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Toxic Relationships are Hard to See, and Even Harder to Accept

Therapy Threads Discusses Practicing Self Love and When to Make a Relationship Change

toxic relationships

Too often, people in toxic relationships cannot see how toxic they truly are. For many, growing up with negative feelings or trauma can make the person believe (deep down) they don’t deserve love. Relationships should nourish and support us. They should make us the best version of ourselves. Toxic relationships can be difficult to identify for individuals who are in them, and even harder to leave once they do.

 

Dr. Gloria Brame, award-winning sex therapist and author, said, “It's easy to identify physical abuse but very difficult for a person in a toxic relationship to ‘hear’ abuse, especially if the victim was raised around negativity or criticism. For them, toxic relationships are a norm. Learning the verbal/behavioral signs of an abusive/narcissistic personality is a critical learning skill for everyone who dates. It's an issue I work on in therapy with depressing regularity."

 

Nearly 60 percent of all women have experienced abuse. There’s a stigma that men cannot be the victims of domestic violence, but one in 7 men over the age of 18 in the United States have been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

 

Signs and Symptoms

 

According to Psychology Today, it’s common for people to minimize or rationalize their suffering to stay in a toxic relationship. This, in turn, damages their self care, increasing stress and depression. The following are common signs of toxic relationships, which can escalate to physical abuse.

 

  1. You feel drained, instead of nourished.
  2. Your actions are motivated by fear, anger or guilt.
  3. You or your partner feels threatened by the other’s hobbies or interests.
  4. Your needs are ignored.
  5. You or your partner never admits fault or blames the other.
  6. There are feelings of unworthiness.
  7. You feel as though it could all come crashing down at any moment.
  8. You or your partner creates drama when the other chooses a friend or thing over their partner.
  9. There is a lack of trust.
  10. You like yourself less when you are around your partner.
  11. You “walk on eggshells” to avoid upsetting your partner.
  12. You feel used or disrespected.
  13. You don’t appreciate each other.self love

Practice Self Love First

    Without self love, victims can easily blame themselves. It’s an easy way to convince yourself (consciously or subconsciously) you are getting what you deserved if you are lacking confidence and filling yourself with loathing feelings and distaste. Low self-esteem is linked with feeling less deserving of happiness, which could lead people to tolerate bad treatment and toxic relationships.

    Additionally, without self-love, we may be attracting negative people into our lives. Research on self-verification shows that people with negative self-views are sometimes drawn to those who see them as they see themselves, which is negatively.

    What to Do


    Understand that you’re worthy of healthy love. Listen to yourself, have courage and trust your judgement. Take action to practice self care. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, find someone to talk to, whether that be someone you trust or a professional. If you are being physically abused, get access to safety immediately.


    If you or someone you know is experiencing violence in a relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. It’s open 24 hours a day.


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