Psychological insights on relationships: rejections, breakups, making relationships happy, unhealthy dynamics, and general psychology.

How To Recognize Hidden Toxicity in Relationships?

Take these tests and do these things to uncover hidden toxicity in your relationship.

Hidden toxicity in relationship
  1. Your partner is trying to change your character
  2. Test your partner
  3. Is your partner trying to alter your life?
  4. Check if your partner is cooperative and willing to do things to make the relationship succeed.
  5. Choose something important to you that should be relatively easy for your partner to do for you, and ask them for it.
  6. Consider whether you feel bad or guilty when your partner isn’t around.
  7. Do you intuitively feel that something is wrong?
  8. Consider whether your partner controls your entire life.
  9. Does your partner often criticize and blame you?
  10. Talk to a professional or someone level-headed and kind-hearted.

1. Your partner is trying to change your character

  • If your partner often criticizes you for many different things, you are probably in an unhealthy relationship
Woman

The message you keep getting from your partner is that they don’t accept you for who you are and that you need to change.
Therefore, if your partner suggests by their behavior or verbally that you are constantly making mistakes and that your choices or your character are not good, you are in an unhealthy relationship. Of course, you will never be happy in such a relationship. No one can be bad all the time or live under the constant pressure of being judged as bad.
After all, when we are constantly being sent the message that we are bad, sooner or later we change our opinion of ourselves for the worse. It’s too much stress. So you’re going to have to admit that you’re bad or walk away from the relationship.

  • However, if the partner is specific and wants you to change a few things, it doesn’t necessarily have to be toxic, but something that genuinely bothers the partner.

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2. Test your partner

Couple in toxic relationship

As an experiment, think of five or ten things that seem reasonable to you (such as meeting up with friends, going to a party, buying someone a gift, etc.) and ask your partner what they think about them. If most of the responses are negative, you may have a toxic partner by your side who doesn’t think rationally but pursues their own agenda.

Of course, this behavior does not have to be directed against you. It may come from the partner’s character (the partner is of that nature), but such a relationship is still toxic for you.

Again, your choices are criticized in an indirect way. Also, it is not nice to live with a partner who has a bad opinion about everything you want or like. Or he must have a different opinion than yours.

You will adhere to their opinion and “disappear” as a person, so your partner will start managing your life. Or you will invest your energy in an exhausting and unnecessary struggle to get what you want. This way, you will weaken yourself for everything else.

If you care about your partner, try to talk to them about this and explain to them how you feel in a relationship where your choices are always criticized.

Couple in toxic relationship

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3. Is your partner trying to alter your life?

If you’ve been changing your life in many aspects since being with your partner, pay attention to that. It might be good for you if you were in a bad place before (perhaps you were an addict, an alcoholic, or a non-worker). Then the question arises: Why did that partner choose you? But that would already delve far into the analysis of the relationship.

However, if you were in a decent place and your partner was trying to change your life in every aspect, it may mean that you’re in a toxic relationship and they’re trying to control you.

  • Pay attention to things, like a partner forcing you to change your habits. Preventing you from doing things you like. Make fun of your choices. Be careful if your partner pressures you to change your friends, phone number, or social networks.

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Couple in unhealthy relationship

Of course, your partner may have valid reasons for that (and he should explain them to you), but there is also an argument: your choices against his or hers. As long as your choices don’t put you in danger, you can decide what you want. Even if your partner doesn’t like it. Because no one is in charge of another adult being, even if the other person makes a mistake. It’s just different needs and lifestyles.

But let’s face it, if your choices affect your coexistence negatively, then that’s another category, and you should consider your partner’s suggestions.

4. Check if your partner is cooperative and willing to do things to make the relationship succeed.

Suggest a few things your partner can do to make the relationship work. For example, I want you to find more time for me, to stop criticizing me constantly, and to buy me a present for Valentine’s Day. This is usually a good test of whether your partner wants a good relationship. If it turns out that your partner can’t meet even one of these simple but necessary requirements, your relationship is probably unhealthy.

These things serve to make us feel loved and respected by our partner. They serve so that the partner invests energy, finances, or effort in us so that we become valuable to them. Of course, we need to do the same in the opposite direction for the sake of balance in the relationship.

Man and woman breaking up

Remember, I’m not talking about not fulfilling more complex requirements, such as: Buy me an apartment. Do not be spoiled, and do not ask your partner for things that he cannot fulfill for you (unless you have already done a lot for your partner and want to achieve reciprocity).

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If you feel that you are in a toxic relationship because the partner cannot meet your demands, you may need to leave the relationship and find another partner.

I note that it is sometimes extremely difficult for people to meet demands that are against their nature or habits. Let’s tell an introvert to go with you to someone’s birthday party.

In that case, also find another partner, because such a relationship is pure bullying for both of you.

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5. Choose something important to you that should be relatively easy for your partner to do for you, and ask them for it.

Man and woman in bad relationship

For example, to go to your favorite club together or to engage in a shared activity that is important to you. If the partner refuses, it’s possible that they are either very stubborn (which is bad but tolerable) or they are not interested in your needs.

If people only do things for you that are easy for them, that doesn’t count as an investment in the relationship. Investing in a relationship is when people do things that are hard for them to do, but you are important enough to them to do them anyway.

A bad relationship can also be one where you constantly feel alone and unsupported in meeting your needs. It’s less toxic, but still not great.

