15 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

15 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Toxic relationships will cause monumental breakage to people, families and workplaces, but they aren’t necessarily the territory of the weak, downtrodden or insecure. Strong, healthy, independent people can find themselves in the white-knuckled grip of a toxic relationship. Similarly, relationships that seem to begin strong because ‘omg we’re soooo in love you guys,’ can dissolve into nothing but ash and legal fees that could have bought a castle on the river Seine, if they weren’t being used to divide half your assets more ‘half-ly’.

Relationships evolve. They change and they grow. Sometimes they crash and they burn. We never know how things will look when each other’s less adorable, kind of awful habits start to show themselves publicly, or under the influence of alcohol or in-laws.

Some relationships are all shades of wrong from the outset (‘Darlin’ you’re so pretty. You’re the image of my ex. See? Here’s her photo. You can keep that one. I have plenty – in my wallet, as my screen saver, on my bedside table, at my mum’s house, on my desk, on my fridge and yeah, all over the place. Sometimes I just, like, hold it in front of me and run backwards and pretend like she’s chasing me. Wanna get some tequila baby?’) Some start off with promise and with all the right ingredients, but somewhere along the way, the right ingredients get replaced with resentment, jealousy, history and hurt.

We love love. Of course we do. Love sends us to joyous, lofty heights that we never want to come down from, but the same heart that can send us into a loved-up euphoria can trip us up and have us falling into something more toxic. The hot pursuit of love can be blinding. Even worse, sometimes it’s not until you’re two kids and a mortgage into the relationship, that you realise something has been missing for a while, and that something is you.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship contaminates your self-esteem, your happiness and the way you see yourself and the world. A toxic person will float through life with a trail of broken hearts, broken relationships and broken people behind them, but toxic relationships don’t necessarily end up that way because the person you fell for turned out to be a toxic one. Relationships can start healthy, but bad feelings, bad history, or long-term unmet needs can fester, polluting the relationship and changing the people in it. It can happen easily and quickly, and it can happen to the strongest people.

Can I fix it?

All relationships are worth the fight, until they’re not. In a toxic relationship there will always be fallout:

  • moodiness, anger, unhappiness become the norm;
  • you avoid each other more and more;
  • work and relationships outside the toxic relationship start to suffer.

If the relationship is toxic, it is highly likely that all the fight in the world won’t change anything because one or both people have emotionally moved on. Perhaps they were never really there in the first place, or not in the way you needed them to be anyway. Even worse, if your relationship is toxic, you will be more and more damaged by staying in it.

Fighting to hold on to something that is not fighting to hold on to you will ruin you. Sometimes the only thing left to do is to let go with grace and love and move on

What are the signs that I’m in a toxic relationship?

Being aware that the relationship is toxic is vital in protecting yourself from breakage. To stay in a toxic relationship is to keep your hand hovering over the self-destruct button. Not all toxic relationships are easy to leave, but being aware of the signs will make it easier to claim back your power and draw a bold heavy line around what’s allowed into your life and what gets closed out.

Toxic behaviour exists on a spectrum. All people and all relationships do some of these things some of the time – but that doesn’t make them toxic. A toxic relationship is defined by the consistency, the intensity and the damage. Here are some of the signs.

  1. It feels bad. All the time.

    You fall asleep hollow and you wake up just as bad. You look at other couples doing their happy couple thing and you feel the sting. Why couldn’t that sort of love happen for you? It can, but first you have to clear the path for it to find you. Leaving a relationship is never easy, but staying for too long in a toxic relationship will make sure any strength, courage and confidence in you is eroded down to nothing. Once that happens, you’re stuck.

  2. You’re constantly braced for the ‘gotcha’.

    Sometimes you can see it coming. Sometimes you wouldn’t see it if it was lit with stadium floodlights. Questions becomes traps. (‘Well would you rather go out with your friends or stay home with me?’) Statements becomes traps. (‘You seemed to enjoy talking to your boss tonight.’) The relationship is a jungle and somewhere along the way you’ve turned into a hunted thing in a skin suit. When the ‘gotcha’ comes, there’s no forgiveness, just the glory of catching you out. It’s impossible to move forward from this. Everyone makes mistakes, but yours are used as proof that you’re too uninvested, too wrong, too stupid, too something. The only thing you really are is too good to be treated like this.

  3. You avoid saying what you need because there’s just no point.

    We all have important needs in relationships. Some of the big ones are connection, validation, appreciation, love, sex, affection. When those needs are mocked or ignored, the emptiness of that unmet need will clamour like an old church bell. If your attempts to talk about what you need end in a fight, a(nother) empty promise, accusations of neediness, insecurity, jealousy or madness you’ll either bury the need or resent that it keeps being overlooked. Either way, it’s toxic.

  4. There’s no effort.

    Standing on a dance floor doesn’t make you a dancer, and being physically present in a relationship doesn’t mean there is an investment being made in that relationship. Doing things separately sometimes is healthy, but as with all healthy things, too much is too much. When there is no effort to love you, spend time with you, share the things that are important to you, the relationship stops giving and starts taking too much. There comes a point that the only way to respond to ‘Well I’m here, aren’t I?’ is, ‘Yeah. But maybe better if you weren’t.’

  5. All the work, love, compromise comes from you.

    Nobody can hold a relationship together when they are the only one doing the work. It’s lonely and it’s exhausting. If you’re not able to leave the relationship, give what you need to give but don’t give any more than that. Let go of the fantasy that you can make things better if you try hard enough, work hard enough, say enough, do enough. Stop. Just stop. You’re enough. You always have been. 

  6. When ‘no’ is a dirty word.

    ‘No’ is an important word in any relationship. Don’t strike it from your vocabulary, even in the name of love – especially not in the name of love. Healthy relationships need compromise but they also respect the needs and wants of both people. Communicating what you want is as important for you and the relationship as communicating what you don’t want. Find your ‘no’, give it a polish, and know where the release button is. A loving partner will respect that you’re not going to agree with everything they say or do. If you’re only accepted when you’re saying ‘yes’, it’s probably time to say ‘no’ to the relationship. And if you’re worried about the gap you’re leaving, buy your soon-to-be ex some putty. Problem solved.

  7. The score card. Let me show you how wrong you are. 

    One of the glorious things about being human is that making mistakes is all part of what we do. It’s how we learn, how we grow, and how we find out the people who don’t deserve us. Even the most loving, committed partners will do hurtful, stupid things sometimes. When those things are brought up over and over, it will slowly kill even the healthiest relationship and keep the ‘guilty’ person small. At some point, there has to be a decision to move on or move out. Having shots continually fired at you based on history is a way to control, shame and manipulate. Healthy relationships nurture your strengths. Toxic ones focus on your weaknesses.

  8. There’s a battle – and you’re on your own. Again.

    You and your partner are a team. You need to know that whatever happens, you have each other’s backs, at least publicly. In healthy relationships, when the world starts throwing stones, the couple comes together and fortifies the wall around each other. Toxic relationships often see one person going it alone when it comes to public put-downs. Similarly, when attempts are made from outside the relationship to divide and conquer, the couple is divided and conquered as easily as if they were never together in the first place.

