You know the friend who is always fighting with his/her girlfriend? Or the one who is constantly answering to his/her boyfriend? Or maybe you, yourself, are a mixed bag of both. I have tough news, news that you don’t want to hear, but I’m telling you because I love you. It may be time to break up. If you’re miserable, and trying in vain to make things work, it’s OK to stop working so hard. You deserve more. Yes— relationships are hard, but they shouldn’t be only hard. And in all the time you’re nervously rumbling in your mind over the conflicts you’re having with your boyfriend or girlfriend right now, you’re losing irreplaceable time to focus on you and dig your toes into the brilliant and vibrant things life has to offer you—things that, in the presence of strained relationships, are difficult to see and experience and be thankful for.
It’s not always easy to decipher when a relationship has turned toxic. It’s sometimes a slow and steady sickness that subtly seeps into your hearts and minds. Other times it’s a sudden hurricane of toxicity and heartache. Whichever way the tides have turned, it’s time to make a clean break from the relationships that hold you back, hurt your heart and disempower you.
Dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships take on my many forms, but here are five signs it may be time to call it quits:
You’re not allowed any time for yourself
Having time to unwind and decompress on your own terms is key in being balanced and mentally safe. If your partner is jealous of time you attempt to carve out for yourself to be alone, that is a huge red flag. Equally, if you find yourself unable to be independent from your partner, you may be establishing some gnarly codependent tendencies. If you can’t spend time to recharge on your own for fear that your boyfriend or girlfriend is going to get irritated or resentful, they’ve crossed a boundary of honoring self-care that makes them incapable of loving you in healthy ways.
You’re always, always, always fighting
Sure, we all argue with our partners. It’s really, really difficult to spend a large amount of time with just about anyone. Factor in stressors like school, career and finances, and arguments are bound to pop up here and there. But the full-out shouting, constant disagreeing and emotionally taxing fights are a serious symptom of dysfunction, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you find yourself unable to find some middle ground, or your partner is unwilling to meet you half-way, it may be time to start reevaluating if this relationship is worth it. A spat here and there is normal, but if you argue more than you cuddle, thing’s aren’t healthy.
ALL your friends aren’t supportive of your relationship
Sometimes we just have no-so-close friends who don’t support us, but your really close besties—the ones who have your back—want you to be happy. And if their alarm bells are going off about your relationship, you need to listen up. If the general opinion of your partner is negative, it’s time to step back and really think about what that means. Sometimes we get so close to a problem that we lose track of what is actually happening, and friends have an incredibly unique gift of being able to sniff out the toxicity before we may even notice it. Listen to your friends, they love you, and want the best for you. If they think your partner is a jerk, what does that mean?
The biggest ties that bind you are financial
As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve allowed certain luxuries keep me in relationships longer than they should have. It’s an unfortunate part of my past. Sometimes we live with partners, or we have shared finances, and the prospect of separating seems really daunting, if not impractical. If your partner is financially responsible for both of you (or if you feel responsible for your partner), it can sometimes be used as a means to control you and your independence, and that is, without question, abusive. We all have different terms for our relationships, and if you’ve come to a financial agreement together, there is nothing wrong with that. But if you are feeling controlled, limited by or influenced by finances, you need to figure out if money is being used against you.
You’ve become their only lifeline—on call 24/7
Partners should be like a best friend you also get to make out with, but no one should be a 24-hour support system to their significant other. Not only is it unfair to expect you to provide that type of unending emotional support, it also might be a sign of codependence, and codependence paralyzes everyone, even if it feels comforting in the moment. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is always having a bad day, expects you to drop everything to tend to their needs or resents you if you need a little breathing room, these are all signs of a toxic relationship. I know it may come off as harsh, but a partner is not a mental health counselor. You deserve to experience the highs and lows together, not live in a constant state of crisis intervention. And when you’re running on empty, there’s no way you can possibly fill someone else up. That doesn’t mean you should drop your partner if they’re going through a hard time, but you can encourage them to seek outside help. And if they’re resistant to that, and would rather place the burden entirely on you, then it’s time to put your foot down. It’s not healthy for either of you.
This is hard stuff, I know. It’s scary and uncertain and dark and sad. But your heart and mind deserve health and stability, and if your relationship is taking more than you can give, it’s time to do some real soul-searching. Through it all, please remember: you are loved, and this will get better.
If you feel you are in danger or need someone to talk to visit loveisrespect.org