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Relationships

Telltale signs that your relationship is toxic

No relationship is perfect, but they should at least make you feel happy, respected, cared for and secure.

"A toxic relationship" is a buzz phrase doing the rounds, but what does it mean and how do you know you're in one?
No relationship is perfect, but they should at least make you feel happy, respected, cared for and secure.
You should also feel free to be yourself.
Toxic relationships make you feel the opposite.
Here are some signs that a relationship has gone down that path (and it doesn't have to be a romantic relationship – it could be with a friend, relative or colleague):
• The other person takes and never gives. It should be a two-way street, not all about them.
• You feel drained. If you're mentally and emotionally exhausted after spending time with them, there's a problem.
Communication is poor. Do they leave you in the dark all the time? Do you find yourself having to second-guess them? Ask yourself why they may be shutting you out. Is it to gain the upper hand?
• The drama never ends. Life is not meant to be smooth sailing but constant ups and downs and associated histrionics are not healthy for either of you.
• You feel worthless. Constantly putting you down and making you feel useless – which can be done overtly or snidely – is not something a genuine friend or partner does.
• You can't express how you really feel, or can't behave in a natural and comfortable way.
• The negativity is non-stop. Someone who seems incapable of saying anything positive to you is the very definition of toxic.
• Constant hostility. They may seem angry with you and it may feel that you can't put a foot right. This is not about you, it is about them.
• Control issues. If they insist on calling the shots all the time and keep trying to assert their power over you – for example, getting you to do things they know you're not keen on – that's not a balanced relationship.
• They cut you off from friends and family. Alarm bells should ring if they discourage – or even forbid – you from maintaining your relationships with others.
• Lack of support. Not being there for you when you really need it is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
• Changing your standards or goals. Lowering your standards because of another person's influence, or letting go of goals that have previously been important to you is a red flag.
It's not always immediately obvious that a relationship has become toxic – this kind of behaviour can creep in gradually.
If you become aware that there are issues such as those listed above, now is the time to do something about it.
If you feel that talking through these problems may help, initiate the conversation and, if necessary, seek professional help. If not, it may be time to pull the plug.

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