  9. Physical or verbal abuse. Or both.

    These are deal-breakers. You know they are.

  10. Too much passive-aggressive.

    Passive-aggressive behaviour is an indirect attack and a cowardly move for control. The toxicity lies in stealing your capacity to respond and for issues to be dealt with directly. The attack is subtle and often disguised as something else, such as anger disguised as indifference ‘whatever’ or ‘I’m fine’; manipulation disguised as permission ‘I’ll just stay at home by myself while you go out and have fun,’ and the worst – a villain disguised as a hero, ‘You seem really tired baby. We don’t have to go out tonight. You just stay in and cook yourself some dinner and I’ll have a few drinks with Svetlana by myself hey? She’s been a mess since the cruise was postponed.’ You know the action or the behaviour was designed to manipulate you or hurt you, because you can feel the scrape, but it’s not obvious enough to respond to the real issue. If it’s worth getting upset about, it’s worth talking about, but passive-aggressive behaviour shuts down any possibility of this.

  11. Nothing gets resolved.

    Every relationship will have its issues. In a toxic relationship, nothing gets worked through because any conflict ends in an argument. There is no trust that the other person will have the capacity to deal with the issue in a way that is safe and preserves the connection. When this happens, needs get buried, and in a relationship, unmet needs will always feed resentment. 

  12. Whatever you’re going through, I’m going through worse.

    In a healthy relationship, both people need their turn at being the supported and the supporter. In a toxic relationship, even if you’re the one in need of support, the focus will always be on the other person. ‘Babe like I know you’re really sick and can’t get out of bed but it’s soooo stressful for me because now I have to go to the party by myself. Next Saturday I get to choose what we do. K? [sad emoji, balloon emoji, heart emoji, another heart emoji, lips emoji].’

  13. Privacy? What privacy?

    Unless you’ve done something to your partner that you shouldn’t have, like, you know, forgot you had one  on ‘Singles Saturday’, then you deserve to be trusted. Everybody deserves some level of privacy and healthy relationships can trust that this won’t be misused. If your partner constantly goes through your receipts, phone bills, text messages this shows a toxic level of control. It’s demeaning. You’re an adult and don’t need constantly supervision. 

  14. The lies. Oh the lies!

    Lying and cheating will dissolve trust as if it was never there to begin with. Once trust is so far gone, it’s hard to get it back. It might come back in moments or days, but it’s likely that it will always feel fragile – just waiting for the wrong move. A relationship without trust can turn strong, healthy people into something they aren’t naturally – insecure, jealous and suspicious. The toxicity of this lies in the slow erosion of confidence. Sometimes all the fight in the world can’t repair trust when it’s badly broken. Know when enough is enough. It’s not your fault that the trust was broken, but it’s up to you to make sure that you’re not broken next.

  15. Big decisions are for important people. And clearly you’re not one of them.

    If you’re sharing your life with someone, it’s critical that you have a say in the decisions that will affect you. Your partner’s opinions and feelings will always be important, and so are yours. Your voice is an important one. A loving partner in the context of a healthy relationship will value your thoughts and opinions, not pretend that they don’t exist or assume theirs are more important.

I think I might be in a toxic relationship. What now?

If it’s toxic, it’s changing you and it’s time to leave or put up a very big wall. (See here for how.) Be clear about where the relationship starts and where you begin. Keep your distance emotionally and think of it as something to be managed, rather than something to be beaten or understood. Look for the patterns and look for the triggers. Then, be mindful about what is okay and what isn’t. Above all else, know that you are strong, complete and vital. Don’t buy into any tiny-hearted, close-minded push that would have you believe otherwise. You’re amazing.

And finally …

There are plenty of reasons you might end up in a toxic relationship, none of which have nothing to do with strength of character or courage.

Sometimes the toxicity grows and blindsides you and by the time you realise, it’s too late – the cost of leaving might feel too high or there may be limited options.  

Toxicity in any relationship doesn’t make sense. In an attempt to make it make sense, you might blame history, circumstance or your own behaviour. The truth is that none of this matters. It doesn’t matter where the toxicity comes from or the reason for it being there. 

Love and happiness don’t always go together. The world would run so much smoother if they did, but it just doesn’t happen like that. Love can be a dirty little liar sometimes. So can commitment. Staying in a relationship should never have losing yourself as one of the conditions. You’re far too important for that. 

It’s important to make sacrifices in relationships but your happiness, self-esteem and self-respect should always be on the list – always. If a relationship is built on love, it nurtures, restores, replenishes and revives. It doesn’t diminish. It isn’t cruel and it doesn’t ever violate a warm, open heart. Everything you need to be happy is in you. When you are with someone who suffocates those precious parts of you, be alive to the damage they are doing. You owe them nothing, you owe yourself everything. You deserve to thrive and to feel safe, and you deserve to be happy.

[irp posts=”1602″ name=”When It’s Not You, It’s Them: The Toxic People That Ruin Friendships, Families, Relationships”]

226 Comments

britt

Currently I’m in a 10 yr relationship been lied to, and cheated on now I’m seeing the toxic signs the more I pay attention to his patterns whenever we get into a argument, which are normally sparked by me voicing my hurt or feelings about something, i used to just keep my feelings bottled but i refuse too anymore however the outcome is always “passive aggressive self-pity” which never resolves my hurt or feelings its almost as though I just don’t matter like im not allowed to be human and have a moment of weakness i love him but lately my heart just feels so empty and i don’t want to leave but I’m not whole here I just want to feel loved, please help

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Tabitha

Some guys will not change until you’re gone. He thinks you won’t leave him and he thinks you are wrapped around his finger, that gives him power to control you and mentally abuse you. He thinks because you have tried to find good in him that means that he can do whatever and you will stick around and be there. Make a change, if he isn’t willing to change for you than he will. Your time is valuable, you never know when your last day is going to be. You wouldn’t want to spend it with somebody who has ruined your trust in every way possible.

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Andy B

Hi, I understand totally where you are coming from I’m in a 23 year old relationship and over the past 7 years i feel like the toxicity and the arguments are all that this relationship is built on, We no longer have sex, I have never cheated and they are never game regardless how much I try, I’m currently at breaking point, I feel like all the effort comes from me, I do everything in the house and they are badly done to if I ask them to put the vacuum away or pass me a bag for the bin…

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Ira

This article hit home to me. Ive been in this relationship for 4 years going on 5 soon. Man does it feel like 30 though. It makes me wonder if he read this article if he would think the same or feel the same towards me. Im at the point where idk who is the toxic one, but before all this life was a lot easier, I was way more mentally and emotionally their .now I have a daughter and need to show her what is tolerable and what isn’t. I have my own baggage for sure, but at least I’ve always tried to work on it and move forward, not blame the whole world.

