Signs Your Relationship Is Toxic

Ah, relationships.

They say we’re at college to learn and prepare for careers, yet much of what we do here seems to revolve around boys (or girls- or both!). For the moment, let’s embrace this and not worry about all the readings we haven’t done because our minds (and, uh, bodies) have been otherwise occupied…

Relationships can be awesome. Sharing pieces of your authentic self with another person opens your soul to new ways of thinking. You try sushi for the first time. You actually consider the anarchist’s point of view. You finally tell someone the truth about the huge dent in your car (sorry parents, it wasn’t a hit and run in the high school parking lot…).

But sometimes, despite the warm feelings of being wanted, listened to, and understood, something feels “off.” As you fall harder for them, you have a sinking feeling that they aren’t going to catch you.

Maybe you’ve been hooking up, but they don't seem to have any intention of actually dating you. Perhaps you’ve been dating for years, but those years have been rife with drama and you have doubts about the future.

When a relationship isn’t working, deep down you know it. You may try to deny it to your friends and to yourself, to explain away the questionable behavior, or to hold onto the good moments and bury the bad. But you know.

It’s hard to “listify” something as complex as relationships. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.”

How can one be logical about intense emotional matters?

The key to identifying an unhealthy relationship is paying attention to your intuition - those gut-feelings that exist outside of logic. Here are five indicators of a relationship turned toxic:

1. You aren’t happy.

So simple, so essential, yet so often brushed aside. If you feel anxious most of the time, start listening exclusively to Taylor Swift’s depressing anthems (“White Horse” on repeat) and screen-shot quotes about the soul-crushing pain of being in love, this is BAD. You aren’t entering a new phase of sophisticated philosophical thought – you are quite simply with the wrong person.

2. You’re always venting to your friends about them.

At least once a week, you’re calling all of your closest girlfriends from school, home, and maybe even your mom to report the latest incident. You’re probably telling your guy friends too, hoping they have that “guy perspective.”

They all hate your significant other by now, of course. And who can blame them when all they’ve heard are stories of them being a jerk to you?

3. You feel worse after spending time with them.

After any amount of time with them – 8 hours, 10 minutes, a quick wave, you feel like they sucked the happiness out of your soul. Even when the interaction appeared normal – even happy – on the surface, you feel like you’ve been filled with poison after he leaves. I repeat: if your significant other has the personal qualities of a Dementor, you should EXPECTO PATRONUM! them from your life.

4. You are the queen of rationalizing.

By now, you are so practiced at making excuses for bad behavior that you start questioning the axiom of human responsibility.

“He's just really busy right now,” when they doesn’t make plans. “She's got a lot on her mind,” when she’s short-tempered with you.

...You may even be reading this right now and rationalizing away the red flags.

“Well, I mean, maybe they need my positive energy because they're going through some stuff right now… and so being a Dementor isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

No! Stop it! It is bad, and you deserve better.

Final note: If this next paragraph resonates with you, the relationship is toxic and it’s time to get out. You deserve red-flag-free, unbounded happiness:

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it?

It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...

You give them a piece of you.

They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore.

Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart.

It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”

– Neil Gaiman

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