How to recognise a toxic relationship? That’s what I’m going to be talking about today. I’m going to give you ten red flags to remember and four ways to detox the relationship. I’m Doctor Tracey Marks, a psychiatrist, and this channel is about mental health education and self-improvement. I publish videos every week.
So, if you don’t wanna miss one, click “Subscoverlooks not just for your relationship with your partner. It could be anyone with whom you’re close and who takes up space in your life. A boyfriend, sister, mother, and, since we all have faults, how can you tell when you need to accept someone’s flaws or when you’re overlooking a serious issue?
People do change, after all as they mature. So, it’s not entirely unreasonable to think that someone can change their behaviour. But there are some behaviours and attitudes that just don’t change much with time (at least not without professional help) is because they’re a part of the person’s personality.
So, here is a list of some behaviours that I think you should NOT overlook or ignore and just think that they’ll go away with time. These are not transient behaviours that only pop up when someone’s going through a bad patch. These are behaviours attitudes that persist over time, regardless of the circumstances.
So, number one: chronic anger. The anger can take the form of blow-ups, irritability, moodiness, and this is not just due to depression or anxiety. In this case, the person uses anger to control. So you find yourself tiptoeing around their anger, and you measure what you do because you don’t want to make them angry. Number two: chronic sarcasm.
This is just a disguised form of ange. Number three: disparaging humour. And this is similar to sarcasm. Sarcasm is wit with bitterness behind it. And here, the person is always putting something or someone down, but in a joking way. Number four: having a punitive mindset.
Feeling as though people deserve the terrible things that happened to them or idiots deserve to lose. Here’s another example. Suppose I blow up at you and call you s or that, and then you get upset, and then I say, “Well, sorry, I hurt your feelings, but you push my buttons. You shouldn’t push my buttons.”
That’s not an apology, because what I’m saying is, “I’m not- I mean, yeah, I don’t like that you got upset, sort of, but you deserved my wrath for being stupid.” That’s a punitive mindset. Number five: a controlling nature. Here’s an example of this. Suppose I tell you, “I don’t think you look good in purple.”
And then I see you out somewhere, and you’re wearing purple, and I get angry, because, after all, if you cared about me, you wouldn’t wear purple. After all, I told you you don’t look good in it. So, wearing that shirt means that you don’t value my opinion and you don’t care about me at all.
And your response is, “Well, of course, I care about you! I won’t wear the shirt again; I’m so sorry!” Now, you have to think twice every morning when you look in your closet to make sure you’re not going to put on something that I said I didn’t like, and that invalidates me. That’s controlling. Number six: excessive insecurity.
This is where the person needs you to reassure them constantly. They can also require you to agree with them, do what they say, do it their way, et cetera because if you don’t, then they don’t feel good about themselves, and they’ll blame you for that—number seven: overly opinionated.
And this is a disguised form of someone, some judgmental, and usually with judgment comes criticism. Number eight: the manipulator. And how do they do this? They may use guilt to make you do things by using many “if, then” statements. If, as I used in the previous example, “IF you cared about me, THEN you’d do this.”
Suppose you hear them using many “if, then” that’s an indication or sign that they’re trying to manipulate you. They also don’t take no for an answer, and they try and get you to change your mind a lot. A subtle way they can try and get you to change your mind is by making the same request of you repeatedly and asking why.
So, you’ve already told them no, you don’t want to do something they want you to do. They keep asking you, “So, why don’t you wanna do this?” So as an example, let’s say, I tell you, “I’d like you to move in with me.” And you don’t want to. You’ve already told me no. And then I get my place together.
“Well, WHY won’t you move in with me?” And you say, “Oh, I just… I don’t want to shack. I don’t believe in shacking.” “Shacking, where did you get that from? That’s your parents talking, that’s not you.” And I say all these things that shoot down your reasoning.
That conversation goes away. We have some discussion, I bring it up again, “Oh, why won’t you- I got this nice place, why won’t you move in with me? Come on, move in with me.” And then, after a while, it just gets to where you feel like you gotta re-craft your answer over and over, you don’t have another way of saying it.
