If You Recognize These 17 Signs, You Probably Grew Up in a Toxic Household

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By Jonathan Trent

Growing up in a toxic household can be incredibly damaging. In fact, the circumstances of your upbringing can affect you well into adulthood, impacting how you form relationships with others and yourself. Here are 17 common signs that indicate you may have grown up in a toxic household.

Constant Criticism and Put-Downs

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Growing up, you may have been the subject of constant criticism and put-downs from family members, which can lead to low self-esteem and self-doubt. These comments may make you feel unworthy and can even translate to low self-worth as an adult. It’s sad but true.

Lack of Emotional Support

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Psych Central argues that emotionally unavailable parents may have been unresponsive in moments when emotions were expected, leading to a lack of emotional support, leaving you feeling as though your emotions were never validated. Lacking a solid support system, you may have turned inward, which would have continued into adulthood.

Manipulative Behavior

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Manipulative behavior is another common trait of toxic households, consisting of constant guilt-tripping or gaslighting. This can make children feel as though they can’t open up to other people in case their parents will use their feelings as a weapon. To cope with this, adults may have learned to isolate themselves to avoid conflict.

Unpredictable Mood Swings

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Toxic households are synonymous with an uneasy atmosphere where family members frequently experience mood swings. They may even lash out at you for their mood, leaving you feeling anxious about what you have done. There is no stability in this type of household, which can be completely debilitating as you enter adolescence.

Lack of Boundaries

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Toxic family members frequently invade your personal space and cross your boundaries without regard for your feelings. This can lead to frustration as they try to infantilize you, leading you to seek to be alone so that you can rebuild your confidence away from those who want to dictate your actions.

Control and Domination

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Control is a common trait of a toxic household. This could be through manipulation or coercion, but either way, the motive is to wield power over you, stripping you of your autonomy and independence. According to Psychology Today, for such people, control means dominating others in an imperious, overbearing way. That’s awful!

Substance Abuse Issues

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Many toxic households have substance abuse issues at the forefront, with parents putting their addictions above their children’s needs. Growing up in this environment may have exposed you to risky behaviors and normalized substance abuse as a coping mechanism, potentially even leading you to mimic the behavior.

Neglect of Basic Needs

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Any loving family will listen to your basic needs, such as food, shelter, and well-being. However, toxic family members will do nothing, leading you to fend for yourself. This can be damaging to your physical and emotional health, hindering your ability to forge relationships with others. It’s very unfortunate.

Enmeshment or Codependency

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Due to the role of control in toxic households, there may be an element of codependency among family members. This can make children feel as though they have no identity or childhood, as their parents rely on them too much, giving them unhealthy attachment behaviors as they grow.

Role Reversal or Parentification

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Similarly to codependency, children from toxic households are often forced to take on adult responsibilities. This comes down to a lack of care on the parent’s part, which can ultimately ruin their childhood and thwart them from fully exploring their own goals and interests. It’s like childhood robbery.

Emotional Invalidation

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It’s common for your emotions to be cast to the wayside in a toxic household. This could come in the form of blatant disregard for your feelings or parents putting their own emotions above your own. Ultimately, this leads to feelings of inadequacy, and you may find it difficult to open up to someone.

Emotional or Physical Violence

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It doesn’t matter if it’s physical or emotional violence–the effects of withholding love and affection can be catastrophic. It’s hard to understand such behavior, but Harvard Health states that abusers are attempting to gain power through intimidation. Sadly, if you experienced this, you could become highly anxious as an adult.

Fear of Abandonment

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Emotional, physical, and spiritual abandonment is rife in toxic households. These unstable relationships may have instilled a fear of being left alone for long periods of time, which can translate to adult relationships where you are anxious about someone leaving your life, unlike healthy people who have no problem with being alone.

Perfectionism and Overachievement

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Toxic households often lead children to become perfectionists, as they fear making a mistake that would lead to confrontation or blame. This trend may continue until adulthood, when you may feel the need to constantly outshine others or be perfect to prove that you are good enough.

Difficulty Expressing Emotions

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If your emotions were shut down when you were growing up, you may have learned to internalize them. Repressing your emotions may become second nature to you as an adult as you try to protect yourself from the judgments and criticisms of other people by keeping everything to yourself. It’s a truly awful affliction.

Fear of Confrontation

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If conflict equated with punishment in your household, you may have developed a fear of confrontation, preferring to steer yourself away from arguments at all costs. This avoidance can inhibit your ability to assert yourself and set boundaries in relationships, leading to feelings of resentment and powerlessness.

Struggles with Trust and Intimacy

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Finally, Business Insider claims that some people can’t help but push their partners away because of a fear of intimacy. Sometimes, this is because they had a tough upbringing; for example, experiencing betrayal or abandonment within your family unit can make it difficult to trust others, totally sabotaging your future relationships.

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