Tox·ic adjective täk-sik: poisonous; extremely harsh, malicious or harmful.
Are you in a relationship that's starting to feel like a toxic relationship? Are you starting to wonder if you've stayed too long?If the definition above sounds like it might be describing your relationship, then you're not alone.
Unfortunately, most of have been there at one time or another in our love lives, and experts believe that nearly half of all relationships could be considered toxic.
When you've been in a relationship that started out great (or at least seemed to at the time) but has gradually degraded over time, it's often difficult to recognize that things have gotten as bad as they have.
Often we're in denial about these problems because we so want the relationship to work; or we're stuck in the past, reliving in our minds how great it was at one time, instead of accepting the reality of what it has disintegrated into.
This is particularly true for us optimistic women that tend to see right past the problems and only see the potential.
If you're unsure of whether or not the relationship you're in falls under the category of toxic relationship, then keep reading for several warning signs to look for.
If you see one or more of these warning signs, while it doesn't necessarily mean that that the relationship will never work out, it does mean that there's some work that needs to be done to turn it from the toxic relationship it's become back into a healthy relationship.
Here's how to avoid getting into a toxic relationship or to know how to get out of one before you're in too deep:
1. You feel like you're just not able to be your true self.
Or worse, you feel like you don't even know what your true self is anymore. If the guy that you're with is always trying to change you, to get you to be something different from what you are, this will eventually drain away your energy, your life force, your you. And it will wash your self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth right down the drain along with it.
I'm not talking about things like that he's continuously trying to get you to stop smoking or drinking too much – it's always good to support each other in being healthy. I'm talking about the kind of situation like where you're an energetic, bubbly, outgoing person, and he gets jealous every time that you have a conversation with someone other than him.
2. You are not on the same page with what you want out of a relationship.
This one isn't toxic because of something he does or doesn't do, but it's toxic because of the way it tears you up inside. If you know you want commitment, but he keeps telling you he doesn't, or you know you want children in the future and he tells you in no uncertain terms that he wants to remain childless, then these differences will tear at the very fabric of your being.
The longer you keep pretending that you are OK with what he wants (or doesn't want), the worse it gets. Underneath it all you'll be very unhappy, and most likely be constantly hoping that he'll come around and change his mind, suddenly want a commitment or decide he really does want kids, but the truth is that it's much more likely that it will never happen.
Then you'll feel as though you wasted your prime dating years on a guy that wasn't right for you, and that lets bitterness creep in, which can also poison future relationships.
If you're not on the same page with what you want out of a relationship, recognize this early and move on so you can find someone who wants the same things that you do.
3. You find yourself drifting away from your family and friends because of him.
If you find that you are rejecting people you love because he doesn't like them, or thinks that you should associate with different types of people, then take a close look at what's really going on here.
Your family and your friends are your people; the ones who support you and love you for who you are and give you that sense of stability and security knowing they are always there for you.
If he has a problem with them, that's his problem but it's also something to take a much closer look at to see if it's because he wants you all to himself – without the support they provide – or because he doesn't want anyone else seeing him for who he really is and warning you about him down the road.
Someone who truly has your best interests at heart and cares about you will have no problem sharing you with the people who mean the most to you and won't be trying to change or sabotage your relationships with them.
4. He's openly critical of you, even in front of others.
This is one that one of my favorite relationship authors, John Gottman, refers to as one of the four deadly horseman of a relationship that's likely to lead to a breakup.
Everyone has complaints about their partner, and that's totally normal. A complaint is about something specific that was said or done, like if he complains that you weren't ready when he came to pick you up. It turns into criticism when it becomes about you personally, as in "You're never ready when I pick you up!" (as in, "there's something wrong with you").
And if the criticism has already turned into contempt, where you can feel the resentment that's been building, then it's most likely too far gone already.
We're all already hard enough on ourselves without having someone we're supposedly in a loving relationship with, being this hard on us, too!
5. He's trying to control you.
If you find that your partner nearly always wants to make the decisions; that he has to have things his way or he gets very upset or even angry, and you find yourself typically going along with what he wants to do just to keep things peaceful, then you are most likely in a relationship with a very controlling person.
Even if you are the type of person who likes others to generally make decisions for you (which may be why you are finding yourself in a relationship with this type of person), this relationship can become very toxic very quickly as soon as you find that you are confident and passionate about something and your partner disagrees.
While no relationship is completely balanced in every aspect, all good relationships are generally balanced, particularly where supporting each other's passions and interests are concerned.
6. There's more anger and fighting than good times.
It's not just the amount of fighting, but how you fight. This is supposed to be a loving relationship. If it feels more like just a sequence of personal attacks between the two of you with a lot of rehashing of things from the past that you've already dealt with, you both need to seriously work on the relationship while there's still a remnant of a relationship to work on.
It's one thing to get frustrated and angry sometimes when you're already stressed about something else; we're all human and we all have our own unique set of triggers. But when this is turning into more of a consistent pattern than a few isolated incidents, and you're both growing more and comfortable with saying things that are hurting each other, it's a bad sign. This is not how a loving relationship looks or feels.
There's enough anger and fighting out there in the world today, your love relationship needs to be the one place where you know, without a doubt, that you are loved and supported and cared for and that these feelings are mutual between the two of you.
If you don't know for sure if you feel that way – and if you're not sure your partner does – then take the time to assess what you're getting out of this relationship and whether it's the relationship that you want it to be.
Only you know what makes a relationship worth it to you, but if any of these signs are coming up in your relationship, honestly ask yourself why you are continuing to stay in it.
Trust your feelings - you know what's right for you, my beautiful friend!
What do you think makes a relationship toxic? Tell us about it in the comments!