8 Toxic Behaviors That Kill Relationships video


When we talk about toxic relationships, we can refer to different contexts: family, social, work ... Raise your hand who believes that you have never experienced a toxic situation in your life!

However, in general terms, this concept tends to address the entire field of couple relationships .

In recent years I have come across several cases of relationships of this type. Both personally and professionally, I have dealt with couples whose relationship was so toxic that it was doomed. Yes, I say it was in the past tense, since in most cases the most positive thing for both parties was to end the relationship so as not to continue suffering.

Henn Kim's illustrations to illustrate types of toxic partners

Henn Kim is a Korean illustrator known for her famous black and white works. His illustrations evoke in a simple and tremendously symbolic way, different situations of heartbreak .

She doesn't call them toxic relationships, maybe she doesn't even know the term. However, this is exactly what the author does: describe in each of her drawings, the different pathological situations that are constructed as a couple .

I am an avowed fan of Kim and often use her drawings in consultation. Sometimes I ask my patients to look among their pictures which best represents their relationship as a couple. Today, I am going to share it with you and I hope that if you identify with any of them, you can do something constructive with this information.

One last note: The drawings do not have a gender perspective . The author makes them from her own angle, so I would ask you not to literally interpret the role of the man or the woman when viewing the drawings, anyone can be in the positions of each illustration, regardless of gender.

Types of toxic relationships to break

Next we are going to see, in an illustrated way, 9 types of toxic relationships that you should avoid , in addition to the emotions and feelings that can arise in each of them. Take a pen and paper:

The symbiotic couple relationship

I'm sure that while I'm talking about the different types, memories of people will come to mind. It is very likely that you have met a symbiotic couple . This is the case of two people who when they meet and start a relationship forget everything else: their friendships, their personal hobbies ... As Vivian Gornick would say, fierce attachments ... and pathological.

It usually occurs when two people with a tendency to emotional dependence get together . In these cases, the fusion occurs , erasing the individual identity of each member.

However, we must differentiate the symbiotic relationship from a transitory situation where two people in love want to spend most of their time together. The natural thing in these cases is that after that first moment of falling in love, people regain their personal space.

Toxic relationships in adolescence?

Symbiotic relationships are very frequent where adolescence , adolescence can be considered an example of an unhealthy relationship if in some way they are contributing to the isolation of these two people. However, it is a natural response to discovering love.

2. the type of incompatible partner

The incompatible partner is often on the edge of toxicity. It is apparently a relationship composed of two healthy people, but for some reason, they do not stop arguing.

This couple goes to couples therapy a lot, looking for a mediator or a judge to tell them who is right and who is not. They are usually two people who love each other, but have such disparate ways of understanding life and relationships that agreement is impossible.

For example, it would be the case of a couple where one of the members wants to have an open or swinger relationship, and tries to convince the other party to acquire their life model or vice versa.

They are couples who are constantly reproaching each other and who are afraid of wanting to change the other person . Although it hurts, it is true: love is not enough .


In consultation there are many testimonies of toxic relationships that I could tell you, I am going to share with you the case of an incompatible couple. In this case, it is only she who came for consultation:

He goes about his business, he doesn't count on me at all. He does not want us to go live together, or move forward. I am afraid to ask him about the future, if he will want to have children or get married, because I fear the answer. I feel alone and empty . I always think for both of us and he tells me to organize myself. If I do, he doesn't get angry, that's fine with him, but it's not what I want .

3. The fear of change

I didn't really know what to call this type of couple, so I didn't want to complicate my life and called it the fearful couple .

The fear of change is a very human reaction, when we have been with someone for a long time we build a type of life: relationships with their family, routines, even very probably a coexistence. Breaking with all that generates a lot of uncertainty , although almost always, if not always, it is more fear than what really ends up happening later.

Because the fear of change is like that, what are you afraid of? to nothing, and nothing scares a lot. It may be a member of the couple or even both of them who, because of this fear, are kept in uncomfortable discomfort for a long time.

How do you deal with the fear of change?

Well, the only option that occurs to me is with courage . We will have to stop avoiding and postpone the arrival of the difficult moment, we must go through pain and fear, there is no other choice.

4. Emotional instability

Another classic: the incendiary couple . The incendiary couple is a couple that is characterized above all by living on a continuous emotional roller coaster that generates great emotional instability.

This type of couple also comes to therapy quite often. I remember the case of a couple who came for consultation because they wanted to stop arguing , at least in that way. At a certain point in therapy, I told them, what do you think would happen if you stop arguing? What would you talk about?

