Relationships run on a spectrum between healthy and abusive, and if you find yourself on the lower end, count yourself lucky. Finding true love isn’t always easy, as there are many selfish people out there who can make your life miserable. An unhealthy relationship can affect your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
It’s effortless to misinterpret things as an expression of love when they’re nothing more than an abusive situation. These things would include violence, control, and anger. Not only are these behaviors not healthy for you, but they can be unsafe. A healthy relationship requires both people to communicate their needs and wants.
You’re respectful of one another, and you share the power. You’ve often heard that relationships are supposed to be fifty-fifty, but if one person gives more than their share, it’s easy for things to become toxic. When you love someone, you should never try to control them, as loving someone means they’re free.
When you’re in a toxic situation, it’s commonplace that there’s an imbalance of power. Your partner may be dishonest, not respect your boundaries, and be possessive over you and your time. Some selfish people love to play power games with their partners, which helps them feel secure and happy. Make no mistake; this is abusive behavior.
Behaviors People Display in an Unhealthy Relationship
Unhealthy relationships are usually about control and power, and the amount of disrespect can be detrimental to your self-worth. If you’re in a situation that has you questioning if you are in an unhealthy relationship, chances are you already know the answer.
Psychologists will tell you to listen to your gut instincts, as they can help you make good decisions about your partner. Here are some common signs that your relationship is unhealthy, and you must make some hard choices.
1. Intimidation is typical in an unhealthy relationship
If you’ve ever been in a courtroom, part of the arguments between the plaintiff and the defendant’s legal team involves intimidation. Being on the witness stand can be brutal, as the goal is to get information from you that will help win the case. The same can be said of the controlling partner in an unhealthy relationship, as they like to use intimidation tactics to gain power over you.
The methods used by the narcissistic personality can be downright scary. They may harm people close to you, even your children or pets, to make you fold to their demands. They can give you a specific look and use body language so that you know you’re in trouble.
It’s natural to feel intimidation by someone in authority over you, like your boss or a bill collector. However, you should never feel this way with someone you love. The CDC warns how these behaviors are found to intensify when there are drugs or alcohol in the mix.
2. Jealousy goes along with an abusive relationship
When you have an unhealthy relationship, there’s likely to be some jealousy in the mix. This strong emotion occurs when one partner is afraid of losing the other one. They know they’ve been abused and shown you disrespect, and they fear you will finally leave.
Jealousy is possessive behavior in a toxic form. Remember that it’s healthy to have a small level of jealousy as it’s a natural human emotion. However, having the ability to keep this in perspective is critical.
When this emotion turns poisonous, it’s often accompanied by other forms of manipulation or abusive actions. Dr. Jeffrey G. Parke from the Pennsylvania State University has studied this subject intensely. According to Dr. Parke, it’s an unhealthy relationship when aggression and control accompany it.
3. Lying signifies disrespect for the other partner
Remember that a half-truth is still a lie, and you don’t want to be in an unhealthy relationship where you can’t trust your partner. Someone who can’t be honest with you shows disrespect for your integrity. Since trust is one of the essential building blocks with your partner, it can destroy your relationship when you can’t trust them to be honest.
The National Library of Medicine warns how pathological liars often have sordid pasts and come from toxic situations themselves. However, it’s impossible to live and have a relationship with someone who can’t be honest about anything. Most of the time, if their mouth is open, they lie.
4. Abuse is part of an unhealthy relationship
One of the most significant signs that you’re in an unhealthy relationship is abuse. Abuse comes in many forms, one or more of which may be present when you’re in a toxic situation. It’s never okay for anyone to throw things at you, push, smack, kick, or hurt you.
If they leave marks on your body once, they will do it again. Please don’t trust the sob stories that tell you that it was a one-time thing. There are many people in their graves because they trusted that it was a situation they could handle.
Another form of abuse that most people don’t like to discuss is sexual. Even in a committed relationship, no one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. It’s considered assault if someone forces themselves on you, and you don’t have to stand for it.
Emotional abuse may be one of the most challenging to overcome. In this situation, you have a partner who loves to play mind games, pick fights, and put you down. The amount of disrespect in these situations can destroy your self-esteem quickly.
5. Gaslighting happens with an abusive partner
When someone can control how you view a situation, they’re manipulating you. It’s abusive to make someone believe something that isn’t true. At its core, this behavior is about self-preservation and power/control.
The toxic individual will create a storyline that keeps them as the one in the ‘right’ and their partner ‘wrong.’ If you suspect your partner is showing you disrespect by cheating, you may confront them. They will try to tell you that you’re crazy or you’re not thinking clearly. They may say you’re being paranoid and making up things because you’re mentally unstable.
There are many forms of gaslighting. These abusive tendencies include trivializing, denial, diverting, withholding, stereotyping, and countering.
6. Blame shifting happens in an unhealthy relationship
Every couple has arguments, and this is part of a healthy relationship. However, they cross a line when they disrespect you and shove the blame your way. When dealing with a toxic partner, they often don’t like to be guilty of anything.
They would much rather blame you than take responsibility for their actions. Maybe they gambled away the mortgage payment this month, but it’s still your fault because you spent too much money on groceries. Even if you give them irrefutable proof of something they’ve done wrong, they will still find some way to turn it around on you.
7. Isolation occurs with an abusive partner
Have you ever been to a remote island that has nothing around it? One such place is Shell Island in Panama City Beach. Before you go to this location, you will hear that when the ferry drops you off, you will find no facilities–no restaurants, shelters, or even phones to call for help.
It can feel quite eerie if you’re one of the last people on the island before the ferry runs. The same thing happens when you’re in an unhealthy relationship, as they want to isolate you and get you off by yourself. When there’s no one around, there’s no one to judge how you’re being treated or offer advice.
Sadly, it’s not tropical paradise when you’re in such a situation, as you often fear for your well-being. The controlling person wants to limit your phone calls, monitor your text messages. They might go as far as putting GPS trackers on your phone and car.
They need to see who you’re talking to, where you’re going, and what you’re doing. You may feel smothered, as you know your every move is monitored.
Final Thoughts on Unhealthy Relationships
Is your relationship healthy? If you had to stop and think about that question, chances are there’s some disrespect and things that need improvement. Not every situation means you should end your relationship; some people want to change and are willing to get help.
However, you need to love yourself enough to leave when you’re in an unhealthy relationship with abuse or other severe toxic behaviors. People often stay in situations where they are mistreated because they don’t know how to escape. Every day, men and women around this country face manipulative partners who control their lives and destroy their self-esteem.
The key is to realize that there’s hope beyond your unhealthy situation. Get help, talk to family and friends, and get out if you’re not happy. Life is way too short to spend your time in a miserable, abusive situation.