Toxic relationship: the signs that should alert you

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Toxic relationship: the signs that should alert you

For some time now, with Chéri, nothing has gone right. Your couple doesn't work properly anymore but you can't put your finger on the problem... What if you were in a toxic relationship? Our explanations.

It is easy to imagine a toxic relationship in the professional world: a tyrannical leader, an unbearable colleague, a collaborator on the verge of harassment... Except that according to Sylvie Tenenbaum (psychotherapist and author of Se libérer de l'emprise émotionnelle, ed. Leduc.S), the toxic relationship also exists within the family... and the couple.

When does moral harassment begin?

Characterized by an emotional hold, the toxic relationship is defined as "a toxic asymmetrical relationship of the dominant/dominated type, masked by different kinds of manipulations, from the most "gentle" to the most violent, more or less subtle perverse strategies".

Toxic relationship: an emotional hold within the couple

The toxic relationship is played out between a predator and a victim. The former, like a vampire, "feeds off the suffering he inflicts on the other: he alternates seduction and disqualification to maintain his hold, and his communication (verbal and non-verbal) is perverted". As for the victim, "he or she is subjected to almost constant moral (and sometimes physical) abuse" - criticism, mockery, bullying...

How can the traps of the manipulators be thwarted?

Very concretely, the predator...

  • Blows hot and cold to keep his hand on his victim. Schematically, he constantly alternates between two "phases": "I love you more than anything else" (seduction) and "you're an incompetent" (disqualification).
  • He is insensitive to the suffering of his victim. In certain situations, he positions himself as a victim. Lacks empathy.
  • Is at the center of all attention. Needs to be admired, monopolizes discussions, is willingly charming and cordial.
  • Uses and abuses emotional blackmail with his victim.

As for the victim...

  • Gradually loses self-confidence. Her self-esteem deteriorates: she no longer knows exactly who she is or what her values are, she no longer has any points of reference.
  • Isolates herself from her close relatives and/or family, often at the request of her spouse.
  • Suffers from depression, depression and even suicidal thoughts.
  • Is unable to run away, terrorized at the thought of leaving her spouse and/or finding herself alone in a difficult situation. Fears loneliness. Feels guilty. 
  • The victim feels that he or she is solely responsible for his or her situation. They always/often make excuses to their spouse and hope that "everything will go back to the way it was before".
  • Sometimes suffers from psychosomatic disorders: migraines, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, polyalgia...

It's very painful to end a relationship, but when you're in a situation of power, there's nothing more life-saving," explains Sylvie Tenenbaum. When it comes to the grip in a couple, help is first sought from the family and close circle, in whom one trusts. Involving a third party is often the only way to escape the abuse. »

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