Signs and symptoms of a toxic relationship

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: DYLAN CHARETTE
With Valentine's Day approaching, it's time for a relationship check-up.

In the midst of the cold winter season, signs of pounding hearts and hopeful starry eyes are spotted under the London skies.

Relationships are exciting and thrilling when the person you’re with elicits good feelings that you keep in a box deep in yourself, only unlocked by that certain special someone.

The problem in life’s relationships is not reading the box’s fine print label: “Treat with care, fragile contents.” Some people will open the box with delicate but determined fingers, and others don’t care how the box is opened; crushed, pummeled, or hammered down, so long as they have what’s inside.

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Being in a relationship with your significant other or even a friend is a two-way bond. So, it’s important to look at how your relationships are affecting you physically, mentally, and socially. Sometimes people neglect to check up on their health when in a relationship and end up hurting themselves in the processes.

Trying so hard to please the person you love makes it easy for them to take you for granted and make you feel lesser than. So, let’s get a check-up for signs and symptoms of a potential toxic relationship.

1. Insecurity

In a relationship there’s an invisible rope that ties you to each other. This rope is tugged and pulled by each other when one needs the support and reassurance of a loved one. If you’re the only one doing the pulling and never being tugged back, you may be feeling constantly insecure as your partner never listens to your worries and doubts. Support is a two-way road, so make sure that if you’re in a relationship, the rope is in a steady tugging war.

2. Power play

Being in a relationship is not a dictatorship. There shouldn’t be anyone making decisions for you or taking over your will. Relationships occur between two equals who share a union of balanced power together. So, if you’ve got yourself a tyrant as a significant other, I would consider jumping ship.

3. Trust, or the lack of it

Trust is something that is built over time. It is seen through the actions they make when they promise to do so. In a toxic relationship, the person you are with does not follow through on the promises they make. If you’re being left disappointed and betrayed each time, trust won’t magically bloom anytime soon.

4. Stonewalling

There are going to be fights in any relationship. It is expected and sometimes healthy to let out what is frustrating you. However, what isn’t healthy is walking away from an issue just because you don’t want to deal with it. Being stonewalled by your partner is a sign of an unhealthy relationship that indicates communication problems in being open with each other’s feedback.

5. Green-eyed monster

If you can’t stand being away from your partner for more than a few minutes, then there is definitely a problem. Being too preoccupied with the person, questioning their whereabouts, and complaining about who they’re with, doesn’t allow you to be yourself and grow as an independent person.

6. Neglected self-care

When you care too much about your special someone and stop giving yourself alone time, toxicity is bound to chase your relationship. You have to value yourself as an individual who has their own personal activities and put in the time to make sure your health is in good shape.

7. False hope

If the thoughts, “Maybe one day they’ll will change” or “This time they’ll definitely come through” are familiar as you think about your significant other, then you are putting too much false hope in someone who can’t change for you. Change is something only the person themselves can control. Hoping that your partner can change to meet your expectations will only keep you hoping for the impossible and a sure disappointment awaits in your relationship.

8. Feeling worse

When you’re with your significant other you should be looking forward to being with them, not dreading the thought of the time you will have to spend together. Many reasons could be the cause of your anxiety when thinking of being with your partner, and if the cause makes you feel miserable about yourself then your relationship took an unhealthy turn.

9. Unwanted criticism

There is a difference between constructive criticism and being controlling. If the person you are with is telling you to refrain from eating certain foods, or not letting you wear the clothes you like for example, then it no longer becomes advice or support, but someone who wants to constantly regulate all the aspects of your life. Abort! No one should be “advising” you to not eat that cookie or wear those nine-inch heels! Totally your choice.

10. The best you

When you are in a relationship with someone, you want them to bring out the best version of yourself. They should be someone who makes you feel more confident of yourself and not more insecure. If this person is doing the opposite and making you doubt your capabilities, re-evaluating your relationship is a must do.

If any of these signs are prevalent in your relationship, then I think this coming Valentine’s Day calls for a serious sit-down with your significant other. Your mental health is far more important than trying to maintain a relationship that isn’t providing you with anything but more insecurity and self-doubt. Take the time to appreciate your self-worth and really look at what your relationship is doing to your self-love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Falcons!