Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Everything You Need to Know)

Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Everything You Need to Know)

Letting go of toxic people is an act of self-care. – Karen Salmansohn

Are you in a relationship that involves someone who emotionally, mentally or physically damages you? Do you feel like a shell of your former self since becoming involved with this person? After you spend time with this person, do you feel energized and refreshed, or do you feel drained and exhausted?

While toxic relationships are both damaging and devastating to those who are involved in them, they have a much deeper effect than most people realize. Despite popular opinion, most victims of toxic relationships are far from your standard “victim-type” personality; in fact, most are intelligent, attractive and capable. This is part of what attracts the toxic partner.

The Toxic Relationship Cycle

Toxic relationships start quickly and they are as firey as they are fast. But unlike their healthier counterparts, toxic relationships don’t settle into a comfortable place – rather, the toxic partner gets “bored” and quickly begins to devalue the victim. This will inevitably be followed by a discard phase, which will lead to what we call the hoovering phase – where the toxic person attempts to suck the victim back in.

Could my relationship be toxic? 

Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are you in a relationship with someone who is making you miserable?
  • Do you ever feel drained when you spend time with that person?
  • Do you often find yourself feeling tired and unmotivated or even sort of paralyzed?
  • Do you find yourself putting that person’s needs before your own?
  • Do you often feel shocked by someone’s disrespectful behavior?
  • Does someone in your life make you feel like you don’t matter or like you’re not as important as they are?
  • Have you ever described the way you feel as emotionally “dead” or numb (or something similar)?
  • Have you ever found yourself questioning your own sanity?
  • Have you started to think you’re just not good enough?

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is similar to a dysfunctional relationship but less repairable, often due to at least one partner being unable or unwilling to change and/or take responsibility for their wrongdoings. When you’re in a toxic relationship, you’ll find that it involves more negativity than positivity. Most importantly, a toxic relationship does not emotionally support one or both of the people involved. A toxic relationship will also often involve resentment, contempt, communication problems and varying forms of physical, emotional and psychological abuse.

Being involved with a toxic person (or a narcissist) in a toxic relationship will lead to a serious loss of self and a significantly reduced ability to be happy, healthy and fulfilled in your life. These relationships often feel empty or one-sided and leave one or both partners feeling codependent and miserable.

Can a toxic relationship be fixed?

While dysfunctional relationships can often be repaired, toxic ones are less likely to be worth the trouble of trying. That’s because while it does theoretically seem that narcissists and toxic people are capable of personal growth and change, it is rarely seen. So, while most narcissists COULD change, they most often will not, at least not long-term.

Read This: Can a narcissist change? The experts weigh in

While a few clinicians claim that they can heal narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), their evidence is thin and often refuted. Remember too that the longer you remain in the toxic relationship, the further damaged you will become, mentally, physically and otherwise. And, despite appearances, toxic people generally maintain the same cycle of abuse throughout each relationship in their lives – meaning that your partner will not be happier with someone else. 

What are the signs I’m in a toxic relationship?

Be sure to click the links on the points that resonate with you below – each opens up to a detailed post that outlines the signs of a toxic relationship as they relate to that point.

Helpful Video Playlist: Signs of a Toxic Relationship

What causes toxic relationships?

I know, you’re probably asking yourself, “How did I end up in a toxic relationship?” I get it. It’s almost always a shock when you realize you’re in a toxic relationship, and this may be due to the fact that you’re a strong, intelligent and attractive person who generally reads people like a book. But in many cases, you also had a difficult or traumatic childhood, whether it was a result of abuse, neglect or some other sort of situational trauma.

There are certain features that make you an ideal source of narcissistic supply – learn about those features here.

Helpful Resources for Understanding Why You Got Into a Toxic Relationship

How do I know if my relationship is unhealthy? What do I do if my relationship is toxic?

Take the Toxic Relationship Test below to be directed to helpful resources for your situation. 

 

How long does it take to recover from narcissistic abuse?

How long does it take to recover from narcissistic abuse?

Am I always going to be miserable? Will I ever feel normal again? When will the pain end? When can I expect to start feeling like myself again after the end of a toxic relationship? Will I ever stop missing my ex? Am I ever going to stop crying?

How long does it take to recover from narcissistic abuse?

This is a complicated question, and unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. It varies depending on the nature and duration of the relationship, as well as the depth of the abuse and whether or not you’re intentionally choosing to focus on healing yourself. In general, you could be looking at anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.

