Toxic relationships: poison to the soul

Other research indicates that narcissism also appears to encourage toxic behaviors. Whereas “cool” narcissists are open to their partners, “weak” narcissists, who have low self-esteem at their core, are indirectly motivated by jealousy to control and monitor those close to them.

In many cases, psychological violence also escalates in relationships. Diane Follingstad and Marian Edmundson of the University of Kentucky at Lexington asked more than 600 American adults in 2010 about the worst relationship they had ever had. He found that humiliation and manipulation often go hand in hand: for example, participants reported that their partner tried to destroy their self-esteem by being excessively critical, intimidating, or preventing them from talking to people of the opposite sex who often exhibited the same behaviors. Although they believed that they engaged in toxic behavior less often than their partner and harmed them less often, the connection remained.

Nobody is to blame

So some experts caution against using terms like “toxic relationships” or “gassing” in an overly inflated way to simply portray the partner as incapable of a relationship. Christian Rossler explains that “”toxic relationship” is not a scientific term. He’s a couples therapist and professor of clinical psychology at the Catholic University of Freiburg and believes the term often misrepresents what happens when relationships go wrong. » Contrary to what the term ‘toxic’ suggests, in the vast majority of cases not a single partner exudes toxicity and destroys the relationship on their own. Dysfunctional relationships are always interaction. “Indeed, when there is talk of a toxic relationship, the next moment it is quickly assumed that the partner is mentally ill – someone with whom no one can stand for long anyway. “We know that two people who have been together for a long time usually have similar weaknesses when it comes to bonding and relationships,” Rossler says.

“People can develop further, and even deep relationship problems can be solved.”(Christian Rossler, couple therapist)

It is no coincidence that he met with whom. People with an avoidant attachment style and people with an anxious attachment style often find each other, as American psychologists Lee Kirkpatrick and Keith Davis noted in 1994 on the basis of 120 heterosexual couples. One partner has trouble getting close and pushes the other away once it becomes too tight for them. On the other hand, the other needs a lot of closeness in order to feel safe and secure. Fear of commitment and abandonment seem to magically attract each other. Such couples often end up on a typical treadmill: the more clinging one of them, the more the other wants to leave. Often – but not always – in heterosexual relationships, the woman takes the subordinate role, while the man takes the role of repel.

Such partnerships are often an emotional rollercoaster: cheerful phases are followed by injury and despair. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is about to end, explains Christian Rossler: “People can develop further, and even rooted relationship problems can be resolved. Even severe attachment difficulties, such as those associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, can now be treated.” It’s best to deal with some harmful interaction patterns as a couple. “If you end difficult relationships without working on them, there’s a good chance you’ll do it again next time.”

Marital therapy is often helpful

“The sooner couples seek professional help, the better,” agrees Anne Mellick, professor of couple and family psychology at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. “So I think it’s good that common labels like ‘toxic relationships’ help start a discourse about problems in marital relationships.

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