Do you think you?re in a toxic relationship? Are you wondering if you should stay or leave the relationship? This post is about the signs of toxic relationships and how to leave a toxic relationship.
Being in a toxic relationship can feel like you?re constantly walking on egg shells. The fear of not knowing what argument or controlling behaviour will happen next. You start questioning yourself wondering if it?s all fabricated in your mind. Is it as bad as it seems?
When someone has a hold over you emotionally it can feel like your world has been turned upside down. This affects your mental health and wellbeing.
In this post you?re going to learn about the definition of toxic relationships, different types of toxic relationships and the signs to look out for in a toxic relationship.
After learning about toxic relationships, you will have a better understanding of the behaviour patterns to look out for and if you should leave.
In this blog post we put the spotlight on toxic relationships.
Gaslighting is when a person psychologically manipulates another person. To gain control over their victim they create self-doubt and confusion in the victim?s mind. The victim starts to question themselves and their own mental health and judgment and may start to think that they?re going crazy.
Gaslighting often happens in abusive relationships whether that be a partner, work colleague or family member. Most commonly gaslighting is seen in romantic relationships.
So how can you tell if someone is gaslighting you? Here are signs to look out for:
? They are trying to isolate you from friends as they?re concerned that someone will find out about the gaslighting.
? Constant lying.
? Blaming you and your behaviour for everything in the relationship.
? They start rumours about you.
? They will tell you a particular thing didn?t happen and that you?re remembering it incorrectly.
? They will often try and cover up their gaslighting by saying loving things.
? They will tell you that you?re overreacting.
Gaslighting can affect your confidence levels as you start questioning yourself. It can execute loneliness and isolation this can then lead to anxiety, depression or even suicide.
If you fear that you?re in a relationship where gaslighting is occurring, then speak to family and friends to get their perspective on it. Try not to allow your perpetrator to separate you from your loved ones.
Be wary of the gaslighter telling you what you want to hear to encourage you to stay. Think about their behaviour and not just their words. If you have been in a relationship where gaslighting has occurred, it may take time to learn to trust again. This can be learning to trust another person but also being able to trust yourself and your judgement.
Gaslighting is a toxic relationship.
2. Love Bombing
Love Bombing is what the name suggests. At the beginning of the relationship, it can feel like you?re been swept of your feet being showered with flowers, chocolates, sweet notes etc. The attention seems normal at the beginning of the relationship.
But a person who is love bombing may give you 10 bunches of flowers at once, call you 25 times a day and insist that you go on an overseas holiday with them. They simply do not respond to the word ?no? and continue to saturate you with lavish gifts.
You may find that as the relationship progresses that they expect you to only spend time with them and they pressure you into committing to the relationship with marriage or some other plans for the future.
Love bombers don?t any boundaries in place, so asking them to slow down will often make them angry. Through their words and actions they will try to convince you that you?re the one for them. For example ?we were born for each other?.
But here?s the thing. By showering you with gifts, sweet words and actions the love bomber is trying to manipulate you into thinking that you owe them because of what they have done for you. They build up your trust, smother you in affection all so they can manipulate you into meeting their end goals.
Ultimately the love bomber is trying to gain control over you. Being in a relationship with a love bomber is a toxic relationship.
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3. Stonewalling or the silent treatment
Stonewalling or as what can be known as the silent treatment is when a person refuses to engage in a conversation. They may refuse to answer questions, won?t make eye contact or simply just walk away. Stone walling can become a habit in a relationship which can make it a toxic relationship.
Sometimes we may have an argument with a loved one and end up just walking away not wanting to discuss the topic any further. This can be normal in a relationship. But when this becomes the ?norm? in a relationship it causes the victim to feel upset, frustrated and disrespected. Ultimately it can end up being the demise of a relationship if not dealt with.
Common signs of a stone waller is ignoring the other person, being very dismissive, responding with disrespectful non-verbal communication like eye rolling and totally excluding themselves from the communication.
Not all stonewalling is done out of ill-intent. For example if a person fears conflict then they may not say anything to avoid an argument. They may feel that they simply cannot cope with the topic of conversation. The stonewaller may be trying to ?keep the peace?.
If the stonewalling is intentional then it may be a tactic to gain control, manipulate you or to punish you. Stonewalling can be emotional abuse if intentional.
If you find that you are in a relationship where intentional stonewalling is occurring then speaking to a mental health therapist can help. Intentional stonewalling is a toxic relationship.
4. The narcissist
A narcissist is defined as someone who lacks empathy towards others and has a strong desire to be admired. They may come across as arrogant, entitled and really don?t care about anyone except themselves. In other words they believe that they are superior to everyone else.
A narcissist loves attention. Narcissists like to feel idolised and like to come across as confident and successful at everything. But deep down narcissists are actually insecure people who fear they?re not the best which is why they love to feel approved and admired from the people around them.
A narcissist will never feel as though they receive enough attention and is always looking for more validation to compress their deep insecurities. Narcissists are very manipulative and will make sure that their needs are priority in the relationship. They thrive to look successful and powerful and can become aggressive and violent if they hear something negative about themselves.
Narcissists love to be in control of everyone and everything. The implication of believing their own importance is making sure that life happens as per their own script. If life doesn?t go the way they have manipulated it, it can throw them into a frenzy of anger and throw them off balance.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be isolating as a narcissist finds it a challenge to really love someone else. It?s hard for them to focus on someone else when really they just want to be the life of the party with all the attention on them.
