Toxic relationships are incredibly damaging to an individual, and one may not realize they are in a toxic relationship until things have developed far out of control. Coupled with the fact that toxic relationships can take on a myriad of different forms, determining if an individual is in a toxic relationship can be difficult.
However, remember that even if an individual is in a relationship, one should never be asked to give up their identity or give more than is being received. Understanding the symptoms and types of toxicity can help each individual determine the next step for their own mental and emotional health.
Signs of Toxic Relationships
Toxic relationships are complicated – not just to identify but also to navigate and remove oneself from entirely. Toxic relationships are hurtful and compromising, typically at the behest or benefit of one’s partner. While they can contain abuse, overt abuse is not a prerequisite for a toxic relationship.
Typical signs of a relationship containing at least a degree of toxicity include:
- Lack of trust
- Feeling silenced or unheard
- Antagonistic language
- Feelings of exhaustion around one’s partner
- Pervasive jealousy
- Controlling partners
- Constant negativity or pessimistic atmosphere
- Disrespect of time or boundaries
- Unreliability in one’s partner
Even if one notices these signs, feelings of doubt can still plague an individual as they consider if they are “overreacting.” While this is normal, it is also a self-sabotaging way of thinking, preventing an individual from opening a dialogue or getting the help they need to navigate a dangerous relationship.
Regardless if one believes they are overreacting or not, a dialogue needs to occur to explore why one may feel a certain way and what can be done to rectify it – whether through exploring one’s relationship and making changes therein or removing oneself from the relationship entirely.
Control is a significant part of a relationship. In healthy relationships, both partners should exhibit the same level of control, approaching problems as a group with neither drowning out the other.
However, in toxic relationships, control can become incredibly skewed. While this is most common in toxic narcissistic relationships, it can be prevalent throughout any kind of relationship and should be addressed quickly to prevent further agency from being usurped by one’s partner.
Control can take many forms. One may try to schedule one’s day for them (such as making plans for another without consulting them) or constantly checking on where an individual is or commanding where they should be going. In some cases, a person might belittle one’s friends or family members in an attempt to gain a degree of control in one’s social life, or even compromise physical boundaries and manipulate one’s environment.
Trust and Lies
Lying is a common red flag for many relationships. Some of these lies may start as white lies or are about relatively inconsequential things. Although, it is also possible that an individual is lying to sow seeds of doubt to further gaslight or craft larger lies in the future without being confronted. Even if these lies feel unimportant, the willingness of one’s partner to lie and accept a degree of distrust in a relationship is a warning of the toxicity beneath the surface.
Manipulating the Atmosphere
Toxic relationships can also be created in the atmosphere. Antagonistic language can make holding conversations difficult as an individual opts for silence to avoid confrontation even when upset. However, the atmosphere can also be manipulated in other ways.
A constant pessimistic view or a partner who is consistently belittling or victimizing themselves to garner support from a partner can create a very negative and dangerous atmosphere. One’s partner is placing an individual in a position of silence or obligation, therefore controlling the pace of any dialogue.
The Power of Words
Antagonistic language can come in a number of forms. For some, it can be an outright confrontation, while other toxic partners may employ language in subtler ways, being just as detrimental. Subtle character assassination or backhanded compliments, or if one’s words do not seem to match up to their actions, can all be signs of toxicity.
For example, a partner saying loving dotes such as “I’d do anything for you,” only to then sit on the couch or only tend to their own needs can be dissonant linguistic manipulation in a toxic relationship.
Toxicity needs to be addressed. It is possible that toxic relationships can develop into further abusive relationships, codependent relationships, or bring on mental health disorders or trauma as a result. While it is possible that some partners are unaware they are manipulative, approaching a dialogue with this assumption can be dangerous.
However, knowing some of the signs of toxicity can empower each individual to look to their own relationships and determine if it is the healthiest thing for them, as well as what one’s next step could be in order to continue maintaining their own mental and emotional health.
Toxic relationships can take an enormous mental and emotional toll, and even exploring one’s own relationships can be incredibly taxing. There is nothing easy about navigating a toxic relationship. We at Everlast Recovery Centers are prepared to help you better understand your options while helping you process the complex feelings and consequences of a toxic relationship. Whether you are looking to take your first step towards sobriety in a new future or are looking to begin navigating your own complex mental and emotional health, we can personalize a plan to help you better confront the struggles in your life. Meditation, yoga, art, music, writing, and much more, all backed by a caring staff and education, all work to create a community of acceptance and support for your unique goals in our community. For more information on how we can help you take the first step towards a healthier future, call us today at (866) 388-6925.