Being in a romantic relationship usually means the two people involved are intimate with each other and are probably sexually active to some degree (passion). All we need is love? Is that really true? Do we need romantic relationships?
Helen Fischer, an anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute, states, “I came to realize that romantic love is a basic human drive,“
Her colleague Lucy Brown goes further and describes romantic love as a… “survival mechanism as crucial as the craving for water.”
When people love or are in love, they want to please.
This is, first of all, perfectly normal. We adapt to the social norms of our group, and perhaps we want to be perceived as a tolerant, generous, and successful person, like a beautiful person worth being loved by a partner.
Some people believe they don’t deserve love believing they are not worth another person’s time, care, and compassion. They think it’s not enough to be the way they are. They lack, for whatever reason, genuine self-confidence.
Out of the belief that they are not „good enough,” they can quickly create toxic-romantic, but also toxic-friendly, relationships through accepting special behavior from their partner. Relationships that do not allow the partners to grow, but are truly toxic to the mind and body, can make one sick in the long run.
I have listed 7 pitfalls of toxic relationships below.
If you experience the following more than you experience pleasant interactions in your relationship, this does not allow for individual growth or growth in the partnership thereby causing more grief than good.
As often happens in life, it depends on the amount. Perhaps some of the behaviors described below occur infrequently and can be changed with insight. For other behaviors, such as physical violence, immediate action is required.
Only you can assume responsibility for your personal behavior and only you can change your behavior.
If your partner has self-worth problems, lacks empathy, or thinks in psychopathic ways, only he or she can work on those issues. Please visit my article about psychopaths in this blog to learn more about this topic.
Men are rarely perceived as victims of women yet men do suffer from toxic relationships as well. And unlike many women, men often have no circle of friends with whom they can discuss these experiences and are quickly overwhelmed with the experience of violent emotions.
Unfortunately, parents and societies sometimes teach their daughters ‘men only want sex’ and others tell their boys that ‘Indians know no pain, do not cry for feelings are feminine’. Ideals that influence toxic relationships can be taught at home or in society and perpetrators can be male or female!
I know that it is not easy to leave a toxic partner with children. Look for help and support! I have listed some helpful posts that are available for you at any time in the essay on psychopaths.
Never forget: You only have one life and deserve to be happy
1. Pitfall: You feel small, guilty and/or faulty.
What do you feel and/or think when you hear the following sentences from your partner?
- What’s wrong with you?
- Be a good girl.
- You make me behave like this!
- Shame on you.
- Behave yourself!
If you or a part of you is confused and/or anxiously responding to these types of sentences and you feel more or less the strong need to be loving, good, right, or loveable, you may be insecure. In any case, you are anything but self-confident at this moment.
Moreover, if your partner often gives you the feeling of having done something wrong, then you are probably in a toxic relationship. You don’t necessarily have to do something wrong and sometimes you have no idea how you behaved was wrong.
Wrong can be anything: for example…
- You don’t laugh enough.
- You always look so grumpy!
- Stop scratching your head!
- You chew gum too loud!
- You always make my tea wrong!
- How dare you speak to our neighbors/children/parents that way!
- Why don’t you ever try to look nice for me?
- Why do you have such thick thighs? Other women don’t look like you.
Are you afraid that your (toxic) partner will check your phone when you aren’t around and use his findings against you?
No matter what you do, it’s never right or never good enough. A friend of mine is experiencing this. The bad thing is that she is unaware of how this toxic behavior from her partner is negatively affecting herself and her life because of her low self-worth. She believes she is nothing without him.
Andrea is a 40-year-old woman who lives alone and has a job that gives her a good living. She adapts to the wishes of her partner in every situation and does not notice how she becomes sadder through his manipulation. Sometimes she talks about her previous life.
Andrea has a very warm and loud laugh. Her partner doesn’t like it. Each time she is laughing, she gets a look of disgust and often he pushes her when she laughs. Her partner did not shy away from doing this even during a meal with mutual friends. He hissed loudly, „Pull yourself together.“ Often, she also hears other remarks like, „What’s the matter with you that you cannot behave yourself?” or „Be a lovely girl and behave.“ He controls her more and more and she hardly has any contact with her girlfriends.
Her partner manipulates her with shame with phrases like: „Why do you have such a thick belly?“ or „When will you earn more money?“ Feelings of shame arise when we have or do something for which we can be rejected or condemned. There is hardly anything we cannot be ashamed of.
It’s all about shame
For example, we may be ashamed of ourselves if we:
- Are not successful enough
- Make mistakes or have weaknesses
- Do not feel good enough in bed
- Feel inadequate or like a failure as a father or mother
- Are too fat, have too long a nose, are too small, too dark/light, etc.
