Sometimes we know we’re unhappy and want to make a change, however, sometimes we’re completely blinded to the fact that we’re not living our best lives. Recognize that we are in control of our own destiny (regardless of how hard or deeply emotional things are.) Only you can wield yourself out of these situations. If you’re just waiting for someone to tell you how powerful you are… than here I am! Stop living a life that doesn’t serve you. I promise you deserve better.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re dealing with something toxic, I’ve provided a list of 30 things that may be happening that you’re failing to realize.
1. You feel like you can’t be yourself:
-Yeah I know it sounds cliche to hear “there’s only one you.” BUT UM GUESS WHAT THERES ONLY ONE YOU HOW STASTICALLY INCOMPREHENSIBLE & COOL. The world doesn’t need you to stifle your unique voice and perspective. If your partner or friend doesn’t love you for the fact that you are your own unique, powerful and beautiful self… that individual does not have your best interest in mind in the first place.
2. You don’t have personal freedom:
-You’re constantly finding yourself bending over backwards to ensure your partner’s emotional security. You sacrifice plans with friends because you’re worried your partner will think they’re being abandoned, etc. YOUR PERSONAL FREEDOM IS IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY TO ANY INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. I will tell you right now, if you can’t be yourself whilst in a relationship, it’s toxic… it’s that simple. If your friend or partner actually cares about you, they would want you to experience moments with or without them.
“Not having your own hobbies, interests and opinions is a hallmark of a relationship that is overly merged and too close. These couples tend to have uncertainty around the relationship, and any separation (even the healthy ones) can feel like a threat. To alleviate that anxiety, they become fused. This can mean differences of opinion become major relationship catastrophes. A desire to spend time with co-workers after work can become an argument. These can also be signs of an abusive or controlling relationship.” ― Amy Kipp, a couples and family therapist in San Antonio.
3. You don’t have any friends outside of the relationship:
-Maybe at first you felt like your friends just didn’t understand the love shared between you and your boo, so the friendship ended.. but over time you begin to realize that all of your friends are no where to be found. You’ve officially alienated everyone around you. & no, this isn’t your friends’ fault(s), you made the choice (subconsciously or consciously) to cut those individuals off. Although the case, this isn’t the end-all-be-all. If you are in a crisis and need to reach out, I gaurentee you will find someone to reach out to.
“Individuals in toxic relationships often have to hide aspects of their relationships from people that care about them. This automatically can make it challenging to spend as much time with friends as they did prior to the relationship. Controlling, jealous people are usually critical of their partner’s friends and of their partner spending time with others.” ― Marie Land, Psychologist – Washington, D.C.
4. You constantly feel guilty even if you don’t know why:
-Are you constantly finding yourself explaining your thoughts and actions? Even the little things? Do you feel like you have to defend everything you do or feel like you don’t deserve goodness because you must be letting your friend or partner down?… The way I see it, if you aren’t in fact abusive or going around killing people… you have zero reason to feel guilty. Your perspective is unique so certain actions and thoughts will never meet the standards of everyone in the universe… just do what makes you happy.
5. You feel obligated to spend time:
-Do you feel like your partner or friend is draining you of your energy? Is this person only interested in gossiping or complaining when you two get together? You can still love someone from a far but just know that guarding your energy is important and okay.
6. You hardly leave the house:
-Are you or your partner feeling antisocial, stressed, or insecure? These are a few main factors as to why people become social shut ins. It’s easier to face the world from the comforts of your own bedroom, isn’t it? Well, the world is exciting and begs us to go experience things… If you decide to become a shut in & blame the outside world for your problems… I’m here to tell you, you’ve made your bed.
7. You’re home life is cluttered:
-Physical clutter really can manifest itself out of mental clutter. When our minds are scattered our rooms can become scattered as well. Take a moment to sit or meditate, figure out what isn’t flowing properly, ask for assistance or talk to a friend. You’ll usually start to feel the urge to physically clean up as well.
8. You’ve gained or lost a significant amount of weight without meaning to:
-Stress. Sometimes we put on pounds or lose excessive weight because we’re unknowingly putting on “energy weight.” This is a very real thing. You may be wondering how 20 pounds could have found themselves on your body when your diet and excercise routine haven’t changed… when we’re stressed we produce cortisol, the stress hormone. This hormone can then, depending on an individuals body, ignite weight gain or loss. It’s important to not beat yourself up about this physical change. Know that once you address the problem and practice mindfulness, it is a lot easier to get back to where you want to be.