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JoAnne W

@britt, I just left a 23-year long marriage with a man I loved to eternity and had three children with. I was suffocating and found things were not going to change. I was building the entire bridge each time, he never met me halfway. I didn’t think that I could survive financially away from him and I was worried about the effect it could have on our three girls to leave the marriage. From the day I woke up and realized the life was being sucked out of me, I started planning financially then emotionally. Reading articles like this one showed me the patterns, the weapons manipulators use, and that I can say “No more”! I drew the line. Of course that came with his wrath to follow but I knew what to expect and how to react. Which most of the time was to “not react”. It’s a waste of time to try and “fix” things after trying for over 5 years. These emotional manipulators are toxic and will continue to sick the life out of you. Free yourself! But do it wisely. Start praying and planning. God bless…

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neverdye

But how do I know whether it’s all in my head? The most annoying thing is his distant attitude, it’s especially difficult when the only interactions are via messages. I tried to walk away, but he contacted, now I’m quite done, just need to give myself strength and love

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AJ

This is SO spot-on. It gives me all the confidence now to seek better companions in life. My best friend, Sybian, recommends I look a bit closer at my relationships to find this toxicity.

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Anon

I’ve been with my partner for 3 years now. It started off perfect we travelled a lot and made many memories. Both of us made mistakes along the way to break each others trust. For the past year my heart has just not been in it. I feel completely disconnected and see him more as a best friend.

He has suffered with depression and suicidal thoughts since I first met him yet they only seem to rear their head when we argue/I try to break up. The last time I tried to break up with him he grabbed a knife and ran and locked himself in the bathroom, made sounds as if he was sobbing of course I screamed and cried alongside him and begged him to let me in. When he finally did, there wasn’t a single tear on his face. Although I know he has depression I feel like sometimes he uses it to manipulate me and get what he wants.

He shows his true colours when angry, screaming shouting swearing calling me names. He has an incredibly sharp tongue then moments later when he sees I’m getting upset and mention not wanting this relationship anymore he will somehow find a way to make himself the victim time and time again. Then come the apologies and tears and then before I even realise it, I’m consoling him.

I care for his physical well-being over my own mental well-being. The idea of him potentially hurting himself over this relationship ending makes me think I should just suck it up and stay with him incase one day he were to actually do something because ultimately it would be my fault. I know that I could never live with myself if anything were to ever happen to him at the hands of me just wanting to break up.

He posts about me a lot on his social media trying to create this facade of a perfect life. He lives to one up his ex and her current relationship. I hate it so much because I tell my friends about how I love and care for him dearly but I’m not sure if I’m IN love anymore, how I don’t know how to get away without hurting his feelings and then in turn him hurting himself, I tell them what he says when we argue and send them voice notes of his screaming and then the next day he’ll post a picture of us talking about how he can’t wait for his next adventure with his babygirl. But I guess all that glitters is gold?

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K

Hi I’d really like some help. I’ve recognised that I was the toxic person in the relationship which has recently broken up… I’ve suffered from depression and emotional instability and tots has affected my relationships… I don’t know how to move forward. My ex still cares for me but he needed out.. I was never nasty or abusing, or controlling just very sensitive to when I didn’t get attention so he often felt he couldn’t do enough because I felt needy and he didn’t feel that I was happy a lot of the time.. but our connection was amazing and when things good amazing which he recognised.. but he didn’t feel secure, there was trust issues and he didn’t feel good about himself…. I’m heartbroken and really stuck as I know my behaviours would self destruct and I ruined the best relationship I’ve ever had with the most amazing caring funny open man ever… I just want to end it all and can’t see how I’m ever going to get over it and regret so much but I couldn’t change those behaviours at the time… I’d really appreciate some help 🙁

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Tam S

Do not allow guilt to control your life. I would recommend seeking professional help so you can get the tools to deal with the ossues you have presented. Once you are feeling stronger and more stable you can revisit being in a relationship. Sometimes we need to be on our own to work things out. And thats ok! I hope this helps. And remember: if the person truly loves you they should be understanding.
Good lcuk and stay strong.

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Marie

I’m in a toxic relationship. I have noticed patterns. My kids are getting the brunt of it. She acts like I am the culprit but all I want is peace. She is jealous of my kids and says I’m the one who can change it. She is so toxic she tells me she doesn’t feel part of the family but always removes herself when my kids are around. If I even have a conversation with one of them she accuses me of hiding something. It’s ridicules.

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mr. unknown

im in a relationship with this girl and we are happy but we are long distance when i go visit my misses she loves it and when i go home and spend time with the boys she says i dont love her anymore when i play games at her house she wont play and gets mad at me but wants me to just sit and watch movies all day and when i take out the trash ive told her to put another bag in while i take it out and she wont what do i do

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me again

*sorry also is this toxic i have a dream of being a musician but my girl doesnt really seem to care and also whenever i talk deeply with her about her dreams she says she has none

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Bunny

I just got out of a toxic relationship with my boyfriend. I broke up with him because I told him I was questioning my gender (I know I’m trans but I said this to test the waters). I was very shocked by his transphobic response. He said things like, “You’re nothing but a girl,” or, “This is a problem and lucky for you I’m optimistic, so I’ll help you fix it.” These responses made me feel sick to my stomach. I felt trapped in the relationship before I even told him any of this. We had good memories together and we were good friends before we started dating. I really miss him, but i know i made the right decision. Sadly, however, my friends keep inviting me to things that he’s at. I keep telling them I’m not ready to see my ex again (IT’S BEEN THREE DAYS, GIVE ME A BREAK). Someone please give me advice or something. I don’t know what to do!

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unknown

Please carry on with distancing yourself, no matter how hard that is. Time really does heal and you will look back one day and be glad you finished with him. Your friends need to understand how you feel and be a bit more tactful. Maybe invite you and not him to some things. Be good to yourself and know you are worth more than this.

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fari

i am still in a relationship with the sweetest guy, who would swirl the world around for me, but he has some issues with my guy friends. Back in highschool, how any teens would do, I did the same. I would enjoy house parties and everything, hugging my friends, being friendly and nice. All of a sudden, he doesnt like any male figure around me. I did few times hide talking to my guy friends, but I am not allowed to talk to guys from my high school or my friend group at all because he thinks they are rich spoilt brats and ” has no limit”. Besides that, he always have problem how I dress. I am still in college, I wanna make the most out of every experience, and he would have to hamper it. I love dancing, and now I am not allowed to dance, unless its a classical dance, I mean, who does classical dance here in college? he has problems where I grew up, how my friends are, how my mother is, etc. He tends to say I come from a posh family with no sense of responsibility, whereas the truth is, it is all very new to me.
I have been with him for 2 years, I am just not sure what to do.

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Ethel S

Not the sweetest guy. A controlling guy who’s only going to get worse. The “do anything for you” is an act. Run!

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Tam S

Leave him and do what you want to do.college is a good place to start to discover who you are and what you want out of life. Do not allow him to dictate what you can do and who you can see. In abusive relationships the partner will always start by isolating you from friends and family so that you are more vulnerable and easier to control. Do not elt it get that far. Stay strong and good luck.

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Heartbroken

Hi I’ve been in a relationship for nearly 8 years I was so happy for 6 0f those years then my life as I new it came tumbling down I found out he has been cheating for four of those years on dating sites on hook up sites having sex with heaps of women I want to walk away but I love him. He want have sex with me now an always on porn sites an know that he still in contact with women what do I do

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Josh

I laughed several times reading this, as it’s very colorfully written – but sadly I also realized that I recognize myself in all 15 points.

