Knowing the signs of a toxic relationship can help you stay aware.
Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.
When any relationship begins, it rarely intends to turn toxic — not consciously, of course. But certain behaviors in the relationship can give you an idea of how this relationship may be in the long run.
Warning signs can be hard to spot — that’s why we must know them. Being educated on toxic relationships can help you spot, identify, and potentially avoid a toxic relationship.
Toxic relationships begin in similar ways, with a pattern of behavior being exhibited by the other person — or both parties. There are 3 critical features of toxic relationships that are relatively consistent amongst various toxic relationships. Now please be aware that these are only 3 warning signs. There may be more — each relationship is different and unique.
1. Love bombing
The efforts to win you over by showing excessive affection and attention are called love bombing. This can often seem like such an out-of-this-world experience, or you’re left stunned — and flattered — by the attention.
The constant admiration, whirl-wind type of romance that sweeps you off your feet can feel intoxicating. Maybe this person, who you may have just met, is telling you that you’re the one or you are both meant to be together. At a glance, this may seem so sweet and loving. It’s like a dream come true!
But if anything seems like it’s too good to be true, then it is.
But then that love bombing is used as a way to gain your trust. Love bombing can come in the form of gifts or money in a way to win you over.
Love bombing is a strategic plan to win over the person’s heart–then that love turns to control.
Spending time with your new partner is such a wonderful thing; you can’t get enough of each other. But there is a point where you are both spending so much time together that you become isolated from friends and family.
Isolation is another key sign that this may be a toxic relationship. When you are isolated from your friends and family, you cannot see them or spend time with them. This is restrictive and controlling behavior that keeps you isolated.
Not being able to move freely and talk to who you would like leads you to be cut off from the world around you. You still need to have a life outside of your relationship.
If your partner threatens you or guilts you into not seeing family and friends, you should know that is not okay. If friends feel like a threat to your partner, that is a red flag that should be addressed.
From the isolation and love-bombing, you become landed in codependency. Codependency is when one partner leans on another partner excessively.
This means someone will become reliant on the other person. Codependency can be in the form of socialization, financial, or anything that causes you to overly rely on your partner.
One partner is unable to be autonomous without the other partner.
Someone doesn’t just wake up one-day co-dependent. The other person had caused their partner to become reliant on them. Through excessive conflict, isolation, and love-bombing, someone can be forced to become co-dependent.
Take Maid on Netflix, for example. Alex, the main character, is in a relationship that keeps her isolated from her friends and family. Due to Alex being isolated from the outside world, she becomes co-dependent on Sean, her partner.
A healthy relationship will typically have two fully independent people— where neither one is controlled by the other.
If you feel like you may be in an abusive situation, please know there are resources available — it’s okay to get help. If you are unsure and want to talk to someone, I encourage you to visit: https://www.thehotline.org/