As an addict myself, I can say that getting sober…
If you’re trying to figure out whether or not your relationship is toxic, you may already have the answer to your question. Nine times out of ten, if you have to question something- it’s usually not a positive sign.
A toxic relationship will make you feel more down than up, and oftentimes it’ll feel like you can’t pull yourself back up or out of it. A toxic partner puts the relationship in a bad place, and can even change who you are for the worst. When in recovery, this is never a situation you want to put yourself in. Toxicity comes in all shapes and forms. A lot of times people throw around the word “toxic” to describe a situation, a person’s behaviors, feelings, or actions. In this case, different people have different definitions as to what a “toxic relationship” really is.
They’re the jealous type? That’s toxic.
They want your location? Toxic.
They’re uncomfortable with you going out without them? Toxic.
They message you all the time? That’s toxic.
Some people are uncomfortable or might disagree with their partner for feeling these things, while others might potentially feel the same way and find it totally normal.
The word “toxic” is being thrown around so casually in our society. This is steering young adults and teens to exhibit these behaviors and accept it as normal in their relationships. If you’re looking for confirmation about whether or not you’re in a toxic relationship, here’s a look at some of the main traits that you might recognize.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Especially while in early recovery, it can be easy to exhibit toxic traits in your relationships. Recovery is a personal process where you are taking the time to find yourself again, rebuilding and replacing the pieces of what once was. This, along with many other reasons , is why it is not recommended that you date in early recovery.
Some signs of a toxic relationship include:
- Controlling behavior
- Lack of respect for boundaries
- Interpersonal issues between your friends and/or family
- Diminished personal time or independence
- Distrust without reason
Toxic traits can often be easily recognized or disguised. You may only experience one of these, or maybe you can relate to all of them. That’s why we’re here to guide you on how to fix it or get yourself out of it. Below we will outline some of the most common signs of a toxic relationship, which are all indications that the relationship you are in is causing more distress than good and should most likely be discontinued.
Extreme and/or Constant Jealousy
It’s more than normal to experience feelings of jealousy in your relationship, just as long as it’s not fanatical. Jealousy can be faulted on both ends- if your partner is continuing to do things that make you question them and their loyalty, that is an understandable situation to be jealous in. In this case, that’s a good sign that this relationship is not healthy for either of y’all.
Incapable of Civil Communication
If you find that you and your partner’s conversations often end in fights or are communicated with anger or sarcasm, that’s a sign that you need to sit down and confront these behaviors. Toxic people don’t always recognize that they’re toxic. If they do, they just don’t care that they’re ruining their relationships and friendships. If you and/or your partner are in recovery, frequent tension and arguing is going to place a roadblock on your relational and personal growth. Communication in a relationship is vital and if you can’t do it properly- the relationship is going to crash and burn. Talk to your partner about this issue and if they can’t even have a civil conversation about that, then that might be all the clarity you need.
Lack of Effort
If you feel like your partner is never making time for you and the relationship, you might want to sit down and communicate this issue with them. A lack of effort can easily be avoided through communication, although some people don’t always change their ways. If you’ve communicated these issues and they don’t put in the effort to change them, they’re letting you know that they don’t care about your needs or the relationship. In recovery, it can be difficult to give your all in relationship, and most of the time it’s not recommended that you. Making your partner a main priority is vital in a relationship, but not always healthy if you’re not mentally prepared for that commitment.
Controlling behaviors is never a healthy sign in a relationship. There’s a fine line between being controlling or protective, and a lot of times people cross it. Disguising control as protection traps a lot of individuals in toxic relationships because they’re convinced their partner is “protecting” them. For example, if your partner doesn’t want you to go out with your friends, wear certain outfits because you look too good, or constantly needs to know where you’re at or they think the worst- scenarios like that can be very toxic.
First and foremost, if your partner doesn’t respect you, that is a huge red flag. Respect in a relationship should be #1. Granted, no one is perfect and there will be times where you or your partner fall out of line and say something you regret. These types of situations should always follow-up with an apology. If these types of situations are constantly happening where there’s disrespect and then they say “it’ll never happen again”, and you know it will- that’s toxic behavior.