9. You’ve forgotten your passions:
-Feel like the world is just a shitty place? Everything is hard? No one is around to pick you up? Do you even remember what you used to do that made you happy? If you don’t remember, ask yourself this question & start writing things down. Life is only has beautiful as the experiences we allow ourselves to go through. If you don’t have any outlets, you may actually be confusing your free time with a time to process all of your negativity.
10. You are living in a constant state of stress:
-Everything is just annoying!! You can’t get anything done. Your friends suck. Your family sucks. Your job sucks. The world is shitty. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Does this sound like you? Because if it does, I need you to take a day off from work immediately. (BUT I CANT TAKE A DAY OFF ILL GET FIRED……..) If your job fires you for taking a personal day, then you have just been granted access to getting a much better job.
Take a day to clean up your space; throw things away that do not make you happy. Go on a walk, breathe fresh air, dance with yourself and feel the breeze. Read a book, listen to music, sleep.
11. Your partner leaves you to deal with the finances (financial abuse):
-Are you paying for everything? You’re the one who keeps up with rent, the bills, etc. They use all of your possessions but they don’t feel inclined to buying any of their own things? Do they not think they’re overstepping any boundaries? You’re being financially abused. This is a form of abuse that not many people talk about or write about. It’s rare to read about because, in the past, we are so used to knowing relationships as men taking care of women financially, or one person taking care of the other. In a more equal society, we find ourselves wanting to create empires together. If you both aren’t putting in equal work… It’s time to ask yourself if the relationship is worth keeping.
“Financial abuse is a form of mistreatment and fraud in which someone forcibly controls another person’s money or other assets. It can involve, for instance, stealing cash, not allowing a victim to take part in any financial decisions or preventing a victim from having a job. The issue tends to occur most often in domestic relationships, such as between a husband and wife or an elderly parent and an adult child. People don’t always recognize the problem, because an abuser purposely might select an isolated, vulnerable victim who is unlikely to realize what’s happening or who will feel too ashamed to report it.”
12. You’re taking your anger out on individuals outside of your relationship:
-Sometimes it’s not your partner’s actions that signal a toxic relationship; it’s your own. If you suddenly feel paranoid and unable to trust your significant other, ask yourself why. “Are you getting more anxious because of something that has to do with you? Maybe you’re in a bad place and are worried about other things, and it’s spilling over into your romantic life. Or is there something about your relationship that’s just not right? Maybe deep down something isn’t adding up, and your gut is trying to tell you something.” Open up to your partner and share your insecurities; if he or she gets defensive about your questions, that’s another red flag.
13. You’re snappy and aggressive over simple questions:
-It’s obviously not the simple questions that are bothering you. There’s an underlying cause that’s wearing you down. If you sense that you’re being snappy and aggressive, can you determine what’s bothering you? If not, take a moment to reflect. What would you like to be different within your sorroundings? Maybe it’s time to access your emotions by writing things down. When you figure out the cause, it’s important to share your concerns openly with your partner. If it’s difficult to communicate then you may have more problem than one.
14. You feel hopeless:
-If you feel like things will never get better & that life is too hard… your life is calling for a huge set of changes. I find that these moments stem from resisting change. Remember that they only thing that is constant in life IS CHANGE. How beautiful to be able to constantly grow. Flip your perspective on change & reap the benefits.
15. You judge or feel embarrassed by your partner:
-If this is occurring, the simple answer is that you guys just aren’t right for each other. This type of behavior, if not addressed, indicated that you yourself are the abuser and toxic individual. If you don’t love your partner unconditionally then please move on.
16. You can’t talk about anything serious:
-Sometimes it’s what’s unsaid that can destroy a relationship. If you guys can’t openly talk about family, friends, politics, health, religion, beliefs systems, or ultimate desires, than you may be in a relationship with an aquantence. You deserve to have all of your needs met. Take steps to open up. If your partner belittles this process & you cannot make headway, it’s maybe time to move on.
