Am I in a toxic relationship?

Published on August 5, 2019

At the beginning of a relationship or in dating, people usually put their best face forward.  The attraction might be high, and the physical aspects of the relationship might overshadow logic.  In other cases, people might believe that they are not loveable and worthwhile; therefore, they might tolerate certain types of abuse.  If someone has a history of childhood abuse, they might not be aware of emotional abuse because they are used to it.  Physical and verbal abuse are quite obvious, but emotional abuse can be more damaging and harder to detect. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Has your self-worth dropped?  

Were you once a confident person, and now you feel worthless since you have been in your relationship?  If so, it might be because the person you are with is devaluing you through constant criticism, public shaming or withholding love when they do not get their way. 

Have your family and friends said they don’t like your partner?

Often, family and friends will let you know that they believe that your partner is not treating you right or harming you.

Have you been isolated?

Co-dependent or toxic relationships are controlling and jealous of friends and family outside of the partnership. The emotionally abusive person will speak negatively about all of your friends and family to convince you that they are the only person that you need.  Isolation is a control tactic that ensures that the person cannot reach out for help or be persuaded to leave the relationship. Isolation has severe negative consequences for mental and emotional well-being.

Are you afraid of their reactions?

Are you afraid to speak your mind or feelings because your partner will lash out, use your words against you, throw things or shame you?

Are you allowed to have hobbies and interests?

Emotionally abusive relationships do not allow for outside interests and hobbies because it takes attention away from the abusive person.

You feel confused.

You aren’t sure what the other person wants because they keep changing their mind.  You feel like no matter what you do; you can’t win.You aren’t sure if what you are feeling is valid, and if you are making the correct decisions.

For further information on toxic people, see this previous blog post Identifying Toxic People


Do you feel your are in a toxic relationship and need to talk to someone? To set up an appointment with me please contact +852 2521 4668 or email

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Category(s):Abuse / Abuse Survivor Issues, Ending a relationship issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD, Relationships & Marriage

Written by:

Dr Monica Borschel

Dr Borschel specialises in Attachment and Loss. She is experienced in helping adults, teens, children, and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, or loss of a loved one.

Dr. Borschel’s attachment-based psychodynamic therapy along with EMDR, enables her clients to find healing within themselves. In so doing, she can help adults, teens, and children to overcome grief, anxiety, trauma, neglect, emotional, verbal, physical abuse, and child abuse.

Furthermore, as an attachment specialist, she also helps individuals understand relationship patterns which prevent them from developing or maintaining healthy relationships. She is able to help reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression and promote confidence and self-esteem. This may include deciding what is in the best interest of the children during custody disputes, strengthening the relationship and communication between the parents and the children.

Dr. Borschel is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. She graduated with her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. She later moved to Hong Kong to pursue her doctorate at the University of Hong Kong in Social Work and Social Administration.

Registered Clinical Psychologist with The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology. Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Counseling Association (ACA), The British Psychological Society (BPS), and the Hong Kong Family Law Association (HKFLA).

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