couple arguing over dinner, relationship problems, by healthista

5 signs you’re in a toxic relationship

Relationship problems can manifest in many shapes and sizes. But how do you stop them from destroying your relationship? Clinical psychologist Linda Blair reveals five signs that you shouldn’t ignore, and how to resolve them.

Being in a relationship shouldn’t have to feel like a vortex of chaos, arguments, and worry, although it seems to be the case for many couples. Clinical psychologist Linda Blair reveals that the key to making a relationship work is trust, and she highlights that distrust is the most toxic element that could destroy a relationship. Here are Blair’s five signs of distrust, and how to resolve them.

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1. You look through their messages (or they check yours)

Girlfriend looking through boyfriends phone, relationship problems, by healthista

Blair says that if a person is checking their partner’s messages, or going through their pockets without their permission, then these are signs that the relationship is riddled with paranoia and distrust. If you find that you have fallen into these behaviours, or you are aware that your partner has, then it an issue that needs to be addressed.

How do you resolve it? – Blair suggests that an affective method of confronting these behaviours is to sit down with your partner and discuss the problem. Perhaps you need to confess that you have been looking through his text messages, or maybe he has been the one looking through yours, either way, it is vital that issue needs to be addressed face to face.

an affective method of confronting these behaviours is to sit down with your partner and discuss the problem

As these types of discussions could cause tempers to flare, Blair says that it’s a good idea to arrange to have the conversation in a public place that you both enjoy, like a restaurant, or a café. That way you’re both more likely to remember the rules of socially acceptable behaviour, and it will help to keep the discussion under control. She explains that it will also be more likely that the conversation results in a constructive outcome.

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Couple having conversation over cofee, relationship problems, by healthista

Discussing sticky issues with your partner in public can help keep the conversation under control

2. You don’t accept each other’s interests 

Blair says that resenting your partner’s interests is a massive warning sign that your relationship is on a rocky road. Perhaps you can’t stand their taste in music, or maybe you hate their obsession with sport, but if you find that you feel annoyed because you do not share the same interests, it could spell trouble.

resenting your partner’s interests is a massive warning sign that your relationship is on a rocky road

Signs to watch out for could include, feeling that your partners interests are ‘stupid’, feeling that they should share the same interests as you, or attempting to force your own interests on them.

Blair says that this type of behaviour is highly controlling, and that it can have a devastating effect on the long term capability of a relationship.

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boyfriend watching football as girlfriend disapproves, relationship problems, by healthista

The inability to accept your partner’s interests could damage your relationship

How do you resolve it? – Blair says that a good relationship would be one where you both enjoy what you like, and when you come back together you love talking about it.

For instance, arrange a day where you both spend time away from each other in order to enjoy your own interests or hobbies. At the end of the day you come back together and talk about your day. The most important thing to remember is that you have to be who you are, and you have to have your freedom for a relationship to last.

3. You can’t let them out of your sight (or vice versa)

Do you find that you instantly feel worried when your partner tells you they’re going out when you didn’t expect it? Or does your partner show anxiety or anger when you reveal your plans for a night out with the girls?

if you are open with your partner about how you feel, then they will be more likely to tell you the truth if you ask them where they have been

If you only feel relaxed when you know exactly where your partner is, or if you’re constantly texting to ‘check up’ on each other, then these are signs that there is little trust in the relationship.

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Woman looking through shutters, relationship problems, by healthista

Being unable to let your partner out of your sight illustrates that there is little trust in the relationship

How do you resolve it? Blair explains that in this situation you need to be open with your partner. Tell them why you feel anxious, and try not to demand information about where they have been, or what they have been doing. She says that if you are open with your partner about how you feel, then they will be more likely to tell you the truth if you ask them where they have been.

