Toxic Relationships - Are You In One?
It is incredibly easy to fall into a relationship with a toxic person, particularly if you have already come out of another toxic relationship. Emotionally abusive people gravitate towards the more vulnerable and have a strong sense of who they can manipulate.
The Stages of a Toxic Relationship
At first you will probably be “Love Bombed.” This is when your new partner is kind, charming and seems to offer you the world. They appear to be everything you ever wanted in a person and you just can’t help falling in love with them! It’s a wild romance with someone you barely know, and as they shower you with gifts and compliments, you’ll love this attention. You may also feel a bit overwhelmed and you definitely need to listen to the still small voice within you. Use your instinct, your gut feeling and be truly honest with yourself. Extreme caution is needed when you are being love bombed as these tactics are often, not always, those of a sociopath, narcissist or manipulator.
Next, all of a sudden, you move in together! Now it becomes so very easy to lose track of what is happening, you feel comfortable and happy at first but slowly those compliments you had at the start of the relationship start to wane. You seek their approval even more and will do anything to get back that wonderful feeling you had at the start. You very subtly start to lose control on your life so gradually at first you hardly notice it.
They will probably start to isolate you by making you cut off your family and friends, sometimes even making you move far away from everything you know.
They then control money, so that you become utterly reliant on them. A toxic person becomes extremely jealous and possessive quickly and will probably try to control your social media and other communications.
You may well get “Gaslighted” which is a common feature of a toxic relationship. This term is based on a 1930s play “Gas Light” where a husband tries to make his wife think she is going mad. So basically a toxic person uses gaslighting as a manipulative tactic to create doubt in the victim’s mind. This can either be when the manipulator professes something so firmly and with conviction that it causes the victim to question their own views and feelings. Or, the manipulator may be cheating on the victim and deny it so vociferously that the victim feels they are being paranoid and it is all their fault. This leads to feelings of being crazy and further reliance on the perpetrator.
Below is a list of 10 toxic signs to look out for. How many of these list items are present in your relationship? For each item you could put a check mark against, count up and score yourself out of 10.
Does your partner ever:
Blame you for starting arguments when they did?
Stop you from seeing friends and family?
Accuse you of having affairs?
Control your money?
Tell you what to wear and even what to think?
Use a GPS locator on you?
Access your social media or check your phone?
Destroy precious belongings?
Invade your space or follow you?
0 – Great! your relationship is looking healthy
1-3 – This is at the warning stage, keep an eye on things
4-7 – You are definitely in a toxic relationship and should leave before it gets worse
8-10 – Get out now if you can
So if you are in an emotionally toxic relationship or have just left one, but are not sure how to move on, get help as soon as you can. It is never worth sticking in a bad relationship because:
You are worried about being lonely – you’re preventing yourself from meeting someone better
You don’t think you will cope on your own - that’s your abuser talking!
Or that you “still love” your abuser – it’s a sure thing this is not true love, it just feels like it
Regarding the last
point above, once you finally do leave the relationship you will
wonder why on earth you stayed there for so long. You will also
realise that dependency on another person feels a lot like being in
love. It isn’t. Real, true love does not take this form and there
are no excuses for these behaviours. You can never grow or flourish
or become who you are meant to be under such circumstances. So dig
deep, find the strength and the courage to ditch your toxic partner
and feel the relief of freedom and start to look forward to tomorrow!