Some people think of a “toxic relationship” as one that involves abuse, but it can be more subtle and less obvious. The underlying basis of any toxic relationship involves insecurity. Two common insecure relationship positions include what is referred as “Controllers” and “Dependents.”
Controllers as Toxic:
The “controller” has an authoritarian attitude, they seek control and power, blame others and have a hard time accepting responsibility. They assume they are right about everything and take partners 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 physically, mentally and emotionally drained. You risk losing yourself while in a relationship with a controller. 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.
Dependents as Toxic:
Dependent 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 dependent person is to separate their identity from their partner’s.
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:
Some signs of a toxic relationship:
- Imbalanced efforts—the partner is taking advantage of how you make them feel, but isn’t reciprocating.
- Any form of infidelity or means to make the partner jealous.
- Giving up dreams or passions to make the partner happy.
- You spend all of your time with that person to the exclusion of all other friends.
- When one person becomes what they think the other wants them to be.
- Overly judgmental, critical or invalidating behaviors and words.
- Excessive focus on the other person’s faults, to the exclusion of one’s own.
- The partner shifts blame to you for every issue that comes up.
- When you’re working so hard to please and nothing seems to work.
- Controlling or possessive-like behaviors—asking for permission to see friends or family.
- A relationship that has some uncontrollable, subconscious draw to a person.
- Gaslighting behaviors—it was just a joke or making you feel confused about your reality or experience.
- When your close friends or family are not comfortable being around the person you’re dating.
- Inability to set or make healthy boundaries due to fear or feeling like you have no voice.
- Any form of abuse or abusive behaviors: physical, verbal, emotional, financial, sexual and more.
What is a healthy relationship?
It is healthy to be clear about 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.
If you find yourself feeling dependent or accepting disrespectful and toxic actions or attitudes within a relationship, the first step is to acknowledge that. You don’t have to settle for negativity. Reach out for help and support, and know that you’re not alone.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health through a toxic relationship, Centerstone can help. Call us at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) for more information about counseling services.