Your best friend says that her new boyfriend is a great guy, but something just doesn’t feel right to you. She seems nervous when they’re apart and is always checking her phone. She doesn’t hang out as much as she used to and seems to worry about the possibility of making her boyfriend angry at every step. What’s worse, you feel like she’s hiding things from you, putting on a brave face while hiding a fear she can’t talk about. When you question her, she swears she’s never been happier—but you just don’t buy it.
If you’ve been in this situation, then you may be right to trust your instincts. People who find themselves in a negative, potentially emotionally or physically dangerous relationship may hide the truth of their situation from their closest friends. Learn to spot the hidden signs of a toxic relationship, and you may just be able to intervene before someone you care for becomes seriously hurt.
Six Signs of a Toxic Relationship
- The Give is One-Sided. If your friend is giving more than she is receiving, her relationship may be unhealthy. Pay attention to see if she is always the one making time, going out with his friends, spending money, and giving up on personal goals to make allowances for what her partner wants.
- Your Friend is Emotionally Drained. All. The. Time. Relationships should bring joy and positivity to our lives. If your friend is suddenly emotionally depleted, it may be because a disproportionate and unhealthy amount of her energy is spent in arguments, worrying about issues, or carrying the weight of her partner’s emotional well-being.
- Your Friend has Lost Self-Confidence. In some toxic relationships, one party aims to control the other by breaking down their confidence, leaving them feeling like no one else could ever care for them, and that they are always failing to live up to needs and expectations. If your friend begins to act as though she is regularly in the wrong and at fault, her partner may be filling her head with hurtful lies.
- Your Friend Picks Up an Unhealthy Habit—for Her. Sometimes people in a toxic relationship feel that it’s easier to do what their partner wants them to do, even if it’s unhealthy, dangerous, or compromises their morals—than to start an argument. If your friend suddenly picks up a drug, alcohol, gambling, shoplifting, or another self-damaging habit, it could be to keep the peace with her partner.
- There’s a Lack of Trust. Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship. If your friend is always fearful of where her partner is spending his time, who he’s spending time with, and obsesses over whether or not he is telling lies, she could be obsessing in a way that is unhealthy.
- When Push Comes to Shove, She’s On Her Own. A couple is a team, and your partner should support you in life when things become difficult, whether it be because you lose your job, find yourself in financial troubles, or become ill. If your friend is going through a rough patch, and her significant other is suddenly MIA, then your friend is not receiving the support she deserves, and the relationship may have become toxic.
If, after reading this list, you believe that a friend or loved one is in a toxic relationship, talk to him or her and encourage them to take the steps necessary to get help. If reading this list makes you realize that you may be the one in an unhealthy situation, don’t hesitate to take the first step toward breaking the ties that bind and reclaiming your independence. No relationship is worth your health, self-esteem, and happiness. Even if being alone feels scary, you’ll soon realize that you have a whole world of possibilities open to you and that you now have nothing holding you back for getting everything that you want.