When we feel ashamed, we feel small and want to be invisible. We then feel no longer loveable, not worthy of love.
You can read more about this in my essay on shame in this blog.
Be rest assured: you are adorable, worthy of love, and deserve to be happy.
2. Pitfall: Your partner is obsessively jealous
It’s okay to be a bit jealous. In a way, jealousy means „I care about you.“ However, if you feel as though you must lie or are behaving in a way that is totally dependent on his jealous feelings, then your self-worth can become less and less. Show the red card when the following happens in your life:
My hairdresser told me about her relationship with her jealous partner. She finds him so loving and masculine. She says, “He left his wife for me. And because he loves me, he watches over me. And because I love him, I don’t wear short skirts or makeup anymore. I know he installed a bug in my apartment. Trust is not his forte. Therefore, I have to be careful when and how I look at a man when I’m with him.“
Who has a problem here and who can solve it? Yes, it’s true, the partner! Her partner seems to be very uncertain and has difficulties trusting. Only he can change his trust- with or without help.
3. Pitfall: You are never good enough
Are you discouraged from pursuing your goals or dreams? Be honest with yourself for a moment. What did you dream about before the relationship and what do you dare to dream about now?
There are partners who speak very little and can not be delighted with your success. Possibly, they simply do not perceive your successes.
„I’m just 20 years old – I have my high school diploma and am working a job that does not fulfill me. Soon, I plan to start my bachelor degree. My partner is the opposite of encouraging when I bring up the topic of furthering my education. I wonder where the problem is – what am I doing wrong? He is 4 years older than me and is just starting his education. He tells me every day how hard it is and that I wouldn’t be able to handle the work. I would have it much easier if I don’t pursue higher education and rather just continued working.”
„My husband makes fun of me in public and undermines my credibility. Often he asks me: Are you sure you should be wearing such a tight dress and are you sure you can afford it? It may sound funny, but I feel bullied. He should be proud of me. My small business is growing and I feel very proud of my accomplishments. My husband is unemployed.“
Do you feel as if you lost your self-confidence because of your relationship?
Healthy relationships support and promote each other. Build on each other in the pursuit of dreams.
4. Pitfall: It is always your fault.
No one is perfect and you don’t have to be. For some errors an excuse is helpful and some errors can not be repaired. A broken plate with 10 pieces on the floor will never be whole again. That’s part of life.
However, if your partner only detects errors with you, it may look like this:
- He has written a bad report/ poorly presented/received bad feedback etc at work:
“You made me fail because I can never sleep with you hogging the whole bed all night!”
- He lost his job:
No wonder: he always has to take care of everything.
- He’s in a bad mood:
You get on his nerves with your “constant complaining.”
- He beats you:
You provoked him. He’s just a man. „Behave yourself, and it won’t happen!“
- He is mean:
“Stop acting like a baby- you take everything so personal.“
- He can tell little or nothing about himself:
„You made fun of me in the past so now I can’t trust you anymore.“
The variations are endless.
If you recognize this pattern in your relationship, again, show the red card. And if you can, run. He will not change.
5. Pitfalls: You no longer do what you love
Think for a moment what has changed with your relationship. What was different before? What did you give up for him or her?
Did you give up the gym, your hobby, etc.?
Did you change your style for your partner? Do you wear different clothes now?
Do you still meet your friends? Do you have any?
Every relationship requires compromise, but ask yourself what have you left behind?
If you have given up much of your life for his or her sake because you want peace and to not always be fighting, this is not normal. Your partner is apparently a control junkie. It’s his or her problem. A relationship is not a prison
6. Pitfalls: You feel like you are sitting on a powder keg
Do you notice that you are becoming more and more careful, feel like you’re walking on eggshells, becoming more and more cautious and inwardly restless? Do you wait dreadingly for the next outburst of emotions from your partner?
If you agree, you should read my article about psychopaths. You may be with such a person. This has nothing to do with a healthy and normal relationship.
Run! Get help. You deserve better
7. Pitfall: You are the only person who is driving and fighting for the relationship
If your relationship is characterized by frequent separations or breakups, this is not a healthy pattern.
If you are the person who has good reasons to separate but is yearning to respond to the smallest positive sign from your ex-partner or is constantly making an effort to repair the relationship without help from your partner, be very careful.
It may be that you are addicted to love: addicted to the feelings that your partner gave you at the beginning of your relationship. This feeling is similar to that experienced by someone who consumes cocaine. The same brain regions are addressed and the same hormones are released motivating you to chase the “high” of being in love.
Please don’t condemn yourself. This has nothing to do with intelligence. You may be the victim of a psychopath. Read more about the topic of love addiction in my next blog report.
May these seven pitfalls offer you some insight as you reflect on your relationship’s toxicity.
What experiences do you have?
Dr. Birgit Zottmann