17. You both encourage unhealthy behaviors to persist:
-Smoking too much, eating horrible foods, speaking rudely to yourself and others? Your partners and friends should want to see you at your highest self. People that love you want you to strive for greatness while also understanding that you are your own person & you have the right to make your own choices. Make sure you aren’t peer pressuring (manipulating) your partner into making decisions they’re uncomfortable with.
18. You get jealous of your partner for their accomplishments/vice versa:
-Again, if you are not trying to see your partner thrive in all ways possible, than you have an insecurity issues that needs addressing. If you find yourself feeling envious or jealous, take a step back & ask yourself what you are lacking and what you would like to achieve. There’s enough success to go around for everyone.
19. You’re constantly worried about your partner cheating on you:
-Maybe you are insecure, maybe you believe you don’t deserve someone who is faithful, maybe you have been cheated on in the past & you’ve yet to relinquish animosity. The way I see it is that your partner may in fact cheat on you, however, what’s the use in wasting away in insecurities when you can simply enjoy each moment with each other. Take the moments where individuals cheat or don’t treat you well as a moment to understand that those individuals weren’t right for you in the first place. Be grateful that a door has opened to new possibilities.
20. You have expectations for your partner or you’re hypercritical:
-Expectations stem from a control problem. If you are finding yourself trying to control your partner’s actions, you have to relinquish control otherwise your partner will grow resentful, hurt, etc. You must find unconditional love for your partner. If you can’t love every single aspect of your partner, than the individual is not right for you. Move on before someone gets hurt more than they deserve.
“In a toxic relationship, there’s a chronic tone of criticism and tension. Partners feel as though they can never please the other. They describe ‘walking on eggshells’ to stave off the criticism. This is a learned behavior from a person’s family of origin. If someone was raised by critical parents and observed them being critical of each other, it’s as natural as breathing to criticize. It is a setup to create the same kind of toxicity in the next generation.” ― Bonnie Ray Kennan, a psychotherapist based in Torrance, California.
21. Your partner doesn’t encourage you to pursue your dreams & goals:
-If your partner is not excited for you when you accomplish a goal… GET THEM OUT. I’m sorry, but this point is so personally important to me. Thrive & build an empire together otherwise it’s not worth it.
22. Your partner looks through your phone, diaries, personal affects:
-Guess what. YOU ARE YOUR OWN PERSON. You DESERVE to have privacy & a space that is 100% totally and fully your own. If you partner tries to take control of this human right than your partner is extremely insecure & quite frankly a scary individual. Don’t settle for this, please.
23. You (or your partner) blame everyone else but yourself for your problems:
-When we can’t accept blame we tend to lash out at the people we love the most. It’s just a fact that sometimes we are responsible for some mistakes. Learn to apologize. If you can’t apologize to yourself than you don’t know how to apologize to others. Not learning to apologize to yourself only manifests illness & unfortunate circumstances to arise. Apologizing is a great skill.
“Conflicts that are always your partner’s fault make fertile ground for feeling frustrated and stuck. When responsibility for difficulty isn’t shared and your partner is always at fault, there’s going to be resentment. Waiting for your partner to change, and criticizing him for not doing it fast enough, is a toxic place to be. If you find that your partner is the problem more often than not, your relationship may be heading for trouble.” ― Alicia H. Clark, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.
24. Your partner makes fun of your hobbies & the things you enjoy:
-If your partner tears you down for the things you enjoy, then your partner doesn’t care about your well-being.
“Toxic relationships are one’s in which a partner feels threatened or insecure about your hobbies and interests,” says Megan Fleming, a sex and relationship therapist in New York City. Remember that middle school crush who was furious when you beat them running the mile in gym? Like that, but on a much, much larger scale. “They might create drama whenever you choose to do something that doesn’t include them. They may implicitly or explicitly say you can’t see (a particular friend) or do (a particular thing). They make you choose between them and someone or something else. Ultimatums are signs of a toxic relationship,” says Fleming.
25. You think you don’t deserve an amazing life:
-Whether its society or your partner telling you you aren’t good enough… somehow we’ve found ourselves believing that amazing lives are only dealt to those born into “amazing lives.” What the hell does this even mean? Everyone’s definition and vision of an ideal life differs. Thank yourself for being where you are today. Be grateful & vibrate with gratitude. If you’re not as happy as you desire, start making simple changes towards accomplishing your goals. A great place to start is simply by writing your goals down. If you’re stuck in a relationship that is not making you happy, it is 100% okay to go after the amazing life you want. Ending bad relationships is a blessing not a curse.