When they managed to stop fighting and faced each other, they realized that they did not know each other. Their relationship had been marked from the beginning by conflict. They ended up leaving the relationship.

Why are these types of relationships addictive?

Every toxic relationship has its one, however in the case of incendiary couples like the one I just told you about, it has an easy explanation:

This roller coaster of emotions I was talking about generates intense peaks of dopamine and relief (gaba), preceded by moments of great anguish and bad feeling, exactly the same as in addiction .

5. Psychological and emotional abuse

The relationship of psychological or emotional abuse embodies the pyramid of toxic relationships to avoid. If we have long been experts in detecting physical abuse as an intolerable situation, with psychological abuse we have a lot of work to do. Which does not mean that with the physical abuse there is no work to carry out.

The mistreatment or psychological abuse is much more subtle and it is destroying your self-esteem little by little. This ends up placing the person who suffers it as guilty or deserving of what happens. In addition to, progressively, isolated from their social and emotional environment.

How to break a toxic relationship of this type?

I have chosen this illustration to represent the abuse because this is exactly what the psychological abuser does , blind you.

Getting out of a toxic relationship of abuse is not an easy task, but my first advice would be that if you find yourself in this situation or know someone who may be, avoiding isolation is the first thing. It is important that the person who is being abused continues to have support outside the relationship, even if for the moment they cannot leave it.

6. The endless separation

This is not exactly a toxic type of couple, because they can no longer be called a couple, they are what I call the ashtray couple . Just like when you finish smoking you pour the ashes, there are couples who continue to consume them.

That fear of letting go , of letting the other go, of committing to a decision, is also one of the very toxic situations that can occur between two people.

Breaking relationships ... so they don't become toxic

In many cases, these couples did not have a toxic relationship, but it is now, at the end of it, when they find themselves messing things up.

In this type of case, not breaking the relationship can be a way to "toxify" a beautiful memory.

7. Victimization and manipulation

The victimization is a kind of emotional manipulation , which according to what happens extent, can be considered a type of psychological abuse .

The "victim" member is usually a person with negative narcissistic personality traits ( everyone is against me ). They are usually people with a dominant dependent character , where apparently they give everything for people and they receive a lot of pain in return

They often use guilt as a means of getting the other partner to submit to or continually pay attention to their needs.

Toxic family relationships

Victimizing relationships are surely the most common toxic family relationships . They tend to occur in families where there is a completely absent father and a mother who, in fear of ceasing to be important, prevents the growth and autonomy of her children.

However, this type of relationship can also occur the other way around: sons or daughters who blame their parents for the things that happen to them and take advantage of them to get everything they want from them.

8. Controlling and Jealous Couples

The controlling and jealous partners are one of the most common cases. The person who is jealous or controlling does not always have to be with a bad intention, in many cases it is the result of the inability to control their own fears and insecurities. However, this does not mean that it can cause a lot of damage.

People who tend to control or zealotry , tend to choose submissive people, who through "rational" arguments are convincing and causing doubt that what they do is a lack of respect and even betrayal of the partner.

How to control jealousy

Learning to know how to control jealousy is not an easy task. First of all, we must be aware of the problem and want to ask for help. Being a person with jealousy problems does not mean that your partner does not cheat on you or cannot do it in the future, it means that the more you control, the more anxiety you feel and that, therefore, it is convenient to stop doing it.

9. The idealization of the other

The idyllic couple is not called that because it is, but because one of the members has idealized the other. As in the illustration, the relationship is one, and what we tell ourselves is something else.

Idealization is a defense mechanism that serves to deny reality and to be able to maintain a relationship that does not really produce satisfaction. This generally occurs in emotionally dependent people , where the other with their presence makes them special.

Thus, idealization serves to draw the conclusion that if the other is special and wants to be with me, then I must be too.

Idealize a person

It is very common to idealize a person when he or she has passed away, or after a love break . From melancholy it is easy for us to extol qualities of the other that they do not really have.

This happens a lot to the ashtray couple, that when they separate, they begin to feel bad and through idealization they imagine the other person. Then they come back, they realize that they are not in love and they leave it again. So in an infinite loop.

Sexual intercourse and toxicity

Regarding the subject of sexual relations, an article could only be written to talk about it. Many couples use sex as a way to validate the relationship.