Personally, I’ve seen some people manage to recover completely in less than one year, while others find themselves still struggling decades later. It also depends, of course, on your definition of recovery. For example, some people might consider going no contact the final step in healing, while others choose to go on to evolve into a better version of themselves.

Stages of Grief in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

It’s important to recognize that you might also need to go through the grief process after getting out of a toxic relationship with a narcissist. I know it seems wrong – especially when you’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse. But even if you feel like you won’t need to do it, you might want to be aware of the stages of grief as they apply to narcissistic abuse recovery. Most people do not expect this, but nearly all survivors will go through it. This video offers you an explanation of what to expect in each grieving stage.

Helpful: How to Deal with Breaking Up When You’re Still in Love with the Narcissist

Complications of Trauma Bonding: Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse

There are so many complications when it comes to recovering from narcissistic abuse – family connections, shared children, business and legal issues that make no contact impossible, for example. But for most survivors of abuse, trauma bonding makes recovery feel really hard.

What is trauma bonding?

Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, this is a condition that causes abuse victims to develop a psychological dependence on the narcissist as a survival strategy during abuse. Also makes recovering from a toxic relationship significantly more difficult.

This video explains how abuse affects our brains and how trauma bonds are formed.

This video offers information about how you can work on healing the trauma bonds on your own.

Think you might be dealing with trauma bonding? Take this trauma bonding test and find out now. 

Steps to Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse

The process of healing and recovering from narcissistic abuse is slightly different for each person, and it must be customized to fit the needs of the individual. In most cases, it loosely fits in with my DUO Method of narcissistic abuse recovery and it looks like this:

  • Discovery Phase: Where you begin to recognize there’s a problem in your relationship and you start doing the research to figure out what it is. You find a video or an article that perfectly describes your situation, and before you know it, you’ve gone down the rabbit hole, reading, listening and watching everything you can find on narcissism and narcissistic abuse. This is where you’re beginning to wrap your head around the fact that you might be dealing with a toxic person.
  • Understanding Phase: You continue to gather information and you are starting to recognize narcissistic behaviors in someone in your life. You are nearly certain this is what you’re dealing with, and you’re studying everything you can in order to figure out how it correlates to your life. You are drawing parallels all over the place and you might be talking with a coach, therapist or fellow narcissistic abuse survivors in a support group, as well as to people in your own life. You get it, and you’re getting the idea that you’re going to have to create any changes yourself, if you’re ever going to be happy. You’re digging into your own past and your own psychology as well, making sense of it all and figuring out why this happened to you.
  • Overcoming Phase: You’ve left or have decided you’re leaving, or you’ve been discarded and have decided you’re not going back. You KNOW logically that you’re doing the right thing and that you deserve better. You’re working on getting there emotionally and you’re working on taking the next steps to embrace your power and make your life your own again, or maybe for the first time. You’re making connections between your childhood and your adult relationships and you’re beginning to see what you can do to change yourself for the better – and to be more aware of toxic people so you can avoid them in the future.
  • Evolution Phase: The narcissist is no longer a part of your daily life, and if you’re in contact at all, it’s only because you share a child or because you have some business you can’t avoid with them. You’re starting to really live now. You embrace your truth. You follow your passions without shame, and you’re now enforcing your boundaries like a pro. Your standards are high, right along with your self-esteem. You have learned to unconditionally love and accept yourself, and for the first time in a long time, you can honestly say you are truly happy and fulfilled in your life – or at least you’re getting there.

Signs You’re Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

So how do you know if you’re really “getting there” when it comes to healing and recovering from narcissistic abuse? What kinds of signs would you watch for – and how will it feel? This video offers you a comprehensive overview of how to tell if you’re recovering from narcissistic abuse.

What comes next is up to you. I personally needed to sort of redefine myself (once I’d figured out exactly what I believed and what I understood to be true without the influence of the toxic people in my life). I highly recommend that you focus on something that makes you feel passionate as often as possible, and I suggest that you learn how to let go of limiting beliefs that may be stopping you from reaching your personal best.

Need additional resources? Want to find out which stage of narcissistic abuse recovery best fits your current situation? Click here to take a quiz to learn which stage of recovery you’re in and to be directed to resources specifically for your particular stage. 

 

Am I Being Gaslighted? (Test)

Am I Being Gaslighted? (Test)

Ever feel like you’re going crazy and you can’t quite figure out why? Does someone in your life make you doubt yourself and your own reality? Do you ever ask yourself, “Am I being gaslighted?”

