On a good day, being in an overall happy relationship can be a deeply rewarding experience. On a not so good day, there's potential for a ton of drama. Once you decide to dive into a relationship, you've basically agreed to attach yourself to a person whose likes, dislikes, and problems become partly your responsibility. This can feel like a lot of pressure, naturally leading to some conflict or tension between even the healthiest of couples. If things just don't feel right, there are some warning signs of a toxic relationship to keep an eye out for if you suspect what you and your partner are going through isn't the norm.
Dealing with toxic relationships can feel like an uphill battle, because oftentimes both partners' shortcomings start to feed one another. For example, maybe one person has depressive tendencies and the other is struggling with abandonment issues. As the depressive partner slips in and out of depression, the other is convinced the withdrawals are a reflection of discontent with them, which kickstarts their fight-or-flight response. Sadly, it's all too easy for dynamics like this to become regular patterns, ultimately leading to the deterioration of the relationship.
If you notice any of these signs in either you or your partner, it may be a good idea to press pause.
1. Extreme Jealousy
Look, I think a small amount of jealousy in a romantic relationship isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, would you really want to be with someone who didn't feel a teensy weeny bit annoyed while watching you get hit on by a total hottie? Jealousy in small doses can actually be a much needed reminder of why we chose to lock down our partners in the first place.
That being said, if you or your partner is constantly overcome with jealousy for no real, concrete reason, then this is not good. Jealousy towards time and attention given to close friends and family can be especially problematic. "Being able to enjoy your own private moments with friends and family is essential to having your own identity and maintaining your independence while also in a relationship," says Kali Rogers, founder of Blush Online Coaching.
It's understandable for a partner to feel jealous of someone they view as a romantic threat to the relationship, but if they are actively trying to keep you from interacting with anyone they don't like, this is a major red flag.
2. Distrust (On Both Sides)
Trust is probably the single most important part of any meaningful relationship. Although it's completely normal to have fleeting doubts in a relationship, if you or your partner are constantly suspicious of one another, this is bad news.
If your partner has given you a solid reason to distrust them (i.e., cheating, lying, etc.) or visa versa, then this may be something that can be repaired with time. However, if the distrust is a constant fixture in the relationship and has lead to regular snooping or detective work on the down-low, it might be time to call it quits. "A controlling partner may feel entitled to have access to your email, phone, or internet history," according to dating and relationship coach Monica Parikh.
Part of being in a healthy relationship includes regularly communicating about the things that are bothering you. If, for whatever reason, you suspect your partner is deceiving you, then you owe it to the both of you to find a way of discussing your concerns in a productive way, not by invading their privacy behind their back.
3. Controlling Behavior
Controlling people really are the worst — they really need to stop pretending to be experts on literally everything. Dating someone who's trying to control and manipulate any aspect of your life is not only unhealthy, but it could keep you from being your best most independent self. “[They] may not like your best friend. [They] may even complain you talk to your family too often. The goal is to isolate you from your support network, making you an easy target for emotional manipulation and abuse," says Parikh.
It's totally OK if one of you gets a little bossy from time to time — we all have our moments — but if every decision either of you make is met with ridicule or pushback, then chances are something's not quite right.
4. Failure To Take Responsibility
Making mistakes are a totally normal and healthy part of life. Mostly because they present the opportunity for us reflect and learn from them, so we don't end up making the same mistakes over and over again — a silver lining that is easy to overlook. Some people find it extremely difficult to take responsibility for the things they say or do, and this is likely to result in some serious drama. Nobody has to be perfect, but if a partner is regularly doing or saying things that upset you and then making you feel like it's your issue for feeling hurt, this is a problem that might signal your relationship has become toxic, says Rogers.
Rogers goes on to note that this type of gas-lighting "is a highly manipulative tactic that should be called out immediately, and if used frequently, it's grounds for terminating the relationship.”
Toxic relationships aren't always someone's fault. Sometimes, the same thing that brings two people together ends up being the reason they can't fully engage healthily with one other. If you suspect you and your partner could be headed towards toxicity, but you aren't ready to give up, then it may be a good idea to seek counseling.
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