Life-Giving Relationships: 10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Hello and happy Tuesday dearest Reader!
As we dig into the Life-Giving Relationships Series, I thought it would be good to clarify what ISN'T a life-giving relationship. Today we're going to be diving into 11 traits of a toxic relationship.
I don't believe that toxic relationships are essentially the fault of one person: I think you often have an abuser or manipulator, but then you ALSO have the enabler. Often our passive behavior, low standards, and lack of accountability leaves us in relationships with people who treat us badly.
But don't forget, if you're in a toxic relationship, sometimes you are as much to blame as the toxic person. Never allow someone to mistreat, abuse, or be cruel to you. Set boundaries and remove yourself from unhealthy relationships: don't enable.
Alright let's dig in!
1. They never apologize
Admitting your wrongs is a humbling act, and is often one that is absolute kryptonite to toxic people. Toxic people often have issues with pride, and cannot let other people see their weaknesses, lest they be revealed to be only human.
Toxic people cannot do this because they always want to be superior and always want to have the power in the relationship. A toxic person WILL not apologize to you because they are unable to humble themselves, admit their flaws, or show that they are equal to you. These are not traits of a healthy relationship built on equality, trust, and forgiveness.
2. Your relationship is all ONE-SIDED
Toxic relationships are one-sided: when one person does all the talking and the other person does all the listening. These relationships can be exhausting for the chronic listener, but very cathartic and pleasurable to the talker.
Listening is more than just nodding along: it is taking an interest in someone's life. Even if you are shy or not good at asking questions, you can show your interest and care for another person. The toxic person does not do this well because the toxic person does not CARE. If they DO have care about your life or about you, they still care MORE about their own life. Ergo, if you have a friend who is consistently talking about their own life while failing to ask questions, or show interest in your life, you may be dealing with a soul-sucking relationship.
3. Being around them causes you to compromise your morals
Sometimes we become friends with people who don't live the same lifestyle we do, but this is not a bad thing. However, it can TURN bad if they begin to pressure or force you into living life the way THEY want.
It's not bad to befriend people from different walks of life, but it IS bad to allow them to pressure us into compromising our morals.
Healthy relationships come with the acceptance of one another, not the pressure to change the other person. Toxic relationships bring you down lower, make you break your standards, and overall, have a negative impact on your life. If this describes a relationship that you're in, I would recommend that you reevaluate. We want to enter into life-giving relationships where the other person respects our morals, standards, and boundaries, and never expects us to break those.
4. You're inappropriately connected with no boundaries
Every healthy relationship needs boundaries: even our best friends don't need to know the ins-and-outs of our marriage, sex life, or spiritual walk. It can be so easy to let someone know every detail of our lives, but often this creates inappropriate attachments between two people.
Toxic people want to know all of our details so that they can have power over us. Keep things to yourself and see how the other person reacts: if they get angry or frustrated when you will not reveal certain parts of your life, ditch it. If a person cannot respect your privacy, boundaries, or wishes, then they might be toxic.
5. This person is suspicious of other people in your life
Toxic people, especially toxic mentors, want to be the number one influence in your life: they fear the idea of you getting outside wisdom, guidance, or advice from anyone other than themselves.
The toxic person seeks to cut you off from other forms of wisdom so that they can have the final say on your decisions and advice. This is an area of control and superiority for the toxic person.
I once had a toxic person become upset with me that I was going to a certified psychologist for counseling: I kid you not. They wanted to be the number one source of advice in my life. The fact is that it is healthy and balanced to have many sources of wise and godly counsel: we cannot expect one person to have all the answers. If a person doesn't support this, they might be toxic.
6. You feel like you have to change around them
Sometimes we can attach too much meaning and importance onto a relationship and begin to idolize the other person, and change little parts of ourselves to be more appealing. This isn't necessarily the fault of the other person: it might be an issue that YOU have. Either way, it might be best to stay away from these types of relationships.
Healthy relationships are comfortable places where we feel like we can be ourselves. This doesn't mean you won't get excited or nervous, but it DOES mean that you don't have to hide parts of your personality. I will add also that this doesn't mean that other people can't have standards for your behavior, no. It just means that if you feel like you can't be yourself, then you might be in a toxic relationship.
7. You feel sick after you hang out
It's not called a "gut" instinct for nothing! The sick feeling in our stomach could be our instincts telling us that someone is a bad influence on our soul, heart, emotions, or life. Our gut is a good source of intuition: trust it. If you spend time with someone and you always feel sick after, STAY AWAY!
I had this recently. I always felt sick to my stomach after hanging out around this one girl in our friend group, but I convinced myself I was being crazy because everyone else seemed to love her. But once I stopped hanging out with her, I felt completely happy again. Never be in a relationship with someone that makes you feel sick to your stomach. Butterflies and excitement are good, a sinking gut feeling is bad.
8. They lie
This one is straightforward, but it doesn't mean we don't fall into relationships or friendships with liars. I think that catching someone in a lie is often so uncomfortable that many of us would rather ignore the behavior than admit that our parent or friend is a liar.
I had this exact experience: I didn't want to admit that a person I cared about was a liar, so I kept making excuses for them in my head. But the problem with liars? If push comes to shove, they will lie about YOU too. Dishonest people are not to be trusted: do not accept them as a confidant, a close companion, or worse: a spouse! If they lie about lying to you, that's even worse. Stay far away from these people once you realize that they feel comfortable lying to you.
9. They want the spotlight 100% of the time
This person wants the spotlight to be on THEM. When you go out, they need to be the hottest, funniest, most charming person in the room. When it's just you two, their stories have to be the most enlightening, entertaining, and enthusiastic. They need to get the guy, the laughter, and all the compliments. They cannot survive without it.
These people can come across as really charming, infectious and fun when you first meet them, but it slowly turns into an exhausting task just to hang out. If this describes you, try to take the spotlight off of yourself for awhile: figure out WHY you feel the need to have attention 100% of the time. If it describes someone you know, maybe take a step back from the relationship for awhile. Remember, you deserve a little bit of the spotlight too!
10. They always have to get their way
Toxic people ALWAYS have to get their way, and if they don't, they'll be rude, passive aggressive, or annoying. Even if they realize that they're being annoying, the toxic person will still whine, threaten to leave, or do anything to get their way.
This person always has to get their freaking way, and yes, it is seriously SO annoying.
But do you know what's worse? The people who put UP with this behavior! Don't give into their threats. Let them follow through and don't fear them! Don't be an enabler. It's time to stop. Tell that person the words their parents never could and say "NO." Stop enabling that toxic person!
I have WAY more of these signs, and will definitely include them in a future blog post, but for this week, let's stop at 10. I'm exhausted just thinking about all this toxicity.
Remember, just because these things happen once or twice doesn't mean that that relationship is negative: mistakes and sins happen. However, if you notice a chronic unbreakable pattern surrounding these types of issues, I would recommend that you try to get out of that relationship or set some firm boundaries.
Finally I would also like to say that if you read this list and feel convicted, consider the idea that maybe YOU'RE the toxic person! But have no fear, we can always change and improve! If you do these toxic behaviors, I recommend that you seek counseling and prayer. Choose to be better: you don't have to be toxic forever.
And to my enablers out there, you're 50% of the problem: you just don't realize it. Don't let people treat you this way and stop enabling their crappy behavior. I did it, and so can you.