Red Flags in Relationships
By: Silvia DiPaola, Contributing Writer
Positive, fulfilling relationships can be a great way to support your mental health and well-being. A healthy relationship should have you feeling secure, energized, happy, and respected. However, toxic ones can achieve the opposite and can lead to physical and mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, and even depression in some cases. Thus, it is crucial to be familiar with the signs of a toxic relationship, as well as techniques to escape if you ever find yourself trapped in one.
Indicators of a Toxic Relationship
Jealous, passive-aggressive behaviors
This sign of a toxic relationship may be among the most obvious, but it is still important to look out for. It is natural for us to have jealous feelings, as we are only human. However, how your partner acts upon them will reveal a great deal about them. If your partner is “snooping” on your phone and reading your texts/snapchats/DMs behind your back, it may be time to take a step back and evaluate that relationship. A toxic significant other may be unable to have you away from their side and insists on doing everything together. Other jealous behaviors may include wanting to know where you are at all times and who you are with, telling you what you should or should not wear, indirectly punishing you because of their jealous feelings, etc. Excessive jealousy from either partner can cause further abuse and/or more damage to your well-being.
2. Lack of trust
Trust is a necessary characteristic of a healthy relationship. A lack of trust can indicate a toxic relationship, lead to consistent daily conflicts, and cause negative patterns of suspicion and jealousy. When a relationship lacks trust, you may not know where your significant other stands on things. Your significant other may begin trying to “test” you to try to figure out where your feelings of support and responsiveness lie. If you cannot dismiss a thought that your significant other might leave you for a “better” alternative, that is a warning sign that you may be in a toxic relationship. In a healthy relationship, trust should build naturally and be confirmed by your partner’s actions.
3. Feeling “small” around your significant other
Toxic relationships can have you feeling “small” or insecure around your partner. If you feel like you are in a constant state of insecurity around this person, you are not in a healthy relationship. You may think or feel like you miss them and want to see them, but deep down, you might be feeling down or insecure. You should never feel worse when you are around your partner, as they should be there to lift you, not bring you down. Moreover, if you feel like being in this relationship is mentally draining you, it is time to reevaluate. This feeling of being drained can manifest itself in physical ways as well, such as being tired or feeling fatigued all the time.
4. Abuse- verbal or physical
Any abuse or violence that someone may cause to their partner is a definitive indicator of a toxic relationship. Abuse in a relationship can occur in emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual ways. Some verbal/emotional abuse may be hard to spot, such as comments that are aimed to trap you in the relationship. An example would be your significant other telling you that “No one else would date you besides me,” or “I'm the best you will ever get.” If the person goes out of their way to make you feel bad about yourself, you may be in a toxic relationship. Physical abuse is more obvious, and it consists of a significant other directly harming you (ex: hitting, slapping, kicking, punching, etc.). This is a clear and definitive sign of a toxic relationship. Under no circumstance should your partner be maliciously laying a hand on you!
If none of these characteristics apply to you and your boyfriend/girlfriend, that is great! This probably indicates that you are in a healthy relationship. However, every few weeks be on the lookout for these warning signs even if they are not present right now.
If you find that one or more of these holds true in your current relationship, you may wish to speak with your significant other about your concerns. Explicitly let them know your concerns with how they are treating you. If they are unaware of their behavior, letting them know may give them the opportunity to change. If this does not work out, and they do not value your concerns, you can (and possibly should) walk away from the relationship and move on with your life.
If you require some support or someone to talk to, you have many options. You can talk to a close friend or parent/guardian and let them know what you are going through. You might also consider consulting the SafeLives hotline for those experiencing emotional or physical abuse. Alternative hotlines that are confidential include Women’s Aid and Mankind. Lastly, you can find a local support group in your area or speak with a therapist about your thoughts. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, never hesitate to contact your local emergency services.
These are some important warning signs of a toxic relationship, and how you can escape from one if you recognize the need. Always watch out for these regardless of how long you have been dating and how secure you may feel in the relationship. It is important to note that toxic relationships can happen to anyone. It is also important to note that a person may not be toxic, but their behavior in the relationship may be. Some people are more prone to displaying toxic behaviors in relationships because of past trauma, which is something that they should hold responsibility and seek adequate treatment for. You are not weak if you find yourself in the grip of a significant other who you may love, but who is essentially polluting your mind and negatively affecting your self-esteem, happiness, and well-being. Put yourself first, know your worth, and never settle for someone unworthy of you!
Link to cover image: https://cdn.tinybuddha.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Arguing.jpg