A toxic relationship can cause a whirlwind of emotions that’ll make the Real Housewives look like a bunch of saints. The worst thing about it? Toxic relationships can be hard to spot, even when the answer’s right in front of you.
But fret not, dear reader! These ten sneaky signs will help you figure out if your relationship stinks to high heaven and if it’s time for you to run for the hills!
10 Sneaky Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship
1. Neglect: You Feel Ignored or Insignificant
Does your partner only ever text you when they need something? Do they pay so little attention to what you say, it’s almost like you’re not even there?
Neglect can be an incredibly complex emotion to navigate and one of the most common signs you’re embroiled in a toxic relationship. You may feel like your partner doesn’t listen to what you have to say, that they don’t care about you, or that they’re not interested in spending time with you.
If this sounds like your situation, keep track of how often your partner ignores you. If it sounds like neglect, make sure you address this with your partner as soon as possible.
2. Wrongdoing: You’re Accused of Things You Didn’t Do
Another common sign of a toxic relationship is when you’re constantly accused of wrongdoing when, in fact, you’ve done nothing wrong. This can damage your self-esteem worse than a comedian calling you out for wearing 90s-inspired overalls to their stand-up special!
More importantly, being accused of things you didn’t do may be a sign that your partner is projecting their insecurities as a defense mechanism, which means that your partner is in serious need of therapy. Unfortunately, this is also a sign that the relationship is unhealthy and toxic.
3. Criticism: Your Partner is Always Criticizing You or Putting You Down for No Good Reason
The third sign of a toxic relationship is constant criticism. This comes in many forms, but some signs are more obvious than others. It could be remarks like, “you’re lazy,” or “you’re such a downer,” or “you’d be so much prettier if you lost weight.”
I call this “The Jellyfish Syndrome” because comments like these can sting like a mother. Nevertheless, it’s important to hold your ground and address them on the spot, especially if they make you feel worthless.
If your partner insists on criticizing you even after discussing your feelings, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if this relationship is truly worth fighting for. After all, constant putdowns will only erode your self-esteem and confidence over time. Not to mention chip away at your mental health. So it might be time to move on.
4. Disrespect: Your Partner is Rude or Demeaning Toward You
The fourth sign of a toxic relationship is when your partner is always being rude or condescending toward you. This can make you unhappy in the relationship and it might be even more upsetting if they do this in front of your friends or family.
If you feel like they’re constantly putting you down, talk about how it makes you feel and what your partner can do to improve their behavior. Finally, tell them that if things don’t change, you’ll be taking the next train to Singleville!
5. Mistrust: Your Partner Doesn’t Trust You With Anything
Mistrust can easily manifest in a toxic relationship if your partner doesn’t give you any privacy, if they’re always snooping through your phone or email, or if they’re constantly accusing you of cheating. Lack of trust is one of the most frustrating aspects of any relationship, especially if you’re faithful and have nothing to hide.
If this is the case, your partner may be struggling with insecurities of their own. If you feel the relationship is worth saving, then you’ll need to voice your concerns with your partner and see if they’re willing to build trust over time. If they don’t make any progress after putting in the work, it’s time to kick them to the curb.
6. Jealousy: Your Partner is Always Jealous of Your Friends and Family
Jealousy is one of the sneakiest signs of a toxic relationship. This is because, for some people, jealousy is a form of endearment. Meaning, they get off on their partner’s jealousy. It makes them feel desired. Special, even. As a result, it can be hard to identify jealousy as being toxic.
But if your partner is always getting jealous of your friends and family members, this is a tell-tale sign that they have some serious insecurity issues. Even if they don’t mean to be a jerk, their over-the-top jealousy could turn them into one.
If your partner is jealous all the time, it’s a good idea to address this head-on. Ask them, have they been cheated on before? Are they forwarding grief from a past, toxic relationship? Are they jealous for realsies or for funsies? Because there’s a fine line between the two. So your partner should tread lightly.
7. Isolation: Your Partner is Trying to Isolate You From Friends, Family, or Your Social Life
Now that we’ve covered my “Jellyfish Syndrome” in sign number three, allow me to introduce you to yet another notion straight from the inner workings of my complicated mind: say hello to “The Veruca Salt Syndrome.”
If you’re familiar with the Roald Dahl book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” then you know all about little Veruca Salt. She was the girl who wanted everything and didn’t care how she got it.
Sound familiar? If your partner is always trying to isolate you from the people you care about, it’s a sign that they want you all to themselves. And this is no bueno. Because to maintain a healthy relationship, you need an outlet for your relationship. Emphasis on the out part.
This is why having a social life is so important. You need an avenue to vent about your relationship when things aren’t going so well (which is okay) or if you just need someone to talk to other than your partner. If your partner is trying to keep you from having a social life, then they’re just a bad egg like little Veruca Salt. Time to dump them in the trash!
8. Control: Your Partner is Trying to Control Everything You Do
You want your partner to make you lose control in a good way (if you know what I mean!) But if they’re trying to control everything you do, such as what to wear, who to talk to, or where you can go, this is a surefire sign that your relationship is incredibly toxic and not worth sticking around for.
However, if you’re not ready to call it quits, then sit down with your partner and talk about specific examples of their controlling behavior that make you feel shitty. It might also help to explain why it isn’t conducive to a healthy, lasting relationship.
9. Manipulation: Guilt Trips, Verbal Abuse, or Intimidation to Get What They Want From You
The ninth sign of a toxic relationship is when your partner uses guilt trips, insults, or intimidation to get what they want from you. This could be anything from telling you that no one else will ever love you or that you’re worthless unless you’re with them. Some even resort to physical abuse.
Others employ a manipulation tactic that is harder to identify. They might use phrases like, “I’m just messing with you,” or “You know I didn’t mean it” when they are messing with you and when they do mean it. These phrases deflect their passive-aggressive comments, subtle judgments, or whatever else they have up their manipulative sleeves. If they do this often, it’s time to break up with them. Period.
10. Combative: You Can’t Talk About Anything Without Getting Into a Fight
The last sign of a toxic relationship is when you can’t talk about anything without getting into a fight. This could be something as small as disagreeing which episode of Friends is the all-time best, to something more serious, like your political ideologies.
If you and your partner can’t have a healthy conversation without it turning into a full-blown fight, then you’re better off finding someone else who doesn’t have a short fuse for talking points of any kind. But also, make sure you’re not the one who’s subconsciously fueling these arguments. Lastly, if your partner starts a fight just so they could have the best make-up sex of their life after, this is another red flag that you’re in a toxic relationship.
The Bottom Line of Toxic Relationships
As you can see, many signs indicate whether or not your relationship is “the absolute pits,” as they say in the U.K.
If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s time to have a serious talk with your partner about whether or not they want to work things out as a team. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or family members for support. But most importantly, don’t be afraid to walk away from a toxic relationship if it’s not healthy for you.
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