signs of a toxic relationship

signs of a toxic relationship August 16, 2011

good riddance!

Here are six signs of a toxic relationship:

  1. Do you feel content or unfulfilled with the other?
  2. Do you feel better or worse about yourself after you spend time with the other?
  3. Is there an equal give and take or do you feel you are always giving and the other is always taking?
  4. Do you feel safe or insecure with the other?
  5. Is the relationship characterized by peace or drama?
  6. Do you feel accepted or that you have to change to make the other happy?

There are healthy steps to detoxify the relationship. But if they don’t work, then you must sever the relationship.

I left the church over a year ago because our relationship had become toxic.

Please notice: I have dealt with toxic relationships within the church for my whole ministry. That’s one thing. But it had finally come to the point where it was obvious that the relationship between me and the church was too toxic to repair and I had to sever my relationship with it. My relationship with enough people within the organization had become toxic, which was enough to equal a toxic relationship to the organization as a whole.

I wanted to share this with you because I think it is very important to discern the difference between a toxic relationship with individuals and a toxic relationship with an organization. The first doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave the organization. It might mean distancing yourself from a person. Or it might mean leaving just that church if necessary. But it doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the organization as a whole. The latter might mean severing or at least separation for a while.

Apply the above signs of a toxic relationship to your relationship to the church or to any relationship or institution you are a part of. How are you doing?

I am indebted to this article in Psychology Today for characteristics of a toxic relationship.

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  • Dr Phil’s “Self Matters,” and Melody Beatty’s “Codependent No More” did a lot for me. Surrendering to Jesus did the rest. Too much drama and politics in the church for a modern day leper like me. You know they’re calling you a heretic behind closed doors and in public they’ve put on their smile and explained that David is not longer with us because of personal reasons and pleas be in prayer for him… SPLAT!!! Ugggh, move on, shake the dust, you’ll be healthier, happier and have a better effect for the kingdom from outside of the walls of the institution them from on the inside.
    Thanks for sharing your plight David.

  • Pat Pope

    I definitely left a toxic church. Those who actually run it are some of the most unspiritual and emotionally unhealthy people I’ve run across. I pray the new pastor can deal with it because they will raise their ugly head the minute he goes down a road they don’t want to go down,

  • I feel so sorry for all of you who are or have been in such sick churches with such sick pastors.

    When you find a church that is focused on what Christ has done for sinners, and not on what ‘WE DO’, you are much more apt to find a healthy church with people who love each other, even with all the difficulties that sinners hanging out with one another bring.

  • Pat Pope

    Thanks, Steve.

  • It’s not just churches – some parachurch movements are toxic as all get out. I try to use the fruits of the spirit metaphor – and if the fruit is dry or maggoty, that’s not a good sign. 🙂

  • Yep. Wherever sinners try and place the focus on ‘the self’, and then start comparing each other’s fruits or judging who is in and who is out…then the fit will fit the shan.

  • Jane

    Good God I’ get the heebie jeebies when I even think about church! There’s some love lost in there somewhere LOL! Institutions are generally something to avoid in my opinion. Freelance, okay, but I’m not signing any dotted lines !

  • m

    whats a ‘sinner’?