4. You are noticing substance abuse.
When you are in a relationship that is toxic, there are often signs of substance abuse, signs that are big red flags that should be paid attention to.
Usually, when people are living in a deeply unhappy place, they look for ways to manage their unhappiness. In an ideal world, people would manage their unhappiness in healthy ways, like exercise and therapy. In this really tough world that we live in, however, many people turn to substances to manage their moods.
Ironically, abusing substances can actually make a toxic relationship worse. Drug and alcohol abuse weakens filters, and often people say and do things that they might not necessarily do in a sober state. Problems that seem manageable suddenly become less so. Tempers flare and emotional and/or physical abuse can ensue. If both partners are abusing substances things can escalate quickly, causing damage that cannot be repaired.
On the other hand, abusing substances can lead to depression. When we are depressed, dealing with another person is even harder, and feeling good about ourselves is impossible. Even if your partner isn’t abusing substances, you doing so is a red flag that your relationship is toxic and that things need to change.
5. Your friends pull away.
A client of mine was in a relationship that was toxic and one of the biggest side effects, one that took a long time for him to notice, was that their friends had fallen away, leaving them alone and struggling.
Think about couples you know who are in unhappy relationships. Are they fun to be with? If you choose to go out to dinner, would you invite them along? Does time spent with them make everyone uncomfortable and on edge?
Are you this couple to your friends? The one whom no one likes to hang out with anymore.
Even if you are still invited places as a couple, it is possible that your individual friends will pull away from you if you are in a relationship that is toxic. If all you want to do is talk about how unhappy you are and how much your partner sucks, especially if you just want to talk about it and not take steps to fix it, you might find that your friends have less of an inclination to spend time with you. Life is hard enough without having to be constantly dragged down by an unhappy friend!
So, take a look at your friendships. Are your couple friends still inviting you to do things? Are your personal friends making excuses to not spend time with you? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, you might be in a relationship that is toxic, and perhaps it’s time to take a good hard look at trying to fix it or get out.
Knowing the red flags that signal that your relationship is toxic is an essential way of both escaping from one and preventing a new one.
When we are in a toxic relationship, it is often hard to tell because it is the reality 24/7, and having some clear signs to look out for, instead of relying on your feelings, can help you figure out what the next steps might be.
So, if you find yourself walking around on eggshells, trying not to upset your partner, if your self-esteem and your health are flagging, if one or both of you is abusing substances, and if you are losing your friends, you might very well be in a toxic relationship, one that needs to be addressed NOW so that you can get your life back.
I know, that prospect is daunting, but you can do it – you only have one life to live, and living it the way you are now isn’t serving you in any way. Reach out to a therapist or a life coach and see what you can do to help heal your relationship or to help you walk away.
You can do it!
Watch this Ted talk to know more about the difference between healthy and toxic relationships.