When something is toxic, it seeks to spread its toxicity as far and wide as it can. Viruses, toxic gases—they all attempt to permeate everything around them. Toxic relationships are like that, too. So if you are in one, and you think you are “managing” it or “containing” it, you aren’t. It’s affecting everything and everyone around you to varying degrees. It is affecting your work. It is affecting your friendships. It is affecting your health. You don’t get to rule your toxic relationship: it rules you. That’s just what the nature of a toxic relationship is. Sadly, many such relationships leave people without any friends when it’s over. The relationship took everything they had, including the time and attention they should have given to friends. Are you being a bad friend while tending to your trash fire of a relationship? Is your toxic relationship harming your friendships? (Hint: yes it 100-percent is. Here is how).
You schedule around him
If a friend asks you to do something, even if you are free to do it, you don’t give an answer until you’ve checked first with your partner to make sure he didn’t want to maybe do something at that time. So the friend who does care enough about your time to plan something in advance gets the shaft in favor of your partner who doesn’t make plans with you.
And you hold off on scheduling
If your partner is being wishy-washy about giving you an answer regarding plans, you are wishy-washy to your friend. You ask if you can get back to her. You don’t want to plan something with her, and then, after the fact, have your partner say he wanted to hang out during that time. So you won’t give your friend an answer until mere hours before the time she wanted to hang out, and she can’t plan her life.
You’ll cancel to see him
Oh, and if your partner does decide—once you’ve already made plans with a friend—that he wants to spend that time with you, you cancel on the friend. That sucks because now it’s too late for her to make other plans.
You’ll cancel to fight with him
You’ve cancelled on plans with a friend not even to do something fun with your boyfriend but to fight with your boyfriend. If a fight has been in progress (as they often are in toxic relationships), and he says you two need to talk right now, you run to him. And bail on everyone else.
It’s all you talk about
When you hang out with friends, you just talk about this relationship. You just ask them to help you work out whatever fight you’re in that day. They’re talking about something else, and you’re just waiting for them to stop talking about that so you can talk about your relationship.
If you don’t talk about it, you don’t talk
If you try to not talk about the relationship with friends then…you just don’t talk. It totally consumes your thoughts so you really can’t come up with anything else to say. The best you can do is to remain quiet.
You’ll run rudely late, due to a fight
You’ll run unacceptably late to plans with a friend because you’re fighting with your boyfriend. You’ve done things like park your car at the restaurant where you are meeting your friend in five minutes, taken a call from your boyfriend, then sat in the car and fought with him for 45 minutes, leaving your friend sitting alone in the restaurant.
You’re a double-date nightmare
Double dates with you and you and your partner are nightmares for everyone else. You basically always either arrive in a fight or get in a fight in the middle of the evening that ruins the night.
You’re causing strife in others’ relationships
You’re causing issues in your friends’ relationships, by the way. Their partners don’t want to double date with you and your man, but you two try to force double dates on others in some attempt to pretend you’re a happy, healthy couple.
You get advice that you don’t take
Your friends give you advice (because you ask for it) on how to handle this relationship. They tell you to stand up to him. They tell you to leave him. You say you will and then…you don’t. Which makes them feel you don’t really respect their opinions.
You’re texting him when you’re with friends
When you are with friends, you’re texting your boyfriend. You’re probably fighting. Even if you aren’t fighting, he gets angry if you don’t text back promptly so there you are, texting with him throughout lunch with your friends.
You’re stepping out to fight on the phone
You step out of plans with friends to fight on the phone with your partner. You’ve left a birthday party to have a half-hour phone fight with him. You’re never really present at plans with friends.
You’re passing on the abuse
Your partner is irritable around you and critical of you. So, now, you’re irritable around your friends and critical of them. You’re passing on the abuse.
You’re forcing everyone onto his plan
If a big group has vague plans like…let’s go to dinner and a bar…you push everyone to go to the restaurant and bar your boyfriend wants to go to. You’ll make everyone do what he wants, all to avoid making him upset.
You’re not yourself anymore
You’re really just not yourself anymore. You don’t crack many jokes. You aren’t a good listener (you’re too busy worrying about your relationship). You never seem relaxed. You aren’t the friend that your friends signed up for.