3 toxic relationship types to avoid


It is better to be single and happy than miserable in a relationship but the reality is that there are many couples out there who are very unhappy. One of the key reasons for this is that their relationship is dysfunctional – this is a term used when the relationship is causing more emotional pain and turbulence than  happiness and joy. Dysfunction in a relationship can be caused by many factors and some of them might be spotted when you are initially dating someone. Here are the main ones and what to look out for.


This is an unhealthy love that involves one person being overly passive or caretaking towards the other. Although it may look like one partner is playing the role of a martyr or victim there is usually an element of control where one person is using emotional hooks in an attempt to direct and dictate how the other is feeling, what they are doing and where they are going.

You can spot a codependent person because they constantly put others’ needs before their own and in so doing they forget to take care of themselves. This behaviour creates a sense that they are needed and often they appear indispensible – they cannot stand the thought of being alone and no one needing them.

When you are dating someone like this they can appear overly concerned with what you want  and rarely express their own needs or preferences. When they talk about their life it can seem that they are over-burdened looking after everyone else and rarely have time to do anything for themselves. The difference between someone who is codependant and someone who is simply very loving and concerned is that their care and concern for others is often at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.

Bullying or abusive

There are many different types of abuse but the main components are always the same – one person has more power and control in the relationship than the other. This power is usually maintained because the other partner is afraid to challenge their partner because confrontation will usually result in an outburst – either verbal or physical. The passive partner will often feel responsible for having triggered the bad behaviour. When things have calmed down this belief may be reinforced by the abuser and they receive an apology even though the other person did nothing wrong.

Being in a relationship like this is exhausting, especially if the things that trigger your partner’s temper are constantly changing. Fear is the opposite of love. If you find yourself walking on eggshells around them, afraid to express your feeling for fear of what their reaction will be, then it may be that your relationship scales have tipped into this dysfunctional pattern. Look out for warning signs when you are dating. Do you feel able to be open and honest even when you disagree about something? Do they have a previous history either as a victim or a perpetrator? After a row, when things have calmed down can your partner see what they did wrong and apologise or are you always apologising to them?

Do not compromise your own principles or values to accommodate anyone else’s bad behaviour and have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to physical violence. Often these relationships become deeply unhealthy over time as self esteem and confidence are eroded – nip it in the bud straight away if you think you are dating someone who has the potential to become abusive.

Just like Mum and Dad

It’s a strange psychological phenomenon that we often recreate our parents’ relationship in our own choice of partners. This is OK if their relationship was happy and healthy but what often happens is that we are drawn to recreate the exact problems they had in a subconscious attempt to heal the past,  as may of us wished we could when we were children. There are various psychological explanations as to why this happens but whatever the reason the fact is that people then find themselves in relationships that they know are not working yet feel a strong compulsion to stick with it because they feel so familiar.

If you believe your relationship fits into any of these categories don’t despair. Being aware of the problem is half the battle. Talk it through with your partner, get professional help if needed and remember that most relationships have some problems and it doesn’t mean they are doomed to failure. As long as your relationship brings you more happiness than pain it is on the right track.

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