The signs of unhealthy relationships that I went over above are the most telling, but they’re not the only signs. I wanted to dedicate this section of today’s article to diving a big deeper so that you can have a full picture of what’s going on here. Another thing that I want you to keep an eye on is the frequency of breakups in your relationship. If the two of you are constantly breaking and getting back together, or worse still, threatening to breakup with the other person to get your way, things unhealthy and they are definitely toxic.
A relationship should be a safe space. Not a space in which one or both of you feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells. Otherwise, things become toxic very very fast. It’s true that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and you should not hold your partner to the highest standards 100% of the time… But you should hold them to high standards most of the time. Yes, we make mistakes from time to time, but if their behavior is negative more often than positive, or if their negative actions bear way more of a negative weight than their positive actions bear a positive weight, there is a big problem. In other words, let’s say that your partner tells you that the cake you baked was good and it makes you feel nice, but then two hours later they gaslight you for asking them to not snoop through your phone, their negative actions are more significant than their positive actions.
Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not your significant other constantly makes you feel worse about yourself. This goes hand in hand with the topic of gaslighting that I was explaining above, but I also want you to pay attention to how your partner makes you feel about yourself in general. In an unhealthy relationship, your significant other will make you feel worse about yourself (or vice versa!). Another sign of an unhealthy relationship that is becoming toxic is when it feels like 100% of the love and compromise comes from you. If your partner is unable or unwilling to compromise and show you love despite the fact that you compromise and show him or her love, the dynamic is toxic.
When looking for signs of an unhealthy relationship, we also need to take a moment to think about the notion of blame in the relationship. If you are constantly being blamed for everything, things are toxic. People who feel like they’re walking on eggshells in the relationship tend to be the ones who find that they’re the ones being blamed for everything. So, they tiptoe around, nervous to say or do the wrong thing because they don’t want to be blamed yet again. If you feel this way in your relationship, then there is a problem. Again, no one is perfect and we can all make changes and improvements, but you cannot be blamed for every little thing. You can’t be blamed for things that are out of your control, you can’t be blamed for your significant other’s shortcomings, and you can’t be blamed for the behavior of those around you… You should never be afraid to speak out or be yourself. If you are afraid to be yourself, it means that your relationship is unhealthy. If you get in trouble for trying being yourself, then your relationship is toxic.
As I said higher up in this article, it is important to remember that no one is perfect and understand that a few mistakes here and there does not necessarily make a person or a relationship toxic. In addition to that, it’s important that you hold yourself to the same high standards to which you hold your partner. BUT, if you see a pattern of disturbing actions and behaviors that resemble the ones I went over in this article, then it is important to admit to yourself that your relationship is not only unhealthy, but toxic.
And when a relationship is undoubtedly toxic, it is time to move on. This brings us to our next topic: How do you exit an unhealthy relationship that has gone toxic?
It can be exceedingly difficult to leave a toxic relationship. Breakups are hard enough as it is, but when there is an element of toxicity, a person can feel even more ensnared. Subconsciously, you can become so hooked on the emotional highs (despite the emotional lows), that it becomes very challenging to disentangle yourself from your relationship with your partner.
One of the many problems with toxic and unhealthy relationships is that there is no respect, so it becomes difficult to exit them with grace and dignity.
Leaving an unhealthy relationship that has become toxic will require a huge amount of strength – especially because it’s so hard to control human nature and namely, the underlying thirst for revenge. It is very difficult to not want to hurt someone back who has been causing you pain and suffering. There is pride, ego, and the sense of wanting to even the playing field. Truth be told, if it was easy to end an unhealthy relationship that has become toxic, there would be a lot less of them out there.
So the first step, of course, it to determine whether this relationship is toxic, and if so, acknowledge that you are unhappy and actually want out.
The next step is one that you might not expect. When you make the decision that you’re going to leave this relationship, take your time! I know you’re probably thinking, “Why wouldn’t I want to get out of a toxic relationship as fast as possible…?”
You need to lay out the foundation for doing it successfully, collect the strength and prepare yourself for leaving this relationship. Unless you’re being physically abused (in which case the sooner you get out, the better), you need to take the time to break the cycle a breaking up and getting back together all the time. Because there is no respect and dignity in these types of relationships, it’s dangerously easy to break up and not mean it, and get back together not long after. This is the pattern that needs to break.
The more time you give yourself to do this well, the more time you’re giving yourself to prepare, plan out an approach and feel confident in your actions. You don’t want to hastily do things and inadventantly wind up with regrets. In addition to this, you will be less likely to go back, second-guess your decision, and restart the cycle.
How to leave when you’re ready to exit an unhealthy relationship
Because you are taking your time to do this right, you can write your significant other a letter. If this unhealthy relationship is truly abusive and toxic, writing will give you the chance to collect your thoughts and organize them on paper. If your partner truly does care about you, he or she will let you go, accept your decision, and no longer hold you down. If they don’t, if they won’t let up and they keep trying to pull you back in, then you need to put space between you, not answer and protect your dignity.
The other option is having the conversation face-to-face. I recommend preparing your speech in the mirror and practicing what you want to say. You can practice, coach yourself and feel prepared. I want you to know that we are always here to help if you need us. If you would like coaching, you can work with me or a member of my team by clicking here.
Now, remember that this conversation with your partner should be no longer than 20 minutes and it should not be dramatic or theatrical. The reason for this is very simple. The longer time you spend doing it, the easier it becomes to second-guess your decision and change your mind about leaving.
Warning signs of an unhealthy relationship: Incorporating a good support system
Ending a relationship is difficult, whether it’s an unhealthy one or not. It doesn’t matter if it’s a toxic relationship or if it’s a relationship in which the flame and connection have just faded away over time… it’s always hard.
Emotions are quite complex and deeply rooted in every single one of us, so it is a good idea to tell your friends and family that you are planning on ending this relationship so that they can be there for you afterward. Let your support system support you. In the aftermath of a breakup, it is natural to be dealing with painful emotions as you are letting go of the memories of the good times. Just remember that the good times did not cancel out or outweigh the bad times, and that the bad times were actually toxic and unhealthy. Remember that you are worthy of a whole and healthy love that builds you up and helps you to become the absolute best version of yourself.