Last week you read the first four signs of a toxic relationship. This week we finish the list.
Have you ever found yourself taking aim at your partner as though he were your enemy and not your partner in life? Do you hold past indiscretions against her, even though when asked, you claim all is forgiven? Are you on the opposite end of hostility and left feeling confused about where you stand in your relationship? Do you feel stifled, like you cannot thrive?
If you can identify, it may be time to evaluate the way your relationship works.
5. You and your partner aim to hurt.
We’ve all had that moment we aren’t so proud of-that moment when we are arguing with our partner and before we know it, we’re hurling an insult way below the belt. Have you ever taken your partner’s insecurity and used it to your advantage? Have you called your partner fat, lazy, useless, or something worse? Or maybe you’ve intentionally tried to make your loved one jealous of another relationship in your life-all in an attempt to cause harm?
Aiming to hurt your partner, even if it’s because they’ve hurt you, is a sign of a toxic relationship. And while you certainly shouldn’t ignore intolerable or problematic behaviors, you should always aim to be constructive (rather than destructive) in your partnership.
It is possible to be angry or upset with your partner without being mean and hurtful. If your partner locks himself out of the house and it throws a monkey wrench into your day, calling him an idiot doesn’t help the situation. It certainly doesn’t change it. More than likely your partner is already frustrated, and you’re hurtful comments only add insult to injury. If you do aim to hurt your partner, maybe it’s time you ask yourself why you feel the need to do so. If you’re on the receiving end of someone’s anger, ask yourself if this really fair to you.
6. You and your partner feel festering resentment.
Resentment is a huge sign of a toxic relationship and is largely the result of poor conflict resolution. Feelings of resentment will erode away any warmth and positivity in a relationship until there is nothing but antagonistic feelings between partners. Once the cycle of resentment begins, it’s hard to break. If your partner does something that hurts you deeply and you find yourself unable to forgive and move on it can be hard to exist in that relationship. You may not be able to forgive because your feelings were not acknowledged or remorse was not expressed for your pain. You find yourself ruminating and lashing out with your lingering feelings of hurt being the prime motivator.
When the next argument pops up, how well will you focus on just the situation at hand? Prevent resentment from growing by expressing your anger and hurt. Resolve conflicts to the best of your ability, and most importantly, keep your arguments separate. Focus on the positive aspects of your partnership and your partner rather than the negative, and you’ll pull resentment out of your relationship by its roots.
7. You and your partner cannot thrive.
Famous psychotherapist Carl Rogers believed that just as a plant thrives under optimum conditions, people also need optimum conditions to reach their maximum potential. Keep in mind that optimum does not mean perfect. No person and no relationship will ever be without flaws. Every relationship will have its conflicts and troubles. They key is to create a partnership where you and your partner can learn from and adapt to challenges so that you may grow-together. Individuality, respect, exploration, empathy, and acceptance are all necessary for a person, and a relationship to grow. A romantic partnership should encourage and provide these things.
If for any reason, you and your partner are unable to grow because of the dynamics of your relationship, it may be time to reconsider how the relationship works and what changes can be made to help each person and the relationship flourish.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please contact The Stone Foundation by clicking here, or by phone at 410-296-2004.
Lauren Greenberg, MS, LGPC is a graduate of Loyola’s Counseling Practitioner Program. For three years, Lauren provided hotline crisis intervention to residents of Baltimore City. She also has experience providing counseling to students at a local college for issues including grief and loss, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, anxiety, and trauma. Her professional interests and areas of study include positive psychology, promoting social and emotional competence, and women’s issues.