Toxic Relationships and it's 5 Surprising Effects on Mental Health

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Siffat Kaur Arora

02 May 2022

5 Min

Toxic Relationships and it's 5 Surprising Effects on Mental Health

Table of Contents

As social beings we strive for a number of relationships in our life, from friends and family to colleagues and spouses. A variety of relationships then help us maintain our sanity to help fulfil our needs and make us feel loved and wanted.

Out of the many things that we have in our control, the very choice to maintain a relationship or not maintain it solely lies in our hands, which is precisely why one cannot and shouldn’t be forced to maintain any kind of relationship! When relationships start to feel like a burden, and the kind of burden which is not only unhealthy for you but also for them and the people around you, it is best to identify it as a toxic relationship.

Toxicity in relationships can be understood as a combination of behaviours that is both caused by and results in toxic thinking and toxic emotions of those involved. Unfortunately, toxic relationships hold both the victim and the perpetrator in a cycle of stress and negativity, which many a time seems impossible to break, ultimately resulting in the acceptance of the very situation at both ends. Arguably the most devastating thing about toxic relationships is that they trap victim and perpetrator (and in many cases, the people involved play both roles at various times) in a cycle of stress and negativity that feels impossible to escape and, over time, conditions both the parties to accept the situation and not even try to get out. These relationships are marked with unpleasant feelings on one side and a lot of realizations and insights on the other, ultimately having some major effects on our mental health.

Here are a few posts from our users which signify some major effects on one’s mental health when you’re dealing/dealt with toxic relationships:

How Toxic Relationships Can Affect Mental Health

1. Sometimes all you need is reassurance!

It’s heartbreaking to witness your loved ones only remembering you in times of need, but giving away all their love to everybody, but you. Such actions can really make you question your importance and worth in that relationship, leaving you feeling insecure on most days.

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2. Think before you say: “I’ll love you, no matter what!

Sadly, one of the key features of toxic relationships is that the people involved, as well as the people around, both somehow try to rationalize mental/physical abuse, in the face of commitment, patience and love. It is okay to unconditionally, but it is not okay to love yourself conditionally!

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3. Do we really believe in second chances?

Every relationship has its own dynamics, but ignoring the wrongdoings of the other person is very prominent in toxic relationships, which is commonly expressed in terms of denial. More often than not, people involved in such relationships actively deny the toxic behaviours of the other, either to secure themselves from facing the harsh reality, or from losing the relationship at all.

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4. Feel free to reduce your burden yourself!

There’s no second thought that every human relationship requires some amount of effort to keep it going, but if those efforts leave you feeling mentally exhausted on most days, then it is your sign to let things go, and give your mental health the peace it deserves.

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5. We learn from our mistakes, always.

Undoubtedly, relationships marked with toxicity lead to a number of issues, but sometimes the experience may also be insightful for people, in a way wherein they may realize their fault. Such experiences only help people to be mindful of their actions in their other relationships, as they tend to be much more aware than before.

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How To Eliminate This Toxicity?!

When you identify the unpleasant feelings associated with a relationship, you, in a way, have taken the first step to cut out that toxicity from your life. In order to reach a point where you feel mentally at peace, you may choose to do the following:

  1. Try and set boundaries for yourself, and make sure that they are acknowledged and respected in all of your relationships.
  2. Be firm about your core values and principles in life, so that you don't let your guard down.
  3. Try and identify your love language, in order to be aware of your own needs, so that you relate to people who'd be able to give you what you need, without leaving you feeling unfulfilled, or unacknowledged.
  4. Understand the fine line between maintaining your self-respect and loving someone unconditionally.
  5. Communication is the key to healthy relationships - be assertive about your needs, while also being accountable for your actions.
  6. Re-evaluate the very relationship in that very situation, to understand who's really at fault.
  7. If you can't completely walk away from that relationship, for example, in the case of parents, or even siblings, try and limit your conversations as much as possible.
  8. Lastly, make peace with the fact that some people are unwilling to change, and constantly trying to fix them might not solve any purpose for anybody.

Maintaining relationships to survive this life may be important, but maintaining healthy relationships, in order to live life peacefully is even more important. For your own sanity, be selective enough while choosing who’d you want to associate with.

If you ever feel overwhelmed, or feel like the situation is out of control, please visit Therapy&Me, an initiative under Now&Me which would help you connect with mental professionals with one click.

You can also sign up at Now&Me to share what you’re feeling, and we promise this relationship of ours will be as healthy as you’d want it to be - no toxicity, whatsoever! <3


1. Can Toxic Relationships Cause Mental Illnesses?

Sadly, human relations do have the potential to be a major factor for someone to be so mentally exhausted that it might turn into a prolonged chronic condition/illness. Illnesses like depression and anxiety can be developed over time, and since these relationships are marked with feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, low self-esteem, low self-worth, and self-doubt, out of many, they may eventually become underlying causes of a mental illness.

2. How Do You Mentally Recover From A Toxic Relationship?

Honestly, it's never too easy! When you have invested so much, but you get nothing but pain, it's not easy to recover that quickly. But, there's always hope for things to get better with time. It is always advised to seek professional help, since such relationships are extremely mentally exhausting. Apart from this, make sure to be around people who bring the best in you. Adding onto this, the best way to recover may also be investing in yourself as much as you did in that relationship, to be able to give yourself all the love you have always had.

3. What Does A Toxic Relationship Do To A Person?

It changes you, for the better or worse, but it does. There’s so much that one takes from such relationships - either give up on the possibility of having healthier relationships, or the ability to be more aware, firm and mindful in other relationships. Some people end up with mental illnesses, whereas others find their long lost strength and freedom to live life on their own terms. Hence, it is extremely subjective as to how you perceive and absorb the experience of such relationships.

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