I’ve talked to you down every time you gave your answer. So, at some point, you finally get to the place where you’re like, “Well, I guess I don’t have a good reason, okay.” And then I’ve won. That’s manipulation. Number nine: predominant self-centeredness. These are people who take more than they give, and they still may provide, but only after they feel satisfied that their needs have been fully met before giving back to someone else.
And, even when they do give of themselves, it’s easy for them to feel like they’ve given too much and then feel exploited and taken advantage of, and they’ll blame you for that. So, sometimes it doesn’t even feel good to get something from this person, because you know there’s going to be a price to pay on the back end when they blame you for taking advantage of them.
The number 10 and the last red, negative flag here is the need to always be on the offence. They have a world view that people will always try and stick it to you unless you get yours first. So, they still have to get over in some way. For every transaction, they have to be on the upside.
If you grew up around someone who did these kinds of suggestions you may find yourself attracted to similar people, even though you don’t like their behaviour, because even objectionable behaviour can feel familiar and comfortable at some level. What if you’re already involved in a toxic relationship? Here are four suggestions on how to detox it.
Number one: take a break from your interactions with the person. You need to give yourself time to reflect on what bothers you about the relationship. How do you feel when you’re away from the person? How much do you miss them? What do you forget about the person? Here you’re getting some clarity on the negatives and the positives of the relationship.
Number two: create emotional distance. And this is the key to disentangling from toxic relationships. Think about how much closeness is necessary. Is this person in your life, your spouse? If so, then you should get professional help to help improve the relationship. But aside from that, you still need to pull back ever so slightly.
And this isn’t to say that you should be cold to your spouse, but suppose your wife is cynical and critical, and this has beaten you down over the years. To protect your self-esteem, you’re going to need to give her opinion less weight, so that you don’t internalise her every negative thought of you.
And even in the closest relationships, you still have to maintain your thoughts and ideas and independence from your spouse. Now, you may say, “I don’t wanna keep secrets from my husband.” This isn’t about keeping secrets. Even though you’re married, you still have separate minds, and it’s okay to have some thoughts that are your own and no one else’s.
Your thoughts don’t have to merge into one big thought bank, and then both of you just dip out of the bank to know what’s going on. But what if the person with whom you have this toxic relationship is your parent? Then you have to come to grips and accept that you’re just not going to have an intimate relationship with your parent.
And this is a hard pill to swallow. Everyone wants, at some base level, to have a close relationship with their parent. But people are people, people are flawed individuals, and sometimes it’s just not possible to have that emotional intimacy, at least at the level that you think you should, mostly based on what we see in society, of kind of the perfect relationships.
Once you come to that realisation, you pull back as far as you need to maintain whatever relationship is logistically necessary. You interact at a minimal level, so you don’t let their opinions define you. Number three suggestion: look at your contribution. What are you doing to keep the drama going?
Are you picking fights with your partner and provoking him to lose it? Are you treating your mom the same way she treats you, just to get back at her? We usually stay in toxic relationships for a reason, even if it’s a twisted reason. Once you recognise how you’re perpetuating the problem, look to change the behaviour and see how it impacts the relationship.
A lot of times, when you address your issue within that relationship, things start to break down in the relationship naturally, because you’re a different person. That dyad that kept going before isn’t clicking and working anymore, because you’re not playing your role anymore. Number four: get professional help.
Serious marital and family problems usually call for some form of counselling. You need an objective person to see both sides of the issue. And if it’s a relationship outside of your marriage, you work with your therapist to know how you can recognise your blind spots and recognise your contribution to the problem.
Your therapist or coach can understand you and help give you some more specific information on how to handle the toxic relationship. That’s it for me. That seemed long. It might just be because of talking about all that negativity. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you don’t have to stay entangled in a negative relationship.
Oh, and I almost forgot, I made an affirmation meditation video that goes along with this video today. So I’ll put a link in the corner for you, check it out. If you know someone who could use this information, please share this video. I’d like to hear your comments too. I do respond to comments.