Relationships between two individuals will, in all probability, always have ups and downs, rough patches and moments of disillusionment. However, a regular and consistent tussle, or psychological strain might indicate something quite else: that the equation has now reached what is popularly termed as a ‘toxic relationship’.

Toxic relations, as per Dr Lillian Glass who self-admittedly first used the word in her 1995 book ‘Toxic People’, terms the phenomenon 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”, as per a report in Time Magazine.

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Reportedly, there might be several reasons for toxicity to be emerging from a specific person in a relationship, including past physical and emotional trauma, as well as an imperfect combination or pairing between two people.

While the former can be of various types, such as childhood traumas, lack of support during formative years, or undiagnosed mental disorders, the latter is mostly a case of wrong match-up.

There are, however, several warning signs that might be able to indicate whether someone is in a toxic relationship:

1.      The first, and usually the most primary sign among all, is a persistent unhappiness. This can be felt in a relationship which, instead of bringing joy and fulfilment, brings a sad, angry, anxious or resigned mental state.

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2.      In case of a romantic relationship, the lack of balance and changes of pattern in other relationships, or how one spends their own time, can indicate whether the environment has become toxic or not, according to the report. Another way of noticing these changes could be through reflecting upon whether one feels negatively about doing things they enjoy in their own time.

3.      Continuous words of caution from friends and family would indicate a particularly dire scenario. An individual embroiled in any such relationship might possibly be the last one to realize the damages being done.

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4.      The most serious and pertinent signs of a toxic relationship is stated to be violence, abuse or harassment, in which case immediate action needs to be taken. The said stage reportedly indicates a later phase of an already toxic relationship, and might need intensive attention paid to it for a longer period of time.