Time and time again I have witnessed toxic behaviors be completely dismissed under the premise of love.
“Oh, he is just controlling because he loves me so much.”
“She is insecure and terrified of losing our relationship that she lashes out at me, it’s not her fault…”
Although someone can claim to love you, it is extremely important to start paying attention to their actions because at a certain point, words are only words.
When someone asks me how they can tell whether or not they are in a toxic relationship, I always start with the same basic question.
How do you feel about yourself when you are with them or thinking about them?
If your partner who claims to love you cause you to experience the following feelings, it’s time to take a step back as you are most likely in a toxic relationship.
Your feelings won't matter
There was an evening many years ago when I was sitting across the dinner table from my boyfriend at the time. Due to a falling out with my mother I was extremely upset and explained my pain to him through tears.
When I finally finished speaking my boyfriend rolled his eyes and shrugged.
“I don’t know why you have to be so dramatic about this. You need to move on with your life, screw her.”
His words caused me to question whether or not I was overreacting which, I learned later, was exactly what he wanted.
Invalidation is a tactic used by toxic people to cause their victims to question their own feelings and experiences which makes them vulnerable for further manipulation down the line.
You bear the weight of their own insecurities
A healthy individual is able to work through their insecurities while also having the self-awareness to not project their faults onto everyone around them.
A toxic individual will do the complete opposite. Their baggage will eventually rise to the surface if it hasn’t been dealt with, and their insecurities will be projected unto the people closest to them… which will most likely include you.
Let me provide you an example. There were numerous times my ex would accuse me of cheating even though I was completely faithful. It would be impossible for me to recount the countless accusations as they happened almost anytime I went out with friends or didn’t spend the night at his place.
I found out later on in the relationship that he had been unfaithful numerous times and was projecting his own infidelity unto me.
You are not trusted by your partner
Years ago I was in a relationship with a very toxic man who was constantly questioning my actions and words even though I had given him absolutely no reason to doubt me.
A few months into our relationship I excitedly told him that I was going on a girl's trip with a group of my closest friends for one of their birthdays.
Immediately he began talking about how I was going to flirt with every man that I saw, and that I wanted to dress scantily to get attention. I was flabbergasted and confused because not only was I modest by normal standards, but it should have been no concern of his what I decided to wear.
You will feel pain when they begin withholding affection
When it comes to a toxic relationship, love is not given freely.
Affection is actually a weapon that can be used to reward or punish someone based on their actions and behaviors. Withholding love to weld control over a victim is one of the most toxic emotional abuse tactics of all.
I remember the shock that coursed through my body as my partner began withdrawing affection even though things had been so sweet and wonderful in the beginning. The excitement that he once had to see me was completely gone, and by the end of our time together, I couldn’t even get a hug from him.
The times he provided affection were few and far between which I later realized to be the necessary breadcrumbs to keep me from leaving.
If you feel shame it’s time to reevaluate your relationship
You will never ask yourself what is wrong with you as many times as you will in a relationship with someone who is toxic.
The behaviors and quirks that they found “cute” in the beginning will later be used against you. Soon, the person who couldn’t find fault with you will be wondering out lot why they “put up” with you at all.
I’m telling you to look out for these feelings and behaviors because I feel like the word “love” is thrown around and in some cases, it is used as a means of control.
I am also telling you this because many years ago I lost myself in a toxic and abusive relationship. After reclaiming my life and walking away, I promised myself that never again would I ever let a man determine my worth and value under the guise of love.