Adapted from “Living Successfully with Screwed-up People”, by
Elizabeth B. Brown
The following questions will help you determine if you are marching in the wrong direction in your relationship. Even one ‘yes’ answer is unhealthy and suggests that there is dysfunction in the relationship.
1) Do you base how you feel on what he or she does?
2) Do you worry about whether the person is attentive enough, cares enough, is supportive enough?
3) Does his or her periodic praising of someone else threaten you?
4) Do you store up the wrongs he/she does towards you?
5) Do you finish the statement, “You make me feel…” with negatives?
6) Do you feel hampered and controlled by the relationship?
7) Do you constantly worry and fret about your relationship?
8) Are the problems in the relationship eating you alive?
9) Are you overwhelmed with guilt about what you do or don’t do?
10) Are you seething over issues that swirl off the other person?
11) Do you feel unappreciated most of the time?
12) Do you feel what you do is futile in the relationship?
13) Do you do things you hate because it is expected of you?
14) Do you resent any time he/she spends helping others?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may be forfeiting your power and ability to think, feel, and act independently.
Interdependency is spinning into codependency when relationships exhibit these traits:
v Extreme emotional dependency (one person feels he/she can do nothing without the other person)
v Excessive worry and preoccupation (centered around one person’s choices)
v Constant reactive behavior (one person reacting to what the other does or does not do)
v Consuming mental, physical, and emotional energy directed at changing one person
v Blame assigned to someone (other than the person committing the acts or having the feelings)
v Interactions devoid of laughter and lightness
Knowing whether your chaotic relationship is caused by your unrealistic expectations or by a really toxic person is critical to appreciating what is possible within the relationship. The following exercise will help.
Think of the person who is driving you crazy. Check off the traits in the following list (toxic behaviors that the person is manifesting). If you check off 5 or more, you are in a difficult relationship and must be extremely careful not to be sucked into dysfunction. Add up the check marks and fill in the bar below to the number that equals your total score. The closer to 1 your line is, the healthier the relationship; the closer to 20, the more dysfunctional.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
The person who is driving me crazy———–
- Refuses to hear my side of an issue.
- Turns molehills into mountains and minutiae into significance.
- Demands the controls.
- Is self-centered and self-absorbed.
- Is opinionated, or is self-debasing and self-depreciating with no opinions.
- Often exhibits self-destructive behavior.
- Will not listen to reason.
- Repeats the same negative, fearful, or controlling behavior.
- Can’t be depended upon.
- Feels superior or inferior.
- Justifies his/her criticism by superior knowledge, experience, genes, etc.
- Does not see the connection between his/her behavior and the chaos it engenders.
- Encourages conflict.
- Causes chaos.
- Blames others.
- Uses shame and guilt as weapons.
- Never apologizes for anything or apologizes profusely for everything.
- Refuses to take responsibility for his/her choices.
- Controls through manipulation, guilt, money, power, etc.
- Believes the ends justify the means.