Maybe we have all been there. Regardless of our age or gender, it is possible that all of us at one point or another have had a moment where we have asked ourselves, “Why am I still in this relationship?” or “Do I even recognize myself?”. Questioning and doubting yourself, an internalised self-blame and lowered confidence are all consequences of being in a toxic relationship. It’s easy to get stuck in a chaotic connection with another person hoping things will get better, making excuses for abusive behaviors, or denying the reality of what it might actually be. We always want to see the best in individuals, especially those we love. However, typically these types of relationships are harmful for both parties and can bring out sides to people we never thought was possible.
A toxic (romantic) relationship can be characterised as a relationship where any two people do not support each other, where there is conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there is competition, disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness (Glass, 1995). There are multiple causes that might create a toxic relationship, which include: low self-esteem, lack of communication, childhood abuse, neglect, violence, etc. However, at the core of all toxic relationships, we find a lack of respect, trust and affection. Several studies have shown that bad relationships can have a large impact on our physical and mental health, such as depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Healthy relationships are characterised as ones filled with compassion, security, safety, freedom of thinking and sharing, listening, mutual love and care and respectfulness in moments where there are differences in perspectives.
It can be difficult to determine whether or not you are in a toxic relationship. As mentioned before, there are several factors that might make it easy to avoid confronting the overarching question, “Is this healthy for me?”. It takes a lot of courage to ask yourself this question, and it can be grueling to answer it. If you are someone who suspects they might be in a relationship that is not healthy for you and is finding it difficult to identify this, here are 10 signs that can indicate whether the relationship you have with this other person might be toxic for you:
- Putting you down
- Trying to control or manipulate you
- Being passive-aggressive
- Giving no credit or support for your achievements
- Having little or no respect for your boundaries
- You do not feel physically and/or emotionally safe with them
- There is no equal “give and take”
- Criticising your actions and behaviors often
- Feeling large amounts of jealousy
- Being dishonest or distrustful frequently
If you are someone that identifies your partner and relationship with many of these qualities, it can be likely you are in a toxic relationship. Confronting this is frightening. For some, you may be in a relationship where you are unable to leave due to various emotional, financial or safety reasons. Despite this, by acknowledging you are in a toxic relationship, you have taken the first step in creating a healthier life for yourself. From this initial step, you can begin to explore options and learn about the love that you and everyone deserves.
If you are currently in a toxic and abusive relationship and wish to seek support, you can find help here.
Chloé Möller currently has a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is further pursuing another in Work & Organisational Psychology, whilst also being an intern here at Willingness.
- Glass, L. (1995). Toxic People (1st ed.). Your Total Image Publishing.
- How to identify toxic relationships | Hospitals Contribution Fund. Hcf.com.au. (2021). Retrieved 21 July 2021, from https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/body-mind/mental-health/toxic-relationships.
- The Hidden Health Hazards of Toxic Relationships. Psychology Today. (2021). Retrieved 22 July 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201108/the-hidden-health-hazards-toxic-relationships.