Britney Spears tried to make the idea of a toxic relationship sound hot in her 2003 top-ten hit, when the reality of being stuck in a poisonous partnership is anything but.
If you’ve been together a long time, it can be tempting to try and fix any problems you identify, and there is definitely something to be said for giving counselling a try – and all the experts agree that the sooner you get counselling the better chance you have of successfully resolving your issues. Some people in toxic relationships leave things far too long, and their marriage counselling soon becomes divorce counselling.
It emerges that even relationship counselling can’t save the most toxic relationships. Research by the New York Times found that a quarter of couples felt they were actually worse off two years after finishing their sessions, while 38% were divorced within four years. Although, some relationships are so damaged that counsellors almost have an obligation not to save them!
Sometimes it can be hard to see how damaging your partner’s behaviour is – or even how damaging your behaviour can be towards your partner – but if you spot any of the danger signs below, it’s time to count your losses and clear out.
15. Trust Issues
Trust is essential in a relationship – and it works both ways. If you feel you can’t trust your partner, or you haven’t given them any reason to trust you, then it might be time to take a long, hard look at your relationship. Trust isn’t just about being unfaithful to someone, either. There are lots of reasons that people can start to lose faith in their partner. People can tell lies about money, about their leisure interests or even where they’ve been when they failed to turn up to an important event. These can all erode trust and make for a toxic relationship.
14. Lack Of Give And Take
Relationships should be a two-way street. Sometimes you’ll do something to help out your partner, knowing that they’ll have your back when you need them to support you in the future. If you don’t have that kind of give and take with your other half, whether you’re the one who gives or the one who takes, then this could be a sign of a toxic relationship. This is the kind of behaviour which can easily be unlearnt, so long as the taker wants to change. If the taker is quite happy with the way things are, then the poor giver is never going to be happy.
13. Walking On Eggshells
Toxic relationships always make for a tense atmosphere at home. Even if you’re completely in denial about the scale of the problems in your love life, you know deep down whether you’re looking forward to going home at the end of the day – or not. A frosty atmosphere at home just makes everyone nervous, knowing that the slightest misplaced word or misunderstood gesture is going to start yet another argument. If you can’t bear to head home because the atmosphere is so strained, then it’s time to start talking to your other half and make some big changes in your home life.
Part of being in a relationship is that you can depend on one another – for the small stuff, as well as the big stuff. At first, a toxic partner might just seem a little flaky – forgetting a special occasion to do something he wants to do instead, for example – but these small moments of unreliability soon build up. When you have children together this becomes even more of an issue, as parents need to know that they can rely on their partner to be there for the kids too. If your other half is unreliable, it’s time to start laying down some ground rules.
11. Narcissistic No-Nos
Narcissism is an unattractive trait at the best of times, but when you are involved with someone who thinks so highly of themselves that they put their needs above anyone else’s, you are heading for a toxic relationship. A narcissistic partner will want to talk about themselves all the time- their day at work, their plans for the weekend, even their problems and feelings – and it isn’t even that your opinion doesn’t matter, but your opinion isn’t even worth hearing. Over time, this can cause real damage to the self-esteem of the narcissist’s partner. If you only ever seem to talk about your other half, get out while you can!
10. You’ve Stopped Talking
Talking is the key to any positive relationship. Yes, men might hate the idea of expressing their emotions, but they can at least sit there and look interested while their wife talks about hers! If you and your partner have stopped talking about everything, except who’s turn it is to do the washing up, then it’s a real sign your relationship could be in danger. If you can work out why you stopped talking in the first place, then the situation could be saved. If you really have got nothing left to talk about any more, than it might be time to extricate yourself from the situation.
9. Constantly Avoiding Disagreements
Rather than behaving like an adult, and trying to talk to your partner about your latest disagreement, you simply set about trying to avoid them as much as possible. You stay late at work, knowing that he’s going out with the guys later, or you head to the gym for a few hours when you know she’s going to be in the house. Perhaps you don’t even feel comfortable in your own home any more. When you spend more time thinking up excuses to avoid seeing your partner than actually seeing them, it’s fair to say the magic has gone.
8. Too Much Drama
There’s nothing a toxic partner loves more than a bit of drama. It panders to their narcissism and it makes their poor, downtrodden other half feel terrible, all at the same time. If your husband or wife is fond of creating Mount Everest out of a molehill – and especially if they then seem to take even greater pleasure in giving a blow by blow account of the incident to all their friends – then you have to question their motives for sticking around. Are they still in love with you, or do they just love being the drama king or queen?
7. Pressure To Change A Partner
Women are often accused of agreeing to go out with a man, on the basis that they can change him for the better, a kind of human fixer upper. In a toxic relationship, however, you may find yourself modifying your own behaviour in order to try and keep things calm and quiet on the home front. Once upon a time, you might have been a party animal, enjoying your wild nights out with your friends, but after a few blazing rows with your toxic partner about you spending too much time with the guys or the girls, you find yourself sitting at home on a Saturday night instead.
6. Uncertainty About The Future
It’s the question a lot of people dread when their relationship starts getting serious: “Where do you see this going?” However, those stuck in a toxic relationship have no hope of ever getting an answer to that question – and they’re probably too afraid to ask it in case they start another argument! Bad relationships cause to a lot of uncertainty over the future. Besides, if things really are that bad, do you want to be having the talk about marriage and children? Shouldn’t you be trying to find someone who you do have a future with instead?
5. Rampant Jealousy
Toxic partners can often be very controlling, monitoring where their partners go, who they speak to and even who they interact with on social media. If your partner gets mad at you for hanging out with an old friend of the opposite sex, that’s annoying but understandable. If your partner wants to check your phone after you get home, or logs into your email and Facebook to check up who’s been contacting you, that’s another matter altogether. They may try and tell you that they’re only jealous because they love you, but jealousy can only exist where there is no trust.
4. They Lie Through Their Teeth
While a controlling partner will be jealous about your behaviour, don’t expect them to be honest about what they’re getting up to when you’re not around. They may ask questions about who you’re going out with, where you’re going to be and what time you’re getting home, but if you try and ask them the same things, you’ll either get shouted at or flat-out lied to. The toxic partner doesn’t see their other half as an equal, and sees no good reason why what should be good for the goose, is good for the gander (or the other way round!)
3. Forced To Lower Your Standards
When the toxic relationship started, there was a lot of stuff your partner did that you wouldn’t let him or her get away with – and in the early days, they respected that and wouldn’t push those boundaries. As time has gone by, however, and they’ve found themselves increasingly in control, they will often decide to just go ahead and do what they want to do – even if they know it’s going to make you mad. Worst of all, because the bad relationship has shattered your confidence and your self-esteem you find yourself making excuses for them, lowering your own standards to fit their behaviour.
2. Always Shouting
Often, your toxic partner will do things so bad that you feel you can’t let it go unnoticed or unpunished. You might decide to opt for the passive aggressive punishment, “accidentally” locking him out or turning up late when you know it annoys him, or you might decide that their behaviour has been so unacceptable that the only way to react is to fly off the handle. The best option becomes to cue a stand-up screaming match, something that is not ideal if there are kids in the house. Whichever way you look at it, a toxic relationship really brings out the worst in you.
1. Constant Criticism
Toxic relationships often involve one partner trying to control the other. There are lots of ways this can be achieved, but one of the most common is through constant criticism and negative comments. The toxic person knows that their partner is far too good for them, but the only way to be sure that their loved one isn’t going to see the light and leave them is to tell them that they’re so ugly and stupid that no-one else would want them anyway. If your partner is criticising everything you say or do, it might be time to start questioning his or her motives.
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