Ask yourself these 5 questions about your relationship:
- Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells with your partner?
- Do you try to do more, to do it better, all in a futile effort to keep your partner happy?
- Do you find that just when you think you’ve made your partner happy, he/she erupts with a new criticism, a new accusation?
- Do you feel like it’s your fault that something is wrong with your relationship because your partner is always blaming you?
- Have these critical, accusatory behaviors become a pattern – set the tone – in your relationship?
Did you answer yes to all or some of these questions? Many of us can probably relate. If there are repeated personal conflicts with the same person and it’s difficult to communicate effectively, your partner may be toxic and the cause of your relationship struggles.
Being in emotionally healthy relationships enhances your well-being – unhealthy relationships have the opposite effect, causing stress and depression. As a result, your feelings become trapped in a continual circle of guilt and shame as you struggle to find a way to ‘fix’ things.
It’s Not the Individual That is Toxic – it’s Their Behavior
A toxic person is an individual who has been wounded or hurt in the past and cannot take personal responsibility for their feelings and needs.
Although the trauma probably wasn’t their fault, these individuals struggle to get past the role of “victim” and continually focus on this to get what they need by blaming and manipulating others.
Creating drama in their lives is a technique used to draw attention to themselves and meet their needs. For instance, if you arranged to meet with your partner after work but had to cancel due to a work emergency, he/she creates excess drama around the situation, accusing you of “always letting them down” and “never thinking about what they want.” You feel guilty. Again.
A Toxic Person Focuses on Their Wants and Needs – While Ignoring Yours
Toxic people can be overly critical of themselves and others.
For example, have you ever been traveling on the interstate with your partner and become snarled in traffic due to an accident? Rather than accepting the situation for what it is, your toxic partner shouts out “I told you we should have left earlier!” or “I told you this was the wrong route to take!”
Unable to accept the situation for what it is – an accident – they continually swear, rant, and look for anyone they can blame. And all too often that person is you.
Another sign that you’re in an unhealthy relationship is that your partner always has to be right.
No matter what the truth is, a toxic person will always argue that they are right and come up with a multitude of reasons why you’re wrong and the one to blame.
Difficult people can be in the workplace, too. Do you have a work colleague or boss that constantly undermines your efforts and blames you when a deadline isn’t met? Toxic people often become perfectionists to compensate for the way they’ve been made to feel a victim, needing to control every aspect of their lives – and the people within them.
Escaping Toxic Behavior & Improving Your Difficult Relationship
You learn how to experience your personal relationships from your parents, family and other people around you from a young age. These interactions create a set of beliefs and values that have a dramatic impact on how you function in your adult relationships. As a result, difficult people and their behavior can affect you greatly when negative emotional habits have been established.
Although positive change is possible, you cannot change someone. A person has to want to change themselves. Since toxic people do not accept personal responsibility for their behavior and its impacts on others, until they see a psychotherapist or counselor to work on their unhealthy emotional habits, their behavior is unlikely to change.
Setting Boundaries in an Unhealthy Relationship
If you’re involved in an unhealthy relationship, you can learn to set boundaries, such as:
- Developing emotional intelligence to understand your partner’s difficult behavior
- Accepting that it isn’t your fault their needs aren’t being met and that they feel themselves to be a victim
If you feel that toxicity in your relationship is making life difficult and want help to navigate the situation and restore your positive mental health and well-being, contact me for effective coaching and psychotherapy. I offer private, safe, and completely confidential online psychotherapy services to accommodate your busy schedule.