Relationships are tough, but there is a distinction between when a normal couple is going through a rough patch and a truly toxic one.
Dr. Lillian Glass, a psychology expert who says she coined the term in her 1995 book Toxic People, defines a toxic relationship as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
What are the signs of a toxic relationship? According to Glass, persistent unhappiness is the first warning sign of a toxic relationship. If a relationship stops bringing joy, and instead consistently makes you feel sad, angry, anxious or “resigned, like you’ve sold out,” it may be toxic, Glass says.
Glass says that some things can be worked on, but sometimes the hard truth is that walking away is for the best.
“I really am a firm believer that you have to try to work everything out and understand why the person is toxic. You may be able to live with it — but on the other hand, you may not,” Glass says. “[If you can’t], you’ve got to get out of it. We have to not put ourselves in that position.”