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Dr. Lillian Glass, the author of Toxic People, defines toxic relationship as “any relationship between people who don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there are disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
How can love turn sour?
It might be that one of the people in this relationship is a toxic person with a history of broken relationships and hurt partners. But it can also be that, as time passed, the relationship lost its charm and romance gave way to resentment, hurt feelings and jealousy. In that case, the behavior of one of the parties might have become more disrespectful and particularly controlling over time.
The control might be abusive on a mental, emotional or even physical level. Over time, it can undermine the self-esteem and willpower of the person suffering from the abuse.
It isn’t always easy to recognize if you are in a toxic relationship, as many of the signs aren’t easy to spot, like violence, harassment, verbal and psychologic abuse, which must be addressed with urgency. The abuse might hide behind false compliments made to insult, diminish or control.
Pay attention to the following signs:
Are you constantly in a bad mood and sad? Beware that these are the main signs that things are going bad. Many patients even get diagnosed with depression. Of course, we all feel sad once in a while, but what matters here is how often these feelings of sadness and incapacity are present in your life. If they are constant, chances are high that you might be in a toxic relationship.
You two fight often and the relationship feels like a roller coaster. You argue and make up over and over again. This can make you feel confused, another sign of a toxic relationship.
How’s your self-esteem? Do you feel self-confident? Because when we have somebody that makes us compliments and is a positive influence, our self-esteem increases and we feel more self-confident. On the other hand, when all we have is someone who criticizes and judges us, that has the opposite effect. Criticism can be a good thing if constructive and a terrible thing if it is used to minimize someone.
In a healthy relationship, we are not afraid or ashamed to be ourselves: we feel comfortable and safe to do it.
Everything is a trap and, eventually, you’ll get caught in one and won’t be able to escape.
We all commit mistakes, but in a toxic relationship, every misstep you make will be used against you, making you feel like everything you do is wrong. So you start worrying about everything you do and say around your partner. Often, you feel anxious in their proximity and have the need to explain yourself all the time.
Have you grown distant from friends and family? A common practice in abusive relationships is to isolate the victim, keeping them away from friends and family to weaken their bonds.
This can happen in different ways, like treating your dear ones badly. Compare the frequency with which you saw them before this relationship and now. It is normal that it decreases over time, but not that you become isolated and start living solely “for” your significant other.
Often, we may have got used to the situation and don’t notice what is actually going on. However, people who love and have known us for a long time can see that something is off. If they show worry and remark often on your change of behavior, this might be the confirmation that was missing for you to realize that this situation is unsustainable and you need help.
The first thing you need to have in mind is that to be able to change the situation you must be ready to leave it behind. Yes, it sounds paradoxical, but it is better to prepare for the worse on your way to seek what is best for you. It might be possible to resolve this problem through couples therapy, but, depending on the depth of the wounds, a breakup might be the best solution.
In case of violence and threats, seek help! There are many support services out there. Start with your family and friends. If you are currently in a toxic relationship, you need support more than ever.
Or maybe it isn’t your case, but you know someone who might profit from reading this. So do the right thing and share this article with them 🙂