The only thing being number 1. It doesn’t feel bad ALL the time. When we have good moments, they’re really good. But the bad moments, which are so frequent, sometimes several times a day, it’s horrible. He gives me the silent treatment for hours, gets disproportionately angry over the smallest things and constantly accuses me of cheating, wants to control my phone and even stalking my friends on Facebook, doesn’t respect my limits but keeps pushing me to do things, sexually as well, and he basically ignores me and plays video games all day unless he wants a massage or sex. My gosh this relationship is so damn toxic. I realized that a long time ago, but even more after reading this. I need to get outta here

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Emmy H

Girllllll. You are worth SO much more than that! You need to get your shit together and find someone who will REALLY love you! Love is commitment. I’m sorry sweetie but he doesn’t love you. If he did he would put you first! There’s DEFINITELY someone out there who can make you laugh, smile, feel loved AND beautiful and truly love you and not cheat! I’ve been cheated on and I know the feeling and the pain and all the tears but you need to boss up! Get some friends to help you through it. It’s too hard of a battle to fight alone!! I’m here for you!!!

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Tam Spieg

Your partner might be a sex addict… Have you addressed the problem with him? Have you seeked out professional help? If you are uncomfortable sexually this is a big issue and shouldnt be ignored. Sexual abuse doesnt happen in “set scenarios” – it can happen in long term relationships as well.

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Frank

I have been married for 12 years and have three daughters. The initial two years with my wife were good. But after that it has been a constant blaming and shaming for every small little thing. She knows i love my mother very much, so whenever she is fighting or shouting at me she will find a way to bring her in the conversation and ridicule her. I have told her so many times to not shout and fight in front of the children and talk behind closed doors but she shouts so much that even my neighbors know everything and every time i end up consoling her after such outbursts even when i feel demeaned just to make things better for the kids. She will always tell me that i havent done anything for her although i spend more on her rather than myself so that she doesnt feel upset. She abuses in the nastiest of words and lately i have not been feeling well mentally and physically. My children are getting affected and i just dont know what to do. She has a problem with almost all my friends and closed ones and i dont have a social life at all and she will call up constantly even when i am in office just to check what i am doing. Recently, i talked to her family about it but still she doesnt realises her mistakes and is upset about me talking to her family. At home i always feel uncomfortable around her as i do not know what she will say next on every small and big thing. Please guide me what i should do next because once i talked about breaking up amicably she became more aggressive and then after a day she was all tears that i love u so much and after seeing me a little indifferent she tripped again. It feels i am trapped and cannot breathe. Please help!

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Heartbroken

Hi I’ve been in a relationship for nearly 8 years I was so happy for 6 0f those years then my life as I new it came rumbling down I found out he has been cheating for four of those years on dating sites on hook up sites having sex with heaps of women I want to walk away but I love him. He want have sex with me now an always on porn sites an know that he still in contact with women what do I do

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Love isn’t right

Find your inner women and leave, no man should ever make you look so dumb. Your time is worthy of a guy who will make you feel like a queen and show you that there is nothing to be worried about. That guy your with has already damaged you and left a emotional scars, it takes you to leave .

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Unknown

I’ve been in a relationship with the same guy for 12 years we started dating really young about 13 years old got pregnant at 15! Moved in with him and parents after finding out I was pregnant.. His family always very supportive with me and very helpful I have the best brother/sister in laws. He loves working & I love that about him because now days so many guys are lazy… He is very smart when it comes to pretty much anything! Always helps me when my car breaks down knows how to cook great! He’s handsome however he always gets mad at me for any little thing he did cheat on me around 5 years ago and that really crushed me! Ever since that our relationship changed! I don’t trust him but it’s like he doesn’t trust me either(even tho he’s the one that cheated) he doesn’t let me go any where sometimes he gets mad if I’m not home when he’s back from work even if I just went to the store to grab something I needed for dinner! Sometimes I get invited out to dinner or to have a drink I never bother on going because he will say that’s not ok! Also SEX he always wants to be having sex! Even if we do it 2 times a day if he asks me to do it one more time & if we don’t then his mad at me! Most of the time I don’t even enjoy our sex! Now we have 2 kids together! Not sure what to do. I feel like I’ve been stuck in the same whole & not sure how to move on…

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Linda B

Sweetheart he’s jealous and won’t let you go anywhere because he is probably still cheating and projecting his bad behavior towards you. Usually cheaters just get better at cheating. He is actually mad at his behavior and can’t stand that you are such a good girl and since he associated with or still associates with whores he may think that secretly you behave that way too. I was married to someone like this. I loved his family too. Unfortunately after many years. (We were together from 15-45…) when I finally left because it takes several times to try to leave. I’m finally gone now three years divorced for 5 and I look at it like recovery. His family dropped me like a bad habit which broke my heart. So beware of that because someone created him and made him like this. Those same people you think are looking out for your best interest? But they’re probably only worried about his. Remember that, my ex in-laws put my ex above everything including their own grandkids ! It’s sad so don’t give these people so much credit. Just leave, get a degree or some trade or training and go. Secretly get on a list for housing etc. leave the area your in anything. I personally met another man not my type but he’d the love of my life. I’m sorry I didn’t have his children and that were in our fifties and I could have had a better life with a much more caring person. Oh and he the new guy dabbled around on dating sites unbeknownst to me at the beginning of our relationship. I found out and dumped him ASAP. He told me everything. He is honest , shows remorse, etc. big difference. I know I can trust him. You gotta be willing to walk or they will never respect you.xo

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Linda B

Also, sorry we’re engaged. That’s what a real man will do they will lock it down. Read Steve Harvey’s act like a lady think like a man. The sex all the time he may be a sex addict look that up too. I hated that my ex was so good looking, it made me feel insecure even though I’m good looking . But it sucks and sometimes it’s too much to deal with. The sex should be enjoyable for you both and you should be enjoying it. I love sex with my man and we do it almost every day but I don’t dread it like I did with my selfish ex telling me my belly is far or to get on top or talk dirty…he even brought a DVD player once on a camping trip to watch porn back before pornhub etc. and I was grossed out. Sex addicts are very discrete. I say keep your eyes peeled let him cheat who cares, and do what you want he’s not your husband ! Even if he was screw him . Get your ducks in a row and go and live your life. I’m sure your beautiful and kind and that’s why he is trying to keep you away from might steal you away and make you realize that he’s an ass.

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Anonymous

I’ve been with a women for close to five years. I feel like this maybe a toxic relationship. At first things were great and then a pattern started to take place that I didn’t recognize at first but started to catch on after a while. Whenever this women is faced with conflict she will get very abusive and start to insult me. And when I come to her about how upsetting the comments are she will act like I have serious issues and that I need to deal with them on my own and that it is not her issue. We’ve gone to lots of therapy, singles and couples and when we go she never brings up any of the mean things she says during the conflict we experience. I’m beginning to have some break through a with personal therapy and am realizing that this women loves me when I keep everything to myself and don’t have an opinion. She will go way out of her way to avoid talking about the lack of connection we have and will get super mad and defensive if I bring up the fact that our relationship is not doing well. To be honest my mental health is suffering because of her and I’m close to separating because I feel like she doesn’t care about our relationship as much as I do.
I’ve taken a long inner look on my behaviours and will admit I can be challenging to be with but Geez, I’m starting to get burnt out and am feeling am feeling really lonely because she can’t talk openly about the issues in our relationship.
We have kids and I don’t want to break the home up but I’m drowning because of this . I’m so frustrated!
The weirdest part is , I think she thinks are relationship is really awesome when I don’t voice my opinions. Which I do to not cause problems .
It’s hard being the one that’s always wrong and that is always feeling, especially as a man.

