How to Know if You’re in a Toxic Relationship

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Every relationship between humans has its share of issues. To expect smooth sailing 100 percent of the time is unrealistic. The best, most joyful and understanding unions have moments of discord. However, there’s a difference between tension and toxicity — and the aforementioned statement highlights a factor that separates the two.

When discord is constant and not contained to moments, it can become mentally and emotionally harmful. It could also spill over into abuse, which, in any form, automatically constitutes a toxic relationship.

Even if we don’t actively contribute to the toxic environment, we may help sustain it with our presence. It’s up to us to recognize and act on the signs.

Here are a few more:

You Bring Out the Worst in Each Other

In a healthy relationship, you feel like you’re at your best when with your partner. They evoke your most loving, compassionate, supportive, funny, and selfless sides. You’re an ideal version of yourself.

In a toxic relationship, it’s the opposite. Your most ugly traits surface. You might be mean, inconsiderate, and possibly dishonest.

When this is the case, others often have an image of your partner that contradicts yours. Colleagues get the thoughtful and fun version of them that you rarely see. Buddies rave about him or her being such a great person — leaving you bewildered.

This isn’t a blame game. No one can make us exhibit venomous behavior. However, both parties are adapting to the negative atmosphere.

You Feel Persistent Uncertainty

Inconsistency in relationships is a form of emotional abuse. This is a common component of toxicity. If things were all bad, all the time, you probably wouldn’t stick around long. It’s the moments of good that give you hope. It’s the care and adoration sometimes demonstrated that make you believe, “this person does love me.”

The problem is when the behavior is short-lived and sporadic. They lift you up, let you down, then lift you up again, only to let you fall once more. It’s a cycle that leaves you confused about a partner’s feelings and the state of your relationship.

Such a scenario breeds insecurity, which is a place from where many toxic behaviors stem.

You Act Against Your Beliefs and Integrity

Products of a toxic relationship, insecurity and doubt, will have you doing things you don’t believe in and never did before. Such as going through a partner’s phone or hiding their car keys so they can’t leave the house. You can become a person you don’t recognize, doing things of which you’re ashamed.

Again, we always have a choice. Yet, there’s a reason we suddenly start choosing destructive, invasive actions.

You Feel Small

A healthy relationship is empowering. You feel as though you can conquer and achieve anything with your partner there by your side. They reinforce your self-esteem. Their confidence in you rivals your confidence in yourself. They support your ideas, listen to your thoughts, and value your voice.

Connections either give you power or drain it from you. One that does the latter is likely corrupted. If you feel small, incompetent, stupid, and are hesitant to speak with a partner but not in other situations — the key variable is your surroundings.

You’re Perpetually Unhappy

This is the most clear-cut sign of toxicity. Focus on how you feel. Period. It’s not uncommon to feel bored or unfulfilled. But if you’re flat-out miserable and in emotional distress, there’s a serious problem that needs attention.

These signs aren’t confined to romantic involvement. You can have a toxic relationship with anyone — and it’s just as detrimental to your well-being. The low tolerance for such circumstances should remain, no matter who’s involved.

Sure, you can’t throw your sister away or cut your mom out of your life. Well, you can. But it’s a decision that’s difficult for most of us to execute. However, you can distance yourself from friends and family who maintain an unhealthy environment. I’ve done it and will do it every time.

No one is worth my peace.

With a partner, you may simply be going through a rough patch. Sometimes, a thoughtful discussion, therapy, or a bit of space can help right the ship. There’s nothing wrong with trying to work through issues before throwing in the towel. Just don’t do it with futility, at your own expense.

Once a relationship has reached toxic levels of discourse, often the best thing for both sides to do is walk away—so you don’t keep hurting one another.


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