Toxic Relationship 101: Definition, Sign, Effect, and How to Avoid it?

by | Nov 5, 2021

Toxic Relationship

A toxic relationship is one in which you feel unsupported, misunderstood, demeaned, or attacked. Any relationship that makes you feel worse rather than better over time might become toxic.

Toxic relationships may exist in almost any scenario, from the playground to the boardroom to the bedroom. You may also come across toxic relationships among your family members.

A toxic relationship is one that endangers your well-being in some manner—emotionally, psychologically, or even physically.

People with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, major depression, or even depressive tendencies, are more likely to be affected by toxic relationships due to their sensitivity to negative feelings. Someone with bipolar disorder who is experiencing a mixed or depressive episode may have a somewhat less solid grip on emotional stability than others, making him or her an easier target for cruel people. Toxicity, on the other hand, affects everyone.

Here’s what you need to know about harmful relationships, including what causes them to be toxic and how to tell if you’re in one. You’ll also discover strategies for dealing with these sorts of interactions successfully.

What Is a Toxic Relationship?

A toxic relationship is one in which the toxic partner engages in conduct that is emotionally and, not infrequently, physically harmful to their partner. A toxic relationship depletes energy and damages self-esteem, while a healthy one enhances both.

A healthy relationship is one in which there is a mutual feeling, respect, and compassion; an interest in our partner’s well-being and development; and the ability to give and take control and decision-making, in essence, a shared desire for each other’s pleasure.

A healthy relationship is one in which we can be ourselves without fear, a place where we feel at ease and secure. A poisonous relationship, on the other hand, is not a secure environment. Insecurity, self-centeredness, domination, and control are all hallmarks of a poisonous relationship. We risk our very existence by staying in such a connection. A toxic relationship is dysfunctional, to say the least.

Keep in mind that toxic relationships require two people: the poisonous individual and the one who is poisoned. The words and actions of both partners are equally important in establishing a toxic connection. We’ll start with the undesirable partner’s behaviors, but we must also examine the person who is harmed by them.

Why? Why do people stay in relationships that will almost certainly emotionally and/or physically damage them? And, if anything, what can we do short of leaving to help mend such a relationship? Later on, we’ll look at both of these questions in greater depth. First, however, let’s have a closer look at poisonous behavior and relationships.

Signs of a Toxic Relationship

It’s crucial to remember that toxic relationships exist in a variety of settings, including marriages and at work. They may also be quite distressing, especially if they aren’t properly managed, in families, workplaces, and friendship groups.

Not all poisonous relationships are the result of both people’s poor choices. Some people are just toxic to be around; they deplete your energy with negative actions such as complaining, critical comments, and overall negativity. They may act superior to others, challenge people’s opinions all the time, or point out flaws in other people’s reasoning—all of which can wear on you over time.

Some people do this to everyone and are unaware of the impact they have on others. They may not know what healthier communication alternatives exist. It’s probable that they don’t understand how to read social cues well enough to realize when they’re making other people angry or disregarded.

People may also be deliberately unpleasant and harmful at other times. You might feel singled out and targeted by their nasty remarks and deeds in these instances. And, no matter what you do, you always believe that you’re never measuring up or good enough.

If these situations describe your situation, you should reconsider your connection with this person. They might be causing significant emotional and physical harm to your self-esteem and mental health as well as your physical health.

Physical or verbal abuse is undeniably toxic in relationships. However, there are other, less obvious indicators of a harmful relationship, such as:

All take, no give. If you don’t experience any deposits of energy, but do have withdrawals of energy, your relationship will be negative.

Feeling drained. It’s time to reconsider if you’re feeling happy and productive rather than constantly exhausted.

Lack of trust. A relationship without trust is similar to a vehicle with no gas: You can drive it all you want, but it won’t go anywhere.

Constant judgment. In critical relationships, however, criticism is not meant to be beneficial; it’s only intended to demean.

Nonstop narcissism. It’s difficult to achieve balance if the other person’s interest in the connection is really only a reflection of him or herself.

Continuous disrespect. The first requirement of a strong partnership is mutual respect.

Lack of communication. Without communication, there is no relationship. Period.

Insufficient support. Is there a reason to remain in the relationship if you can’t connect with one another?

Ceaseless control issues. If one person is in command or a tug-of-war is taking place, it’s likely that you’re expending too much energy managing the relationship.

Never-ending drama. Good relationships enhance your life; they don’t make it more complicated.

Persistent self-betrayal. If you’re in a bad relationship and find yourself altering your views to fit others,

Feelings of unworthiness. It’s a sneaky thing that negative relationships do: they make you feel like you don’t deserve any better.

Laced with dishonesty. Every lie between partners undercuts a little bit of the relationship.

Makes you unhappy. You have a moral obligation to yourself to end a relationship if someone makes you unhappy on a regular basis.

Feels uncomfortable. Sometimes your mind needs more time to figure out what your heart already knows.

What causes toxic relationships?

What’s the underlying reason for these kinds of connections? According to Behary, toxic relationships frequently bring up our most terrible nightmares: “maybe early trauma, early recollections of abandonment or abuse, being made to feel inferior or unlovable, or not receiving emotional attention,” she explains.

When you’re in a negative relationship, it’s easy to recall something you’ve previously experienced, but it may not be immediately apparent.

Because of this, it’s critical to consider what we experienced as children. “If we grew up in a family where there were abusive relationships, or if we witnessed them among our friends, or if they were present in our community as models, it’s simpler to think that they are normal, acceptable, or simply how things are,” Melamed explains. It might also be the result of having low self-esteem or a diminished sense of self-worth, as well as not understanding what a healthy relationship entails.

How to avoid toxic relationships?

If any of those red flags sound familiar, it’s time to take action. If you feel that you’re in physical danger, you may need to involve the authorities.

If the damage is emotional or mental, you’ll need to determine whether it’s possible to overcome the problem. If underlying causes like anxiety or stress are influencing one or both individuals’ actions, says Fuller, therapeutic or medical therapies may help. Mr. Glass agrees that getting to the heart of the matter is critical, but he also believes there may be times when it is better to walk away.

“I believe you must try to figure out why the individual is toxic and understand it. You might be able to live with it, but you may not,” Glass adds. “[If you can’t], then you must leave it. We have to avoid putting ourselves in that scenario.”

Both Brocke and Gamble credited the book as a turning point in their own lives, with both declaring that they are better as a result. Brocke is now happily married and teaches women who want to break free from abusive relationships. Gamble is intentionally single and leads a Facebook group for almost 7,000 people who have been caught up in toxic relationships.“

Love should never cost you your peace. It should never cost you your joy. It should never cost you your happiness,” Gamble says. “If there’s more negative in the situation than positive, something has to change.”


Ending a bad relationship isn’t easy, but there are a few things in life that are. Most things worth achieving aren’t simple. You may also decide to call it quits at some point; it’s fine, but if you both want to work on the problem, then it’s well worth the effort and the uncomfortable talks.



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