Most people know what a healthy relationship would look like. Things like communication, trust, honesty, respect and the ability to solve conflicts in an effective way are just a few of the characteristics that may come to mind. But what about toxic relationships? What do those look like and how do people know if they are in the midst of one?
When someone brings up the topic of a toxic relationship, many people’s thoughts go directly to extremes such as emotional and physical abuse. But what many people don’t realize is the “toxic” part of a partnership isn’t always as black and white as we may think it to be. Sometimes the behaviors are gradual and couple or family don’t even see it happening. Let’s go over some of the many signs of a toxic relationship.
Controlling behavior is often one of the first red flags that occur in a romantic relationship that turns toxic. But like most of these behaviors, they are not exclusive to just relationships. Often a person may find themselves with a family member who dictates their every move, constantly needing to know details all while having a say in the individual’s life.
Blame is another common thing seen in these relationships. Often one person or even both parties turn their own mistakes over on the other. “It’s your fault I didn’t do well on the job interview. If you had put more of an effort into helping me, I would have done great!” The blame often comes from the inability to take responsibility for your own emotions. You may be in a sour mood but that does not mean you should tear your partner down for being in a good mood.
Jealousy and passive aggressiveness are two other key signs. The jealousy can be as simple as guilting the other person for the fact they choose to spend time with family instead of their partner. Other times it can be as extreme as accusing one person of flirting with a person even if they have no proof. The passive- aggressive behavior may come in the form of dropping comments such as “Sure you can go out and have fun with your friends. I will stay home alone another night like always.”
Lack of conflict resolution or it being only one party who tries can be one of the hardest to deal with. Communication and listening requires two and when one party feels like they are not being heard, it can result in resentment. Nothing burns a relationship faster than mounting resentments.
If you are trying to figure out if you are in a toxic relationship it is very important to ask yourself a few questions. Does your relationship bring you joy or negative emotions? Is it an equal partnership or a one-way street? Do you feel heard and appreciated? Do you feel safe both physically and emotionally? By looking at your needs and emotional well-being it is easy for a person to evaluate where they are in a relationship.
Do you find yourself coming to the realization you are in a toxic relationship? Now what? Remember conflict resolution takes two parties willing to cooperate. Couples counseling is a great place to start however always remember that person may not want to change. Often a great first step is seeking the help of a therapist or other mental health professional for yourself. Putting yourself first as an individual is most important. You are worth a healthy relationship and worth happiness. It may seem like a daunting task and change at first but know it will all pay off in the end.