Toxic Relationships: What are they, and what are the signs?


Hannah Dowaliby, Copy Editor

Toxic relationships are something that a lot of people will inevitably experience. In fact, an average of about 80% of Americans have experienced some form of emotional abuse. Toxic relationships, which include emotional abuse, can be exhibited in numerous different forms. Especially now, as people around us begin to mature and develop long lasting relationships with others, it is especially important that we are able to recognize the signs of a potentially toxic relationship.

A toxic relationship can be classified in many different ways. Whether it involves your partner or a friend, they can both display toxicity in similar ways. A toxic relationship is any relationship between people who don’t support each other, where there is conflict and one is seeking to undermine the other, where there is competition, or where there is disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness. A relationship like this is constantly unpleasant and very emotionally draining, especially for the victim. 

Damaging situations like this can prove to last long term. They can be very scary experiences and can leave internal mental scars that may take months, and even sometimes years, to heal. It is even scarier when you discover that you are in a toxic relationship to begin with, and you begin to become aware of everything that the perpetrator does or says to you.

There are numerous ways to identify the beginning signs of a toxic relationship. Keeping in mind, of course, that not every situation will be the same. Different people will more than likely display different toxic behaviors, but the important part is recognizing these behaviors. If you are able to pinpoint these signs, you will be able to protect yourself from potential emotional damage.

One of the most common signs of toxicity is drama. Frequent drama or conflict in a friend group can be a telling indicator that it may not be the most healthy relationship. Constant negativity, passive aggression, or jealousy can also be hints to an unhealthy relationship. Abusers of this sort also frequently cross boundaries, and or blatantly ignore them.

However, it is important to note that toxic relationships can also be identified through the way that you feel around this person. Feeling uncomfortable or unhappy to be around them is an even more telling sign of harmful relationships. A toxic friend can destroy your self-esteem and mental health. 

Unpredictability, such as in the way they act or the way their mood changes, can also prove to deteriorate one’s mental health. This includes things such as constant irritability or explosive arguments over the smallest of things. It’s understandable if it happens once in a while, as no one is perfect, but it becomes a problem when it is a common occurrence. 

Other signs include being judgmental, possessive, controlling, manipulative, and much more. There are different ways to deal with this sort of thing. Nevertheless, it is important to take action in order to protect yourself. Since recognizing the toxic dynamics of a relationship is simply the start, it may be time to re-evaluate what you want from the bond. Taking a break to give yourself breathing room is a good place to begin that evaluation. It can give both you and the other person a way to establish what you’re looking for. 

However, if, after that period has ended, you find that the toxicity still remains, it may be time to put your foot down, and end the relationship. Breaking up with a friend or a partner can be damaging for the time, but in the long run, it may prove to be for the better. Removing one source of the negativity in your life, and in turn replacing it with positive influences and outlets, you may find yourself having an easier time coping with the loss of someone’s relations. 

No toxic relationship will prove to be easy, but cutting out negativity in your life can change the way you experience everything. Taking responsibility for yourself and your own actions is merely the first step to a healthier and happier you.