5 Signs of a Toxic Relationship
While in my Master’s of Social Work program, I interned in a residential treatment center for adolescents and teenagers in foster care. I ran regular workshops and groups for the kids in our care highlighting life skills, social skills, and coping skills. One of the groups focused on healthy relationships. We talked about what makes a healthy and an unhealthy relationship, both friendships and romantic relationships, and the importance of boundaries. I taught them about personal space and safe touch, and ways to advocate for themselves in situations where they may be in a toxic relationship. Here are five of the things I regularly saw these teenagers identify as warning signs of an unhealthy relationship:
If your friend/partner regularly calls you names, embarrasses you in public, or ridicules you for the things you do or like, this is a definite sign of a toxic relationship. When someone actively bullies you in this way, they do not care for you the way a good friend or significant other should.
2. Double Standards
For example, your boyfriend doesn’t like when you go out with your girlfriends and convinces you to stay home most nights. However, every Thursday night is Bowling Night with his friends and you’re expected to stay home while he goes out, gets drunk, and comes home late. This is a red flag and should be shut down.
3. Overly Critical
Does your partner make you feel as if you can’t do anything right? Do they constantly put you down - your hair, clothes, taste in music, etc.? Do they critique how you do things? These are signs that your partner is overly critical of you in order to make themselves look or feel better.
There are so many psychological studies focused on blame and how this is detrimental to relationships. If you are with your partner and can only seem to argue and blame each other for everything going wrong, this is a sign that it will not end well. You will probably both feel emotionally drained from the constant guilt trips and fights.
5. Unfair Fights
This one goes along with a lot of the ones above. Every couple fights sometimes, and that is okay. When your partner does not allow for a fair fight and always goes back to blaming and defensiveness that is a bad sign for a downward spiral in the relationship.