The term #RelationshipGoals always seems to be trending all over the internet. Because of this, we have thoughts and ideas of what exactly the image of a perfect relationship is, and in turn, find ourselves unhappy in the ones that we're in.
As humans, it's obviously normal to want to be in a relationship. It's normal to fall in love, to want your partner's affection and attention. However, because we are in love, there are times when we see particularly harmful traits as cute ones, especially when you're younger and are just starting out on the dating scene. So, how exactly do we differentiate being in love, and being in a harmful kind of love?
- They want to spend time together…all the time.
This causes you to drift apart from everything, as well as everyone around you. Wanting to spend time together is normal, especially at the start of a relationship, but you have to consider the other people in your life, too. Make sure your family and friends don't become strangers when you are in a relationship. Regardless of how in love you are with someone, your world should never revolve around just them.
- They're abusive.
Obviously, this is the most common and noticeable sign of being in a toxic relationship. Lots of people classify abuse simply to what they see on the media: having your hair pulled, getting kicked around, being screamed at, but the case is not always the same for everyone.
There are two kinds of abuse: verbal and physical. The physical kind of abuse is easier to detect since it's noticeable especially when the abuse manifests on one's appearance. This is when your partner touches you in any way that hurts you, and even when they know that it hurts, they still continue to do so. The verbal kind of abuse doesn't exactly leave a mark on your skin, but they can hurt just as badly, and leave a much deeper scar within you that only you will manage to feel.
These are two things that you need to watch for, because even the smallest things—playful punches, incessant teasing—may develop into something more at any moment.
- They isolate you from the important people in your lives.
Being jealous is normal in any relationship. If you feel a nervous twinge in your stomach when your partner meets up with their ex or goes out clubbing, it's understandable. However, if you're getting upset about your partner hanging out with their family, or with their best friends, then that's where the problem starts.
Plenty of people nowadays say, "Hey, I don't want you seeing this person," "I don't want you to wear that because I don't trust others to keep their hands off of you," or "I trust you, I just don't trust him/her." It's like being told that you need the permission of another person to live and enjoy your life. Yes, there are times when they're just saying that because they're worried about your safety, but you also need to know when to draw the line.
- They threaten or guilt trip you into staying with them.
Abusers love dominance. They like knowing that you'll stay with them, no matter what. This gives them the idea that they can control their partner, and have them be with them whenever and wherever they want. This may develop into something more serious when they start threatening you or the people around you; telling your friends to stay away from you, telling your family you're too busy for dinner, or telling you to stay with them even if you have more important matters to attend to, lest they do something they might regret.
There are definitely times you'll want to break up with them, and instead of allowing you to do so, your partner may try to keep you by saying things like "If you leave me, I'll kill myself" or "I'll be nothing without you." With that, they trap you, and are putting above their own feelings above your own. If this is the case, don't stay with them. Don't stay with someone that's making you miserable.
- They blame you for their own bad behavior.
If your partner tells you that the only reason they act the way they do is because of you, they are blaming you for their own harmful ways and urges. Phrases like "I'm just doing this for you," or "It's because of the way you act!" are things they say so that you're forced to take the blame, and in turn, they don't have to feel bad about their own terrible behavior.
When your partner blames their actions on you, or anyone else for that matter, they're finding a way out of feeling the guilt of all that they've done. They tell you they're not doing anything wrong and sadly, a lot of the time they believe that. They really do think that they've done nothing wrong, or that what they're doing is normal, or that it's "not that bad." As someone who loves them, it should be you who should show them what exactly they're doing wrong, and you should know when to draw the line.
If your partner is showing—or is starting to show—any of these things, don't be afraid to call them out on it. It's your responsibility to them as both their partner and as a person to teach them how to be better themselves. The most important part of a relationship is being able to trust and love each other wholeheartedly, and you should be able to tell your boyfriend or girlfriend anything. Always remember that.