Doesn’t Consider Your Needs
Each and every person has their own individual needs to be met in dating relationships as well as their friendships. A relationship without love, attention, communication, compassion, patience, etc. can be extremely straining. Not having your needs met feels like you’re not a priority to your partner and will create a hole in your relationship. A relationship isn’t always 50/50. You’re allowed to have days where you aren’t feeling 100%, but it shouldn’t constantly be 70/30. If your partner does not value your recovery process and needs/limits, that is a sign that they are not a healthy option for you. If you are unsure of what your partner’s needs are, communicate that with them and ask.
Feels Like You’re Walking on Eggshells Around Them
When you feel like you can’t confront your partner or discuss uncomfortable topics because you’re afraid of them lashing out or getting upset about even the littlest of things— that’s not a good sign. While in recovery, it’s important that you’re putting yourself in healthy environments. Dating can be tricky and sometimes even dangerous in early recovery. Recovery is the time when you’re learning to love yourself and growing into the person you want to become. If your partner has a short temper, this is only going to put you in a situation to either be reserved or mirror their behaviors.
Lack of Privacy
I don’t think there is anything wrong with having your partner’s location for safety purposes, but when it’s misused and you’re constantly asking your partner why they’re at this place and what they’re doing every minute of the day … it can get unhealthy and toxic. Trust is earned in a relationship. If you trust your partner, you shouldn’t have to go through their phone, receipts, social platforms, etc. If you don’t trust your partner and you feel like you have to do this, that’s already a sign that your relationship is unhealthy.
Constant Tension or Moodiness
Relationships can get to a point where it feels like there is constant tension and unhappiness between you and your partner. Oftentimes, this is due to something that might’ve happened between you and your partner in the past. Unfortunately, this is when a lot of couples begin to distance themselves from one another. Coming out of rehab, it’s important that you place yourself in upbeat, positive environments in order to keep yourself in a happy and healthy place. If you’re starting to recognize this cycle with your partner, propose a discussion on it.
This is the most common form of manipulation in dating relationships and even friendships involving individuals who have a personality style, type, or disorder consistent with Narcissistic Personality. When your partner/friend gaslights you, they are taking the blame off of themselves and putting it all on you. They know exactly what they’re doing and how to do it. They will twist words and situations to make you feel crazy and question if you were the one who did wrong. While in recovery, if your partner/friend begins to blame their behaviors on your recovery process and struggles, they are gaslighting you. From a recovery standpoint, you should remove yourself from that relationship immediately because that type of treatment is not going to benefit you in any way, shape, or form.
In standard relationships, if you begin to notice your partner treating you this way, confront them and discuss the issue. If they don’t change, then that might be your sign that the relationship/friendship is no longer a healthy one.
How to Know if I Should Leave a Toxic Relationship?
While everyone has different tolerance levels and breaking points, you should not accept or put up with toxicity in your relationship. Depending on the severity of your partner’s behaviors, it will give you an idea of whether or not it’s time to leave or communicate these issues with them and perhaps involve a licensed Marriage and Family Therapy counselor. A lot of times toxic people don’t even realize that they’re being toxic. Approaching your partner with these issues could either bring them to their senses, or it could ignite the changes needed to put yourself first in recovery and in life. Confrontation could result in your partner gaslighting you, blaming you for their behaviors and somehow turning it around on you. Allow this behavior to continue is enabling your toxic partner and sends them the message that their behavior is okay.
It can be especially challenging in the early stages of recovery to move forward and grow alone, and with a toxic relationship attached it makes it almost impossible. Your personal health comes first. If you feel as though your relationship is putting that at risk, it’s time to let go. If your partner owns up to his/her faults and is actively working towards changing those behaviors, that’s a positive sign. Hold them and/or yourself accountable as it can be easy to fall back into old habits/behaviors.
You’re never alone in these types of situations. There is always someone else out there who is either going through it also or has already gone through it. Reach out to a friend for guidance and support. Someone who truly cares for you won’t tear you down and make you feel any of these things listed above.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please feel free to reach out to us at 877-RECOVERY. Our addiction specialists are available 24/7 to help you through this time and find hope in recovery.