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The Psychology of Toxic Relationships

The Psychology of Toxic Relationships

Every relationship takes work, even the healthiest one, so how do we know if our problems are just a normal phase or a sign of a toxic relationship?

The amount of work we need to put in to make it work varies from relationship to relationship. But one is certain, after some time, it should pay off. If you try to make it work, you will be able to enjoy the sun after the storm and come out of it stronger than ever. But if it doesn’t, and if it is a constant struggle with short occasions of happiness, you should ask yourself if it is worth it or not.

Here are some aspects of toxic relationships to help you understand and recognize them more easily.

What is a toxic relationship?

It is a relationship between partners in which there is a repetitive, mutually destructive, unhealthy pattern that causes more harm than good for both the individuals. It may involve possessiveness, jealousy, dominance, manipulation, even abuse or a combination of these behaviors.

The partners usually feel the need to be with each other no matter what and they are not considerate enough to realize the impact of their behavior on the other person. They just want to hold on to their bond so badly, only for the sake of being together. The quality of their time spent together is neglected.

They usually confuse love for emotional hunger and feel like their spouse is their property, so they have the control over them.

How to recognize that you are in a toxic relationship?

First of all, you feel tired all the time and every situation that is supposed to be a happy one, a celebration, a birthday, a romantic night out, it all turns into a catastrophe. When you are in a good mood, your partner always finds a way to make you feel down again. There is always something to worry about, and you just want a break away from it.

Being uncomfortable around your spouse is a clear sign, too. You feel like they are always going to make some kind of a sarcastic comment or judge you no matter what you do. You always feel guilty, even though you’ve done nothing wrong.

You don’t seem to get the support you need from this person; it is not a safe, healthy bond. It feels like you are trapped, helpless to change anything and like you can’t do anything right. The most important thing in a relationship is to have a positive influence of your partner, and if you feel like your spouse is just the opposite, then it is a clear sign of a toxic match.

Why do we engage in such relationships?

Even though we know they are not healthy, we’ve all engaged in at least one of them. But, why?

Engaging in a toxic relationship has three possible reasons. First, we are suppressing our thoughts and emotions because, for some reason, we think we need this person or that we must be with them. Maybe it’s because of the kids, or because we assume that we don’t deserve better than that.

Second, it is maybe because of our own undesirable characteristics we should work on. Maybe we are afraid of being alone. Or maybe we are manipulated by our partner.

If we are passive, we will easily be manipulated by someone who likes to give orders and loves control. If we are easily guided by guilt and if our partner knows that, he can easily trick us into thinking we have done something wrong.

Third possible reason is that we all have some unresolved issues from our childhood, so maybe we are just unconsciously repeating some unhealthy patterns instead of dealing with them.

Some people engage in relationships because they want to find someone who is directly the opposite of their father, brother or an ex-partner. So, they just go to one unhealthy extreme to another thinking it is going to be the right option.

How to avoid a toxic relationship?

When you struggle in a relationship with someone, you have to ask yourself where do these problems come from. Do you really want to be with this person? Are you with them because of their positive traits or because it is better than being alone?

Try to identify your defense mechanisms, fears, and flaws, so you are more self-conscious and therefore aware of the reason why someone attracts you. Is your partner someone you are proud to be with because it is someone respectful, admirable, honest and caring? If he is, it is still worth working on.

Try to find a reason why you are still with your partner and take control over your own decisions. So, the key is to analyze yourself, your partner and your relationship. And, the most important part is to be honest with yourself. Lose all your shields, self-defense mechanisms and fears and make a serious conversation with yourself.