I work with people very often who are experiencing a toxic relationship, and in many of these cases, they come to me for answers about whether or not their relationship is just difficult or actually toxic. After all these years of working as a love and relationship coach, I have been able to identify the concrete signs of a toxic relationship. Our goal is to help identify solutions for people who are struggling with making their relationship work and finding true happiness in their love lives. The theme of toxic relationships comes up quite often, and it’s very important to learn how to determine the status of your relationship.
I wanted to write this article for you today on how to tell if your relationship has become toxic, but I also wanted to explore what you can do about it.
The clearer the picture you have of your situation, the easier it will be to find solutions. I know that this is a mentally taxing situation and it’s extremely hard to find clarity when you’re in the middle of it all, but we are here to help you every step of the way. There are different stages of toxic relationships, and truth be told, if you’re reading this article right now it means that something is definitely off. So if you’ve found yourself wondering, “Am I in a toxic relationship,” let’s dive in and find the answers!
Toxic relationship: How does one develop?
Someone recently asked me a very important question that I’d like to share with you here. I was working with a client a few days ago who asked me, “Why do people stay in toxic relationships?”
She had come to me for help with fixing her relationship and was starting to realize that her relationship had become quite toxic. Though she already knew deep down that this was the case, she realized that she was shocked with herself for having stayed with this man for so long. As she explained to me, she even started to feel ashamed about her own behavior. And yet, this is such a common phenomenon! Why do people stay in relationships that have clearly become toxic?
Well, interestingly enough, the answer lies in adrenaline.
A common theme with relationships that are toxic is that there are very high highs and very low lows. In many cases, the result is that the relationship develops an addictive cycle where an issue is created so that there can be drama and heartache until there is resolution. When the two partners “make up,” they experience a surge of emotions and that is exactly what becomes so addictive. That sense of resolution and finding each other again can become something that subconsciously drives one or both partners to act in a way that threatens the relationship so that they can ultimately make up again.
It’s a dangerous game and it is often what drives a person to start to wonder, “Am I in a toxic relationship?”
The thing I want you to take from this is that it’s very important to be able to differentiate passion from toxicity because the two are often confused in these types of situations.
There are many other reasons that exist behind toxic relationships such as a person’s upbringing, experiences they have had in the past, an intrinsic desire to protect themselves, and many more… For more information on why relationships become toxic, I encourage you to read this article.
Am I in a toxic relationship: The different kinds of toxicity
I am often asked about what constitutes a truly toxic relationship and what constitutes a relationship that is just going through a difficult period.
Take Lauren for example. She came to me saying, “I think I am in a toxic relationship because I just found out that my boyfriend has been cheating on me…” She found this out after having gone through his laptop at home and found a stream of messages between him and his coworker Annalisa.
When she confronted him about it, he came clean right away and told her that yes, he had in fact been having an affair with his coworker for the last few weeks. He also told her that he had been deeply unhappy in their relationship and really wanted to find a way to work things out. At first, Lauren wanted nothing to do with him and labeled their relationship as toxic.
However, after a couple of months of thinking about it, she began to realize that she agreed with him regarding the state of their relationship and how unhappy they both had been. The relationship had in fact gone downhill before the cheating happened, and she began to realize that every time he came to talk to her about it, she would dismiss him and get frustrated. As we worked together, she realized that the relationship wasn’t necessarily toxic; it was just in need of some serious repairs and a new foundation. This motivated her to change her approach and begin to outline what was causing their romance and bond to crumble.
We were able to find a solution to every single problem they had been facing as a couple, including the broken trust. I am happy to say that they are engaged now and could not be happier to be moving forward in their relationship.
So as you can see, a relationship that is encountering serious problems isn’t necessarily always toxic. On the other hand, there are other types of unhealthy relationships to keep an eye out for.
This brings me to Ron’s story (whose name I’ve changed as per his request to protect his identity). He had been in a relationship with the woman he called “the love of his life” for eight years… However, the relationship they had was actually very toxic. It was actually one of the most toxic relationships I’ve encountered recently in my coaching sessions.
His partner would verbally abuse him, tell him that he was worthless and pathetic, gaslight him, lie to him, manipulate him and make him believe he was crazy for having his suspicions. And yet, Ron was glued to the relationship. His entire identity was rooted in having his person’s love.
When Ron originally reached out to us for help, it was because he wanted to fix the relationship and keep it alive. However, when he explained what was going on to me and shared toxic sign after toxic sign, I told him something that I don’t like to tell my clients: That I cannot help him stay with this woman.
So, this brings us to the topic of today’s article. Are you in a toxic relationship?
Are you in a relationship with someone toxic or not?