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Anonymous

Since you keep everything to yourself, I’ve got to ask: have you told her exactly this? Maybe you should forward her what you wrote here.

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M

Fair question but the point is that if they are anything like my wife (sorry ex wife) you spend your life expressing in kindness and calm the concerns you have. There will be times when they “listen”, make promises, act rationally…to then slap you even harder with the same weapon the next time you dare to criticise them – and even use the fear or concern you had expressed against you. If they find a weakness, their way to control you is to go for that weakness. You worry about money, they will in the next argument use it against you. You worry about job security, they will threaten to lie about something so you lose your job, you worry about your children they will later threaten to take them away or to leave them with you, you worry about your parents they will later say “you should go and see your mother before it is too late…I had a dream about them”. These people leave you feeling you have no firm ground to stand on. Leave them!

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Jlm

I totally understand all of this. I am sorry that you have to go through all this. I feel in my relationship that if I just go with the flow and not let things bother me or voice it when things do that we will be okay. The minute I say something or show any emotion or uneasiness about something than the fights start.

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Lou

She is the one who has issues, a relationship is a partnership in which you choose to spend your life with that person and you are open and nothing is suppressed. That’s unhealthy. I think she probably has much deeper issues than what you imagine and the likelihood is if she is forcing you to hide your issues she is probably doing the same which is what gave her these expectations for you. But she’s wrong you’re right, you should be expressive, and be 100% you around your partner and for them to be ok with that

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Daniel

Having similar issues here. She nags alot over small things. She doesn’t want me to express my feelings. I can’t even give opinions freely. She will find fault in me. We are 5yrs togeda without marriage but she has done greater tins to support me in the past. Now she is making me feel like I can survive or live my life without her. She doesn’t wanna go and she never stop making me a scape goat. Imagine she said she doesn’t like cardi b and I said some ladies like her tho. Her response was that am trying to tell her she is not educated. That statement rili didn’t go well with me cus why wud she tink to Dat extreme of she truly loves me. Cus wht I said was out of just funny moments not to backlash or abuse her. She abuse me alot and even slap me at will. Have never raise my hand on her but she has done that to me severally. Sometimes, I feel tired of living and feels like leaving dis WOLRD for her. Am rili fed up. Leaving her is difficult for me and we hvnt had any kid together

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Arlene

This is exactly my life. Instead of solving problems he walks away and says “im not arguing” which inturn leaves me feeling angry and wanting to argue and be heard but after a long time of being dismissed and being called “crazy” and “im not god” “i cant fix you” you start to doubt your own self and feelings and that is text book toxic. Im left feeling so small that i feel im floating through life to the point where i feel i cant even smile when im around my children bc im so broken down mentally and emotionally. Prime example this morning our 5 month old wakes up and my so called significant other wants to play golf all day welp get up with him please if im going to be expected to stay home all day. His response was to call me a tramp IMAGINE??? at this point i will not engage or defend myself anymore ive checked out of this relationship along time ago. Currently working on a way out! I feel sorry for any man or woman who has to live this way its so unhealthy.

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Sydney G

I really need advice, I figured since I am googling “am I in a toxic relationship?” I probably am.
I have been with this guy for about 8 months, He has two kids 6 and 8. When we met he was going through a divorce and living with his parents. After about a month him and his kids moved in with me, he continued to talk to his ex every day and when I would get upset about it he would get mad and tell me it was always about the kids and I needed to be more secure (but he would only talk to her away from me like in the other room and sometimes for 20-45 min at a time). I have a son and an ex husband and we never talk for more than 10-15 min if needed.
After he moved in he got laid off from work, he received unemployment but I was paying all the bills and he would spend his money on ridiculous things and I would have to ask him multiple times to help with any bills. Recently he has started working but he now withdraws almost all and keeps cash which makes me think its so I don’t know what he’s spending his $$ on.
He also has confined in me that he needs help with a pain medicine addiction. On new years eve he left me crying on the porch in the rain begging him not to go and went and got some and then caused a big fight when I got upset about it. In a moment of weakness I texted my ex boyfriend just to come hang out and grab a drink. My boyfriend went through my phone and saw this, he freaked out and left and went and got more pain medicine which he thinks I don’t know about but I know the signs when hes on it.
He has wrote my best friend on facebook and hit on her, he immediately apologized to her after but never told me she had to tell me, but he thinks this is totally not in the same ballpark as me writing my ex boyfriend to come get a drink with me.

I know in reading this you think “isn’t this obvious” and even in the back of my mind I think that. But I love him so much, and he is so sweet and loving, but when I bring up the money thing I get “I spent all the money I had making our relationship good in the beginning and then I lost my job and you make me feel like shit for not having $$” and he points out how he can’t trust me since I texted my ex (I never actually did meet up with him btw). I just really want some advice. I know I am not perfect, every time I try to talk to him he gets defensive and its a big fight no matter what its about. I don’t know what to do because I really can’t see my life without him.

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Linda B

Love muffin how old are you? I’m 51 I was married to this guy for 27 years. He is a narcissist look it up watch some YouTube videos, etc. educate yourself. First of all my Mom always says no one falls in love faster than a man/woman without a home. Secondly, 8 months and him “going through a divorce. ? “ wait until they’re divorced, your a rebound! Thirdly, his little thing with your ex boyfriend is called projection and etc. and he is doing it to control you. My ex did this it’s called gaslighting. Hitting your friends up on FB, NO! Dealbreaker, he can tell you have no self esteem because a normal man/woman would not put up with this. I was there believe me and could throw up at my stupidity. GET AWAY there NOT YOUR KIDS! He’s a roommate and not a very good one at this point not even paying his share. I guarantee he’s probably still trying to get back with his exwife because of the kids. Private calls alone are because he is trying to canoodle her with little promises, etc. my ex called me on xmas and called me Baby a few times, and said sweet stuff probably dying for me to bite. Also, my ex was in and out of rehab for years and the nature of an addict is lies. You have to be a liar to be a addict, because everything s an illusion. Work on you, you have a place, he’s not paying, he’s got young kids, you will find a more suitable “PARTNER” not a secubus to leach off of you. I mean you are being used. Regards, my friend stay strong

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Anonymous

I’ve been with this guy for almost 4 years. He is dominant, subtly trying to control everything. He is emotionally and physically abusive. He is extremely narcissistic, turning every conversation around to make himself look like a saint. He blames me for everything that goes wrong, and shows no appreciation for anything I do. He disrespects me, who I am, and finds something in the past to degrade me about. He threatens to leave the relationship when he doesn’t get his way. He doesn’t consider my needs/opinion on big decisions. He collects evidence to use against me at a later stage. He is completely unstable. He lies constantly. He manipulates everything to his advantage. He ticks all 15 signs above. The worst part is, he’s the father of my child – so I’m left with a choice of being a single mom, or tolerating his BS for assistance.

