Relationships are an essential part of human life. The relationships we form can have a tremendous impact on us and shape who we become in the future. While many relationships are positive, there can be times when a relationship may become harmful or “toxic”. Unlike the common misconception, toxic relationships aren’t limited to only romantic ones. Co-workers and friends can suffer from unhealthy relationships too. These can cause huge strains on the damaged relationship whilst also mentally affecting the people involved. The essential question here is, how? When does it become unhealthy? To what extent can a toxic relationship damage us mentally?
Toxic relationships can be defined as “unhealthy dynamics”. Toxicity can sometimes be difficult to detect due to its subtleness and its variance with each relationship. It can be said that these relationships can emerge from a combination of toxic emotions and toxic thinking from either party involved. In terms of mental health, feelings such as low self-worth, paranoia, anxiety and even depression can arise due to toxic relationships.
In toxic relationships, the most common effects are feelings of self-worth doubt and heightened insecurities. A common trait of toxic relationships is the abuse of power and lack of support. According to a study, 1 in 3 young people have increased insecurities due to an unhealthy relationship. Being in a toxic environment slowly strips away your self-esteem, leading to self-doubt in certain things you do. You may begin questioning your own judgement and wondering whether you should go forward with things. Living this way is almost like being puppeteered by someone else. Every decision you make goes through them first. It is mentally draining and can cause unhappiness. As said by Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach, "It can be easy to forget to practice self-care in relationships like these, where taking time out for themselves is vital in their well being" This gives them the freedom to do what they like, making the relationship free and not constraining.
Toxic relations also have a pattern of causing unhealthy amounts of stress. Large amounts of stress, in general, aren’t good, but in a toxic relationship, there is a constant dose of stress. Being under constant stress or tension can cause your body to perpetually stay in a state of fight or flight. This can lead to ongoing production of adrenaline and quick discarding of the excess. As a result, the body tends to be in constant fatigue which may lead to a weakened immune system and eventual possible organ damage. Along with several mental impacts, toxic relationships can also affect us physically.
Our mental health is essential for us to perform tasks and live life to the fullest. Any relationship that compromises our health isn’t something that should be tolerated. A relationship can only work if both participants put in an equal amount of effort and have the same influence on each other. Toxic relationships can be mended by putting in time and effort, but can be difficult to fix. Relationships are an essential part of human lives, so remember, if they are weighing you down - perhaps it’s time to make a decision on whether you truly want them to be a part of your life!
Elizabeth Scott, MS. “How Proper Self Care Can Reduce Your Stress Levels.” Verywell Mind, 24 Nov. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/importance-of-self-care-for-health-stress-management-3144704.
Ducharme, Jamie. “Toxic Relationships: Signs, Help and What To Do.” Time, Time, 5 June 2018, time.com/5274206/toxic-relationship-signs-help/. Young, Karen, et al. “15 Signs of a Toxic Relationship.” Hey Sigmund, 23 Dec. 2020, www.heysigmund.com/toxic-relationship-15-signs/.
Mackenzie, Alexis Jones and Macaela. “Not Having 'Me Time' Is A Pretty Sure Sign You're In A Toxic Relationship.” Women's Health, 22 Oct. 2019, www.womenshealthmag.com/relationships/a19739065/signs-of-toxic-relationship/.
This post was edited by Ishnaa Goenka.