Are you looking for signals that your relationship is toxic?
Do you look around at other people in happy relationships and wonder how you can know if yours is one of the good ones?
Unfortunately, for many people it’s hard to know when we are in a toxic relationship. We are just too close to it and deep in it and we can be blinded in many ways.
Fortunately, there are red flags that signal that your relationship is toxic. If you know what to look for, you can see the signals that your relationship is toxic and make the hard choice about whether to stay or go.
Here are 5 surprising signals that your relationship is toxic, five signals that you should heed if you see them.
#1 – You find yourself tip toeing around.
I have a client who is very confident out in the world. Out in the world he speaks up for what he wants, is confident in his action sand feels good about himself.
In contrast, when he is home, he feels unsafe and unsure. When he is in the presence of his wife he is quiet, knowing that if he says or does something that she doesn’t like, she will yell at him. He doesn’t take on projects around the house without her direction because he is worried that he might do the wrong thing. He spends lots of time in the garage, knowing that if he is out of sight he is out of danger.
Do you find that you walk on eggshells around your partner? That you are careful not to do anything that might upset them? That you will go out of your way to make them happy?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions then that is a clear signal that your relationship is toxic.
No one should feel uncomfortable being themselves in any relationship. Perhaps it’s time you took a good look at yours and see how you fit in.
#2 – Your self-esteem is at an all time low.
For many of us in a relationship that is toxic, we no longer feel good about ourselves.
In some cases, it’s because we are walking on eggshells and that makes us lose our self confidence. In other cases, we don’t feel good about ourselves because our partners belittle us, in big ways and small, over and over and over.
I have a client whose husband never has a kind word to say about her. He never compliments her on how she looks or the dinner she cooked or how successful she is in her job. Sometimes he is just silent, saying nothing, which hurts her deeply. And sometimes he is very direct, telling her that her dress is horrible or that it’s just luck that she does well at work.
These kind of direct and indirect attacks have slowly, over time, destroyed her self-esteem. They are like a thousand little cuts that might not bleed much but that ultimately leave you bloodless.
She no longer believes that she is the amazing person that other people think she is.
Are you struggling with self esteem issues brought about by your relationship? If yes, it might be a signal that you are in a toxic relationship, one that you might consider leaving.
#3 – You are always sick.
I remember back when I was unhappily married, I was always struggling with health issues. I developed allergies to foods, some of them psychosomatic. I was debilitated by a yeast overgrowth that led to fibromyalgia. I struggled with chronic pain in my body and constant depression. Basically, I was falling apart.
When we are in a relationship that is toxic, it takes an effect on our physical health. If one exists in a state of being constantly on edge, being cut down by our partners, of not feeling loved, it is impossible to maintain good health. Even if you are exercising regularly and eating well, the chances of you struggling with health issues if your relationship is toxic is significant.
Do you have chronic health issues? It could be a signal that your relationship is toxic. Not only should you see a doctor but perhaps it’s time to consider whether it’s time to run, maybe to literally save your life.
#4 – You see substance abuse.
When you are in a relationship that is toxic, there are often signs of substance abuse, signs that are big red flags that should be paid attention to. And not just signs of substance abuse in your partner but in yourself.
Usually, when people are living in a deeply unhappy place, they look for ways to manage their unhappiness. In an ideal world, people would manage their unhappiness in healthy ways, like exercise and therapy. In this really tough world that we live in, however, many people turn to drugs, alcohol and infidelity to manage their moods.
Ironically, abusing substances can actually make a toxic relationship worse. Drug and alcohol abuse weakens filters and often people say and do things that they might not necessarily do in a sober state. Problems that seem manageable suddenly become less so. Tempers flare and emotional and/or physical abuse can ensue. If both partners are abusing substances things can escalate quickly, causing damage that can not be repaired.
Furthermore, abusing substances can lead to depression. When we are depressed, dealing with another person is even harder and feeling good about yourself is impossible. Even if your partner isn’t abusing substances, you doing so is a red flag that your relationship is toxic and that things need to change.
#5 – You no longer have friends.
A client of mine was in a relationship that was toxic and one of the biggest side effects, one that took a long time for him to notice, was that their friends had fallen away, leaving them alone and struggling.
Think about couples you know who are in unhappy relationships. Are they fun to be with? If you choose to go out to dinner, would you invite them along? Does time spent with them make everyone uncomfortable and on edge?
Are you this couple to your friends? The one who no one likes to hang out with anymore.
Even if you are still invited places as a couple, it is possible that your individual friends will pull away from you if you are in a relationship that is toxic. If all you want to do is talk about how unhappy you are and how much your partner sucks, especially if you just want to talk about it and not take steps to fix it, you might find that your friends have less of an inclination to spend time with you. Life is hard enough without having to be constantly dragged down by an unhappy friend.
So, take a look at your friendships. Are your couple friends still inviting you to do things? Are your personal friends making excuses to not spend time with you? If the answer to either of those questions are yes, you might be in a relationship that is toxic and perhaps it’s time to take a good hard look at trying to fix it or get out.
Knowing red flags that signal that your relationship is toxic is an essential way of both escaping from one and preventing you from entering a new one.
When we are in a toxic relationship it is often hard to tell because it is our reality 24/7 and having some clear signs to look out for, instead of relying on your feelings, can help you figure out what next steps might be.
So, if you find yourself walking around on eggshells, trying not to upset your partner, if your self-esteem and your health are flagging, if one or both of you is abusing substances and if you are losing your friends you might very well be in a toxic relationship, one that needs to be addressed NOW so that you can get your life back.