Even though you may not immediately realize it, you may be in a toxic relationship. After all, some partners are better at hiding their toxic behaviors than others. However, once you start to learn what these behaviors are, you’ll be able to recognize the signs of a toxic partner.
Jacqueline Newman, New York City-based divorce and matrimonial law attorney and author of the double book series Soon-to-Be Ex for men and women, believes there may be certain signs that you refuse to see, but are obvious to your friends and family around you. “One example may be the incessant need to apologize to someone who seems to be unpredictably and perpetually upset by little things you say or do,” she tells Bustle. “You may think or feel like things are OK, yet those closest to you notice that you don’t have the same happiness and zest for life that you usually do. From your perspective, you think that you’re on a cruise, but your loved ones think you’re on the Titanic.”
Of course, once you start to see the signs, you’ll then need to determine what to do next — perhaps you and your partner will see a therapist or you’ll decide to end the relationship. Below, divorce lawyers weigh in on signs of a toxic partner.
1.) They Cause You To Feel Self-Doubt
One sign of toxic behavior is if your partner insults you, but disguises the insults in constructive comments about your appearance, Newman says. “For instance, ‘You would look so much better if x, y, or z,’” she says. “Then, the comments graduate to making you the butt of a joke that is often followed up with ‘You know I’m kidding — don’t be so sensitive.’” Eventually, the comments get worse, making you feel bad and cause you to doubt yourself, she says.
As a result, you may say to yourself, “If the person who is supposed to love me thinks these things about me, what must everyone else think?”
2.) They’re Controlling
“Many toxic relationships stem out of one person’s desire to control the other person,” Newman says. As you can imagine, controlling behaviors are exhibited in many different ways.
“A person may exert this control over the other person by being emotionally, physically abusive, and/or financially abusive,” Newman says. “If there is always an unequal balance of power in your relationship, you may want to examine whether you are in a healthy partnership.”
3.)They Are Overly Critical
Although you may appreciate some constructive criticism — at least now and then — if your partner is overly critical, it’s a warning sign. “No one likes to hear negative comments about themselves all the time,” Pawnee A. Davis, a divorce attorney in Maryland and Washington D.C., tells Bustle.
4.) They Try To Alienate You From Friends And Family
Within your relationship, do you have freedom to see your family and friends, or does your partner prohibit it? The latter is another sign of toxic behavior. “Let’s face it — in-laws can be annoying and everyone has that one old high school friend that you have known forever and adore, but your partner cannot understand why,” Newman says. “That is normal. What is not normal is when your partner tries to restrict you from speaking to or seeing your family and friends.”
She says that even if they don’t want to spend time with these people, your partner needs to respect the fact that you do. “They cannot try to keep you all for themselves,” she says.
5.) They Lack Compassion And Empathy
Part of being in a supportive and loving relationship is showing compassion and empathy toward one another. But if that’s missing, it’s a sign that your partner may be toxic. “Without compassion and empathy, your partner has nothing stopping them from doing and saying things that are intentionally harmful to you,” Davis says.
By NATALIA LUSINSKI