People use the term toxic relationship often when referring to relationships that are not working out, but that’s not really it. You have to really think about what it means to be in a toxic relationship.
A toxin is a poison. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know how sick it makes you. Just when you think you’ve vomited your last, you need only wait another short while until it starts all over again, only even more violently than the last time.
It doesn’t seems to end until your body is so drained and exhausted, you can barely move. You sit or lay there wondering whether it will happen again, and you can’t even bear the thought. If it’s grossed you out to think about that, it’s just to impress upon you that your mind, spirit and body are all affected in that severe a manner in a toxic relationship.
Besides the fact that food poisoning only affects the body, the only real difference between food poisoning and a poisoned or toxic relationship is that a toxic relationship can be insidious. Since the physical effects don’t manifest themselves in such an obvious way (although toxic relationships over time can negatively affect health in even worse ways than food poisoning) you don’t notice you’re being poisoned so you go back for more of the same.
Eventually, the relationship reaches the point where you can no longer deny the poison is there. You feel helpless, confused and overtaken, often too exhausted mentally and physically to do anything. Your spirit is all but dead.
The purpose here is to identify the toxins working to destroy you in a toxic relationship before it gets to that point.
Here are 5 signs you’re in a toxic relationship.
1. You’re Always Giving In
Whether it’s merely the choice of what movie to watch, what place to go or you’re the one to apologize after any argument, if you are always the one giving in to your partner, you’re in a toxic relationship. Decisions in a healthy relationship are made jointly, or pretty evenly to the taste of either partner if the choices are different.
2. Criticism on a Regular Basis
Certainly, there is such a thing as constructive criticism. The difference between constructive criticism, which can be an integral part of a good relationship, and destructive criticism, which can be a deterrent to a good relationship, is not only the way in which the criticism is delivered, but whether or not the criticism is even warranted.
Criticism that is not warranted is designed to make you feel humiliated and devalued. When you start to think you can’t do or say anything right because your partner finds fault with just about whatever you do or say, you’re in a toxic relationship.
3. Verbal or Physical Abuse
As far as verbal abuse goes, it usually goes along with what we’ve mentioned above when criticism is destructive. Not only does your partner criticize without good reason things you say and do, but telling you you’re worthless or stupid is the kind of verbal abuse that can go along with it. Telling you that the dress you’re wearing doesn’t bring out the best in your figure is one thing, but telling you the dress makes you look like the fat pig you are is another.
If it’s not evident to you that physical abuse is uncalled for and unacceptable in a relationship, it should be. No one, at any time, in any relationship, should have to endure that even once.
4. Unwillingness to Accept Change in You
People are not inanimate objects. They’re breathing, thinking and changing beings all the time. The thoughts of the hippy someone married in college may no longer resemble the conservative businessman or woman many years later. When both partners change the same way, there’s little dissension, but when one does and the other doesn’t, if the partner who hasn’t changed is not accepting of the other’s new philosophy, this can contribute to a toxic relationship.
5. Exceedingly Demanding of Your Time and Energy
If most of the communication between the two of you is based on things the other person wants you to do for them this is a sign of a toxic relationship. It’s clear that a relationship like this isn’t a relationship, but a one-sided deal where the other person is taking advantage of you. If your worth to them is only based on what you can do for them, and very rarely, if ever, what they can do for you, this is a sign.
- Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
- Psychopath Free (Expanded Edition): Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People by Jackson MacKenzie