Often, people don’t set out to go into toxic relationships. While it is normal for every relationship to go through rough waters, there is also a huge difference between healthy conflict and dangerous habitual traits that make up a toxic relationship.
There are some behaviours that are generally toxic to any relationship, whereas some are particularly dangerous to specific individuals. It is also not surprising to see people stay in relationships that are dangerous to them and threatening what the relationship represents.
Relationships are expected to make you better. When it does otherwise, then such relationship has become questionable. The story of men and women who stayed in abusive relationships easily comes to mind. Ever wondered why someone will stick to a controlling or dangerous partner? People stay in deadly relationships for different reasons ranging from denial, fear or unwillingness to change.
It is impossible for one person to be in a toxic relationship with him/herself; toxic relationship involves more than one person. When such relationship has become emotionally and physically detrimental to the individual, such relationship has become toxic. It is also worth noting that toxic relationship is not only experienced in romantic relationship, but also in some other types of relationship such as platonic relationship.
While the list of deadly traits that amount to toxic relationships may be inexhaustible, the followings are some of the tell-tale traits that must not be treated with levity:
- One-sided Relationship: I have been asked if a relationship can be one sided a few times when anchoring events by Singles and Married couples alike. There are some relationships that are not symbiotic.
When a relationship is one-sided, it is one partner that is giving and the other receiving. This parasitic relationship is not healthy for anyone. Any relationship that is about one person is just a matter of time, and it will crash. In healthy relationships, appreciation of one another is a given.
- Constant Fight: It is nearly impossible to be in a relationship with someone and not experience few misunderstandings as a result of individual differences borne out of different perspectives, up-bringing, temperaments, exposures, experiences, etc.
While it is impossible to agree with someone on everything, fighting over everything is also a danger zone and an indicator of something bigger. When disagreements lead constantly to verbal abuse, exchange of hateful words and physical violence, then the relationship has become toxic. A relationship that has lost every sense of self-control tends to be destructive whichever way it seems.
- Compromise: Compromise in relationships is essential; however, it is also not healthy for you to stay in a relationship strictly on your partner’s terms. You need to count the cost and identify those things you are compromising in your relationship (including values, beliefs, dreams, relationships with others, personality, etc.) which make up your identity. Please note that any relationship that makes the attempt to erode your identity is not healthy for you.
- Excessive Control: This is one of the most common red flags of toxic relationships. This occurs when you have a rigid partner, who feels his/her ideas are perfect and unwilling to shift, but you keep compromising just for the sake of peace.
It makes one partner see him/herself as superior to the other. Control issues could also present itself in a relationship when one partner cannot freely express his/her feelings, ideas or opinions. It is common in toxic relationships for either partner to be nervous or frightened by the other person’s reaction or action. This is one sign to be watched out for.
- Communication wreckage: Communication is to relationship what blood is to the body. Conflict is expected and normal in healthy relationships, nevertheless communication is one of the tools in resolving conflict. When a couple cannot resolve an issue without yelling or exchanging hurtful words, then the relationship may be dangerous to pursue.
Another way to view communication wreckage is when either partner uses stonewalling tactics at every instance of disagreement and also when communication involves just one person where the other person cannot express him/herself. Healthy relationships thrive on communication and the ability to resolve conflicts through same means.
- Record Keeping: Relationship is not a game! Any relationship that makes a habit of keeping records of wrong deeds is ultimately dangerous and forgiveness is difficult when there is a score board!
When either or both partners are keeping records of wrong deeds or even the good deeds, the relationship will not experience wholesomeness. The tendency that the score board will be retrieved at every point of another conflict is very high.
More so, it can breed unhealthy competition which is also dangerous for the relationship. Clearly, keeping score card of wrong deeds in relationship is an indication of relationship hazard!
- Manipulation: This is a dangerous flag to ignore in relationships. Whenever your partner tries to make you feel bad for their own action, you may want to give it a deeper thought. In a relationship where a partner is isolating the other significant partner from friends, relatives all in the name of ‘love’ and wanting to be alone with the person against the person’s reasoning or will, that partner is manipulative!
Manipulation could come in different forms. When your partner drains you of your identity, always finds faults and blames you for everything not working in the relationship, these are signs that your partner is manipulative, and it is a huge danger sign that the relationship is deadly for you.
- Excessive Jealousy: A dose of Jealousy could be healthy for any relationship because when you love someone or something, you want it all for yourself. However, when jealousy becomes detrimental to the existence of that person, it has become excessive.
Having a sense of insecurity, or not trusting what your partner does outside your presence or with other people might be a big indication of a toxic relationship. Most importantly, excessive jealousy doesn’t mean that the person loves more, it is an indication of a fundamental issue.
- Emotional Distress: Relationships can be challenging no doubt, but when either or both partners is/are emotionally drained each time they relate with one another, it may be a red flag! Dealing with a selfish partner who thinks and feel the world should revolve around him may be emotionally draining.
A partner displaying immaturity, irresponsibility and irrational behavior will not only be emotionally draining, but nobody should be made to put up with such habitual traits. These are unsafe red signs.
While this list may not be exhaustive, I believe you have been able to identify more than one of these traits in your relationship and might want to re-evaluate that relationship.
It is not accurate to conclude that the people you identify to be in a toxic relationship with are bad people, I’ll rather say that not every person is right for you.
Also, that a relationship is toxic doesn’t mean that the people in the relationship are weak. Toxic relationship doesn’t exempt anyone (weak or strong). As a matter of fact, relationship that started healthy may turn toxic. However, some people actually went into a toxic relationship with all the signs of red flags flashing visibly.
The essence of this article is not to label the persons in such relationships, but to encourage them to seek professional help from a therapist if the above traits are presently exhibited in their relationships and to state that the fact that you are in a toxic relationship may not necessarily mean that you are toxic, or your relationship is totally doomed.
If both partners are willing to seek help, it is a step in the right direction. It takes two people to tango, but only one willing person will not make a toxic relationship healthy!
As I drop my pen, note that whenever you keep finding excuses or reasons for staying in a relationship with any of the above-mentioned flags or you feel miserable, cannot recognise yourself coupled with the feeling of being lost or not valued, you need to take caution and if you need help to be brave, call or send a message to 0809-9931-039.
Relationship is one of the essences of life but when it becomes toxic, it loses its core of existence.