We all love fairy tales about love from childhood. As we grow up, rom-coms, cheap melodramas, and paperback novels feed our cravings for drama and passion. These genres portray love at first sight, building relationships at cosmic speed, extreme manifestations of feelings, and other (not very healthy) romantic impulses. The haste and exaltation of your partner’s actions should alert you. If they swear eternal love on the first day, want to know absolutely everything about you, constantly call or message you, demand immediate answers… these are the telling signs that you could fall into the trap of a toxic relationship.
Dissolving into each other at the very start of your romance, spending every free moment together, and forgetting about the rest of the world is quite natural. However, normally, this is a passing stage that doesn’t interfere with other aspects of your life. Gradually you start to spend time apart, see your friends, find time for relatives, get on with your favorite hobbies and implement interesting projects at work. If for several months your life literally revolves around one person, you should be alarmed.
Jealousy is natural for many people. Though sometimes it can take a pathological form and have devastating consequences. Psychologists say that the signs of extreme jealousy are usually visible at the very beginning of a relationship. Your partner can hide behind a facade of care and sincere interest, wanting to know where and with whom you are spending time; constantly reminding you about themselves with calls and messages; carefully examining your social media profiles; quickly memorizing the names of your friends and colleagues; meeting you after work and paying unexpected visits to your home. Over time this awareness becomes threatening. A pathologically jealous person sees traces of infidelity everywhere. A quarrel can be provoked by a simple comment or even alike under a friend’s photo on Instagram, not to mention having lunch with a colleague.
In a healthy relationship, both partners are supportive of each other. They draw positive energy from new activities and victories, go through career problems and personal issues together, and help one another in moments of weakness. The abusing partner, on the other hand, suppresses your confidence in your abilities. They doubt you, criticize you, make fun of you, and put you in a bad light in front of your friends.
We can all inadvertently hurt a loved one with doubts or criticize their actions. Normally, we don’t use harsh words and quickly realize that we have gone too far. We listen to our partner when they point out our hostility and ask not to offend them. The abuser, however, doesn’t admit that there is a problem and accuses you of being oversensitive, using phrases like “You are winding yourself up” and “It’s only your imagination.”
When your relationship starts to feel like a rollercoaster, it’s time to stop and think it over. If your partner wants to leave, then offers to move in; insults you but immediately apologizes; cries during an argument and then starts to behave very calmly; makes big but empty promises; all this signals a potentially violent relationship.
Such dangerous situations are not easy to discern. Potential violence is often hidden behind skillful manipulations and nice gestures. Still, the symptoms described above can be important signals that you should end your relationship. Experts don’t recommend abruptly cutting off the connection with an abusive partner. Enlist the support of your loved ones and/or contact a specialist who can suggest the safest way out of the relationship.