When you guys first met, it was just like a Nicholas Sparks novel. (He brought you roses and truffles! He held the door for you! He watched trashy reality TV shows with you, even the really embarrassing ones!) But now that you’ve been together for a while, you can’t tell if your relationship hiccups are totally normal, or if the fights you’re having are unhealthy. Here, six ways to tell if you’re in a toxic situation.
You’re giving way more than you’re taking. We don’t mean material stuff and grand gestures, like those roses and truffles. It’s more about the thoughtful little things, like rubbing your back without being asked, taking the time to give your newly unemployed friend job advice, or picking up your favorite ice cream at the grocery store—just because. If you’re the only one going out of your way to do special things for your spouse, but finding he never reciprocates or returns the gesture (especially if you’ve already communicated that this is something you’d like), it might be time to give the relationship a closer look.
You feel anxious when you aren’t together. When you’ve spent a few hours away from your partner, you find yourself checking your phone, having trouble making decisions on your own and worrying that something’s going to go wrong. While you might have initially thought that this is a reason you should be together (everything’s so much better when it’s just the two of you, cuddling on the couch), this isn’t the case, Jill P. Weber, PhD, tells us. If you’re constantly second-guessing yourself, it could be a sign that your partner has a hold on your life—and the decisions you make—in a toxic way.
You argue about the same thing every week. He never takes out the trash. You’re always too tired to go out on Fridays. No matter what the actual topic of the argument is, most couples have a few cyclical fights that come up over and over. But if you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing without actually communicating what the core issue is or taking steps to resolve things for next time, your relationship is heading into toxic territory.
You keep score. “The ‘keeping score’ phenomenon is when someone you’re dating continues to blame you for past mistakes you made in the relationship,” explains Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Once you’ve resolved an issue, it’s an extremely toxic habit to unearth the same argument again and again, with the intention of one-upping (or worse, embarrassing) your spouse. So you went out with your friends last summer, had three too many Aperol Spritzes and accidentally broke a lamp. If you’ve already talked it out and apologized, there’s no reason for your spouse to continually bring it up every time you and your friends have a drinks date.
You haven’t been feeling like yourself lately. A healthy relationship should bring out the very best in you. When you and your partner go out dancing, you should feel like your confident, gorgeous and carefree self, not jealous, insecure or ignored. If you’ve been feeling worse off since you’ve been hanging out with your beau, there may be some toxic stuff going on.
You’re totally consumed by the relationship. You’re completely obsessed with your new crush—you can’t stop thinking about him, and everything you do is to make him happy. While these feelings can easily be confused with love, Dr. Weber explains that this is a major toxic relationship clue. “You need to recognize that this relationship is taking over your entire identity,” she says. The biggest red flag? If you start isolating your partner from your family and friends, out of fear that they “won’t understand” and might tell you to break up with him. Take some time to yourself and remember what used to make you happy before the relationship, then decide if there’s room for both you and your partner to continue to grow and thrive together.