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Time to Walk Away?

5 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

A toxic relationship, marked by abuse (physical or mental), extreme guilt, or unequal relationship control, can be present in any partnership. Serious physical and emotional damage can be caused by these harmful relationships, so it’s important to confront the toxic person. If they are unwilling to change their behaviors, it’s time to walk away. We asked psychologist Thomas Cory, Ph.D., how to spot a toxic relationship.

1. You can't "be yourself."

You feel like you’re “walking on egg shells” – that every move you make may be judged and/or criticized. You’re afraid to express your real feelings because you may be ridiculed, or worse. You’re not expected to think for yourself, and you stop doing many of the things you enjoy to try and keep the peace.

2. You are abused verbally, physically, or both.

Toxic partners need to control you, and will often use some form of verbal abuse to make you feel inadequate. If verbal abuse doesn’t work, they will often turn to physical abuse. If your partner threatens you instead of talking reasonably, he or she is toxic.

3. You're frequently saying "I'm sorry", or apologizing for your behavior.

Toxic partners have a way of making you feel you rarely do anything right. They keep a “score card” of your mistakes, and rarely, if ever, praise you for what you do. Toxic individuals often use “guilt tripping” as a way of controlling you.

4. Your partner belittles your attempts to improve yourself.

Often they will sabotage any efforts you make to become more self-sufficient. Any successes you do have are dismissed as trivial or unimportant. Their goal is to keep you feeling inadequate and dependent on them.

5. Your partner is pathologically jealous.

They do not want you spending time with family, friends, or co-workers, and will often make you feel guilty if you do. When you aren’t with them, toxic partners often obsessively check up on you. A toxic partner’s overall goal is to control you by using any means necessary.

Thomas Cory, Ph.D.


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