Updated: Jul 29
Toxic relationships come in many shapes and sizes, with different behaviors, forms, and attitudes. A toxic relationship is not always obvious, especially not to the person in it. Some are harder to identify, and many are hard to end, regardless of how obvious the signs are. The first step to end it, is to identify whether you’re in one or not. Every relationship has ups and downs, and everyone argues, but toxic relationships are another level. A toxic relationship can be someone physically or verbally abusive - or someone mentally abusive. Mental abuse is one of the hardest to identify.
A toxic relationship doesn’t always start that way. Many times, your partner starts out kind, affectionate, and sweet. They’re loving and caring, interested in your day to day life. Emotional abusers know exactly what to do and say to pull you in and gain control of you.
Many people are in toxic relationships for years. The change is gradual, and you may not realize yours is one until you have a blow out. You then realize that they’ve been degrading you, taking advantage of you, and even insulting you.
Broken and Incomplete
When you’re not happy with yourself, it’s easy to invite a toxic person in to your life. Being broken or incomplete emotionally leads you to be vulnerable and latch on to the first person that treats you the way you want to be treated. It’s not a conscious choice or effort on your part to find a person that is like that. A toxic person has a harder time weasling their way in to a self confident persons life, and typically won’t try to.
Often times, we pick our abuser over and over again. We believe that they respect boundaries and will keep us safe, but it doesn’t work that way. Toxic people choose their partners carefully - they look for your weaknesses and your flaws.
When you’re broken and have little self worth or value, you don’t protect yourself well. You let them do what they do because you don’t realize it’s dangerous to yourself. Eventually, this leads them to control your life and your emotions.
It starts with simple, little things. It could be as easy as changing what you wear, or how you speak. It’s not obvious, just small subtle things. Slowly, they chip away at any self confidence you had, and you’re fully under their control.
Toxic men will often talk about emotional relationships they have with other women. They’ll mention crushes, or talk about how other women are pretty, and it breaks down your self worth day after day. Instead of getting mad, you may blame yourself. You start to believe it’s all your fault. You believe you’re unlovable and if you could change and be who he wants, he’ll love you more. You hope he sees your worth.
Eventually, you stop fighting. You stop talking. You worry that everything you say or do is wrong, so it’s better to be quiet and accept it.
You know this isn’t how you want to live! Deep down, your mind and heart tell you that you’re worth more. You’re miserable, unhappy, and unsatisfied. It’s time to find a way out.
By building your self-esteem and not being codependent, you’ll realize you can get out. Buy books, read blogs, workout, talk to friends. It takes work to break the cycle, but the work is worth it..
Why do you have low self-esteem? Do you not like your body? Did you go through emotional trauma in your life? You have to overcome this. Seeing a psychologist or counselor can help you overcome these negative emotions toward yourself.
When you have low self-esteem you are an easy target for a toxic partner to latch on to. Controlling you makes them feel better about themselves.
A toxic partner isn’t always a bad person deep down. Often, they were hurt too, but they have a different way of handling this pain. You have to realize that their problems aren’t yours. You changing yourself will never make them happy and fulfilled. You can’t fix anyone.
You have to learn to be happy with yourself first.
Often times when you have low self-esteem, you also tend to be codependent. Codependency is an unhealthy relationship style where two parties enable one another by relying on each other to exist instead of coming together to form a relationship.
If everything you are doing is to please your partner or make them happy, and you have no goals other than the fulfillment of the relationship, you’re codependent. People who were neglected or emotionally abused as a child are much more likely to form codependent romantic relationships as an adult.
The key to a healthy relationship is knowing your worth, your value, and loving yourself - and not letting your partner define these things for you.
Once you recognize you are in a toxic relationship, it will take time to get out of it. Unless your partner is physically abusing you, that’s perfectly okay. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and become more selfish!
Join a support group. Start finding your voice again. Once you get out, you will be amazed at the freedom you have. You’ll be so happy to just live for yourself again. Additionally, you have the knowledge and tools to avoid this mistake and move forward to a happy, healthy, and meaningful relationship. Build a support group of your close friends, and always watch for those subtle red flags.