It was Mental Health Month in Australia in October, but anytime is a good time to analyse your own mental health and how those closest to you treat you. If there are people who you don’t feel safe or supported with, or if your partner makes you feel inadequate, you could be in a toxic relationship. But, how do you know for sure?
As humans, it is important that we feel like we belong, we are cared for, and we are respected and treated fairly. These attributes are absent in a toxic relationship. Instead, someone in a toxic relationship may often feel guilt, inadequacy, and worthlessness. Toxic relationships refer to relationships where one (or possibly both) partner is abusive – this may be emotionally or physically abusive, or both. Emotionally abusive partners may often behave in a controlling, possessive, or jealous way towards their partner, and this type of behaviour is enduring and continues throughout the duration of the relationship. In many instances, the intensity of this behaviour can actually increase as time goes by, and may not be easy to spot in the first weeks or months of a relationship.
We have put together a few tell-tale signs and toxic traits for you to look for in partners who may be emotionally abusive. If you’re uncertain, book an appointment with one of our therapists and we can talk you through some of the distinguishing characteristics of an abusive relationship.
Control And Shaming
Are you being made to feel ashamed of things that you might not be capable of? Maybe even of your past actions, or things that may not be your strengths? An abusive partner will often make his or her partner feel inadequate through a process of ongoing shaming. They will highlight your faults, remind you about them often, and potentially laugh at you or humiliate you for them.
Abusive partners also maintain control over their other halves by controlling aspects of their lives such as diaries, finances, who they can see and can’t see. They might follow you around or log into your email accounts. This type of behaviour is not healthy, and does not set up a healthy dynamic for a long-term relationship.
Accusations And Blame
Are you often made to feel like things are your fault? If your partner is blaming you for even silly, everyday things that are outside of your control, or if their reaction is out of proportion to the action (e.g., refusing to speak to you for 24 hours because you purchased the wrong brand of coffee), then this might be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Be on the lookout for a propensity to accuse and blame you for things that weren’t your fault, that were outside of your control, or that have minimal impact.
If you are made to feel like your emotions don’t matter and that you partner’s feelings are paramount, you are more than likely being emotionally neglected. Your partner might demand respect from you, while not giving you any in return. They might shut you down when you speak, but insist that you listen to their opinions.
Emotional neglect can also show up as shutting you out or ghosting you. Changing the subject when you bring something important up, or not acknowledging something you’ve said. Furthermore, an abusive partner might prevent you from seeking support elsewhere, such as seeing your family or friends, leaving you to feel further isolated and alone.
If your feelings are being disputed or ignored, or if you are being prevented from seeing other emotional supports in your life such as family and friends, it’s time to speak to someone about being in a potentially damaging and even dangerous relationship.
How To Manage A Toxic Relationship?
It can take some time before we realise that we may be in a toxic or emotionally-abusive relationship. By the time we do realise, we might feel embarrassed or ashamed to reach out for support, or we might blame ourselves for staying with someone who treats us poorly for so long. However, there is no shame in reaching out for support for at any stage of the relationship.
If you recognise any of the above-mentioned scenarios, know that you might be in an abusive relationship and it is important need to seek help. We have a team of qualified therapists and psychologists ready and waiting to help you at Sydney City Psychology, both in person or virtually. Contact us today to get the support you need. We won’t judge you or rush you, but we will work hard to honour the courage it takes to reach out for support. We are here to help.