Relationships, when you work at them, are wonderful. Being able to share day to day life with someone and plan for the future with someone we love is great.
What’s also great is the ability to grow and change with that person so that we become better for having known them. It sounds super schmaltzy and cheesy but that’s a huge part of being in a relationship: growing and becoming a healthier person with a partner.
However, there are some relationships that actively hinder a person’s growth as a person and even make them a smaller person than you were before. Those relationships tend to be toxic ones. as a rule.
The thing about toxic relationships is that there is no one standard for how to measure the level of toxicity between two people. Toxicity kind of lives below the surface in that way, which makes it really easy to grow between two people if communication isn’t where it should be.
However, there are some behaviors that come up when a relationship is going sour or becoming toxic that are impossible to ignore when we’re looking out for that behavior. While not all of these behaviors need to be happening for a relationship to be toxic, if 20 out of 25 of these things are happening, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.
Sometimes it’s romantic to have someone in your life who actually cares where you are and wants to know that you’re safe. If anything, that can be a sign of a healthy relationship because that’s showing that the two of you care about each other’s safety.
However, if you find yourself constantly checking up on them, that’s not necessarily a good sign.
If it’s not because you’re just wanting to know they got home safe or something but because you actually want to keep tabs on them for whatever reason, that’s a sign that you really need to rethink some things. Relationships are about trust and stalking is not a sign of trust.
Back before the age of portable miracles of technology, invading someone’s privacy was a much more involved activity. You needed to snoop through someone’s physical things, or watch where someone put things they wanted to keep hidden, or try and pull info out of their inner circle. Now, things are different: if you have someone’s password and the desire to use it, you can invade someone’s whole life.
Some people will even circumvent cell phone fingerprint scanners by putting their significant other’s hand on it so they can go through the device. Don’t do this. Your relationship is absolutely toxic if you do.
It’s normal to be annoyed by our significant others. If anything, it can be a sign of toxicity if you are never annoyed by anything your significant other does to the point that you’re basically swallowing any grievance you have with them.
Sometimes it’s healthy to tell the one we love about themselves!
However, if you’re doing this so much that you’re basically picking at everything they do, or you’re doing so much that you’re actively hurting their feelings, you’re creating toxicity in your relationship.
It’s often said that when you marry someone, you marry their family, and that’s true to an extent. However, when you start to date someone, you’re also dating their friends, weirdly enough.
You don’t have to like all of their friends because that’s a tall order, but if you can’t find literally one nice thing to say about any of them, you might just be overly critical of them and that can lend itself to some toxic behavior. On the flip side, if none of their friends can find anything nice to say about you, that’s also a sign of a toxic relationship.
Being around your significant other is awesome and can be enough to brighten your day, and that’s great!
However, there’s a difference between spending a lot of time with your significant other and smothering your significant other.
If you’re constantly around them to the point where you don’t spend any time apart and are constantly in contact, that can lend itself to dependency, which can become incredibly toxic because you have no time away from each other.
When you’re in a relationship, the general consensus is that the person you’re with should make you happy. If they don’t make you happy, there’s no reason to really be in the relationship. You might not get butterflies in your stomach every time you see them or whatever, but as time goes on, that’s normal.
What is decidedly not normal is when you’re around your significant other and you find yourself drained and depressed around them. Then, you feel light and happy when you’re away from each other. If you’re feeling like that, it’s time to rethink some things.
We all tend to express anger differently, and that’s normal. It’s even totally normal to be passive aggressive about how you express anger. After all, we’re all socialized differently as we grow up. So some of us are just more comfortable being quieter about our anger rather than getting up in someone’s face.
That being said, if you’re being passive aggressive with your significant other specifically because you know it hurts them, that’s incredibly toxic behavior.
People who are naturally passive aggressive when they express anger should take care that they don’t do this with people specifically for this reason.
Honesty is vitally important in any relationship, but it has a special place in romantic relationships. You don’t have to share everything with your partner (but if you’re both comfortable with that, then you do you!), but you should feel comfortable telling your significant other how you feel about something or letting them know why you’re upset about something.
If you feel like you can’t do that, that could be symptomatic of a much bigger issue that has toxic roots.
While lying, in general, isn’t okay behavior, there are situations where people feel more comfortable telling a white lie rather than revel in a harsh truth.
That’s totally normal, to be honest: sometimes telling a half-truth like that helps smooth over a bad situation.
As long as you’re not doing it for literally no reason or doing it to cover up a major breach of trust, it’s not symptomatic of a toxic relationship. What is a sign of an incredibly toxic relationship is if you’re lying for literally no reason at all.
It’s normal to get annoyed by your significant other but if you’re in a place where you are constantly annoyed by them, that’s a problem. If you’re in your feelings to the point where you could be having an awesome day and it’s immediately ruined when they walk into the room or open their mouth to speak, your relationship is, unfortunately, already over.
You shouldn’t be with someone because you feel like breaking up would make that time a waste or because you’re settling. You should be with someone because you like being around them, and being constantly annoyed by them is decidedly not that.
When you’re in a relationship, you’re a team with them. This is true if you’ve been together for five years, five months, or five minutes.
For the duration of your relationship, that person (or persons, whatever floats your boat) is your person and you’ve got to have their back.
If you or your partner are constantly finding yourselves split on certain issues, especially if they involve a third party, and you’re not putting up a united front, this could be a problem because you’re not being a team.
On the flip side, if you’re going out of your way to essentially be of one mind with your partner, that’s not really okay either. For one thing, you two are different people: nobody is capable of “completing” another person. For another thing, sometimes our partners mess up and sometimes we need to be the one to call the person we love out if we need that.