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Jessica

I’m in the same boat. Check where you live for a domestic violence shelter they should have resources to help you. Start journaling every thing!!! Narcissistic abuse is the hardest thing to prove but it can be done. When he starts his rants, record him. Just start building your case. Pay attention to the patterns also don’t get sucked into the “nice” phase. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better. I’ve been fighting my narc ex for 4 years and I finally just got an order of protection. There’s tons of support groups on Instagram as well. Good luck and hang in there. Xoxo

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Tj

Good morning been there and 32 yrs layer I’m still here putting up with his b.s.. Do yourself and your baby a great deal and leave him. I’m to old (61)to leave now but wish i could have a 2nd chance and do all over again. I would get as far away from him i could. E even turned my child against me.

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donna r

your never too old to leave you have put up with this gys bullshit for 32 years and where has it got you never think your too old to do anything especially too old to finally have a peaceful happy life because believe me once you step away from him you will never look back and 61 is only a number its how old you feel inside you deserve so much more take your power back stand on your own two feet and start having a life babe i take my hat of to you for being able to put up with whatever toxicness over the years but now it has to be about you girl i wish you all the luck and i hope i havent offended ypou in anyway i just read your post and well just wanted to say at 61 yr old you should be respected loved and proper appreciated just saying

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CL

Argh…everything you’ve written resonates with me so much. My soon to be ex lives with me and treats me the same way. He’s smart and articulate, so he’s able to spin things around to minimize the horrible verbal and emotional abuse he hurls my way, while making me appear crazy with anger management issues. The reverse blaming, manipulations, defensiveness, and vindictiveness are next level.

The most confusing and toxically addicting part of this relationship is AT TIMES, he’s genuinely able to be logical, empathetic, and diplomatic, which gives me FALSE hope that MAYBE he’s finally coming around. But those moments of clarity and fairness are SHORT LIVED before he dives back into HARSH, unfair, BIASED criticism and gaslighting.

There’s no reasoning or hope in dealing with someone who is this disturbed mentally and emotionally. He doesn’t see it nor will his ego let him admit it. His primary goal in life is to protect himself at all cost, and no one else’s needs really matters. He literally takes full advantage of my kindness, patience, self reflection and introspection so he can make me admit my faults and never fully own up to his.

I just need to GTFO because this cyclic toxic dance will NEVER end and will NEVER get better. It’s already corroding my self esteem and messing with my sense of right and wrong. I CAN’T stay. I’m sure I have my 100% in terms of accountability and things I could improve on, but I can’t and WILL NOT waste any more time or energy into this useless, endless, unhealthy, abusive, toxic, damaging relationship. Life is too short for this. We ALL know deep down how true healthy love should feel like. This is DEFINITELY NOT IT. I can’t get sucked back in again. He needs to GO. NOW.

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leah

my boyfriend he’s respectful ,he respects me my family and my beliefs but he doesn’t put in much work when it comes to me like he doesn’t plan to see me or spend time with me he wants to but he doesn’t do anything ,I’m not sure if he supports things that i do he wants me to do good but I’m not sure i know he brings out the happy in me but he also gets on my nerves and before i end it i want to know if I’m the toxic one so i can work on it i always question if he interested in somebody else i say i trust him but i still have a what if mindset ,i always think negative i try to think positive but the negative thoughts seem to be more powerful and it’ll affect my moods toward him and in general whenever on thing goes wrong i immediately think about ending it but i don’t be because i think I’m toxic i tell him how i feel but i don’t say the whole thing and get jealous over my what if thought like what if he looks at another girl or if he likes talking to them more than talking to me and ill question him but the with him he’s supportive but not ,he is lazy,and doesn’t put much effort into seeing me , he cheated in his last relationship and that has worried me but he says he don’t want to hurt me and that he wants to be better because he cant hurt me like that i think I’m toxic for example he called my sports team trash and i slapped him because immediately thought he doesn’t support me and he didn’t hug me before he left and it hurt my feelings so i thought about breaking up with him because i felt like he doesn’t support me and because he didn’t give me a hug am i toxic if so how do i help it

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Brittany

Help Me I am desperate for the right advice I need to hear it from someone else other then my family because apparently I am being brainwashed by my Family/Mother. And I am the only one in this relationship whom mI I’n the back of my hard head already know what my next step would b for me as to fixing our relationship to a somewhat decent level cordial meet soem mi

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Eric

I would really like some advice guys, I’m a male 30 I am currently married with my wife for seven years and have a six year old son , we got married young and have had problems for as long as I can remember, at first I’m sure I had my reasons for not wanting to be with her but over the years I can’t even tell if she was the one being toxic or now I second guess myself and think I’m the one who’s really hurt her cause I’ve tried to walk away from this relationship more than once, I don’t feel motivated anymore I feel drained , stressed , angry, sad , I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore, I don’t have a single friend , cause the only friend I had is my cousin who is younger and she hates that when we hangout because she feels that I try to be young and talk to other women, she checks my phone all the time and doesn’t like me following other women on social media unless they are family, my son is my life I love him, every time I want to break up she tells me how she will be on but my son would suffer the most and I agree he’s the most affected , she always cries and it breaks my heart I don’t want to hurt her anymore , but I think we are not good for each other …. pls help me I’m so confused

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Mary

I’m in a toxic relationship we are both addicts but I’ve been sober 11 years ,he uses still, we have been together for 14: years with 2 children. I have matured immensely, he seems to be going backwards.Im 39 he is 40 he acts like a teenager drinking smoking crack and he and I fight constantly because crack is not allowed in my house I do not have the urge to use anything. I’m tired ready to be happy. He went to jail it was the happiest 2 weeks of my life me and my so.Life is tough and I plan to leave him but I must be careful, because he is very book and street smart. His revenge is cold and cunning wish me luck

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Tam S

Im so sorry you are going through this. I speak from experience when i say that addiction adds a layer of complication that is very difficult to manage. You should be very proud of your sobriety. Remember that it is not your responsibility to render your partner sober and by keeping them in your life you might even be inadvertently acting as a crutch. Do what you need to do to remain sober and begin to be happy again. You do not need to feel responsible for the other person if they are not putting in the work. Time to make some hard choices – i sincerely hope you come out of this impass on top. My thoughts are with you.

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yoyo

I just divorced!!!! I made it!!
He started with trashing my 10-year-old friend 3 month after our dating, and then all of my friends are “strange,” so I have to distance them.
Throwing away all my belongings that had followed me for 7 years. Read through all my letters with my friend and accusing me of lying on “facts” about my ex.
Deleting my “set private” social media photos simply because he thought those photos might relate to my ex.
peeping into my package even when we’re already separated (sent to the address by accident)
He got mad because I said that I am not ready yet for getting married.
We argued A LOT even if I don’t want to, he would say”dont run away from problems, they HAVE to be solved!”
I became depressed once even tho I was the most optimistic person around all of my friends.
It was hard to leave him, but glad I left him now!!!! Now I am happy and independent.

