The dynamics of dominance in romantic relationships greatly affects how the couple functions. Even in stable relationships, there will usually be a dominant partner who makes most of the decisions and the subordinate partner supports those decisions.
Like dancing, there is always a leader and a follower. Although it can help the relationship function like a well-oiled machine, it comes with a price as excessive imbalance could cause both partners to grow apart and become distant over time. There is less need for intimacy when one partner is always making decisions for the couple. It could also result in bullying or abuse if the dominant partner becomes overly controlling and does not show respect for his or her significant other.
Very often, unhealthy habits in a relationship stem from lack of trust, communication, and safe boundaries, and a controlling partner isn't necessarily violent or overtly threatening. So here are 7 signs of unhealthy toxic behavior that you should watch out for and start making adjustments for a better relationship!
Isolating you from friends and family
It may start out subtly, but it is one of the first warning signs you should look out for. You may gradually find that your partner shows displeasure when you hang out with certain people in your social network, be it colleagues, friends or family members. Your partner may even try to turn you against the people whom you count on for support.
A healthy romantic relationship is only possible if both parties have full and well-functioning social support systems as it is important for emotional well-being. If you find yourself on the receiving end of such treatment, it is important to protect your boundaries and assert that these people are important to you.
Asking for permission before doing things
Is there an unspoken rule in the relationship that your partner must seek approval from you before doing something? If you find yourself fretting before making any decisions without your partner, then both of you need some breathing space in the relationship in order for it to grow well. For the dominant partner, ask yourself what are you most afraid of happening and can you see yourself trusting your partner to be fully accountable to you?
The blame-and-apologize game
Do you play this game where you are always at fault and having to apologize repeatedly to your partner? Are you the one who is always lashing out at your partner and have never said “sorry” to your loved one before even though you know it’s your fault?
If so, it’s time to end this game because such an attitude can be extremely detrimental to your relationship where one party is always the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong. Good communication is key - ensure both parties are heard and you work together to overcome the challenges as a team.
Lack of personal space
Do you inspect your partner’s phone and read his chat messages without asking him? Do you constantly interrupt her when she is spending time apart from you to hang out with friends? Do you try to manage what he or she wears daily or how he is spending his money down to the penny?
Your partner needs retain his own individuality to bring something special to the relationship and with that, he or she needs space to exercise his or her autonomy and values. As a partner, you need to be more trusting and appreciative of your partners being and value him or her in their own way.
Boyfriend or girlfriend “duties”
Do you expect your partner to carry all your shopping bags when you go out shopping? Do you expect your partner to cook or clean for you each time you leave a mess behind?
As the partner on the receiving end, do you get a say in what you want to do or does your partner demand that you carry those duties out just because you are a wife, husband, boyfriend, or girlfriend? Relationships should be based on respectful negotiations and making demands just because of the role you play is harmful to the mutuality that exists in good loving relationships.
Criticism can start small, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat, all the way to your personality or career choices. It may seem like your partner has good intentions and they may even try to rationalize why they are giving you such feedback. However, a constant barrage of criticism can certainly wear you down.
It is hard to feel valued and loved if everything that you do requires improvement in your partner’s eyes, and you may begin to wonder if you are deserving of unconditional love. Start replacing criticisms with kind remarks and you will start to see your relationship heal and blossom in wonderful ways!
Keeping score aggressively
Does your partner take note of each time you make a mistake and start removing privileges or making threats towards you? A healthy relationship is about mutuality and reciprocity, not about counting the beans and tallying every interaction by bearing grudges, demanding favors in return or requesting for a pat on the back. It will be exhausting to maintain a relationship that way! Remember that it is not easy to find love and cherish your partner by making him or her feel that you are there for them no matter what, regardless of what they did or did not do.
While your relationships may be showing some of the above signs, it does not mean that things will only continue to worsen and lose hope. Remember, good relationship skills require practice and over time you will get better at "dancing" with each other. Forgive and invest the time and hard work to make each other the better half in this relationship!