Unsurprisingly, toxic relationships can worsen just about any mental health disorder. It all comes down to the mental and emotional stress these bad relationships can put you through. These relationships can be within the family, marriage, work, or just regular friendships. Any relationship you have has certain characteristics, and these will affect your emotional and mental health either positively or negatively.

Even if you think otherwise, you have total control over which relationships you keep close to you. Sometimes work relationships are mandatory, but you can avoid letting these affect you too deeply. The tricky ones are usually the relationship with your spouse and close friends. Since you genuinely care about the people involved in these cases, you’re more likely to overlook certain behaviors. You may see it as ‘normal’, but in reality, they’re drops of water building up into an overflowing glass of stress.

If you suffer from anxiety, depression, negative self-image or any kind of mental health issue – distancing yourself or learning how to improve these toxic relationships will do you a world of good.

So how can you tell if your current relationships are toxic? Here are the 5 main types to look out for:

Passive-Aggressive relationships

Passive-aggressiveness behavior is common in employer-employee relationships. But they’re also extremely common in all kinds of personal relationships. In these cases, the person will hint at problems through sarcasm or backhanded compliments. They will subtly show something is bothering them, but will insist it’s “all in your head” if you ask. They may suddenly give you the cold shoulder for unknown reasons, or act out in subtle ways to make you feel frustrated. For people struggling with anxiety and self-esteem issues, this constant uncertainty and frustration can become too much to bear. 

The way to mending these toxic relationships vary from person to person. Some people find it was better to just stay away from the passive-aggressive relationship altogether, others found specific tactics helped them work towards to a happier relationship.

Material over emotional relationships

Do you ever have an argument with your partner or a spat with your friend, then receive a gift in compensation? This is normal once in a while, but if your gifts are beginning to pile up and your relationship still isn’t satisfying, then you’re probably being “bought off”.

Covering up an issue in a relationship with gifts and trips only serves to brush the issue under the rug for next time. It will resurface later on, with even more strength than before.

The only way through this kind of toxic relationship is to talk about the problem. It will only go away after it’s been addressed and a solution has been found. If talking gets you nowhere, re-consider if this relationship should even continue at all.

Stonewalling relationships

This is a type of toxic relationship in which communication is limited. Whenever you are having a relationship problem, a stonewalling partner may avoid it by going silent. By so doing, they will leave you feeling unheard and guilty. You may be tempted to think that the stonewalling behavior is your fault, and that it’s your fault that you’re having relationship issues. You’ll rarely have peace of mind and – like the previous type of relationship – your issues will remain unresolved. 

A back-biting relationship

Backbiting is another trait that can render a relationship toxic. In such a relationship, one partner will gossip about their significant other behind their back. The moment you realize that your partner is gossiping about you, you may lose your trust in them. The sense of insecurity that follows will make it tough for you to feel comfortable with them, and may lead to increased anxiety and self-esteem issues. 

Emotional blackmailing relationship

“You never want to go out with my friends. I can’t be with someone like that.” 

If this sort of statement sounds familiar, then you are in a toxic relationship where emotional blackmail is a common occurrence. It shouldn’t be. When every little hiccup is turned into a commitment crisis, what should be an understanding conversation is now a dramatic questioning of your relationship. It’s normal not to like something about the other person, but intentionally making them feel bad about it is not the way to go. You want to be in a relationship with someone understanding, who helps you overcome your fears and improve your shortcomings.

Try to establish that you are open to receiving feedback without judgment or blackmail. If they are unable to comply, then maybe you shouldn’t be with them anymore. Sometimes you need to do what’s best for you.

To manage and recover from mental health issues, sufferers need a lot of support and understanding from their loved ones. Steering clear of toxic relationships will make it easier for you to manage your mental well-being, and to live a peaceful and more satisfying life.