Ideally, relationships make us feel safe, supported, and add something positive to our lives. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in relationships where the exact opposite is true. If you are constantly feeling depleted of energy, anxious, and insecure in your relationship this could be a sign that you are in a toxic relationship. What defines a toxic relationship? This could be any relationship that decreases your self-esteem, makes you feel unsafe or unsupported, and is characterized by one person having power or control over the other person. Oftentimes a toxic relationship can start off with intense feelings and preoccupation with both people falling hard and fast for the other person. It can be characterized by extreme highs and lows that make you feel as if you were on a rollercoaster. If any of the below statements are consistently true for you, they are indicative of emotional abuse which means you are most likely in a relationship that does more harm than good.
- The person you are in a relationship with does not respect your personal boundaries. They may not be respectful of you having other personal relationships and become jealous when you spend time with friends or family. They may even make negative comments about your friends and family. Maybe they want to check your cell phone or computer and you find yourself having to prove that you aren’t lying to them on a regular basis. This leaves you feeling exhausted and constantly on edge. You may start to feel as if you really are doing something wrong when all you did was meet up a friend for coffee.
- They discount your feelings and make you feel bad for reacting in a certain way. As a result, you end up second-guessing yourself and thinking maybe you are just being overly dramatic. They may say things like “get over it, why are you so upset, I was only joking” after demeaning you. The goal of this behavior is to keep your self esteem low and give the other person control over you. This can leave you not wanting to speak up for yourself and doubting your own reactions. A way you can tell if this is happening is whenever you tell your partner you are upset about something, you invariably end up being the one apologizing to them.
- They blame you for everything that goes wrong in the relationship. Your partner may tell you it is your fault that they are upset which effectively takes the blame off themselves and puts in on you. This is another control tactic. You end up stifling your thoughts and feelings because you don’t want to end up upsetting your partner. This ultimately makes you lose your voice and end up in a constant state of anxiety where you are debating what you should and shouldn’t say. You may find yourself making decisions based on what you think they will like.
- They won’t do anything nice for you without expecting something in return. They do you a favor but then hold it over your head and remind you of it every chance they get. You may be constantly giving your time and energy to the relationship and feel like you are not getting much in return. On the rare occurrence that your partner does something nice for you, they don’t let you forget it.
Relationships do not have to and shouldn’t be this way. If you find the above rings true for you on just know you are worthy of a relationship that makes you feel loved and supported rather than depleted and emotionally exhausted.