Toxic Relationships: Red Flags and Green Lights

You complete me

You deplete me…

Every relationship has its ups and downs, good times and bad – but how do you tell where the line between a natural relationship ends and a toxic relationship really begins?

The main misconception about a damaging relationship is that it only occurs between two people who are romantically involved. The reality is that any connection with another person can be (or can turn) toxic – this includes connections with work colleagues, your boss, family members or even friends.

“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams or your dignity.”

The key signs of an unhealthy relationship

  • Your words are used against you
  • They make you feel guilty
  • Cruel or condescending comments are made but then they claim you have misunderstood what was said
  • They make you question your own mental wellbeing
  • If you don’t comply with what they want they will ‘punish’ you by withdrawing affection/love/companionship
  • You are unhappy in the relationship but you also fear being without it
  • You feel the relationship is more often taxing and complex than enriching
  • You often or always feel that you fall short of expectations or that you are not good enough
  • You frequently or always feel as though you are walking on eggshells
  • You feel as though you are being cut off or they are trying to isolate you

So, what can you do if you are concerned about your treatment, have noticed red flags or have a nagging feeling that a particular partnership is grinding you down instead of building you up?

Check-in with your self-worth

The main point of focus is to realise that ALL relationships should have a level of investment in each other’s feelings. Not all toxic environments include violence or transparent methods of control, hostility or anger. Toxic relationships can involve ‘subtle poisoning’ – in other words- gentle levels of manipulation, the whittling down of a person’s confidence and self-worth.

If you find yourself being put down, not feeling good enough in another person’s eyes, bending the truth or changing your plans to suit someone or changing who you are for ‘an easier life’ – then you could be in throws of an unhealthy relationship.

As human beings we all have the God-given right to be who we choose to be and every relationship, regardless of the dynamic, should be based on the understanding that we are all individuals, we all have unique personalities and no one has the right to control your choices.

“The length of a relationship does not compensate for its quality or worth”

Take it easy on yourself

Some of the key traits of a toxic person are that they are chief manipulators, skilled adaptors and accomplished narcissists – whether they realise it or not. It is likely that this poisonous environment has served to bring out the most potent negative feelings that you carry within yourself; highlighting weaknesses, uncertainty and breaking down your self-confidence.

Once you have acknowledged that you are in a harmful relationship, the key to moving forward is not to blame yourself. Guilt for not seeing your situation earlier, culpability for not leaving sooner, feelings of self-hate for being weak or not strong enough to withstand manipulation or overbearing situations…The list is endless.

Allowing these feelings of guilt into your life can result in a vicious cycle. Further breaking down your confidence, which will feed more feelings of guilt, in turn resulting in further destruction of self-belief.

Pick up a pen

Memories are funny things in that they can alter and change based on what we would prefer to remember. If you dislike a person you will probably focus solely on the negative things they do – and the same can be said for someone you like – you will have a propensity to downplay the bad and exacerbate the good.

Every relationship has perks and pitfalls, highs and hardships, bonuses and bugbears and by keeping an honest log of your emotions it can help you truly see how certain people or situations make you feel.

If you are concerned that you are in a toxic relationship then the likelihood is that it has got benefits, that there are moments when you think things will be ok or that the other person will change over time…By writing down the facts of your emotions it is a productive way to stop any wilful denial and gauge how much damage is really being caused.

If you are worried about yours or a loved one’s situation, then seek help. Asking for assistance from a friend, family member, charity or specialist is not a sign of weakness but a first step towards finding the antidote to toxicity.

Ultamodan are proud to say that we donate to The Pennine Domestic Violence Group. PDVG is a key provider of domestic abuse support for those subjected to, or at risk of, any form of domestic violence.