Relationships are so important, and there will always be ups and downs, but what is the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship? I would love to take a moment to teach you.
A toxic relationship doesn’t just occur within a romantic relationship. In fact a toxic relationship can be between friends, relatives, parents and their children, and work colleagues.
Signs of a healthy relationship
- There will be open, honest, safe communication, where you feel you can openly discuss anything without fear of repercussions, and disagreements are handled fairly and with compromise
- You will treat each other with kindness and respect
- You support and encourage each others dreams
- You build each other up and promote good self esteem
- You inspire each other to be a better person
- You respect each others wishes
- You care about and are interested in each others feelings
- You will most likely be on the same page in terms of your life goals and values
- There will be a strong sense of trust between you
- There will be respect for each others privacy and boundaries
- It’s ok to disagree and say no
- Your identity will be separate from theirs
- You respect each others personal space and it’s ok to do some things separately
- You feel accepted for who you are
You will also know you are in a healthy relationship by how you feel when you are with the other person. Ask yourself how you feel when you are with them and how you feel when you come away from spending time with them.
Do you feel comfortable, happy, safe and good about yourself when you are around them? Do you come away after spending time with them feeling energized, treasured, encouraged, safe, listened to, heard and understood? Do you feel like your needs were met?
Signs of an unhealthy/toxic relationship
- You don’t feel supported by them
- They trivialize your feelings, even making you feel like your feelings are not valid
- They may be controlling or try to manipulate you and coerce you to do things you don’t want to do
- They don’t respect your boundaries or listen when you try to say no
- They might not be trusted to keep your private business confidential, and they may even gossip about you and remind you and others of your past mistakes
- They seem self absorbed and they are more focused on their needs and your needs are not important to them
- They may lie to you and try to twist your perception of reality, which causes you to doubt yourself and become confused
- You never really feel like you have a connection with them and they don’t know the real you
- You may find yourself covering up their behaviour by putting on a brave face and pretending everything is ok, or deny to friends and family that there is a problem
- In extreme cases, they may manipulate you and use a form of brainwashing tactics that might cause you to lose your sense of identity and self worth
- They may be verbally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially or sexually abusive
All this can leave you feeling uncomfortable, anxious, depressed, confused, afraid, and struggling with your self esteem, self worth, your identity and even your mental health
Again, ask yourself how you feel when you are around them.
Do you feel disappointed, empty, frustrated and bewildered after talking to them and after spending time with them? Do you frequently feel like you are going crazy? Do you wonder if your children are safe around them?
You may experience times of stress, anxiety and depression. You may find yourself constantly thinking about the relationship and the toxic person. You may have PTSD type symptoms. You may feel the need to monitor or correct yourself for saying or doing the wrong thing around them, or feel like you are constantly on the defence.
And do you only feel this way when you are around them or have spent time with them, yet you don’t feel like this around other people? Do you feel significantly more confident, happy and free when you are away from them?
Another sign you might be in an unhealthy relationship is the fact that you are reading this blog, and reading about this subject. Or maybe a friend or relative has suggested you read about it.
You might start googling ‘signs of a toxic relationship’ and looking for information and help. We don’t do that when we are in healthy relationships!
So, does any of this sound familiar to you?
Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions before?
Do you recognise yourself or your relationship?
Maybe you recognise your behaviour and you think you might be the toxic person in your relationship. Just as we want others to treat us well, we also need to make sure we treat people in a healthy respectful way.
What can you do about it
Ask yourself and explore what you are getting from the relationship?
It can be hard to admit that your relationship might be in trouble, even though you know you might be feeling unhappy, lonely, frightened, isolated or confused. You may feel overwhelmed and powerless, unable or too scared to speak up, get help or end the relationship.
Acknowledging the problem, educating yourself about toxic relationships, seeking help and keeping good boundaries is the best way to have healthy relationships.
If any of these behaviours sound familiar in your relationship, please talk to someone about it. There are plenty of resources and options for couples and individuals seeking help or support including helplines, self help books, online support, blogs, YouTube videos, and counselling. Connect with your support networks: talk to friends and family members, teachers or others to make sure you are getting the emotional support you need. If you feel unsafe or in danger in your relationship, it is important to get help and support as soon as you can.
How can I help you
Has this article been helpful to you? Do you recognise any of these signs in your life or relationships? Do you think you might be in a relationship with a controlling, manipulative or self absorbed person? It might be a partner, ex partner or friend, but not many people realise that a relationship with a parent can also be a toxic relationship. The solution is not to try and change them or even change yourself, but to recognise the signs and learn how to protect yourself from toxic people and toxic relationships.
I can help you explore your relationships and identify any blind spots you might not be aware of.
In fact, toxic relationship recovery is my specialist/niche area within my counselling work and I would be happy to discuss how I could help you and if we could work together.
I have even created a 6 Week Toxic Relationship Recovery Program
If this sounds good to you then call or email me and let’s talk about it.