Know the red flags before things get sour
Dr. Lillian Glass, who coined the term in her book Toxic People, defined a toxic relationship as, “…any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
An article by Healthscope, a health and wellness publication, asserts that toxic relationships negatively affects a person’s self-esteem and lowers their energy levels. The article suggests that there are many different types of toxic behavior, but a toxic relationship is one where these toxic behaviors are the norm.
According to an article by Psychology Today, a person’s tendency to look for toxic relationships stems from negative experiences in childhood. Most people don’t know they’re in a toxic relationship until someone else has to point it out for them.
Relationships that are toxic are co-dependent, meaning the other person constantly relies on you. You might give them support, but that support is unrequited. A common scenario involving a toxic relationship could involve a friend owing you money. You ask them to pay you back, but weeks go by. Now it’s six months later and they still haven’t paid you back. This relationship is toxic because the other person doesn’t hold their end of the agreement within their relationship. Toxic relationships don’t always have to be romantic; they can be between friends, coworkers or acquaintances.
Toxic relationships can lead to verbal, financial and physical abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, almost 20 people per minute are physically abused by a partner. 1 in 7 men and 1 in 4 women have been victims of physical abuse in relationships.
Health effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder, unintended pregnancies, hypertension, chronic pain and anxiety can all affect participants after the toxic relationship is over.
If you think you, an acquaintance, a friend or a loved one is in a toxic and/or abusive relationship here are some numbers that can help:
- Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
- 24/7 Crisis Hotline: (800) 981-4357
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Christian Maitre is a second-year journalism major who just wants you to be safe. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art by Contributing Artist, Carolyn Langer.