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Recognizing Toxic Relationships

teeanage girl pondering how recognizing toxic relationships can be beneficial

When your teen starts dating, it opens up a whole new world of things to worry about. Teen relationships are fraught with drama and emotion, and that’s normal. But when you suspect typical teenage behavior is becoming toxic, it’s time to step in. If you need help explaining how destructive and dangerous a toxic relationship can be, relationship counseling programs for teens can help. Call Imagine Nampa at 888.503.4604 today for more about the counseling services we offer.

What Are Toxic Relationships?

Being in a healthy relationship doesn’t mean you never disagree with your partner or that you don’t experience difficult times in your relationship. It means you feel good about yourself when you’re with the other person and feel generally understood and supported.

Toxic relationships can look good on the outside, but they make you feel drained and unhappy. Instead of feeling like your partner sees the best in you, you may feel they are constantly focused on your flaws. Eventually, instead of looking forward to seeing them, you begin to dread your time together or feel drained afterward.

Toxic Relationship Red Flags

Toxic relationships don’t just happen between romantic partners. They can exist between friends and family members too. The level of toxicity can be subtle, like “teasing” about an issue the other person knows is sensitive, or obvious, like physical abuse. When you’re the person in an unhealthy relationship, it can be difficult to notice the signs.

Controlling Behavior

It’s natural for teens to want to spend every possible minute with their boyfriend/girlfriend, but in some cases, anxiety over separation could be a red flag. Signs of controlling behavior can be subtle and include:

  • Blaming a partner for their actions
  • Frequent criticism
  • Keeping score of mistakes or perceived slights
  • Manipulating with guilt or anger
  • Positive attention is conditional or “earned”

If you notice these or other signs of controlling behavior in your teen’s relationship, it’s time to be concerned.

Constant Stress

Young love can be dramatic at times, but if a relationship is causing your child to be in a constant state of stress, that is not normal. Whether it’s stress over not spending time with the person or a general inability to handle stress, the relationship may be taking a toll on your teen’s mental and physical health.

Lack of Self Care

A teen who is feeling stressed, fearful or insecure due to a toxic relationship may withdraw emotionally. You might notice neglect in grooming, giving up hobbies and activities they enjoyed or even giving up meaningful friendships to be available to their partner.

Is Your Teen Experiencing Emotional Abuse?

Toxic relationships can lead to a breakdown of self-esteem and self-confidence. Verbal and emotional abuse are only a step away from physical abuse. If you believe your child is in a toxic relationship — or is the toxic person in a relationship — you can take steps to help.

Start by being supportive. Forbidding your teen to see the other person will likely worsen the situation.

Show your concern without appointing blame. Instead of saying, “I don’t like how Tommy disrespects you,” try, “You deserve to be treated with respect.” That type of positive statement keeps the line of communication open and gives your teen more to think about. Focus on behaviors like too-frequent texting instead of saying, “I think Mary is too controlling.”

Accept that your child is telling the truth. Like adults, teens in toxic relationships may blame themselves for the dysfunction or fear that they won’t be believed if they seek help. Showing doubt may cause them to shut down.

Find Help for Teens in Toxic Relationships at Imagine Nampa

At Imagine Nampa, we understand it’s not always easy to help your own child. Professional mental health services like those available at Imagine Nampa can help teach your teen how to recognize relationship red flags and what to do if they are in a toxic relationship. If you’re concerned about your child’s relationship health, call Imagine Nampa today at 888.503.4604.