Relationships are not always easy and, in fact, conflicts are common; they can arise at any time and from the smallest details.
Each member of the relationship has his or her own ideas and understanding of the world and life, and it is not always easy to understand the other’s position. However, with love and mastery of a range of social skills, as well as a good dose of resilience and negotiation skills, the relationship can succeed.
Sometimes, however, being in a couple can be a real hell, because toxic love makes it impossible for things to go well . Toxic relationships have the characteristic that at least one member of the relationship has totally inappropriate behaviour and attitudes. If you want to know more about this type of relationship, you can read this article: “23 Signs That You Are in a ‘Toxic Relationship'”.
Today we will talk about this love that causes so much suffering and we will go deeper into each of its characteristics.
Types of Love: Toxic Love
Not all loves are the same . We can find authentic loves, which are pure and noble, those that are difficult to find. Authentic love is a love that is based on trust, respect and freedom. There are also other types of love, such as passionate love, characterized by great physical attraction but little commitment.
Now, there are also loves that are tormenting, if you can call them love, in which jealousy, lack of freedom, excessive control predominate. This type of love is toxic love, a love that, in most cases, lives on dependence and illusion with nothing to back it up .
Because love is a complex subject, many theorists have tried to deal with it and understand it, not always with consensus. One of the best known theorists for his contributions to understanding this phenomenon is Sternberg. This author is famous for making a classification of the different types of love. His Triangular Theory of Love proposes that there are three elements that interact with each other to form one type of love or another. These elements are: intimacy, passion and commitment. For example, the love that is formed by these three elements is consummated love.
- You can learn more about his theory in the following article: “Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love”
Characteristics of Toxic Love
But, what are the characteristics of toxic love? What makes a love cause suffering? You can find the answers to these questions in the following lines:
1. Limited social life
Toxic love is characterized by the person leaving behind all his friendships and turning purely and exclusively to the relationship . This might seem to be an act of love, but in reality it is a loss of autonomy.
The person stops frequenting the places he used to frequent, puts aside his interests, neglects old friends and, in short, stops being himself and loses his own essence. This can become overwhelming for the couple and also makes the person unattractive.
2. The need for love’s approval
The lover who gives pure love fights for his personal development and does not expect anything from the couple, because he is satisfied with his life. Toxic love, on the other hand, is characterized by the fact that the individual seeks security, stability, and comfort in the couple’s relationship. This is due to a great fear of being alone and a great insecurity . They are individuals with low self-confidence.
In highly dysfunctional love relationships, the need for affectionate treatment can lead people to become slaves to behaviors that harm them. The establishment of relationship dynamics in which power is held by only one member of the couple , for example, is as common as it is harmful, and is not always easy to detect. In fact, if others draw attention to the symptoms of this problem, the person suffering from it usually denies everything in an abrupt way, sometimes with anger.
Therefore, professional advice is usually valuable not only for the intervention, but also for the accompaniment in the hard process of recognizing the problem.
3. Emotional dependence
This insecurity makes the person feel a great emotional dependence, because his happiness depends on other individuals . This becomes a problematic situation and causes addiction to the partner even though things are not going well between the two members.
- If you identify with this point and want to overcome this situation, I invite you to read this article: “12 tips to overcome emotional dependence”
4. Obsession with the relationship
All these factors make the person obsessed with the relationship, so that he or she does not let the partner breathe . Nor does he or she carry out healthy behaviours that help to maintain the stability of the relationship. For example, he does not negotiate or respect the other person. This makes it impossible for the couple or the marriage to move forward.
5. Is irrational and unrealistic
Unlike what could happen in a mature and authentic love, rational and realistic love, that is, in which the person is aware of what he or she is living and not only feels but also thinks, toxic love is a purely irrational love in the most negative sense this can have, since it lives on illusion and unrealistic expectations. For a love to work it must be mature.
6. Concern for change
In authentic love, the individual is happy when things go well for his partner and wants him to grow and develop. He is not afraid of change, because as a person he also fights for his personal interests, without forgetting, of course, those of the relationship. This is not the case with toxic love, because the person who suffers from it wants everything to be under his control . He does not care about the happiness of the other person, only about his own.
7. Is possessive
A healthy love is based on trust between the two partners, it is based on freedom of choice. However, toxic love is the opposite, as it is possessive. The individual needs to have control of the couple at all times and know what he is doing and where he is going.
7. It is manipulative
In toxic love, unfortunately, emotional blackmail and manipulation are commonplace. This happens because the person is selfish, does not respect the other and acts according to his or her interests.
Their way of acting is to blame, intimidate and provoke fear in their partner. You don’t have to be physical , just use expressions like: “if you leave me, you don’t love me”. In this way, the other partner feels guilty about what is happening.
8. Try to change the other person
When one partner tries to change the other to an excessive degree , then we are talking about a toxic love. If the love is authentic and mature, the individual loves his partner as he is. On the other hand, if it is toxic, it will incite him to change something, for example, his physical appearance.
9. Blame the other
Healthy relationships are based on negotiation. People take their share of the blame when a problem occurs and are empathetic enough to understand others. In toxic relationships, one of us always tries to blame the other . There is no room for negotiation, because the toxic lover always thinks he is right.
10. Makes you suffer
Love should not make you suffer, because when this happens it is not authentic love. If the love is true, the relationship is symmetrical : one day gives one and the next gives the other member of the couple. Obviously there can be misunderstandings and arguments, but they are solved in a mature way. The question is simple: does this love make you suffer? If the answer is yes, then it is a toxic love.