A good relationship should leave you feeling uplifted, supported and happy. That’s why you spend time together, right? It’s a funny thing though: sometimes after you’ve spent time with someone, you come away feeling worse about yourself and your life. If you notice any of these signs, you may be in a toxic relationship:
You can’t relax around them
If you’re constantly afraid you might do or say the wrong thing, in case it upsets them, that’s a warning sign.
When someone feels free to criticise you on a regular basis, they aren’t showing respect for who you are, and over time, this could affect your self-esteem. It also makes it really difficult to talk through issues and expectations in the relationship, as conversations can become arguments in a matter of moments.
Power games are the norm
When every interaction becomes an opportunity to try to get the upper hand, the relationship can easily spiral into a power battle.
Power games can take several different forms, like keeping score of who does or says what, or withholding support, affection or sex. Often the game takes place on a subtle, passive aggressive level, where it seems like they’re on your side but they’re actually not. For example, they may subtly undermine you with snide comments, either when you’re alone or in company.
They’re extremely jealous
When your partner throws a fit if you spend time with others or you don’t report in on your every move, pay attention. Attempting to cut you off from your support network is a move towards taking control of the relationship and of you.
This can also work the other way round, where they stop seeing their own friends and family, and begin relying totally on you for their entertainment and support. In any healthy relationship, there should be enough trust to allow both parties to spend time with their individual networks and on their own activities, as well as joint ones.
Be aware that toxic relationships can be with a lover, friend or family member, and it may even be you who’s creating it. If you recognise any of these patterns, address it directly or end the relationship (with family members or friends, you may need to subtly start to see less of them). A good relationship should change you, but for the better, not for the worse