Do you feel your relationship is slowly causing you to lose connection to who you are? Have you often felt like your relationship has become one-sided with little effort on your partner’s end? Or even worse, do you have family and friends telling you that your relationship isn’t healthy and that you should end things?
If any of these are ringing true for you, there’s a chance you could be in a toxic relationship. To know for sure, today’s post will guide you through some of the toxic relationship patterns I see in my work with clients and the true costs of what these relationships can do to you if you stay in them.
What Is A Toxic Relationship?
If you’re reading this, and you’re not sure what a toxic relationship is, know that you’re not alone. Even I was in your position at one point. I didn’t recognize the signs I was in this kind of relationship back then; All I knew was that I was crazy about them, and it wasn’t until it became continuously worse that I knew I had to get out. Rather than having this happen to you, I want to help you discover the truth so you know before it gets to a damaging point.
Simply put, a toxic relationship is where one or both partners feel trapped, controlled, or suffocated by the other. This type of relationship often has emotional or mental abuse themes, which lends itself to codependent patterns. The result is a loss of your self-worth coupled with doubting your own emotions.
What Causes Toxic Relationships?
Many causes lead to the creation of these relationships.
To offer some quick insight (and to see if any sound like your situation), here are the 3 main causes:
Choosing the wrong partner. This may seem like the most obvious answer, but it’s hard to face reality when emotions are involved. Oftentimes when this is the case, you’re selecting partners that remind you of a parental figure when you were growing up. If you were emotionally neglected as a child, this person might exhibit those qualities.
Distorting your partner. If you’re used to having loved ones neglect your needs or treat you poorly, you may begin to pull apart your partner’s actions, looking for similar actions. In doing this, you distort your partner, and sooner than later, your past’s toxic relationship pattern appears.
Provoking your partner. This happens when you’re used to toxic relationships and feel comfortable in them on a subconscious level. Without knowing it, you start to act out in ways that cause this push-pull between you and your partner. This can be through jealousy or distancing.
As you can see, the connection between all of these things is not fixing yourself first. It’s key before we can fully enjoy a healthy relationship that we learn about ourselves first — our needs, desires, self-worth, etc. If you resonate with this, check out my free training to start making changes today.
What Toxic Relationships Are Like
Now that you understand what a toxic relationship is and its causes let’s review 5 main toxic relationship signs.
Sign 1: You’re the only one working to keep the relationship together
You are constantly putting more time and effort into the relationship than your partner is. If the relationship ended tomorrow, you’d be the one who was devastated. You feel you can’t sit back and relax, or else the whole thing will crumble.
Overall, your primary focus is on keeping the relationship going regardless of the cost to you.
The thing is, if you continue to be the only one working in the relationship, you won’t have anything left to give yourself. You don’t want that, do you?
Sign 2: Your gut is telling you to end it, but you won’t listen
That little voice inside you has been telling you to say goodbye for a long time, but you ignore it.
In your heart, you feel that you have invested so much of your life into the relationship that it can’t end. You think about all the years together, the kids you have, the finances you share, the friends and families…what would all of these people do if y’all weren’t together anymore?
Ask yourself, what would have to happen to make me leave the relationship? If that ‘something’ has already happened and you decided to ignore it or forgive them. If you continue to think if this happens again, you gotta listen to your gut.
Sign 3: You don’t trust your partner
While trust fluctuates in any relationship, you feel more often than not that you have little-to-none with your partner. Either your partner has hurt you before or constantly leaves you in a state of worry and panic about their trustworthiness.
You begin to see a pattern of behavior and actions that are causing you not to trust them. This is a massive sign that you can’t continue to ignore. Is it worth living in constant pain or paranoia if your partner isn’t committed to taking the right steps to establish trust?
Sign 4: You’re avoiding being honest with yourself
Instead of looking at the relationship for what it is right now, you tend to look towards the future and fantasize about how it could be.
You know the relationship is unhealthy, but you don’t want it to end. You struggle with being honest with yourself about how the relationship affects you mentally, emotionally, physically, or sexually.
Sign 5: When your partner tries to end it, you convince them that it will get better
Each time your partner tells you they are done, and the relationship is over, you convince them to stay. You are willing to do anything and everything they want to save the relationship. Your partner is being honest with you and trying to tell you that it isn’t working. It’s your responsibility to listen to what they are telling you.
How Toxic Relationships Affect Your Health
While it may be hard to look at these signs and accept that your relationship is toxic, it’s something that you have to do so you can let go and grow.
A healthy relationship takes two people being their best and healthiest self more days than not.
You can’t keep giving, giving, and giving yourself without something in return. If you do, it’ll continue to wreak havoc on your emotional and social life.
Here are a few things that your toxic relationship is costing you:
In toxic relationships, it can feel like you’re the crazy one because your partner may be gaslighting you, telling you that you’re the problem, or you’re the reason they act the way they do.
You start to question your own emotions and think:
What’s wrong with me for bringing that up?
Why do I always have to make them the bad guy?
Why can’t I be happier?
Your ability to trust
Your partner’s words or actions have hurt you. Maybe they even apologized for what they did, but they did it again and again. Just when you think things are good, they do something else to cause distrust.
This might look like…
Your partner knowing you dislike being ignored after a fight, but they continue to do it
Your partner knowing you feel uncomfortable with them hanging out with someone, but they do it anyway
Your partner knows you like to stay in touch when they’re out, but they constantly turn off their phone, causing you to worry
Your inner peace
Toxic relationships are chaotic, ever-changing, and not stable. The rules change at any time, and nothing is predictable, except that your partner is unpredictable. Staying in this relationship will cost you your inner peace.
Your friends and family
Whether it was you or your partner’s fault, you’ve pushed away family and friends because they don’t like the relationship you’re in. Maybe they told you it’s unhealthy or they don’t like your partner because of whatever reasons they gave. They want what’s best for you and since that went against the relationship between you or your partner caused distance between them. You started to have a “them” vs. “us” mentally, which led to this distancing.
Just know…often, when toxic relationships end, family and friends are still there and ready to support you as you heal. They may tell you they knew something wasn’t right or they had a feeling about your partner because of XYZ reasons.
Your ability to trust yourself
This is when you frequently second guess yourself or you have a difficult time making decisions. You’ve lost your ability to connect with yourself and know what’s right for you. Being in a toxic relationship can leave you feeling like you don’t know what is best for you overall.
I hope that after reading this, you’re able to have some clarity around what you’re experiencing in your relationship. We often complicate situations due to our emotions. My goal is that you’re able to sort through the unhealthiness and see that you’re worthy of so much more. It may be hard to work towards leaving, but I believe in you and know that your future self will thank you.
A clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. From sex/intimacy, personal growth, and relationships, I am here to help you every step of the way.