It begins again. The constant fighting, the back-and-forth banter, feelings and emotions of sadness, regret, disrespect. They have all become familiar and routine in your relationship. Subconsciously you are thinking, “Fights are normal in a relationship and rough patches are bound to come,” but when there is a strong inability to be cohesive in a relationship, this can lead to negative, toxic relationships and behavior.
What constitutes a toxic relationship? Dr, Lillian Glass, a California-based communication and psychology expert, coined the term in her 1995 book Toxic People. Toxic relationships are described as any relationship between people who don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.
As previously stated, relationships do have their ups and downs, however, when the relationship is consistently unpleasant and draining for the people in it, or if the negative moments outweigh the positive ones, then the relationship is deemed toxic.
What makes a relationship toxic is the act of people consistently undermining or causing harm to a partner, whether it is intentional or not. There are also situational factors that can lead to a toxic relationship. These factors can include previous toxic relationships, either romantically or as a child, not having the most supportive, loving upbringing, being bullied, or suffering from an undiagnosed mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or any form of trauma.
Aside from situational factors, another underlying reason why relationships may become toxic is due to incompatibility.
So what are the warning signs of a toxic relationship? The most serious warning signs include any form of violence, abuse, or harassment, but in many cases. The indicators of a toxic relationship are much more subtle. Here are five indicators of a toxic relationship.
- Persistent Unhappiness. If a relationship stops bringing you joy, and instead consistently makes you feel sad, angry, anxious, or checked out, it may be toxic.
- Negative Shifts in Your Mental Health, Personality, or Self-Esteem. These are all red flags, too. These changes could range from clinically diagnosable conditions (depression, anxiety) to constantly feeling nervous or uncomfortable around your partner.
- Feeling like you can’t talk with or voice concerns to your significant other. If you feel anxious or have feelings of worry when thinking about voicing concerns with your significant other, this could be a sign that something is amiss in the relationship.
- Look for changes in your other relationships, or in the ways you spend your free time. You may feel bad for doing things on your own time, because you feel like you have to attend to your partner all the time. You cross the line when you’re not your individual self anymore and you’re giving everything to your partner.
- Concerns from family and friends should be taken seriously. Sometimes people in toxic relationships are the last to realize they are in one.
If any of these red flags sound familiar, it’s time to take action. If you feel that you are in physical danger, you may need to involve the authorities. If the harm is emotional or mental, you’ll have to decide if it’s possible to work through the issue. Medical or therapeutic treatments may help! Getting to the root of the problem is important, but sometimes the answer may be to walk away.
It’s important to remember that love is a beautiful emotion/feeling that we get to experience. It should never cost you your peace, jou, or your happiness. Love is patient, kind, gentle, bountiful, and unconditional. Remember that if there is more negative in the situation than positive, something has to change.