A romantic relationship should be a source of life and vitality, but sometimes, it’s just the opposite. Sometimes, it can drain you, deplete you, and damage you over time.
And sometimes, a relationship can even kill.
This isn’t a quick, dramatic event. This is a slow decline brought on by years spent in a toxic relationship. This is the gradual breakdown of body and mind, caused by stress, financial problems, depression, and too much sacrifice.
And worst of all, you may not even realize it’s happening.
It’s easy to give our romantic partners a pass when it comes to our own unhappiness, but this is a mistake. Sometimes, we mistake abuse and mistreatment for the typical ups and downs of a relationship—and others times, we simply think that we deserve it.
No one deserves that.
The pain of a long-term, toxic relationship can take years to heal, and so it’s better to get out sooner than later. To help you recognize this, let’s look at a few traits of a deadly relationship, and how it could be killing you.
It’s Stressing You Out
Stress kills. Literally.
Are you and your romantic partner always fighting? Is your partner suspicious of you, possessive, or vengeful? Has the relationship become a constant tug-of-war, where every argument is about winning rather than about finding a solution that makes both parties happy?
If this sounds like your relationship, you’re probably experiencing chronic stress as a result.
This affects your body by causing the release of stress hormones into your bloodstream, which normally helps you to respond to dangerous situations quickly. But your body isn’t designed to operate in this mode indefinitely.
When stressed, your fight-or-flight response goes into overdrive, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension, and releasing fatty acids and blood sugar for an immediate energy boost.
Over time, this causes damage to bodily tissues which results in inflammation. You’ll find yourself with headaches, a sore neck, ulcers, and a decreased sex drive. Your aging will begin to accelerate, and certain parts of your brain will shrink, leaving you less able to concentrate and memorize.
Eventually, this will kill you—mostly likely through coronary disease related to inflammation and high blood pressure.
If you’re in a relationship that’s causing you constant, uncontrollable stress, get out. Just go. It’s not worth the slow decline that chronic stress will bring.
It’s Making You Poor
Financial hardship affects every part of your life, including your health. Being in a relationship that makes you constantly poor is a recipe for physical decline.
Perhaps your partner is always borrowing money from you. Or maybe the two of you live together, and you find yourself paying all of the bills—bills you can’t quite afford.
Whatever the reason, if your partner causing you financial hardship, and isn’t willing to try to remedy the situation, it may be time to leave. Remaining in dire financial straits can kill you.
Think about it: not having the money for healthy food, healthcare, education, and housing all directly affect your health. When you can’t afford fruits and vegetables, you’ll go for ramen and other cheap, carbohydrate-loaded foods. When you can’t afford health insurance, you’re less likely to go to the doctor for preventative care. When you can’t afford a safe, clean place to live, you find yourself in squalor.
Any one of these things could shorten your life, but together, they amplify each other, putting you into a downward spiral from which escape is difficult.
Don’t allow a toxic relationship to put you into undue financial hardship—get out before your health starts to falter.
It’s Ruining Your Mental Health
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health—the two are intrinsically linked. That’s why a toxic relationship that causes chronic depression and anxiety can have deadly consequences.
Are your partner’s words and actions constantly making you feel bad about yourself? Are they making your self-image an overwhelmingly negative one? Is your relationship weighed down by emotional abuse, distrust, and negativity? Do you never feel good enough for your partner?
If these sound familiar, your toxic relationship is putting your mental health at risk.
When you’re constantly being criticized, manipulated, or yelled at, you’re not enjoying your life. In fact, this kind of environment is one in which depression and anxiety thrive—both of which can lead to self-destructive coping behaviors, stress, and even suicide.
If you find yourself being mistreated by your partner in these ways, and your thoughts constantly dwell on fear and sadness as a result, your mental health is suffering. If your partner isn’t willing to change his or her ways, it may be time to cut ties and go be good to yourself.
It’s Causing You to Sacrifice too Much
Think about what you’re giving up for your partner. Sacrifice is a normal part of any healthy relationship, but when you start giving up things that are essential for your health, there’s a problem. If you can’t grow as a person, retain your own identity, and participate in activities which promote a healthy mind and body, you’re in a toxic relationship that could shorten your lifespan.
Ask yourself if your partner is controlling. Does he or she rule your schedule? Have you given up going to the gym for the sake of the relationship? Are you no longer engaged in your passions and hobbies? Is your partner preventing you from growing as a person by monopolizing your time because they’re afraid that you’ll “grow out of” them?
This kind of relational dictatorship can have deadly consequences.
When you sacrifice your identity in a relationship, you experience all of the deadly effects we’ve discussed thus far. You’ll be stressed because you’re not able to live your life. You may miss out on financial opportunities because your partner demands all of your time and attention. You’ll find yourself anxious and depressed because of wasted potential.
In short, you’re not just sacrificing your identity to this kind of toxic relationship. You’re sacrificing your life.
You deserve to be you, so if you find yourself sacrificing too much of yourself for your partner, it’s time to have a discussion. And if they’re not willing to budge?
You know what to do by now.
If any of this rings true for you, sit down with your partner and have a talk. Your partner may not be aware that they’re having these effects on you, and may be horrified and willing to change.
But sometimes this isn’t the case. Sometimes, you have to walk away so that you can embrace life. Toxic relationships can cause enormous damage to your mind and body, and the longer you remain, the longer it will take to undo this damage.
So free yourself, embrace good health, and find a relationship that makes you feel alive.