Being in a relationship requires hard work on either party. You must die to give and commit on a perpetual basis. This is the equilibrium for a normal relationship. The problem comes in when one party does more than the other. This is when the efforts of one person aren’t appreciated or reciprocated. Sadly, many people don’t realize when they reach this point. Hence they stick around thinking it’s a piece of the relationship puzzle. So, how do you know you are in a toxic relationship?
What is a toxic relationship?
Dr. Lilian Glass, a communication and psychology expert from California defined a toxic relationship in her 1996 book Toxic People as “ any relationship where the people involved don’t support each other, where conflict exists, where one person constantly undermines the other, where there’s disrespect, competition, and lack of cohesiveness.
A toxic relationship affects your happiness, self-esteem and generally how you see yourself. In most cases, a toxic relationship will start healthy and promising. Somewhere along the way, bad feelings, unmet needs, and bad history erupt throwing things off balance. This can happen to just about anyone, even the strongest people.
How do you define a toxic relationship?
Physical and verbal abuses are glaring signs that you are in a toxic relationship for the most part. Unbeknownst to many, the signs are actually subtle. These are a few of them.
1. Unhealthy communication
A Communication breakdown is perhaps the number one indication that things have gone south. Ideally, people in a normal relationship strive to keep their communication channels open and respectful. They may get into nasty disagreements here and there but this phase dies down in no time. If you have witnessed any form of insulting, brainwashing or threatening from your partner, the relationship has become toxic.
This is pure physical manipulation aimed at making you doubt your self-worth. Healthy communication involves intentional listening, respectful requests, apologies, authenticity, and caring. Watch out for constant lying, verbal abuse, contradictions, and criticism as these are red alert signs of unhealthy communication.
Users or parasites are a type of toxic people who are pleasant and sweet as long as they are getting what they want from other people. So, at the beginning when everything is rosy for them, they will be the best people to hang with. They will treat you occasionally or do something that will assure you that you are on the same page with them.
Unfortunately, you can never satisfy their needs. Eventually, they will drain your energy and make you feel responsible and guilty for it. You know you are in a relationship with a user if their affection and attitude towards you depend on what you do for them.
3. Persistent Unhappiness
Being in a healthy relationship should take you to peaceful, joyous, and fulfilling hearts you can’t achieve on your own. You should wake up feeling excited about life with your partner. The thought of going to dinner with them should be thrilling. If you feel bad all the time about your relationship, you may be in with the wrong person.
4. Extreme jealousy
There’s a thin line between jealousy and possession. The former is healthy and actually great in a relationship. The latter is a recipe for disaster. Possessives are known for hawking their partners. They’ll follow every move of theirs, check their emails and call logs constantly to know who’s communicating with them, and interrogate them when they show up late. Before long, they will strip their partners of any meaningful relationship they had before they met.
The final guide to a toxic relationship is overdependence. While it is okay to help your partner make a few decisions about their life, having them depend on you for virtually every decision is wrong on all levels. It may not look like it but passivity is in itself a form of control. If you are in a relationship with a passive controller, your life will be a cycle of fatigue, anxiety, and worry.
Are you in a toxic relationship? A toxic relationship quiz will help establish this. Take it as soon as you can so you can save yourself from future heartaches.