For example, I remember the case of a patient who told me: I think what hooked me on him was sex . It is never sex, since sex does not hook, what hooks is the emotional sense of power, self-esteem, attachment or other that accompanies it.

At other times, sex is used to punish the other part of the couple or is used as a claim or reward to get their attention.

One of the most painful situations that undermines self-esteem the most is when one member of the couple has lost the desire for the other. Just as toxic or more, is forcing yourself to have sex when you don't want to .

As you can see, there is a lot of fabric to cut here.

Examples of toxic relationship

We have to differentiate a healthy relationship from a toxic relationship. We consider that a relationship is toxic when in the couple both partners adopt different roles: one party seeks to "take advantage" of the submission of the other . To do this, he adopts intolerable manipulative behaviors in the face of the emotional dependence of the opposite party.

There are many toxic examples of relationships , in fact you can find several throughout this article. But finally, I want to share an extract of something that a patient in consultation recently told me. Let's see if you can guess what kind of toxic relationship it is:

When he gets angry what he does is stop talking to me, he can spend days without answering his cell phone or saying anything. So I'm getting more nervous, I get desperate. I no longer know if I love him or if I am hooked.

Toxic love

Among the behaviors considered toxic stands out the disdain masked through jokes ("don't worry, I already make dinner, totally for what you do"), bad character that is wearing down the relationship, guilt ("they have thrown me the anger at work because you have entertained me ") or a controlling, possessive and authoritarian attitude (" if you are not talking to me on WhatsApp I do not understand who you may be talking to ").

At other times, it is not that toxicity is the responsibility of a "toxic person" .. If not that the conjunction of two people who do not know how to function together is what ends up making the relationship toxic

Toxic couples who "kill"

Some time ago I had a case in consultation with a teenager who spoke highly of her partner. Their relationship was idealized since for her this boy had everything: he was handsome, popular, intelligent and always seemed to be aware of her. Coincidentally, and despite finding perfection in him, whenever she came to the session she was crestfallen, without illusion and with a lump in her throat.

At first, he couldn't understand why his parents absolutely refused to approve this boy. In fact, he believed that they were the "bad guys in the movie" since they were causing a multitude of difficulties in their relationship by not accepting him.

As the sessions went by and after confronting her on multiple occasions, her thoughts changed. She realized that he didn't have to be the " boss " in the relationship and she wasn't required to abide by his rules. He was able to detect their daily jealousy and blackmail and recorded each of their submissive behaviors .

What had previously normalized and believed to be a healthy relationship came to be considered toxic. After much effort, his attitude changed and he took control of his life. He was able to end this torturous relationship. In the last sessions there was nothing left of that sad, listless and listless girl. She was born again and this time she was ready to take on the world.

Are there solutions for toxic relationships?

Whoever is in a toxic relationship will feel that they cannot move forward, as if they were trying to climb to the top of a mountain with 200 kilos carrying in their backpack, and it is more than likely that they are fervently looking for solutions. .

In this type of relationship, the closest people usually try to help the "victim of the situation" but generally they usually have a blindfold .

For a relationship to work, it is necessary that there are bases such as adequate communication and the promotion of good habits established in both members of the couple. Through couples therapy, good results can be achieved in some cases as long as both parties are satisfied and willing to change . After that, said relationship may even be favored after this process. In the opposite case, if the toxic person does not want to change, you initiate the change.

Every cloud has a silver lining

However, there are cases in which there is no going back and the best thing for both parties is to put an end to the relationship. There is a saying that goes: "A withdrawal in time is a victory." So much so that if we find ourselves in a toxic relationship and no matter where we look, we cannot find a solution, the main thing will be to terminate it. Sometimes we try by all means to fix something that is shattered, ignoring that it is something impossible.

Better alone than in bad company

We have grown up in the midst of a romantic love that is sometimes false since it is idealized. We believe that we are unable to continue with our life without that person who has supposedly been by our side before. We carry to the letter the "I can't live without you" of some songs without internalizing that what we really should think is "I don't want to live without you."

Of course we can live without that person who has been weakening us and sapping our self-esteem. When you live in a toxic relationship, you internalize the negative behaviors of the other person in such a way that you end up normalizing them. So much so that you can end up thinking that it is normal to feel jealous or even that their actions are justified . Error!

Every relationship is different. For a relationship to be considered toxic it does not have to contain each and every one of the commented characteristics. Identify the toxic behaviors of your partner, do not wait for time to change them and plan a strategy.

Remember, love does NOT hurt.

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