“Controllers, abusers, and manipulative people don’t question themselves. They don’t ask themselves if the problem is them. They always say the problem is someone else.” ~Darlene Quimet
Toxic relationships aren’t always obviously toxic to the untrained eye. In fact, even people who are actively engaged in toxic relationships aren’t always aware that they’re dealing with a toxic person. As outrageous as this sounds, it’s an unfortunate fact. There are many reasons that we don’t always recognize a toxic partner, family member or friend – and we’ll cover those today.
According to a MentalHelp.net survey, toxic relationships are far more common than you might think. In fact, according to their results, “57 percent of respondents have felt afraid or uncomfortable in their current relationship, while 87 percent have felt this way in previous relationships.” And that isn’t counting those who have reported abuse in these toxic relationships.
And it isn’t just women who are experiencing abuse in toxic relationships. Though a large percentage of domestic abuse is experienced by women, especially those between 18 and 34 years old, men are just as likely as women to experience emotional abuse in toxic relationships.
“Nearly 50 percent of both men and women reported psychological aggression,” write the study authors. “This falls roughly in line with our survey results, which showed that an equal number of men and women experienced fear or discomfort in their current relationship.”
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is similar to a dysfunctional relationship, but it’s far less repairable. Toxic relationships involve more negativity than positivity, and one or both of the people involved will be deprived of even the most basic emotional support on a consistent basis. Toxic relationships very often involve a myriad of issues for those involved, such as resentment, contempt, communication problems and varying forms of physical, emotional and psychological abuse. Toxic relationships are also usually codependent relationships on various levels.
What are the signs of a toxic relationship?
The signs of a toxic relationship are many and varied. They include:
- You’re behaving in ways that you normally would not as a result of the way your partner behaves.
- You’re always feeling just not good enough.
- You don’t share your feelings, thoughts or ideas because you know you won’t be heard, or that it will always be taken the wrong way.
- You have forgotten how to talk about yourself.
- You worry more about how your partner will react to things than about how YOU feel about things.
- You walk on eggshells more often than not.
- You get blamed for all the problems in your relationship, whether or not you caused them.
- You’re dealing with emotional abuse. (Here’s how you can recognize emotional abuse.)
- You are gaslighted and manipulated as a method to control or oppress you.
Further Reading on Toxic Relationships Signs
- Identifying Toxic Family Relationships
- Top 10 Signs You’re Being Gaslighted
- Narcissistic Relationships: The Shocking Truth
- Toxic Relationships: Recognizing Signs of Abuse
Why did I get involved in a toxic relationship?
If your toxic relationship is of the romantic nature, chances are that you’ve experienced a toxic relationship in some other iteration in your life – most likely, in childhood. For example, one or both of your parents may have been toxic, or you may have experienced a trauma of some kind at the hands of someone you should have been able to trust. You are also an empath or a highly sensitive person who acts swiftly to soothe the extreme feelings of the people around you, possibly due to some sort of abuse or neglect in your own childhood.
This playlist goes into detail on what makes you susceptible to a toxic relationship.
Further Reading on Why You Get Involved in Toxic Relationships
- Why did I get sucked into a toxic relationship?
- Narcissist Bait
- Why We Pick Difficult Partners
- The #1 Reason You Keep Attracting Toxic People
How do you deal with a toxic relationship?
“Like arsenic, toxic people will slowly kill you. They kill your positive spirit and play with your mind and emotions. The only cure is to let them go.” ~ Denise Lisseth
No Contact is the ideal solution to a toxic relationship. That means that you end the relationship and stop connecting with the person involved, on every level. Learn everything you need to know about how to do no contact and why it works, right here. When no contact isn’t an option because of shared children or some other reason, you can manage with low-contact, gray rock or using a variety of other strategies. And there are even ways you can manage to coexist with a narcissist in the same house (if you must).
Why is it so hard to leave a toxic relationship?
It’s always easier said than done to leave a toxic relationship – as it is to leave any relationship. But somehow, leaving a toxic relationship can be so overwhelming that many victims just choose to stay indefinitely. Why is that? Two words: trauma bonding. Trauma bonding is similar to Stockholm Syndrome. It’s a condition that causes you to develop a psychological dependence on a toxic person (abuser) as a survival strategy during abuse. And this is exactly what makes recovering from a toxic relationship so much more difficult than recovering from a “normal” breakup.
Free Resource Alert: If you need help leaving your toxic relationship, go pick up your free copy of my PLAN (Plan to Leave a Narcissist) right here.
How do you heal after a toxic relationship?
Healing from a toxic relationship seems like an impossible goal for many survivors of narcissistic abuse, and this is true for a number of reasons. This healing guide offers not only solutions but also resources to help you learn not only how to heal from a toxic relationship, but why you were there in the first place. Plus, you’ll learn how you can level up your life after a toxic relationship and begin to evolve into the person you’ve always wanted to be. Read the full guide on how to heal after a toxic relationship right here.
How can I tell if my relationship is toxic?
Take this quick toxic relationship test to find out if you might be dealing with a toxic relationship. After you finish the test, you’ll be guided to free helpful resources designed just for you.
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy.
She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.