Here are Happily Committed, our goal is to help couples to live truly gratifying, fulfilling, exciting and healthy relationships. Unfortunately, there are many situations in which a relationship starts to become unhealthy and the people involved don’t realize it until it’s too late.
That is why I wanted to write this article today. I want to give you some of the telltale signs that your relationship is becoming unhealthy so that you can determine whether things need to change. I want to show you what you need to be on the lookout for, but I would also like to provide you with some solutions.
Chances are, if you are wondering if you are seeing signs of an unhealthy relationship and you have sought out this article, it means that something is wrong. Let’s not jump the gun and automatically assume that the relationship is unhealthy of even toxic, but we need to acknowledge the fact that something in the current dynamic is making you feel uneasy.
So, I will be giving you three tips that will help you identify if a relationship is toxic, and then we will talk about what you can do to change things.
In some cases, changes can be made to ensure that a relationship sets out on a healthier path, and there are some situations in which the relationship is so toxic that the ideal course of action is to exit. The better idea you have of what to look out for, the easier it is to recognize the solution. So, let’s dive right in, my friends.
What is an unhealthy relationship exactly?
The term ”unhealthy relationship” can be very vague, but we can define it as a relationship that does not bring you joy or inspire you to be the best version of yourself. An unhealthy relationship is one that feels stagnant and oppressive, draining and heavy… It is a relationship that feels like a burden instead of something that ignites a sense of joy within you.
When a relationship is unhealthy, the two partners constantly feel tired and anxious, and they’re drifting further and further apart. In other words, the foundation of the relationship is crumbling and each issue seems to be bigger than the last. But do these things mean a relationship just isn’t doing well, or does it mean that things are becoming dangerous and toxic?
I bring this up because it’s important to note that when you’re looking for signs of an unhealthy relationship, it’s essential to be able to differentiate between an unhealthy relationship and a toxic one. Unhealthy relationships, as I was just saying, have issues but they are typically problems that are related to lack of communication, the routine, and other common problems that couples face.
These can be helped by practicing better communication techniques (like the ones you can read about in this article) and by sharing new activities so that the relationship doesn’t feel so predictable. Toxic relationships, on the other hand, have much deeper rooted issues that have much more damaging effects.
Is my relationship unhealthy or is it toxic?
It is crucial for a person to be able to identify the signs of a bad relationship so that they can then take action and pinpoint the tools that will then be able to help them make concrete changes that will set them up for long term success.
In doing so, you will be able to see how to right a wrong relationship, or how to get out of a toxic relationship. At this point, something in the relationship is stealing your peace of mind and this needs to change.
As we start to get into the nitty gritty here, I want to take a moment to bring your attention to the fact that it only takes one partner to make a relationship toxic.
Yes, it takes two to tango and a relationship is a two-way road, but when it comes to toxicity, one person is enough to make it the case. It takes both people to build a happy and healthy relationship, but it only takes one to make it toxic and unhealthy. Please also keep in mind that oftentimes, that person can also be you.
I know that it’s easier to look at what the other person is doing, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look at our own actions. Perspective is imperative, and being honest with yourself is key.
Now, let’s talk about the things that will help you determine whether this relationship is unhealthy or toxic.
How do you know if your relationship is unhealthy or toxic: Values
The first sign of an unhealthy relationship that has become toxic has to do with your values. Is your partner forcing you to compromise your value systems? If there are certain things that you believe, that you want, ways that you see the world, and your partner throws those things in the trash, then there’s a problem.
If he or she knows about these values and stomps all over them, then there is an element of toxicity. One way to summarize an extremely unhealthy relationship is one in which you don’t feel safe to be yourself. That can be emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally… If you don’t feel at ease to be who you truly are, you could be in a toxic relationship.
Again, an unhealthy relationship is one in which you aren’t feeling satisfied, but a toxic one is a relationship in which you don’t feel like you’re allowed to be satisfied.
If your partner lacks the moral or ethic code that you would expect from them, there is a problem. In other words, if your gut tells you that your partner is a bad person who makes selfish or immoral decisions, you are not in a healthy situation. If they lack the virtues like kindness, empathy and love that are required to be able to leave a good life and connect with you in a meaningful way, things could be are unhealthy and even toxic.
How to know if the relationship is unhealthy or toxic: Personal space
Personal space in a relationship is a fundamental element. So, if you feel like personal space is not something that you’re able (or allowed) to have in this relationship, and if you feel like your privacy is in jeopardy, then your relationship may be unhealthy AND toxic.
If your partner is going through your phone, going through your Instagram, your email, your Facebook, and are generally not allowing you to have your own “secret garden,” there’s a problem. Similarly, if your partner is cutting you off from your friends and family, you need to be very careful. These are control tactics, and there is no room for that in a healthy relationship.
So ask yourself, is your partner constantly checking up on you and requiring that they know what you are doing and who you are doing it with at all times? Do they text the people you said you’d be with if they don’t hear from you?
These are indirect ways that a person can try to control you and how you spend your time, and it is not healthy. You need to be able to feel free and supported in your relationship in order for it to be a healthy one.
Is my relationship unhealthy or toxic: Gaslighting
This section is particularly important because it is one of the main signs of an unhealthy relationship that is undoubtedly toxic. If your partner is gaslighting you, we’ve got a big problem on our hands. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept of gaslighting, it is when someone manipulates your understanding of your own sanity.
This is when someone tries to make you feel crazy and unstable for feeling something as a result of their actions. They will often try to convince you that the way you feel is absolutely ludicrous and that there is something wrong for you for feeling the way that you do, or thinking what you think.
This is more common than a lot of people realize, and it’s very dangerous. For example, let’s say you tell your partner that you need some space and their response is, “What? That’s ridiculous.” Or if you tell them that you don’t appreciate them going through your phone and they tell you you’re insane, we’re looking at gaslighting.
Symptoms of unhealthy relationships: Diving deeper
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?
How to leave if your relationship is unhealthy and 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.
Unhealthy relationships: how to identify them and determine whether they are toxic
To summarize the signs of an unhealthy relationship that is now toxic, you need to look out for:
1. Your values are being stomped all over
2. Your partner’s moral code doesn’t sit right with you
3. You are not allowed to have privacy or personal space, and you are cut off from loved ones
4. Your partner gaslights you
5. He or she constantly makes you feel worse about yourself
6. All of the compromise comes from you
7. You feel like you’re always walking on eggshells when you’re around your partner
8. You are blamed for everything
9. You are afraid to speak out or be yourself
It can be difficult to identify the signs of an unhealthy relationship that has become toxic, but I hope that this article has helped answer your questions. It is our mission to provide you with all the tips and tools you need to coach yourself at home, through whatever you may be experiencing in your relationship.
Join The Happily Committed Project and transform your relationship before it’s too late or let us help you heal and move forward with your life in a dignified and meaningful way. We have also created a brand new program designed to help you turn the page from a relationship with grace and peace of mind. To access it, all you have to do is click here.
Together we can work on reaching your goal by providing you with a clear-cut action plan that has been tailor-made to fit your relationship, your situation, and your specific needs!
Wishing you the absolute best in life and love
Your coach when you are looking for the signs of an unhealthy relationship