Are you feeling unhappy and think you are in a toxic relationship? Are you unsure on what you should do if you are in a toxic relationship? To help understand the signs of a toxic relationship and what you can do once you have identified you are in a toxic relationship, I have interviewed therapist Robert W McBride, LCSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a cognitive/behavioral psychotherapist with an orientation toward attachment therapy. I am trained in EMDR and clinical hypnosis. I have specialized in treating court-mandated men in groups and individually who exhibited abusive, violent and criminal behaviors. I have taught courses and trained government officials, judges, probation officers, social workers, victim advocates, physicians, and psychotherapist in the United States and Taiwan on domestic violence. I am the author of Breaking the Cycle: Understanding and Treating Men Who Use Abuse and Violence in Their Relationships and co-author of Change is The Third Path: A Workbook for Ending Abusive and Violent Behavior.”
“I currently specialize in treating men and women who have experienced childhood or adult trauma. I also treat individuals for post traumatic stress, personality disorder, attachment, relationship, anger, violence, anxiety, depression issues.”
Is one person in the relationship always responsible for the toxic relationship?
“When we discuss the idea of a toxic relationship each of the participants may envision something that is quite different. A toxic relationship is not static. A toxic relationship is often an abusive one. It maybe a simple indifference of one person to another or a relationship that evolves to verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. Usually, one of those involved will begin to sacrifice themselves to appease the other.”
What are the signs of a toxic relationship?
“Over the years, I have listened to people trying to figure out how to make a relationship work. As though it was the relationship that created the problems and if they could work out some unknown process it would be fine. It is not the relationship that creates the problem. It is what each individual brings to the relationship that creates the problem.”
“There are at least two general types of toxic relationships. There are those in which an ordinary, healthy, functioning person establishes a relationship with another whose facade begins to crumble after the relationship is established and controlling behaviors escalate. A healthy person often suffers coercion and abuse, and becomes depressed, anxious, angry, or withdrawn. The second type of toxic relationship involves two individuals who bring a number of problems into their current relationship.”
“In a toxic relationship there is an excessive need for control. We all need to be able to exercise control over our lives. We want to influence to some degree the people and activities affecting us. It is healthy to establish reasonable boundaries or limits for ourselves. In the process, we also need to learn to respect other people’s boundaries. The difference between the toxic person and others is that the abusive person carries control to an extreme. They have an excessive need to gain and maintain control not only over their life but also over others in their life.”
“There are many indicators that a relationship is becoming toxic or is toxic. At some point in our lives, we all have used unhealthy methods of gaining control over others. It becomes a problem when the behavior becomes a pattern. In addition to excessive need for control, other indicators are social isolation, lack of assertiveness skills, repressed feelings, irresponsible behavior, overly responsible behavior, chaotic behavior, passive-aggressive, alienation, fear of abandonment, obsessive and compulsive thing, irrational beliefs or low self-esteem.”
What should someone do once they identify the signs of a toxic relationship?
“Once toxic elements are identified there are choices one can make. Either accept the situation as it is or to confront the situation to affect change. How the situation is handled always must consider the safety and well-being of those involved. Obviously, emotionally healthy individuals may be able to discuss the situation between themselves and resolve problems. Other individuals may wish to seek competent counseling to assist in resolving the issues. However, in toxic or abusive situations emotional health may be lacking and the situation could escalate. An error made by many is having the belief that they can make the other person change how they think, feel, or behave. One can ask for what they need. However, the other person will make the choice to agree or not. It is important to keep in mind that you cannot control another to make them change. If they choose not to make a change you want, then the decision comes back to you to stay in or leave the situation.”
Thank you Robert for doing the interview on signs of a toxic relationship. For more information on Robert W McBride or his work you can check out his website on www.thethirdpath.org.
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