However well a relationship may begin, many of us have been unlucky enough to find ourselves caught up in one that has become toxic – even if it takes us years to realize that this has happened. It’s really important to be aware of some of the key relationship red flags to help you spot any issues early or to start taking the steps required to leave a partner that isn’t right for you.
A toxic relationship can cause significant and long-lasting damage to your mental health, so if you’re stuck in one, getting ourselves to a space of safety, whether this is physically or mentally, is vital – confiding in someone that you trust is crucial; if you have no-one you feel you can turn to, then speak with your doctor or therapist, who will be able to provide you with the support you need.
Need to Control
Similarly, if control has crept into the relationship, then this needs to be addressed – there is a high likelihood that it’s in your best interests to walk away – as hard as this will no doubt be. Control and manipulation are linked, and this sort of behavior is one of the biggest relationship red flags and shouldn’t be ignored, click here for more information. Often, manipulative behavior, such as trying to negatively affect your relationship with friends or family members, starts subtly: you may not even notice it at first or put it down to something else going on in your partner’s life. However, be mindful of any form of control or manipulation that a partner attempts to exert on your life. If you notice it – or accept that it’s there and may have been for a while – then it’s probably wisest to leave the relationship immediately.
Things Are Going Very Fast
Another warning sign is if things are moving very fast, and you’re feeling pressurized to make big decisions, such as moving in together, quicker than, deep down, you feel comfortable with. There’s a form of manipulation known as ‘love bombing’ whereby the recipient will be bombarded with messages and signs of affection: it can be such a heady, romantic mix that the individual on the end of it can get totally caught up in the situation, and drawn into a relationship believing there’s something extremely special on offer.
The problem is that love-bombers often aren’t who they appear to be: and they tend to disappear or walk out of the relationship as quickly as they got into it, without a second’s hesitation or a look back, leaving the person that’s been love-bombed utterly heartbroken.
Avoid this type of manipulation by having and maintaining boundaries regarding how you want a relationship to progress and what you’re comfortable with. Someone who is genuinely interested in committing to you – or exploring the possibility of a relationship- will be happy to respect these and move at a pace you’re both happy with.
A lack of trust can indicate serious problems with a relationship and can lead to many subsequent difficulties. It’s important to nip this in the bud early due to the damage that trust issues can have on an otherwise healthy relationship; it could manifest, for example, in your partner being suspicious if you go on a night out with friends or constantly questioning your motives or fidelity. If not dealt with, trust issues can lead to more serious issues, whereby your partner needs to know where you are at all times and why to alleviate his/her anxieties.
There are ways that trust issues can be resolved: your best option is to see a professional couple or marriage counselor who can provide you both with the help and support you need to move forward together in a healthy relationship.
Heed Your Instincts
Ultimately, you will know in your heart if you’re in a toxic relationship or if a previously healthy relationship has now turned bad. If your sense of self-esteem is being dented, if you find yourself on edge or nervous a lot of the time around your partner, or if you sense that your life no longer holds that same joy as it once did, then it’s probably time to reassess the relationship, and whether this is a circumstance you are happy to be in long-term.
Friends and family members are important barometers, too: how do they feel about your partner? While not everyone will always see eye-to-eye, if one (or more) of those closest to you have expressed concern over your partner or the way he/she treats you, then it’s time to think carefully about the future of the relationship.
Alcohol or Substance Abuse
If your partner is abusing alcohol or drugs, then the chances are that you’re not in a happy relationship. Your own safety is paramount here – leave immediately if you’re at risk.
If you do choose or can safely stay, then encouraging your partner to get the help that they need is the best thing you can do for them. Speak to a healthcare professional or a therapist that specializes in addiction to get started and for the support that both you and your partner need.
Your Safety is the Priority
Always remember that your personal safety is the absolute priority – if you are in any danger physically, emotionally, or mentally, then getting out of the relationship immediately is paramount. Seek the support you need to do this: there are many confidential online help centers and phone lines, or speak to a healthcare professional or therapist for support.
If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, then it is vital to call 911 straight away.