Although most relationships are pregnant with love and happy memories, a dysfunctional relationship is riddled with conflict, heartache and warning signs.
The toxic trap of a dysfunctional relationship
Recognizing when a beautiful relationship has become toxic and dysfunctional can be difficult to say the least. Realizing that your relationship has changed from being comforting, supportive and loving into a source of constant emotional turmoil and anxiety can be one of the worst experiences in life.
Clinical psychologist & marriage counselor Randi Gunther Ph.D. believes that all romantic “relationships are more or less dysfunctional in different ways.” In a Psychology Today article, she writes “In order to stay in a committed relationship, most intimate partners adapt to many disappointments and disillusionments during the time they’re together. If there is enough good in the relationship to compensate, they weather those distresses and continue to love each other.”
However, the relationship can get weaker if the pain becomes stronger than the love. Randi adds “Significantly painful events that occur during that time can be deal-breakers. Even initially 90% positive relationships can fail after too many broken promises or repeatedly unresolved conflicts. Suppressed disillusionments weaken that foundation and make the relationship more likely to fail.”
Think you’re in a toxic relationship? Read 5 Ways You Feel When In A Toxic Relationship
Why a relationship turns toxic
Relationship therapist Dr. Deborah Hecker explains “It is common sense to say that we enter relationships expecting them to be emotionally supportive, mutually enhancing and full of good communication. Unfortunately, sometimes we feel worse after spending time with our significant other.”
But why? Why do we end up in a dysfunctional relationship? Why don’t we choose to be with someone who is more compatible? Unhealed wounds from childhood attachments may be the answer, believes Deborah. And these early childhood attachments often tend to influence our adult relationships. She adds “ Instead of looking to ourselves to heal these wounds, we tend to expect our partners, who may also be carrying around past wounds, to make us feel whole…..a recipe for a dysfunctional partnership.”
However, starting to acknowledge that you are in an unhealthy relationship can start the healing process. Identifying all the redflags and signs that your relationship has become dysfunctional can help you either fix the relationship or empower you to walk away. Dr. Randi Gunther believes that exploring and identifying the “typical relationship damagers” can actually be helpful. She explains “Had the partners recognized them as they were occurring, they might have had a different perspective and learned some new ways to cope before it was too late. By understanding what their dysfunctional patterns are, couples can strive to overcome them.”
Has your relationship turned toxic? Read Why Romance Turns Toxic: The Psychology Behind Love & Relationships
Signs of a dysfunctional relationship
There are many warning signs of a dysfunctional relationship that need to be confronted if you want to prevent your relationship from falling apart. Here are 7 signs of a dysfunctional relationship that you must know about.
1. Having the same argument repeatedly
Do you find yourself having the same fight with your partner without resolving it? Communication is crucial for all healthy relationships. When you fail to listen, understand, communicate and resolve differences with your partner, your relationship starts to break. If you repeatedly fight about events that occured months or years ago without any resolution, then your relationship is turning toxic.
According to an article in the Good Men Project, “Communication stops working. Agreement on almost anything becomes impossible. You each have different versions of reality…You have the same argument over and over again and never resolve it. This is perhaps the most obvious sign that something is wrong.”
2. The blame game
In a dysfunctional relationship, one partner will always blame the other for everything that goes wrong. A toxic partner will never take the responsibility and will always shift the blame on you. They will never be accountable even for their own mistakes. In fact, such behavior can even lead to physical, verbal and emotional abuse.