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a very toxic manipulation tactic that is employed by most narcissists. Not only is this tactic pervasive and highly-effective, but it is nearly impossible to detect unless you know what you’re looking for, specifically. Gaslighting is meant to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

Take this Am I Being Gaslighted Test right now, and find out if you might be dealing with a toxic person who is gaslighting and manipulating you.

You are not alone

Let us walk you through it.

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Narcissists Bring Out Your WORST! Here’s How and Why

Narcissists Bring Out Your WORST! Here’s How and Why

When the Narcissist Makes You Feel Like A NarcissistNarcissists are notorious for bringing out the worst in us. Why is that? Today, we’re going to discuss what happens when you develop toxic self-protective behavior in reaction to narcissistic behavior and gaslighting.

You might push people away from you to avoid unnecessary drama with the narcissist, or you might feel really jealous of other people due to the narcissist’s behavior. You might feel competitive with other women or men, and you might even seem to lack empathy. But it’s not because you’re a narcissist – it’s because you’re in a toxic relationship with a narcissist or someone with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). You’ve dealt with constant invalidation and rejection.

What does all this mean? Watch this video for the answers.

Reprogram Your Mind in 3 Easy Steps (Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Tips)

Reprogram Your Mind in 3 Easy Steps (Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Tips)

The effects and aftereffects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship can be physical, neurological and psychological – and these issues can, without intentional healing, last a lifetime. One of the most painful things that we deal with as survivors of narcissistic abuse is the complete destruction of our self-esteem and our ability to trust ourselves, thanks to the control, gaslighting and manipulation that narcissists inflict on the people closest to them.

Perhaps most distressing is the fact that narcissistic abuse can cause neurological issues – also known as brain damage. On the plus side, the neurological changes caused by this long-term trauma can be reversed, thanks to our brain’s neuroplasticity.

This video gives you an idea of how neuroplasticity works and how you can use it to your advantage.

3 Simple Steps to Reprogram Your Mind After Narcissistic Abuse

As you probably know, our minds, more specifically our subconscious minds, control our lives. We are what we think or believe. Research has shown that there is a mind-body connection and that the mind can help us overcome health problems.

There are many ways to reprogram your mind: NLP, hypnosis, visualization, EFT, affirmations and coaching. The method you choose will depend on your mindset and budget.

You may feel able to make positive changes on your own with a little knowledge and some resources. You can find a ton of information online or by going to your local library.

If you need help, there are hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners, and coaches that can be hired to work with you.

Whichever route you choose, one element that is crucial is your attitude. For any method to be successful in creating change in the subconscious, you have to want the change and to believe totally in its success. You cannot succeed without this belief.

While every method is different there three steps that each uses to reprogram your mind.

  1. To achieve relaxation you have to take your brain to Alpha level. This is the level where you are able to ‘speak’ directly with the subconscious. Alpha level brainwaves are experienced first thing in the morning as you first awaken and the last thing at night just before you go to sleep. In Alpha level, you are awake (conscious) and aware of your surroundings but your subconscious is fully alert and you are most responsive to learning and accepting new ideas. You can achieve Alpha level by practicing relaxation techniques.
  2. Picture your goal as an image or movie with you ‘in the moment’. It must be in the present so you must be living it. Use all of your senses to make it as real as possible. Tell a story and if you can add some humor even better. Your subconscious loves stories and it loves humor. By fully engaging your senses it becomes more real. Make the scenes really bright and colorful. Hear the sounds, feel the emotions. Touch and taste things.

When visualizing always answer these questions:

              • What can you see?
              • What can you hear?
              • What can you feel? (Physical touch as well as emotions.)
              • What can you smell?
              • What can you taste?

3. While visualizing yourself living your goal it is also important to affirm this. You can either say your affirmations out loud or just think them. To make them even more powerful and effective you can write them down and display them wherever you will see them regularly throughout your day. You can also record yourself saying them out loud and listen to them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Affirmations must be:

              • In the present tense.
              • Said with positive conviction. (You must believe in what you are saying.)
              • Include emotion.

For example, if you’re worried about a presentation you need to give at work, you might use affirmations such as the following.

I am giving a presentation to my department and superiors. I am standing at the front of the room. I feel confident and calm. I am speaking with conviction. I know my topic. My presentation is interesting and fun to give. The audience is listening intently. They are smiling and nodding their heads as I speak. My voice is confident and easy to hear, even at the back of the room. I am standing tall wearing my favorite navy suit. I feel smart.

Knowing these three simple steps can help you successfully program your mind for positive change.

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