Understanding Dysfunctional Relationships

Dysfunctional relationships are all too common in both romantic and family connections. These types of relationships can be difficult to navigate because they involve complex and often unhealthy dynamics that may be difficult to recognize at first. To help better understand dysfunctional relationship dynamics, let’s take a closer look at the signs, causes, and solutions for building healthier relationships.

Signs of a Dysfunctional Relationship

There are several signs that indicate a relationship is dysfunctional.

  • One key sign is when one partner in the relationship feels like they are constantly sacrificing their own needs and wants for the other person’s.
  • Another sign is an imbalance in power between partners—for example, one partner may have more control or authority than the other. Additionally, feelings of guilt or shame can be an indicator that something is unhealthy in the relationship.
  • Finally, avoidance or denial of problems within the relationship can also point to dysfunction.

Causes of Dysfunction

Relationship dysfunction can stem from many different sources, such as unresolved family issues, mental health issues, addiction issues, and so on.

These underlying issues manifest within relationships in various ways—including physical aggression, verbal abuse such as name-calling or insults, emotional manipulation tactics like gaslighting or guilt trips, and even passive-aggression through silent treatment or stonewalling by one partner towards another.

Solutions for Building Healthier Relationships

Fortunately there are solutions for improving unhealthy relationships. It’s important to learn how to identify toxic behaviors in yourself and your partner so that you know what type of behavior should not be tolerated in any kind of healthy relationship.

Furthermore, it’s important to practice honest communication with your partner regarding expectations and boundaries so that you both know what you each need from one another in order to create a safe and supportive environment together.

Additionally couples counseling can provide helpful tools for navigating dysfunctional dynamics while also helping each person become aware of individual contributions to the overall dynamic within their relationship with their partner.


Dysfunctional relationships are all too common but knowing how to spot them can help us take steps toward healthier connections with our loved ones. By understanding key signs and causes of these types of relationships we can begin taking steps toward creating healthier dynamics between ourselves and our partners through honest communication about expectations and boundaries as well as learning how to identify toxic behavior whenever it arises either from ourselves or our partners. With these strategies in hand we can start building healthier relationships today!