relationship that they are beginning to abandon you to your choices, it may be time to review those choices – to scrutinize them with the lenses of facts, and not only emotions. In most cases, what precedes getting isolated is getting controlled, manipulated, and abused. And what comes after that is regret, shame, and spite.
3. You Are Losing Your Identity
Everyone is who they are because of how they think, and what they do. If your way of thinking is ignored, mocked, or rebuked, or your activities are restricted, forbidden, or changed, you may be on the verge of losing yourself. Not only would you feel frustrated, uncertain, or stupid, you may begin to doubt yourself, become codependent, and disappointed later on. You don’t have to stop loving art, music, or dancing, neither do you have to switch religions, political parties, or football clubs because you got into a relationship – it is the sum of those things that made you “you”; and if they go through the window, so does your identity. That is toxic.
4. You Are Compelled To Give More Than You Want To
A relationship is about encouragement, support, and comfort. But, if you find yourself putting in more effort than is acceptable to you – that is beyond your volition – or that is making you feel resentful – it is a sign that the relationship is (or is becoming) toxic. This doesn’t mean it is not worth sacrificing to help a loved one do something you both believe is worth it (if you feel like it), but when you are giving to a course that you (and every fiber of your being) detests, then something is wrong – boundaries are being crossed – you are being compelled, manipulated, or cajoled in some way (though sometimes unconsciously); and that is something that shouldn’t be happening in a healthy relationship, right?
5. You Are Caring More Than You Wish To
Again, if you find yourself in a situation where you are always getting drained trying to refill your partner’s leaky emotions gauge, you may be in a toxic relationship. A healthy partner should be able to manage their own emotions. And even if you may decide to comfort them, it shouldn’t become a duty – it shouldn’t be something they can’t handle without you – it shouldn’t be something they demand from you and even guilt-trip you into doing. That attitude shows immaturity and codependence on their side and a lack of boundary on your side and may quickly drive you batty if you continue on the slippery slope.
6. You Feel Caged
If you find yourself in a relationship where you can’t visit, talk to, or text anyone without getting in trouble, then there is something wrong. You are not a prisoner, and they should be able to trust that you would not cheat or do anything that would harm the relationship. If they allow their jealousy or distrust to run amok, and you let it proliferate nonetheless, then you may soon end up being [like] a caged bird – singing for them as they fall asleep knowing you aren’t going anywhere because you’re caged.
7. You Don’t Trust Your Partner
If you know yourself not to be the paranoid type, yet you can’t help the feeling that there is something fishy going on, then you might just be right, and that is not a good sign. Worse, if it is that they have habitually cheated before, lacking trust in the relationship is only natural, and with that kind of emotional gap (due to lack of trust) existing, it may be next to impossible to find satisfaction in the relationship – it may just be too unhealthy for you to deal with. It may be too unhealthy to stay in. Trust must be restored or found elsewhere if there are going to be any hopes of being happy in a relationship…
Also read: Signs Wife is Cheating with Co-Worker (& How to Stop it)
8. You Don’t Have A Say
Although it is not advisable, some partners are able to have a relationship where one person provides for the family. But what is not okay is if one person is making all the decisions as well. The balance of power needs to be even (to a reasonable extent), not entirely skewed. They shouldn’t go ahead to buy a car or a house because they feel like it – especially when you are not billionaires to whom cars and houses may be as mundane as buying a new pair of shoes. Such behaviors indicate that they do not regard you as important anymore – at least, not important enough for a decision as serious as that. But why may that be? Why don’t they consider you as important? And how would this affect you in the relationship shortly? None of the answers feels remotely pleasant.
9. You Are Fighting Alone
A one-sided relationship is like trying to use a gig saw all by yourself – you are trying to do something that was meant for two people to do. And as expected, you’d end up frustrated. If the other person is not as invested as you are in the relationship – if they are always looking to use the door, cheat, get another partner, or consistently forget other important things partners do together, it may just be a sign that they are not interested, and that you should stop trying. Why? The relationship (now) only exists in your head.
10. You Have Unmet Needs
Relationships are different from friendships in the sense that they provide us with our basic psychological nourishments such as connection, affection, validation, appreciation, and love. Sometimes you may need a hug, compliment, encouragement, quality time, or sex, but if you are getting none of those, then that is problematic. This is perhaps the widest door from infidelity and hostility to enter.
11. You Are Always Blamed
If, by some magical way, you always end up getting blamed for every mistake or problem that arises in the relationship – including the ones that are obviously not your fault – then you are in a very unhealthy relationship. And the solution isn’t to return the blame, but to get the other person to accept their wrongs as much as you accept yours. If this can’t be achieved, then there is a huge problem. It would be a race to see who would first get fed up, and either explode or implode. And it seems you already have a headstart in this race to the bottom.
12. Problems Are Always Ignored
Rather than sitting down to dissect the matter, find solutions, and make corrections, gifts, trips, or sex atone for wrongdoings. Bribes don’t blot out transgressions; apology with repentance does. Now, this might seem nice out the surface and at the beginning of the relationship, but over time, little dragons become humongous monsters, and fire and carnage consume everything with everyone in it. Then there is the ugly breakup, divorce, and legal fees, not to mention heartbreak, anger, and life-long resentment.
13. You Are Held Ransom
At this point, it has become quite overt that the relationship is more of a prison than a relationship. Maybe you are hanging on because of the children, or money at stake, or fear of what they might do, or what people might think, or some other reason(s). Whatever it is, it holds you hostage in a relationship you do not want to remain in. It is killing you, however, slowly.
14. You Are Abused
Emotional, verbal, and physical abuse comes in next. They may be gaslighting you, lying to you, calling you names, breaking objects, pounding their fist, grabbing and pushing you, or maybe even throwing things at you or getting physical. At these points, the relationship has degenerated to a wrestling ring where you are struggling to make it out alive (or at least sane)
15. You Get Killed
Okay, this is like the bottom of the pit, and hopefully, you don’t get to this before realizing; it is because people who realize at this point can’t really do anything about it anymore…because they are dead.
The consequences of toxic relationships are dire. Sometimes it erodes your confidence and self-esteem, drives you crazy, makes you bitter, and destroys your dreams and aspirations. You find that you are always stressed, strained, exhausted, and frustrated about the relationship (or the thought of it) – yet you hang on. And, perhaps the saddest part of it all is that you do not get to ever meet amazing people in life because you are locked away in a relationship already.
If you found this article depressing, it is because toxic relationships are depressing and are simply not worth it. Find a way to fix it. Simply walk away with the little bit of you that remains. Remember, it is never too late to find love.