We all know relationships are a lot of hard work. You need to work on it constantly to keep the spark alive. But do you ever feel that despite all your efforts, the relationship is just tumbling downwards, there’s no joy? Do you dread the time that both of you spend together as you end up arguing and unhappy? If you answer in affirmative then you are most likely in a toxic relationship. Dr. Lillian Glass, a California-based communication and psychology expert, coined the term ‘toxic relationship’ in her 1995 book Toxic People. She defines a toxic relationship as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
If your argument here is that every one goes through ups and downs in a relationship then do note that relationship can be termed toxic if there’s consistent unpleasantness, so much so that the negative moments outnumber the positive ones. But how do you be sure? We chatted up Dr Bhavna Barmi, a clinical psychologist and relationship therapist to tell us how to spot the signs of a toxic relationship. Read on to find out what she says:
1. You feel tired all the time and every situation that is supposed to be a happy one—a celebration, a birthday, a romantic night out—all turns into an unpleasant experience. When you are in a good mood, your partner always finds a way to make you feel low. There is always something to worry about, and you want to break away from it. “Being uncomfortable around your partner is a clear sign,” says Dr Bhavna.
2. You are always engulfed by a bad feeling. You feel like your partner will make some kind of a sarcastic comment or judge you no matter what you do. If you are keeping a scorecard, you would realise you feel guilty most of the time, even though you’ve done nothing wrong.
3. You bury your feelings and opinions. You don’t seem to get the support you need from him. It feels like you are trapped and helpless. It isn’t a safe and healthy bond if you feel like this all the time.
4. An apparent lack of effort from your partner. The most important thing in a relationship is to get positive vibes from your partner, and if you feel like your spouse is just the opposite, then it is a clear sign of a toxic match.
5. Any kind of verbal or physical abuse. “This is a repetitive, mutually destructive, unhealthy pattern that causes more harm than good for both the individuals,” says Dr Bhavna.
6. If your partner exhibits passive-aggressive behaviour. “This kind of behaviour involves possessiveness, jealousy, dominance, manipulation or even abuse, or a combination of any these toxic behaviours,” explains Dr Bhavna.