Relationships can be wonderful—full of romance, playful fun, and a source of comfort. But they can also be unhealthy, damaging, or even dangerous. Today, I’m sharing 5 types of (potentially) dangerous relationships to watch out for.
What is a Dangerous Relationship?
First things first, let’s get into what the term actually means.
Dangerous relationships aren’t necessarily literally dangerous. It doesn’t mean your life is in danger—although, of course, that’s a type of relationship you should always be wary of.
No, a dangerous relationship is one that’s either unhealthy or in danger of becoming unhealthy.
Unhealthy relationships are inherently dangerous to you as a person. They can endanger your self-esteem, your emotional wellness, or your physical safety.
So, a dangerous relationship might not currently be unhealthy, but the warning signs are there.
5 Types of Dangerous Relationships
Again, not all of these relationships are necessarily unhealthy. Rather, some of them are potentially dangerous relationships. But by being able to recognize the potential, you can prevent yourself from being hurt.
Related Read: The 5 Most Important Traits of a Healthy Relationship
A casual relationship can mean different things to different people, but the core premise is that it lacks commitment.
That could mean a one-night stand, which is as casual as you can get. It could also mean having an occasional booty-call or a friends-with-benefits situation.
Or, it could mean dating without being exclusive. Most long-term relationships start this way. In fact, I’d argue that most healthy relationships start this way, by dating “casually” for a period of time before deciding to be exclusive. Typically, that lasts a few weeks to a few months, at which point, the relationship progresses from casual to committed.
But, sometimes, that progression never happens. That could be by design, like in a friends-with-benefits relationship where both people are content to keep things casual. Where it becomes problematic, though, is when only one side is content with the status quo whereas the other person is hoping for more.
An open relationship, also called “ethical non-monogamy,” is a consensual polygamous arrangement. Again, the specifics can vary greatly from couple to couple, but it involves a mix of commitment and freedom.
With an open relationship, two people are in a committed relationship, but they agree to have relationships with other people as well. For some couples, that could mean introducing a third party together, as in having a threesome. Other couples, however, have an ongoing arrangement where both people are free to pursue other romantic interests.
Although open relationships can work for many people, others find that it comes with jealousy, resentment, or hurt feelings. To ensure that doesn’t happen, it’s important to communicate with one another, set clear boundaries, and check in often.
Codependency refers to being overly reliant on someone else, to the point where your own thoughts and opinions often get lost.
In a co-dependent relationship, two people become so heavily dependent on the each other that they are unable to function independently.
Sometimes, it can be one-sided, with one person falling into the role of “giver.” This person gives more time, energy, and attention in an effort to make their partner happy. Other times, however, it can be more of a mutual codependency, where both people are so invested in the other that they neglect other areas of their life.
For that reason, codependency is often referred to as “relationship addiction” because someone who’s codependent feels as if they need to have a relationship in order to be whole.
This is similar to a codependent relationship. In some ways, an anxious-avoidant relationship can even be seen as a specific type of codependent relationship.
Here, you’ve got one partner with an anxious attachment style, meaning that they fear abandonment. Because of that, they’re often needy and overly insecure. The partner, on the other hand, has an avoidant attachment style. They’re uncomfortable with too much closeness or commitment and prefer feeling highly independent.
This dynamic creates an unhealthy relationship cycle where the anxious partner constantly tries to get closer while the avoidant pulls away. It’s paradoxical, and yet, these two types are often extremely attracted to one another. Both have an insecure attachment style and the relationship serves to reinforce their unconscious ideas and expectations.
The term “toxic relationship” is kind of a broad one, but basically, if a relationship is toxic, it’s somehow harmful to your well-being.
Any relationship with abuse (physical, mental, verbal, or sexual) would obviously be classified as toxic. But there doesn’t need to be abuse for it to be toxic. Relationships that involve manipulation, gaslighting, or highly controlling behaviors are all toxic.
More subtle forms, like dishonesty, extreme jealousy, lack of support, or passive-aggressiveness can also create a toxic relationship.