There are no perfect family dynamics, and no one had a childhood without a few issues. Still, for some folks, mentioning the word family invokes all sorts of emotions. These emotions are very complex, as even in healthy relationships, issues are still to resolve.
When a person has a toxic family dynamic, their feelings for their family go way beyond disappointment and frustration. Instead, it can cause significant emotional distress to even be in the same room with these individuals.
Twenty Warning Signs of Toxic Family Dynamics
It’s not always easy to identify toxic family dynamics, and it’s even harder to see when you’re rooted in them daily. Here are some warning signs that your situation may be unhealthy, which indicates that things must change for your mental health.
1. Manipulation Frequently Exists In Complicated Family Dynamics
The classic manipulator can be male or female and fall within any age group. It’s the person that will work you like a puppet on a string. They are more interested in what you can do for them than in a relationship.
This person is very toxic, as they don’t have your best interest at heart. They are out for themselves and furthering their own agenda and will use and abuse anyone they can.
2. Not Respecting Boundaries
Boundaries are an essential part of any relationship. In toxic family dynamics, a grandparent may try to overrule you on your children, or they can stick their noses into your romantic relationships. Someone who doesn’t respect your boundaries is essentially not respecting you.
3. Name Calling
There’s never a reason to call names, even if the inappropriate title is said in a joking manner. No one has a right to call you anything other than your name or a nickname that you like. When they use derogatory terms to describe you or your actions, then it’s toxic and destructive.
Control comes in many forms, but some people like to dictate everything about your life without even asking your opinion. This person may schedule get-togethers and other events and expect you to be there without considering your plans. An individual who tries to control everyone is toxic, and they bring poisonous family dynamics to the group.
5. Previous or Current Abuse
It’s almost impossible to have healthy relationships when there’s any form of current or past abuse. Even if a person apologizes for their actions, you can’t forget. Abuse changes you, and it will alter the way you look at the perpetrator.
6. Substance Abuse Can Come From Negative Family Dynamics
Substance abuse is a game changer, whether current or in the past. Though it happens more often than you might think, it causes toxic family dynamics. When someone is heavily involved in drugs or alcohol, their unable to love you the way you need to be loved, as their addiction supersedes any relationship.
7. Anger Outbursts
Does someone in your family have anger issues? Do they fly into a blind rage when things don’t go their way? Not only does this make having a healthy relationship with this person impossible, but you will walk on eggshells around them.
According to the National Library of Medicine, someone with rage issues may have an intermittent explosive disorder, a mood disorder, or poor coping skills. Dealing with this person can be challenging, as you always await the subsequent explosion.
8. Family Dynamics That Include Belittling You
The world is cruel enough, and you should never have to deal with your flesh and blood putting you down. Sometimes family members make people feel inferior, and it’s challenging to have healthy relationships with someone who looks at you as lacking.
A bully is often someone you meet on the playground at school. However, there are bullies of all ages. You may encounter such a person in your family. They may push you around and try to get you to do things you don’t want to do.
They also have control issues, but the biggest thing to understand about these people is the insecurities and troubles they have going on inside them. The problem isn’t you; it’s them.
10. Stonewalling Is Part of Negative Family Dynamics
Stonewalling is a part of family dynamics that can drive a person away. This mysterious behavior is meant to ignore the issues at hand. If you bring up something to this person, they will walk away. They don’t want to talk about the problems, so they shut down whenever anything uncomfortable is brought to them.
Gaslighting is another psychological game that some people like to engage in. The person gaslighted may feel they’re going crazy or losing touch with reality. The manipulating individual tries to make you think things that aren’t true to protect themselves or their misdeeds.
12. Threats of Harm
Anyone who makes threats of violence against you, or your immediate family, is toxic. These family dynamics are hard to handle, but you must walk away from these people. Someone who threatens you is unbalanced and needs to seek help for their actions.
13. Consistent Blowups
There’s always drama and confusion when this person is around. At any family get-together, they’re the ones to likely cause a ruckus over nothing. They’re challenging to get along with and someone you want to avoid.
14. Passive-Aggressive Behaviors
The passive-aggressive person acts like everything is okay, but they’re genuinely stewing inside. They make snide comments under their breath at you because they’re upset about something you did, but they won’t admit it. This person makes it hard to have healthy relationships, as their actions are purely toxic.
14. Unfair Comparisons Exist in Harmful Family Dynamics
It’s not fair to compare you to your siblings or family members. You’re unique–another person like you will never walk on this planet. Sadly, when someone compares you and your accomplishments, or the lack thereof, to others, it’s a way of putting you down.
15. Gossip and Backbiting
Someone whispering the secrets of others in your ears is surely whispering your secrets to others. The family dynamics are rough when you have someone that’s a tale bearer in the mix. Just be careful what you say to this person, or your business will spread as fast as if it were on the local news.
16. Unhealthy Competition
A little bit of competition is not a bad thing, as it helps to motivate and push you forward in life. However, competition can be unhealthy too. Competition becomes toxic when families resort to name-calling, putting others down, or physical violence. You can’t have a healthy relationship with someone who makes everything a competition.
One family dynamic you wish you wouldn’t have to deal with is favoritism. While most parents say they don’t have a favorite, it’s clear who is the pick in many families. Playing favorites can also extend to the grandchildren, which makes the toxic dynamics continue.
18. Lack of Acceptance
Some family members will never be okay with you or your life choices. They may not like your spouse, job choice, or even where you live. Remember, you don’t have to please anyone else but your partner.
There’s no reason why you need to go out of your way to appease poor family dynamics. If you’re doing your best to make it in life, you’re doing enough.
19. One-Sided Family Dynamics
The road between you and the other person goes two ways. Some people are only capable of one-sided relationships. If you didn’t call or visit them, you would never hear from them.
Unless there’s a physical reason why someone can’t see you, you’re in a one-sided relationship that’s not healthy.
20. Envy or Jealousy
Families always have some jealousy, but sometimes this jealousy can turn ugly. Jealousy can make people do crazy things, including hurting those they love the most. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, jealousy is one of the biggest triggers of violence.
While everyone has some degree of envy when they see people get a new car or home, this emotion is over the top. It makes others feel uncomfortable or even unsafe.
Final Thoughts on Identifying Poor Family Dynamics
You can always tell if you have toxic family dynamics by how you feel when you see them. Do you feel a nagging ache in the pit of your stomach, or does being in their presence give you a headache? Healthy relationships don’t make you feel this way.
Many go years without speaking to family members, parents included, when they don’t respect them. No one ever has a right to call names, make you feel bad about yourself, or put you and your immediate family down. Part of loving yourself is walking away from these situations and embracing those with whom you can have healthy relationships.