A relationship with a narcissist can be emotionally draining and often will not change unless the narcissist seeks help for their self-centeredness, and they learn to care about others.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can make the victim feel incompetent, reduce their confidence and ultimately make them feel unhappy.
Being involved with a narcissist can be a toxic relationship.
5. Emotional abuse
An emotional abuser?s aim is to have control over the victim by using emotions to make them feel worthless, to manipulate them and shame or blame them. Ultimately, they want the victim to feel as though they are completely dependent on the abuser, totally isolated with no way out of the relationship. Emotional abuse is considered domestic violence.
You may find in an emotional abusive relationship to start off with the signs are very subtle. For example it may seem like the abuser just wants to spend a little extra time with you. But this eventually turns into an expectation that you only spend time with them and no one else.
The abuser can try to completely take control of your emotions and feelings by telling you that you?re too sensitive and will tell you how you should be feeling. This control that the abuser is seeking is to try and make you feel invalid and broken.
Manipulation can occur by them deliberately starting arguments over the tiniest things. They will find something to argue about leaving you feeling on edge and unable to relax. In the arguments they may try emotional blackmail. For example ?if you go and visit your parents tonight then I won?t be here when you get home.?
It may be that no matter what you do ? it?s never good enough for the abuser. Ultimately you can do and give everything in the relationship, but the abuser will still be expecting a higher standard. The expectations of the abuser are completely unrealistic.
Emotional abuse is not only a toxic relationship but is also domestic violence.
We have discussed the signs of a toxic relationship. Here are excerpts of real life stories. Please note that the names have been changed.
?I didn?t realise how much I was I was being manipulated at the time. I thought my boyfriend loved me so much as he was always buying me extravagant gifts. I thought that was him displaying his love for me.
Gradually I started spending less and less time with family and friends and more time with my boyfriend. My friends and family started mentioning about changes they noticed in me and that they rarely saw me anymore.
When I became sick with glandular fever I had to take time off work. Whilst at home my Mum would come around and visit to see if she could help in any way. This led to many arguments as my boyfriend hated me spending time with other people.
Eventually one day, with the help of my friends, I packed up my things and left and never came back. It was such a stressful time and in the moment, I just didn?t see what he was doing to me.?
?I ended up marrying a narcissist. I was totally smitten when I first met Jon. He was good looking, confident and swept me off my feet. But once married I started seeing another side to Jon.
I was no longer falling for his good looks or was attracted to this larger than life personality. Instead I was feeling used, unloved and exhausted from the relationship.
At times it felt like I was living with a child throwing a toddler tantrum. If things didn?t go his way or he wasn?t in control he became so angry. Eventually the relationship wore me down and I left when Jon was at work and moved in with a friend.?
How to leave a toxic relationship
When someone has such a strong emotional hold over you it can be difficult as you may feel fearful to leave. Often the relationship has become so turbulent that you have lost confidence in yourself and your self-esteem is at an all time low.
Leaving a relationship that you have invested so much in can be daunting and can leave you feeling like you have failed. But trying to focus on your future opportunities and thinking about how a healthy relationship could fulfil you can help you to walk out that door.
Any abuse whether it?s emotional, physical or sexual is a red flag that you?re not in a healthy relationship. Finding a support system can assist to you move on from the relationship. Sometimes the thought of leaving can be just as bad as the toxic relationship itself.
Think about which friends and family could support you at this challenging time. You may find talking to a therapist would help as well. But once you have made up your mind to leave then try not to go back. Instead cut of all contact with your ex. Otherwise they may try and manipulate you to go back.
If children are involved this does make the situation a little more difficult as you may need to communicate or co-parent. Try and keep the communication only about the children.
After being in a toxic relationship you may feel like you?re worn out and be feeling apprehensive about the future. But know that you deserve to be treated so much better and are worthy of so much more.
Seeking treatment from a mental health professional can help you feel more positive and confident about moving on and can help create a foundation for better self-worth.
Writing out a plan can give you a more positive outlook about the future. Think about what you will do financially, where you will live and what do you personally want for the future.
If you?re not entirely sure then journaling about your emotions can assist in finding solutions rather than getting bogged down from all the emotions you?re feeling.
When we?re feeling stressed and overwhelmed often we forget about looking after ourselves. So think about self care. What can you do that will help nourish your body and soul? It may be making healthy meals, exercising or spending time with friends that uplift you.
Try not to be hard on yourself. It takes time to heal after a toxic relationship. It can seem like a good idea to jump back into a new relationship but instead try to reflect and learn from the mistakes made with the toxic relationship. This gives you a better understanding of what you really want in the next relationship.
How to heal from a toxic relationship
? Surround yourself with positive people.
? Cut out all contact with your ex.
? Try to leave the past behind and focus on the present.
? Forgive yourself and your ex.
? Focus on yourself ? look after your health
? Practice self-care
? Talk to a mental health professional
Support services Australia
Mens Line Australia https://mensline.org.au/
Relationships Australia https://relationships.org.au/
Reach Out https://au.reachout.com/articles/domestic-violence-support
White Ribbon https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/Find-Help/Help-Lines
Full Stop Australia https://fullstop.org.au/
Support Services United States of America
Love is respect https://www.loveisrespect.org/get-relationship-help/
National domestic violence hotline https://www.thehotline.org/
Crisis text line https://www.crisistextline.org/topics/emotional-abuse/#what-is-emotional-abuse-1
In this post you have learned about 5 types of toxic relationships, real life stories from survivors, leaving a toxic relationship and healing from a toxic relationship.
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