“Is my relationship toxic?” Most of the time, our instinct knows the answer to this. Our gut feelings can sense the signs of a toxic relationship, just as it can the signs of a healthy one.
Determining whether a relationship is toxic is or not is very easy and straightforward.
As long as it’s not our relationship that’s under the scope.
“Being emotionally invested in a toxic relationship” should be an alternative definition of blindness. Your gut knows something isn’t right, but it’s no match for the level to which your head, heart, libido, and limerence will prosecute and turn a blind eye to that instinct of yours at every turn.
I remember years ago, being in the most toxic relationships and friendships. I would be so grateful just to get a little dirt from their emotional boots on the doormat I had become. What was so incredible though, was that I could spot, identify, and analyze toxic relationships that friends and family were in from a mile away. My toxic relationship radar was unmatched – As long as I wasn’t IN the relationship. If I was in it, that radar was replaced with an insatiable hunger for crumbs. (crumbs from the loaf that was always promised but never existed).
The most difficult thing about a toxic relationship is that as long as you suffer from low self-esteem and need validation like you do oxygen… these codependent relationships will always bring out the validation addict in you and the exploitative addict in your partner.
Toxic relationships are highly addictive if you lack confidence, standards, and self-love.
The dirty boots become addicted to using the dutiful doormat and the doormat becomes addicted to the dirty shoes for a sense of feeling needed, useful, significant, and alive.
Addiction is extremely hard to kick. I’ve been an addict – not to drugs or alcohol, but to dysfunction, unavailability, the self-limiting story I chose to subscribe to that was crafted from a painful childhood and everything else that my abandonment issues ignited. Having to go no contact with your happiness source, no matter how unhealthy, dangerous, and sabotaging it is, is hard. Change is hard.
If you’re addicted to a certain dynamic, self-limiting belief, person, relationship or substance, it’s really HARD. It’s hard to wake up one morning, have an epiphany and not only say “That’s it! I’m done! It’s trash day and I’ve got a lot to take out,” but have the courage to actually follow through and ACT on that realization.
Flushing the sh*t in our emotional and relational toilets should be just as non-negotiable as flushing the crap in our literal ones. Yet, the struggle is a little too weird to acknowledge and a little too real to gain the courage needed to act on behalf of a self that we don’t believe is good enough.
Bottom line: The only reason I ever put up with a toxic relationship for more than a hot minute – from family, friends, and lovers, was because it mirrored the toxicity of the one I had with myself.
I figured if I could de-toxify my relationship, then the one I had myself would be detoxed by association.
I did not write this post to insult your intelligence by defining the obvious symptoms of what a toxic relationship is. I wrote it to unplug the triggers that are dimming your instinct. Right now.
I wrote it to initiate the courage you were born with to finally flush the crap in your relational toilet, once and for all.
Here are 10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship…
No relationship is perfect. However, you should feel supported, remembered, valued, heard, respected, and loved in your relationships. You should feel like you can trust them.
Sometimes it’s obvious when a relationship isn’t healthy, but sometimes the signs of a toxic relationship are much more subtle. If you’re not feeling 100%… If you’re feeling dishonored, paranoid, insecure, and like you have to question everything…
You may be asking yourself, “Is my relationship toxic or is it just me?”
10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship:
Toxic Relationship SIGN #1: You’re older than them.
This isn’t about literal age, it’s about empathetic, emotional, intellectual, and psychological age. Although I personally prefer men who are a few years older than me, I have and would date guys who were my age. I’m not attracted to younger guys, but I have and would do that too if I was being met with the same level of empathy, honesty, and emotional intelligence that I bring to the table. This is not about being better than anyone – we are all created equal. It’s about making sure that you never date anyone that you are emotionally and empathetically older than.
Defining your relationship as a psychological daycare center that runs solely on your emotional dime will never be sexy.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #2: The pull-back worth realization.
You know you are in a toxic relationship when you put up a healthy boundary to your partner’s dysfunction and they immediately “snap out of it,” momentarily “shape up,” and are on point…
Until they secure your forgiveness and then it happens all over again.
It should never take anyone the risk (or reality) of losing you to value you, be honest with you, treat you with respect, and realize what they had.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #3: Different relationships.
