From a candid point of view.
Anyone who is emotionally available to dating would want an ideal relationship. Most of us want the fairytale “happy ever after,” or at least something close to that.
In this day and age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find someone with whom you are highly compatible and with whom you can build your idea of a perfect relationship.
Indeed, people differ in their perceptions of what makes an ideal, near-perfect relationship; while some females love the dominant macho man, others love the sweet, tender, somewhat clingy man. Some others love the dangerously mystified man, while yet another group prefer men who are simple and down to earth. These choices also vary from the male perspective.
So many factors influence what we perceive to be the ideal partner for us. Our background, locality, and past experiences all shape the perfect partner for us in our hearts. These are the traits we set out to look for when we search for an ideal relationship.
However diverse our wants are in finding our better halves, there are general requirements that must be present for any relationship to thrive; the absence of such conditions builds an aura of discontent in a relationship and leads to what we all call a toxic relationship.
This article shall discuss what exactly a toxic relationship means, what traits define it, and how to move on once we identify we are in one.
What Is a Toxic Relationship?
Do you feel unhappy and sad whenever you think of your relationship?
Do you feel happier being with other people and miserable being with your partner?
Do the actions of your partner directly or indirectly deprive you of your happiness?
If the answer to all these is yes, then you’re probably in a toxic relationship.
While the specific characters that define a toxic relationship may vary from person to person, one thing is usually constant; if that relationship deprives you of your peace and happiness directly or indirectly, it is toxic.
Just like chemical toxicity may start at low levels and then gradually build to a critical point where it causes irreversible harm, toxic relationships often begin as tiny fragments that create a pattern. Over time, these poisonous characteristics are elaborately expressed until the victim reaches his/her breaking point.
These traits that usually indicate toxicity in a relationship are not easily picked up and branded as toxic traits, either because they’re masked by an apology from the offending partner, or by the victim’s belief that such characteristics or pattern of behavior from the guilty partner are just part of a “phase,” which would end sooner or later.
Sadly, however, such traits accentuate with time until the point where irrevocable damage is done, emotionally, physically, or both.
Subsequently, we would now examine such traits that create a toxic environment in a relationship.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Generally, there are specific patterns of behavior that people in toxic relationships experience, and we will discuss a host of them in this article:
Hiccups in Communication
A communication problem is probably one of the very first signs that herald toxic behavior in a relationship. However, communication at the start of a relationship is usually fluent between the spouses. There is chemistry during conversations, and light disputes are settled without fuss.
However, sudden changes in demeanor and tone of speaking that hint at disrespect should be taken as a red flag. One begins to see that the other person is easily irritated — unlike before, lashes out more often, resorts to insults, or just generally disregards your opinion unlike when the relationship started.
From being very excited to having conversations with your partner to being saddened after discussions and outrightly not wanting to communicate for fear of “pricking a nerve.”
This break in communication leads to a lot of unexpressed feelings and ultimately resentment towards one another. Little wonder why therapy sessions for broken relationships and marriages center heavily on rebuilding a healthy rapport between the spouses.
Healthy communication between two people in a relationship is a foundation for building a sustainable relationship. Hence, a spouse’s action to deliberately hurt communication in a relationship should be regarded as toxic behavior.
Traits of Disrespect
Mutual respect in a relationship is fundamental for anyone to maintain a healthy long-term commitment.
Actions, decisions, or statements that connote disrespect, when adequately designated as a no-no at the start of the relationship, shouldn’t be taken for granted as “just a phase” because it is human nature to continue a trait he/she is comfortable exhibiting.
Disrespect would go on as long as the victim permits it. It should be seen as a concrete warning sign, and if attempts to put an end to the disrespect fall on deaf ears, you should see that relationship as toxic.
The individual wins of your partner should be a source of joy and pride for you. You aren’t meant to compete with the success of your partner if that relationship is to remain healthy.
