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December 1, 2022

What Is a Toxic Relationship and How to Recognize the Signs?

If the relationship with your partner suffers from regular arguments and misunderstandings, you might be experiencing toxicity on a daily level without even being aware of it. So what is a toxic relationship, and how do you notice all the signs? When should you work on bettering your partnership, and when should you walk away?

Interactions with your partner where you feel demeaned, attacked, constantly put down, and unsupported are what is considered a toxic relationship. Any type of connection you have with people around you may become filled with toxicity or be that way from the start. It’s important to spot the signs on time and act accordingly.

What Is a Toxic Relationship?

Relationships require both parties to put effort into it, which means that it’s constant work with occasional rough patches. Arguments, disagreements, and the like are a normal part of a bond between partners. Overcoming these setbacks will help you both grow and make your connection stronger.

What is the definition of a toxic relationship? Any sort of relations between individuals where they do not support each other, with competition and undermining between them, lack of respect, and the absence of any feeling of unity is considered toxic.

Individuals who are a part of such unpleasant relationships feel constantly drained and may at some point also feel that the negatives outweigh the positives. In the meantime, being in a toxic bond can cause emotional, mental, and even physical damage.

What Factors and Behaviors Make a Toxic Relationship?

There can be many causes of toxicity in a relationship. Some include an unfortunate far-from-perfect pairing. If two very different people, with conflicting values come together, negative feelings and resentment may develop.  For instance, combining a sarcastic type with someone who is highly sensitive may present issues. Or when both individuals seek to gain control – it results in a power struggle.

But deeper causes may be much more serious. They can be a result of a traumatic childhood or an unloving and unsupportive upbringing. People who were bullied and didn’t consider whether they should see therapists might not have a healthy bonding with their loved ones later in life. Also, those with undiagnosed mental disorders, people dating with depression, bipolar, or other mental health issues, who didn’t seek a therapy to overcome them, can become an easy target for toxicity and negative emotions from their partners.

Signs That Show You’re in One of These Kinds of Relationships

The toxicity of a connection between partners is individual – only the people involved can feel whether the negativity outweighs all the positives. But some behaviors are easily distinguished as toxic:

  • When you are feeling a constant lack of respect, and what you need is just not being met.
  • You sense that mutual behavior in your partnership is taking a toll on your self-esteem and emotional health.
  • You are drained and devalued as a person because you constantly put more effort than what you receive.
  • Being demeaned, and attacked without proper understanding and support, may lead to some mental health issues.
  • You are the sole person being blamed for everything, and the issues are turned around so they can fit this narrative.
  • You direct a great portion of your time, energy, and emotional strength, cheering your partner up.
  • Although there are many misconceptions about depression, if you are left feeling depressed, angry, and tired after spending time with your partner, it’s a sure sign something’s amiss.

These are all subtler signs of toxicity in your partnership, but there are more blunt ways to discern it. It includes verbal and physical abuse, which are the signs that you should walk away from a relationship and also choose a therapist that will help set things on the right course.

Recognize and Compare Toxicity and a Healthy Behavior in Relationships

Sometimes, it’s quite easy to determine what is toxic in a relationship. But other times, we need to carefully examine the behavior from one person to another to figure out whether the healthy actions appear more frequently than the negative ones.

Healthy behaviorNegative behavior
Showing love and affectionShowing signs of jealousy
Being givingBeing self-centered
Acting selflesslyActing selfish
Encouraging the other personConstantly criticizing
Being encouragingBeing demeaning towards the partner
Acting compassionatelyBeing abusive
Showing respectActing disrespectfully
Being trustworthyBeing distrusting

If you want to improve your relations, it’s important to critically examine your romantic partnership and recognize these behaviors, whether they come from you or the other person. It’s also vital to figure out which of these actions are predominant. If it’s the positive ones, it may mean that you simply need to address some of the issues. If the toxicity prevails, you may need to search for a therapist who can help you solve and overcome all the issues and thus make things better.

Let’s Examine the Types of Negative Relationships

Toxicity isn’t only limited to romantic partnerships, but instead, it can appear and exist within families and among friends and be the leading cause of work stress. Sometimes the toxicity is equally caused by both parties, but it can also be the result of the behavior of one party, which is the sole perpetrator of negativity and problems.

These individuals may do so unknowingly, and they can be unaware of the effects of their actions because they simply don’t know the ways of healthy communication. Others are purposefully harmful and hurtful. If you are being targeted by such actions, you may have to look for “counseling for women near me” to seek aid on time and be able to deal with stress.

Recognize if You’re Dealing With a Narcissist or a Sociopath

If you are dealing with a sociopath or a narcissist, you might be experiencing being constantly put down, discouraged, and even gaslighted. According to the National Library of Medicine, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines that common signs of a Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are a pattern of grandiosity, lack of empathy, and need for admiration. NPD is often comorbid with other mental health disorders. The most problematic thing about dealing with sociopaths and narcissists is that they will often avoid admitting fault.

Types of Toxicity You Feel Beyond a Romantic Relationship

Many black women in the workplace are subject to toxicity. Whether they have to deal with racism or any other type of negative behavior, it may lead to anxiety symptoms, emotional distress, and other signals that their overall health is suffering. If the proximity to an individual showing negative behavior towards you is the problem, you may seek to move somewhere away from them within the company. Try referring to your supervisor and continuing to work if it resolves.

As for toxicity in families, you should consider the cost of keeping everyone happy and slowly spend less time with those who act negatively toward you. If it’s someone close to you, you may want to talk them into going to a therapist of color.

The video below shares some tips on how to recognize toxicity in your workplace.

Learn to Cope With These Negative Associations

The easy solution to some of these relationships filled with toxicity is to steer away from them and remove the culprits from your life. But other relationships don’t have such simple solutions. That’s where you should seek a “therapist near me” to learn how to set healthy boundaries, get some self-care tips to read and implement, and raise your awareness of these issues.

While some self-care ideas for women can be just what you’re looking for, it’s also important to communicate the issues. Being assertive may be the key to changing the dynamics between you and your partner. Also, note that while it’s vital to understand what does toxic mean in a relationship, it may also be the right moment to re-evaluate your mutual relations.

If the other person is unwilling to change either themselves or their pattern of behavior, you should stand up for yourself. If it’s possible, you should aim to walk away from such individuals instead of trying to change their actions toward you.

Focus on What Is Important – Yourself

Whether your relationship with other people are prevailingly healthy or you’re experiencing toxicity, it’s important to focus on your emotional and mental health and your overall well-being. If the other person is draining you of your happiness and energy, and you end up being tired, consider therapy, or support groups like CoDA that address co-dependency. Also, keep in mind that you are not stuck. With the right support, you can walk away and experience a drastic change to your life. And most importantly – note that you need help right away if you’re experiencing any type of abuse – physical, mental, or emotional. These are complicated situations that required more involved planning.

If you’re wondering – does therapy work, you should know that counseling for women is beneficial in many ways. You can contact us to inquire about our WOC workshops and talk with our mental health experts that can help you address any issue. We can work together on building your spiritual and mental strength, and overcome issues caused by toxicity in your relationships.