26. You bond through negative thinking:
-If you’re both constantly finding yourselves digging bigger and deeper holes for each other, the relationship is toxic. If you aren’t pushing yourself & your partner to live emotionally & physically healthy lives, it’s time to evaluate what initially got you into this pit, what you desire in life, & how to strive for those desires with or without your partner.
27. You or your partner bottles up their emotions & snaps:
-If you can’t talk about anything & everything with your partner openly than what are you two doing together? If this is the person you’re saying you want to spend your life with, well, there are many events that will occur in your life. If you can’t speak freely, I’m not sure how you guys will last.
28. You’re passive aggressive about your needs and wants/vice versa:
-Aruging about where to place the trash can in your apartment? Are you placing it in one spot only to notice your partner moves it to another. Just openly share where and how you want things… from there you can come to a compromised decision. We humans really do like to make things hard.
29. They use emotional blackmail against you (This is a doozie):
-Sometimes individuals don’t know what emotional blackmail encompasses, so I have included a well-written excerpt from powerofpositivity.com. Emotional blackmail encompasses many aspects. It is also something that anyone may be subject to doing to someone, not just a partner. A boss may use emotional blackmail via e-mails for example.
*4 SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL (via https://www.powerofpositivity.com/4-signs-of-emotional-blackmail/)
A. THREATS AGAINST SOMEONE OR SOMETHING CLOSE TO THE VICTIM
Emotional blackmail always involves a threat, but what exactly is being threatened isn’t always the same. For example, one sign of emotional blackmail is the blackmailer threatening to damage something that the victim holds dear. Whether this is a physical object, or something more abstract like a close relationship or their reputation at work or school. The victim is meant to feel as if they have to comply with the blackmailer in order to avoid having something that they care about tampered with or destroyed.
B. THREATS AGAINST THE VICTIM
While this is less common, it is still another sign that emotional blackmailing is occurring. The blackmailer may make threats against the victim, threatening physical violence in they don’t comply with their demands.
According to licensed mental health counselor Christine Hammond, “In order for a blackmailer to be successful, they must know what the target fears. This fear is often deep-rooted such as fear of abandonment, loneliness, humiliation, and failure.”
Because the goal is to simply threaten until they get their way, violence may not actually happen. However, the mere threat of violence directly against the victim is mean to manipulate and control them into giving in to the blackmailer’s demand.
C. THREATS AGAINST THEMSELVES
Emotional blackmailers who are close to the victim in an intimate way, like a partner or a parent, may use another tactic and threaten harm against themselves. Psychotherapist Kate Thieda adds, “It may feel like you have no choice but to do exactly what the person says in order to avoid a tragedy, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and potentially save the other person’s life as well.”
Therefore, threatening self-harm is a way to gain control of the situation and force the victim to comply with their demands under the assumption that the victim doesn’t want any harm to come to the blackmailer. This may be a threat of simply harming themselves, or even the threat of suicide.
D. USING GUILT TO BLACKMAIL AND MANIPULATE
Oftentimes, an emotional blackmailer will use threats combined with guilt to make their victim give in to their demands. They may use other people as well to gang up on the victim. Hammond adds, “This type of emotional blackmail is more commonly known as “guilt-tripping.” The threat is designed to make the victim feel guilty for causing some negative outcome to the blackmailer. Many times the guilt is implied and the demand is not overtly stated.”
30. You don’t feel safe even in your own home:
-If you’re constantly walking on eggshells and finding yourself in a state of fight or flight, you are not in a safe space. Just because nothing physical has happened to you, doesn’t mean that you & your mind are not allowed to be a safe place. If this resonates with you, please find a moment to call your local battered women’s shelter (MEN AND WOMEN CAN CALL.) They will point you in the right direction. If you don’t have any friends or family that you can stay with during this process, your local YMCA will most likely have boarding options. If you needed assistance please feel free to comment anonymously with your city & state. I will help you find services in your area. THERE ARE OPTIONS.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence in a relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. It is open 24 hours a day.