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Toxic Relationship Patterns


“So taunt me, and hurt me

 Deceive me, desert me

 I'm yours till I die

So in love, so in love

So in love with you, my love, am I”

--Lyrics from So In Love by Cole Porter--

These words ring eerily true for many of my clients and, sadly, they rarely realize how powerful their fear of losing their primary relationship drives many of their choices and behaviors. Pia Mellody, Author of Facing Love Addiction and Facing Codependency, found a toxic pattern between two partners so prevalent at her treatment center that she was able to chart it out in a predictable pattern.


I often see this pattern of Love Addict/Love Avoidant in many of my couples, all at varied levels of symptomology and intensity. The most “extreme” of the clients are co-addicted partners, who may abuse substances, spend themselves into deep debts, get into physical altercations, or sexually act out. “Milder” versions of this cycle are couples with run-of-the-mill marital struggles, where one partner operates out of duty and obligation (but builds resentment for it) and another partner operates out of extreme fear of rejection and abandonment (so they make every attempt to manipulate the relationship but are also resentful and passive aggressive).


The toxic relationship cycle is imperative to know when exploring your own relationship issues. It is not a topic easily understandable via the written word.

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