What is a toxic relationship and how do you know if I am in it?

Couple relationships present different levels of difficulty during coexistence, either as a couple or as a marriage. The successful establishment of a relationship of this type depends on multiple factors, both personal and external , but mainly it will depend on the effort and dedication of its protagonists. Regarding external elements, the importance of aspects such as economic, labor, family, social stability as well as health must be considered.

It is generally considered that most relationships are statistically negative. That is, most of these cases formally present difficulties, which ultimately result in the termination of said relationship. And furthermore, the same statistics show that one of the main reasons why this happens is due to the toxicity of this relationship.

The term toxic is used in this case to refer to those relationships where multiple elements and aspects have a negative nature. These same notably affect the mental and physical health of the people involved, in some cases it is observed that the consequences not only affect the couple directly but also those close to them.

Appropriate solutions can be identified and provided in multiple ways in these situations. The characteristics of a toxic relationship are analyzed below, as well as some useful tips to know if you are in a relationship of this type.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship at the level of love and interpersonal relationships is identified by the affectation of the behaviors and emotional states of its actors, who see how their self-esteem, their vital balance and interaction with their environment are dramatically altered. In the field of love relationships in particular, it is a dysfunctional affective bond , which produces in its members tension, moodiness, tension and even depression or extreme fatigue. It can even lead to episodes of verbal and physical violence.

5 signs you may be in a toxic relationship?

Toxic relationships show unequivocal signs , those involved are participants in situations that are experienced on a daily basis and have a negative nature. The top 5 signs to watch out for are described below. They are as follows:

1.- Discussions on bad terms . In ancient Greece, among philosophers and disciples, there used to be great discussions about the nature of the human “Being”, which provided the foundations of Western philosophy. However, when discussions are spoken of in popular language , one thinks of how devastating and negative they could be for the protagonists of a family.

The heated arguments between couples are not usually about human nature (I wish it were so), but because of differences that, after all, are more insurmountable every day. Nor is it that between two beings who say they love each other there are no differences from time to time about, for example, who forgot to turn off the shower tap or who will pay the rent, etc., but that for whatever reason they become engrossed in high-sounding discussions . Arguments over anything are signs that the relationship is turning toxic.

2.- Mutual respect is conspicuous by its absence. And in those discussions the screams take center stage, which already constitute disrespect. The mere fact of raising your voice to a person is indicative that the esteem has been broken by the opinion of the other and only your own matters. To this are added the disqualifications and since you are in charge of one of the characters who knows you best, it will surely remind you of your less appreciated side. He will mention what hurts the most.

3.- Irresponsibility to the order of the day . The toxicity in couple relationships is also seen in the constant neglect of personal hygiene, that of children, that of the house itself, where the rules of coexistence are neglected and chaos begins to produce serious adaptation problems.

It is likely that the parents or representatives or members of the affective bond are not very careful, but there are red lines that should not be exceeded, taking into account that irresponsibility can cause damage to third parties .

4.- Mutual discredit . Devaluation between third parties and mutual discredit are the consequence of unresolved past problems. Loving relationships do not begin under the stigma of discrediting. On the contrary, newly formed marriages stay on honeymoon for a long time.

It is only with the passing of time that the mistakes made take their toll on the relationship; but, it will always depend on the interpretation of the other. When the moment of tension arrives (whose origin is very diverse), the “dirty laundry” of the past can appear .

5.- Little recognition of the other . The dynamics of the growth or maturation processes of couple relationships is highly variable. For example, in six months of living together all the demons can arise and reach the 180th day totally fed up and emotionally destroyed. Another symptom that your partner is on another track is that he is unable to recognize his personal, professional and work achievements. Mutual or other stubbornness prevents you from moving towards a better relationship.

How do I know if my partner is toxic?

Toxic people also manifest a series of their own characteristics that are easily identifiable. It is important to pay attention to those distinctive changes in the way of driving, compared to how it was done previously. Some of the most common signs are described below, however, we must also consider that people have different behaviors . They are as follows

  1. Emotional manipulation as a resource. It is one of the most specific signs of toxic relationships and can become a difficult knot to resolve. The most common example is that of classic emotional dependency relationships, where the woman is treated by her partner as her object of belonging. However, psychological manipulation can manifest itself from both sides, exchanging the role of victim, protector or aggressor. When the woman maintains a bond of emotional dependence, she is distinguished by her passive role vis-à-vis a dominant partner who, eventually, may also play the role of emotional dependent. It would then be a toxic relationship between two emotional dependents, one passive and the other dominant. An absolutely explosive breeding ground, due to its consequences for women.
  2. Cellopathies, possession and devaluation . The previous sign is directly connected with cellopathies, the possession and devaluation of the partner. In the table indicated, where the man assumes the role of controlling his partner due to jealousy, low self-esteem, difficulty in relating as equals with his partner (among other dysfunctions), it is redundant to ensure that there is no greater indication of toxicity. It is the absolute breakdown of all the content that the marriage contract or the union by free decision between two or more people supposes.
  3. Susceptibilities on the surface . In a climate of constant tension, the home ceases to be so and becomes a fighting ring. Broken respect and awareness of the importance of the emotional ties achieved, the couple feels that they are constantly walking on a glass floor that, by any bad foot, can be broken. It is time to retire, because life is one.
  4. Communication is non-existent or frequently useless . It can be seen as cause and consequence. When communication is non-existent, it is hard to believe that there ever really was, because communication is much more than exchanging words. At the stage when the couple can no longer sit and talk calmly about their feelings and a true conciliation is impossible, it is time to walk away without looking back.
  5. The imposition and criticism is the order of the day . Feeling relegated and being in a relationship where your opinions, desires and goals do not matter, is a sign that it is no longer worth it to continue insisting. Anything you say is subject to criticism and you are no longer part of the team.

It is a kind of nullification of the other. The couple feel that they no longer have the same role that they had years before. It is as if the person is hidden behind the bathroom door every time there is a visitor. In semiotic terms, it is a sign or indexical quality that there is already excess in the relationship.

How to get out of a toxic relationship? 

It seems that given the signs there would be no doubt of the urgency to move away from toxic relationships immediately . However, human nature is not linear, it often loops, makes mistakes, goes back, ponders, takes its time, because ultimately the affects cannot be quantified and subjected to the scientific method. Surely, the reason, the rational thing, is that one should not look back or to gain momentum and flee from any toxic relationship, but the reality is another, the human, in each of its subjectivities.

That said, the answer is almost a truism: you can go to your psychotherapist in case you need extra support; But, you must sit down and reason about the pros and cons objectively. Your inner peace and happiness is the most important thing, even if you keep painting villas and castles in your ear. Your life belongs to you. Take on a new project, raise your gaze to the horizon, take note of your mistakes, and run in the opposite direction from your ex. Literally, if you were cloistered in a sedentary life, get on an exercise plan and running.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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