More often than not, when one partner starts exhibiting traits of disdain, anger, sadness towards the wins of their partner, or does not celebrate such successes with eagerness, it points to brewing toxicity.
Whether it is a degree, a new contract, a new workspace acquired, a promotion at work, increased salary, whatever accomplishment, big or small, as far as it is vital to your spouse, should be significant to you.
The male gender is slightly guiltier of this than the female gender. Some men even feel threatened by their partners’ successes, and that is a warning sign of a toxic human.
Chain of Lies and Deceit
A lie is only made up for by the truth.
When a lie is used to cover up a previous lie, it just leads to a long chain of deceit. This is an issue since dishonesty about feelings and decisions can break the trust between the two partners in a relationship.
Cheating is one of the most popular reasons why people in relationships lie and scheme. If you’re always emotionally hurt by the lies and deceit of your spouse, you may want to look for a way out of the relationship.
Ignoring Your Needs
Specific physical and emotional needs are peculiar to each partner, which should usually be agreed upon before starting the relationship.
Once there’s a shared understanding of what each partner needs from the other, deliberate denial of such needs to the other person isn’t proper and should be seen as a toxic trait.
A continuous pattern of such behavior without any logical reason means that you aren’t as important to your partner as you thought you were. This realization creates a whole world of emotional hurt that breeds a hostile atmosphere in the relationship.
The Control Freak
The choice of letting one’s partner in on their private lives should be a choice made willingly and not a law imposed on them by their partner.
When you care about the personal lives of your spouse, it shows that you care for that person; however, they should be allowed to make decisions on their own, while you merely offer advice.
The desire to control every aspect of your spouse’s life, including his/her relationship with others, is a toxic trait. Moreover, its persistent pattern can have adverse effects on the emotional state of the relationship.
Manipulation is one of the foremost toxic traits one can witness in a relationship. Still, when someone psychologically manipulates their partner to doubt the rationality of their actions and their sanity, it isn’t very good and should not, under any circumstance, be condoned.
Sadly, many people find themselves in such manipulative relationships and are handicapped in looking for a way out because the guilty partner makes them believe that their thought process is wrong.
Abuse is a consequence of toxicity in relationships, and by the time it kicks in, whether emotionally, or physically, extensive damage may have already been done to the victim.
Under no circumstance should repeated abuse be condoned as “just part of a phase.” If you won’t destroy your favorite inanimate things like your favorite house, car, or jewelry, etc., you shouldn’t for any reason hurt your favorite person; at least isn’t that what your spouse is meant to be?
Escaping a Toxic Relationship
After identifying some key traits that define toxic behavior, we will now talk about ways to call it quits on a toxic relationship.
Choose Yourself First!
A toxic relationship would cost you your happiness, your freedom, and worse, your health. It would help if you began to ask yourself what is more important, the relationship or your sanity.
Find Happiness by Yourself and With Yourself
In many situations, the victim in a toxic relationship is scared to break out on their own because they’ve been dependent on their spouse for way too long and everything.
It would be best if you did things that make you feel happy; go to the movies, go hiking, take a road trip, finish your degree, accomplish your goals, find happiness by yourself and with yourself.
It’s Ok to Mourn the Relationship
You may have invested a lot of years and energy into the relationship, and you may feel jumping into a new relationship would be the right option.
Well, it’s not.
You’ll ultimately be carrying all your fears, insecurities, and baggage from your failed relationship into the new one and become toxic to your new partner.
Leaving a relationship you’ve given your all is definitely going to hurt, but that phase where you take a break from dating, cry, and soberly reflect on your life is vital for you to heal in the long run.
You could talk to a friend, or a therapist, let your emotions out and grieve a little, surround yourself with family and friends who love you; you need to get over your previous failed relationship eventually.
Summarily, toxic relationships are the worst; they can damage an individual and even create more toxic traits in people who didn’t have them before. Hence, identifying a toxic relationship and knowing just when to leave is essential for your peace of mind.