Dancing with a Sword
4 Characteristics of Toxic Love Relationships
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
Life in an abusive relationship is painful. You feel oppressed, depressed and down right lifeless. It is as though the very spirit that glows from within is quashed.
You walk on eggshells when you are with the person that abuses you. There is no continuity…there is no stability. Rather, between you and this person, there is a state of flux in the context of huge hurts and a magnetic symbiotic connection.
What is this relationship? How do you define it? How do you identify it? Would you know if you were in a toxic abusive relationship?
Here are four classic characteristics of dangerously abusive relationships.
1) Using your personal weaknesses against you.
This person uses a personal weakness of yours (previously shared in an intimate moment) as evidence to manipulate the power and control dynamics. Their doing so keeps you as the defective party in the relationship. And this, in their mind, elevates them to a superior status…even if their assertions pertaining to your reality are false.
2) Chronic cause for reprimands.
There is a small but ever-present something in just about everything, wherein you come up short…are deficient…have missed the boat in your giving to them. For this, you are called to the carpet and punished endlessly.
You might notice that you spend an inordinate amount of time in “the doghouse” they create for you. They hold the key (so they think) and you serve the time.
3) They are the victims.
They want you to know how you have wronged them beyond human forgiveness. They chronically remind you of these perceived transgressions. And you are expected to repent…at every turn. But, at the end of the day, it is clear to you that they refuse to move beyond.
4) Verbal, emotional and physical abuse.
These people use clubbing (AKA battering) to establish and maintain an unequal distribution of power and control in the relationship. Sometimes it is verbal, emotional and psychological abuse; other times it is physical and can be lethal.
Escalating battering assaults toward you is just what happens when they see they are losing their grip over you. They believe it will keep you in your place, but it pushes you further away.
You feel like you are dancing with a sword…getting jabbed when unexpected and stabbed when they experience their vulnerability. The hurt and injury compounds until the day comes when you say to yourself that the desire to remain the same is more painful than the risk to grow.
If you are in an abusive relationship with your intimate partner, your child or some other loved one, seek to break this cycle before it spirals out of control. For more information about abusive relationships,
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact her if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court.