In today’s world, it’s common to hear someone be described as “toxic.” The word is often thrown around when referring to seemingly healthy friendships or romantic relationships gone bad. So, what does it mean to be toxic? Someone who is toxic will exhibit behaviors that can cause serious damage to your health and overall well-being. You may be in a toxic friendship or relationship if your friend or partner exhibits these five manipulative behaviors.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, you may feel like you can’t really be yourself. Or, if you say the wrong thing, you’ll cause an argument. Oftentimes, when you do something they don’t approve of, you get ridiculed and shamed. No matter what you do, it’s always an emotional rollercoaster; you feel like you have to tiptoe around their feelings. Because you have to be extremely cautious about the things you say or do, you experience a great amount of anxiety when you’re around them. As a result, you dread any interaction with them. This kind of instability and fear may be a sign that your relationship is not a healthy one.
It doesn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of constant criticism. Words are powerful, and they have the ability to break down a relationship, as well as your self-confidence. If your friend or partner is constantly using degrading words or complaining about you, this can create major conflict. Criticism and conflict are red flags that your relationship may be harming you mentally, as well as draining you physically. The kind of excess stress that comes with mental abuse can impact your physical health as a result.
Aside from criticism, you may be subjected to feelings of doubt and unworthiness. These may make you feel as though you’re not good enough in your career, your social life, or your other relationships. Planting seeds of doubt in your mind can make you feel self-conscious and distressed, and it can be done as simply as by constantly trying to correct you or intensely questioning you all the time. This is called “gaslighting,” which is a term used to describe a person who makes you doubt yourself — a powerful manipulation tactic.
Need for Control
A toxic friend or partner may feel the need to control your actions and make decisions for you. They may try to assert dominance over you by forcing you to cut relationships with other friends and family members while making it seem like it’s your choice. They will also most likely be narcissistic, demanding that your full attention be devoted to them. A controlling relationship can take away any sense of freedom or self-sufficiency you have.
Whether they’re telling white lies or spreading false rumors about you, dishonesty can kill a relationship quickly. When a friend or partner is not truthful, it destroys your ability to trust, which is a key aspect of all relationships, and can also negatively impact the way you think and feel about yourself. With this lowered confidence, it can become challenging to form new relationships.
Your Presence is Valuable — Own It
Humans can be very complex, and sometimes, it takes time before you truly recognize an individual’s motives. A good rule of thumb is to remain guarded at the beginning of your relationship while you determine whether or not the person is who they appear to be. Chances are, if they give you a bad feeling, you’re probably right. Above all else, value yourself and realize that not all friendships and relationships are worth your time. No matter what happens, you deserve to be surrounded by people who appreciate you for who you are.