Should I leave my relationship? This question is probably one of the top ten reasons people have come into my practice asking for help. I am a therapist who prefers to work preventatively. I would like someone who is in the market for a relationship to already be in therapy. A good therapist can evaluate your history with intimacy, help you heal your wounds and help you get clear on who might be a good partner for you.

A Quick Guide of Gauging Toxicity
When you are getting to know someone, understand it is a research project which takes about a year. Minimally you want to see how your partner handles the following situations:

“Sometimes there are things in life that aren’t meant to stay. Sometimes change may not be what we want. Sometimes change is what we need.” ~Unknown

Keeping agreements.
Handling finances.
Treatment of you in many different situations.
Treatment of his/her parents.
Treatment of those they perceive are not his/her equal.
Embracing your world with his/her world to create Our world.
Respectful communication including resolving differences.
How he/she handles anger/indignation (very important).
Generous of heart.
Good paradigm for emotional, spiritual, physical health.
These are just a few of the distinctions to be evaluating during your research project. Therapists cannot provide the chemistry. If someone gets under your skin, we can’t fix it. We can only assist you in having a healthy relationship with the healthy person.

Warning signs this is not a healthy person for you are probably very similar whether you are in your research project or you missed the warning signs and are now in a relationship of some duration. Here are some distinctions to evaluate. If they are not present, you will be missing a good strong foundation.

1: Keeping Agreements
Our word gives us our dignity. If I say I am a woman of integrity, and I am selling cocaine to children, I have no dignity, no integrity, and my word means nothing. If your partner, potential or current, cannot keep his/her word, this goes in the negative column in Bold.

2: Generosity
I will never forget a story I heard of a woman who wanted a partner who had financial abundance. She forgot to notice whether her partner was generous. Her partner had financial abundance-he just didn’t share this with her. Is your partner generous with love, finances, caretaking, communication, your world, those who have less for starters? These are some of the areas of importance for a life-time partner. If your partner is not generous, that might not be a deal breaker for you. However, if you accept a non-generous partner and later you change your mind, the boat will be rocked!

3: Authenticity
I have a 90-day rule for relationships. I believe around about 90 days people begin to reveal themselves more honestly. This is a good thing. Many of us have the “put your best face on” for the beginning of the relationship so we need to take time to see who else is coming along. I actually believe if you want to find a healthy relationship find your voice sooner. If something bother’s you speak up. If you make requests for what you need, let someone know when his/her behavior is unacceptable to you, stop enabling opportunistic behavior, you will probably weed out the personality disorders e.g. Sociopaths, Narcissistic, Borderlines, Psychopaths because they don’t want you to have needs, concerns, opinions, ideas, boundaries, and/or a voice. This would be a good thing to weed out for obvious reasons. If a relationship cannot tolerate you having a voice, it will be toxic to your physical and emotional health.

4: Healthy Communication
Any form of gaslighting, brainwashing, insulting, or threatening, communication is toxic and does not provide a healthy foundation for a relationship. These are a form of psychological manipulation used to keep the victim destabilized and questioning his/her belief system. These forms of communication can be identified by observing the perpetrator denying abuse, rewriting history, lying, contradictions, constant criticism, etc. Healthy communication embraces listening, apologies, respectful requests, caring, authenticity from both people and so much more. Healthy communication usually results in some form of resolution for both parties. Unhealthy communication results in the victim becoming more destabilized, questioning and insecure.

5: Healthy Boundaries
It is our job to teach our partners how to take care of us physically, emotionally, and spiritually by making requests. It is also our job to be with the partner who honors most of our requests. If you have a partner who thinks it is all right to be physically aggressive with you, it is your job to set the boundary and leave if it is not honored. If your partner flirts and his/her flirting is not all right with you, make the request. If your partner cannot make any changes in this area, and it really bothers you, you may have to move on. If you want to have a say in financial decisions and your partner wants to run the show financially, again if you can’t accept, it may be best to move on. These are examples of how partners have to negotiate taking care of each other. If you never let your partner know what is important to you, you will build resentment. Resentment is not a distinction for a healthy foundation.

A healthy relationship doesn’t drag you down. It inspires you to be better. ~ Mandy Hale

All the toxic forms of communication-gaslighting, threatening, bullying, constant criticism, brainwashing are signs of a toxic relationship. Any form of physical abuse is a sign of a toxic relationship. When these are present, my assessment the relationship has a poor prognosis. As you can see there are other areas which can challenge a relationship, but with hard work and a competent therapist, have the possibility for resolution.

This article originally appeared at

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Anne Brown PhD, RN CS, is a psychotherapist, author, speaker, coach living in Sausalito, California. She is an experienced broadcaster and contributor to the media. She received her BS in Nursing from the University of Virginia, her MS in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing from Boston University, and her PhD in Addiction Studies from International University. Dr. Brown has held numerous key positions, including Alcohol Clinical Specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, and Program Director of the Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Program at Greater Cape Ann Human Services in Gloucester, MA. She moved to Aspen, Colorado in 1987, and developed a private practice providing therapy for families, individuals and couples. In the fall of 2013 Dr. Brown moved to Sausalito, California where she now resides.