NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Are You in a Toxic Relationship?

You usually don't get to really know someone that you're seeing until you've been with them for a while.  During the initial "honeymoon" stage of the relationship, everything might seem like it's going well.  But with increased emotional intimacy, core emotional issues begin to come up, and that's when there might be signs that you're in a toxic relationship (see my article: Are Your Fears of Being Alone and Lonely Keeping You in an Unhealthy Relationship?,  Letting Go of an Unhealthy Relationship,  Falling In Love With Mr. Wrong Over and Over Again and Choosing Healthier Romantic Relationships).

Are You in a Toxic Relationship?

Signs of a Toxic Relationship
  • Controlling Behavior: What might appear to be concern at first might actually be controlling behavior.  If you're romantic partner needs to always know where you are, whom you're with or makes attempts to control your behavior in other ways, this is a red flag for a toxic relationship.
  • Excessive Jealousy:  This often goes along with controlling behavior.  Initially, it might come across as your partner being so in love with you, but excessive jealousy has nothing to do with love--it has all to do with your partner's insecurity.
  • Excessive Judgment and Criticism: Your partner might mask signs of excessive judgment and criticism as "suggestions," but if these so-called suggestions undermine your sense of self worth, it's another red flag that you're in a toxic relationship.  This often goes along with controlling behavior and excessive jealousy (see my article: Is Your Relationship Damaging Your Self Esteem?).
  • Emotional Abuse: Excessive judgment, criticism, name calling, efforts to undermine your self esteem are forms of emotional abuse.  If your partner exhibits these behaviors, you're being emotionally abused.  Needless to say, physical abuse is dangerous and if your partner is physically abusing you, you should get out of that relationship as soon as possible (see my article: Relationships: Why Emotional Abuse Might Seem "Normal" to You).

Are You in a Toxic Relationship?

  • Lack of Emotional Support:  If your partner tends to be unable to be there for you emotionally when you're going through a hard time, this is a sign that you're not getting the emotional support that you need and you're probably in a toxic relationship.
  • Taking and No Giving: Related to lack of emotional support is the romantic partner who tends to want to take emotional support from you but who is unwilling to give you emotional support.  If you're in this situation, your relationship is one-sided and toxic.
  • Constant Drama: Constant drama can be emotionally and physically draining.  There are often other underlying issues going on that you might never figure out.  In any case, emotional drama requires a lot of effort and attention and it often accomplishes nothing.  This is a sign that you're in an unhealthy, toxic relationship (see my article: Hooked on Emotional Drama: Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster).
  • Constant Disappointment: If your romantic partner is unable to keep promises and commitments, you're going to be constantly disappointed.  This is a sign that your partner isn't emotionally reliable, and it's a bad sign for a relationship (see my article: Keeping or Breaking Your Promises).
These are some of the major red flags for a toxic relationship.

As I mentioned earlier, these signs usually don't show up until the relationship has become more emotionally intimate because intimacy tends to bring up core issues for people.

Getting Help in Therapy
Recognizing the signs of a toxic relationship is the first step.  Knowing what to do after you recognize these signs is another matter.

It's possible that, even though you recognize these signs, you're ambivalent about getting out of the relationship--even though you know it's unhealthy for you.

You might even be engaged in wishful thinking that your relationship isn't so bad or that you'll change your partner (see my article: Wishful Thinking Often Leads to Poor Relationship ChoicesThe Problem With Trying to Change or "Improve" Your Romantic Partner and Relationships: I'll Change Him/Her After We Get Married).

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to understand what keeps you stuck in an unhealthy relationship and how to take care of yourself (see my articles:  The Benefits of Psychotherapy and How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Struggling on your own can make you feel worse about yourself.

Rather than struggling on your own or relying on friends who tell you unhelpful things like, "Just get out!," get help from an experienced psychotherapist who has helped other clients to overcome this issue.  Not only will you resolve your problem, but you'll feel better about yourself.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.