The same thing goes for us: relationships are about growing and changing together and disagreements are a part of gaining mutual understanding. If you’re not doing that, something is wrong.
Have you ever been with someone and thing are okay, just… monotonous? In situations like that, anything changes between the two of you, it’s a real problem and they’ll go out of their way to make sure everything is the same all the time.
This is negative for relationships because you’re essentially putting yourself in a position where you’re not being challenged.
Believe it or not, being challenged is a huge part of what makes your relationship stronger and it actually breeds toxicity between two people if you don’t acknowledge that.
The issue with being in a relationship is that you need to hold each other accountable and in some toxic relationships, people just don’t do that. It’s actually intimidating how little we want to be held accountable for the things we do wrong. But it’s even scarier how much some of us want to step up and be the people our partners deserve.
In a toxic relationship, nobody is trying to elevate themselves and hold themselves with accountability. And in a relationship, that’s one of the biggest parts of how a relationship becomes toxic.
While change is the spark of life and a huge part of what helps relationships grow, there does need to be a level of consistency from both parties that give you some ground to stand on to build your relationship.
If your relationship is inconsistent, that inconsistency will give way to toxicity because the two of you will never be showing each other your real selves.
You’re also going to be showing that you’re not reliable and can’t be depended on. You don’t need to depend on your partner for everything, but consistency is a huge part of emotional support.
The thing about relationships is that in order for one to be successful, you have to stop being fake and start getting real. This can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re a person who isn’t so great at confronting their emotions. But to be honest, if you’re in a relationship with someone you trust, it becomes so much easier to be open with how you feel.
If you’re not cutting to the heart of your issues with your partner, even in a roundabout way, you might be hesitating because one or both of you is projecting your own issues onto the other person in an attempt to absolve yourself of responsibility.
If you’re in a relationship and you’re trying to go the distance, the only direction you should be looking for is ahead. If you have baggage from previous relationships, that’s one thing and that’s normal.
But if you and your partner constantly find yourself circling back to past events in your relationship rather than taking things one day at a time, that can be a symptom of toxicity.
Doing this shows that you’re not willing to look ahead with that person or that you can’t look ahead with that person. Unfortunately, that’s not a situation that can stand for long without being addressed.
In any relationship, your partner (or your friend or anybody else, for that matter) is your person. You guys are a team and it’s you guys against any adversity you will face in life. You can interpret that in whatever way you like, but the core value to take from this is that if you’re in a relationship, no matter how long it’s for, the idea is to do life with that person until the relationship is over.
If there’s no teamwork in the relationship or you can’t see yourself trusting your partner to watch your back, then what even are you doing in the relationship?
When you’re with someone, you might be with them for reasons other than the scintillating conversation.
But even if that’s not the reason you’re with them, the conversation is still something that is going to happen.
This is true even with the most casual of romantic connections. You might not be interested in everything they have to say… But if you or your partner isn’t interested in anything the other person has to say, that’s a recipe for disaster because not only do you have no interest in that person, you don’t really respect them either.
It’s natural for one person to end up getting more attention in a relationship at any given moment. It’s also natural for someone to be putting in more effort from time to time. Life happens and sometimes one person isn’t at 100%, and that’s totally normal. However, if both of you are basically fighting to be the person who gets the attention of the other in the relationship, that’s a problem.
It’s great to be taken care of on all fronts, but if you’re not stepping up on occasion for your partner, that creates inequity in the relationship.
Let’s get this straight now: you will never be able to fix someone on your own. Yes, people can change, but they have to want to change for themselves and you can’t do that work for them.
People kind of forget that and they set themselves up for heartbreak when they find that the person never intended to change.
People aren’t projects, and going into a relationship where you like the other person solely for their potential and not for their own merits breeds resentment down the line. A good rule of thumb here: could you be with your partner without needing them to change? If the answer is no, rethink things.
When you’re in a relationship, your partner is one of the people you get to be your true self around. No pretense, no apologies, just yourself. That’s what makes relationships so great—or at least, that’s part of it.
It’s normal to keep some parts of your life hidden from your partner, sure. But if you’re keeping everything concealed from your partner, even asking other people to maintain that facade for you so your partner doesn’t react a certain way, that could be a sign of real problems bubbling beneath the surface.
Relationships are about mutual trust, which is why when you’re in a serious relationship, trust is such a big deal. However, trust can be created and cracked in an instant and it has to be maintained. And you maintain trust by being consistent in your actions and words.
If that’s just not happening anymore and you feel like you can’t trust your partner with certain things—or even everything—that’s a sign that the relationship could be on its last legs.
It’s just so hard to maintain a relationship like that because it’s a breeding ground for resentment.
When you’re in a relationship, it’s important that it’s treated like a partnership and all that, but the two of you definitely don’t “complete” each other. You still need your own separate life and sense of self. If you’re in a relationship where you feel like you’re losing part of yourself to the relationship, it’s time to rethink things because your relationship could be becoming toxic.
The issue here is that you’re basically making yourself smaller and losing your emotional independence, which means things are going to be getting toxic and quickly.
You might not feel like any of those things I mentioned earlier really apply to you, or you might have found a way to explain those things to yourself in a way where to you, they don’t count.
However, there’s one more thing to consider: are you and/or your partner always asking if the relationship is toxic or if there’s something wrong with it?
If you are, it’s a sign that you might need to take stock of your relationship. It doesn’t mean everything: you might just be second guessing yourself for no reason, but if you feel in your gut that you have to ask this, trust your gut.