If there is one thing we really, really want for you this year, in fact, if there is one thing you should really, really want for yourself - it is to cut that toxic relationship from your life. Yes, the one you have been holding on to. It is time to let it go.
Every woman who has ever been through this.
In line of the theme of this International Women’s Day, we want you to want more for yourself - more health, more wealth, more peace, and more happiness.
By definition, a toxic relationship is characterised by toxic behaviours on the part of the partner that is frequently or knowingly damaging. Toxic relationships are unhealthy - mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes, even physically.
“While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy. A healthy relationship involves mutual caring, respect, and compassion, an interest in our partner’s welfare and growth, an ability to share control and decision-making, in short, a shared desire for each other’s happiness... A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control”, says PhD counsellor Thomas L Cory. He added, “To say a toxic relationship is dysfunctional is, at best, an understatement.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes two individuals to have a toxic relationship - a toxic partner and the recipient. If you are unsure whether your relationship qualifies as toxic or not, we are here to help you.
Here are some telltale signs of toxic relationship:
A healthy relationship makes your life better, not messier. And your relationship has become an emotional rollercoaster that never halts.
Promises are made in the spur of the moment never to be kept. If you both keep promising to change things and then ‘circumstances’ don’t allow it somehow, you know where is the poop. Also, saying ‘Sorry’ does not fix things. Making an effort to change yourself does. Sorry is the easy way out - always remember that!
When all the work, love and compromise is one-sided. There is zero effort from his/her end. One person can’t hold a relationship together especially when they are the only one doing all the work. It is always a give-and-take in one sided relationship
Making mistakes is basic human nature but keeping a count of the mistakes your partner has made in the relationship can become toxic. When those things are brought up over and over, it can slowly affect even the healthiest relationship and keep the ‘guilty’ person small. ‘You did this the last time’, ‘You always do such things’, etc. Keeping score of how many times your partner screwed up in the past in order to try and justify current righteousness will not make them stop doing it or make your action justified. Healthy relationships nurture your strengths. Toxic ones focus on your weaknesses.
Has it gotten absolutely impossible to get through to each other? If nine out of 10 times you both are arguing about what someone said or didn’t say, then you need to rethink your relationship. Without communication, there is no relationship. Period.
No relationship - whether between a boyfriend and girlfriend, a husband and wife, a mother and son, employee and employer - can flourish without trust. If there’s no mutual trust in the relationship, chances are it won’t work in the long run. You need to address the cause of mistrust to try and make it work.
When you express your negative feelings towards your partner subtly or indirectly rather than handling them directly, a separation is created between what is said and what is done. For example, you are with your boyfriend in the same room and something he’s doing or has done in the past is bothering you. But instead of telling him that you are mad at him, you blast the music to bother him. This kind of passive-aggressive behaviour, though is a common reaction in relationships, is not healthy. Once you are not comfortable being direct to each other about issues, feelings or opinions, it creates a hostile atmosphere.
If your relationship is abusive, it is a total deal-breaker. It can make you feel unsafe with the person you wish to spend your life. And we don’t see how will that work out.
If you are sharing your life with someone, it is critical that you also share decision making. Your partner’s opinions and feelings are important, and so are yours. A loving partner will respect that you are not going to agree with everything they say or do.
Instead of feeling happy and productive, you are always mentally, emotionally, and even physically drained. Especially when criticism is not intended to be helpful but rather to belittle. Feeling uncomfortable or tense around someone is just your body reacting to the negative energy surrounding the two of you.
Mutual respect is the first requirement of a good partnership. Taking each other for granted is one of the most common signs of disrespect.
You are supposed to have each other’s back, be each other’s rock. If that’s not happening, it is an issue you need to address.
No good comes out of lying to your partner. Remember this - things always find a way of coming out. And when they do, especially from a third person, it can be the worst kind of betrayal. A relationship that is laced with dishonesty is trouble. You need to address the need for being dishonest to try and make it work.
If you feel you can’t seem to do anything right, maybe the relationship is wrong? Whatever you do only upsets them and you find yourself tiptoeing around. At the same time, if you find yourself changing your opinion to please them, you are telling yourself that you are not good enough and worthy.
You don’t see a way out of your relationship and are constantly feeling tied down. When you’re with your partner, you should be able to feel free and not trapped.
There are times when you’re unsure about where your future is headed with your partner. While these are normal phases, especially in the early stages of a relationship, there should be a line. You should feel secure and confident about where your relationship is headed.
Every single action and decision of your partner should not affect your mood. Blaming our partners for our emotional well-being is unhealthy. When you create a situation where he/she is responsible for how you feel at all times, the relationship needs to be re-evaluated.
In no way should jealousy be confused as a display of affection. Getting angry at your partner for talking to someone else and then trying to control this behaviour should not be a regular occurence. Things, like hacking into your social media account and stalking your activities, say a lot about how much your partner really trusts you.
If you keep trying to make yourself happy by reminiscing how good things were when you had just started dating, remind yourself that you can’t live your life in the reverie that is ‘Once upon a time’. You have to work a lot and really hard, especially as you grow older in the relationship, to keep the spark alive.
Wanting your partner’s happiness is essential but what’s more essential is both of you wanting that for each other. Your happiness should mean his happiness and vice versa. If your relationship is all about his problems, his favourite cuisine and his work life, you are not ‘us’ anymore but two separate entities.
You are holding back your thoughts and feelings because you know there is no point in saying things out loud.
As the relationship matures, you mature. It is something you can’t change or stop from happening. But together you can make sure that the change is leading you in the same direction. If your relationship changes you, it should only make you a better version of yourself. If you feel like you are losing yourself or you don't recognize who you are anymore, it's not healthy.
Ask yourself, ‘Am I unhappy?’. If the answer is a strong yes, then let go. If the answer is maybe, then find a way to improve your life, with or without your partner. If someone is constantly putting you down, you owe this much to yourself. And frankly, to them too.
The most important person in your life - the one who will be there with you through heartbreak, loss, happiness and life in general - is YOU! So, learn to put yourself first. You do what is good for you in the moment and life will work itself out.
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This story was updated in March 2019.