Low self-worth, helplessness, dread, anxiety, despair, insecurity, paranoia, and even narcissism are all symptoms of toxic relationships. Toxic relationships are hazardous to your health and will kill you. Stress reduces your life expectancy. Even a broken heart can be fatal... especially if you aren't given time to recover from such trauma.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that women who were in abusive relationships had higher rates of depression and anxiety than women who were not in relationships. The researchers concluded that "the stressors associated with an abusive relationship may also account for some of the increased risk for poor mental health among women who have never been married."
Another study published in the journal Psychology of Violence found that people in abusive relationships experience high levels of stress which can lead to serious physical problems such as heart disease and stroke. The authors concluded that "these findings support the hypothesis that abuse is linked to greater risks for many diseases and conditions later in life."
Finally, research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people in abusive relationships feel like they're walking on eggshells constantly afraid of saying or doing something wrong. They report suffering from extreme anxiety and feeling depressed almost all the time. Such feelings are signs of psychological trauma that can lead to serious mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders.
Remember that a toxic relationship prioritizes love over everything else, including respect, trust, and affection for one another. It's more than a "tough patch"; it's a long-term habit of negative conduct on one or both sides.
The people in these relationships have formed the habit of behaving negatively toward each other, often without even realizing it. This habit is called a "toxic trait" because it is toxic to your health—both physical and emotional. Toxic relationships can cause you to feel bad about yourself, make you feel like less than you are, make you want to escape, etc.
They also tend to be one-sided. You may be expected to read signals from a partner who is actively looking for ways to hurt you, such as constantly checking in with them, hovering over you, and making demands of you. They may also use guilt as a tool to get what they want—telling you that if you don't do what they ask, they won't love you.
Toxic relationships can also be called "controlling" or " abusive " relationships. These terms are used by many organizations that provide help to victims of domestic violence. These are all good resources to learn more about how to identify and get out of a toxic relationship.
Toxic connections are not limited to romantic relationships. Friendships with humans may sometimes be just as destructive and hurtful. According to psychologist and therapist Perpetua Neo, a toxic friendship can bring tiredness and aggravation to your life rather than companionship and comfort. "When you're in a toxic relationship, it feels like there's no escape," says Neo. "You feel trapped because you want what's best for the person but don't know how to get out of the situation."
In extreme cases, a toxic friend can cause you serious harm, either physically or emotionally. But even more common is that they cause us pain without us knowing it directly. They may send us mixed messages about their feelings, causing us confusion and anxiety. They may criticize us behind our backs, making us feel bad about ourselves and our relationships.
Sometimes these connections aren't planned or intentional. Sometimes we just happen to get involved with someone who is not only difficult to deal with but also puts us in uncomfortable situations. For example: if your friend hates their job but doesn't have the courage to leave their employer, they will most likely feel frustrated and unhappy every day they stay there. This could easily lead them to take their anger out on you- whether they mean to or not.
Other times these connections are deliberate.
Two polar opposite personality types can generate toxic partnerships. The incompatibility of the persons engaged in the connection causes the toxicity. They may be so different that they cannot understand each other's needs or want things from the relationship that don't make sense or aren't mutually beneficial.
Sometimes one person is more interested in their own needs and wants than those of the other, which can lead to a toxic partnership. For example, if you try to persuade your partner to change their behavior by arguing with them or telling them what to do, they will not be able to understand your needs because they are only focused on theirs. This type of relationship is called an "us vs. them" situation because there is a division between how your partner feels about you and how you feel about them.
Other times people get involved with each other without really understanding what is going on. For example, if you ask your partner why they reacted negatively to something you did and they say it was because you didn't understand them, then you have entered into a relationship where neither of you can truly understand what the other is thinking or feeling because there is a lot of secrecy and hiding behind words. These types of relationships are called "behind my back" situations because there is privacy invasion and deception involved.
Toxic relationships can take various forms, including harmful spouses, toxic friendships, toxic parent-child connections, and toxic coworkers. Of course, no relationship is ever perfect or free of friction. However, if a connection is causing you pain or damage to your psyche, it's time to consider whether the relationship needs to be maintained.
Here are the most common types of toxic relationships:
Harmful marriages/domestic violence. If your spouse is harming you physically or emotionally, it's time to separate. Do not try to fix your partner; instead, look for a relationship that doesn't harm others in the first place. Spouses who abuse each other mentally or physically should never be married. Even when there are no signs of physical abuse, people who suffer from mental illness often turn to violence to get their needs met.
Psychological abuse. Psychological abuse takes many forms, including name-calling, humiliating someone, making them feel bad about themselves, or forcing them to do things they don't want to do. The person being abused feels like they aren't worth loving or caring for, which can lead them to feel very alone even though someone is standing right next to them.
Parental alienation. Parental alienation is when one parent manipulates or influences the child against the other parent.
Toxic relationship habits are fundamentally the outcome of a lack of empathy. Toxic conduct frequently shows an unwillingness to feel true empathy and compassion for the other person, whether it is expecting your spouse live up to your expectations or refusing to view things from their perspective.
The most important thing you can do to heal a toxic relationship is to learn how to communicate honestly with each other. Only when you can be honest about your feelings and desires will there be any chance of real change happening.
Honesty isn't always easy, but ignoring problems or walking away from a relationship without addressing them properly means that you have left toxic habits intact and continued to suffer.
If you're in a toxic relationship, seek help by talking with a friend or family member. Many organizations provide resources for those who need assistance leaving abusive relationships.
In addition, professional counseling can be effective in helping you deal with the emotional pain of the relationship while also providing guidance on how to best move forward.
At some point, if you don't give yourself time to process your emotions and work through any issues that may be causing you pain, you risk reverting back to old patterns that may not have served you so well in the first place.