4 Red Flags in Toxic Relationships
All of us enter new relationships assuming they will be healthy ones. Chances are, you wouldn’t put much conscious thought into the toxicity in one of your relationships until you see signs that point to an unhealthy situation.
That’s why a toxic partner can sneak up on you, set up camp in your mind and turn your world upside down. Suddenly all the neon signs are surrounding you like a Saturday night in Times Square.
If you are starting to question the behavior of your partner and how it makes you feel, learning the characteristics of healthy love vs. toxic love can bring you the clarity you need.
Here are some key red flags that you are in a toxic situation and what the healthy version should look like.
RED FLAG #1: You and your feelings don’t count
At least not to the toxic perpetrator. They aren’t interested in your words, feelings or opinions. They are disconnected emotionally and have little tolerance to listening to anyone’s voice but their own.
We are human and all have our flawed moments when we lose our patience or say something we don’t mean. But not all the time.
What you can do: You might think that the easy fix is to give in and appease your partner, but ignoring your own feelings will make things much worse. Although their response will be unhealthy and defensive, you should communicate in a healthy way.
You must know that your healthy communication will not inspire them to do the same. They will tell you that you’re wrong, your anger is irrational, your feelings unrealistic.
Be aware that when you reach your limit with this person, you too might respond in a hurt and defensive way. That is human and not the same as someone we constantly reacts in an angry, defensive way.
What this should really look like: In a healthy relationship, both parties should feel free to communicate their needs to each and to express what is important to them. They know it’s okay to “agree to disagree” while supporting each other.
In a healthy relationship, there’s a steady assurance of what each of you brings to the relationship. You are partners on a journey together.
You can be honest about your feelings, and feel safe doing so. Clear boundaries are expected and respected between the two of you.
RED FLAG #2: Everything is your fault
A sure sign of a toxic relationship is when one person gets blamed by the other partner constantly for their own behaviors and choices. They rarely apologize, and when they do it’s too late or forced. It’s an effective way for them to keep you in their grasp. But these fake apologies are not true apologies. They are manipulations for the toxic to get what they want.
If you are dizzy from arguments that just go in circles with no resolution, you need find the strength to get off this emotional ride. The toxic person will lie again and again, fabricating excuses and irrational conclusions as to why you are the real problem.
What you can do: Remind yourself that the bad behaviors aren’t yours, they are being projected on you by the toxic person. If you are going to confront your partner, practice what you will say first, with a friend or in the mirror.
Apologizing for things you didn’t do, and trying to figure out how you can change to make the relationship better will only leave you exhausted and feeling helpless.
How this should really go: In a healthy situation, everyone is accountable for their actions. All humans are flawed and will make mistakes, but healthy people make amends when they realize they were wrong. We all have bad days, and days where we have to forgive the other person if they had a bad day.
RED FLAG #3: They can’t care for you
You may find yourself doing all sorts of things to show the other person that you care about them, always trying harder. They will not be impressed because nothing you do will ever be enough.
If you show any hurt or impatience that you are not receiving the same from them, they will lash out at you in ways you are never prepared for.
No matter how many times you try to explain your needs to them, they do not and will not get it. Their attempts, if any, will be temporary, and will most likely have a manipulative motive.
What you can do: Even in healthy relationships, you should prioritize self care, but more so in a toxic environment. If you can’t get much time to yourself, focus on small things like meditation, a cup of tea, a healthy diet, or texting a trusted friend. Anything that makes you feel replenished.
How this should be: In healthy situations, both partners should feel safe asking to have their needs met. You understand that it’s okay to have independent opinions, and not have to change them to please the other person.
You support each other’s goals and believe in the importance of each other’s happiness.
RED FLAG #4: Love only on their terms
Every relationship has moments where each of the parties annoy each other, or one person needs more attention in the moment. But that doesn’t mean you don’t respect and care about each other. That’s human behavior.
But with these toxic folks there’s just no gray area. They’re either madly in love with you, or they can’t stand to be with you. When they are getting their way, everything is peachy. But challenge one of their rules and they could walk out on you.
Love should not be this volatile, like you’re walking on a high wire with no net below. Not to mention how beaten down the constant extreme emotions will make you feel.
What you can do: As difficult as it may be, set some boundaries. Walk out of the room if your partner is disrespectful. Don’t tolerate being yelled at or insulted simply because they are not getting their way. They will get angry, but at least you will have some self respect.
The healthy version of love terms: Healthy love has plenty of middle ground. Relationships take work and need compromise to make them last. Again, patient understanding of each other and listening to the other person’ priorities are key in strengthening your commitment.
Having to know the difference between healthy love and toxic love was probably not a goal on your bucket list. I’m sure you didn’t enter your relationships in defensive mode with our toxicity radar on until now. It takes trust and honesty for relationship growth that is long lasting. Experiencing some random feelings of healthy love does not neutralize any abusive, manipulative or toxic behaviors.
If you think your relationship is heavy on the toxic side of the scale, it may be time to consult with a Toxic Relationship Expert. Are you are ready to break free and end the patterns that are limiting you in a toxic relationship?
Schedule a consultation with me today to clarify if your love is healthy or toxic.