Whether it’s a romantic partner or a best friend, toxic people can be draining.
Ceilidhe Wynn, an Ottawa-based matchmaker with Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, says people tend to stick with toxic friends or partners because they have convinced themselves it’s normal behaviour, or because they don’t want to be alone.
“Toxic people are manipulators and are very good at giving you what you need exactly when you need it,” she tells Global News.
“When they feel someone pulling away they do or say something to make that person rethink leaving.”
Relationship expert and couples therapist Nicole McCance says when it comes to friendships in particular, people put up with toxic friends because they feel a sense of loyalty.
“You’ve known them for years and you feel guilty [leaving them] if your families are also intertwined,” she says.
Below, Wynn and McCance share the most common signs you’re trapped in a toxic relationship.
#1 You feel more bad than good
McCance says one of the first things to consider is how often this person makes you feel both good and bad. “This includes how often you argue or if they put you down in a passive way.”
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If the relationship with the person is often stressful, it’s a sign you’re dealing with a toxic person.
#2 You’re hiding your problems from others
If you’re afraid to talk about your relationship with the person to a family member or friend, this is another sign that you could be in a toxic situation, McCance says. In a romantic relationship, if you think your parents or your friends hate the person you’re with, you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
#3 You’re putting more into the relationship
If you’re more responsive or enthusiastic than the other person, you may want to rethink things. Wynn says the discrepancy can be as simple as responding to their texts or e-mails right away, while they may take hours or even days to reply.
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“Or you spend all your time together talking about their problems, but when you have something you need to get off your chest they don’t have time for you or don’t want to listen,” she says.
#4 You’re obsessed with the “good ol’ days”
Ask yourself if you’re living in the past and are convinced that this toxic person will change.
In the case of toxic friendships, McCance says people hold on to feelings of loyalty, especially if these friends have known each other for many years. “If you’ve outgrown each other you shouldn’t feel guilty letting the friendship go.”
#5 This person is draining you
Wynn says to consider if being with them leaves you feeling tired or sad. Do you have to prepare yourself to be around them or psych yourself up for it?
McCance adds that a classic sign of a toxic person is one who loves attention and drama. They are often mad at you about something or like to pick fights.
#6 You question the relationship
If you often think about why the two of you are together or why you are friends with the person in the first place, it’s pretty clear you already know they are not good for you. “This is your subconscious telling you something,” McCance says.
#7 There’s a lack of trust
When you’re in a toxic relationship you often don’t trust the other person, Wynn says.
“Maybe you don’t trust them not to cheat, or you don’t trust them with your secrets or personal information. But the lack of trust goes both ways. Often toxic people don’t trust you because they are untrustworthy and they assume that since they are untrustworthy, you are too.”
#8 They don’t have your best interest
At the end of the day, this person doesn’t have your best interest at heart, McCance says. If you’re having a down day, they’ll make the conversation about them.
“This is more common in friendships. In a romantic relationship, the person may make you feel like you don’t matter. [The toxic person] doesn’t want to put themselves in your shoes.”
Is the relationship worth fixing?
McCance says it’s OK to leave the relationship.
“When it comes to love, ask yourself if you deserve this person and consider walking away, this is you fixing it,” she says.