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 are asking yourself “am I in a toxic relationship,” that is not a positive sign.
If you are wondering if your relationship is toxic, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is your partner uncomfortable if you go out without them?
- Does your partner message you all the time?
- Does your partner demand to know your location?
- Is your partner always acting jealous?
- Does your partner belittle your looks or intelligence?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is likely that your partner has some toxic traits. With that being said, some toxic behaviors can be addressed and fixed. If your partner is willing to work with you to alter the unhealthy relationship dynamics, you can transform a toxic relationship into a healthy one.
Alternatively, many toxic relationships are dependent on one person being subservient to the other. In these cases, the toxic person may scare their partner into staying silent. Other toxic relationships can involve equally toxic partners who feed each other’s worst behaviors and lead to destructive patterns.
No matter what type of toxic relationship you may be in, it may be necessary to take a step back and distance yourself from the toxic partner in order to protect your sobriety, mental health, and personal safety.
What Is a Toxic Relationship?
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 of what a “toxic relationship” really is.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
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 them 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.
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.
Pattern of Disrespect
First and foremost, if your partner doesn’t respect you, that is a huge red flag. Respect in a relationship should be priority number one. Granted, no one is perfect and there will be times when you or your partner fall out of line and say something you regret.
However, continuously and intentionally disrespecting your partner is a sign of toxicity. Disrespect can be verbal, physical (pushing, hitting), or emotional (belittling comments). If your partner frequently talks down to you, bullies you into decisions, or uses hurtful language toward you, then this is a sign that the relationship is toxic.
When your partner does hurt your feeling, they should always apologize and make amends. If these types of situations are constantly happening where there’s disrespect and then they say “it’ll never happen again”, and it does, that is also toxic behavior.
Incapable of Civil Communication
If you find that conversations with your partner often end in yelling, screaming, or spiteful remarks, that’s a sign that your relationship may be toxic. In order to remove roadblocks in communication it’s important to confront the issue head-on and discuss what civil communication looks like for both of you.
People don’t always recognize their toxic behaviors, so confronting the hurtful actions can shed light on the situation. When approaching your partner’s unwanted communication styles, it’s best to express yourself without attacking your partner.
In general, it can be helpful to set boundaries with your partner. Also, be sure to discuss with them how both of you can be respectful while communicating. It may also be beneficial to understand the source behind why your partner is acting this way. Asking them about the underlying reasons for their toxic behavior can provide clarity and room for growth. If they still refuse to listen or change, this is a sign to leave the toxic relationship.
Similarly, if your partner becomes defensive or verbally attacks you, it’s likely that they’re not ready for a relationship. Additionally, people in toxic relationships are likely to never receive any apology. If the toxic partner does apologize, it will likely be a manipulation tactic to avoid the consequences of their actions.
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. This can be a heartbreaking realization, but it’s important to recognize these signs and move on. It’s never easy to end a relationship, but sometimes it’s for the best.
Extreme or Constant Jealousy
It’s more than normal to experience feelings of jealousy in your relationship from time to time. Similarly, jealousy can occur on both sides of a relationship.
If your partner is continuing to do things that make you question them and their loyalty, that is an understandable reaction. Often, people who cheat on their significant others become paranoid and fear that their partner may cheat on them.
Jealousy is also commonly found in people who are insecure and lack self-confidence. If your partner is venting their insecurities onto you or the relationship, it can be an indication that they may not feel good enough for you.
Jealousy can be very draining on your relationship and should be addressed. On the other hand, if your partner’s jealousy is becoming dangerous or obsessive, it may not be something that can be fixed through communication. In this case, that’s a sign that this relationship is not healthy for either person in the relationship. It’s important to take a step back and evaluate the situation.
If you feel threatened in any way or fear for your safety, it is important to reach out for help.
Controlling behaviors is never a healthy sign in a relationship. There’s a fine line between being controlling and protective. In fact, it is incredibly common for people with trust issues to disrespect this necessary boundary. Partners who disguise control as protection use manipulation tactics that trap their significant others in toxic relationship patterns. Unfortunately, people stay with their controlling partner, believing that their partner is simply “over-protective.” This state of denial typically results in one person giving up total control to satisfy their partner’s demands.
For example, if your partner doesn’t want you to go out with your friends and have fun without them, they are controlling. Similarly, partners who make rude comments when you wear outfits that look “too good” are trying to control your appearance. Another way people try to control their partner is by demanding to know their significant other’s location at all times.
Often, if a toxic partner loses control over you, they may insult you or make accusations about your behavior. Relationships that have an unequal power dynamic are inherently toxic and can lead to physical, verbal, and emotional abuse.
Inconsiderate of 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.
Walking on Eggshells
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 is someone with a short temper, this is only going to put you in a situation to either be reserved or mirror their behaviors.
Lack of Privacy
While there is nothing wrong with having your partner’s location for safety purposes, using it to stalk their every move is incredibly unhealthy. When information about your partner is misused and thrown back in their face, this is toxic. For instance, a person who constantly interrogates their partner about their whereabouts, their likely pushing the other person away. Similarly, asking your significant other what they’re doing every minute of the day can become upsetting and frustrating.
You have to earn trust 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 a common situation that creates distance between people in a relationship. As couples begin to distance themselves from one another, the person in recovery may become anxious, depressed, and paranoid. It’s important to find a way to reconnect and make the relationship stronger in order to provide the necessary support needed for your recovery from addiction.
On the other hand, if your partner refuses to discuss the reason behind their moodiness, it could be an indication that they are unable or unwilling to forgive the past.
Having a supportive partner can be incredibly helpful during recovery but resentment will only drive a wedge between you. For this reason, partners who refuse to work with you to mend the relationship are not going to help you in recovery.
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 a narcissistic personality. When your partner or friend gaslights you, they take the blame off of themselves and put it all on you. In order for a behavior to be gaslighting, the person must know exactly what they’re doing and why.
People who gaslight their loved ones will twist words and situations to make others feel crazy. Often, gaslighting causes you to question if you were the one who did wrong. In general, the goal of gaslighting is to emotionally manipulate a person into questioning their memories and doubting reality.
While in recovery, if your partner or 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 or 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 Therapist (LMFT).
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.
A confrontation could result in your partner gaslighting you, blaming you for their behaviors, and somehow turning it around on you. Allowing this behavior to continue is enabling your toxic partner and sending 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 or her faults and is actively working towards changing those behaviors, that’s a positive sign. Hold them and yourself accountable as it can be easy to fall back into old habits and behaviors.
Are Toxic Relationships Common in Early Recovery?
Depending on the circumstances, it can be easy to exhibit toxic traits in your relationships, especially while in early recovery.
This is because recovery is a personal process that involves a lot of self-reflection and inner work. As you navigate early recovery, your energy is focused on finding yourself again. In addition, it is your job to work on rebuilding and replacing the pieces of your life to support your sobriety.
There are many reasons why dating is not recommended in the first year of recovery. One of the main reasons is that you are still recovering from substance abuse. During early recovery, both cravings and triggers can put an immense amount of strain on a person’s mind and body. While in this vulnerable state, a relationship can quickly turn toxic when stress levels begin to rise.
While studies show that healthy relationships play a huge role in recovery maintenance, the opposite is true for unhealthy relationships. The more stress, hurt, and abuse a person experiences during a toxic relationship, the more likely they are to return to substance abuse and relapse. For this reason, it’s important to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship and remove them from your life.
Reach Out for Help
You’re never alone in these types of situations. There is always someone else out there who are 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.