If you were watching your relationship on a movie screen and would describe it as two people being in different relationships, this is a toxic relationship.
How do you know if you’re not in the same relationship? You want different things. You have different definitions of love, success, honesty, and communication.
As much as the other person could SAY that they want exactly what you want, you need to ask yourself how much of that assertion is to get a short-term need of theirs met and how much of it is actually REAL. You will know real. With real, there won’t need to be so many words because things will be HAPPENING.
The key to winning at life: Always be in the exact same relationship with others that are you are in with YOURSELF. Solidify the relationship that you have with you first. Not only will you be happier, but you’ll never feel guilty about having to fold because you’ll know what you are folding from – A toxic relationship that isn’t up to a standard that YOU have already set for yourself.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #4: Mixing signals to gain control.
Mixing signals is the easiest way for toxic people to gain control. Because your partner is playing DJ with your emotions, mixing everything at every turn, you are always left guessing. And because you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on… You become too busy investigating to be able to realize that the fact you even need to investigate is toxic/reason enough to be done.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #5: Wanting to be heard and keeping score to “win.”
Disagreements are a normal part of any relationship. In healthy relationships, disagreements are used to work through and resolve an issue. However, in toxic relationships, people often fight to win and to be heard instead of empathetically connecting and communicating to first listen.
When you, “keep score,” you or your partner continue to blame each other for past mistakes made in your relationship. The next time you have a disagreement, your partner might bring up this past mistake to help him “win the fight.”
Keeping score is a perfect way to deflect from the real, deal breaking issues.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #6: Passive aggressive behavior.
A toxic relationship is one in which you feel like you cannot be yourself. It’s hard to be yourself when you’re dealing with passive aggressive behavior. Your partner is unreasonable and you never know what’s going to set them off.
You feel like you have to behave a certain way to meet your partner’s desires and expectations. You feel like you have to think twice before saying how you really feel. You don’t know whether to question shady behavior because you’re scared of losing them.
Family and friends also notice that you act differently around your partner. This makes you even more determined to stick it out and prove them wrong.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #7: You never feel like you’re enough.
No matter what you do, you never feel like you’re enough. Everyone else always gets from your partner what he/she selectively gives you, if at all.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #8: Jealousy.
It’s natural to get a little territorial, but when jealousy leads to controlling behavior, you are in a toxic relationship.
We all have insecurities and fears, but if your partner enjoys seeing you jealous or tries to make you jealous instead of being communicative, mature, and reassuring… that’s not cute. That’s amateur-hour.
Put the kid’s menu down and get back to the adult table immediately.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #9: Disrespect and dishonesty.
In a toxic relationship, not only does your partner disrespect you, they disrespect your family and friends as well – directly and/or indirectly. This could be something as indirect as liking/commenting on inappropriate photos on social media for everyone to see, or as direct as keeping his online dating profile up.
In healthy relationships, each person listens to and values each other’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Your time and energy are considered valuable and are respected. Furthermore, this respect is extended beyond the relationship with your family and friends. You are honored. Someone cannot claim to love you and also have the capacity to dishonor you – directly or indirectly.
If you’ve caught your partner lying, trust is broken. And without trust… Passion, meaning, intimacy and connection cannot exist, no matter what you do or how enthusiastically you search for it with no pants on.
If you don’t have your health, it doesn’t matter if you have all the intelligence, money, degrees, looks, wardrobe, charisma, charm and opportunity in the world, right?
TRUST is the definition of optimal relational health. If you don’t have it, NOTHING else matters.
It doesn’t matter how amazing all of the surrounding factors are, how mind-blowing the sex is or how enticing the potential.
Where there is an absence of trust, there’s an absence of reality (and an abundance of delusion).
And where there’s an absence of reality… there’s an absence of a healthy and real relationship.
Toxic Relationship SIGN #10: Always in the triangle.
You are in a toxic relationship if you are with someone who triangulates.
It’s never just you and him/her. It’s you, them, and …
Their issues, lies, ex, addiction, other men/women, their Mom, excuses, bros, job, etc.
You are always competing for attention because you are in an emotional threesome.
And your partner secretly loves the competition.
Life is tough enough. You should never have to compete for the attention of someone who claims to love and value you. Yourself being at the top of that list.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationships, please look into working with me here.