A couple with their arms around each other walking down a foggy desolate road
7 Signs Someone Is In A Toxic Relationship & How You Can Help Them
by Kelly Anne Bonner

Once you spot the signs of a toxic relationship, it can be hard to shake them. Whether the coupling is a friendship or a romantic relationship, it can be hard to watch what is happening right before your eyes, and the effects it creates on the person you've know and love. Feeling the weight of someone else hurting is often intuitive, but it can be hard to tell if the despondence is in fact caused by the relationship and not some other factor, especially if you've never witnessed someone go through this before. If you're not exactly sure, trying to spot the signs of a toxic relationship can be the first active thing you can do to help get them out of it.

It's admirable to help bail out a friend, and alert them to the trouble you see. Being clouded by the elusive pull of a strongly influential person can put a veil over some people's eyes, and make them unable to see what you so clearly are witnessing in front of you. Though it may be tough to help extricate them, it's definitely worth your efforts. According to a study, a toxic relationship not only leads to stress, depression, and anxiety, making it bad for the emotional heart, but it's literally bad for the physical one, too. People who are in toxic relationships are at a greater risk of developing heart problems, and thus will benefit greatly in more ways than one by leaving them. If you recognize any of these signs of a toxic relationship, you can at least be relieved in knowing that you're on your way to legitimately assisting your friend and bringing them back to where they used to be outside the influence of the relationship.


They Start Acting Like A Different Person

This one is pretty straightforward, but important: if your friend just doesn't seem like the person that you knew before the relationship started, something is definitely afoot.


They Come To You With Their Many Relationship Problems

It’s no secret some people thrive off drama, but healthy relationships, tend to be relatively drama-free. This is definitely a sign that the relationship isn't going well.


They No Longer Disclose Things To You

Alternately, instead of pouring their hearts out to you, they could also clam up, not telling you anything about their lives in the way they used to.


They Laugh It Off When You Ask If Everything's OK

Laughing it off is deflecting, which is a defense mechanism they're using to at least pretend to show that everything is fine and not to get more serious. Do not let this fool you.


They Tell You How Often They Should Break Up With Them, But Never Do

If they're constantly mentioning how they shouldn't be in the relationship and she have ended it long ago, chances are they truly want to but don't feel like they can leave for whatever reason.


They No Longer Hang Out With Certain People Anymore And Have Lost Friends

This is a sign they're being controlled, and that the influence has forced their social circle to conform to this relationship's preferences and not the friends they would have outside of it.


They Constantly Seem Unhappy, Whether In Their Presence Or Not

Even if they don't say anything explicitly, if you know them well enough, it'll be easy to spot the complete one eighty their emotions have done since before the relationship started and afterward.


How To Help

If you've spotted one or any of these signs in your friend's relationship, here's what you can do to help:

Offer to be an open ear. Bring up the possibility that they might be in a toxic relationship as gently as possible. Merely bringing the issues you see to their attention in a loving, supportive way, and letting them know you are there for them to talk to if they need someone, alone could be helpful in guiding them to the next step of working to get out of it.

Offer that they get counseling. If they seem amenable to the first step, gently persuade them to see someone that can help them with the situation.

If it is more serious, call for help for them. If you feel that the relationship is legitimately abusive in any way, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for professional help in addressing the matter.

Remember that you can't force anyone to leave a relationship they don't acknowledge is toxic, so being as supportive as you can in the meantime is the best thing you can do to help them.

Images: Sebastian Pichler/Unsplash; Helga Webber, Pedro Ribiero Simoes, Cia De Foto, Katie Tegtmeyer, Mitya Ku, Jayson Herlth, Ryan Remilard, Emmanuel Retzepter/Flickr