How To Recognize and Escape A Toxic Relationship

According to Psychology Today, a toxic relationship is "any relationship that is unfavorable to you or others." But to expand on this definition, a toxic relationship is where one or both parties weigh the other down instead of encouraging them to grow. Toxic relationships can be traumatic, harmful, and in some cases, hazardous to a person's physical health. It is, therefore, important to recognize the red flags before or during a relationship and make a game plan to escape.  

Here are some signs a new relationship may be toxic:

1. Their texts are overtly sexual

You may dismiss his sexual remarks as friendly flirting, but if their comments seem a bit too raunchy or the feelings aren't reciprocated, it may be something to think about.

2. Their views aren't the same as yours

For example, if a feminist dated someone who wanted strict gender roles to be fulfilled, that might not be the type of relationship worth pursuing. You want someone who is going to challenge you to do better, not someone who's going to argue with you about your beliefs, every chance they get.

3. There's a lot of tension early on

Arguing is a normal part of every relationship. In many relationships, it helps the two learn to better communicate, and understand their significant other. However, if this is happening near the beginning, it may be time to reconsider.

4. They're inconsistent

Actions speak louder than words. If your new partner tells you one thing but does the opposite, you won't be able to trust them. Trust is a huge determining factor in how a relationship turns out. If they're being inconsistent and dodgy, it's probably time to go.

For those that are in relationships, here are some signs your relationship is toxic:

1. You don't feel good being around them

The person you're in a relationship should make you feel happy, even if there are the occasional arguments. If this person makes you feel ashamed, embarrassed, sad, angry, or alone, then you're probably in a toxic relationship.

2. They isolate you from friends and family

Why would someone you love tear you from your support system? The answer is, they wouldn't. Your support system is important for your mental health and to help you make sense of situations. Taking that away is also taking away your ability to grow mentally, and is also a red flag as it shows they're afraid of your family and friends' criticisms of them. If they try to keep you from seeing or talking to friends and family, the relationship may be toxic.

3. They keep a record of everything you say and hold it against you when it's convenient

Another important aspect of a relationship is forgiveness. There's going to be times when you just need to make like Elsa and let it go. We're human and we all make mistakes. But if your significant other is keeping track of everything you say and using it against you when convenient for them, they're not forgiving you which is toxic.

4. They abuse you emotionally, physically, or sexually

Emotional abuse is using emotions to control the other person. For example, if you say you don't want to do something and they respond with "Don't you love me?" it's more than likely emotional abuse. Physical abuse is any hitting, punching, pinching, or kicking. That is used as a form of control over the other person. Sexual abuse is being forced to do any sexual act against your will. If you or someone you know are experiencing any of these, it is definitely a toxic and unsafe relationship.

If you or a loved one is in a toxic relationship:

1. Talk to someone of higher authority

Getting someone like a trusted professor, advisor, or a therapist, involved is a great step to helping you cope and escape from your particular situation. Every relationship is different, so getting an outsider to help evaluate your situation and find the necessary steps you or your loved one need to take to get out can be beneficial. It's also worth noting that if it's your loved one in the toxic relationship, you could help by supporting them and expressing your concern about it.

2. Know that no one is to blame

Sometimes, relationships don't work or two people don't work for each other. It's not a matter of who is at fault in a toxic relationship. Don't hold yourself, or the other person, fully responsible, it'll just be an extra weight on your conscience.

3. Seek after treatment/therapy

Oftentimes, toxic relationships can be so draining and harmful that it can lead to bigger mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. This is usually the case in abusive relationships, but can also happen in non-abusive relationships. Either way, it is imperative to seek some type of treatment to understand how to cope and move on.

Toxic relationships aren't just harmful for the people in them. They can destroy friendships and family ties as well. If you or a loved one is experiencing any form of abuse as mentioned earlier, call 911 or the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE(7233). For more Information about toxic relationships visit Psychology Today.