1. Take, Take, Take
You can’t have a toxic relationship with someone if you’re constantly catering to his or her needs and receiving little to no reciprocation. If your roommate always leaves you to clean up the house but gets mad when you occasionally ask him or her to take care of the dishes, that’s a problem.
If your friend is constantly asking to borrow money from you or asks for your help but then never offers to help you out of a bind, that’s a problem, too. Good relationships have a balance of give and take. Toxicrelationships leave you feeling drained, because you’re constantly giving while the other person only wants to take, take, take.
2. Verbal Abuse
Verbal abuse is a key component of toxic relationships. If your mother, friend, or sibling often says mean,hurtful, derogatory things to you when the conversation isn’t going their way, it’s because they’re trying tobelittle you. Making you feel small makes them feel powerful, and they can use it to manipulate you. You might hear things like:
- “You’re never reliable, anyway.”
- “You’re too sensitive. That’s your problem.”
- “No one would care about you if I didn’t put up with you.”
- “You’re too fat to wear that.”
- “All you care about is yourself, and I’m just so selfless that I let you get away with it.”
Belittling statements are often untrue, and while you may know this deep down, hearing those negative comments might convince you otherwise over time.
3. Feeling Undervalued
If your spouse/partner, friend, or family member doesn’t respect who you are–what you believe in, the things you value, the way you feel–you are in a seriously toxic relationship. Good relationships are ones where each party values the other person for who they are.
In a toxic relationship, one or both parties not only dislikes those things about the other person, they make a point to ridicule and mock those core values in an effort to change them. If you have to be someone else to be “acceptable” to a friend, family member, or partner, that’s a toxic relationship you should want nothing to do with.
4. Messing With Your Mind
Do you associate with someone who:
- makes snide comments about your weight
- makes you feel like you’re tough for other people to like
- makes mean comments about your appearance
- takes cheap shots about your grades and test scores
- makes you feel bad for common, silly mistakes
Toxic people try to make themselves feel better by making you feel bad about yourself. If he or she can convince you that you’re stupid, unattractive, fat, or hard to handle, when you start to believe these cruel comments, it makes you feel grateful to them for “putting up with you.” It also makes you easier for them to control. There’s nothing to be grateful about when someone treats you this way.
5. Strings Attached
You ask to borrow $20 from your sister, and you pay her back two days later. Three months later, she’s still reminding you of how she loaned you that $20 out of the goodness of her heart; a more grateful sibling would let her have her way with whatever she’s asking you for.
Your dad was kind enough to insist that he pay for dinner the last time you went out to eat together, and while he may not expect monetary compensation, you already know that he’s going to add it to his list of generous acts that YOU OWE HIM for later down the road.
Toxic people don’t do things for you because they care about you, want to see you happy, and generally enjoydoing nice things for no reason. They do things for you with the belief that it makes you eternally beholden to them for the “generosity” they’ve shown you. Favors in toxic relationships come with strings attached.
6. Your Not-So-Better Half
If your relationship with a family member, friend, or spouse tends to bring out the worst in you, it’s a good sign (or rather a bad one) that your relationship is toxic.
Signs that being with this person negatively changes you:
- You become negative when you’re normally upbeat.
- You become sarcastic and snide.
- You insult people that you would otherwise never speak ill of.
- You become easily angered when you’re normally very calm.
- You do things that are out of character, sometimes violently so.
- You say or do things that are disrespectful.
- You regret your behavior when you’re with this person, and you feel more like yourself the further away from them you are.
7. No Respect
If you’re dealing with a toxic relationship, you’ll notice that the other person has no respect for your other relationships. They’ll take cheap shots at your friends, family members, and spouse/partner whom they don’t like in order to undermine your relationship with them.
They may try to make you think that you’ll be viewed just as negatively by others for associating with them. This is toxic person behavior 101, and the more you let it slide without demanding their behavior stop, themore they’re going to do it.
8. High Expectations
A toxic relationship is one in which one or both parties are only interested in each other when they’re “living up to the expectations.” For example, a father who is only interested in his son when he’s working “the right job,” or a mother who’s only happy with her daughter when she’s “thin.”
Toxic relationships have unreasonably high expectations, and when those expectations aren’t met, one or both parties lose interest in the other person and turn to mocking or put downs to emphasize what adisappointment the other person is.
Other expectations in toxic relationships include:
- exceptional grades
- a specific salary range
- a certain lifestyle
- affiliation with a particular political party
- choosing a specific career path
- an expectation of how one is to be treated (ex: lavish gifts, expensive dinners, trips, etc.)