How to Spot a Toxic Relationship

Relationship gone wrong

Relationships will always be a tricky thing to master, but when it works, it can make you feel like the most important person in the world. However, some people confuse their toxic relationship as going through a few bumps and hiccups. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t healthy and can damage your personal life and mental health. Here’s how to spot whether you’re in a toxic relationship.

Why are you arguing?

Couple arguing

Fighting can be healthy as long as both partners truly feel better afterwards. A good relationship isn’t one that has no arguments; it’s one that learns from them constructively to move forward in the relationship. Arguments only become toxic when situations do not get resolved. Many times you or your partner may hold grudges when you feel that your partner doesn’t understand why you’re upset, or that things wouldn’t be any different even if they did. This can form a toxic relationship if it’s not resolved properly. It’s nice to feel reassured that you’re not going through something alone and that’s exactly what couples need to do in order to feel like equals. Each partner needs the reassurance that, yes, their voice is heard, and yes, things will be different next time.

You’re not yourself

Depressed man

Change will happen regardless. When you’re in a relationship, even if you both change, you should be going in the same direction (for the better I hope).  However, if you can’t be yourself around a person, you might want to reconsider spending time with them. Relationships can often go south when you’re scared to show parts of yourself that might not be well received. If you find yourself feeling like you have to constantly pretend or say things that don’t come naturally to you, it can be very stressful and unhealthy. Ask yourself, “Does this person make me feel like I can be myself around them?” If not, surround yourself with people that do.

Getting physical

Domestic abuse

You may think you know what intimate partner violence looks like, but it isn’t as obvious as it seems. Grabbing her arm and saying “Get back here, I’m not done talking to you,’ or gripping his face and saying, ‘Look at me when I’m talking to you,’- these behaviours don’t necessarily cause physical damage, but they do represent low-level boiling points of conflict. This type of behaviour is typically overlooked when a woman does it. People find it cute or spunky, but you wouldn’t think the same way if we reversed the gender.

Always getting cussed

Girl getting verbally abused over the phone

This is one of the biggest signs of a toxic relationship, and it would be black and white, but often you don’t even realise all the ways they’re putting you down. Sometimes, when too far into the relationship, you may already feel that you’re not the same or aren’t feeling good enough about yourself, so you may even agree with the negative things he/she says to you and about you. At first, it can seem like harmless fun, you’ll even go to the lengths of defending them, “that’s just how we play ha ha ha”, you know deep down it hurts a little when they point it out too much. In fact, criticism and contempt—including sarcasm, ridicule, name-calling, and body languages like sneering and eye-rolling—are two of relationship scientist John Gottman’s famous “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” or signs of a failing relationship.

Not getting physical

Couple upset in bed

Kissing, hugging, and skin-to-skin contact releases feel-good endorphins, so if you’re not being affectionate on a regular basis, you’re missing out an important part of a healthy romantic relationship. Reportedly, men and women who reported frequent kissing were more sexually satisfied, and men are happier with their relationships overall. Even your sleeping situation may be a red flag that something isn’t right: In a 2001 British study, the farther apart couples slept; the less likely they were to be happy with their relationships.

No more friends

Isolated individual

I hope that you will notice this if it’s happening to you, but sometimes your partner can have too much of an influence on your own life. When a partner wants you to break off relationships with friends and family, that’s a sign of a toxic relationship. Isolating you from friends and family is upsetting because it is an attempt to control and manipulate without interference from your friends. This one is a serious one that can lead to forms of abuse, so please keep a look out for it.

It’s always you

Man looking through mirror, having self doubt

You’re angry with him/her for something they just did, but somehow they have you feeling bad moments later. They always seem to have a knack for making you feel guilty and indebted to him/her. You always feel obligated to give in to whatever they want; especially when they remind you of that thoughtful gesture they did just last week. Last week?! I know! How special do you feel? When every gesture comes with strings attached, it might be time to cut the cord. Next time you get into a little argument about something, pay close attention, see if they are manipulating the situation for their own benefit. Don’t fall for that crap! It’s a flipping trap.

Just a little side note, sometimes we need a little reminder – or some cold hard advice! Lack of communication is a crucial point to bring out. To put it simply, without communication, there is no relationship. Period. 

Written By

Micah J.G. Etienne is an International Marketing Assistant who works in My Voucher Codes office. An SEO enthusiast and blog writer by day and gamer by night (mostly FIFA to be honest). If he’s not giving great advice to university and college students on Student Bunker, he’s probably doing something he shouldn't.

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