For many people, romantic relationships aren’t the positive experience that they should be. However, there’s a difference between a bad relationship and a dangerously toxic one, but it is important that you understand how to spot the latter.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, there is always the chance that you will be able to get out of it and go on to form a happy and stable relationship in the future. This article will help you spot if your relationship is toxic, and will help you to work out how you can get out of it.
1. You feel unfulfilled
A relationship should be a partnership between two people that is mutually beneficial to them both.
If you can’t remember what it felt like to be in love, and you certainly don’t look forward to seeing your partner at the end of a long day, there is every chance that your relationship could be toxic, and could be doing you more harm than good in the long term.
2. You’re constantly criticized
It can sometimes be quite subtle, but one of the signs of a toxic relationship is when one partner is always criticizing the other. It may be a comment such as “You’re not wearing that again are you?”
Or, “Don’t you think you should cook that a little differently?” These comments can sometimes be made out to be a bit of a joke too, as though it is a playful comment.
However, comments made continuously over time can be a sign of something more – a toxic relationship – and this means that you should be trying to get out of, and confront the issues that you’re facing.
Nobody should be criticized, particularly if negative comments are being made in public, outside of the home.
3. Your partner avoids contact
Are you fed up of sitting at home in silence, unable to make conversation with your partner? If so, you may be suffering from avoidance, where measures are actively taken to avoid speaking to your other half, even when it is only the two of you who are in the room.
Where this happens, one or both partners can start to feel alone, meaning that they are not getting what they need from a relationship. There are different types of contact that can be avoided, including social, sexual and even avoiding being seen together in public. All of these should be addressed as soon as possible.
4. Your mood is continuously negative
If you get to the end of the day, and you’re unable to think about positive things that have happened to you that day, your relationship might be to blame. A toxic relationship can have an effect on your life in many ways, and can drain many types of enjoyment that you might once have experienced.
If you and your partner are going to go the distance, you should be making each other happy, and cheering the other up, rather than actively draining the positive energy.
“Toxic relationships not only make us unhappy; they corrupt our attitudes and dispositions in ways that undermine healthier relationships and prevent us from realizing how much better things can be.” – Michael Josephson
5. Your friends and family begin to make comments
Lots of people feel as though they have the right to make comments about the relationships of their family and friends. Of course, this shouldn’t necessarily be the way, as a relationship should only be between two people.
However if several people start questioning your relationship then there is a chance that it might be the right time for you to start thinking about it yourself; don’t overthink it though.
You may not want to hear their concerns, but it is always helpful to hear about it from another point of view, as it means that you can put your own thoughts and feelings to one side and see the situation with fresh eyes. Sometimes, you don’t even realize just how toxic your relationship is, because you are so close to the middle of it.
How to cope with getting out of a toxic relationship
Breaking free from a toxic relationship is far from easy. The moments that follow can be even tougher. However here are some useful tips to consider:
1. Think your decision through carefully
One thing is for sure – you shouldn’t be making any rushed decisions. There are several reasons that relationships might not be working, including stress, or life events that one or both of you haven’t coped well with.
These things could be worked on in the long term, and you may be able to find a way through them.
However, you will not be able to work on a toxic relationship where one or both partners are unable or unwilling to change, so it is vital that you’re able to see your own situation clearly before you come to a final decision.
2. Get some advice
If you’re thinking about ending a relationship, particularly if you’ve been together for a long time, there is a chance that you could be anxious about what you’re doing.
Anxiety can often mean that you don’t think clearly about a situation, and for this reason, it is a good idea to think about asking for the advice of other people before you come to any kind of final decisions.
You could ask friends and family, or even visit a relationship counsellor, and they will be able to give you a fresh view on your situation, and more importantly try to help you figure out what you can do.
3. Don’t contact your partner
If you’re constantly emailing, phoning or texting your partner, you might not be able to get the space that you need in order to move on with your life. Instead, you should try cutting all contact and telling them to do the same. Of course, this won’t be easy if you have children or other ties, but where possible you should avoid any kind of contact at all. That way, you’re free to start a fresh life for yourself without any kind of distraction from the life that you’re trying to get away from.
4. Understand that it isn’t your fault
A lot of the time, when a relationship comes to an end, both partners start to think that it was their fault, and that they could or should have done something differently.
Instead, you should remember that just because you and your partner weren’t good together, this doesn’t mean that you’re not good for other people.
So you will meet somebody who is perfect for you eventually – it just so happens that it wasn’t this person.
5. Know that you deserve a happy relationship
When you’ve just broken up with a partner, particularly if you’ve been with them for a long time, it can be very difficult to be able to see a time when you could ever be happy with another person again.
But just remember – before you met your partner, you would never have imagined falling for them, because you hadn’t met them yet, and literally anybody who you meet in the street could be the one for you. Understanding the beautiful randomness of relationships is essential here, as it shows that there is always hope for meeting somebody new in the future who would be perfect for you.
6. Don’t take a step backwards
When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, no matter how unhappy you were with your partner, it can be very difficult to make the transition into being single again.
It can even seem scary for a while, because you often don’t realize just how much of your lives were meshed, even if it wasn’t a particularly good relationship at the time.
Getting to know yourself again can take a while, and it may feel tempting to just jump straight back into the relationship, just because it feels so familiar to you. Instead of doing this, however, you need to learn who you are as a person, not just who you were as a couple.
This means that you should spend time with your friends (and preferably not mutual friends that you shared with your partner) and family, and enjoy activities that make you smile. In time, you should be able to form your own identity and find out who you are again. The outcome might be a pleasant surprise!
So, ultimately, getting out of a toxic relationship is possible, once you’ve realized that you’re in one. It is important that you do so as soon as possible, because being with somebody who doesn’t make you happy can waste moments during which you could be happy with somebody else, so it makes no sense to waste time. Once you have broken free, you have your whole life ahead of you to find love with the perfect person for you.
Main image via photographer David Hughes for Taylor James