Toxicity in relationships

by | Mar 16, 2023

Relationships are what make the world go round. When healthy, they can support you as you become the person you were meant to be. 

However, if relationships are unhealthy and ineffective, they can have the opposite effect by making life feel heavy and hopeless.

On a basic level, any relationship that makes you feel worse, rather than better, can become toxic over time. These are some subtle signs of a toxic relationship:

  • You are not your best self around the person. For example, they bring out the worst side of you, or they seem to draw out a mean streak you don’t normally have.
  • You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around this person to keep from becoming a target of their venom.
  • You feel a toll on your self-esteem over time.
  • You feel unsupported, demeaned, misunderstood, or attacked.
  • You feel depressed, angry, or tired after speaking or being with the other person.
  • You spend a lot of time and emotional strength trying to cheer them up.
  • You are always to blame. They turn things around by making everything your fault.
  • You give more than you’re getting, which makes you feel devalued and depleted.
  • You feel consistently disrespected or that your needs aren’t being met.
  • You bring out the worst in each other. For example, your competitive friend brings out a spite-based competitive streak that is not enjoyable for you.

If you find that you are answering yes to one or more of these. Please seek support. 

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


Gaslighting is a new pop psychology term that essentially is an insidious form of emotional abuse that causes immense damage to clients’ psychological and physical health. Victims of gaslighting report feeling that they are unable to disclose the abuse. Frequently, some are even unaware that it is occurring because they are discredited by the perpetrator as “crazy” leading the victim to feel unsure of their own reality. It can lead to chronic low self-esteem, parental alienation, self-blame, rumination about the relationship, increase in anxious attachment, feelings of disconnection from family and friends, and issues for the children who witness this behavior in the home.

A few warning signs of gaslighting in a perpetrator: intermittent positive reinforcement, slow spiral into instability, compulsive lying, as well as a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality. Perpetrators often demand loyalty but rarely give it in return. They may also have chronic patterns of infidelity, yet may seem charismatic. Our team at Essential Touchstones believes in whole family healing through learning attachments styles, teaching detachment, learning healthy boundaries, and reversing unhealthy relationship patterns. Please call us for more information.