Adolescence is a stage in which our children begin to go out more, fall in love, and even have a partner. Sometimes, unfortunately, these relationships are marked by a series of unhealthy patterns and behaviors , such as jealousy, possessiveness or control.
And the fact is that the figures are alarming: according to data extracted from the Statistics on Domestic Violence and Gender Violence corresponding to 2021 published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), citing an article from rtve, in 2021 those under 18 who had suffered gender-based violence by their partners went from 514 (in 2020) to 661 (in 2021), which is 28.6% more than the previous year.
Gender-based violence is the most extreme case of any toxic relationship, but the relationship can remain toxic with more subtle behaviors: in fact, these behaviors are the starting point for more explicit violence, and are the most difficult to detect, precisely because of their subtlety (or because they are normalized in society).
Today we talk about eight warning signs that could indicate that your teenager is in a toxic relationship with a partner . What should we be on the lookout for and how can we help them get out of it?
Eight signs of a toxic relationship in adolescence
1. There is no respect
Mutual disrespect is another red flag in any relationship. And it is that respect is a fundamental ingredient in any healthy relationship, and it translates into behaviors such as: speaking and treating each other with respect, without raising the tone of voice, listening to the other, asking about what they need, about how they feel, taking an interest for his stuff…
On the other hand, disrespect would be just the opposite (although it can sometimes manifest itself in a “subtle” way); Thus, if, for example, your son and his partner speak badly to each other, yell at each other, do not listen to each other, do not respect each other’s friends or family, or even insult each other… we are talking about a great lack of respect that we cannot ignore or trivialize
2. There are control behaviors
We are referring to when your partner tries to control everything you do and asks you interrogative questions: “who have you been with?”, “where are you going?”, “who is that person?”, “what do you know him?”, etc. Also, when they look at each other’s phones or know each other’s password.
Through the use of social networks (and more so today, which have a central role in adolescence) many of these control behaviors are also evident.
For example, when the couple analyzes who they follow (and asks), see who they have liked, check if they chat with someone, what photos they upload, etc. And also, when he makes comments about the type of content he uploads (for example: “here you look too provocative”) and tries to exercise control over his behavior: “remove that photo”.
And beyond social networks, this control also appears in other contexts such as clothing, when he wants to control the clothes he wears, prevent the partner from wearing this or that thing, when he makes negative comments about how a certain thing looks on him. clothing, or comments about your body (for example: “you’ve gained weight, you’re not so pretty”, etc.). All this is verbal violence and a form of abuse, although it seems more subtle to us.
3. There is jealousy
Jealousy is a sign of insecurity. If this jealousy is manifest, excessive or appears in any situation, we are talking about another sign of toxicity in the relationship.
Jealousy often translates into checking and controlling behaviors to prevent “the other person from doing something.” Also, in behaviors such as not wanting you to meet another person , or making family plans instead of meeting him/her, etc.
Mistrust is also another sign of toxicity in relationships. Thus, when one of the two members does not trust the other (or the mistrust is mutual), this is evidenced, for example, through control behaviors.
For example: asking everything the other does, at all times, constantly looking at their social networks , even looking at their mobile phone, feeling jealous if they meet someone else if it’s not us…
If you notice that your adolescent son dedicates more and more time to his relationship with his partner and less to his other social life (his friends), to the family, to his hobbies , to studying… be alert too. Because isolation is another sign that could indicate the existence of a toxic relationship.
Keep in mind that in healthy relationships there is time for everything, and the other person never tries to get you to just do things with them . Relationships should be a plus in our children’s lives, something that adds to them and gives them value, and never subtracts from them.
6. Your son feels that he must always justify himself
If you have seen how your son always justifies himself with his partner, or gives many explanations of things that should not even be explained, this could also be a sign of a toxic relationship.
For example, if you explain in detail who your friends are , why you talk to that person, how you met them, how long you’ve been friends, why you dress X way and not another way, why you go to dance classes… and all this, in a context of being overwhelmed (that is to say, it is obvious that he does it because the other person does not get angry, and not because he really wants to explain it).
They are just examples, but all of them serve to illustrate this sign of control towards the couple, which is totally toxic.
7. Your academic performance has decreased
Another warning sign of a possible toxic relationship is the decrease in academic performance, as well as a lack of motivation for studies. If your son only “has time” to be with his partner , to chat with her on the mobile… and he forgets about his studies, it’s time to see what happens.
8. He has a hard time being himself
In any healthy relationship, the different members must be able to be themselves, without fear of feeling judged, questioned or ashamed.
Therefore, if you have the impression that your adolescent son has a hard time being himself in front of his partner , if he changes aspects of his personality to fit in, but in a forced way (either with his partner or with his partner’s friends) , if he tries to pretend something that he is not… be careful too, because this could be indicative of toxicity in the relationship.
My teenage son is in a toxic relationship: how can I help him get out of it?
If you have detected, or suspect, that your teenager is in a toxic relationship, there are some things you can do for him/her:
- Talk openly about the subject with him/her. Prevent it from becoming something taboo.
- Open the possibility of meeting your partner.
- Ask him how he feels in that relationship and actively listen to him.
- Bring up these red flags without being too intrusive or judging you.
- Don’t judge their feelings.
- Cultivate his/her trust towards you (for example, by opening up to him/her too, giving him/her time, etc.).
- Show him our unconditional support.
- Understand your emotions and make it clear that you can feel all that , but that is not incompatible with not tolerating these toxic behaviors.
- Talk about how you think a healthy relationship should be (you can make a joint list, with healthy aspects in any relationship and others not so much).
- Pose the following situation: if your best friend was in a relationship like this, what would you say?
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