Toxic Relationships & Self-Esteem

A toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner…A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control. We risk our very being by staying in such a relationship.

The mental and physical strains that a toxic relationship can induce are fatal and are able to prevent individuals from attempting to enter another relationship. According to conventional social norms relationships are viewed as a bond with the following characteristics; knowledge, interdependence, care, trust, responsiveness, mutuality, and commitment. Thus when contrasting characteristics arise the amount of intimate relationships formed decreases as seen in the 51% of the population aged 18-34 not in a steady relationship (GSS Data 2019). With incidents of emotional and physical rising it is logical to assume the amount of individuals trying to enter a relationship would decrease.

Emotionally abusive relationships begin with little things, such as calling the other crazy, needy, or too sensitive (considered aggressive behavior). Having to tiptoe around their partner to not cause arguments can devastate men and women, making them feel constantly anxious , fatigued and eventually leading to depression. They’ll start feeling like the abuse is their fault, and the thought of leaving the relationship adds a layer of guilt and shame; Repetitive abuse has a numbing effect, where eventually becomes normal. Women and men who are emotionally abused often feel trapped, they change how they behave, speak, dress, socialize and even work in an effort to dodge the hurtful language and behavior, gradually losing their identities.

Emotional abuse is used to control and subjugate the other person and quite often it occurs because the abuser has childhood wounds and insecurities they haven’t dealt with, usually as a result of being abused themselves.

Signs of a Toxic Relationship

  • You walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting your partner
  • Your feelings and opinions are rarely validated
  • Your partner doesn’t trust you for no reason
  • You feel as if your partner is hard to talk to and therefore can’t discuss problems openly in the relationship
  • You feel “stuck” or confused most of the time
  • Your partner keeps breaking up and making up with you and isn’t sure about what they want, keeping you on the edge all the time
  • You give more to the relationship than you receive
  • You and your partner either fight too much or not enough
  • You partner constantly puts you down and treats you like a burden
  • Your partner is in for personal gain rather than doing everything they can to make you happy
  • They make you feel like the problem is within you, you’re replaceable, and/or nobody will ever love you like they do
  • They use your weaknesses against you and don’t respect you and your secrets, whether it’s when they’re with their own friends or you
  • You’re always making excuses for their bad behavior
  • You don’t feel loved or wanted

Effects of Toxic Relationships

  • Emotional drainage and the relationship makes you feel exhausted
  • Trust issues and more guards up
  • Of you genuinely loved your partner, you could end up creating a false realty and excusing all the signs with ease. This could be a sign of getting “brainwashed”.
  • Giving up/taking a break from relationships
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hinders your personal growth
  • Can lead to entering other relationships that act as rebounds to get your mind off the specific relationship that meant the most to you. This could create an endless cycle of toxicity since now you don’t genuinely care about the new person/people you’re seeing and are essentially using them.
  • Can damage your self-esteem and increase insecurities

Which leads us into our focus for this article: toxic relationships and their effect on self-esteem


Our self-image is profoundly affected by our connections and relationships. Investing time with companions and family who appreciate you, assert your abilities, grasp your identity and celebrate your uniqueness, definitely progresses your self-esteem and fills your self-confidence. When these are tall, not as it were are you more fruitful, life is more pleasant. Toxic relationships, on the other hand, demolish your life as they most unsafe harm your self-concept, disintegrating your self-confidence. 

Why Leaving a Toxic Relationship is Hard

“It is harder to give up on something when you feel like you’ve put your all into it.”

That’s okay. You’re not expected to move on from any relationship, whether it’s a romantic one or a friendly one, until you’re completely ready. Sometimes it takes many months. Sometimes even years. Sometimes you never completely move on and the scars remain. Again, that’s okay. You’re not pathetic. You’re real. 

Some reasons why people can’t leave toxic relationships:

  • They don’t feel safe to leave their partners. Hereby, we’ll be focusing on the emotional abuse angle rather than the physical and sexual. 
  • They are too in love 
  • They believe that their partner can change and place more value on who they can be rather than who they are
  • You feel that you won’t be able to find someone else
  • You keep thinking about the good days in the relationship and tell yourself that the negativity is only temporary and then things will go back to how they were
  • You don’t want to see your partner with someone else
  • Family and friends and involved and love each other
  • You don’t have enough self-respect OR you don’t care about your self-respect
  • You have romanticized toxic relationships 
  • Toxic relationships are all you’re used to so you don’t realize how negative they are on your life and emotional well-being
  • It’s your first serious relationship so you have no clue what toxic relationships are
  • Your partner has blackmail material on you
  • Your partner provides for you so you don’t want to lose that stability
  • You believe failed relationships and breakups are shameful and define you as a person
  • You think something is wrong with you and not your partner 

How to Get Out of a Toxic Relationship

  1. Recognize that the individual(s) you are with are toxic and only bring negativity into your life. Realize that you deserve better.
  2. Learn to let go
  3. Repeat affirmations and keep reminding yourself that you’re doing this for the better of yourself
  4. Don’t be afraid to cry it out and show emotions. If after you breakup with someone and don’t feel an ounce of regret or sadness, your feelings weren’t real so it’s more than okay to express them
  5. Don’t move on and dive into another relationship until you’re completely ready. Rebounds are not healthy and will result in an endless cycle of toxicity. Take your time with healing but remember: you may never get completely healed, sometimes the scars stay but they only make you stronger
  6. During your healing time, make sure to realize your self-worth. Remind yourself of what you deserve but at the same time be real about it and don’t rush the healing process by feeding yourself false expectations
  7. Avoid contact with your ex partner. Talking to them and even looking at them can make it all that harder to move on. Time heals all wounds.
  8. Surround yourself with positive people. Stay off social media and limit your screen time. Make sure nobody or nothing is making you feel insecure
  9. Be mature about the breakup. Don’t talk bad about your ex to others and let it go. 
  10. Make sure that you’re happy and once you start loving yourself again, go ahead and consider diving into another relationship and this time don’t excuse the red flags.


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