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penny g

Its so hard to realize that an abusive partner is sucking your self esteem. Moreover, their demeaning actions put you in a situation that demoralises you and if you dont leave, there goes another hack out of your already diminished self esteem. It always feels like fight or flight just to save a part of you before theres nothing left.

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Daniel

I’m with a woman who rarely helps with house work. Plays games often on her phone. Works thirds but sleeps all day and sometime tell she needs to be up for work again. Smoking is #1. Has told me she is thinking about suicide and that if I leave her alone she would most likely kill herself. I know have to ask permission to leave my own house. She gets upset cause I own the house and truck and car. She has even to my son’s presents said she wanted to die. I’m also disabled with seizures and bipolar disorder

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JD

Wow, I just broke up with a similar woman. Rarely helps with housework, am alcoholic and like to hold off from sex and not much positive to say. Eventually I snapped and tops her about her extremely selfish ways
Always justifying some negative shes done. O told her she needs to be out by the end of the week…she left the next day

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Preferably Anonymous

Hi. I read this because I find myself questioning if my relationship is what I thought it was, and not sure if it’s going in a good direction.

I’ve been in this relationship for around two years. It’s been great. It didn’t feel toxic, I didn’t feel sad all the time like this list mentions. But now I’m not so sure. I’ve been cheated on, once. Tried to hook up with my best friend, she held her ground. She’s the only reason I know about what happened.

This was a year ago. Of course I was upset, but I worked through it and it seemed like everything would be alright even after what happened. But now that I’m with my best friend again, I don’t know what to do. He sent me 48 texts in two minutes while I was with her. I was worried and tried to talk to him constructively, asked him if he’d talked about what happened a year ago with his therapist. He was convinced my friend was the one asking, not me. Insinuated she was the reason I was angry. He just, blamed the fight and everything on her.

I can understand him being worried about what would be said, but this isn’t even the first time things like this have happened. He gets jealous when I hang out with other friends. When I tried to work on the relationship in the past when he tried to cheat on me any changes fell apart almost immediately. God knows I can’t talk about things with him because it doesn’t matter and everytime it becomes this dramatic mess.

I love him. I care about him. I want to be with him. But I don’t know if I can anymore. For the longest time I’d forgotten about my worries and everything and gave in to his wants because I’d given up. I gave up and did what he wanted, said what he wanted to hear, because I’d given up on him, and because I thought it would make him happy. I can’t do that anymore, and I won’t. I’m starting to try to change it, to fix it, but even now I can still feel that I’m defeated. Even as I try to change things I can only believe that it will all fall apart. But I can’t just leave without trying to change this, right?

I’m not even sure what I’m asking. Maybe I’m just venting. But, even though it didn’t feel toxic at all, and I had fun being with him, it was still toxic without me realizing until two years in. It really scares me.

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Unknown

Brilliant article. In my own personal relationship, I know the answer but don’t want to face the music. I met my partner when I was 18 and he was 36 (although he lied about his age initially and told me he was 26) I believed him, why wouldn’t I? He looked great and was very handsome. He also told me the house he lived in was his own (I eventually learned that it was his ex girlfriend’s dad’s house). The relationship was very volatile, beautiful times followed by awful arguments that usually ended up with the police being called. I was a child of the system, so never had a great support network to fall back on which made me try to make things work with him even more. Nevertheless, I moved in with him, he use to love chucking me out at midnight whenever we’d argue (everyone I knew was 200 miles away so I often had to make arrangements to stay in a hotel or get a train back down). I cheated on him eventually, our sex life was dreadful and he only ever cared about his own satisfaction, once he ejaculated, that was the end of sex. He didn’t care (and still doesn’t) care for pleasuring me. Then there’s the financial issues. He wants to be self employed mostly for the freedom aspect of it but never does anything that will create a stable and healthy income. It’s all cash in hand crap that won’t last. I’ve lost count of the amount of arguments I’ve had about this. I even had to fight with him to get us life insurance. I asked what would happen if you passed, you haven’t got a penny to your name or a pot to piss in. He then agreed to take a policy out. We had a child together 4 years ago, he’s honestly the best thing to have happened to me. So now im in a position where I feel trapped and guilty. If I leave I become a single mum, I will have failed my son who has the best bond with his dad. I know my partner won’t let go easy so I know im not prepared for the fight. I also have no finances of my own so I’m looking to start university soon. Hopefully, I will find the courage to leave once I have a degree and earning potential. I sometimes think ‘am I being ungrateful’ my partner has changed a lot and is a brilliant dad, helps around the house and cooks too sometimes but I just don’t want to spend my life with him. I’m very much done. Thanks for reading if you got this far.

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Tony

I read your story and can see some of your unhappiness. My opinion is that you should plan your life for the long term. You need to know what will make you happy first. Then decide where you want to be and take the steps to get there. You have a child so any change you make has to include his welfare. Your husband has a point of view too. Talking to him about what he wants and why he does things will give you understanding if you listen and trust what he says is the truth (and it usually is)

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John

Thank you for this article. It was extremely well written.

For those of you who are in a situation like this… Just know it is not forever.

You will make it out alive. You will be able to take care of yourself. You will be able to realize your self worth.

You will make it.

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Stargazer

I am in a toxic relationship myself.He was a really loving guy but I dont know when it became like this.He talks to me like he’s crazy in love with me and the next moment he calls me a slut and what not.He abuses me verbally almost everyday.He says he wants to “bottle me”.He says nasty stuff about my family.And he isn’t even realising how nasty it is.I want out but I love this guy.

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monica

Sometimes love isn’t enough. Are you willing to sacrifice your own emotional well-being and self esteem for him? Can you see what the damage has done to you? Can you imagine what it would be like if it keeps going on for another 5, 10, 15 years?

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Sarah

How can you love someone that makes you feel so bad inside? How can you say that that’s what true love is?

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Maryanne P

It sounds like there is an abuse cycle going on with your boyfriend. If he is nice for a while and then abusive you are highly likely to be in a trauma bond situation where your body has become addicted to the highs of the relationship between the lows. He comes across as being kind and loving when he wants to be and then he’s disrespectful and abusive towards you at other times. I would try setting boundaries with him by saying next time he calls you a slut and/or is abusive towards you “If you call me disrespectful names or are abusive towards me I will have to leave.” Secretly be ready to leave before this, & enlist the help of a trustworthy friend/s, family or a relative/relatives. If you already know that he’ll already throw this kind of boundary of your words in your face it is definitely time for you to plan your escape.

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Yvonne

Why do you love someone who is so abusive? You need to love yourself more and him less. You deserve better and eventually this man will erode away all of your self esteem.

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Mary

I know I am in a toxic relationship but my partner won’t let us leave. We have a age gap and been together for 12 years and have a 5 yrs old child together. he has been divorced with two grown up kids. We have brown up few time before my child but got back together again. He is abusive verbally and have been physically , he puts me down all the time and tells me I am working class peasants and have no education. He makes fun of my family whom are well off but not wealthy and adding to that I found out he has cheated on me with a prostitute, I confronted him and he is denying. He tells me that I am a really bad mother coz I try to discipline my child and if I tell my child no to something he goes and gives it to her ! My life is a total mess and I am trapped so badly, he doesn’t want to separate from our child so I am stoke in this hell . I don’t want my child to be exposed to his behaviour towards me . She has seen few episodes as he has anger management issues. He keeps saying let’s solve this problem but I have no feelings towards him and can’t stand him anymore, he has broken every rule that keeps the relationships going .

