Feeling like you’re walking on eggshells with your partner?
Are you wondering who you’re living with? A person that shows off their charm in public but becomes a jealous, controlling partner behind closed doors.
Am I in a Toxic Relationship?
That’s one of the top questions I hear from my clients. For some, the evidence of a difficult relationship is painfully obvious. For others, the signs are sneaky and subtle.
Unhealthy relationships can seriously impact your ability to achieve a happy and successful life. Here are 5 common signs that your relationship is more than just difficult – it’s toxic:
1. You always feel on edge around your partner.
When you’re around your partner, you feel on edge. You feel exhausted, drained and generally “blue” – but for no specific reason.
From time to time in any relationship, feeling uncomfortable around your partner happens during stressful times or when illness occurs.
But when it becomes the norm, it’s not normal. Your gut instinct is telling you that something is wrong when you’re with your partner.
A client experienced this uncomfortable feeling with her partner when she came to see me. She admitted she was always happy and optimistic with her friends, but with her partner, she felt low, negative about the future and generally on edge all the time.
This is the time to consider how toxic your relationship is.
2. Your partner is constantly putting you down.
When your partner is constantly criticising everything you do, putting you down and making you feel dependent on them to “fix things,” that’s a warning sign to watch out for.
One client said his girlfriend was always criticizing even the smallest of things like wearing his t-shirt two days in a row or picking the wrong type of lettuce for a salad. She continually put him down with phrases like “You always make the same mistakes” and “I keep telling you this is wrong.”
My client began to believe everything was his fault. Instead of exhibiting a loving attitude, she bristled with contempt toward him and constantly rolled her eyes at him, as if to say, “You worthless trash.”
Sure, we all snap and can be critical occasionally. But when it’s continual and your partner doesn’t make you happy or lift your spirits, that’s a red flag – a warning sign that you don’t want to ignore.
3. You’re the one having to make compromises in your relationship.
Look at your relationship from an outsider’s perspective: Is it balanced, with both of you giving and taking on equal terms, or are you giving the most while your partner is endlessly taking?
If you find yourself backing down over decisions that affect you both and continually giving in to keep peace and let your partner have “their way,” chances are you’re in an unhealthy relationship.
One client found herself continually “biting the apple” at every level to keep peace with her husband. Even if he didn’t get his way in choosing what board game to play, an argument erupted. In social situations, she found she had to continually give in to keep the peace – or face his outbursts, anger and accusations when they got home.
4. You’re frequently gaslighted by your partner.
Are you continually told that you’re not remembering things correctly or that something didn’t happen the way you thought it did?
That’s called gaslighting. It is a form of emotional abuse, whereby you’re manipulated into doubting yourself continually. Controlling partners gaslight because they want to make themselves appear better than they are. They continually attempt to prove they are right and their partner is wrong, trying to make their partners doubt themselves about everything.
One client admitted to me that he felt he was “going insane” because the way he remembered things was always different from his partner. It wasn’t until a mutual friend validated he had remembered correctly – and that it was his partner who was wrong. Only then did my client realize how consistent the gaslighting and manipulation had been and the toll it took on his well-being and self-esteem.
5. You’ve given up asking for what you need.
You’re not getting what you want or need out of your relationship, but you settle on things because your partner never sees any opinions but their own: they seem void of empathy. As a result, you don’t see the point of discussing your relationship because it will fall on deaf ears.
Have you given up working on getting your needs met because you continually get mocked, ignored or laughed at? Many people can relate…
One client admitted that early on in the relationship, her partner was very charming and caring, but slowly she became fed up with always catering to his needs. When she wanted to talk about her feelings, he’d laugh at her, then remind her of all the good things he had done for her. My client ended up feeling guilty for asking too much of her partner, and as a result, her own needs went unfulfilled.
Are you seeing your relationship in these examples? Do you feel on edge, tired, depressed, and/or criticized continually? Does it seem like you can’t trust your own mind anymore?
Know this: Positive, healthy change IS possible. And, you don’t have to go it alone. Help is available.
Contact me for guidance and support in setting some healthy boundaries – and recovering your self-worth and inner strength as we work together to address the consequences of being in a challenging relationship.
Developing elegant solutions to complex personal issues
Daniel Lichtman MA (Couns Psych)
Daniel offers single session and multi-session packages of in-person and online counseling. Online coaching allows you to gain support privately and discretely, wherever you are in the world.
Registered Psychotherapist (PACFA Australia) and Certified Transformational Coach (Circling Institute, USA) with over 8,000 hours experience.