When our relationship is going through challenges, even before we start looking for marriage therapy it can be hard to get perspective. We’re so invested in the relationship and we WANT it to work and we’re trying to reconcile why it’s feeling so uncomfortable. While the emotions can be intense, even unbearable, how do we get perspective to see whether our relationship is really toxic or whether we’re just navigating some short-term stress factors? Introducing some signs of a toxic relationship below!
“When people are looking for couples therapy they have often been struggling for a while”, says Matt. “Eventually this can take its toll and we even start to doubt our own perceptions and reality so it’s really important to get some perspective and to get clear!”
As the relationship develops, many of us adapt ourselves to our partner based on experience of learning how our partner reacts to different situations. So if our partner gets angry when we ask a certain question or make a request we’ll tend to avoid doing that!
While a level of adaptation to our partner may be a compromise that feels good to us, beyond a certain point we may feel that we are not able to be ourself and that we’re holding back a part of our personality that is important. For example, if our partner finds us too loud in social situations we may stop expressing that part of our character meaning that we lose some confidence in who we are.
When we lose something of ourself in the relationship, this tends to create resentment and unhappiness as we feel that we can’t express our full gifts in our life.
If we are attacked by someone that doesn’t know us well, it tends to be easier to ignore or brush off. But if we are attacked by our partner it’s much more difficult to put it to one side as we have much more contact with that person. However we tend to react – we may either fight back, get defensive or back off and try to keep our head down – this sense of being under attack will always have a negative effect on the relationship.
While some forms of attack may be against the law – for example physical assault – other forms of attack can be equally damaging even though they are not so easy to evidence legally! For instance being attacked emotionally by our partner could include comments like, “you are a waste of space”, “you are so pathetic”, and so on. While they may not create physical scars, they can certainly create emotional ones and when endured over a long period impact on self-esteem and mental health.
While any two people are likely to find things that they don’t agree on, the way we deal with difference if a key determinant of a healthy relationship and what can look toxic. Do we really get to the bottom of things so that we find resolution, or do we tend to come back to the same points or the same frustrations again and again?
If we brush issues under the carpet rather than getting to the bottom of things, we continue to experience the issue and have a sense of going around in circles. This means that there is an important issue to uncover that is being avoided or ignored and will continue to affect us and the relationship eventually leading to resentment and driving us apart. Even when the gaps between arguments is longer, we have that feeling of dread about when the next issue is going to arise.
If this sounds familiar, then now might be the time to seek couples therapy. There are many more people struggling with these issues that there are people looking for help, as we often try to tell ourselves that everyone is going through struggles and this is what relationships are like.
We offer a free initial consultation so that we can better understand your situation, to give some initial guidance and to see whether our approach is a good fit for you. If you have experienced signs of a toxic relationship and you want to move forward book here: