Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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Signs Of A Toxic Relationship

CC image courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Flickr
CC image courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Flickr

I sat on the edge of the road in my car, with tears streaming down my face.

Another relationship failure. I was alone again, except this time I felt even more lonely. It was like a bottomless pit of despair, and I just wanted the earth to swallow me up right then.

Then I felt this strange peace as if God was resting His glorious hand on me. I had discovered freedom. In that moment I realized I was free from a toxic relationship. The relationship I was clamoring to save had been dragging me down to a level in which I was becoming neurotic, insecure and completely consumed in someone else’s emotional issues. I felt unworthy of love, trying to get someone else to show me the love I didn’t have for myself. With my insecurity, I allowed myself to become demanding as well as controlling. I demanded love in hopes that his care would fill up the empty holes in my heart. In fact, I hadn’t learned until that point to stand in confidence with God at the center of my life. Instead, I was in a toxic relationship.

A toxic relationship is one in which two people are making each other sick with the intensity of their emotional issues. Such couples are not good for each other and enter a reality in which they can’t live with each other, but with great intensity are drawn to stay together. Individuals in toxic relationships have not worked out their own issues. Instead of achieving love, they create a mass vortex of unhealthy drama.

Below are 10 signs of a toxic relationship:

Sign #1: You tear each other down instead of building each other up.

Toxic relationships are made up of couples who use names, put-downs and so forth as a way to hurt each other with words, so that there is a level of neediness as well as insecurity in the relationship. Such people want others to feel insecure so that there is a natural dependency. A twisted sense of security arises when people think that, out of fear, they will not leave each other.

Sign #2: There is no freedom without guilt.

In toxic relationships, people use guilt as a form of control. Individuals are not free to be who they are and enjoy large circles of friends or even family. Instead, if one person wants freedom, their partner will try to control them with guilt or even anger.

Sign #3: One person needs to be big so that the other person is small.

In toxic relationships, partners clamor for control. One way of establishing dominance is to make the other person feel bad and worthless, as well as insecure. This way the other partner can feel powerful in the relationship. As a result, partners try to get their own way or win at all costs in the relationship so they have a sense of being in control.

Sign #4: You don’t like who you are in the relationship.

Toxic relationships are exhausting. Often partners are not their best because they are in relationships that resemble an emotional battlefield.

Sign #5: You can’t live with each other and can’t live without each other.

In toxic relationships, there is much drama in which partners pull away from each other and want their freedom, but then when they are apart they miss each other. Often couples do not resolve issues because they rush to be together without working out their problems.

Sign #6: You break up and then make up just as quickly.

There is so much drama that partners in toxic relationships are constantly breaking up and then making up again.

Sign #7: When things are going well, you’re wondering when things will fall apart again.

In toxic relationships, there is a sense of discomfort if things are going well. Because there is so much underlying unhealthiness, tension, drama and stress become the new normal in these relationships.

Sign #8: You don’t have the ability to say what you really think and feel.

In toxic relationships, partners are afraid to share their true feelings out of fear that they will then start further arguments. Therefore couples often have a sense of “walking on emotional eggshells” with each other, worrying about saying or doing the wrong thing that will “set off” the other person.

Sign #9: You spend a lot of time worrying about what the other person is thinking.

In toxic relationships, people act in fear-based ways. They are always worried about offending their partner or having some type of emotional fall-out, as well as problems around issues.

Sign #10: Your emotional worlds become smaller and more focused on relationship stress.

In toxic relationships, stress is the new norm. Because they are managing such high levels of stress, people’s emotional worlds become smaller as they focus on their partner at the expense of enjoying other relationships.

About Cathy Patterson-Sterling

Cathy Patterson-Sterling is a Christian counselor with a counseling ministry called Real Life Tool Box. She is an author, speaker, wife, mother and friend. Through her counseling ministry, she offers more than 50 e-learning audio play courses to help people grow in faith and have their healthiest relationships. She is passionate about helping people find freedom from fear or other emotional strongholds that are holding them back from living out their greatest potential in God's plans for their lives.
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