It’s not easy to analyze your relationship and think about this kind of stuff, I know. But it’s very important to keep your eyes open, be honest with yourself, and really think about the signs of a toxic relationship that I’m about to go over.
Accepting that you’re in a bad relationship is very tough but making these changes can set you on a path to unprecedented happiness in your future.
So without further ado let’s take a look.
There is a strong lack of moral or ethical principals
I want to begin things by saying that it only takes one partner to make a relationship toxic. It’s often a two-way road but that’s not always the case.
So when you notice that your partner is doing things that you find to be morally strong and not in line with your principals, despite the fact that they know that it doesn’t sit right with you, the relationship may in fact be toxic. This is especially true when you have consistently asked them to stop and they ignore you completely.
Toxicity meaning: Everything always comes from you
All the love, all the effort, all the compromise comes from you. Your partner makes no effort to meet you halfway, despite the fact they they see you bending over backwards for them.
Healthy relationships require balance and effort from both sides, and if you feel like you’re only being met with negativity no matter what you do, it is very likely that your relationship is toxic.
Walking on eggshells
If you’re in a heathy relationship with someone, you feel comfortable to communicate with them about your needs and expectations. In relationships that are showing signs of a toxic person, there is a sense of unease that doesn’t seem to go away. You feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells because you don’t feel comfortable or confident enough in the relationship to state what you need and what you’re feeling.
You don’t trust that your partner will be open to hearing your words and you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing all the time. You get blamed for everything, and you’re afraid to speak up or be yourself…
Toxic relationship signs: No privacy
Another very common theme I see in toxic relationships is when a person gives their partner no privacy. They demand access to all their social networks, emails, computers…
There is no respect for privacy and there is no trust given to the other person. This type of thing can quickly undermine a relationship and turn it into something more toxic.
Being cut off from your loved ones
When dealing with toxic people, they tend to cut their partners off from the ones they love most like their friends and family. There is a certain possessiveness that develops that undermines the balance in the relationship.
It’s very important to maintain relationships with the people you care about outside your relationship so that you can maintain that balance, and if your partner takes that away from you there is a problem.
Physical or verbal abuse A big sign of a toxic relationship
This one pretty much goes without saying. If you’re wondering “Am I in a toxic relationship” and there is verbal and or physical abuse in the relationship, the answer is yes. You are looking at one of the biggest signs of toxicity in relationships.
If there is physical damage to one or both of you, or if there are words that are used to break each other down, you’re looking at a toxic relationship.
Your sense of self love and self respect are damaged
Another way to determine whether or not you are in a relationship that is toxic is to pay attention to how this relationship and this person make you feel about yourself. If you are constantly being made to feel worse about yourself, who you are, and what you bring to the table, you are looking at signs of an unhealthy relationship.
The important questions to ask yourself to determine if this is toxic behavior
As I said above, if you’re wondering if you’re in a toxic relationship, chances are that something is up and changes need to be made. So I encourage you to ask yourself these questions and be really honest about your answers:
– What is it about your relationship that doesn’t feel right?
– Are you always threatening to leave each other and do you hold this threat over each other’s heads?
– Does your partner constantly make you feel worse about yourself or vice versa?
– Or are you blaming your partner for unresolved emotional trauma or the general sense of unhappiness you might be experiencing in your life right now?
It’s very important to do some introspection when you’re analyzing your relationship because healthy relationships are a two way road. So, to summarize what we went over in this article, the signs to keep an eye out for are a lack of moral or ethical principals, one-sided love or compromise, a general sense of unease and lack of confidence in the relationship, lack of privacy and trust, physical and/or emotional abuse, being cut off from loved ones, and a negative impact on your sense of self love and wellbeing.
These are delicate situations, and if you’ve come to understand that you are in fact in a toxic relationship, there are a couple different ways to make a graceful exit. I know that it’s hard and there are a lot of factors involved, but we are here to help you every step of the way. For one on one guidance, I invite you to reach out to me or a member of my team. If you’ve decided to turn the page, I encourage you to download our new product specifically designed to help you do this with peace of mind and grace.
It’s crucial that you have a support group behind you, so make sure your loved ones are in the loop and will be able to be there for you as you exit this relationship. You can also use a letter to express what you need to say to your partner and your reasons for leaving in a calm and collected way. If you prefer to do it in person, I encourage you to practice what you’re going to say in the mirror beforehand, and keep your speech under 30 minutes. The longer you spend talking, the easier it becomes to reconsider your decision.
You are not alone in this process and we are here for you. Join the Happily Committed Project and learn how to transform your life in a meaningful and dignified way.
I sincerely wish you all the best in life and love,
Your coach when you’re wondering, “Is my relationship toxic?”