Recognize the Warning Signs and When to Pull Back
Every relationship has a honeymoon period, a time when you can’t get enough of one another; you find everything your partner says and does to be mesmerizing, and (sorry not sorry) you create a Pinterest Board for your future wedding. Then, something changes. It’s a shift. Sometimes it feels as if the ground slowly tilts over a series of months or years, while other times it feels like a sudden and unexpected sinkhole. When the glow of your new romance is gone and is replaced with something toxic, you may be tempted to doubt your feelings or convince yourself that you are overreacting, when in reality, acknowledging that your relationship is no longer healthy is the healthiest thing for both of you. What follows are seven signs that your once sweet relationship has turned sour, and that it’s time to pull back.
- You Are the One Always Giving. Relationships require mutual sacrifices of time and energy as well as mutual compromises. If you feel that you are always the one giving, without receiving an equal share of emotion and attention from your partner, it could be a sign your relationship has become toxic.
- He or She has a Million Reasons Not to Meet Your Family. Some couples don’t initially have the same expectations for when to introduce one another to their families. In a healthy relationship, this difference is resolved with discussion and compromise. In a toxic relationship, one party uses emotionally hurtful tactics to push back on taking the next step. For example, he or she may act like the request is burdensome, unnecessary, unreasonable, or unimportant.
- You Feel Emotionally Drained. A relationship should enhance the quality of your life, not detract from it. Listen to your gut. If interacting with your significant other leaves you feeling emotionally drained, it’s not a healthy commitment.
- You Regularly Receive Negative or Inconsistent Communications. Once two people form a commitment (read: You change your status to “In a Relationship” on Facebook), you should fall into a rhythm of expected communications. While minor misunderstandings or disappointments may occur, you should not feel like your partner disappears on your for days at a time, or inconsistently reaches out via phone, text, or social media. An even bigger red flag is if he or she accosts you verbally or over text message when you do connect. Constant negativity, criticism, and attacks are toxic.
- You Start Changing—And Not for the Better. An ideal partner should enhance your best qualities. On the contrary, if your partner’s influence hurts your self-esteem, confidence, or turns you into a self-doubting, paranoid, constantly agitated shadow of your former wonderful self, it’s time to step away.
- Your Relationship Lacks Trust. The foundation of a healthy relationship has to be trust. If you can’t trust one another (or if the confidence is only one-sided), your coupledom can’t survive.
- Any Form of Violence. No one should ever be the victim of physical violence, especially at the hands of someone who claims to care for them. If your partner ever hurts you physically, walk away and get help. No second chances, no regrets.
If you believe your relationship has evolved into something unhealthy, talk to a friend or loved one who knows you well and can offer an outsider’s perspective. If your confidant has seen the signs too, he or she will likely be willing to be a critical component of your support system when you cut ties with your negative relationship and start over on a path to a healthier, happier you. If your partner ever makes you feel unsafe, threatens you, or abuses you physically or emotionally, seek professional support immediately. No relationship will ever be worth your safety and well-being.