Our relationships with our friends, family and significant others can affect how we feel and act every day. If you’re in a good place with your relationships, it’s going to help you feel good about yourself and be productive in other aspects of your life. However, if you’re in a toxic relationship, it can be really hard for your mental and physical well-being. These relationships have mutated themselves into something that has the potential, if not corrected, to be extremely harmful to our well-being. These relationships are not necessarily hopeless, but they require a lot of work, something which is not always possible.
But what is a toxic relationship? What is considered a toxic relationship? Let us break it down based on what the experts and relationship coaches say.
What is considered a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is a relationship where the behaviors on the part of the toxic partner are emotionally & often physically damaging to their partner. A healthy relationship can boost your self-esteem, emotional happiness and overall well-being. A toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy. A healthy relationship involves 2 partners who love and care for each other, respect each other and have an interest in their happiness, welfare and goals. A toxic relationship can be manipulative, usually where one partner may not feel happy and may feel threatened or scared as well. A healthy relationship is a safe relationship, a place where you feel comfortable and secure. A toxic relationship, on the other hand, is not a safe place. Traits of toxic relationships include insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, and control.
What are the types of toxic relationships?
1. The “Bad Temper” Toxic Partner
A partner with whom you don’t argue, because you’re afraid of their temper which they tend to lose easily. So rather than argue, you just accept what is going on and buy peace. They often describe themselves as “walking on eggshells” around the toxic partner, never quite knowing what will trigger an outburst of rage. This constant need for vigilance and inability to know what will trigger your partner affects your mental and physical health. If you confront a “bad temper” partner about the inappropriateness of their anger and use logic, they will blame it on you rather than take responsibility, which is a clear sign of their toxic behaviour.
2. The Guilt-Inducer
The guilt inducer controls you by making you feel guilty any time you do something he or she doesn’t like. Not infrequently they will get someone else to convey their sense of “disappointment” or “hurt” to you.
A guilt inducer not only controls by inducing guilt but also by temporarily “removing” guilt if you end up doing what he or she wants you to do. If you refuse to do something, you will be guilt-tripped, but the moment you agree, you are told it’s all good and you’re the best person ever for being so adjusting. For guilt-prone individuals, anything or anyone that removes guilt is very desirable and potentially almost addictive, so the guilt inducer has an extremely powerful means of control at their disposal.
3. The Belitter
This type of toxic individual will constantly belittle you and make fun of you. It could be for small things or big things, but anything you express could be belittled. Your ideas, beliefs, or wants are silly or stupid. A toxic partner might even belittle you in public, in front of your friends or family. They will deflect responsibility by saying, “I’m just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?”. The toxic partner wants all the decision making power. Unfortunately, if you tolerate this deprecating behaviour long enough, you very well may begin to believe you can’t make good decisions because you are belittled.
4. The Overreactor or The Deflector
Have you ever told your partner you’re hurt or upset about something and ended up taking care of their unhappiness or sadness instead, they might be an overreactor/deflector. You find yourself comforting them instead of getting comfort yourself. And, you’re told you are mean for bringing up something that hurt them so much. This is a classic sign of a toxic relationship with an overreactor. Needless to say, your initial concern, hurt, or irritation gets lost as you remorsefully take care of your partner’s feelings.
Something similar to this is the deflector: You mention your feelings about something that happened, for example, your partner forgot to tell you the milk was over and didn’t even restock it, and somehow your toxic partner finds a way to make this your fault!
They inadvertently convince you that you’re the one with “work to do.” Perhaps you are being too sensitive. You should remember to check the milk although you may have mutually agreed it was the other’s responsibility!
5. The User
Users are the type of toxic partners who portray themselves to be nice, courteous and charismatic people. And they are so, as long as they are getting everything they want from you. What defines a toxic relationship with a user is the one-way nature and how no matter what you do for them, it will never be enough. They will drain your energy and keep asking for more. And once in a blue moon, they will do something for you and then use that to show that they are also caring for you.
6. The Independent Toxic Controller
This individual frequently disguises their behaviour by claiming independence. “I’m not going to let anyone control me” is their motto, but what they mean is they want to control what you do as well, by being non-dependable. This toxic individual will only rarely keep his or her commitments. Actually, what these individuals are up to is controlling you by keeping you uncertain about what they’re going to do. Something always comes up and they can never keep their commitments. In this relationship, “toxic” means they control you by making it next to impossible for you to make commitments or plans. It’s a very unsafe and insecure relationship as you can never rely on them or trust them to do what they say.
7. The Over-Dependent Partner
Your partner may be so passive that you have to make most decisions for them. These toxic controllers want you to make virtually every decision for them, small or big. From buying veggies to deciding which car to buy, they will not decide. And then, they will blame you for the outcome as they weren’t in charge of the decision. Their passive aggressiveness will shine through when things don’t work out as it was your fault the restaurant you picked wasn’t nice. Or the movie you picked wasn’t fun for them.
Passivity can be an extremely powerful means of control. If you’re involved in a relationship with a passive controller, you’ll likely experience constant anxiety and/or fatigue, as you worry about the effect of your decisions on your partner and are drained by having to make virtually every decision.
8. The Possessive Toxic Partner
This type of toxic individual is really bad news. Early in the relationship, they will serenade you and make you feel super loved and secure, because you will like their “jealousy” and mistake it for deep attraction. They will be very possessive and want you with them all the time.
These toxic individuals will become more and more suspicious and controlling as time goes on. They will try and cut out any meaningful relationships you have as they want to have total control over who you are. They will keep calling you every 2 hours to check where you are or even use technology to their advantage. Their friends might randomly show up at home to make sure you’re there and “safe”. In reality, it is a major toxic trait that is not good and a big sign of a toxic relationship.
Difference between toxic relationship and abusive relationship
An abusive relationship is when you are physically or mentally abused by your partner, through violence, coercion or threat of violence. It is direct and you feel threatened. A toxic relationship is when a partner is mostly indirectly exerting control over you in the relationship through various ways.
A toxic relationship is not pretty and can have a major impact on your well-being. It’s important you recognise the signs and try and get out of one if you can. There are helplines online and you can even reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
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With over 300 articles published on Evolve. Jash is one of the most viewed writers on topics such as Sleep, Mindfulness and Stress. Drop a mail at Jash@evolveinc.in to connect with him.