  • You must carefully combine items four and five. What your partner can do for you and what you need them to do. The best way to achieve this is to be realistic.
  • I suggest you don’t hold back and put pressure on things that are not that important to you. You will only spoil many good moments in the relationship. Stick to the things that really matter to you.
  • There is, of course, the option that your partner is extremely lazy or always puts themselves and their needs first. In that case, it’s obviously not about toxicity, but… you need to live with a person who doesn’t care about your priorities. So even in that case, you are not getting what you need, so you should think about whether it is acceptable to you. When you’re not getting what you need, what the underlying reasons are is less important.

Don’t overdo your demands.

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6. Consider whether you feel bad or guilty when your partner isn’t around.

Toxic couple

That’s a good sign of being in a toxic relationship. When you don’t need your partner’s closeness to feel guilty, the feeling of guilt is so ingrained in you that it’s constantly present.

In the back of your brain, you are always thinking about your partner and how he will react. And for everything you do, you think about your partner and whether he or she would approve. Often, you don’t even know if you are guilty, but you feel guilty out of habit.

For example, if your partner dislikes you staying somewhere after work (assuming they get angry even when they know where you’ve been and you’ve sent them a message). And you go to the supermarket and feel like you have to hurry and feel guilty in some way; you probably have to deal with an unhealthy relationship.

Feeling guilty is a good indicator of a toxic relationship.

Some people live under so many prohibitions from their partner that they don’t even feel guilty anymore when they do things that they wouldn’t like. They can no longer bear the constant feeling of guilt, so they do it and suffer the consequences.

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Toxic releationship

7. Do you intuitively feel that something is wrong?

Among other things, intuition is given to us to recognize whether to stay or leave a place or a relationship.

How intuition works.

Intuition is a feeling that comes from our inner world, from our subconscious and unconscious world. Our inner world is made up of millions of pieces of information. When we have an experience, these millions of pieces of information together serve as a filter to determine whether that thing is good, bad, dangerous, or neutral for us.

Of course, intuition does not have to be well-learned. It can pull more in one direction. For example, if you lived in a house where you were treated badly as a child, your intuition is filled with millions of such pieces of information, so you can recognize everything as bad treatment.

Man

It is the same if you lived in a house where there was never any unpleasant treatment for you. You can easily think that there is no danger for you anywhere.

But, for the purposes of this text, if you’re not sure if your relationship is worth leaving – you can turn to your intuition.

If something doesn’t make sense to you, stick with it.

For example, if a partner insists on spending your life savings on something, you might want to fulfill their wish. But if you feel intuitively that it’s wrong and logic tells you that it’s wrong, it is probably wrong. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.

Maybe you should think about who you have beside you. I’ve taken this extreme and obvious example, but the combination of intuition and logic usually provides good assessments.

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8. Consider whether your partner controls your entire life.

Woman

Are your activities, money, and relationships with others under your partner’s strict control? If your partner sets the rules and you feel the need to justify yourself if you break those rules, you might be in a toxic relationship with a toxic person.

I don’t have to talk much about open control. If you are in complete control of your partner, the intention is to make you seem weak and dependent.

But especially beware of hidden control here. That is, the feeling that you have freedom, but actually, you have to consult with your partner about everything. It’s normal to consult with partners, but not for them to have absolute control over our lives.

Beware of hidden signs (rolling eyes, dissatisfaction, punishment, etc.) when you do something without consulting your partner. This way, they can easily establish control over you by making you stop doing things that provoke their punishment or dissatisfaction and relying entirely on their judgment.

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9. Does your partner often criticize and blame you?

Couple in toxic relationship

Take time to think about this. If all the negative things happening are your fault, that’s not good. For example, if your partner loses their job, somehow it’s your fault. You went for a walk, and it started raining; that’s your fault (why didn’t you check the forecast?). The night out didn’t go well, and your partner criticized you.

Remember, adults make their own decisions. No one forces an adult to do things they don’t want to do, so if something goes wrong, it’s their fault. Of course, you will be responsible for some things, but you can’t be responsible for external and unpredictable circumstances or others’ decisions and choices.

Also, a healthy relationship implies that approximately 50–50% of the blame is shared. If one person (you) keeps making mistakes, the other person (your partner) shouldn’t be with them. It is not the other person’s job to constantly correct them. Also, bringing guilt into someone else’s (your) life won’t do you any good.

Your partner can help you change things. The basic paradigm is for them to tell you what things he doesn’t like about you and to help you change them, not to constantly criticize and humiliate you. Such living conditions will destroy your ego.

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10. Talk to a professional or someone level-headed and kind-hearted.

Psychotherapy

Talking to friends and family is usually not a good idea because:

  • Friends speak from their own experience.
  • You haven’t presented the whole picture to them.
  • They may have a hidden or unconscious agenda.
  • They are probably not trained to solve such problems.
  • Maybe they want to end the conversation quickly and give you superficial advice.
  • They are biased because they love you.
  • They won’t give you good advice because they’re afraid to offend you, and you’ll be angry with them if they’re not on your side.
  • They’re emotional, so they won’t give you objective advice.
Man and woman are walking

A professional can assess the situation objectively and give you the best suggestions and techniques from practice to resolve the problem. It’s essential to explain the situation objectively and tell the therapist or consultant what you believe you’re responsible for in the relationship.

Try to spend half of the conversation talking about yourself and the other half talking about your partner so that the professional in front of you can get as objective a picture as possible.

If you realize you’ve found some of these signs of hidden toxicity in a relationship, consider leaving the relationship.

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