Maintaining a healthy relationship takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication from both partners. In some instances, the crappy parts of the relationship aren't all out in the open: they're more hidden. Understanding the subtle things your partner says every day that are actually toxic will help you evaluate the relationship in a new way. Sometimes dysfunction is sneaky.
For starters, though, it's helpful to define the word toxic in this context. As the name suggests, a toxic relationship is harmful, painful, and generally negative, according to Psychology Today. Why would you stay with someone so destructive to your self-esteem? It's common to minimize or overlook the signs of toxicity in a relationship, as further noted in Psychology Today. Maybe you think feeling crappy is simply part of being in a relationship. It isn't.
If these signs seem close to home, how should you react to a toxic relationship? An instant break-up is not required, although sometimes that's the best course of action, particularly if the toxicity is abusive. In other cases, however, being honest about your problems with the relationship is the best move, according to t he Greater Good Science Center at U.C. Berkeley. It can be intimidating to tell someone their behavior or statements make you uncomfortable, but standing up for yourself is crucial.
1. "Remember the last time you screwed up?"
Does your partner bring up past (and seemingly resolved) issues all the time? It's unhealthy. Keeping a relationship scorecard and constantly drudging up past mistakes is a toxic habit, according to self-help author Mark Manson. Want spend the rest of your life reliving the time you accidentally embarrassed your partner at a restaurant three years ago? Of course not.
2. "I don't know, what do you think?"
Does your partner need your opinion on literally every decision? Sometimes that level of helplessness is a toxic form of control. A partner who relies on you to make all the decisions is exhibiting some weirdly controlling behavior, according to HealthScope. When the outcome of these decisions is not to their liking, chances are your SO gets righteously pissed. And, somehow, it's all your fault.
3. "Let me check Facebook."
Sure, social media can be pretty addictive. But in some cases, relying too heavily on social media can indicate a need for outside validation, as Stan Tatkin, PsyD, told Reader's Digest. Everyone needs some outside praise now and then, but you don't want to feel replaced by an Instagram feed.
4. "I need to vent."
Occasionally venting about stressors is healthy, and probably necessary for many people. But in the case of toxic venting, you're not important to the conversation, according to Judith Acosta, LISW, writing for HuffPo. You partner is monologuing a list of complaints at you with no desire for response or feedback. If vent-blasting happens often, you can feel used and unimportant.
5. "I didn't really mean that. You misunderstood."
Is it impossible to tell when your partner is sincere? If your partner insists you misunderstood most all conversations, it might be a form of gaslighting, according to Your Tango's relationship expert Teagin Maddox. Gaslighting makes you question your understanding of reality, and it's a terrible feeling. Plus, your partner is able to weasel out of making real commitments or promises.
6. "Are you calling me stupid?"
When you try to address problems in the relationship, how well do those conversations go? If your partner twists your words negatively, it's a form of manipulation, according to Hey Sigmund. Your constructive conversation gets turned upside-down.
7. "Who are you texting?"
Suspicious, jealous behaviors are the worst. If your partner is constantly checking up on you or looking through your phone, then they only suspect the worst, according to Bustle. That's unflattering. Plus, it's super annoying to be accused of infidelity when you're just browsing silly cat pictures on Reddit.
8. "You just don't understand."
During a conversation, most people try to understand the other's point of view. But a toxic person might insist you can't understand them, no matter how you try, according to AbuseAndRelationships.org. This kind of behavior can act as a controlling tactic, because there's no way you're going to "get it." Your partner is basically creating drama out of nothing.
This simple word can convey a lot. Saying "whatever" and stopping the conversation is a form of stonewalling, according to Bolde. It's another manipulative way of controlling the situation, in this case by degrading the relationship.
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