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Harm tactics

Could you be in a toxic relationship without being aware of it? Look for the signs and work on it. Shape up or ship out, say experts

sex and relationships Updated: Apr 25, 2018 20:13 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Rihanna,Chris Brown,Britney Spears
couple having argument - conflict, bad relationships. Angry fury woman screaming man closing his ears.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

From singers like Rihanna and Chris Brown to Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, several celebrities have admitted to being in relationships that have affected their physical and mental health. While some accepted to have been in a toxic relationship for a long period, others got out just in time.

But, it’s not only celebs who have been or are in toxic relationships, according to experts, many normal individuals end up in them too. So, how do you identify whether you are in a toxic relationship?

Read the signs

Dr Salma Prabhu, clinical psychologist, points out that a relationship can be called toxic if it slowly and steadily harms you and your partner. “Although some arguments are bound to happen in every relationship, if your bond is one where you are constantly fighting, you might be in a toxic relationship,” explains Prabhu.

Tanvi Sardesai, counselling psychologist, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, SL Raheja Hospital, says that fights in toxic relationships may include a lot of screaming, name-calling and blaming the other person. She says, “These fights may never get fully resolved if your partner is manipulative. He/she may blame you for everything that goes wrong, or make you feel guilty a lot and often. Disrespecting the partner frequently is another sign that your relationship may be toxic. Excessive possessiveness is another emotion to watch out for.”

Dr Alpes Panchal, founder, The Freemind Initiative and consultant psychiatrist, says that there are always signs indicating that something is wrong . He says, “People in toxic relationships can behave in irrational ways — like checking on the partner all the time, ignoring and not listening to their needs and opinions. These behaviours could have many reasons.

One must self-evaluate or have an open discussion (if possible) with the partner before jumping to the conclusion that this relationship is not going to work out.”

Deal with it

Experts suggest that while it is ideal to get out of a relationship where the partner is toxic, if you want to fix it, communication is important. Sardesai says, “Communicate with your partner without any fear — be assertive, learn to say no and learn to put yourself first. Avoid the blame game because it does not solve any issues. Do not maintain a score of what you and your partner have and have not done because it further dilutes the purpose of trying to resolve the differences. Also, you can consider seeking professional help for your partner.”

Accepting that you are in a toxic relationship may be difficult, but it’s important that you first identify the issue. Sardesai says, “Accept that your relationship is not healthy and getting out of it is of utmost importance. One such fallacy is the sunk cost effect — an inclination to keep investing in something that is not working, just because you have already invested a lot in it. The investment in relationships should be in the form of giving time to each other or emotional support, or both. In order to avoid failure, we often continue spending time or make efforts to try and fix what isn’t working, instead of cutting it loose and moving on.”

A relationship, which has gone toxic has definitely gone through a lot. Also, the affected parties would have made multiple efforts to save it. Prabhu says, “Don’t try to keep the relationship for the sake of others. Give your partner a time span to work on, with the help of a professional counsellor and get out of it gracefully.”