Toxic relationships come in various shapes and sizes, but the end result is always that they diminish you instead of building you up.
It could be that you get along like oil and water or that the other person is not a nice person. Toxic doesn’t always mean evil or abusive, but lots of things on this list are indeed evil and abusive. Either way, wrong is wrong.
Here are 17 signs that your relationship is damaging and that changes need to be made ASAP.
1. You feel unable to express who you are.
2. Your partner controls your finances.
3. You are becoming isolated from your friends and family.
4. You feel defensive, like you’re continually hiding something to prevent a blowup.
5. You feel that if you were just different somehow that things would improve.
6. Your friends and family have tried to talk you out of the relationship.
7. The relationship has hijacked you instead of adding to your life.
8. You’re “staying for the kids” or some other reason.
9. They fight dirty and/or there is physical abuse.
10. They are critical of you. This includes mean “jokes” made at your expense.
11. You spend more time untangling disagreements than being happy.
12. You don’t like the person who you’re becoming.
13. They make you feel small.
14. Everything is about them.
15. They treat you with contempt.
16. To cope, you’ve checked out and ignore problems.
17. One or both of you have/are currently cheating and work hasn’t been done to get past it.
What To Do If You See Yourself In This List
Decide whether there is obvious abuse as in numbers 2,3,4,9,10,13,15 or if your relationship has gone down a destructive path (the remainder of the numbers). If things are abusive, I strongly urge you to leave. Abusive relationships don’t improve. There is an element of control that just does not get better.
That leaves the remaining problems, most of which center around “losing oneself” in a relationship, the possibility that the relationship has become centered around your partner and having continued conflict with them. These problems are still serious, but there is hope to save things between you, if you want that.
Here are five things you can do to make things better:
1. Get counseling.
A professional can help you handle disagreements better and smooth out your communication. They can also get you and your partner talking to each other again.
If your partner refuses to go to counseling, go yourself. A professional can provide you with impartial insight into your situation. They can also help you regain your voice, if you’ve checked out.
2. Do something regularly that lights you up.
This tip is good if you feel lost in your relationship. Sacrifice is so common that often we wake up and realize that we feel like shadows of our former selves. The upside is that you can change this problem by making sure that you’re doing things to nurture yourself. Creative pursuits, seeing your friends and family, sports and hobbies are all ways to get your mojo back.
3. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
One big reason for misunderstandings is that one or both people in the relationship don’t make an effort to see things the way the other person does. Without empathy, disagreements can quickly turn into extended exercises in the blame game. Try to see their side of things and empathize with them. Look for your part in disagreements.
4. Speak up.
If you’re hurting and you haven’t told them, now is the time to sit them down and have a compassionate conversation about the way things are going. You deserve to have a candid conversation with them about your relationship. If this is impossible, this leads me to my next point.
5. Decide whether it’s worth it.
Only you can say for sure whether it’s worth it to you to try and fight for your relationship or break up and call it a day. As I said above, in the case of abuse, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, just go.