Relationships can be hard, and it can be hard to tell whether problems with them are because of something you are doing or because it is just a toxic relationship. Many times, it takes someone outside the relationship looking in to see just how bad things have gotten.
A lot of people tend to just blame themselves for things, and normalize negative interactions with their significant other because it comes to seem "normal."
The more you know about toxic relationships and how they come about, the easier it can be to spot those behaviors in your own relationships.
To that end, Reddit user u/Nesrynn asked:
Walking On Eggshells
When you find yourself doing things not because you want to make them happy, but to avoid them becoming angry.
The biggest one I've missed: you find yourself lying to and/or avoiding close friends or family members due to your partner's words or behaviors.
You may tell yourself "they just don't know him/her that well" or "they'd get the wrong idea" but if you feel like you have to hide things from those you trust, it's worth taking a step back and assessing what you're worried they would think—and whether or not they might be right.
And becoming isolated from your friends. They make you question your friendships so ultimately all you have is them.
This is huge. Many abusive partners will lie to your friends and family, make them second guess your character - and possibly even tell them you're being abusive to your partner. They will garner sympathy from new people you meet as soon as you're not around. Soon, you will have nobody except your abusive partner. You're completely isolated and no longer have a support system that can help you realize this.
It's Not Me It's You
When anytime you bring up something that's bothering you, he/she turns it back on you.
Any time I tried to bring something up to my ex about our relationship to try and work on it, all she would do is throw it back in my face with a "well you [x]" or "if you didn't [y]".
It would always leave me feeling like the bad guy for bringing it up and that I was just being stupid/ the 'issue' I had was really no big deal.
After a long time of being worn down by this and just keeping everything to myself because I worried that she would just freak out and make me feel like a piece of sh!t, I finally woke up and realized how toxic it was.
This (among) a few other red flags I eventually noticed, led to the break up.
If you are experiencing this with your S/O it is NOT your fault for wanting to talk about how you feel!!. It is a very healthy thing to do in a relationship and is crucial to helping it grow.
Fear Is Never A Good Sign
If you're afraid to tell your partner anything, then you're definitely not in a healthy relationship. Not being able to share things with them for fear of getting 'in trouble' or being judged ...that's a slippery slope, imo.
Edit: apparently it needs to be spelled out that this doesn't apply if you're afraid to tell them about a horrible thing you did, like cheating or murder. I'm not saying being afraid of facing consequences for your actions is toxic. It's toxic to be unable to share mundane things with your partner because you know they're going to twist them on you.
Oh, Poor Me!
Gets angry and tries to play the victim every time you want to talk something out.
Definitely. I've found my biggest red flag in any relationship - not just romantic, anyone from friends to postman - is if they blow up when you try to have a quiet word about something they've done that you're unhappy with. A frequent one for this is if you say "I'm hurt that you did X thing", they'll say "WOW, OK, I'M SORRY I'M SUCH A HORRIBLE PERSON, APPARENTLY, AND CLEARLY YOU WISH I WAS DEAD."
You can't fix these people, they need years of therapy. Just, keep your interactions with them very superficial and polite.
Communication Should Be Scary
This the simplest one, that I discovered after the fact:
If you feel your phone buzz with a notification and your first reaction is a tightened stomach and caught breath, you're in a toxic relationship. You shouldn't react to communication with fear.
yep. ex had a great habit if bringing up important and negative topics right as I started my day at work at 10am. can't tell you how many times it literally ruined my day over and over before I realized I flinched when he texted me.
Belittling. That's the first sign imo.
Yep often as "jokes" or "helpful advice."
Things like "that's so dumb you should've done ____". Or constantly saying you're too ____ or not ___ enough. I was told I'm too soft a lot and not assertive enough. Which is interesting given how he'd treat me when I tried to assert myself.
Things like making jokes that actually hurt you like laughing at your "bingo wings flapping" or making fun of something you care about.
You cook them a meal they give "helpful" suggestions that are non stop criticisms. In public they "helpfully" tell you your makeup has smudged a tiny bit.
Basically things that hurt dressed up as something else. Often done in front of other people so it's extra painful.
Hobbies Are Important Too
Not letting you enjoy your hobbies by complaining about you doing them, not giving enough attention to them or making those hobbies seem immature, stupid or useless.
This one is so true. I'm an artist, and stopped painting for 2 years early on on my toxic marriage. But, after I left, within less than a year I got a job as a professional artist! Getting out was sooo good for me :)
An Apology Shouldn't Be Your First Instinct
If you have to learn how to apologize when you're not sure what it is you did. If you're always the one apologizing, regardless of what happened or who was at fault. If you feel guilty about not being as sexual as your SO wants, and feel obligated to do things you aren't comfortable with because they want you to. If they hit you, then try to justify it by saying it was "a knee-jerk reaction". If they hit you period.
I've had three girl friends in the same sort of "toxic" relationships but not in the sense that you might think. For them it has boiled down to the fact that 100% of the time, they were the ones giving about 90% of the effort and their partner was giving about 10%. Basically, if you are putting in all the mental and emotional labor all of the time and your partner always has an excuse for why it's happening (or wants to placate you without taking action), you are in a toxic relationship.
One friend's husband refused to get a job, because he essentially thought that he was entitled to a job in his field and his pride wouldn't allow him to do anything else. He quit all attempts at "side" hustles like Uber that he started, despite her being very vocal about not being able to support them both. She crunched numbers, she tried to show him graphs, she looked for creative budgeting solutions and stretched their budget as much as she could, but none of it worked.
Another friend's fiance refused to go to couple's or individual counseling. He came up with every excuse in the book like "The therapist I want is waitlisted" to "My shift just changed and I need to get used to it" to "We don't have the money, I'll do it when we can afford it." A week after after "We don't have the money," he presented her with the two-week European vacation package that he was about to buy for them. That proposed vacation was the last straw for my friend. It was essentially the perfect wake up call that revealed how comfortable he had become in their relationship as it was, and how he wasn't willing to do anything but what he wanted to do.
The problem with these types of toxic relationships is that on paper, it doesn't seem like the sort of thing you'd break up over. It's insidious. It creeps up on you and you may not even realize that you're the one carrying the load all the time. It's "Sure honey, maybe next week" over and over. Then you make excuses yourself-"He's tired" or "he works so hard" or "he's such a great guy, aside from this" or "It's not like he's beating me or gaslighting me or being mean to me, I should let this slide." And then before long you're both just...existing. One partner quietly unhappy, occasionally mustering the energy to say "I'm unhappy and I'd like to change this." And the other partner feeling no sense of urgency, disagreeing with the idea that things need to change, unwilling to actually change, saying "Yeah, sure...let's talk about it next week."