If you have come here asking “am I in a toxic relationship?” the answer is yes.
I don’t know how you found this, but you did. If you were asking that question…you are. If you are searching for that question in google, or facebook or anywhere else, you are. No need to panic just yet..hear me out. How do I know without knowing your situation? Read on….
There doesn’t seem to be a definition to pin down. If you used google you will find spirituality blogs, personal blogs and all kind of websites giving you 5-10 signs you’re in a toxic relationship. The problem is because it is a feeling, not anything concrete you can say if this happened you are in a toxic relationship. Toxic patterns are covert and subtle. You are left with a feeling of anxiety and uncertainty and you often have no idea why. You may over think when you need to say something, and worry you are not going to say the right thing. Do you find yourself hiding little bits of the truth for damage limitation?
The harsh truth is if you have any doubt at all, then you are in a toxic relationship. A nice, loving, safe relationship will not evoke those feelings in you. You get the bad feelings when you do not feel safe. That could mean safe to share things, safe to make mistakes and safe to grow as a person. Just because there is no actual violence does not mean this relationship is healthy. Research into violent and abusive relationships has shown that victims view psychological abuse worse than physical.
Having experienced both, I personally believe that you can look at bruises, scars or broken bones and KNOW that is the truth. You can cope with it and deal with it in your own way. Hopefully move on and swear you will never let anyone do that to you again. However, with a toxic relationship you are never quite sure. There is no physical harm. So the reality is you are left with confusion.
In a toxic relationship you never quite know where you stand. The other person may go off their head, or just look at you disapprovingly, at something they think is big, for example – talking to a member of the opposite sex. You get a gauge from their reaction of what they do and don’t expect. After calming the situation and/or talking it through you may think it was all a big misunderstanding. You may be convinced it was all a big misunderstanding. But the reality is very different. You have just got a baseline for their behaviour, and they have got one for yours. Regardless of whether you are a strong independent woman or a big burly man this environment will get a reaction from you, whether you like it or not.
The person you love has just convinced you that their behaviour is dependent on something you did or said, a situation that most likely is not in your control.
A calm balanced person may walk and never look back. But a codependent with a shame based disorder will immediately take it upon themselves and feel bad. We are finely tuned to gobble up their pain, rescue them and make a mental vow not to hurt them again. I mean, for for fucks sake Wendy, why did you talk for so long when you wanted to leave the situation anyway!!!
What this event told your brain is this person can react. When situations are in your control or out of your control. The head fuck starts when a similar thing happens and there is no response. That means the baseline you just got is no longer valid. That means, you no longer know what will cause an uncomfortable reaction. Which then means you begin to tread carefully. The fact you don’t notice until it gets much worse is the worrying factor here.
We are designed with a very helpful fight or flight response…when we are being chased by lions. But, it also kicks in when you feel something is wrong. Welcome anxiety. We are designed to reduce this anxiety, and too right, it’s bloody horrible. The situation above will begin to muster up anxiety. Your body cannot tell the difference between a lion and a telling off. Balanced people can push the problem straight back at the person. Comments like “I don’t think I have done anything wrong” or “do not say/do that to me”. Codependent people will try to ensure that never happens again. Comments like “I’m sorry” and “i understand” are unfortunately usual.
Codependents rescue people from their pain. Codependents have an unreasonable sense of responsibility so being in a toxic relationship is ten times more difficult than ordinary.They will literally apologise for everything. This makes the codependent or love addict super sensitive and super likely to change to accommodate the partners ever changing, ever confusing need.
Being in a toxic relationship slowly eats away at your sense of self. You will find yourself changing to avoid reactions. Used to go to the gym? – don’t need to now you’ve got a partner for life do you? Used to wear make up? – Don’t need to now do you? They fell in love with a person, and they love that person to bits. But yes there are a few things they would rather you not do. No-one has a gun to your head, right? So the changes are down to you. Factually YOU did make the changes. They did not force you, therefore in a crazy way, we can say it was us. But in fact it wasn’t us, we were silently coerced. Victims of this kind of relationship are left with nothing more than anxiety, confusion and low self esteem.
Facts are easy to justify, but feelings are not. It should be the other way around, I make it the other way around. If everybody could just say “I don’t need to explain anything, I just don’t feel good about it” things would be different. People would not need to screw it over in their heads and make sense of it. There is no sense to it. If it feels bad, let go. You wouldn’t hold a rotten apple because at one time it was delicious, would you?
For advice on how to finish a toxic relationship read this post.