What makes a relationship 'toxic'?


We ask our Facebook community to send us questions. Then we ask that same community to answer those questions... Yeah, well, why make work for ourselves?!

So, what people call 'toxic' in relationships is usually emotional, verbal, or financial abuse. It's when someone does any of these things to get or keep power and control over their partner.

Physical violence is just one example, but relationships can still be abusive without physical violence. Think about what's going on when someone's stalking their partner, controlling when they go out or who they see, or threatening to do something bad to them! Sounds like abuse?

Now here's what you said to the question...

"What makes a relationship 'toxic'?"

#Your Questions

  • Bobby Coercion. Someone who uses emotions to get you to do things that you didn't want to do. e.g. Taking out their aggression on you or guilt tripping you until you do whatever it is they want. Sucks especially hard because it's so easy to blame yourself for it… 
  • Isaac Manipulation, control; like controlling who they talk to and telling them they cannot talk to particular people, controlling who they hang around 
  • Ash Jealousy/controlling is definitely my biggest red flag. If it's getting to the point where they're trying to keep you from talking to any of your friends, or anyone you know… then that's a problem. 
  • Nakita I think a huge red flag that seems to be overlooked is breach of privacy. Just because you are in a relationship doesn't mean your right to privacy can be taken away.  
  • Sarah Definitely manipulation because it often is hard to detect, and occasionally the manipulator doesn't fully know the damage that they are causing through their actions
  • Casey When they say you take things to heart, it's a form of manipulation. Makes you feel as if you are in the wrong even though it's not the case. 
  • Holly Lying, and manipulation of your feelings, such as being told you are being irrational for questioning red-flag issues like hiding what’s on their phone or being told that they are jealous of you being friends with certain people.
  • Crystal So many! Control I'd have to say is significant. No one who cares for you will try to control you. The other is a fast pace and quick ultimatums (you know, like "I've spent two days with you now you should tell me you love me and want to be with me"), and guilt trips
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Seems a lot of people are super aware of manipulation and control – which in a lot of ways is kind of what all these behaviours are about – making people do things and feel things they don’t want to do or feel.

Sometimes it can seem really obvious and deliberate, but sometimes it’s harder to pick up on non-physical abuse or understand what’s happening – and we need to be aware of how certain behaviours can affect our partner and why we (or a partner) are doing them in the first place.

But whether it’s psychological/emotional abuse, technological abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse, social abuse or stalking someone, there are a lot of ways that people can harm one another that aren’t physical. For more information on the different types of non-physical abuse visit noexcuseforabuse.org.au .

If you feel like you need help with your or someone else’s relationship behaviour, visit 1800RESPECT or headspace.org.au .

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