Love. We all desire to be special to someone. We will give a lot of ourselves to see a relationship work and blossom. However, it’s crucial we recognize the signs of a toxic relationship, so our passion to make a relationship work doesn’t blind us to the truth. Most people believe that they would quickly leave an toxic relationship. Unfortunately, that is not always true since a toxic person can be very manipulative. It can become increasing hard to know when a relationship has gone from one with a few problems to toxic. So let’s review the 5 warning signs of a toxic relationship.
5 Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship
For the purpose of this post I’m focusing on dating relationships. While these signs can unfortunately show up in marriage there are other issues that I would like to discuss when I do write that post. So I’m talking to inform women 30+ who may be dating, often times with children in tow. Just because a woman is no longer in her teens or twenties doesn’t mean she is immune to missing the signs of a dangerous relationship. And when kids are involved we want to be very choosy who we allow to be around them! Amen!
Not sure if you are ready to date again. Here are 4 questions to ask yourself.
You Feel Worse about Yourself
First, a toxic relationship is a relationship that is unhealthy for you. It does not bring out your best. It has all the elements of an abusive relationship. However, without physical abuse many excuse their boyfriend’s behaviors. But I have found that when I ask someone, ” How do you feel about yourself in this relationship?” the excuses drop away. If you feel worse about yourself or you find it hard to function at your best in the relationship you are probably in a toxic relationship.
Your Partner is Very Jealous
This jealousy, which is really an attempt to control, presents in several ways. Your partner may often ask you to account for your time or question where you have been. They might check your phone or just happen to “drop by” often.
Your boyfriend may try to manipulate you into feeling guilty if you choose to go out with friends or family instead of them. You may begin to let go of some relationships. Or you avoid talking to certain acquaintances at parties or a get-together so you all won’t fight about it later.
As your relationship continues you may discover that your friend and social group seems to be shrinking to only a few friends your partner finds acceptable.
Consistently, making small adjustments so that your boyfriend won’t be jealous is a strong indication of a toxic relationship.
You are Verbally Abused
Verbal abuse is involved in every toxic relationship. Verbal abuse is one of the premiere signs of an unhealthy dating relationship. Name calling, threatening to harm someone or cause them mental distress or telling someone how stupid they are is not normal or healthy.
It is also very dangerous. The verbal abuse gradually erodes at your self-confidence. It can be harder to see the abuse as you slowly begin to believe that there is something wrong with you.
In my work with victims of abuse, it was the verbal abuse that was reported as the most hurtful. They remembered the cutting words long after they had left the relationship.
All relationships have tense moments. But it is a clear warning sign that your relationship is toxic if there is a pattern of verbal put downs or threats. Be aware that you may be putting yourself in harm’s way if the verbal threats begin to get more specific or detailed. For example the risk increases as the put downs go from, “I hate you,” to , “I’m going to kill you,” and even more specifically “I’m going to smash in your brains.”
Also as a further warning, I have professionally seen relationships that were toxic but with no history of physical abuse, escalate to the use of deadly force. So when it comes to those we allow closest to us, we must use wisdom and our instincts.
Your Feelings are Ignored
As I mentioned, one of the fundamentals to being in a toxic relationship is that you begin to question your own thoughts and feelings. In a toxic relationship, you may try to defend yourself against the verbal abuse or try to tell your partner how you feel. They in turn will just point out where you are wrong. They will belittle your feelings, telling you that you shouldn’t feel that way or even say that you have no right to feel that way. In a toxic dating relationship you may be ridiculed for opening up and sharing how hurt you feel.
After awhile most people caught in a toxic relationship no longer trust their own judgement. After all, why would a person who tells you they love you be lying to you. If they are constantly telling you that you are stupid, then there has to be some truth to it, right? That is why it is so important to know these 5 warning signs of a toxic relationship.
And at the same time they are telling you that you just need to “toughen up” they expect you to cater to their every feeling.
The Relationship is Not Stable
A toxic relationship is full of ups and downs beyond the norm. Instead of your relationship adding stability and comfort to your life, it is a constant source of anxiety. A person caught in a toxic dating relationship expends a lot of energy to keep everything perfect, but nothing they do is ever enough.
The relationship will have some good days. This drives the belief that you can somehow keep those good days going, but they never last. In a toxic relationship you may experience anxiety knowing your boyfriend will be upset with you again and threaten to leave you. It is exhausting!
How to Safeguard Yourself
Dating relationships are a big investment of our self. We want the investment to pay off. We don’t want to feel like we have given to something or someone and it is all for loss. However, when it comes to our dating relationships it is a healthy idea to hold loosely and with our eyes wide open to the truth. So protect yourself from an unhealthy relationship by knowing and understanding the 5 warning signs of a toxic relationship.
Another great way to safeguard yourself is surround yourself with wise friends. And then listen to them! If your friends are genuinely concerned about your relationship then take a moment and seriously consider what they are saying to you!
For our 3rd date my husband and I double dated with some good friends of mine. He knew it was a test. If they had misgivings about him, I wanted to know sooner rather than later. By that time in my life, I recognized that I was worth someone jumping through a few hoops to make into my inner circle. And so are YOU:)
Which brings me to my last point. Give your relationship some time before you begin investing your heart and money. I think we should try to be trusting of people as in giving people the benefit of the doubt and looking for the best. However, when it comes to dating I highly encourage waiting 2 months before you make choices that you will have trouble simply walking away from without regrets. My reasoning is that most people can only hold a facade for so long before some cracks start to show. If you allow some time to slowly get to know someone then you allow an opportunity to see a truer picture without your heart attached.
What Kind of Dating Relationship do You Have?
So what is the truth about your current dating relationship? Is it healthy and motivates you to become a better person. Or does your relationship cause you to feel panicked and less of a person than you were before?
You are so worth a healthy relationship. Reach out for help or encouragement today if you discover that you are in a toxic relationship!
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has more information on their site and also a hotline.
For those lovely readers that are currently married, did you put any safeguards or “hoops” your husband had to jump through before you married him?