Every relationship goes through highs and lows.
But how can you tell the difference between a relationship that is going through a tricky phase, to one that has turned toxic?
Toxic relationships aren’t easy to identify, so don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t tell the difference between a healthy relationship going through a rough patch, from one that has turned toxic.
You don’t have all the answers, and that’s understandable.
You might have spotted some red flags, but you still don’t know if this means you’re in an unhealthy relationship, that’s okay. Many of us think a relationship is only toxic if our partner is or has become physically abusive, while that is the most obvious sign, abuse can take on many forms such as emotional and mental. When it takes on other forms it becomes harder to spot.
What are the signs of a toxic relationship?
Signs of a toxic relationship are many. The most obvious one is that your partner is or has become physically abusive, this type of relationship should be left immediately (if you’re in this kind of situation or you fear physical abuse, please call 086 00 10111)
Another sign that you could be in a toxic relationship is that you feel consistently unhappy and unfulfilled. You sense that your relationship is broken beyond repair and even though you’ve tried to mend it, you can’t see a future with this person.
You feel a growing sense of distrust towards your partner because they’ve lied or cheated on you. They’re becoming more dishonest towards you, and dismissing concerns you have about their faithfulness.
You’re being made to feel inferior to your partner, they mistreat you verbally by calling you names and raising their voice at you. You’re sworn at and regularly criticized. Your accomplishments and achievements are dismissed and looked down upon.
You don’t feel safe around your partner, you’re always worrying about upsetting them or saying the wrong thing. The feeling of comfort around them is gone and has instead been replaced with the anticipation of an argument.
Your boundaries have been broken.
We all set limits for ourselves that are tied into our self-respect. One way you can tell if you’re in a toxic relationship is to check if your boundaries are being respected.
So how can you know if your personal boundaries have been violated? Here are some ways:
You no longer feel as though you have control over your own life and you can’t make decisions for yourself, without your partner questioning them.
Your partner is overprotective and jealous, they don’t allow you to make decisions for your life such as going outside, being financially independent, starting new projects, meeting up with friends, or even spending time alone with yourself.
You’re forced to sacrifice on doing the things you love and enjoy, such as a career.
You feel physically and emotionally drained. Instead of being confident in your relationship, your toxic partner lowers your self-esteem and confidence levels.
Your partner speaks to you in an insulting and demeaning way, which has started to impact how you see and feel about yourself.
So how do you leave a toxic relationship?
The first thing you should know is that it’s not easy to leave a toxic relationship for many reasons. You might still love your partner and you feel it’s your responsibility to try and fix things. You’re afraid of a future without them and you don’t know how to take back control over your life.
All of these feelings are normal, so be patient with yourself while experiencing them and practise self-compassion.
If possible, try and seek professional help. If you can’t, seek help from your friends and family. Like many people, you’ve probably heard that relationship problems should be handled between you and your partner, but when a relationship turns toxic and you don’t know what to do, there’s nothing wrong with seeking help from your loved ones.
In fact, the care and support you’ll receive from them will make the whole process much easier to get through.
Here are some things to consider while leaving a toxic relationship:
Learn to let go: When you first make the decision to end your toxic relationship, you’ll be consumed with self-doubt and questions, this is normal but you mustn’t give in. Don’t dwell on “what ifs?” or else you’ll never move forward in your life, learn to let go. Cut that person from your life completely and prioritize yourself and your well-being.
Give yourself time to heal: Toxic relationships are extremely draining emotionally and mentally. While some people feel an immediate sense of relief after letting go of their toxic partner, others go through a rollercoaster of emotions that include guilt and shame. All of this is normal and will take time to get through, so give yourself permission to heal for as long as it takes.
Educate yourself on what toxic relationships do to someone’s mental health to gain some clarity on what you’ve been through and what you’re experiencing. Surround yourself with people who support you, love, and care about you. Don’t be afraid of sharing how you feel with them. Always be easy on yourself, and celebrate the milestones you reach, sometimes that can be something as simple as making your bed in the morning. And be sure to practise self-care habits.
Work on rebuilding yourself slowly: when you’re in a toxic relationship, it’s easy to lose yourself. You’ve been hurt, manipulated and abused in different ways, it’s normal to feel broken but it’s also possible to rebuild yourself. The key is to be patient with your growth and your mistakes.
Reconnect with the things you used to love such as hobbies that you enjoy. It’s also important to be around the people you love to get that support you need. Read books on personal development and if you can, go away on a short break. Creating small goals and having projects to work on is also a good way of rebuilding yourself.
If you’re seeking guidance and a structured method to help you heal from a toxic relationship and claim your life back, I’d like to direct you towards my coaching programmes http://lifecoachingwithnarriman.co.za/love-and-relationships/
A toxic relationship isn’t easy to leave, even with all the advice you’re getting you might be thinking, “this is easier said than done” and you’re right.
Although you might feel a sense of hopelessness right now, it is possible to heal from this damage and gain control over your life again.
You have what it takes to make things right for yourself.