You can tell if a relationship is toxic when spending time with someone drags you down, belittles you, or makes you feel hurt, angry, and miserable. Some people think of a “toxic relationship” as the most dangerous kind of relationship – one that only involves abuse or addictions. These are, in fact, harmful characteristics of any relationship. However, the signs of a toxic relationship are often more subtle and less obvious. The underlying basis of any toxic relationship involves insecurity. Two common insecure relationship positions include what we’ll refer to as “Controllers” and “Dependants.”
Controllers as Toxic:
Involvement with a very controlling person is a sure sign of a potentially toxic relationship. For the controlling person, the offender is insecure and must have control. They do not feel strong enough as a person. They have an excessive need to always be in charge. They make all the decisions and define the relationship on their terms. The “controller” has an authoritarian attitude, blames others and denies any personal problems. They typically fear intimacy. They assume they are right about everything and take their mate for granted. A controller is also known as a “taker.” A taker controls the conversation, money, activities, and all other plans. When you relate to a controller, you tend to feel drained physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You risk losing “you” – and therein lies the danger. At their worst, a controller can be abusive and violent. If you have a controller in your life, make sure you do not allow or contribute to a toxic relationship. Insist on mutual respect and accept that you can only control yourself. In a healthy relationship, both people should view each other as equals, and demonstrate this throughout all aspects of the relationship – in actions, in words, and in attitude.
Dependants as Toxic:
Dependant people come in pairs with controlling people. A dependant is insecure and weak and doesn’t feel worthy of respect, true appreciation, and love as a valuable person. They crave intimacy but are too vulnerable to express and request their needs. They give control to others. They avoid expressing anger or any true feelings. Dependant people in toxic relationships blame their own inadequacies for any problems they may have. They have low self-esteem and constantly worry about making the other person happy. They also make excuses for the controlling-type person they are involved with. In order to not be a part of a toxic relationship, the main goal for a dependant person is to separate their identity from their mates – to regain their power and control to influence and change their life.
Being in a toxic relationship may feel like you are pouring water into a vase with holes in it. What represents a “toxic relationship” to you? Here are some other signs that should be carefully examined:
20 Signs of a Toxic Relationship *
What is a healthy relationship?
It is healthy, not selfish, to be clear about, and ask for what you want and need. It is healthy to hold yourself and others accountable for their words and actions. Negative feelings not expressed or acted on in a healthy, constructive way will eventually poison the relationship. It is healthy to expect only respect and kindness from all relationships. You are worthy of nothing less. It is okay to desire and seek intimacy within healthy boundaries. Control and abuse in love are not normal. Tolerating toxic behavior is not acceptable. Positive words alone will not make a relationship. Actions should match words.
If you find yourself feeling dependent or accepting disrespectful and toxic actions or attitudes within a relationship, the first step is to admit that. Admit your life is not working the way you want it to, or the way you deserve and acknowledge the emotions and consequences of living that lifestyle. Wishing and hoping for a change in someone is an empty effort. Give yourself permission to live a brilliant and abundant life! Call today for help and support.
For more information about how to regain your relationship strength and maximize your emotional health, or to improve any relationship that may be toxic, contact Centerstone at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) and ask about counseling offices in your area, or fill out our contact form.
* “20 Signs of Toxic Relationships” is a collection of insights shared by the friends and colleagues of the Health and Wellness team.
If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you're still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
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