When we think of toxic relationships, we think about those people in our lives who are excessively negative, controlling and manipulative. Toxic seems to be the catch-all phrase for friendships, relationships and people so poorly matched with us that they’re more than a neutral influence; they’re negative. They affect our mental health and, oftentimes, what feels like our very sanity. Do you have any of these people in your life? Better question: are you letting any of their voices live rent-free in your head?
Today’s blog reviews the signs of toxic behaviors that you might recognize in your friendships, relationships or even your own actions. We’ll discuss these toxic behaviors and their similarities with officially diagnosed personality disorders. While the truth behind these words may be challenging to hear, go with the bravery of heart and a willingness to examine your own actions.
Everyday Toxic Behaviors
Many toxic behaviors often go undetected and uncorrected, even when assessing our behavior. To aid in identifying toxic relationships, friendships and behaviors, we have compiled a list of some common toxic behaviors.
- Minimizing or glossing over someone’s pain or trauma. Whether it’s outright denial or avoiding the subject entirely, nothing can be quite as hurtful as the invalidation of not seeing someone’s pain.
- Being passive-aggressive or indirectly expressing anger or frustration. One of the hallmarks of emotional intelligence is being able to accurately communicate what’s taking place in your internal world and what you need from those around you. Without these skills, passive aggression runs rampant.
- Constantly demeaning or criticizing someone for no reason, especially in front of others. Those who don’t feel good about themselves often project that dissatisfaction outward, offering unearned criticism to any unlucky onlooker.
- Never willing to compromise. It can wear on you to be with someone who is “never wrong” or unwilling to consider others’ needs as plans are made.
- Repetitively deflecting all blame or responsibility for your actions. Again, whether it’s a belief in their inability to do wrong or twisted explanations in replace of an apology, unwillingness to review one’s impact on others is a classic example of toxic behavior. (So good for you for making it this far.)
How Toxic Behaviors Can Make Us Feel
Another way we can recognize toxic relationships is by asking ourselves how we feel, both physically and emotionally, after spending time with someone. Conversely, suppose someone has explicitly told you how you make them feel. In that case, it may be time to practice self-reflection, take steps to hold yourself accountable for your past behavior or actions and seek help from a counselor or a psychologist.
Some internal cues to pay attention to:
- Always feeling like you are walking on eggshells when you are with them.
- Becoming physically or emotionally drained after spending time together.
- Noticing a decrease in your confidence, sense of self, or enjoyment for life.
- Setting or being expected to meet unrealistic standards.
Critical Differences Between Toxic Behavior and Personality Disorders
While toxic behavior isn’t a mental disorder, there is a chance that toxic behavior can be a symptom of an underlying mental illness. For many, drawing a line between toxic relationships and personality disorders can be blurry and confusing.
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) defines a personality disorder as a persistent pattern of fixed thoughts, feelings and behaviors that deviate significantly from cultural expectations. These behaviors cause substantial distress and problems with daily functioning and relationships. People with personality disorders frequently use drugs or alcohol to alleviate their symptoms and become addicted to their substance of choice.
In the heat of an argument, we are likely to accuse others of requiring a personality disorder diagnosis,. In reality, it’s just a momentary regression towards more childish behavior. We all will likely display toxic behaviors at some point in our lives and not have a personality disorder. However, if someone consistently presents a large number of toxic traits over an extended period, they may be in need of personality disorder treatment. The information presented in this blog will not be sufficient to make the call; they will need to be officially diagnosed by a clinician before receiving appropriate treatment.
How Can We Help? Treating Personality Disorders
Due to the high rates of co-occurring disorders, many individuals may seek help with their addiction before knowing they have a personality disorder. However, to overcome addiction and avoid relapse, we identify the root of the problem, the personality disorder in this circumstance. Each of the ten personality disorders requires a specific approach to treatment. Still, many doctors suggest a combination of psychotherapy, medication and residential treatment. At The Ranch Tennessee, we provide one of the best dual-diagnosis treatment programs in all of Tennessee.
If you need assistance identifying and navigating toxic relationships or are concerned about a loved one, we invite you to review our therapy and treatment options today. You may also get in touch with us through our website or phone at (888) 969-7716 to get started today.