- April 28, 2021
A toxic relationship is consistently unpleasant and draining to the partners involved. Such a relationship is characterized by control, dominance, self-centeredness and insecurity.
Toxic partners usually engage in manipulative and inappropriate controlling behaviours that are the opposite of the image they project in public. They exhibit behaviours that are emotionally, mentally and physically damaging.
While a healthy relationship bolsters your self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic one shatters your esteem to pieces. You feel highly insecure, uncomfortable and anxious at all times.
Telltale signs of an unhealthy relationship
Every relationship has its ups and downs. There are disagreements and rough patches here and there. However, when the disagreements, arguments and fights are consistent, you are swimming in shark-infested waters. You’ll be broken into a million little pieces.
Before the toxicity drains the life out of you, be on the lookout for the subtle signs of aggression, brokenness, control or insecurity from the onset of a relationship. And when you see them, please don’t sugarcoat them, hoping that things will get better. Call it what it is, red flag it and move on.
Before a relationship becomes fatal, here are the signs that you are in a toxic relationship.
- The relationship always makes you feel anxious, sad or angry.
- You have a negative shift in your self-esteem, confidence and mental health.
- You can’t express your concerns or be yourself when with your partner.
- You purposely leave out crucial details of the things that your partner does in the hope that you make them look better among your friends and family.
- You are always uncomfortable around your partner.
- Your partner controls what you do and who you spend your time with.
- They downplay your achievements and purposely ruin your reputation.
- Your partner ridicules you, calls you names, and make rude remarks to make you feel bad about yourself.
- Your partner deliberately seeks to isolate you from friends and family.
- Physical abuse and violence.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The key is to listen to yourself keenly. If you do, your gut will tell you when things are not right. When it does, do yourself a favour and leave.
Why people stick with toxic partners for far too long
I. Failing to understand the concept of love
Dr Shefali Tsabary, an expert in family dynamics and personal development, says we confuse love with many things; desire, dependency, possession, and attachments, yet these things are not love. They are an imitation of love.
“But, I love him/her” is the most quoted reason why people stay with toxic partners. However, as Dr Shefali states, we confuse love with lots of things. In such cases, it’s the idea of being in a relationship that’s appealing, not love.
Dr Shefali explains the concept of love
And that’s exactly why people stay with toxic partners. They are holding on to an imitation of love because let’s face it, a lot of us don’t have the slightest idea what true love is or what it looks like.
II. The fear of being alone
Secondly, people fear being alone. The thought of sitting with your thoughts and slaying your demons one at a time is terrifying. So, instead of healing and working on what’s missing inside, people get into a relationship to complete them. When it’s apparent that the fulfilment is not forthcoming, they hold on some more since they can’t fathom how their life would be once they are out.
IV. Perceiving yourself as being less than
Third, people who perceive themselves as less attractive or have low self-esteem are more likely to be satisfied with unsatisfactory relationships. When you perceive yourself as less than, you’ll definitely settle for less because, in your mind, that’s what you deserve. If the relationship becomes unhealthy, such people will still hold on. At least their partner is giving the bare minimum.
V. Societal expectations
According to most people in society, if you’ve not settled into a relationship by the time you are a certain age, then there is a problem. And so, to save face, men and women are getting into and holding onto abusive relationships just so they are viewed ‘favourably’ by society.
The impact of a toxic relationship
It’s a common phenomenon to see Kenyans trolling a couple that seems happy and content on social. Why is that? Why do people carry a lot of negative energy about love and even go the extra mile to undermine any other thriving relationship on social or offline? Could it be a manifestation of the toxic relationships that these people in? Or could they have come out of a toxic relationship and are not taking the initiative to heal themselves?
If the news is anything to go by, the statistics of people murdered because of “love” is heartbreaking. Raising a hand can quickly escalate to a slap, a kick, or a full-blown wrestling match, and, even death. Step out before it’s too late.
Disillusion, low energy, low self-esteem, limited personal growth, and a distorted perception of a healthy relationship are part of the burden you’ll have to bear for staying in a relationship that’s eating you up.
A toxic relationship also breeds stress which can quickly spiral into depression. Depression kills. Seek help when you can. Quit the relationship and take care of your emotional wellbeing.
It’s always about you. It has always been about you. So, take care of yourself. Instead of putting up with a shitty relationship, quit, heal and steer your life in the direction you want it to go.