Identify the toxic relationship

3 min read

We are social beings and our relationship with others is one of the pillars of our well-being. Feeling good with someone, developing balanced exchanges is based on our good behavior towards each other.

A healthy relationship is based on:

  • trust and mutual respect
  • sincerity, authenticity, signs of appreciation and, in friendly, romantic and family relationships, signs of affection and love
  • the feeling that everyone in this relationship can be fully themselves and completely free in their decisions
  • the absence of violence

A toxic relationship is a relationship that beyond not being fulfilling disrupts your mental balance and can also make you feel physically insecure. It hurts and creates anxiety.
While a healthy relationship is built on reciprocity and mutual respect, the toxic relationship reflects an imbalance.

This imbalance arises from the type of relationship that develops and is maintained. The 1st signs appear in the first 6 months of the relationship. If left unchecked (e.g. by psychotherapy), they grow and get progressively worse over time.

Not feeling confident, respected, appreciated/loved or free indicates that there is a problem.

Some of the signs of a toxic relationship include:

  • discomfort in the presence of the person or group
  • a state of anxiety or depression
  • a psychologically and/or physically abusive environment (verbal, physical and economic abuse) with a repeating toxic, tension-aggression-justification-reconciliation pattern (cycle of violence)
  • a feeling of insecurity
  • a lack of reciprocity in efforts to make the relationship work
  • the feeling of not being able to be yourself
  • a balance of power: a relationship of domination/submission that gradually sets in until it becomes permanent. One of the protagonists will take the upper hand over the other and will impose his choices and his vision of the situations without taking into account those of the other.
  • fear of the consequences if the relationship is stopped (violence, fear of emptiness, etc.)
  • feeling imprisoned in the relationship to the other or to the group. Our actions and gestures, our appearance are constantly questioned and checked. We feel deprived of our free will.
  • a feeling of guilt and inferiority encouraged by the other or the group. This involves insults, hurtful or demeaning remarks. They are infrequent at first but increase over time until they are daily.
  • a relationship of strong dependence that promotes a lack of objectivity on the nature and quality of the relationship. As in the phenomenon of addiction, you know that the relationship is problematic but you cannot get rid of it.
  • isolation from social circle, friends and family using emotional blackmail. We end up trapped, isolated and emotionally dependent on the other, on the group.

It is not necessary to meet all of these criteria to say that one is the victim of a toxic relationship. Only one is enough and justifies that you are vigilant and attentive to the sequence of events.
A toxic relationship never turns into a healthy relationship.

Your entourage can greatly help you avoid or get out of such a situation. Always keep in touch with your friends and family.

If you are suffering from a toxic relationship, engaging in psychotherapy can help you to take the measure of the hold it has on you and to regain the self-esteem and personal balance necessary to get out of it.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema