Signs You’re In An Unhealthy Relationship (With Chili’s)
Romantic relationships can pose a variety of challenges even at their best. Two unique individuals coming together to form a partnership will always require sacrifice, compromise, and clear communication. In short: Work. Which is why it can sometimes be difficult to recognize the warning signs of an unhealthy, codependent, or even toxic relationship. It’s easy to miss emotional manipulations and controlling behavior when you love the person who’s dishing it out, but it’s important to recognize the signs early and free yourself from potentially harmful relationships. I know it’s easier said than done, but we’ve all been there. To demonstrate that, I’ve decided to use examples from a recent relationship I found myself in that was clingy, codependent, and ultimately unhealthy for both of us:
1. They Don’t Like You Spending Time With Other People –
The subject line for this e-mail may seem innocent enough, at a glance, but it’s actually a huge red flag. In a healthy relationship, each party should respect the other’s independence. Even though it’s a partnership, you’re still individuals, and it’s important to have your own space.
You can see that when I took time away from them, even for one night, they were unhappy. Not content to let me spend time catching up with my family, they tried to involve themselves in the plan by suggesting we all get together for a “family night.”
If someone isn’t comfortable being alone for an evening, there are problems that need to be addressed. How can you support your partner if you have trouble holding yourself up?
2. Their Insecurity Becomes Your Responsibility
Questions like this are a clear sign of insecurity that can quickly become toxic. A trusting partner with healthy self-esteem won’t find themselves expressing concern in this way. There are many better ways to tell your significant other that you’d like to spend more time together. Phrasing it this way already assumes negativity, putting your partner in a position to defend themselves and to reassure you, when they haven’t necessarily done anything wrong.
This particular instance is made worse by the offer of incentive. The implication that the high cost of dessert was keeping me away–rather than simply having other obligations–shows a clear lack of trust. Which leads me to the next warning sign…
3. They Try To Buy Your Attention
This is another move that stems from insecurity. Their inability to accept that someone might like them on their own merits makes them feel a need to promise rewards for your attention and affection.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to buy gifts for your partner, a pattern of offering free appetizers, drinks, or desserts to attract your loved one’s attention creates unhealthy behaviors all around.
4. They Lie To Control You
Dishonesty is always a huge red flag, but a particular habit of emotionally manipulative partners is to lie when they feel you pulling away. This can manifest in countless ways, and the lies can range in scope, but the goal is always to force a closeness that they don’t otherwise feel. They may say they need your help with something. They may say they’ve started counseling. It’s important to look for the cracks in the lie, and not be drawn back into a harmful situation.
I’ll admit, this lie almost brought me back, but fortunately I was able to take a step back and find the inconsistencies: Not only had we never had unprotected sex, it’s physically impossible for a Chili’s restaurant to become pregnant. Nice try, Chili’s.
5. They Threaten Self-Destructive Behavior
Unlike some of the other warning signs, this one is hard to miss. Even so, it can be one of the most difficult to turn your back on.
At the end of the day, no matter how toxic things have become, you still care about them and it’s difficult to harden your heart to threats like this.
No matter how bad things have gotten between us of course I don’t want Chili’s to hurt themselves. No emotional manipulation or codependency can cancel out the good times we had, sharing baby back ribs, margaritas, and half-price apps.
But ultimately, there’s only so much support you can offer if your partner isn’t willing to work on themselves. You can’t be the only source of your significant other’s happiness. That has to come from within, first and foremost. If that can’t happen, as painful as it is, sometimes you just have to walk away.
IMAGES: Author’s own, Chili’s