4. You’re haunted by their history

Blair says that a common cause of distrust is when one person knows that the other has cheated in the past. Perhaps your partner has admitted to being unfaithful to an ex-partner. Whatever the situation, constantly thinking about your partner’s history can severally damage a relationship, and it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

suspicious couple, relationship problems, by healthista

Distrusting your partner because of their history is a problem that can’t be ignored

How do you resolve it? Blair explains that it is not healthy to dwell on things your partner may have done in their past. But a good way to approach this issue is to talk to your partner about it in a public place. Try to be clear that then is not now of course, but explain that you feel like you can’t trust them.

an important part of this conversation is to ask your partner ‘how can you reassure me?’

Remember to clarify why you feel you can’t trust them, for instance, it could be because you know that your partner cheated on an ex to be with you. But an important part of this conversation is to ask your partner ‘how can you reassure me?’ Be clear that you want to work together as a team to work through the problem, and that you’re willing to overcome your trust issues.

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Blair says that if your partner is responsive, you will feel more assured because you know they heard you. If you have the courage to deal with the problem in the right way, then you’re already on the road to boosting your self-confidence.

Boyfriend comforts crying girlfriend on the couch, relationship problems, by healthista

Blair says that if you’re honest with your partner about your issues it can help to boost your self confidence

She points out that it’s normal to be curious, but it’s when the thoughts eat at you and you can’t let go or admit it, is when it will cause trouble.

5. You don’t feel equal

If there are times when you or your partner are made to feel unequal due to double standard behaviours such as, dictating what you wear but they are allowed to wear what they want, or expecting you to ask permission in order to go out, but your partner will never ask your permission in return. If this is happening then it is clear that there is a lack of equality and respect within the relationship.

the one who feels less equal will need to bring it to the attention of their partner

How do you resolve it? Blair suggests that if this is happening you need to ask yourself two things. Firstly, is it happening from both sides? Do you both expect one another to be report back on what happens on a night out when the other is not there? Are you both mindful of what type of clothes to wear in case it upsets your partner?

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Couple sitting on sofa, relatioship problems, by healthista

If you feel that your partner is treating you unequally, then you need to bring it to their attention in the right way

If it is a two-way situation, then it means that you are both on the same page, and you respect each other equally.

Secondly, ask yourself is it done in humour? For instance, it might be a common joke between both you and your partner that you don’t agree with their wardrobe choices. If this is the case then it’s also important that your partner accepts that these behaviours as harmless jesting.

your partner might have been treating you this way unintentionally

However, if neither of these is the case, then the one who feels less equal will need to bring it to the attention of their partner. Remember to keep in mind that your partner might have been treating you this way unintentionally, without realising that they’re doing it.

Remember: It’s not the what, it’s the why

There are many different behaviours that could be damaging to a relationship. But Blair stresses that when looking at behaviour it’s most important to look at the why, rather than the what. All of these behaviours illustrate distrust, but you have to ask yourself ‘why do I do it?’

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Question mark cards on wooden table, relationship problems, by healthista

The reasons behind the behaviour are more important than the behaviour itself

A longterm relationship will not work if both partners do not feel comfortable, respected, or feel that they’re allowed their freedom.

when you distrust others it means that you probably suffer from low self-confidence

Blair highlights that when you distrust others it means that you probably suffer from low self-confidence, and explains that it might mean you feel like you’re not good enough for your partner to stay with you. She suggests that if your partner struggles to trust you, then you should think about ways you can help their self-esteem, and try to be understanding about their feelings.

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She advises that there are two things that can help to build trust in a relationship. The first, and easiest solution, would be to sign up for some therapy to find out why your confidence in each other is so low, and why you feel that someone doesn’t think you’re worth their full commitment.

Young couple in therapy session, relationship problems, by healthista

Therapy can help you to understand why your confidence in each other is so low

The second, and possibly more difficult solution, would be to admit to your feelings to your partner in the right circumstances, and see if you can work through it together.

Ultimately, if you’re unable to resolve the trust issues in your relationship then it is unlikely that it will last.

Linda Blair headshot, relationship problems, by healthista

Linda Blair writes a weekly column, Mind Healing, for The Telegraph.

Her most recent book is The Key to Calm (sold on Amazon for £17.83)

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