A toxic relationship is an unhealthy relationship. These relationships typically include feelings of being unloved, unwanted, misunderstood, unsupported, belittled, or even attacked. While most people consider a toxic relationship emotional and psychological abuse, there can also be issues with physical abuse and domestic violence.
It is possible to find yourself in a toxic relationship and not really understanding how things got to that point. Often the toxic person is very good at hiding their abusive behavior at the beginning of the relationship. If the person is a narcissist, it can be difficult to understand the constant swings from overwhelming and grandiose acts of passion and love to absolute disdain and anger. The result is that you are constantly kept guessing what will happen next and doing everything you can to avoid the hostility and toxicity.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
A few of the signs you are in a toxic relationship include:
- Feeling out of control or as if the other person has all the control
- Being told everything that goes wrong in the relationship is your fault
- Getting the silent treatment for unknown reasons
- Knowing any request or criticism of the partner will result in a fight
- Feeling like you are always walking on eggshells in the relationship
- A feeling of emotional and mental exhaustion when around the partner
- Having to make excuses to friends and family for your partner’s comments, behaviors, and attitudes
- Constantly being lied to about small and often insignificant issues
- Feeling constantly watched, monitored, judged, and controlled by your partner
- Learning to avoid drawing any attention to yourself as this upsets your partner
- Constantly being put down and called names
- Being gaslighted, ghosted, or manipulated on a regular basis
Getting out of a toxic relationship is difficult, as your self-esteem and sense of self-worth are eroded. The longer you have been in this harmful relationship, the harder it will be to get away and start over.
Starting over may seem like a positive step, and many people look forward to getting into a new, healthy relationship. However, the impact of a toxic relationship has longer-lasting effects, including a loss of trust in new relationships.
The good news is that you can learn to be comfortable in trusting yourself and in trusting others. It is not going to be a quick fix, and it may take months or years to work through the issues and to feel confident in your assessment of others.
There are some important steps to take in this work. Talking with a therapist can be extremely helpful in changing the way you think about relationships and in building your self-esteem. Also joining a support group with like minded individuals can be extremely supportive. The biggest issue is learning to trust your own intuition when it comes to meeting potential new partners.
While you are working on learning to love and trust yourself, there are some steps you can take to assess and evaluate any new partners. Making this more of an objective and less subjective “read” of the other person allows you to verify they are a trustworthy and safe person to spent time with in a relationship.
Tips For Building Trust
These tips and strategies can help to assess the trustworthiness of a new partner. A pattern or multiple issues of failing to meet these objectives or benchmarks in a relationship are red flags that they may be a toxic person.
- Keeps promises – does he do what he says he will do?
- Has friends – have you met his friends and has he met yours?
- On time – does he arrive on time for planned events or do you have to wait?
- Equality – do you make suggestions on what to do or is it all his choice?
- Truthfulness – have you caught him in any lies?
- Freedom – do you have freedom in the relationship or is he in control?
- Sharing opinions – are your opinions important to him?
- Respect – do you feel respected, valued, and cared for in the relationship?
Learning from a toxic relationship is hard work. You can use the experience to develop an understanding of how to spot a toxic partner and how to avoid these destructive relationships in the future.
Be sure to share your thoughts and questions using the comment section below so we can all learn from and help each other.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW and Transformation Coach