THE BLOG

Nine Signs of Toxic Relationships

24/02/2015 14:28 GMT | Updated 25/04/2015 10:59 BST

Emotional abuse can cause more harm than physical beatings, and the wounds do not always heal, at least not completely. They can fester and adversely affect every aspect of life. It is important to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship before suffering extensive mental and emotional damage. Maybe you have been the target of some or all of these forms of toxicity by a single individual. In any case, if someone who is supposed to love you causes serious pain and confusion, purge them from your life as you would any other poison. Without professional help, nothing will likely change for the better.

1. Controlling Behavior

One of the signs of a toxic relationship is controlling behavior. An emotionally abusive bully will try to control their significant other. It can be as simple as sabotaging telephone calls by continually interrupting, or it might be as obvious as telling the other person what to eat or wear. Adults have the freedom to choose what they do and when, and no one else should interfere with their personal decisions in ways that make them feel inferior, undermined or condemned.

2. Belittling Comments and Disparaging Remarks

Another one of the signs of a toxic relationship is emotional degradation. Not all belittling comments are direct. Emotional abusers often disparage their victims using devious and indirect methods. For example, they might make offhanded comments regarding intelligence. After the insult is hurled, they wait for a reaction and then claim that they were joking. They try to make the victim appear as if they are unkind, but jests are supposed to be funny. Insults are only amusing to those who target others with cruelty. The subtlety is an attempt to disguise their intention, but to the victim it feels just as bad as or worse than if they were more directly insulted.

3. Volatile Temper and Impatience

Another sign is when the significant other displays a volatile temper and an extreme lack of patience. These types of behaviors are signs of a toxic relationship. They make those around them extremely uncomfortable, even if they are not lashing out toward anyone in particular. They might even throw things and hurl obscenities. No one should be made the victim of someone else's temper tantrums, especially on a regular basis. Always seek professional help from a qualified therapist to help through such difficult times.

4. Guilt-Prompting Comments

Emotional abusers have very clever ways of inflicting painful toxins. They use psychological manipulation in an attempt to get what they want. Someone that uses guilt-promoting comments is emotionally abusive, and their behavior is one of the signs of a toxic relationship. They use the vulnerabilities of their victim in very deceptive and manipulative ways. They know how to vilify their target in ways that make them look and feel as if they are the aggressor or the troublemaker.

5. Narcissistic Entitlement

Those who emotionally abuse others are often narcissistic, and many have what is called narcissistic entitlement syndrome. They feel that they should always win, even if they do not deserve first place. When things do not go their way, it is always someone else's fault. They do not make mistakes. They are usually only empathic and helpful when others are watching because they stand to gain praise and attention. Narcissists are also arrogant, and need their egos regularly stroked. A relationship with a person who fits that description is most definitely toxic. No one is immune to their egotism or their wrath when they do not receive the outcome that they seek or expect.

6. Distrustfulness

It is said that those who do not trust cannot be trusted. In many cases it is true. Those who are not trustworthy assume that others will be just as devious and dishonest. In other cases it stems from a cycle of abuse. The aggressor in a toxic relationship is often distrustful. They assume that others have ulterior motives, and they never fully trust anyone, not even their closest relatives. They point out others who do not follow the rules, but they willfully break the same ones. They also put up a wall that can never be penetrated. It is often made of money, but it can be made of whatever it is that they truly value.

7. Selfishness

We have all experienced selfishness at one time or another. Kids can be naturally selfish, but as they develop and see others sharing and showing compassion, they often learn to do the same. Some people never outgrow selfishness. They even refer to shared items as their possessions. They use the words, my and mine far more often than the words we and ours. When looking for signs of a toxic relationship, selfishness is a major factor. Selfish tendencies often accompany many of the other aforementioned behaviors.

These are just several of the many signs of a toxic relationship. If you are in a close relationship with someone that fits some or all of these behavioral traits and descriptions, and you feel trapped, do yourself a favor and see a relationship therapist. The perpetrator in a toxic relationship often sends others in search of therapy. A single abusive person can alter many lives with their controlling behavior, insults, impatience, selfishness and other negative characteristics. No matter who they are, you do not have to put up with it.