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Lou

Wow get out of there. As soon as they start to do that against you using your child that is the biggest no. You’re not stuck, you’re brave, strong and very capable. You have been unfortunate enough to get into a relationship with a toxic person and he doesn’t care about your mental health, your child’s mental health or the effect he is having on it. He is there for him, if he got absolutely nothing out of the relationship or didn’t wanna be there he’d be gone I promise. You have to respect your wishes and needs and you don’t wanna be there. Sometimes love isn’t enough to keep a relationship, if he loves you but you need trust, kindness, commitment there’s a bunch of things you need for a healthy relationship… love is just one small factor. You need a person who will not change you or your life but someone who you can welcome into your life like a pleasure who contributes and you’re equal, you figure out what works best for you both and you’re BOTH happy with the result I’m not saying there is no compromise but there is no manipulation making you compromise too much or the wrong thing.

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Jennifer B

I totally feel this
I am currently in a situation that my boyfriend doesn’t give me my needs he takes everything as complaining when I’m not just speaking my feeling out loud
He can never do anything nice for me as in take me in a date and not complain after in how that’s spending money or verbally abuse me and take it as a joke we have a kid together and he helps me in nothing just because he is the only one that works ? Am I wrong for thinking selfish? In how sometimes I do need his help with our kid .

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Today was an ending and a beginning. My darling girl finished year 12. The final year at school is tough enough, but this year was seismic. Our teens have moved through this year with the most outstanding courage and grace and strength, and now it is time for them to rest and play. My gosh they deserve it. 

It is true that this is a time of celebration, but it can also be an intense time of self-reflection for our teens. (I can remember the same feelings when my gorgeous boy finished so many years ago!) My daughter has described it as, ‘I feel as though I’ve outgrown myself but my new self isn’t ready yet.’ This just makes so much sense. 

There is a beautifully fertile void that is waiting for whatever comes next for each of them, but that void is still a void. At different times it might feel exciting, overwhelming, or brutal in its emptiness.

We also have to remember that this is a time of letting go, and there might be grief that comes with that. Before they can grab on to their next big adventure, they have to let go of the guard rails. This means gently adjusting their hold on the world they have known for the last 12+ years, with its places and routines and people that have felt like home on so many days. There will be redirects and shiftings, and through it all the things that need to stay will stay, and the things that need to adjust will adjust. 

To my darling girl, your loved incredible friends, and the teens who make our world what it is - you are the beautiful  thinkers, the big feelers, the creators, the change makers, and the ones who will craft and grow a better world. However you might feel now, the lights are waiting to shine for you and because of you. The world beyond school is opening its arms to you. That opening might happen quickly, or gently, or smoothly or chaotically, but it will happen. This world needs every one of you - your voices, your spirits, your fire, your softness, your strength and your power. You are world-ready, and we are so glad you are here xxx
When our kids or teens are in high emotion, their words might sound anxious, angry, inconsolable, jealous, defiant. As messy as the words might be, they have a good reason for being there. Big feelings surge as a way to influence the environment to meet a need. Of course, sometimes the fallout from this can be nuclear.
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Wherever there is a big emotion, there will always be an important need behind it - safety, comfort, attention, food, rest, connection. The need will always be valid, even if the way they’re going about meeting it is a little rough. As with so many difficult parenting moments, there will be gold in the middle of the mess if we know where to look. 
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There will be times for shaping the behaviour into a healthier response, but in the middle of a big feeling is not one of those times. Big feelings are NOT a sign of dysfunction, bad kids or bad parenting. They are a part of being human, and they bring rich opportunities for wisdom, learning and growth. .
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Parenting isn’t about stopping the emotional storms, but about moving through the storm and reaching the other side in a way that preserves the opportunity for our kids and teens to learn and grow from the experience - and they will always learn best from experience. 
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To calm a big feeling, name what you see, ‘I can see you’re disappointed. I know how much you wanted that’, or, ‘I can see this feels big for you,’ or, ‘You’re angry at me about .. aren’t you. I understand that. I would be mad too if I had to […],’ or ‘It sounds like today has been a really hard day.’ 
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When we connect with the emotion, we help soothe the nervous system. The emotion has done its job, found support, and can start to ease. 
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When they ‘let go’ they’re letting us in on their deepest and most honest emotional selves. We don’t need to change that. What we need to do is meet them where they and gently guide them from there. When they feel seen and understood, their trust in us and their connection to us will deepen, opening the way for our influence.
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When they are at that line, deciding whether to retreat to safety or move forward into brave, there will be a part of them that will know they have what it takes to be brave. It might be pale, or quiet, or a little tumbled by the noise from anxiety, but it will be there. And it will be magical. Our job as their flight crew is to clear the way for this magical part of them to rise. ‘I can see this feels scary for you - and I know you can do this.’ 
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When our kids or teens are struggling, it can be hard to know what they need. It can also be hard for them to say. It can be this way for all of us - we don't always know what we need from the people around us. It might be space, or distraction, or silence, or maybe acknowledging and being there is enough. Sometimes we might need to know that the people we love aren't taking our need for space, or our confusion or anger or sadness personally, and that they are still there within reach.
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What can be easier is thinking about what other people might need. Asking this when they are calm can invite a different perspective and can give you some insight into what they need to hear when they are going through similar. Don't worry if you just get a shrug, or a disheartened, 'I don't know'. They don't need to know, and neither do we. The question in itself might be enough to open a new way through any sense of 'stuckness' or helplessness they might be feeling.
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Give them space to talk but you don’t need to fix anything. You’ll want to, but the answers are in them, not us. Sometimes the answer will be to feel it out, or push for change, or feel the futility of it all so the feeling can let go, knowing it’s done it’s job - it’s recruited support, or raised awareness that something isn’t right.

Sometimes the feelings might be seismic but the words might be gone for a while. That’s okay too. Do they want to start with whatever words are there? Or talk about something else? Or go for a walk with you? Watch a movie with you? Or do a spontaneous, unnecessary drive thru with you just because you can - no words, no need to explain - just you and them and car music for the next 20 minutes. 

The more you can validate what they’re feeling (maybe, ‘Today was big for you wasn’t it’) and give them space to feel, the more they can feel the feeling, understand the need that’s fuelling it, and experiment with ways to deal with it. Sometimes, ‘dealing with it’ might mean acknowledging that there is something that feels big or important and a little out of reach right now, and feeling the fullness and futility of that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days are rubbish, and that sometimes those days last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. But the learning comes from experience.

I wish our kids never felt pain, but we don’t get to decide that. We don’t get to decide how our children grow, but we do get to decide how much space and support we give them for this growth. We can love them through it but we can’t love them out of it. I wish we could but we can’t.

So instead of feeling the need to silence their pain, make space for it. In the end we have no choice. Sometimes all the love in the world won’t be enough to put the wrong things right, but it can help them feel held while they move through the pain enough to find their out breath, and the strength that comes with that.♥️

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